Lessons from the Embryo as to Organization of the Human Body
taught by Jaap van der Wal MD PhD (and friends)

July 22-25, 2019

Plano, Texas

Tuition $850; $700 IASI price until 5/30/2018

Register Now!

Jaap van der Wal


What do we do when we are embryo?
As a kind of "brainless" being, the human embryo is a challenge for those who search for spirit in the human existence and body. Spirit in this context is defined as everything that modern science - exclusive of modern genetics, neurophysiology and psychology - qualitative qua to deny as non-evident and therefore non-existent quality. Jaap van der Wal tries in this course to go on the search for spirit in man and nature following another scientific pathway; which means searching for sense, meaning and the goal of our existence. The question what are we actually doing when we are embryo? is only relevant for the embryologist who is on the search for such qualities. An effort is made to come to the essence of spiritual being of the human embryo and to bring the relationships between spirit, soul, and body to light. New perspectives are presented with an outlook on a polarity morphology, threefoldness of the human body, on micro-cosmos and macro-cosmos, human existence in development and incarnation. The human body is considered here as a dynamic process that only can be understood as a living organism. Effort will be made to overcome the modern poor philosophical "nothingbutterism" (the human being is nothing else than just material processes and software and so on) and to extend it to a real holistic and spiritual human biology. The approach that will be followed is a scientific one; i.e. the Goetheanistic phenomenology and is based upon our primary perception and experiencing of our reality. This means NOT "I think therefore I am, but "I experience myself as a thinking, feeling, and willing being; therefore I am and exist in, by, and thanks to this body."

Content of the course
Human embryonic development deals with what could be considered as "still functioning in forms;" meaning that the gestures of growth and development that the human embryo is performing could be interpreted and understood as human behavior, and as a type of pre-exercising of what later on will appear as physiological and psychological functions. It appears as if the embryo, and therefore the human being, is in a type of empathetic equilibrium between antipathy and sympathy with the environment and the world. This polarity seems to be essential for the human being and suggests it is an indication of the twofoldness of spirit and matter. Phenomenological embryology helps us to see that the human body is an expression of body as well as mind (dynamic morphology). The search is made for possible answers to questions like Where do we come from? and What is the human being? The approach practiced here leads to a type of process morphology that may overcome the Cartesian anatomy: a real morphology of mind and body with the whole body as expression of the human soul. The gestures of growth of the embryo could be interpreted as a type of echo of the development of mankind (evolution): becoming human and the evolution of humanity, biography and biology come together. The embryo also provides insight in the laws and principles of human development. The way in which the human shape gets its form in the prenatal phase is an expression of the essential feature that the human being is a citizen of two worlds i.e. mind AND matter, heavens AND earth, and that in this tension field the human being develops (embryology) and manifests itself (morphology).

The intent of the course is to allow the attendees to participate in the mighty processes that create the basis for the existence of each human individual, and to do this not only by means of intelligence (head) had but also with feeling (heart). With the "spectacles" of the phenomenology is possible to "see" a spiritual perspective in man and in becoming man based upon the scientific facts of the prenatal life. This approach teaches that we human beings may be considered as beings that by means of conception, embryonic development, and birth create incarnations of mind (spirit) into a body.

Prior knowledge of embryology is not required. Diagrams, illustrations, and a reader will be available. The lectures and discussions will be alternated with practical exercises like form drawing and bodily motions (eurhythmy).

Jaap van der Wal was born in 1947 and graduated from medical school in 1973, specializing in anatomy and embryology and lecturing in these disciplines at the medical schools of the universities of Utrecht and Maastricht (The Netherlands) and at various paramedical training colleges (such as for physiotherapy, nursing, and midwifery). He also worked in medical research. He received his PhD for a dissertation on human proprioception (sense of posture and locomotion), which concerned his other main interests, i.e. the questions: What moves us? What motivates us to move? In this context in recent years he became more and more involved in research regarding function and meaning of the fascia and connective tissue in the human body, resulting in several presentations at the 2nd International Fascia Congress in Amsterdam and related publications in journals. In this work he continued with the trans-anatomical thinking that began during his first period of research during the 1980s and 1990s, in which he and his colleagues introduced a functional description of the fascia as an architecture of connecting and shaping space by means of connective and muscle tissue constituted by dynaments rather than muscles and so-called ligaments.
Jaap's main interest, however, is the development of the human embryo along with everything related to it, such as evolution and genetics, and all of that in context with the image of man and philosophy of science. He regularly publishes articles on these subjects, and was co-editor of the report Zit er toekomst in ons DNA? (Is there future in our DNA?), 1993, and of En toen was er DNA (And then there was DNA), 1999.
Important sources of inspiration are the anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner and the work of  Jan Hendrik van den Berg, Dutch professor in phenomenological history (metabletics), and other phenomenological philosophers. But most of all it is by applying the phenomenological approach of Goethe; which Jaap uses this to bridge the chasm between spirituality and the humanities on the one hand and positivistic natural science on the other hand. Above all, Jaap employs this method on the domain of the pre-natal development of the human being.
A third area, which has had his interest for many years, is the human body. Jaap published Lost Death, a critical essay about the current image of the body in medical science. He more recently worked as a senior lecturer for anatomy and embryology at the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands) and as a freelance teacher at various training courses in the field of alternative or complementary medicine, such as yoga-schooling, schooling for art therapy and ante-natal support, moreover the training in osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, and polarity medicine. He gives seminars (Embryo in Motion) for laymen as well as for professionally interested people as doctors, midwives, and other therapists, and to an increasing extent to professional groups as including osteopaths, craniosacral therapists, and trauma therapists. For those latter activities more time became available beginning in 2005 when he became a part-time lecturer with the university Maastricht, which gave him time to establish the company Dynamension. In that context he has traveled all over the world with the project Embryo in Motion, searching for people who want to hear about what we actually are doing when we are embryo. On the search for spirit in our (embryonic) existence, via the phenomenological approach of the dynamic morphology, he found a bridge between science and spirituality. Via his network Embryo in Motion, Dr. van der Wal tries to propagate this view as an "embryologist on the search for spirit." In March 2012 he retired from the university and in the context of Dynamension, is now am able to completely dedicate his time to his work on Embryo in Motion.

Jaap has already prepared for his Texas course by having a new hat fitted. There is a new sheriff in town ; ).

The cost of the class is $850 (IASI price $700 until 4/30/2018). Please pay in full to register.