The infant enters the world through three doors: breathing, nutrition and sense impressions.Adults are the ones can protect them from unpleasant sense impressions and erect inner barriers against stimulus that are too loud, unpleasant or harmful.
Steiner spoke of twelve senses. Modern physiology, modern medicine, modern biology have never considered this number of senses. Instead, we may considered the five or six that we all already known. He determined that a more accurate, effective and useful approach was to view the human being as having twelve senses which integrate the capacities of body, soul and spirit. He spoke of three layers of senses, distinguishing the “lower” from the “higher” senses and from the “highest” senses.
With the lower senses we actually experience the nature of our own body. They give us a certain consciousness of our bodily existence and we are incarnated into our body through them. There is nothing coming from the lower senses to give us a sense of our higher self.
Higher senses: Smell – Taste – Sight – Warmth
The higher senses give us an entirely different perception.They give us an experience of the world around us. With the sight we can experience the wealth of form and color and we can also sense a substance by its taste or smell or by warmth or cold. Through these four senses, we are part of the creation and are able to recognize it.
Highest senses: Hearing – Speech – Thought – Ego
With the highest senses there is something entirely new. In the sense of hearing we can listen into something which is beyond creation because when we hear we are no longer connected with a substance but with movement. Sounds is vibration caused by movement and what we hear are the creative forces of everything which is around us. Within the realm of sound, the names of things become known to us through speech. The word reveals the meaning of things through the sense of thought and with the meaning we start to grasp the existence of every separate thing or being. Through the sense of ego, we gain an understanding of ourselves, not only in terms of intellectual understanding and feelings, but also in communicating our thoughts and feelings to others.
In this three realms, we are a complete threefold being. We relate to each other through the highest senses; the world is known to us through the higher senses and we experience our own body through the lower senses.
The circle of the twelve senses develops from babyhood to the adult life. They all act and interact with one another. When we understand all twelve senses, we can clearly appreciate the importance of protecting and nourishing them, especially in the early years of life.