Man in the Light of Occultism, Theosophy and Philosophy.
Lecture 3 of 10
My Dear Friends,
For the time being, we will let this suffice for a description of the first experience the aspirant for clairvoyance undergoes, an experience he learns to designate as “unmanifest light.”
Gently and slowly — scarcely perceptibly, to begin with — the second experience comes upon him. There are indeed many clairvoyants who have had the first experience for a long time and still hardly understand what the second experience is. The effect of its approach may be described in the following way. While the flowing light is something that makes us feel we are being scattered in it, makes us feel we are, as it were, being spread abroad in space — with the second experience, which can be called the experience of the “unspoken word,” we have the feeling as though something were coming toward us from every direction at once.
In the same degree to which in the first experience we feel ourselves spread out over the whole world do we now have the impression of something coming toward us, approaching us on all sides, while we ourselves are like to dissolve away. For the man who has this experience and is not yet at home in it, the sense of melting away is accompanied by very great fear. Something bears down upon us from all around; it is as if an edge or skin of the world were approaching us. What this means for us we can express in no other way than by saying it is as though we were being addressed in a language very hard to understand, a language that is never spoken on Earth. No word that proceeds from human larynx can be compared with the speech we now experience. Only by thinking away from the spoken word everything that has to do with external sound can we begin to form some idea of the great cosmic sounding that now bears down upon us on all sides. At first it makes but a faint impression upon us; then, as the power of occult learning and occult self-discipline increases, this perception of a spiritual world grows stronger and stronger.
As now with clairvoyant sight we behold approaching us from all sides this vast skin of the world — and yet not at all like an external skin, but bearing down upon us like a mighty sounding of tones — we have a strange and remarkable feeling; and the fact that we have it is a sign to us that we are on the right path. We find ourselves thinking: “It is in very truth my own self that is approaching me; there for the first time is my own true self! Only apparently am I enclosed in my skin, when I live here in the physical body. In reality my being fills the world; and it is my own being that is now coming to meet me as I pass over into the occult state. It is coming toward me from all directions.” So does occult experience take its course — first the expansion of the spiritual life, then again its concentration. And the latter we connect with a definite idea. For it comes to us like words — sounding spiritually and full of deep meaning; and we form the conception of the “unspoken word,” the “unspoken language.”
Now we must go a step further. For even as man has a heritage out of pre-earthly conditions that helps to form and fashion his brain, so has he also forces remaining from pre-earthly conditions which work not in his brain but in his heart. The heart is a very complicated organ; and as in the brain not only earthly but pre-earthly forces are active (although in external study and research we make use, as we have seen, of the earthly alone), so in the heart too we find an activity of pre-earthly forces. Whatever man needs for the obtaining of earthly air and nourishment, whatever he needs for the care of his organism and for its maintenance in life — all this is given him in earthly forces. But for man to be able to perceive what we have termed the “unspoken word,” not only have higher members of his being to be, as it were, pressed out of his brain, but also out of his heart.
It can happen that for a long time a man is able to perceive as clairvoyant the spiritual light, if he has pressed forth from his brain the higher members of his body. If, however, these higher members still remain firmly united with the heart, as they are in ordinary life, then we have a clairvoyant who is able to behold the flowing light (for that he can do with the help of the soul forces that have become free from the brain), but not able to apprehend the unspoken word. For we can only begin to hear the unspoken word when the higher, supersensible members have been freed also from the heart. The capacity of the heart to do this, so that man can unfold a soul life that is not bound to the instrument of the heart, belongs to a higher heart organism. Our ordinary soul life on the physical plane is united with the organ of the heart. When men are able to set free the higher members of their body from the physical heart, they come to experience a life of soul that is connected with a higher organism than the physical heart of blood and muscle. When the pupil learns to experience, in his soul, forces of the heart that are higher than those connected with the physical heart, then he can in very truth attain knowledge of the unspoken word; it makes itself known to him, coming toward him on every hand. Thus, while the perception of the supersensible light depends on the emancipation of man's higher being from the physical brain, the perception of the unspoken word depends on the emancipation of the higher members from the physical heart.
As there are persons who, without being themselves aware of the fact, have in them something of the pre-earthly forces that formed and fashioned the brain, so are there also persons who have in them something of the pre-earthly forces that formed and fashioned the heart. And they are much more numerous than is generally supposed. If there were not today those who not only have these ancient heritages in their being, but are moreover engaged in working upon them (we shall see later how this comes about), there would be no theosophists. You would not all of you be sitting here today! The reason why you are sitting here is simply this, that at some moment in your life, when a theosophical book came into your hands or some truth out of theosophy was communicated to you in a lecture, immediately you became conscious of something of that ancient inheritance which you bear within you and which consists of forces that worked to form your heart before the earth was created. The fact that what came to you through theosophy made a deep impression upon you meant that it produced in you an experience similar to the philosopher's experience in his shadow pictures. You experienced the shadow pictures of what a clairvoyance of the heart, all unknown to you, was able to receive through the words that were spoken. In that moment you heard through the words, and what you heard was something quite wonderful; otherwise you would not have become a theosophist. For you the external word was but an echo, coming to you from without, of what the clairvoyant heart had itself investigated by means of pre-earthly forces, an echo of what comes from the realm of occultism and had already been speaking to you in shadow pictures which you yourself could experience. Through the outer word you heard speak the inner word. In the spoken word you caught the echo of the word that cannot be spoken. Through the human language you heard what is spoken from out of divine worlds in the language of the gods.
If those who today sincerely and honestly feel themselves drawn to the study of theosophy do not always know that a degree of clairvoyance is already active in them, then it is with them as it is with the philosophers who see the shadow pictures of their unconsciously clairvoyant brain and do not know the real nature of the thoughts in which they are living. The brain is more readily susceptible to earthly forces and on this account more easily made into an earthly organ; therefore men who in our time investigate the laws of Earth and occupy their brain with external knowledge so strengthen the earthly parts of their brain that the super-earthly brain is completely paralyzed from within. But the heart is far less susceptible to the influence of the earthly forces; on this account it is easier to find an approach to human souls through what theosophy brings down to men than through pure philosophy. Unless people allow the material interests of life to obstruct and hinder what can in this way speak to their hearts, they will always — and especially in our own time — be responsive to the truths of theosophy. The truths of theosophy can be understood by everyone, excepting only those who have become too deeply engrossed — whether theoretically or practically — in external material interests in one form or another. People who have allowed themselves to be caught and entangled in these interests until they have no feeling for anything beyond them — these alone fail to comprehend theosophy. A mist spreads itself out, covering and hiding what should unfold from the heart when it is touched by theosophy.
Thus, in order to understand philosophy we must have in us something that is responsive to the strange and singular forms of which we spoke earlier and that throws up shadow pictures of these forms; we must have trained our brain to think thoughts within which the higher super-physical forces can reflect themselves; and, as you know very well, this happens but rarely. In order to understand theosophy we need no such preparation. To appreciate the truth of what may be derived from occult research, when the researcher has emancipated from heart and brain the higher forces, the spiritual members of his being — for this, all that is required is that we do not have our attention diverted by external life. The very simplest person has forces that suffice for the understanding of theosophy. There is no need for a scientific education. Everyone, provided only that he does not meet them with preconceived judgments, can understand certain theosophical truths. For these theosophical truths are facts of occult research reflected, as in shadow pictures, in the ordinary experiences of life. They come from the unspoken word, which is “heard” — to speak metaphorically — when man has set free from the physical heart the higher members of his being, when, that is to say, he can live not only in a super-physical brain but in a super-physical organ of the heart.
To express in terms of scientific concepts and in correct logical language that which the super-physical heart can investigate — for this it is of course essential that one is already familiar with scientific concepts. In theosophy, however, there is no such need. The most important theosophical truths can as a matter of fact be clothed in simple concepts; you know yourselves how little can suffice for an adequate understanding of the fundamental truths of theosophy. A very great deal of what we are often saying in lectures here is not said for the purpose of convincing simple-minded people; they can quickly follow and be with us. Wherever the heart and soul are healthy, this will always be so; everyone who has not been made ill by material interests will be with us. What is necessary, however, in our time is that theosophy should find protection from the unjust attacks of a science that deems itself justified. We have to place the simple, easily established theosophical truths before the world in such a way that they will themselves demonstrate their validity when men think subtly and with clarity and correctness. (This condition, please note, is indispensable.) Then to an unprejudiced and well-ordered thinking it will become abundantly clear that there is no truth which contradicts theosophy. Such a thinking, however, is not only exceedingly rare, it is extraordinarily difficult of attainment. Preconceived ideas of external science are astonishingly widespread today, claiming to rest not, it is true, on personal authority but on an unassailable external authority — which has no firm nor sure foundation.
We may often see how those who think they have a comprehensive knowledge of a particular branch of science, or even those who have made themselves familiar in a popular manner with some of its results, take for granted that their thinking is far enough advanced for them to be able to have insight into the relationship of theosophy to science. As a rule, however, such insight is quite beyond their reach. Clear and well-ordered thinking is by no means so common in our time as one might suppose. There are sciences which can be pursued today with a quite un-ordered thinking, with a thinking which has been developed within the narrow bounds of some specialized science and cannot pass beyond them.
Today one can be in the literary world, one can be an author and publish books, without having developed one's thinking particularly. For as a rule people do not examine and see whether behind what is apparently a product of mental and spiritual ability there exists any well-ordered and correct method of thought. People do not enquire into this today, simply because they have not at hand any means of detection. Yet it does not take much to be able to appraise thought; many people have the capacity as a kind of instinct, and a little acquaintance with occult research and occult forces will strengthen it.
Allow me in conclusion to relate an incident intended to serve as an illustration of the strange experiences that can happen to one if one is a little sensitive to such things. It is all insignificant experience, but it illustrates my point.
I was walking yesterday along a certain street. My gaze fell, quite involuntarily, on a particular spot in a bookshop window. All at once I felt as though I had been stung — really just as though a gadfly or a bee had stung me! Spiritually, that was how I felt. I was curious to know the cause. To begin with, I could find nothing in the shop window that could have stung me like that. But when I looked carefully, I saw a book lying there on which was a legend, intended, so it appeared, to vindicate the trend of thought in the book, the author meaning to describe with this saying his own attitude of mind. But why should it sting me? You will see presently. These were the words:
“Your speculative churl Is like a beast which some ill spirit leads, On barren wilderness, in ceaseless whirl, While all around lie fair and verdant meads.”*
- From Translation by Anna Swanwick.