The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 5

The first few years of life. Psychic inheritance.

When a child is born, its breath-form contains the rudimentary psychic destiny to be experienced during life. This psychic destiny is held in germ, ready to grow as soon as season and conditions are propitious. The conditions and the season for the development of the psychic destiny are brought about by the growth, maturity and aging of the physical body, in conjunction with the mental attitude of the doer connected with that body. The destiny to be experienced in adult life is distant while the body remains that of a child. As the body develops, the conditions are furnished by which the old desire seeds take root and grow. The growth is retarded or accelerated, continued or changed, according to the manner in which the doer thinks about these conditions.

The first few years of life, up to about the seventh, soon pass out of the memory of most people. These years are spent in adapting the physical body to its breath-form through the astral body. Although forgotten, they are among the most important in the life of a human being.

As a tree is shaped, trained and pruned by the gardener, so the desires, appetites and psychic proclivities impressed on the breath-form are encouraged, restrained or changed by parents and teachers. The child has fits of temper, meanness and viciousness, which are curbed by the parent or teacher who protects the young from noxious influences. The training, care or abuse of the psychic nature which are experienced in early life are the direct inheritance of the doer. The surroundings furnished, with their psychic influences, the vicious or pure minded temperaments of those to whom a child is entrusted and the manner in which its wants, desires and needs are treated, are just returns for its past thinking.

While desire is usually attracted by a like desire and a doer seeking re-existence is guided to those parents who have similar desires, yet owing to the interblending of the different kinds of destiny, a doer is often connected with those whose desires and thoughts are different. The stronger the character, the better and more readily will the doer overcome any evil psychic tendencies acquired in early life; but as there are comparatively few strong characters, the early psychic training generally gives direction to the entire life.

A parent or guardian who is vapid, who loves the glitter of baubles, who panders to the appetites and seeks sensation, will instill similar inclinations into the growing child and stimulate its desires to a wild, luxuriant growth. This is the fate of those who in the past have not cared to restrain their desires. The child who is allowed to bawl and fret inconsiderate of others, and whose parents allow it to have whatever it cries for, is one of those unfortunates who live on the surface of life; these are the barbarians of society who, however numerous they may be at present, will as humanity grows out of its child state, be fewer, and will be considered wild specimens of an undeveloped tribe. Theirs is a troublesome destiny, as they must awaken to a knowledge of their own ignorance and taint before they can so adjust themselves as to become orderly, inconspicuous members of civilized society.

The encouragement or restraint of its emotional nature which a child receives is either the return for its past treatment of others, or an opportunity to learn control of its feelings and desires. A child who gives evidence of talents, but who, owing to circumstances such as the disapproval of its parents, is discouraged from developing them, may find this not a misfortune but a benefit, if certain other tendencies are present, like a desire for narcotics or drink. For the artistic temperament, if allowed to express itself then, would make the psychic nature more susceptible, would encourage drunkenness and would injure the astral body by opening it to vagabonds in the astral states. Not to allow artistic training in such a case will only defer this development and help the child to resist more easily the demon of intoxication. At the same time, parents who either through lack of means or without apparent reason offer opposition to a child’s psychic inclinations, often furnish such opposition in payment of an old score or because the doer did not make use of the opportunities which it had before.

Those who encourage its appetites, or who aid to develop its cunning or its wish for that which does not belong to it, or who do not discountenance its tendency to self-indulgence laziness or greed, are made to offer such conditions as the natural psychic inheritance of the child’s past. With these conditions the child should work in the present in order to overcome and control them.