Tuesday, July 7, 2020

In the beginning was the Logos. Focus lecture for the July 29 meeting of The Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Diagram 11

The shortest distance between two points is Rudolf Steiner.

Human and Cosmic Thought. Lecture 3 of 4
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, January 22, 1914:

Yesterday I tried to set forth those world-outlooks which are possible for man; so possible that certain valid proofs can be produced for the correctness of each of them in a certain realm. For anyone who is not concerned to weld together into a single system all that he has been in a position to observe and reflect upon in a certain limited domain, and then sets out to seek proofs for it, but who wants to penetrate into the truth of the world, it is important to realize that broadmindedness is necessary because twelve typical varieties of world-outlook are actually possible for the mind of man. (For the moment we need not go into the transitional ones.) If one wants to come really to the truth, then one must try clearly to understand the significance of these twelve typical varieties, must endeavour to recognize for what domain of existence one or other variety holds the best key. If we let these twelve varieties pass once again before our mind's eye, as we did yesterday, then we find that they are: Materialism, Sensationalism, Phenomenalism, Realism, Dynamism, Monadism, Spiritism, Pneumatism, Psychism, Idealism, Rationalism and Mathematism.
Now in the actual field of human searching after truth it is unfortunate that individual minds, individual personalities, always incline to let one or the other of these varieties have the upper hand, with the result that different epochs develop one-sided outlooks which then work back on the people living at that time.
We had better arrange the twelve world-outlooks in the form of a circle (see Diagram 11), and quietly observe them. They are possible, and one must know them. They really stand in such a relation to one another that they form a mental copy of the Zodiac with which we are now so well acquainted. As the sun apparently passes through the Zodiac, and as other planets apparently do the same, so it is possible for the human soul to pass through a mental circle which embraces twelve world-pictures. Indeed, one can even bring the characteristics of these pictures into connection with the individual signs of the Zodiac, and this is in no wise arbitrary, for between the individual signs of the Zodiac and the Earth there really is a connection similar to that between the twelve world-outlooks and the human soul. I mean this in the following sense.
We could not say that there is an easily understandable relation between, e.g. the sign Aries and the Earth. But when the Sun, Saturn, or Mercury are so placed that from the Earth they are seen in the sign Aries, then influence is different from what it is when they are seen in the sign Leo. Thus the effect which comes to us out of the Cosmos from the different planets varies according as the individual planets stand in one or other of the Zodiacal signs. In the case of the human soul, it is even easier to recognize the effects of these twelve “mental-zodiacal-signs” (Geistes-Tierkreisbilder). There are souls who have the tendency to receive a given influence on their inner life, on their scientific, philosophic or other mental proclivities, so that their souls are open to be illuminated, as it were, by Idealism. Other souls are open to be shone upon by Materialism, others by Sensationalism. A man is not a Sensationalist, Materialist, Spiritist or Pneumatist because this or that world-outlook is — and can be seen to be — correct, but because his soul is so conditioned that it is predominantly influenced by the respective mental-zodiacal-sign. Thus in the twelve mental-zodiacal-signs we have something that can lead us to a deep insight into the way in which human world-outlooks arise, and can help us to see far into the reasons why, on the one hand, men dispute about world-outlooks, and why, on the other hand, they ought not to dispute but would do much better to understand why it happens that people have different world-outlooks. How, in spite of this, it may be necessary for certain epochs strongly to oppose the trend of this or the other world-outlook, we shall have to explain the next lecture. What I have said so far refers to the moulding of human thought by the spiritual cosmos of the twelve zodiacal signs, which form as it were our spiritual horizon.
But there is still something else that determines human world-outlooks. You will best understand this if I first of all show you the following.
A man can be so attuned in his soul — for the present it is immaterial by which of these twelve “mental-zodiacal signs” his soul is illuminated — that the soul-mood expressed in the whole configuration of his world-outlook can be designated as Gnosis. A man is a Gnostic when his disposition is such that he gets to know the things of the world not through the senses, but through certain cognitional forces in the soul itself. A man can be a Gnostic and at the same time have a certain inclination to be illuminated by e.g. the mental-zodiacal-sign that we have here called “Spiritism”. Then his Gnosticism will have a deeply illuminated insight into the relationships of the spiritual worlds. But a man can also be, e.g. a Gnostic of Idealism; then he will have a special proclivity for seeing clearly the ideals of mankind and the ideas of the world. Thus there can be a difference between two men who are both Idealists. One man will be an idealistic enthusiast who always has the word “ideal”, “ideal”, “ideal”, on his lips, but does not know much about idealism; he lacks the faculty for conjuring up ideals in sharp outline before his inner sight. The other man not only speaks of Idealism, but knows how to picture the ideals clearly in his soul. The latter, who inwardly grasps Idealism quite concretely — as intensely as a man grasps external things with his hand — is a Gnostic in the domain of Idealism. Thus one could say that he is basically a Gnostic, but is specially illuminated by the mental-zodiacal-sign of Idealism.
There are also persons who are specially illuminated by the world-outlook sign of Realism. They go through the world in such a way that their whole mode of perceiving and encountering the world enables them to say much, very much, to others about the world. They are neither Spiritists nor Idealists; they are quite ordinary Realists. They are equipped to have really fine perceptions of the external reality around them, and of the intrinsic qualities of things. They are Gnostics, genuine Gnostics, only they are Gnostics of Realism. There are such Gnostics of Realism, and Spiritists or Idealists are often not Gnostics of Realism at all. We can indeed find that people who call themselves good Theosophists may go through a picture-gallery and understand nothing about it, whereas others who are not Theosophists at all, but are Gnostics of Realism, are able to make an abundance of significant comments on it, because with their whole personality they are in touch with the reality of the things they see. Or again, many Theosophists go out into the country and are unable to grasp with their whole souls anything of the greatness and sublimity of nature; they are not Gnostics of Realism.
There are also Gnostics of Materialism. Certainly they are strange Gnostics. But quite in the sense in which there are Gnostics of Realism, there can be Gnostics of Materialism. They are persons who have feeling and perception only for all that is material; persons who try to get to know what the material is by coming into direct contact with it, like the dog who sniffs at substances and tries to get to know them intimately in that way, and who really is, in regard to material things, an excellent Gnostic. One can be a Gnostic in connection with all twelve world-outlook signs. Hence, if we want to put Gnosis in its right place, we must draw a circle, and the whole circle signifies that the Gnosis can move round through all twelve world-outlook signs. Just as a planet goes through all twelve signs of the Zodiac, so can the Gnosis pass through the twelve world-outlook signs. Certainly, the Gnosis will render the greatest service for the healing of souls when the Gnostic frame of mind is applied to Spiritism. One might say that Gnosis is thoroughly at home in Spiritism. That is its true home. In the other world-outlook-signs it is outside its home. Logically speaking, one is not justified in saying that there could not be a materialistic Gnosis. The pedants of concepts and ideas can settle such knotty points more easily than the sound logicians, who have a somewhat more complicated task. One might say, for example: “I will call nothing ‘Gnosis’ except what penetrates into the ‘spirit’.” That is an arbitrary attitude with regard to concepts; as arbitrary as if one were to say, “So far I have seen violets only in Austria; therefore I call violets only flowers that grow in Austria and have a violet colour — nothing else.” Logically it is just as impossible to say that there is Gnosis only in the world-outlook-sign of Spiritism; for Gnosis is a “planet” which passes through all the mental-constellations.
Diagram 10
There is another world-outlook-mood. Here I speak of “mood”, whereas otherwise I speak of “signs” or “pictures”. Of late it has been thought that one could more easily become acquainted — and yet here even the easy is difficult — with this second mood, because its representative, in the constellation of Idealism, is Hegel. But this special mood in which Hegel looks at the world need not be in the constellation of Idealism, for it, too, can pass through all the constellations. It is the world-outlook of Logicism. The special mark of Logicism consists in its enabling the soul to connect thoughts, concepts and ideas with one another. As when in looking at an organism one comes from the eyes to the nose and the mouth and regards them as all belonging to each other, so Hegel arranges all the concepts that he can lay hold of into a great concept-organism — a logical concept-organism. Hegel was simply able to seek out everything in the world that can be found as thought, to link together thought with thought, and to make an organism of it — Logicism! One can develop Logicism in the constellation of Idealism, as Hegel did; one can develop it, as Fichte did, in the constellation of Psychism; and one can develop it in other constellations. Logicism is again something that passes like a planet through the twelve zodiacal signs.
There is a third mood of the soul, expressed in world-outlooks; we can study this in Schopenhauer, for example. Whereas the soul of Hegel when he looked out upon the world was so attuned that with him everything conceptual takes the form of Logicism, Schopenhauer lays hold of everything in the soul that pertains to the character of will. The forces of nature, the hardness of a stone, have this character for him; the whole of reality is a manifestation of will. This arises from the particular disposition of his soul. This outlook can once more be regarded as a planet which passes through all twelve zodiacal signs. I will call this world-outlook, Voluntarism.
Schopenhauer was a voluntarist, and in his soul he was so constituted that he laid himself open to the influence of the mental constellation of Psychism. Thus arose the peculiar Schopenhauerian metaphysics of the will: Voluntarism in the mental constellation of Psychism.
Let us suppose that someone is a Voluntarist, with a special inclination towards the constellation of Monadism. Then he would not, like Schopenhauer, take as basis of the universe a unified soul which is really “will”; he would take many “monads”, which are, however, will-entities. This world of monadic voluntarism as been developed most beautifully, ingeniously, and I might say, in the most inward manner, by the Austrian philosophic poet, Hamerling. Whence came the peculiar teaching that you find in Hamerling's Atomistics of the Will? It arose because his soul was attuned to Voluntarism, while he came under the mental constellation of Monadism. If we had the time, we could mention examples for each soul-mood in each constellation. They are to be found in the world.
Another special mood is not at all prone to ponder whether behind the phenomena there is still this or that, as is done by the Gnostic mood, or the idealistic or voluntary moods, but which simply says: “I will incorporate into my world-conception whatever I meet with in the world, whatever shows itself to me externally.” One can do this in all domains — i.e. through all mental constellations. One can do it as a materialist who accepts only what he encounters externally; one can also do it as Spiritist. A man who has this mood will not trouble himself to seek for a special connection behind the phenomena; he lets things approach and waits for whatever comes from them. This mood we can call Empiricism. Empiricism signifies a soul-mood which simply accepts whatever experience may offer. Through all twelve constellations one can be an empiricist, a man with a world-conception based on experience. Empiricism is the fourth psychic mood which can go through all twelve constellations.
One can equally well develop a mood which is not satisfied with immediate experience, as in Empiricism, so that one feels through and through, as an inner necessity, a mood which says: Man is placed in the world; in his soul he experiences something about the world that he cannot experience externally; only there, in that inner realm, does the world unveil its secrets. One may look all round about and yet see nothing of the mysteries which the world includes. Someone imbued with a mood of this kind can often say: “Of what help to me is the Gnosis that takes pains to struggle up to a kind of vision? The things of the external world that one can look upon — they cannot show me the truth. How does Logicism help me to a world-picture? ... In Logicism the nature of the world does not express itself. What help is there in speculations about the will? It merely leads us away from looking into the depths of our own soul, and into those depths one does not look when the soul wills, but, on the contrary, just when by surrendering itself it is without will.” Voluntarism, therefore, is not the mood that I mean here, neither is Empiricism — the mere looking upon and listening to experience and events. But when the soul has become quiet and seeks inwardly for the divine Light, this soul-mood can be called Mysticism.
Again, one can be a mystic through all the twelve mental constellations. It would certainly not be specially favourable if one were a mystic of materialism — i.e. if one experienced inwardly not the mental, the spiritual, but the material. For a mystic of materialism is really he who has acquired a specially fine perception of how one feels when one enjoys this or that substance. It is somewhat different if one imbibes the juice of this plant or the other, and then waits to see what happens to one's organism. One thus grows together with matter in one's experience; one becomes a mystic of matter. This can even become an “awakening” for life, so that one follows up how one substance or another, drawn from this or that plant, works upon the organism, affecting particularly this or that organ. And so to be a Mystic of Materialism is a precondition for investigating individual substances in respect of their healing powers.
One can be a Mystic of the world of matter, and one can be a Mystic of Idealism. An ordinary Idealist or Gnostic Idealist is not a Mystic of Idealism. A Mystic of Idealism is one who has above all the possibility in his own soul of bringing out from its hidden sources the ideals of humanity, of feeling them as something divine, and of placing them in that light before the soul. We have an example of the Mystic of Idealism in Meister Eckhardt.
Now the soul may be so attuned that it cannot become aware of what may arise from within itself and appear as the real inner solution of the riddle of the universe. Such a soul may, rather, be so attuned that it will say to itself: “Yes, in the world there is something behind all things, also behind my own personality and being, so far as I perceive this being. But I cannot be a mystic. The mystic believes that this something behind flows into his soul. I do not feel it flow into my soul; I only feel it must be there, outside.” In this mood, a person presupposes that outside his soul, and beyond anything his soul can experience, the essential being of things lies hidden; but he does not suppose that this essential nature of things can flow into his soul, as does the Mystic. A person who takes this standpoint is a Transcendentalist — perhaps that is the best word for it. He accepts that the essence of a thing is transcendent, but that it does not enter into the soul — hence Transcendentalism. The Transcendentalist has the feeling: “When I perceive things, their nature approaches me; but I do not perceive it. It hides behind, but it approaches me.”
Now it is possible for a man, given all his perceptions and powers of cognition, to thrust away the nature of things still further than the Transcendentalist does. He can say; “The essential nature of things is beyond the range of ordinary human knowledge.” The Transcendentalist says; “If with your eyes you see red and blue, then the essential being of the thing is not in the red or blue, but lies hidden behind it. You must use your eyes; then you can get to the essential being of the thing. It lies behind.” But the mood I now have in mind will not accept Transcendentalism. On the contrary, it says: “One may experience red or blue, or this or that sound, ever so intensely; nothing of this expresses the hidden being of the thing. My perception never makes contact with this hidden being.” Anyone who speaks in this way speaks very much as we do when we take the standpoint that in external sense-appearance, in Maya, the essential nature of things does not find expression. We should be Transcendentalists if we said: “The world is spread out all around us, and this world everywhere proclaims its essential being.” This we do not say. We say: “This world is Maya, and one must seek the inner being of things by another way than through external sense-perception and the ordinary means of cognition.” Occultism! The psychic mood of Occultism!
Again, one can be an Occultist throughout all the mental-zodiacal signs. One can even be a thorough Occultist of Materialism. Yes, the rationally-minded scientists of the present day are all occultists of materialism, for they talk of “atoms”. But if they are not irrational it will never occur to them to declare that with any kind of “method” one can come to the atom. The atom remains in the occult. It is only that they do not like to be called “Occultists”, but they are so in the fullest sense of the word.
Apart from the seven world-outlooks I have drawn here, there can be no others — only transitions from one to another. Thus we must not only distinguish twelve various shades of world-outlook which are at rest round the circle, so to speak, but we must recognize that in each of the shades a quite special mood of the human soul is possible. From this you can see how immensely varied are the outlooks open to human personalities. One can specially cultivate each of these seven world-outlook-moods, and each of them can exist on one or other shade.

Diagram 11
What I have just depicted is actually the spiritual correlative of what we find externally in the world as the relations between the signs of the Zodiac and the planets, the seven planets familiar in Spiritual Science. Thus we have an external picture (not invented, but standing out there in the cosmos) for the relations of our seven world-outlook-moods to our twelve shades of world-outlook. We shall have the right feeling for this picture if we contemplate it in the following manner.
Let us begin with Idealism, and let us mark it with the mental-zodiacal sign of Aries; in like manner let us mark Rationalism as Taurus, Mathematism as Gemini, Materialism as Cancer, Sensationalism as Leo, Phenomenalism as Virgo, Realism as Libra, Dynamism as Scorpio, Monadism as Sagittarius, Spiritism as Capricorn, Pneumatism as Aquarius, and Psychism as Pisces. The relations which exist spatially between the individual zodiacal signs are actually present between these shades of world-outlook in the realm of spirit. And the relations which are entered into by the planets, as they follow their orbits through the Zodiac, correspond to the relations which the seven world-outlook-moods enter into, so that we can feel Gnosticism as Saturn, Logicism as Jupiter, Voluntarism as Mars, Empiricism as Sun, Mysticism as Venus, Transcendentalism as Mercury, and Occultism as Moon (see Diagram 11).
Even in the external pictures — although the main thing is that the innermost connections correspond — you will find something similar. The Moon remains occult, invisible when it is New Moon; it must have the light of the Sun brought to it, just as occult things remain occult until, through meditation, concentration and so on, the powers of the soul rise up and illuminate them. A person who goes through the world and relies only on the Sun, who accepts only what the Sun illuminates, is an Empiricist. A person who reflects on what the Sun illuminates, and retains the thoughts after the Sun has set, is no longer an Empiricist, because he no longer depends upon the Sun. “Sun” is the symbol of Empiricism. I might take all this further but we have only four periods to spend on this important subject, and for the present I must leave you to look for more exact connections, either throughout your own thinking or through other investigations. The connections are not difficult to find when the model has been given.
Broadmindedness is all too seldom sought. Anyone really in earnest about truth would have to be able to represent the twelve shades of world-outlook in his soul. He would have to know in terms of his own experience what it means to be a Gnostic, a Logician, a Voluntarist, an Empiricist, a Mystic, a Transcendentalist, an Occultist. All this must be gone through experimentally by anyone who wants to penetrate into the secrets of the universe according to the ideas of Spiritual Science. Even if what you will find in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, does not exactly fit in with this account, it is really depicted only from other points of view, and can lead us into the single moods which are here designated as the Gnostic mood, the Jupiter mood, and so on.
Often a man is so one-sided that he lets himself be influenced by only one constellation, by one mood. We find this particularly in great men. Thus, for example, Hamerling is an out-and-out Monadist or a monadologistic Voluntarist; Schopenhauer is a pronounced voluntaristic Psychist. It is precisely great men who have so adjusted their souls that their world-outlook-mood stands in a definite spiritual constellation. Other people get on much more easily with the different standpoints, as they are called. But it can also happen that men are stimulated from various sides in reaching their world-outlook, or for what they place before themselves as world-outlook. Thus someone may be a good Logician, but his logical mood stands in the constellation of Sensationalism; he can at the same time be a good Empiricist, but his empirical mood stands in the constellation of Mathematism. This may happen. When it does happen, a quite definite world-outlook is produced. Just at the present time we have an example of the outlook that comes about through someone having his Sun — in spiritual sense — in Gemini, and his Jupiter in Leo; such a man is Wundt. And all the details in the philosophical writings of Wundt can be grasped when the secret of his special psychic configuration has been penetrated.
The effect is specially good when a person has experienced, by way of exercises, the various psychic moods — Occultism, Transcendentalism, Mysticism, Empiricism, Voluntarism, Logicism, Gnosis — so that he can conjure them up in his mind and feel all their effects at once, and can then place all these moods together in the constellation of Phenomenalism, in Virgo. Then there actually comes before him as phenomena, and with a quite special magnificence, that which can be unveiled for him in a remarkable way as the content of his world-picture. When, in the same way, the individual world-outlook-moods are brought one after another in relation to another constellation, then it is not so good. Hence in many ancient Mystery-schools, just this mood, with all the soul-planets standing in the spiritual constellation of Virgo, was induced in the pupils because it was through this that they could most easily fathom the world. They grasped the phenomena, but they grasped them “gnostically”. They were in a position to pass behind the thought-phenomena, but they had no crude experience of the will: that would happen only if the soul-mood of Voluntarism were placed in Scorpio. In short, by means of the constellation given through the world-outlook-moods — the planetary element — and through the nuances connected with the spiritual Zodiac, the world-picture which a person carries with him through a given incarnation is called forth.
But there is one more thing. These world-pictures — they have many nuances if you reckon with all their combinations — are modified yet again by possessing quite definite tones. But we have only three tones to distinguish. All world-pictures, all combinations which arise in this manner, can appear in one of three ways. First, they can be theistic, so that what appears in the soul as tone must be called Theism. Or, in contrast to Theism, there may be a soul-tone that we must call Intuitionism. Theism arises when a person clings to all that is external in order to find his God, when he seeks his God in the external. The ancient Hebrew Monotheism was a particularly “theistic” world-outlook. Intuitionism arises when a person seeks his world-picture especially through intuitive flashes from his inner depths. And there is a third tone, Naturalism.
These three psychic tones are reflected in the cosmos, and their relation to one another in the soul of man is exactly like that of Sun, Moon and Earth, so that Theism corresponds to the Sun — the Sun being here considered as a fixed star — Intuitionism to the Moon, and Naturalism to the Earth. If we transpose the entities here designated as Sun, Moon and Earth into the spiritual, then a man who goes beyond the phenomena of the world and says: “When I look around, then God, Who fills the world, reveals Himself to me in everything,” or a man who stands up when he comes into the rays of the sun — they are Theists. A man who is content to study the details of natural phenomena, without going beyond them, and equally a man who pays no attention to the sun but only to its effects on the earth — he is a Naturalist. A man who seeks for the best, guided by his intuitions — he is like the intuitive poet whose soul is stirred by the mild silvery glance of the moon to sing its praises. Just as one can bring moonlight into connection with imagination, so the occultist, the Intuitionist, as we mean him here, must be brought into relation with the moon.
Lastly there is a special thing. It occurs only in a single case, when a person, taking all the world-pictures to some extent, restricts himself only to what he can experience on or around or in himself. That is Anthropomorphism. Such a person corresponds to the man who observes the Earth on its own account, independently of its being shone upon by the Sun, the Moon, or anything else. Just as we can consider the Earth for itself alone, so also with regard to world-outlooks we can reckon only with what as men we can find in ourselves. So does a widespread Anthropomorphism arise in the world. If one goes out beyond man in himself, as one must go out to Sun and Moon for an explanation of the phenomenon of the Earth — something that present-day science does not do — then one comes to recognize three different things, Theism, Intuitionism and Naturalism side by side and each with its justification. For it is not by insisting on one of these tones, but by letting them sound together, that one arrives at the truth. And just as our intimate corporeal relation with Sun, Moon and Earth is placed in the midst of the seven planets, so Anthropomorphism is the world-outlook nearest to the harmony that can sound forth from Theism, Intuitionism and Naturalism, while this harmony again is closest to the conjoined effect of the seven psychic moods; and these seven moods are shaded according to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
You see, it is not true to talk in terms of one cosmic conception, but of
12 + 7 == 19 + 3 == 22 + 1 == 23
cosmic conceptions which all have their justification. We have twenty-three legitimate names for cosmic conceptions. But all the rest can arise from the fact that the corresponding planets pass through the twelve spiritual signs of the encircling Zodiac. And now try, from what has been explained, to enter into the task confronting Spiritual Science: the task of acting as peacemaker among the various world-outlooks. The way to peace is to realize that the world-outlooks conjointly, in their reciprocal action on one another, can be in a certain sense explained, but that they cannot lead into the inner nature of truth if they remain one-sided. One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth. Just as you can picture to yourselves the physical cosmos; the Zodiac, the planetary system; Sun, Moon and Earth (the three together) and the Earth on its own account, so you can think of a spiritual universe: Anthropomorphism; Theism, Intuitionism, Naturalism; Gnosis, Logicism, Voluntarism, Empiricism, Mysticism, Transcendentalism, Occultism, and all this moving round through the twelve spiritual Zodiacal signs. All this does exist, only it exists spiritually. As truly as the physical cosmos exists physically, so truly does this other universe exist spiritually.
Diagram 12
In that half of the brain which is found by the anatomist, and of which one may say that it is shaped like a half-hemisphere, those activities of the spiritual cosmos which proceed from the upper nuances are specially operative. On the other hand, there is a part of the brain which is visible only when one observes the etheric body; and this is specially influenced by the lower part of the spiritual cosmos. (see Diagram 9 and Diagram 11.) But how is it with this influencing? Let us say of someone that with his Logicism he is placed in Sensationalism, and that with his Empiricism he is placed in Mathematism. The resulting forces then work into his brain, so that the upper part of his brain is specially active and dominates the rest. Countless varieties of brain-activity arise from the fact that the brain swims, as it were, in the spiritual cosmos, and its forces work into the brain in the way we have been able to describe. The brains of men are as varied in kind as all the possible combinations that can spring from this spiritual cosmos. The lower part of the spiritual cosmos does not act on the physical brain at all, but on the etheric brain.
The best impression one can retain from the whole subject would lead one to say: It opens out for me a feeling for the immensity of the world, for the qualitatively sublime in the world, for the possibility that man can exist in endless variety in this world. Truly, if we consider only this, we can already say to ourselves: There is no lack of varied possibilities open to us for the different incarnations that we have to go through on earth. And one can also feel sure that anyone who looks at the world in this light will be impelled to say: “Ah, how grand, how rich, the world is! What happiness it is to go on and on taking part, in ways ever more varied, in its existence, its activities, its endeavors!”

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Thinking Zodiac: The 12 basic mental viewpoints

Human and Cosmic Thought. Lecture 2 of 4.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, January 21, 1914:

The study of spiritual science should always go hand in hand with practical experience of how the mind works. It is impossible to get entirely clear about many things that we discussed in the last lecture unless one tries to get a kind of living grasp of what thinking involves in terms of actualities. For why is it that among the very persons whose profession it is to think about such questions confusion reigns, for example, as to the relation between the general concept of the “triangle-in-general” and specific concepts of individual triangles? How is it that people puzzle for centuries over questions such as that of the hundred possible and the hundred real thalers cited by Kant? Why is it that people fail to pursue the very simple reflections that are necessary to see that there cannot really be any such thing as a “pragmatic” account of history, according to which the course of events always follows directly from preceding events? Why do people not reflect in such a way that they would be repelled by this impossible mode of regarding the history of man, so widely current nowadays? What is the cause of all these things?

The reason is that far too little trouble is taken over learning to handle with precision the activities of thinking, even by people whose business this should be. Nowadays everyone wants to feel that he has a perfect claim to say “Think? Well, one can obviously do that.” So they begin to think. Thus we have various conceptions of the world; there have been many philosophers — a great many. We find that one philosopher is after this and another is after that, and that many fairly clever people have drawn attention to many things. If someone comes upon contradictions in these findings, he does not ponder over them, but he is quite pleased with himself, fancying that now he can “think” indeed. He can think again what those other fellows have thought out, and feels quite sure that he will find the right answer himself. For no one nowadays must make any concession to authority! That would deny the dignity of human nature! Everyone must think for himself. That is the prevailing notion in the realm of thought.

I do not know if people have reflected that this is not their attitude in other realms of life. No one feels committed to belief in authority or to a craving for authority when he has his coat made at the tailor's or his shoes at the shoemaker's. He does not say “It would be beneath the dignity of man to let one's things be made by persons who are known to be thoroughly acquainted with their business.” He may perhaps even allow that it is necessary to learn these skills. But in practical life, with regard to thinking, it is not agreed that one must get one's conceptions of the world from quarters where thinking and much else has been learnt. Only rarely would this be conceded today.

This is one tendency that dominates our life in the widest circles, and is the immediate reason why human thinking is not a very widespread product nowadays. I believe this can be quite easily grasped. For let us suppose that one day everybody were to say: “What! — learn to make boots? For a long time that has been unworthy of man; we can all make boots.” I don't know if only good boots would come from it. At all events, with regard to the coining of correct thoughts in their conception of the world, it is from this sort of reasoning that men mostly take their start at the present day. This is what gives its deeper meaning to my remark of yesterday — that although thought is something a man is completely within, so that he can contemplate it in its inner being, actual thinking is not as common as one might suppose. Besides this, there is today a quite special pretension which could gradually go so far as to throw a veil over all clear thinking. We must pay attention to this also; at least we must glance at it.

Let us suppose the following. There was once in Görlitz a shoemaker named Jacob Boehme. He had learnt his craft well — how soles are cut, how the shoe is formed over the last, and how the nails are driven into the soles and leather. He knew all this down to the ground. Now supposing that this shoemaker, by name Jacob Boehme, had gone around and said: “I will now see how the world is constructed. I will suppose that there is a great last at the foundation of the world. Over this last the world-leather was once stretched; then the world-nails were added, and by means of them the world-sole was fastened to the world-upper. Then boot-blacking was brought into play, and the whole world-shoe was polished. In this way I can quite clearly explain to myself how in the morning it is bright, for then the shoe-polish of the world is shining, but in the evening it is soiled with all sorts of things; it shines no longer. Hence I imagine that every night someone has the duty of repolishing the world-boot. And thus arises the difference between day and night.” Let us suppose that Jacob Boehme had said this.

Yes, you laugh, for of course Jacob Boehme did not say this; but still he made good shoes for the people of Görlitz, and for that he employed his knowledge of shoe-making. But he also developed his grand thoughts, through which he wanted to build up a conception of the world; and for that he resorted to something else. He said to himself: My shoe-making is not enough for that; I dare not apply to the structure of the world the thoughts I put into making shoes. And in due course he arrived at his sublime thoughts about the world. Thus there was no such Jacob Boehme as the hypothetical figure I first sketched, but there was another one who knew how to set about things. But the hypothetical “Jacob Boehmes”, like the one you laughed over — they exist everywhere today.

For example, we find among them physicists and chemists who have learnt the laws governing the combination and separation of substances; there are zoologists who have learnt how one examines and describes animals; there are doctors who have learnt how to treat the physical human body, and what they themselves call the soul. What do they all do? They say: When a person wants to work out for himself a conception of the world, then he takes the laws that are learnt in chemistry, in physics, or in physiology — no others are admissible — and out of these he builds a conception of the world for himself. These people proceed exactly as the hypothetical shoemaker would have done if he had constructed the world-boot, only they do not notice that their world-conceptions come into existence by the very same method that produced the hypothetical world-boot. It does certainly seem rather grotesque if one imagines that the difference between day and night comes about through the soiling of shoe-leather and the repolishing of it in the night. But in terms of true logic it is in principle just the same if an attempt is made to build a world out of the laws of chemistry, physics, biology, and physiology. Exactly the same principle! It is an immense presumption on the part of the physicist, the chemist, the physiologist, or the biologist, who do not wish to be anything else than physicist, chemist, physiologist, biologist, and yet want to have an opinion about the whole world. The point is that one should go to the root of things and not shirk the task of illuminating anything that is not so clear by tracing it back to its true place in the scheme of things. If you look at all this with method and logic, you will not need to be astonished that so many present-day conceptions of the world yield nothing but the “world-boot”. And this is something that can point us to the study of spiritual science and to the pursuit of practical trains of thought; something that can urge us to examine the question of how we must think in order to see where shortcomings exist in the world.

There is something else I should like to mention in order to show where lies the root of countless misunderstandings with regard to the ideas people have about the world. When one concerns oneself with world-conceptions, does one not have over and over again the experience that someone thinks this and someone else that; one man upholds a certain view with many good reasons (one can find good reasons for everything), while another has equally good reasons for his view; the first man contradicts his opponent with just as good reasons as those with which the opponent contradicts him. Sects arise in the world not, in the first place, because one person or another is convinced about the right path by what is taught here or there. Only look at the paths which the disciples of great men have had to follow in order to come to this or that great man, and then you will see that herein lies something important for us with regard to karma. But if we examine the outlooks that exist in the world today, we must say that whether someone is a follower of Bergson, or of Haeckel, or of this or that (karma, as I have already said, does not recognize the current world-conception), depends on other things than on deep conviction. There is contention on all sides!

Yesterday I said that once there were Nominalists, persons who maintained that general concepts had no reality, but were merely names. These Nominalists had opponents who were called Realists (the word had a different meaning then). The Realists maintained that general concepts are not mere words, but refer to quite definite realities. In the Middle Ages the question of Realism versus Nominalism was always a burning one, especially for theology, a sphere of thought with which present-day thinkers trouble themselves very little. For in the time when the question of Nominalism versus Realism arose (from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries) there was something that belonged to the most important confessions of faith, the question about the three “Divine Persons” — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — who form One Divine Being, but are still Three real Persons. The Nominalists maintained that these three Divine Persons existed only individually, the “Father” for Himself, the “Son” for Himself, and the “Holy Ghost” for Himself; and if one spoke of a “Collective God” Who comprised these Three, that was only a name for the Three. Thus Nominalism did away with the unity of the Trinity. In opposition to the Realists, the Nominalists not only explained away the unity, but even regarded it as heretical to declare, as the Realists did, that the Three Persons formed not merely an imaginary unity, but an actual one.

Thus Nominalism and Realism were opposites. And anyone who goes deeply into the literature of Realism and Nominalism during these centuries gets a deep insight into what human acumen can produce. For the most ingenious grounds were brought forward for Nominalism, just as much as for Realism. In those days it was more difficult to be reckoned as a thinker because there was no printing press, and it was not an easy thing to take part in such controversies as that between Nominalism and Realism. Anyone who ventured into this field had to be better prepared, according to the ideas of those times, than is required of people who engage in controversies nowadays. An immense amount of penetration was necessary in order to plead the cause of Realism, and it was equally so with Nominalism. How does this come about? It is grievous that things are so, and if one reflects more deeply on it, one is led to say: What use is it that you are so clever? You can be clever and plead the cause of Nominalism, and you can be just as clever and contradict Nominalism. One can get quite confused about the whole question of intelligence! It is distressing even to listen to what such characterizations are supposed to mean.

Now, as a contrast to what we have been saying, we will bring forward something that is perhaps not nearly so discerning as much that has been advanced with regard to Nominalism or to Realism, but it has perhaps one merit — it goes straight to the point and indicates the direction in which one needs to think.

Let us imagine the way in which one forms general concepts; the way in which one synthesizes a mass of details. We can do this in two ways: first as a man does in the course of his life through the world. He sees numerous examples of a certain kind of animal: they are silky or woolly, are of various colors, have whiskers, at certain times they go through movements that recall human “washing”, they eat mice, etc. One can call such creatures “cats”. Then one has formed a general concept. All these creatures have something to do with what we call “cats”. But now let us suppose that someone has had a long life, in the course of which he has encountered many cat-owners, men and women, and he has noticed that a great many of these people call their pets “Pussy”. Hence he classes all these creatures under the name of “Pussy”. Hence we now have the general concept “Cats” and the general concept “Pussy”, and a large number of individual creatures belonging in both cases to the general concept. And yet no one will maintain that the general concept “Pussy” has the same significance as the general concept “Cats”. Here the real difference comes out. In forming the general concept “Pussy” which is only a summary of names that must rank as individual names, we have taken the line, and rightly so, of Nominalism; and in forming the general concept “Cats” we have taken the line of Realism, and rightly so. In one case Nominalism is correct; in the other, Realism. Both are right. One must only apply these methods within their proper limits. And when both are right, it is not surprising that good reasons for both can be adduced. In taking the name “Pussy” I have employed a somewhat grotesque example. But I can show you a much more significant example, and I will do so at once.

Within the scope of our objective experience there is a whole realm where Nominalism — the idea that the collective term is only a name — is fully justified. We have “one”, “two”, “three”, “four”, “five”, and so on, but it is impossible to find in the expression “number” anything that has a real existence. “Number” has no existence. “One”, “two”, “three”, “five”, “six”, — they exist. But what I said in the last lecture, that in order to find the general concept one must let that which corresponds to it pass over into movement — this cannot be done with the concept “Number”. One “one” does not pass over into “two”. It must always be taken as “one”. Not even in thought can we pass over into two, or from two into three. Only the individual numbers exist, not “number” in general. As applied to the nature of numbers, Nominalism is entirely correct; but when we come to the single animal in relation to its genus, Realism is entirely correct. For it is impossible for a deer to exist, and another deer, and yet another, without there being the genus “deer”. The figure “two” can exist for itself, “one”, “seven”, etc., can exist for themselves. But in so far as anything real appears in number, the number is a quality, and the concept “number” has no specific existence. External things are related to general concepts in two different ways: Nominalism is appropriate in one case, and Realism in the other.

On these lines, if we simply give our thoughts the right direction, we begin to understand why there are so many disputes about conceptions of the world. People generally are not inclined, when they have grasped one standpoint, to grasp another as well. When in some realm of thought somebody has got hold of the idea “general concepts have no existence”, he proceeds to extend to it the whole make-up of the world. This sentence, “general concepts have no existence” is not false, for when applied to the particular realm which the person in question has considered, it is correct. It is only the universalizing of it that is wrong. Thus it is essential, if one wants to form a correct idea of what thinking is, to understand clearly that the truth of a thought in the realm to which it belongs is no evidence for its general validity. Someone can offer me a perfectly correct proof of this or that and yet it will not hold good in a sphere to which it does not belong. Anyone, therefore, who intends to occupy himself seriously with the paths that lead to a conception of the world must recognize that the first essential is to avoid one-sidedness. That is what I specially want to bring out today. Now let us take a general look at some matters which will be explained in detail later on.

There are people so constituted that it is not possible for them to find the way to the sprit, and to give them any proof of the spirit will always be hard. They stick to something they know about, in accordance with their nature. Let us say they stick at something that makes the crudest kind of impression on them — Materialism. We need not regard as foolish the arguments they advance as a defence or proof of Materialism, for an immense amount of ingenious writing has been devoted to the subject, and it holds good in the first place for material life, for the material world and its laws.

Again, there are people who, owing to a certain inwardness, are naturally predisposed to see in all that is material only the revelation of the spiritual. Naturally, they know as well as the materialists do that, externally, the material world exists; but matter, they say, is only the revelation, the manifestation, of the underlying spiritual. Such persons may take no particular interest in the material world and its laws. As all their ideas of the spiritual come to them through their own inner activity, they may go through the world with the consciousness that the true, the lofty, in which one ought to interest oneself — all genuine reality — is found only in the spirit; that matter is only illusion, only external phantasmagoria. This would be an extreme standpoint, but it can occur, and can lead to a complete denial of material life. We should have to say of such persons that they certainly do recognize what is most real, the spirit, but they are one-sided; they deny the significance of the material world and its laws. Much acute thinking can be enlisted in support of the conception of the universe held by these persons. Let us call their conception of the universe: Spiritism. Can we say that the Spiritists are right? As regards the spirit, their contentions could bring to light some exceptionally correct ideas, but concerning matter and its laws they might reveal very little of any significance. Can one say the Materialists are correct in what they maintain? Yes, concerning matter and its laws they may be able to discover some exceptionally useful and valuable facts; but in speaking of the spirit they may utter nothing but foolishness. Hence we must say that both parties are correct in their respective spheres.

There can also be persons who say “Yes, but as to whether in truth the world contains only matter, or only spirit, I have no special knowledge; the powers of human cognition cannot cope with that. One thing is clear — there is a world spread out around us. Whether it is based upon what chemists and physicists, if they are materialists, call atoms, I know not. But I recognize the external world; that is something I see and can think about. I have no particular reason for supposing that it is or is not spiritual at root. I restrict myself to what I see around me.” From the explanations already given we can call such Realists, and their concept of the universe: Realism. Just as one can enlist endless ingenuity on behalf of Materialism or of Spiritism, and just as one can be clever about Spiritism and yet say the most foolish things on material matters, and vice versa, so one can advance the most ingenious reasons for Realism, which differs from both Spiritism and Materialism in the way I have just described.

Again, there may be other persons who speak as follows. Around us are matter and the world of material phenomena. But this world of material phenomena is in itself devoid of meaning. It has no real meaning unless there is within it a progressive tendency; unless from this external world something can emerge toward which the human soul can direct itself, independently of the world. According to this outlook, there must be a realm of ideas and ideals within the world-process. Such people are not Realists, although they pay external life its due; their view is that life has meaning only if ideas work through it and give it purpose. It was under the influence of such a mood as this that Fichte once said: Our world is the sensualized material of our duty. The adherents of such a world-outlook as this, which takes everything as a vehicle for the ideas that permeate the world-process, may be called Idealists and their outlook: Idealism. Beautiful and grand and glorious things have been brought forward on behalf of this Idealism. And in this realm that I have just described — where the point is to show that the world would be purposeless and meaningless if ideas were only human inventions and were not rooted in the world-process — in this realm Idealism is fully justified. But by means of it one cannot, for example, explain external reality. Hence one can distinguish this Idealism from other world-outlooks:

We now have side by side four justifiable world-outlooks, each with significance for its particular domain. Between Materialism and Idealism there is a certain transition. The crudest kind of materialism — one can observe it specially well in our day, although it is already on the wane — will consist in this, that people carry to an extreme the saying of Kant — Kant did not do this himself! — that in the individual sciences there is only so much real science as there is mathematics. This means that from being a materialist one can become a ready-reckoner of the universe, taking nothing as valid except a world composed of material atoms. They collide and gyrate, and then one calculates how they inter-gyrate. By this means one obtains very fine results, which show that this way of looking at things is fully justified. Thus you can get the vibration-rates for blue, red, etc.; you take the whole world as a kind of mechanical apparatus, and can reckon it up accurately. But one can become rather confused in this field. One can say to oneself: “Yes, but however complicated the machine may be, one can never get out of it anything like the perception of blue, red, etc. Thus if the brain is only a complicated machine, it can never give rise to what we know as soul-experiences.” But then one can say, as du Bois-Reymond once said: If we want to explain the world in strictly mathematical terms, we shall not be able to explain the simplest perception, but if we go outside a mathematical explanation, we shall be unscientific. The most uncompromising materialist would say, “No, I do not even calculate, for that would presuppose a superstition — it would imply that I assume that things are ordered by measure and number.” And anyone who raises himself above this crude materialism will become a mathematical thinker, and will recognize as valid only whatever can be treated mathematically. From this results a conception of the universe that really admits nothing beyond mathematical formulae. This may be called Mathematism.

Someone, however, might think this over, and after becoming a Mathematist he might say to himself: “It cannot be a superstition that the color blue has so and so many vibrations. The world is ordered mathematically. If mathematical ideas are found to be real in the world, why should not other ideas have equal reality?” Such a person accepts this — that ideas are active in the world. But he grants validity only to those ideas that he discovers outside himself — not to any ideas that he might grasp from his inner self by some sort of intuition or inspiration, but only to those he reads from external things that are real to the senses. Such a person becomes a Rationalist, and his outlook on the world is that of Rationalism. If, in addition to the ideas that are found in this way, someone grants validity also to those gained from the moral and the intellectual realms, then he is already an Idealist. Thus a path leads from crude Materialism, by way of Mathematism and Rationalism, to Idealism.

But now Idealism can be enhanced. In our age there are some men who are trying to do this. They find ideas at work in the world, and this implies that there must also be in the world some sort of beings in whom the ideas can live. Ideas cannot live just as they are in any external object, nor can they hang as it were in the air. In the nineteenth century the belief existed that ideas rule history. But this was a confusion, for ideas as such have no power to work. Hence one cannot speak of ideas in history. Anyone who understands that ideas, if they are there are all, are bound up with some being capable of having ideas will no longer be a mere Idealist; he will move on to the supposition that ideas are connected with beings. He becomes a Psychist and his world-outlook is that Psychism. The Psychist, who in his turn can uphold his outlook with an immense amount of ingenuity, reaches it only through a kind of one-sidedness, of which he can eventually become aware.

Here I must add that there are adherents of all the world-outlooks above the horizontal stroke; for the most part they are stubborn folk who, owing to some fundamental element in themselves, take this or that world-outlook and abide by it, going no further. All the beliefs listed below the line have adherents who are more easily accessible to the knowledge that individual world-outlooks each have one special standpoint only, and they more easily reach the point where they pass from one world-outlook to another.

When someone is a Psychist, and able as a thinking person to contemplate the world clearly, then he comes to the point of saying to himself that he must presuppose something actively psychic in the outside world. But directly he not only thinks but feels sympathy for what is active and willing in man, then he says to himself: “It is not enough that there are beings who have ideas; these beings must also be active, they must be able also to do things.” But this is inconceivable unless these beings are individual beings. That is, a person of this type rises from accepting the ensoulment of the world to accepting the Spirit or the Spirits of the world. He is not yet clear whether he should accept one or a number of Spirits, but he advances from Psychism to Pneumatism, to a doctrine of the Spirit.

If he has become in truth a Pneumatist, then he may well grasp what I have said in this lecture about number — that with regard to figures it is somewhat doubtful to speak of a “unity”. Then he comes to the point of saying to himself: It must therefore be a confusion to talk of one undivided Spirit, of one undivided Pneuma. And he gradually becomes able to form for himself an idea of the Spirits of the different Hierarchies. Then he becomes in the true sense a Spiritist, so that on this side there is a direct transition from Pneumatism to Spiritism.

These world-outlooks are all justified in their own field. For there are fields where Psychism acts illuminatingly, and others where Pneumatism does the same. Certainly, anyone who wishes to deliberate about an explanation of the universe as thoroughly as we have tried to do must come to Spiritism, to the acceptance of the Spirits of the Hierarchies. For to stop short at Pneumatism would in this case mean the following. If we are Spiritists, then it may happen that people will say to us: “Why so many spirits? Why bring numbers into it? Let there be One Undivided Spirit!” Anyone who goes more deeply into the matter knows that this objection is like saying: “You tell me there are two hundred midges over there. I don't see two hundred; I see only a single swarm.” Exactly so would an adherent of Pneumatism stand with regard to a Spiritist. The Spiritist sees the universe filled with the Spirits of the Hierarchies; the Pneumatist sees only the one “swarm” — only the Universal Spirit. But that comes from an inexact view.

Now, there is still another possibility: someone may not take the path we have tried to follow to the activities of the spiritual Hierarchies, but may still come to an acceptance of certain spiritual beings. The celebrated German philosopher, Leibnitz, was a man of this kind. Leibnitz had got beyond the prejudice that anything merely material can exist in the world. He found the actual, he sought the actual. (I have treated this more precisely in my book Riddles of Philosophy.) His view was that a being — as, for example, the human soul — can build up existence in itself. But he formed no further ideas on the subject. He only said to himself that there is such a being that can build up existence in itself, and force concepts outwards from within itself. For Leibnitz, this being is a “Monad”. And he said to himself: “There must be many Monads, and Monads of the most varied capabilities. If I had here a bell, there would be many monads in it — as in a swarm of midges — but they would be monads that had never come even so far as to have sleep-consciousness, monads that are almost unconscious, but which nevertheless develop the dimmest of concepts within themselves. There are monads that dream; there are monads that develop waking ideas within themselves; in short, there are monads of the most varied grades.”

A person with this outlook does not come so far as to picture to himself the individual spiritual beings in concrete terms, as the Spiritist does, but he reflects in the world upon the spiritual element in the world, allowing it to remain indefinite. He calls it “Monad” — that is, he conceives of it only as though one were to say: “Yes, there is spirit in the world and there are spirits, but I describe them only by saying, ‘They are entities having varying powers of perception.’ I pick out from them an abstract characteristic. So I form for myself this one-sided world-outlook, on behalf of which as much as can be said has been said by the highly intelligent Leibnitz. In this way I develop Monadism.” Monadism is an abstract Spiritism.

But there can be persons who do not rise to the level of the Monads; they cannot concede that existence is made up of being with the most varied conceptual powers, but at the same time they are not content to allow reality only to external phenomena; they hold that “forces” are dominant everywhere. If, for example, a stone falls to the ground, they say “That is gravitation!” When a magnet attracts bits of iron, they say “That is magnetic force!” They are not content with saying simply “There is the magnet,” but they say “The magnet presupposes that supersensibly, invisibly, a magnetic force is present, extending in all directions.” A world-outlook of this kind — which looks everywhere for forces behind phenomena — can be called Dynamism.

Then one may say “No, to believe in ‘forces’ is superstition” — an example of this is Fritz Mauthner'sCritique of Language, where you find a detailed argument to this effect. It amounts to taking your stand on the reality of the things around us. Thus by the path of Spiritism we come through Monadism and Dynamism to Realism again.

But now one can do something else still. One can say “Certainly I believe in the world that is spread out around me, but I do not maintain any right to claim that this world is the real one. I can say of it only that it ‘appears’ to me. I have no right to say more about it.” There you have again a difference. One can say of the world that is spread out around us “This is the real world,” but one can also say “I am clear that there is a world which appears to me; I cannot speak of anything more. I am not saying that this world of colors and sounds — which arises only because certain processes in my eyes present themselves to me as colors, while processes in my ears present themselves to me as sounds — I am not saying that this world is the true world. It is a world of phenomena.” This is the outlook called Phenomenalism.

We can go further and can say “The world of phenomena we certainly have around us, but all that we believe we have in these phenomena is what we have ourselves added to them, what we have thought into them. Our own sense-impressions are all we can rightly accept.” Anyone who says this — mark it well! — is not an adherent of Phenomenalism. He peels off from the phenomena everything which he thinks comes only from the understanding and the reason, and he allows validity only to sense-impressions, regarding them as some kind of message from reality. This outlook may be called Sensationalism.

A critic of this outlook can then say “You may reflect as much as you like on what the senses tell us, and bring forward ever so ingenious reasons for your view — and ingenious reasons can be given — I take my stand on the point that nothing real exists except that which manifests itself through sense-impressions; this I accept as something material.” 

This is rather like an atomist saying “I hold that only atoms exist, and that however small they are, they have the attributes which we recognize in the physical world” — anyone who says this is a materialist. Thus, by another path, we arrive back at Materialism.

All these conceptions of the world that I have described and written down for you really exist, and they can be maintained. And it is possible to bring forward the most ingenious reasons for each of them; it is possible to adopt any one of them and with ingenious reasons to refute the others. In between these conceptions of the world one can think out yet others, but they differ only in degree from the leading types I have described, and can be traced back to them. If one wishes to learn about the web and woof of the world, then one must know that the way to it is through these twelve points of entry. There is not merely one conception of the world that can be defended, or justified, but there are twelve. And one must admit that just as many good reasons can be adduced for each and all of them as for any particular one. The world cannot be rightly considered from the one-sided standpoint of one single conception, one single mode of thought; the world discloses itself only to someone who knows that one must look at it from all sides. Just as the Sun — if we go by the Copernican conception of the universe — passes through the signs of the Zodiac in order to illuminate the Earth from twelve different points, so we must not adopt one standpoint, the standpoint of Idealism, or Sensationalism, or Phenomenalism, or any other conception of the world with a name of this kind; we must be in a position to go all round the world and accustom ourselves to the twelve different standpoints from which it can be contemplated. In terms of thought, all twelve standpoints are fully justifiable. For a thinker who can penetrate into the nature of thought, there is not one single conception of the world, but twelve that can be equally justified — so far justified as to permit of equally good reasons being thought out for each of them. There are twelve such justified conceptions of the world.

Tomorrow we will start from the points of view we have gained in this way, so that from the consideration of man in terms of thought we may rise to a consideration of the cosmic.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

13 ways of looking at my guru. #11: The Majorette

My guru, Swamiji, in 1975
"He [Swamiji] said, 'Isn't this a cremation ground?' referring to his ashram. 'You come here to be burned, and if you can't get that into your head, there's no point in your being here!'"  — Swami Veda

Rudolf Steiner:  “Freedom is the sense of being capable of actions motivated solely by love.”  

"Duty is when one loves the commands one gives to oneself."  —Goethe

"What is a good person? One who achieves tranquility by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion: 'What is the right thing to do now?'" Epictetus

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt
"I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go." — Abraham Lincoln

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  — Matthew 11:28-30

"He who with sincerity seeks his real purpose in life is himself sought by that purpose."  —Hazrat Inayat Khan

My yoke is easy : my dharma is penance. In 2003, at the age of 56, I traveled to the School of Metaphysics in Windyville, Missouri, because they claimed to be able to tell you what your dharma actually is. Turns out they truly can do what they claim. Here's a transcript of the session in which they lay the light of my dharma on me.

September 13, 2003. You will search for the identity of the entity referred to as Lawrence Michael Clark. You will relate this one’s dharma from the past and past lifetimes in general in terms of incarnations.

This would be penance. There is a very strong urge within this one and a configuration of attitudes which promote the need for, as well as the capacity for, penance. This is the ability to assess and to give according to the assessment. We see that it is the obligation and the duty and the debt that this one has in any situation, and we see that it does manifest in ways that are appropriate to this. We see that there have been many incarnations in which this one has been somewhat negligent in this regard, inasmuch as this one either did not perceive or did not admit or did not assess accurately the people, places, and things in the life for this one to be able to understand how this one was accountable and how this one was responsible and what this one was responsible for. We see that this then left many situations in many lives where things were left undone, where there were opportunities that were pushed away, from the scattering of attention or the denial of the situation at hand. We see that this then built a considerable amount of energy toward that of penance, of being able to pay what this one owes, and we see that it is through this ability that this one has formed different understandings through subsequent lives, where the penance has become this one’s dharma. We see that this is very strong within this one and there is a constant awareness — even when it is unconscious it is still present, it is a force in this one’s consciousness and therefore in this one’s life — that this one is obligated, is how it is often seen, and we see that it is through this one accepting and moving beyond the limitations of obligation to be able to perceive the benefits of obeisance and generosity that this one will be able to come to a new level of understanding of the dharma itself. This is all.

Very well. What would be the relevance of this one’s dharma to the present lifetime?

In the present we see that this one tends to become distracted through the conscious configuration of obligation. We see that this one has different attitudes about this and we see that some of them are embracing, others are resistant, and we see that it is through this that the awareness is limited of the dharma itself. It would be helpful for this one to begin to develop an image of penance which is desirable. It would be helpful for this one in this to be able to see what it brings to the world personally as well as in this one being connected with living beings. We see that there is a sincere need within this one as well as many others to recognize the sense of duty, purpose, responsibility in order for there to be a greater or heightened sense of connectedness. The sense of duty comes from within the self, it does not pose itself externally; its origin is not apart from this one. And as this one will reconcile this thinking, then there will be a greater flow from within the self of what this one needs to do and why. There is also a need for this one to recognize that the sense of obligation does give this one the sense that there is a need for gratitude. And it is in the embracing of gratitude that this one will become free of the negative connotations to obligation, and these when they are no longer present will make space for there to be joy in the penance — the ability for recompense.

"It is the highest and holiest of the paradoxes that the man who really knows he cannot pay his debt will be forever paying it. He will be for ever giving back what he cannot give back, and what he cannot be expected to give back. He will be always throwing things away into a bottomless pit of unfathomable thanks."  — G. K. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi

Rudolf Steiner:  "If one observes how karma works itself out, it may be said from the human side that this living out of karma can only be described as a kind of hunger and its satisfaction."

The recompense of penance is joy


Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  —Luke 9:23-24

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."  —John 1:29

"He must increase : I must decrease."  —John 3:30

"In the beholding of God we do not fall;
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
                          — Julian of Norwich

Revelation 3:14-22

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Rudolf Steiner: "In older languages the self was not specifically designated, for it was contained within the verb. The ‘I’ was not directly mentioned. The verb was used to show what one was doing, and this was what indicated that one was speaking about oneself. There was no name for the self. It only came about in later times that the human being gave his self a name, and in our German language that name [ich] contains the initials of Jesus Christ, which is an important symbolic fact." [Iesus CHristus: ICH]


Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

May wisdom shine through me
May love radiate from me
May strength course through me
That in me may arise
A helper of humankind
A consecrated servant
Selfless and true

~ Rudolf Steiner

"If one observes how karma works itself out, it may be said from the human side that this living out of karma can only be described as a kind of hunger and its satisfaction."  — Rudolf Steiner

In the summer of 1978, when I was 31, I fell asleep after reading this passage from Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi:

Shortly after my healing through the potency of the guru’s picture, I had an influential spiritual vision. Sitting on my bed one morning, I fell into a deep reverie.
“What is behind the darkness of closed eyes?” This probing thought came powerfully into my mind. An immense flash of light at once manifested to my inward gaze. Divine shapes of saints, sitting in meditation posture in mountain caves, formed like miniature cinema pictures on the large screen of radiance within my forehead.
“Who are you?” I spoke aloud.
“We are the Himalayan yogis.” The celestial response is difficult to describe; my heart was thrilled.
“Ah, I long to go to the Himalayas and become like you!” The vision vanished, but the silvery beams expanded in ever-widening circles to infinity.
“What is this wondrous glow?”
“I am Ishwara. I am Light.” The voice was as murmuring clouds.
“I want to be one with Thee!”

    Out of the slow dwindling of my divine ecstasy, I salvaged a permanent legacy of inspiration to seek God. “He is eternal, ever-new Joy!” This memory persisted long after the day of rapture.

    I found myself in a space with twelve sages in a circle, all focused on an endless column of living white light that was in the middle of the circle. One of the sages sent a ray of consciousness to me: "What do you want to know?" Immediately I responded: "How can I help?"