Friday, October 25, 2019
Our Immortal Core
Rudolf Steiner, Basel, Switzerland, January 12, 1916:
... And now our experience goes further, but in describing it, we are bound to make it appear purely pictorial, as if only a symbol or perhaps even an allegory were meant. But this is not the case, for our inner experience is absolutely real. In this state where the will is detached from our normal soul activity, and where it is conscious, we come to experience something in us that is always there, not as substance, but as spirit-soul consciousness. We become aware of a second person in us that is always present in everyone, though it cannot be brought to light by our normal consciousness. Of course, if we were to say in the normal way that each person bears a second person within him, we would frequently be understood to mean something pictorial or contrived. This is not what is meant here. We really do become aware that we carry a second person within us that really has a consciousness and is witness to all the activity of our will in normal life.
We are never alone. In the depths of our being there is a true being evolving, watching what we do, a being that is in constant activity and which we gradually come to know when we do the exercises that have been described. But before we can make closer acquaintance with this being we have to overcome another shattering experience in our souls. The other similar experience I described as the approach of the scientist of spirit to the gate of death. This one can be described as follows: In our spirit-soul experience we become aware of what weaves in the world as pain and suffering. We experience the basis, the being, of this pain and suffering. We come to know for the first time what pain and suffering are in the soul. This we must do. For in experiencing this pain and suffering we develop the ability to grasp this inner conscious being in us as an immediate inner spirit-soul experience. We can say that a person who has an open heart and mind for what surrounds him in the world will in many respects find much that is beautiful, exalted in it and will see it as the flower of the world. A person who undertakes the exercises described knows that the flower of all the beauty, the exalted nature and the glory of the world rises as if out of the ground, the earth, of the pain that weaves through the world.
Of course people can come forward with their human wisdom and say that such a statement could make one despair of the wise direction of the world, even of the wisdom of God, for why has God not seen to it that the beautiful, the wonderful, the exalted can appear without this foundation of pain? — Such people produce objections out of their human wisdom without having any deep feeling for the iron necessities of existence. Anyone who asks why the exalted, the beautiful, the flower, cannot exist in the world without the basis of pain is more or less in the same position as a person who demands of a mathematician that he should draw a triangle whose angles do not add up to 180 degrees. Necessities simply exist. They do not contradict the wise guidance of the world. — All the exalted nature and beauty of the world evolves out of what we experience in the depth of our souls as pain, just as the flower of a plant has to evolve out of its root. This leads us to a deeper conception of life and of the world, it shows us in which fundamental elements of life beauty, exaltedness and wisdom have their roots, and that these could not exist, that the power to experience them could not exist, if we were not to acquire this power which is present only inasmuch as it grows out of pain.
Now the question arises: Why is it that we experience pain just at the moment when we permeate this inner observer, this inner consciousness of the soul with life? Why just then? — Although this is more difficult to understand, I would nevertheless like to describe it as exactly as possible. It begins when, having developed the will, we experience in our newly-evolved activity of the will what the inner observer is that weaves and lives within us. Our first experience of it seems to contradict all we have experienced in our soul life since we have been able to think. It is rather like — only to a far greater degree — thinking something through most carefully, and then someone comes and disproves our argument, showing it to be untenable. What rises up out of the depths of our will is felt just like such a living refutation. — A very remarkable and odd experience! It is just this something that comes about in the life of the soul, that begins like the pain of a refutation of our own soul life, that finally evolves and intensifies to the experience of our feeling the flowing stream of pain that moves over the mother earth of existence. It is this experience of pain which makes what rises up out of the will increasingly more concrete and more real.
We then come to a full realization of what this is. We gradually come to understand why it appears like this in the form of pain, for we now become aware of what normally cannot be experienced at all in the way of thinking and willing in our everyday lives, namely, what lies at the root of our ordinary experience, what actually has evolved in the depths of the soul throughout the whole of our life, and which we grasp when we have begun to become scientists of spirit. We experience part of our soul life that is normally hidden and what remains with us when everything is removed from our soul life that is bound to the instrument of the physical body. We experience the part of us which goes through the gate of death, which when we die goes on into the spiritual world. And because this part of us that goes into the spiritual world is not at first fit to live in purely spiritual surroundings, is not suited to the life we have developed, but simply exists in it without being properly adapted to it, it therefore appears to us at first in the form of pain and suffering. In the form that it develops it is really destined for another kind of experience. So now we know how the part of us that goes through the gate of death when our body disintegrates is present in the soul, and lives in the soul as its immortal core. In our inner experience we are like a plant feeling how it gradually prepares the forces in its growth that lead to the formation of the seed in the flower, which having lived a different life in the earth, can then develop into another plant of the same kind. We become aware of a new seed of life within us. — And just as the seed grows out of the forces of the plant and can become a new plant, so, too, we now experience that this seed of life, enclosed at first within pain, can lead to a further life on earth. The only difference is that whereas the plant can be destroyed by the conditions existing in space and time so that not every seed develops into a new plant, there are no such conditions or hindrances in the spiritual world when we have passed through the gate of death, but we proceed through the spiritual world and appear in a further life on earth. Then we have to seek out another body with which to unite ourselves, and which we fashion in joining ourselves to what is produced by our father and mother. We take what exists through heredity and impress our own organization upon it so that we can enter into a new life on earth.