Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thinking, morality, and conscience

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given November 12, 1921 [Cosmosophy, vol. 2, pp. 189-191]:

Between going to sleep and waking up human beings in fact put an image into the world of what will incarnate into a physical form in their next life on Earth. This is extraordinarily significant. If we now recall that it is the moral constitution of the soul which determines this form and coloration, we must consider the powers inherent in the human head in the next life on Earth to be the embodiment of the moral constitution of the soul in the present life. Since the poweers of the human being come to expression in our ability to think and form ideas, this ability will therefore be the outcome of our moral constitution of soul in the present life. All of this exists as an image in what human beings put into the outside world on going to sleep.

In the light of the science of the spirit it would thus be fair to say: During the night, when we are asleep, we put a quite specific question to another world, the world of the spirit. We do not do this consciously but with a part of us that moves out of the physical and ether bodies at that time. The question we put is: How does my moral constitution of soul appear to the entities in the world of the spirit?

And we are given an answer which consists in the shaping of the furrows and the coloring we are given, both in accord with our moral constitution of soul. Every morning we enter into our physical and etheric bodies on waking up with an answer gained in the world of the spirit. Going to sleep, we always unconsciously ask a question; waking up, the answer is given at the unconscious level from the world of the spirit. At that level, we are all the time in dialogue with the world of the spirit, gathering there the answers which tell us the true state of our inner nature.

This allows you to see something which otherwise is always extraordinarily abstract. You see, when we speak of our conscience, this is something very real to us; yet when we are asked to speak of the specific nature of our conscience we immediately become rather vague. With reference to our moral impulses, conscience is something of which we have a real inner experience. Yet if we use the methods of ordinary science to reflect on conscience, we fall into chaos and are unable to arrive at anything definite. Here you are given something definite, which is, that your moral constitution of soul wins a continuous response from the world of the spirit. You bring the forms developed by the world of the spirit into your physical and etheric reality, and with this you bring the voice of conscience to it. In waking life, the answer given in form and color is transformed into the voice of conscience. In fact we depend on the sleep state for everything we have by way of inner moral attitude.

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