Maria Montessori: Champion of Soul Freedom
Maria Montessori was a pioneer in understanding the child. She held five doctorates, but most of her breakthroughs came from working with and observing children around her. In 1939, Maria Montessori, at the age of 69, was invited to come to India by the Theosophical Society. Because of the outbreak of the Second World War she was forced to stay in India, where her ideas received much interest. This is where she met Mother Caspari, who had also traveled to India and could not go home because of the war.
"Infancy is the eternal Messiah,
which continuously comes back to the arms
of degraded humanity
in order to entice it back to heaven."
If we consider the child in this light, we shall be forced to recognize, as an absolute and urgent necessity, that care must be given to childhood, creating for it a suitable world and a suitable environment. [...]
The man who sees clearly in himself feels the need of an inner life, just as the body feels the needs of the material life such as hunger and sleep. The soul which no longer feels its spiritual needs is in the same dangerous position as the body which is no longer capable of feeling the pangs of hunger or the need of rest.
But if we find this concentration and this burying of the soul within itself in the child, it becomes evident that the phenomenon does not represent an exceptional state of persons who are especially endowed with spiritual gifts; but it is a universal quality of the human soul which, on account of circumstances, survives in only a few people who have reached adult age [...]
When for the first time I discovered the existence of this aspect of the character of the children, I was surprised and I asked myself if I was not in front of an extraordinary happening; if I was not witnessing a new and marvelous mystery; because I saw being destroyed before my eyes many of the theories that the most renowned psychologists had made us believe."
- Maria Montessori, from The Child, written for the Theosophist in 1941