Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, March 27, 1915:
As the last time we were able to meet together here we put forward certain considerations connected mainly with special experiences, we will turn our attention today to a more general outlook of spiritual science. I should like to start from something which you have all known fundamentally for a long time: that all spiritual-scientific observation is won by acquiring knowledge not with the help of the instrument of the physical body, but by liberating the soul and spirit from the physical instrument, so that as soul and spirit they enter into direct union with the spiritual worlds.
Direct union with the spiritual worlds is broken in ordinary life and knowledge because we must always employ the instrument of our physical body in the waking state whenever we wish to enter into relationship with the world, and in the sleeping state all our will is concentrated on our connection with the body, so that desire for the body spreads like a cloud in our soul and spirit during sleep, and hinders us in this state, and in ordinary life, from experiencing anything in the spiritual worlds, in which we indeed are.
Now it is essential that anyone occupying himself with spiritual science should recognize exactly the value of spiritual scientific activity as such, and its relation to the personal strivings, which through meditation and concentration of thought, feeling, and will-impulses, or in any other manner, lead us into the spiritual world. We must be clear about this above all, for it is a deep and significant truth that the unity which surrounds us in the ordinary world does not exist in the same way in the spiritual world. I have already pointed out that this unity is founded within the whole structure of the psycho-spiritual human being. How most people strive again and again after this, asking: What is the unity of the world? How they only find satisfaction when they can lead everything back to one principle!
As a matter of fact, the external world meets us most eminently as a whole, as a unified formation; and those people who to a certain degree are dominated by the ‘craze’ for unity arrive at all possible abstractions in thought while seeking the unitary principle of the world.
Such personalities are typical; they are like an old gentleman who met me one evening and told me, with the intense pleasure of a discoverer, that at last he had found a unitary principle by which he could explain all the phenomena in the world. He was of the opinion, in his pleasure, that this unitary principle could be uttered in ten to twelve words, and he was so joyful over the matter that he said: Now I can explain the whole cosmos. He would explain heaven, earth, and hell out of this unitary principle.
A little while ago I was forced to recall this episode, which occurred many years ago, when someone wrote to me urgently requesting a talk with me because he had made the acquaintance of a man who was able to bring forward another such completely satisfactory view of the world in five minutes. I need hardly mention that a really earnest spiritual movement can have no time for such talks. But people who are thus possessed by this Unity Demon, which is at the same time a kind of Easy-going Demon, are especially numerous in our day.
Because of this we must put first, and take in the deepest sense, what is expressed in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: that as soon as we cross the threshold of the spiritual world we are really led into a threefold experience. I have especially emphasized in this book that the soul is as if split into three, and when the soul crosses the threshold of the spiritual world nothing is left which makes it possible for one to believe in this Unity Demon, this comfort-loving Unity Demon.
Indeed we feel, as soon as the threshold of the spiritual world is crossed, that we really enter with the whole of our being into three worlds. And we must not lose sight of the fact that after crossing this threshold, we have distinctly the experience of three worlds. In reality, we already belong to three worlds through the whole formation of our physical body. I might say that the cooperation of three worlds, which are relatively strongly independent of one another, is necessary for this wonderful structure ‘man’ which we encounter in the physical world. And if we consider the formation of our head, the formation of everything that belongs to the head, we must, even if we are merely speaking of the physical head, be clear that the formative forces of our head, and also the beings active and creative in these formative forces, belong to quite another world from that of the formative forces of our breast, for instance, and the formative forces of everything belonging to our heart, inclusive of the arms and hands. It is to a certain extent as if the formative forces of these material parts of man belonged to quite another world than the formative forces of his head. And again, the organs of the lower body and the legs belong to quite another world than the two other members we have named.
Now you can ask: What significance has all this? It has a great significance, for fundamentally speaking, in our present cycle of humanity, one only gets the pure, true, and real results from spiritual science if the soul- and spirit-nature is raised out of the head. So that this (cf. diagram) is to some extent the clairvoyant aspect of a man, which, seen from the spiritual-scientific point of view has to be so regarded that the spirit-soul part is here seen to be especially lifted out, and is at the same time joined to the forces of the cosmos as if by a spiritual electric attraction.
Thus all the parts a man — the ego and astral body down to the etheric body — must be drawn out. This withdrawal is of course connected with the evolution of the so-called lotus flowers. But the forces which set the lotus flowers in motion lie in this part of the spirit-soul nature of man, which is, or can be, withdrawn.
The clairvoyance thus attained is a HEAD-CLAIRVOYANCE, and this can be a result of spiritual science in our time, for the revelations of head-clairvoyance are of service to humanity. Of a quite other kind is the clairvoyant results attained by raising the spirit-soul nature of the organ of the heart, arms, and hands. This raising or uplifting of these organs distinguishes itself inwardly and significantly from what takes place through what I might call head-clairvoyance. The uplifting of the material heart organ is brought about more through meditation which is related to the life of will; it is effected through humble surrender to the march of events, whereas head-clairvoyance is effected more through thoughts, but also through ideas having an imaginative character, tinged with feeling.
It is generally the case that with reference to these two kinds of clairvoyance, the heart- or breast-clairvoyance develops along with head-clairvoyance in the degree to which it should. Breast-clairvoyance leads more to the development of the will, to a connection with the actions of spiritual beings of the lower hierarchies, such as those incorporated in the various kingdoms of the earth; whereas head-clairvoyance leads more to vision, knowledge, perception in those higher worlds, in the sense that knowledge of these higher powers is necessary for the satisfaction of certain needs of knowledge, which must appear ever more and more in present humanity. The more we approach the future of our evolution on earth, the less will humanity be able to live, without their soul-life drying up, if they do not receive into their cognition the results of this clairvoyance.
Again a third kind of clairvoyance is that which arises when what we call the spiritual-psychic part of man is loosened, and thus raised out of the rest of his being. Here in the lower part of the diagram I indicate the outward-thrusting tendency. Even if the expression is not altogether aesthetic, yet I may perhaps venture to call this kind of clairvoyance ‘stomach-clairvoyance.’
Whereas head-clairvoyance, for our cycle of humanity, leads in the most eminent sense to the attainment of results independent of man, stomach-clairvoyance leads to results connected especially with what transpires in man himself. That which takes place in man himself must naturally also be an object of investigation. In the sphere of physical investigation there are also men who occupy themselves with anatomy and physiology. We should not think that this stomach-clairvoyance has not a certain value, in the highest sense of the word. It naturally has a value. But one must realize that stomach clairvoyance can inform man but little of that which occurs impersonally in cosmic events, but that it informs him essentially about what man is, of what goes on — I might say — inside his skin.
With reference to what is moral and ethical, head-clairvoyance is relatively the most important. Hence I must ever speak of its opposites. Between the two stands breast-clairvoyance; between that of the head and of the stomach. As regards what is ethical, these two can be inwardly quite well distinguished. People who strive to come to a perception of higher worlds in an impersonal way, as indicated in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, those who are not daunted at traveling this uncomfortable but secure path, will develop something impersonal in themselves with reference to their clairvoyance, above all they will develop a high interest for objective world-knowledge, for what occurs in the world of cosmic and of historical events.
This head-clairvoyance speaks preferably of man himself, especially in that it draws attention to how he is placed within the process of cosmic and historical development; it notes what man himself is in the entirety of this cosmic process. What arises as head-clairvoyance will always have what I must call a universal scientific character; it will contain information which has importance — I beg you to note this word — for all mankind, not merely for one man or another.
Stomach-clairvoyance will be permeated especially with all kinds of human egoism, and will very easily mislead the clairvoyant in question to occupy himself much with the occult bases of his own destiny, of his personal worth and character. This results as a self-understood tendency from what is called stomach-clairvoyance.
Now, a clear distinction has to be made between these two kinds of clairvoyance with reference to their intuitive nature. Whoever strives in the sense of what is given in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds to become free in soul and spirit from the perceptive apparatus of the head, who can thus to a certain extent loosen the spiritual-psychic part of the head from the physical instrument, and is able to place himself with this spiritual-psychic head-part in the spiritual world, will have extreme difficulty in getting beyond shadowy-clairvoyant experiences. Such a passing out from the head is at first bound up with experiences which really have not even the color, the substantiality, of vivid memories; therefore they seem inwardly to be very colorless, and only after one goes ever further and further in the efforts which lie on this path, does the shadowy character of these experiences disappear, and their colorless, shadowy experiences become tinged with color and sound, for the process carried out is this, that we first move out of our head, and are then really in a world which we have difficulty in perceiving.
For while we gradually and slowly acquire the possibility of living outside our head, these inner forces of life grow stronger, and the consequence is that the forces streaming in from the whole orbit of the cosmos are drawn together. Picture to yourselves that forces must be drawn together from out the whole orbit of the cosmos — and when we draw together all the forces from the entirety of the orbit of the cosmos, we get that tinging with color and sound I have mentioned. Think how we might picture this. You have here a surface (a), highly colored, a spherical surface. Now think of this spherical surface as extended over a larger surface (b.c.). The color will then become paler — and if we extend it still further, the color will become ever paler and paler; if we contract this surface, then supposing it to be a pale yellow here (at the extremity), it would become a strong, saturated yellow, because the color is then more concentrated.
Now, head-clairvoyance confronts the whole cosmos. And, spread out over the whole cosmos is that which man must first concentrate and unite by means of his life-forces into what he himself is clairvoyantly, as being; so that only by a laborious process of inner development he gradually gives a tinge of color to the shadowy nature of his experiences. And when for a long, long time he has taken the trouble to experience that general experience which only gives him the sensation of being outside the body, and when he has been aware of this general experience for a long time, and has gained the feeling more and more of a more intense, though not yet a colored and resounding inner experience, then the regions of the cosmos gradually draw near to this head-clairvoyance.
This is a matter for slow, selfless development. It must be especially stated, that a STUDY OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE is indispensable to this development. It must be emphasized again and again that when it is given out, spiritual science can indeed be understood. It cannot be emphasized often enough that one need not be a clairvoyant to understand spiritual science. One must of course be clairvoyant to arrive at results, but once they are there, one need not be clairvoyant. UNDERSTANDING of spiritual science must precede personal vision. Here one can say: the opposite path is correct to that which is correct in the physical-sensible world. In the physical-sensible world, we first have correct perceptions, then we pass over to a thoughtful consideration of these, and we then form our scientific judgments. This must be reversed in the ascent to the spiritual world. There, we must first develop ideas — we must make every effort to live into spiritual science objectively; otherwise we can never be certain that any observation we make in the spiritual world is interpreted by us in the right sense. Hence knowledge must precede vision, and this is what is so infinitely disagreeable to many: the fact that they have to study spiritual science. Many consider this an incomprehensible demand. For it is relatively easy to have perceptions; but to interpret them aright: for this it is necessary that one enters rightly — objectively, selflessly — into spiritual science.
Now just the opposite is the case in what we have called stomach-clairvoyance. In this, we start from that spiritual-psychic principle which first worked on the bodily, physical nature; for spirit lies at the basis of everything that exists in the world. If we have eaten let us say a piece of cabbage — we are mostly vegetarians here — and it is then worked over in our organism, one has then not merely to do with the physical-chemical process, carried out by the stomach with its forces and juices, but behind all these the etheric body, astral body, and ego are active. All these processes have spiritual processes behind them. It would be quite false to believe that any material processes exist which have not a spiritual process behind them. Picture this to yourselves: Suppose you lie down after a more or less opulent midday meal, and become clairvoyant, but clairvoyant in such a way that the spiritual-psychic part of the digestive organs rise up especially out of the organs of digestion. Then, while your stomach and the other organs digest correctly, you live with your spiritual-psychic nature in the spiritual-psychic realm, and whereas you usually remain unconscious of the spiritual process carried out in your etheric body, astral body, and ego, this enters your consciousness if you are clairvoyant and then, because you experience yourself in this spiritual-psychic realm, you can see all this working, constructing, and creating of the spiritual-psychic force during digestion; you see it as it projects itself out into the world, and it appears to you reflected in pictures in the external ether. Then you get the most beautiful clairvoyant forms, because you have not now to draw the colors so much out of the cosmos, but because you have the whole process concentrated within your own skin. So that something wonderful takes place around you in the most glorious, most magnificent sequences of color and form, which need be nothing else than the process of digestion or some other bodily process transpiring in the spiritual organs of man.
This kind of clairvoyance is distinguished from the other especially through the fact that whereas the other clairvoyance starts from shadow forms, and only laboriously acquires a tinge of color and tone, this starts off with the most magnificent grandeur possible. One can equally well express it as a law: if clairvoyance begins with magnificent forms, especially with colored forms, then it is a clairvoyance that relates to processes which transpire within the personality. I emphasize this because it can be of value for the investigation of the spiritual world. Just as anatomy and physiology investigate the digestive and other processes, so clairvoyance is also of great value to investigate in this way the spiritual nature standing behind human processes. But it would be bad if one gave oneself up to any deceptions, if one cherished illusions and did not interpret things in a right manner.
If one believed that such a clairvoyance, appearing without the necessary preparation, could give more than what takes place in man and is projected into the objective world, if one believed that through such a clairvoyance one could approach the creative world-powers, the dominant spiritual forces, one would greatly err. Just as little as the riddles of the world can be solved by the investigation of human digestion, just so little can the riddles and secrets of the cosmos be approached by developing this stomach-clairvoyance.
Thus you see how much belongs necessarily to our gaining a really right orientation to the world we enter through the freeing of our spiritual-psychic powers. No one need have any aversion to stomach-clairvoyance through the observations which have been made. But each one should be quite clear how such clairvoyance is related to what real spiritual clairvoyance can become, and how one should hold oneself far removed from any over-valuation of what is gained through a clairvoyance that can only have a personal content. Only when in things which have a personal content we look away from what is personal, and observe them in the way the anatomist or physiologist considers the objects he studies with the help of the microscope, or learns through his investigations — only then have these things a special value. In any case no religious feelings should be connected with these things even in the remotest degree; they can only be connected with the results of head-clairvoyance. Man becomes ever more correct in regard to the other clairvoyance the more he fulfills the demand that it should be dealt with in every case only in an objectively scientific sense, as are the results of anatomy or physiology.
Not everything which is found along the path of clairvoyance is — I venture to use this radical expression — worthy of veneration; but all is worthy of being learnt. That is what we must keep in mind. I have already said that for our cycle it is especially important to incorporate the results of head-clairvoyance with the general spiritual civilization of man; this is really important. Today I will mention one side of the matter with reference to this. We are living at a time in which humanity must prepare gradually to transcend mere philosophical idealism and pass on to a true consciousness of the spiritual worlds, of the general spiritual world in which we live, just as we live in the physical world.
Now, let us start from an experience of head-clairvoyance, which we shall easily understand if we have entered but a little into the things said in the Munich Cycle (footnote, ‘Secrets of the Threshold’) held recently and which were dealt with further in my book ‘The Threshold of the Spiritual World.’ I especially mentioned there that our thinking undergoes a transformation the moment we make ourselves free; especially when with reference to our thoughts we free ourselves from the physical instrument of the head. I expressed it grotesquely at the time by saying that if we became free in this manner, our thoughts have no longer the character which they have in ordinary, everyday life. In ordinary, everyday life we must have the feeling — unless we are demented — that we are master of our thought-world, that if we have two thoughts, it is WE OURSELVES who unite or separate these thoughts.
When we remember something, we are conscious: we pass over with our inner life from a present experience to a past experience. We always have the feeling that it is we ourselves who stand behind the web and woof of our thoughts. This ceases the moment we make the spiritual-psychic principle free in our head, when we develop a thinking freed from the body. On that occasion I put it as follows: I said that it is as if we put our head in an ant's nest, and a peculiar whirling then arises. This is how thoughts begin to play one into the other. If in ordinary life we have two thoughts and unite them, as for example, the thoughts ‘rose’ and ‘red’, we know that we are master in our own thought-world, able to unite the two ideas: the rose is red. This is not the case when we are outside our bodies. Life enters our thoughts, the thought's own life. Each thought becomes a being. One thought runs toward another, the other runs away from it.
So the thought-world acquires a life of its own. Why does it acquire a life of its own? What we experience in the ordinary thoughts of the everyday are only images, shadows of thoughts. You can read this in my book ‘Theosophy.’ As soon as we develop body-free thoughts, each thought becomes like a husk, and an elemental being slips into the husk. The thought is no longer in our power; we put it out, like a feeler: it goes forth into the world, and an elemental being slips into it. Our thoughts are filled in this way with elemental beings — and these whirl and struggle in us. So that we can say: If we stretch the spiritual-psychic part of our head into the spiritual world (it is outside us only because we are situated within the physical head), if we thus stretch it into the spiritual world, we no longer experience such thoughts as we experience in the physical world, but we experience the LIFE OF BEINGS. We plunge our head just as I have said into an ant's nest — we experience the life of beings.
This is fundamentally the case right up to the highest hierarchies, and if we wish to experience angel, archangel, or even archai, it must be the same: we must live in our thoughts in the way described and in the beings in them. We send our thoughts out, and a being slips in, and is active in them. If we perceive the beings of Venus, or Saturn, it is as I have said: we let our thoughts slip out, and the Venus and Saturn beings slip in. We ought not to be the least afraid of having thoughts of the hierarchies in us, but must accustom ourselves to live with our heads in the higher hierarchies. We must say to ourselves: Our thinking ceases, and our head becomes the stage for the activities of the higher hierarchies.
Now, in the philosophy of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel thought has been developed up to the purest thought-clarity. In this philosophy is really contained that to which thought could rise at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The task of raising thought to this height was then fulfilled. The next task is however that man should go beyond this, and really enter into this whirling, weaving life of thought. We are living at a time when man is called to do this: to perceive the higher hierarchies. We have to be taken up by the world of the higher hierarchies, and we must strip off the fear of thus living and weaving in the higher hierarchies.
The life of the nineteenth century was quite filled by this fear, this horror, of life in the higher hierarchies. Human beings carried this so far — they did not know it, but fundamentally they carried it so far — that they prayed: O my dear Ahriman, guard me lest my life in thought is claimed by the activity and life of the higher hierarchies; otherwise, some devilish Saturn- or Sun-being might enter into them. — You say: Surely no one thought like this in the nineteenth century — but I can prove to you that people did think like this.
Ludwig Feuerbach, a philosopher of the nineteenth century who especially combated the idea of immortality, opposed all belief in a supersensible world because he held this to be the belief of fantastic, mystical dreamers, and considered it harmful for the whole of mankind. Ludwig Feuerbach wrote the following sentences; I beg you to inscribe them particularly well in your souls;
“The active man, busy with the affairs of human life, has no time to think of death, and hence no need for immortality; if he thinks of death, he only sees in it the warning to arrange wisely his allotted span of life, not to waste precious time on unworthy objects, but to apply it to the fulfillment of the tasks he has set himself to do.“If far from the earth in heaven, on Uranus, or Saturn, or elsewhere, man first found his fulfillment, then there would be no science or philosophy at all. Instead of what is generally deduced, abstract truths and beings would form the content of our spirit; instead of thoughts, cognitions, and ideas, these pure spiritual entities and objects which would then inhabit our head would be our heavenly brothers: Saturn- and Uranus-beings would then be the inhabitants of our head. Instead of mathematics, logic, metaphysics, we should have in us the most exact likeness of these heavenly inhabitants. These heavenly beings would insert themselves especially between us and the subjects of our knowledge and thought; they would obstruct our vision of every object, and bring about an eternal, complete eclipse of the Sun in our spirit.”
The ‘Sun’ for Feuerbach is: his thought.
Thus he has a complete picture of what would happen. He has however such an unholy horror of it that he prays to the good Ahriman to protect him from Saturn- and Uranus-dwellers becoming inhabitants of his head.
“They would be nearer and more closely related to us than thoughts, ideas, and concepts, for they are not purely spiritual or abstract entities like these, but sense-like spiritual beings, beings who merely express the nature of the force of imagination. Our whole spirit would then be but a dream, a vision, of a more beautiful future. Therefore those whom the gravity of understanding hinders from floating around on the surface of the unlimited ocean of imagination will realize that in the depths of our spirit, the living light of the angels and of all similar heavenly beings is extinguished, as in an atmosphere unbreathable by them.”
If these beings then were to enter into our thoughts, our spirit would be a dream — thus writes Feuerbach. He only feels secure when in the region of thoughts, and if the life of the angels or other heavenly entities were to enter these thoughts, he would feel insecure. This is the prayer to Ahriman: that he might guard man from a knowledge of the spiritual worlds. This happened in the forties of the nineteenth century through Ludwig Feuerbach, the enemy of any spiritual view of the world. What does this signify? It signifies nothing else than that the time is ripe for us to raise ourselves to the spiritual worlds; we have but to take in earnest what this man puts before us; we have then found the way into the spiritual worlds. We only need not fight it by a union with Ahriman. Thus you see: It is not the fault of heaven that spiritual science has not penetrated the culture of our time, for it has penetrated the heads of its opponents. Spiritual science wants to enter the world; the fault therefore does not lie with the heavens. The gods are giving wisdom to man: spiritual science has come. As human beings under the leadership of Ahriman has resisted it, it is now up to us not to resist any longer, but to have the courage to accept spiritual science, with full, true, earnestness.
One must say this to oneself as regards this development of the nineteenth century: It is as if laid down aforetime in the spiritual world, that a spiritual age would come after a materialistic age, and it is for humanity now to open its mind, and its feeling, to receive this spiritual world into itself. That point of view which is so eminent a materialistic view and found in Ludwig Feuerbach, its characteristic, clever, and infinitely philosophically endowed advocate, is like an attack, a revolt, against what is to enter humanity. Spiritual forces come down from above; the forces of understanding, of knowledge, have really to rise up from below. The expression which Ludwig Feuerbach discovered for himself is a most characteristic one, that the solar eclipse of the soul would have to follow if thoughts ceased to be thoughts, if the beings of Uranus, Venus, and Saturn, and so on played into them — that is, if the higher hierarchies played into them. A solar eclipse of the spirit would then take place; these people have an unholy fear of this. This solar eclipse of the spirit is not brought about however by heavenly beings, who desire especially to bring their light to man. The darkness has been caused by human beings, by their uniting with Ahriman; and because they have spread a cloud of fear around them like an aura, they have sought to bring off their attacks against the penetration of the spiritual world. It is clear from this that the darkening has proceeded from man, and we must acknowledge that darkness has laid hold of humanity more and more — a darkening of a free knowledge, an opposition to the light of the spirit.
This is something humanity has itself prepared, and one can see how in the course of the nineteenth century a certain love of all short-sighted, inconsequential thoughts appeared, and a love for everything that did not have to be thought out to an end. A preference and sympathy arose for all those things for which man will not have finally to give account. People loved ever less and less an unprejudiced, impartial knowledge and thinking, and it is therefore not surprising when this love of the nebulous, of the unclear, of the unfinished in thought gradually assumed an ever more morally assailable character in public life. In so far as this character was countenanced, sympathy for the life of thought became dull; and then passed over into a general attitude. Through this an opposing force in chief was installed more especially against a spiritual science which strove for clarity on all sides.
Spiritual science has true sympathy and love above all for consequential, finished thoughts, not for half-thoughts; it never holds with what is unclear and dark, but must ever reach out to that which spreads light widely, not to that which sends an apparent light into narrow places only. In this connection we have still to fight our way through many things.
These are points I wished to bring forward in our studies today, in order to show how, in the course of the century, thoughts through Ahriman gave occasion for the denial of the spiritual worlds, but how these worlds have themselves worked within the thoughts of him who denied them — because the time had come. ‘The time has come’: this saying from Goethe's Fairy Tale is here in its right place.
It must be substantiated in the near future.
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