some ancient initiations it was stated that the number of
senses that man can develop is not five but seven and in
certain special cases even twelve. Certain races at certain
times have, out of necessity, developed more or less perfectly
one or the other of these supplementary senses. With a proper
discipline persistently followed, they are within the reach
of all who are sincerely interested in this development
and its results. Among the faculties that are often mentioned,
there is, for example, the ability to widen the physical
consciousness, project it out of oneself so as to concentrate
it on a given point and thus obtain sight, hearing, smell,
taste and even touch at a distance.
this general education of the senses and their functioning
there will be added, as early as possible, the cultivation
of discrimination and of the aesthetic sense, the capacity
to choose and adopt what is beautiful and harmonious, simple,
healthy and pure. For there is a psychological health just
as there is a physical health, a beauty and harmony of the
sensations as of the body and its movements. As the capacity
of understanding grows in the child, he should be taught,
in the course of his education, to add artistic taste and
refinement to power and precision. He should be shown, led
to appreciate, taught to love beautiful, lofty, healthy
and noble things, whether in Nature or in human creation.
This should be a true aesthetic culture, which will protect
him from degrading influences. For, in the wake of the last
wars and the terrible nervous tension which they provoked,
as a sign, perhaps, of the decline of civilisation and social
decay, a growing vulgarity seems to have taken possession
of human life, individual as well as collective, particularly
in what concerns aesthetic life and the life of the senses.
A methodical and enlightened cultivation of the senses can,
little by little, eliminate from the child whatever is by
contagion vulgar, commonplace and crude. This education
will have very happy effects even on his character. For
one who has developed a truly refined taste will, because
of this very refinement, feel incapable of acting in a crude,
brutal or vulgar manner. This refinement, if it is sincere,
brings to the being a nobility and generosity which will
spontaneously find expression in his behaviour and will
protect him from many base and perverse movements.
this brings us quite naturally to the second aspect of vital
education which concerns the character and its transformation.
all disciplines dealing with the vital being, its purification
and its control, proceed by coercion, suppression, abstinence
and asceticism. This procedure is certainly easier and quicker,
although less deeply enduring and effective, than a rigorous
and detailed education. Besides, it eliminates all possibility
of the intervention, help and collaboration of the vital.
And yet this help is of the utmost importance if one wants
the individual's growth and action to be complete.
become conscious of the various movements in oneself and
be aware of what one does and why one does it, is the indispensable
straight-point. The child must be taught to observe, to
note his reactions and impulses and their causes, to become
a discerning witness of his desires, his movements of violence
and passion, his instincts of possession and appropriation
and domination and the background of vanity which supports
them, together with their counterparts of weakness, discouragement,
depression and despair.
for this process to be useful, along with the growth of
the power of observation the will for progress and perfection
must also grow. This will should be instilled into the child
as soon as he is capable of having a will, that is to say,
at a much earlier age than is usually believed.
order to awaken this will to surmount and conquer, different
methods are appropriate in different cases; with certain
individuals rational arguments are effective, for others
their feelings and goodwill should be brought into play,
with yet others the sense of dignity and self-respect. For
all, the most powerful method is example constantly and
the resolution has been firmly established, one has only
to proceed rigorously and persistently and never to accept
any defeat as final. To avoid all weakening and backsliding,
there is one important point you must know and never forget:
the will can be cultivated and developed just as the muscles
can by methodical and progressive exercise. You must not
shrink from demanding the maximum effort of your will even
for a thing that seems of no importance, for it is through
effort that its capacity grows, gradually acquiring the
power to apply itself even to the most difficult things.
What you have decided to do, you must do, whatever the cost,
even if you have to renew your effort over and over again
any number of times in order to do it. Your will will be
strengthened by the effort and you will have only to choose
with discernment the goal to which you will apply it.
sum up: one must gain a full knowledge of one's character
and then acquire control over one's movements in order to
achieve perfect mastery and the transformation of all the
elements that have to be transformed.
Now all will depend upon the ideal which the effort for
mastery and transformation seeks to achieve. The value of
the effort and its result will depend upon the value of
the ideal. This is the subject we shall deal with next,
in connection with mental education.
- The Mother