In my last Newsletter I wrote that it is important to distinguish between the spiritual needs and the psychic needs for each child.

By psychic I mean all that which is concerned with our ‘subjective’ life. This is sometimes called the mind which in the 20th Century we have learnt from Freud and Jung to accept as only partly conscious. The psyche of a human being includes his or her sensations, emotions, imaginations and thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. This part of a human being has its wants and needs just as the physical organism does. When we talk of physic needs we refer to the various stimulations we need to maintain the activity of the psyche and satisfy its desires. Without these our psyche would languish and lose its powers, even if the body were to remain alive. We have emotional needs, desires, mental curiosity and stimuli for our imaginations. We need to assert and express ourselves. All of these create our psychic hunger and we cannot live unless it is satisfied. We see how this is with lonely people or those incarcerated.

Psychic needs can only be met and satisfied by experiences which meet us through our senses. Whether it is the sight of beauty, or simple physical comforts and satisfaction. Similarly, our intellectual needs can be satisfied by learning more about the world (out there).

We are natural learners and I believe everyone wants to learn; all young people come to school initially to learn and if the teacher is a good teacher then they will be the gateway through which the young person can access the knowledge.

It is important at this early point that the teacher loves his or her subject as the subject itself ‘opens’ when love and warm attention is brought to it, so that it gives of its bounty. That is certainly my experience. Of course, we may have a predisposition towards one area of study rather than another.  I do think our obsession with exam and testing has rather dented this love of learning for learning's sake, although at St James with our holistic approach to education we try to keep a healthy balance.  I loved Harry’s piece in last week’s Newsletter; he loves Classics and it shows. My A Level English classes are taught from a place of love and we look at many things beyond and outside the strict examination curriculum ranging across philosophy, history and spirituality. These lessons are lively, eclectic and hilarious. I look forward to them and we all learn together. The psychic realm is all about learning.

The Spiritual, though, needs to relate to something quite different. These are deeper needs and actualise the ‘I’ that is more fully oneself than the apparatus of thought, feeling and sensation. This is where the beam of attention is bent back towards its source.

But more on this next week…