Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, March 21, 1910:
The purpose of these lectures is to give a survey of findings of spiritual-scientific research which enable us to grapple with the most significant riddles of human life — as far as this is possible within the limits to which understanding of the higher worlds is subject in our time. We shall start today from more familiar phenomena and then endeavour to reach higher and higher spheres of existence, to penetrate into deeply hidden riddles of man's life. We shall not start from any concepts or ideas so firmly established as to resemble dogmas, but refer, quite simply at first, to matters which everybody will feel to be connected with everyday life.
All Spiritual Science is based upon the assumption that underlying the world normally known to us, there is another — the spiritual world. It is in this spiritual world underlying the world of the senses, and in a certain respect also the world of soul, that we have to look for the actual causes and conditions of what takes place in those other worlds.
It will certainly be known to everyone here that there are definite methods which a man may apply to his life of soul and which enable him to awaken certain inner faculties slumbering in normal daily life, so that he is finally able to experience the moment of Initiation. He then has around him a new world, the world of spiritual causes and conditions underlying the world of the senses and the world of soul. It is as when, after an operation, a man hitherto blind finds around him the world of colours and light. In normal life today man is shut off from this world of spiritual realities and beings, and it is upon this world that we shall endeavour to shed light in these lectures.
On two sides — the outer and the inner sides as we may call them — man is shut off from the spiritual world. When he directs his gaze to the outer world, he perceives in the first place what is there presented to his senses. He sees colours and light, hears sounds, is aware of warmth and cold, smells, tastes, and so on. This is the world immediately around him. In contemplating this world we become aware, to begin with, of a kind of boundary. Through direct perception, direct experience, man is unable today to look behind the boundary presented to him by colours and light, sounds, scents and so forth. A trivial illustration will make this clear. Suppose we are looking at a surface painted blue. Under ordinary conditions, of course, we cannot see what is behind this surface. A shallow thinker might object that it is only a matter of looking behind the surface! But this is not so in respect of the world outspread around us, for it is precisely by what we perceive that an outer spiritual world is concealed from us and at most we can feel that colour and light, warmth, cold, and so on, are external manifestations of a world lying behind. But we cannot, at a given moment, penetrate through the colours, lights and sounds, and experience what lies behind them. We have to experience the whole outer spiritual world through these manifestations. But after a little reflection we shall be able, consistently with the most elementary logic, to say: Even if modern physics or other branches of science declare that behind the colours there is vibrating etheric substance, it soon becomes obvious that what is thus assumed to lie behind the colours is something added by thought. Nobody can actually perceive what physics declares to be vibrations, movements, of which colour is merely an effect; nor can anybody say with certainty whether there is reality in what is alleged to lie behind the sense-impressions. It is, at first, mere conjecture. The external world of the senses is spread out before us like a tapestry and we have the feeling that behind this tapestry there is something into which our faculty of perception cannot penetrate.
There, then, is the first boundary. We find the second when we look into our own being. Within ourselves we find a world of joy and sorrow, of happiness and suffering, of passions, impulses, desires, and so forth-in brief, everything that we call our life of soul. We usually sum this up by saying: ‘I feel this pleasure or that pain; I have these impulses, desires, or passions.’ But surely we also have the feeling that behind this inner life of soul something is hidden, something that is concealed by our soul-experiences just as something belonging to the outer world is concealed by our sense-perceptions. For who can fail to recognise that when we wake in the morning, joy, sorrow, happiness, suffering and other such experiences, rise up as if out of an unknown realm, and that in a certain respect man is given up to them? And is there anyone who, if he reviews his whole life of soul, could deny that there must be within him something deeper, something at first hidden from himself, out of which his joy, suffering, happiness, grief, and all his soul-experiences, stream forth — and that these, no less than the external sense-perceptions, must be manifestations of an unknown world?
And now let us ask: If two such boundaries are actually there, or may at least be presumed to be there, have we not, as human beings, certain possibilities of penetrating through them? Is there something in a man's experiences which enables him to break through this tapestry of sense-perceptions, just as he would break through a membrane covering something lying behind it? And is there something that leads into greater depths of our inner nature, behind our sufferings, behind our joys, behind our passions? Are we able to make a further move into the outer world and also into the inner world?
There are two experiences which actually enable us to break through the film covering the outer world and the resistance in the inner world. Something like a membrane is pierced and we are able to enter the world hidden behind the veil of the sense-perceptions. This world can reveal itself to us when in the course of certain normal processes of life there come entirely new experiences-experiences giving rise to the feeling that external perceptions through the senses are disappearing, that the tapestry of the outer world is being broken through; then we may say that we are penetrating a little way into the world lying behind sense-perceptions.
This experience is one that is decidedly not beneficial for human life as a whole; it is the state usually known as ecstasy — when this term is used in the original sense. It causes a man momentarily to become oblivious to the impressions of the sense-world, so that for a time he is not aware of the colours, sounds, scents, and so forth, around him and is insensitive to ordinary sense-impressions. Under certain circumstances this experience of ecstasy can lead a man to a point where he actually has new experiences, experiences by no means of everyday occurrence. Let it again be emphasised that ecstasy in this form should not be regarded as a desirable state; it is being described here simply as a condition that is possible. The not unusual state of being “out of oneself” as the saying goes, should not be called ecstasy. In one of two possible conditions a man becomes impervious to the impressions conveyed by the senses; he simply falls into a swoon in which, instead of sense-impressions, black darkness spreads around him. For a normal man that is really the safer condition of the two.
There is also a form of ecstasy in which a man is not only surrounded by dense darkness, but this darkness becomes filled with a world hitherto quite unknown to him. Do not say at once that this may be a world of illusion, of deception ... or, if you like, let it stand at that for the moment ... we will not assume that this world has any real meaning, but call it a world of apparitions, of phantasms. The actual point here is that what is seen may indeed be a world—whether of pictures or illusions—which has not previously been known. A man must then ask himself: ‘Am I able, with all my capacities, to construct such a world for myself out of my ordinary consciousness?’ If this world of pictures is such that he can say to himself: ‘I am incapable of constructing such a world of pictures out of my own experiences’ — then obviously the pictures must come to him from somewhere. We will decide later whether this world has been magically conjured up before him as delusion, or whether it is reality. The point is that there are states in which a man sees worlds hitherto unknown to him.
Now this state of ecstasy is bound up with a quite special drawback for normal human beings. It is evident from the experience itself that this ecstatic condition can be induced by natural means only if what the man in question calls his Ego, his strong, inner self, through which he holds all his separate experiences together, is, as it were, extinguished. His Ego is entirely suppressed; it is as though he were outside himself, poured out into the new world which fills the darkness around him. Countless human beings have already had the experience I am describing, or at least are capable of having it. — More will be said about this in later lectures.
There are two aspects to be noted in connection with this experience of ecstasy. The one is that the actual sense-impressions vanish, also the experiences a man has when he feels and can say: ‘I see that colour, I hear these sounds,’ and so on. In the state of ecstasy he is never aware of his Ego, he does not distinguish himself from the objects around him. Fundamentally speaking, it is only the Ego that can distinguish itself from surrounding objects. Therefore in ecstasy a man cannot distinguish whether he is having to do with mirage or reality — for on that the Ego alone can decide.
In ecstasy there is a loss or at least a considerable diminution of Ego-consciousness and a fading of sense-perception; these two experiences run parallel. The tapestry of the sense-world seems to crumble, to dissolve it is as if the Ego — which otherwise seems to encounter a barrier constituted by the tapestry of the sense-world — were flowing right through the sense-perceptions and living in a world of pictures which presents something entirely new. In the state of ecstasy a man becomes aware of beings and happenings hitherto unknown to him, which he finds nowhere in the physical world, no matter what comparisons he makes. The essential point is that he experiences something entirely new.
Something happens in ecstasy that is like a breaking through of the external boundaries around man. Whether this new world is illusion or reality will become evident at a later stage.
Let us now ask ourselves whether we are also able to get behind our inner world, behind the world of our passions, impulses and desires, of our joys and sufferings, sorrows, and so on. This too is possible. Again, there are experiences which lead out beyond the realm of ordinary soul-life, if we deepen this soul-life inwardly. This is the path taken by many of those who are called mystics. In this process of mystical deepening a man first turns his attention away from the world of the senses and concentrates it upon his own inner experiences. Mystics who resolve not to enquire into the external causes of their interests, their sympathies and antipathies, their sorrows, joys, and so forth, but who are attentive only to the experiences ebbing and flowing in their souls, penetrate even more deeply into their soul-life and have quite definite experiences, differing from those ordinarily known.
Again I am describing a condition known and accessible to countless human beings. I am speaking, to begin with, of experiences that arise when normal conditions have been transcended to a very slight degree only. The essence of such experiences is that the mystic who sinks more and more deeply into himself transforms certain feelings into something quite different. If, for example, a normal man — one who is utterly alien to any kind of mystical experience — suffers a painful blow from another man, his resentment will be directed against him. That is the natural reaction. But one who practices mystical deepening will have a quite different feeling. Such a man feels: You would never have had to suffer this blow if at some time you had not brought it upon yourself. Otherwise this man would not have crossed your path. You cannot therefore justifiably turn your resentment against one who was brought into contact with you through happenings in the world in order to give you the blow you have deserved. — Such persons, if they deepen their different experiences, acquire a certain feeling about their soul-life as a whole. They say to themselves: ‘I have known much grief, much suffering, but at some time or other I was myself the cause of it. I must have done certain things, even though I cannot remember them. If I have not deserved these sufferings in my present life, then obviously there must have been another life when I did the things for which I am now making compensation.’
Through this inner deepening of experience the soul changes its former attitude, focuses more upon itself, seeks within itself what it previously sought in the outer world. This is obviously the case when someone says to himself: ‘The man who gave me the blow was led to me precisely because I myself was the cause of it.’ Such people pay more and more attention to their own inner nature, to their own inner life. In other words, just as an individual in a state of ecstasy looks through the outer veil of sense-perceptions into a world of beings and realities hitherto unknown to him, so does the mystic penetrate below his ordinary Ego. It is the ordinary Ego that rebels against the blow which comes from outside; but the mystic penetrates to what is below this Ego, to something that actually caused the blow. In this way the mystic reaches a stage where he gradually loses sight altogether of the outer world. Little by little, any concept of the outer world vanishes and his own Ego expands as it were into a whole world. But just as we will not decide at the moment whether the world revealed in ecstasy is mirage, reality or phantasy, neither will we decide whether what the mystic feels as compared with the ordinary life of soul is reality or whether it is he himself who is the cause of his sorrow and suffering. It may all be so much dreaming, but it is nevertheless an experience that may actually come to a man. The point of importance is that on two sides — outwards and inwards — he penetrates into a world hitherto unknown to him.
If we now reflect that in a condition of ecstasy a man loses grasp of his Ego, we shall realise that this is not a state to be striven for by one who is leading an ordinary life, for the possibility of achieving something in the world, our whole power of orientation in the world, depends upon the fact that in our Ego we have a firm centre of our being. If ecstasy deprives us of the possibility of experiencing the Ego, then for the time being we have lost our very selves. And on the other side, when the mystic attributes everything to the Ego, makes himself the culprit for whatever he has to experience, this has the detrimental effect of making him look within himself for the ultimate cause of everything that happens in the world. But thereby he loses the faculty of healthy orientation in life, burdens himself with guilt and is unable to establish any right relationship with the outer world.
Thus in both directions, in ordinary ecstasy and in ordinary mystical experience, the power of orientation in the world is lost. It is therefore a good thing that man encounters barriers in two directions. If he brings his Ego to expression in the outward direction, he encounters the barrier of sense-perceptions; they do not let him through to what lies behind the veil of the sense-world and that is beneficial for him because he is normally able to keep full possession of his Ego. And in the other direction the inner experiences in the life of soul do not let him through below the Ego, below those feelings which lead to the faculty of orientation. He is enclosed between two barriers in the outer world and in the inner world of soul and in normal circumstances cannot penetrate beyond the point where orientation in life is possible for him.
In what has been described a comparison has been made between the normal state of life and the abnormal states of ecstasy and uncontrolled mystical experience. Ecstasy and mystical experience are abnormal states, but in everyday life there is something which helps us to be aware of the barriers referred to very much more clearly-namely, the alternating states of waking and sleeping through which we pass within 24 hours.
What is it that we do in sleep? In sleep we do exactly the same, in a certain respect, as we do in the abnormal state of ecstasy described above. The ‘inner man’ in us spreads into the outer world. That is what actually happens. Just as in ecstasy we pour out our Ego, lose hold of our Ego, in sleep we lose not only our Ego-consciousness but we lose even more — which is beneficial. In ecstasy we lose only our Ego-consciousness, but still have around us a world of hitherto unknown pictures, a world of spiritual realities and beings. In sleep there is no such world around us, for everything in the way of perception has gone. Thus sleep differs from ecstasy in this respect: in sleep, together with the extinction of the Ego, a man's faculty of perception-whether physical or spiritual-is also extinguished. Whereas in ecstasy the Ego alone is extinguished, in sleep the faculty of perception and the consciousness too, are obliterated. Man has not only poured his Ego into the world, but he has also surrendered his consciousness to this world. What remains behind of man during sleep is what there is in him apart from the Ego and apart from consciousness. In the normal sleeping man we have before us a being in the physical world who has discarded both his consciousness and his Ego. And whither has the consciousness, whither has the Ego, gone? Having had an explanation of the state of ecstasy, we are able to answer this question too. In the state of ecstasy we have around us a world of spiritual realities and spiritual beings. But if we also relinquish consciousness, then at that same moment dense darkness surrounds us — we sleep. Thus in sleep, as in ecstasy, we have surrendered the Ego, and further — this is the characteristic of sleep — the bearer of our consciousness and its manifestations. This is our astral body; it is poured out into the world of spiritual beings and facts revealed in the state of ecstasy. We may therefore say that man's sleep is a kind of ecstasy — a condition in which he is outside his body not merely in respect of his Ego, but also in respect of his consciousness. In the state of ecstasy, the Ego, which is one member of the human being, has been abandoned; and in sleep another member too is abandoned, for the astral body goes out of the physical body as well, and with this departure of the astral body the possibility of consciousness is eliminated.
We have, then, to picture man in sleep as consisting on the one side of the members still lying in the bed — the physical body and the etheric body — and on the other side, of the members outside the sleeper which have been given over to a world that is to begin with an unknown realm; these members are the Ego, which in ecstasy is also surrendered, and a second member as well, which in ecstasy is not surrendered: the astral body.
Sleep represents a kind of division of man's being. Consciousness and Ego separate from the outer sheaths and what happens in sleep is that man passes into a state in which he no longer knows anything about the experiences of waking life, in which he has no consciousness at all of what outer impressions have brought to him. His inner self is given over to a world of which he has no consciousness, of which he knows nothing. Now for a certain reason of which we shall hear a great deal, this world to which man's inner self is given over, into which his Ego and his astral body have passed and in which he has forgotten all the impressions of waking life, is called the Macrocosm, the Great World. While he is asleep man is given over to the Macrocosm, poured out into the Macrocosm.
During ecstasy he is likewise given over to the Macrocosm, but then he knows something of it. It is characteristic of ecstasy that a man experiences something — whether pictures or realities — of what is spread around him in a vast domain of space in which he believes himself lost. He experiences something like a loss of his Ego but as though he were in a realm hitherto unknown to him. This identification with a world which differs from that of everyday life when we feel, subject only to our bodies, justifies us from the outset in speaking of a Macrocosm, a Great World — in contrast to the ‘little world’ of our ordinary waking life, when we feel ourselves enclosed within our skin. That is only the most superficial view of the matter. In the state of ecstasy we have grown into the Macrocosm, where we see fantastic forms, fantastic because there is no resemblance with anything in the physical world. We cannot distinguish ourselves from them. We feel our whole being as it were expanded into the Macrocosm. That is what happens in ecstasy. With this conception of the state of ecstasy we are able — by analogy — it least-to form an idea of why we lose hold of the Ego in that state.
Let us picture the Ego of man as a drop of coloured liquid. Assuming that we had a very tiny vessel just able to contain this drop, the drop would be visible by its colour. But if the drop were put in a large vessel, let us say in a basin of water, the drop would no longer be perceptible. Apply this analogy to the Ego which in the state of ecstasy expands over the Macrocosm, and you will be able to conceive that the Ego feels itself becoming weaker and weaker as it expands. When the Ego spreads over the Macrocosm, it loses the faculty of self-awareness, rather as a drop loses its identity in a large vessel of water. So we can understand that when man surrenders himself to the Macrocosm, the Ego is lost. It is still there, only being outpoured in the Macrocosm it knows nothing of itself.
But in sleep there is another factor of importance. As long as a man has consciousness, he acts. In the state of ecstasy he has a kind of consciousness, but not the guiding Ego. He does not control his actions; he surrenders himself entirely to impressions made upon him. It is an essential feature of ecstasy that the man concerned is actually capable of actions. Watched from outside, however, it is as though he had entirely changed. It is really not he himself who is acting; he acts as if under quite different influences. For many beings appear and exert influence upon him. There lies the danger of ecstasy. Because what man sees is a multiplicity, he comes under the control now of one being, now of another, and seems to be disintegrating. This is the danger of the state of ecstasy. Man is indeed given over to a spiritual world but it is a world which tears him asunder inwardly.
If we think of sleep, we must admit that the world we there enter has a certain reality. The existence of a world can be denied only as long as no effects of it are observed. If it is insisted that there is someone behind a wall, this can be denied as long as no knocking can be heard; if there is knocking, commonsense can no longer deny it. When effects of a world are perceived it is not possible to regard that world as pure fancy.
Are there, then, any perceptible effects of the world which we see in ecstasy but not in normal sleep? Of the effects of the world in which we are during sleep we can all convince ourselves when we wake in the morning. Our condition then is different from what it was the previous evening. In the evening we are tired, our forces are exhausted and must be replenished; but in the morning we wake with fresh forces which have been gathered during sleep. When with his Ego and astral body a man is given up to another world, he draws from that world-which in ecstasy is perceived but in normal sleep is obliterated-the forces he needs for the life of day. How this actually happens need not concern us now; what is important is that this world brings us forces which banish fatigue. The world out of which stream forces which get rid of fatigue is the same as the world we see in ecstasy. Every morning we become aware of the effects of the world we perceive in ecstasy but not in sleep. When there is a world which produces effects we can no longer speak of a non-reality.
Out of the same world into which we gaze in the state of ecstasy, and which in sleep is obliterated, we draw the forces strengthening us for the life of day. We do this under quite special circumstances. During this process of drawing forces from that spiritual world we do not perceive ourselves. The essential feature of sleep is that we achieve something but have no awareness of ourselves during this activity. If we had any such awareness the process would be carried out far less efficiently than it is when we are not conscious of it. In daily life too there are matters where we do well to say to many a man: ‘Hands off!’ Everything would go wrong if they interfered with it. If a man were to play a part in this difficult operation of restoring the forces exhausted during the previous day, he would ruin everything because he is not yet capable of being a conscious participant. It is providential that consciousness of his own existence is snatched away from man at the moment when he might do harm to his own development.
Thus through forgetting his own existence on going to sleep man passes out into the Macrocosm. Every night he passes over from his microcosmic existence into the Macrocosm and becomes one with the latter inasmuch as he pours into it his Ego and his astral body. But because in the present course of his life he is capable of working only in the world of waking life, his consciousness ceases the moment he passes into the Macrocosm. That is why it has always been said in occult science that between life in the Microcosm and in the Macrocosm lies the stream of forgetfulness. On this stream of forgetfulness man passes into the Great World, when on going to sleep he passes out of the Microcosm into the Macrocosm. So we can say that during every period of sleep, man surrenders two members of his being — the astral body and the Ego — to the Macrocosm.
And now let us think of the moment of waking. At the moment of waking a man begins again to feel pleasure, pain, and whatever urges and desires he has recently experienced. That is the first experience. The second experience is that his Ego-consciousness returns. Out of the vague darkness of sleep the soul-experiences and the Ego re-emerge. We have therefore to say that if man consisted only of those members which remained lying in bed through the night, he would not, on waking, be able to be aware of past experiences in the life of soul such as pleasure, suffering and so on, for what has been lying there is in the truest sense in the same condition as a plant. It has no soul-experiences. But neither has the ‘inner man’ during sleep, although this inner man is the bearer of such experiences. From this we can realise that in ordinary life, before suffering, pleasure, sympathy, antipathy, and so forth, can actually be experienced, the astral body must dive down into the sheaths of man which remain lying in bed; otherwise he cannot become aware of any such experiences. We can therefore say: The part of our being — consisting of astral body and Ego — which at night is poured out into the Macrocosm and gives rise to our inner experiences, becomes perceptible to us in normal life only through the fact that on waking we descend into the sheaths which have remained lying in bed.
What lies there is again twofold. One part of it is what we experience on waking as our inner life. In the Macrocosm during sleep we cannot be conscious of the play of our feelings, or, in brief, of our soul-experiences. But when on waking we penetrate once again into the members of our being which have remained lying in the bed, we can experience not only our inner feelings but also the outer world of sense-impressions. We perceive the red of the rose; delight in the rose is an inner experience; perception of the red colour is an outer experience. Therefore what is lying there in bed must be twofold: one part must mirror to us what we experience inwardly, and the other part perceives an outer world. If there were only the one without the other, we should simply experience on waking either an inner world alone or an external world alone. A panorama of outer; impressions would be before us and we should not feel pleasure or pain; or conversely, we should feel only pleasure and pain and have no perception of anything in the external world. We dive down on waking, not into a unity, but into a duality. In sleep, a duality of being has poured into the Macrocosm, and on waking we dive down into the Microcosm, another duality. What enables us to experience an outer picture of the sense-world is the physical body, and what enables us in waking life to have an inner life of soul, is the etheric body. If, on waking, we were to penetrate into the physical body only, we should confront outer pictures, but we should remain inwardly empty, cold and apathetic, having no interest in anything around us or presented in the pictures. If we were to penetrate into the etheric body only, we should have no outer world, but only a world of feelings, surging up and ebbing away. And so on waking we enter a twofold being — we enter into the etheric body which acts as a mirror of the inner world, and into the physical body, the medium for the impressions of the outer world of the senses.
Actual experiences therefore justify us in speaking of man as a fourfold being. Two of his members — Ego and astral body — belong, during sleep, to the Macrocosm. In waking life the Ego and astral body belong to the Microcosm that is enclosed within the skin. This ‘little world’ is the medium for everything we have before us in the normal waking state, for it is the physical body which enables us to have an external world before us, and the etheric body which enables us to have an inner life.
Thus man lives alternately in the Microcosm and in the Macrocosm. Every morning he enters into the Microcosm. The fact that in sleep he is poured out, like a drop in a large vessel of water, into the Macrocosm, means that at the moment of passing out of the Microcosm into the Macrocosm, he must pass through the stream of forgetfulness.
By what means, then, can man, provided he deepens himself inwardly, to a certain extent induce those conditions that were described at the beginning of the lecture? In ecstasy, the Ego is poured into the Macrocosm, while the astral body has remained in the Microcosm. In what does the mystical state consist? Our life by day in the physical and etheric bodies, in the Microcosm, is remarkable in the extreme. We do not actually descend into these bodies in such a way that we become aware of their inner nature. These two sheaths make possible our life of soul and our sense-perceptions. Why is it that on waking we become aware of our life of soul? It is because the etheric body does not allow us actually to look within it, any more than a mirror allows us to see what is behind it and for that very reason enables us to see ourselves in it. The etheric bodies mirrors our soul-life back to us; and because it does so, it appears to us as if it were the actual cause of our soul-life. The etheric body itself, however, proves to be impenetrable. We do not penetrate into it, but it throws back to us an image of our life of soul. That is its peculiarity. The mystic, however, through intensifying the life of soul, succeeds in penetrating to a certain extent into the etheric body; he sees more than the mirrored image. By working his way into this part of the Microcosm he experiences within himself what in the normal state man experiences poured over the outer world. Thus the mystic, through inner deepening, penetrates to some extent into his etheric body; he penetrates below that threshold where the soul-life is in other circumstances reflected in joy, suffering, and so on, into the interior of the etheric body. What the mystic experiences in passing the threshold are processes in his own etheric body. He then experiences something that is somewhat comparable with the loss of the Ego in the state of ecstasy. In the latter case the Ego becomes evanescent, as it were, having been poured into the Macrocosm, and in mystical experience the Ego is ‘densified.’ The mystic becomes aware of this through the fact that the principle adopted by the ordinary Ego of acting in accordance with the brain-bound intelligence and the dictates of the senses, is ignored, and the impulses for his actions arise from inner feelings issuing directly from his etheric body and not, as in the case of other people, merely reflected by it. The intensely strong inner experiences of the mystic are due to the fact that he penetrates right into his own etheric body.
Whereas in the state of ecstasy a man expands his being into the Macrocosm, the mystic compresses himself within the Microcosm. Both experiences, whether that of perceiving in ecstasy certain happenings and beings in the Macrocosm, or that of undergoing unusual inner experiences as a mystic, are related to each other, and this relation may be characterised quite simply in the following way. The world we see with our eyes and hear with our ears arouses in us certain feelings of pleasure, pain, and so on. We feel that in normal life all this is interconnected. The joy in the outer world felt by one person may be more intense than that felt by another, but these are differences of degree only. The intense sufferings and raptures of the mystic are vastly different in quality. There are also great differences in quality between what the eyes see and the ears hear and what is experienced by a person in ecstasy, when he is given over to a world that is not like the world of the senses. But if we could have from someone in ecstasy a description of his raptures and torments, we should be able to say that the person in ecstasy may derive from his vision of beings and events experiences such as those of the mystic. And if, on the other hand, we were to hear the mystic describing his emotions and feelings, we should say that something of the kind may equally well be experienced in ecstasy.
The world of the mystic is a real world. Similarly the beings encountered in the state of ecstasy are subjectively real, in the sense that they are actually seen. Whether the experiences are illusions or realities is at the moment beside the point. The person in question sees a world that is different from the sense-world; the mystic experiences joys, emotions and torments which are not comparable with anything known in everyday life. The mystic does not, however, see the world that is revealed to one in the state of ecstasy, and the latter has no experience of the world of the mystic. Both worlds are independent of each other. — It is a strange relationship, but an explanation of the world of the one may be found in the light of the experiences of the other. If a normal person were actually to experience the world described by one in the state of ecstasy, the shattering effect would be comparable with the intensity of the experiences undergone by the mystic.
We have thus pointed to a certain connection between the worlds of mystical and ecstatic experience. Both inwardly and outwardly, man encounters the world of the spirit.
What has been described today will seem to many of you to be airy hypothesis, but we shall try in the next lectures to answer the questions: To what extent are we able to penetrate into a real world by working our way through the tapestry of the outer world of sense? How far is it possible to get beyond the world experienced by a man in the state of ecstasy and penetrate into a real outer world, and to penetrate below the inner world of the mystic into a realm that lies below the human Ego but in which there is also reality? The next lectures will speak in greater and greater detail of the paths leading into the spiritual world through the Macrocosm and through the Microcosm.