by John-Peter GernaatThe twelve-fold nature of the world has held an interest for me for a long time. Growing up I once heard about twelve points of view that make up any situation. I seem to recall that the perspective was attributed to Rudolf Steiner. I heard that no situation can be fully understood until all twelve points of view have been examined. The result of hearing this was to place very little value on my own point of view in any situation, and rather to listen carefully to everyone else’s point of view. One thing I learned from this was that other did not perceive me as judgemental and that I could be welcomed into many circles where my own point of view would have precluded me. It created a certain tension within my being, however, for two reasons: firstly, I was not being true to my own values and secondly, my father held very strong views and I was his polar opposite which would not gain me much respect. On the other hand I could discover that in every point of view one can find the true human being.
I have asked about Rudolf Steiner’s perspective on the twelve world views from several people I respected and received very little guidance. In presenting her introduction Reingard said that the priests would try to approach this subject in the sermons during the Holy Nights, but admitted that it was a daunting task.
I did not have the good fortune of a Waldorf education and have had to learn about the nature of the human being from the outside, as it were. I learned about the four temperaments at an early age from the reading my parents did together. Later in life I discovered that these have become prominent in the field of work. I first encountered “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer in relation to sales: how one can quickly determine a person’s “Personality” and adapt the sales message to that temperament. Later, in management training, I encountered the “Colour Personalities” of leadership. More recently I discovered that they are also referred to as “North, South, East and West Personalities”. Essentially, they are all the same and look at attributes of the choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments, both negative and positive, and how understanding them allows us to understand and work more easily with other people.
One day I was given a book by Max Stibbe, “Seven Soul Type”. Max Stibbe was one of the great pedagogues in the Waldorf Movement. He describes the development of a human being from birth to adulthood. The first seven years of a child’s development are directed towards to development of the physical body and allowing the development of the body and all its various functions to development without interference is the task of those overseeing the care of children during this period.
The temperament of a child awakens after the age of seven and teaching in this period of seven years should be directed at helping the child overcome the one-sidedness of their temperament in order to shape the character of the adult. He says that a character trait, anchored in the human temperament, is hard to change. Hence the interest in the temperaments by so many people.
At puberty the soul life becomes free and with it the emergence of an individual inner world. The seven soul types that Max Stibbe presents are a relationship of this inner world to the ‘outer world’. Carl Jung described two relationships: the introvert and the extrovert. Max Stibbe recognised that the introvert and the extrovert can be either active or passive in their inner world dealing with the outer world. There are also souls that have a more balanced relationship with the outer world or fluctuate easily between an inward turning and an outward turning. This too can be active or passive. This gives rise to six soul types with the seventh, probably not yet found in the world, which can bring complete balance between the inward turning of the soul life and the outward turning of the soul life as well balance between the inner world relating actively or passively to the outer world.
Finally, Max Stibbe reminds us that from the age of 21 the spirit becomes free and we should look to the twelve paths of human development. The only guidance he gives is to study the twelve disciples of Christ who each clearly represent one of these twelve paths. The guidance he also provides is that “we can look on the physical body as a trinity consisting of the nerve-sense system, the rhythmic system and the metabolic-limb system; the life body can be seen as fourfold; the soul organism as sevenfold; the human spirit as twelvefold”.
In my youth I turned to “obsolete astrological methods” (Max Stibbe’s words in quotes) to understand the twelvefold nature of the human spirit, and with some success. I once had to interview a large number of young adults for a number of positions. I was working with a person from the human resources discipline. I took the CVs we had received from all the candidates and based on their date of birth, their astrological sign and whatever my intuition provided from their CV and created a profile of each candidate. Before each interview I provided the human resources person with my profile and she was astonished how accurate this profile of each candidate was.
From the perspective of twelve points of view on every situation to a twelvefold nature of the human spirit the Twelve World Views that have been unfolded during these Holy Nights have excited my desire to understand our human nature.
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