Monday, November 7, 2022

The human ego as The Scarlet Pimpernel


"They seek him here, They seek him there"

Rudolf Steiner:

How does man experience this sense of his own existence? He experiences it somewhat as follows. Perhaps it can only be expressed in a picture:

Imagine we are looking at a wide ocean. The waves rise and fall. There is a wave here, a wave there; there are waves everywhere, due to the heaving water. One particular wave, however, holds our attention, for we see that something is living in it, that it is not merely surging water. Yet water surrounds this living something on all sides. We only know that something is living in this wave, though even here we can only see the enveloping water. This wave looks like the others; but the strength of its surging, the force with which it rises, gives an impression of something special living within. This wave disappears and reappears at another place; again the water conceals what is animating it from within. So it is with the soul life of man. Images, thoughts, feelings and impulses of will surge up; waves everywhere. One of the waves emerges in a thought, in a feeling, in an act of volition. The ego is within, but concealed by the thoughts, or feelings, or impulses of will, as the water conceals what is living in the wave. At the place where man can only say: ‘There my own self surges up,’ he is confronted by mere semblance; he does not know what he himself is. His true being is certainly there and is inwardly felt and experienced, but this ‘semblance’ in the soul conceals it, as the water of the wave the unknown living thing from the depths of the sea. Man feels his own true being hidden by the unreal images of his own soul. Moreover, it is as if he wanted continually to hold fast to his own existence, as if he would lay hold of it at some point, for he knows it is there. Yet, at the very moment when he would grasp it, it eludes him. Man is not able, within the fluctuating life of his soul, to grasp the real being he knows himself to be. And when he discovers that this surging, unreal life of his soul has something to do with that other world presented by nature, he is more than ever perplexed. The riddle of nature is, at least, one that is present in experience; the riddle of man's own soul is not present in experience because it is itself alive. It is, so to speak, a living riddle, for it answers man's constant question: ‘What am I?’ by putting a mere semblance before him.


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