Rudolf Steiner Archive 

How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Spiritual World?

Berlin, 15 December 1910

Before I start with the today's issue, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these discussions are the beginning of a whole range of such discussions, and that all following issues could carry the same title as the today's issue in this winter. Referring to the most different phenomena of the human life and the scientific life, to the most different cultural personalities generally in the course of the next talks the way is discussed which the human being has to go if he wants to come to the knowledge of the spiritual world.

Allow me — although this subject, this consideration, so to speak, shall lead to the region of the most impersonal, to the objective-spiritual-scientific — that I start, nevertheless, in the introduction from something personal, because the way into the spiritual world has to lead from the most personal to the impersonal. Hence, the personal will often be a symbolic sign of this way in spite of the impersonal, and one attains the possibility to point to various significant just because one starts as it were from the more intimate immediate experience. To the beholder of the spiritual worlds some allegorical things will be more important than it may appear at first. Something that may pass the human look maybe without being touched by attention may appear deeply significant to somebody who intensely wants to deal with such a consideration, as it should also form the basis of the today's discussions. I can say, the following belongs to the unforgettable things for me — what may appear as a trifle of life at first — which really showed the longing of the present human beings for the spiritual world. At the same time, it also showed the more or less admitted impossibility to get access to the spiritual world anyhow with the means which not only the present, even the last centuries give.

I sat once in the cosy flat of Herman Grimm (1828-1901, German author). Those of you who are somewhat familiar with the German cultural life connect something with the name Herman Grimm. You maybe know the brilliant, significant biographer of Michelangelo and Raphael and know maybe that as it were the sum of the education of our time at least of Central Europe or of Germany was combined in the soul of Herman Grimm. In a conversation with Herman Grimm about Goethe, affiliated to him, and about Goethe's worldview it happened what is a trifle, what just belongs to the most unforgettable things of my life. To a remark which I did — we see afterward how just in relation to the rise of the human being to the spiritual world this remark can be significant -, Herman Grimm answered with a negative movement of his left hand. What lay in this movement of the hand is that which I count as it were to the unforgettable experiences of my life. It should concern of speaking about Goethe's specific way to the spiritual world — we still have to discuss Goethe's way to the spiritual world in the course of these talks. Herman Grimm gladly followed the ways of Goethe to the spiritual world — but in his way. It was completely abstruse to him to show an interest in such a way that one regards Goethe as the representative of a human being who really — also as an artist — gets down spiritual realities from the spiritual world to embody them in his pieces of art. It was more obvious to him to say, oh, we cannot get to this spiritual world with the means we have today as human beings; however, we can only get to it by imagination. Indeed, imagination offers things, which are great and can fulfil the human heart with warmth; but knowledge, well-grounded knowledge was something that Herman Grimm, such an intimate beholder of Goethe, did not want to find with Goethe. When I said that Goethe wanted to embody truth in beauty, in art, and when I tried to show that there are ways beyond imagination, ways into the spiritual world that lead on firmer ground than imagination, it was possibly not the refusal of someone who would not like to go with such a way. It was not the refusal of such a kind what Herman Grimm put in this movement of his hand, but in the kind, which only that knows who understood him more exactly, he laid the following: there may probably be such a way; nevertheless, we human beings cannot feel called to recognise something of it!

As I have said, I would not like to bring this forward as a personal affair in a pushy way, but it seems to me that such a gesture represents the position just of the best human beings of our age concerning the spiritual world. For I had a long conversation with Herman Grimm on the way from Weimar to Tiefurt (today a quarter of Weimar) where he explained that he had delivered himself completely from any only materialistic view of the world process, from the view that the human mind produces the real mental wealth out of itself in the successive epochs. In a big plan which — as those know who have dealt with Herman Grimm — was no longer carried out in a work, Herman Grimm told that he intended to write a History of German Imagination. He had in mind to represent the workings of imagination as a goddess in the spiritual worlds that produces what the human beings create to the welfare of the world progress. I would like to say: in that charming region between Weimar and Tiefurt I had a feeling with these words of a person whom I appreciate as one of the greatest spirits of our time, a feeling, which I want to express with the following words.

Today many human beings say to themselves: one must be deeply dissatisfied with that what the outer science can say about the origins of life, about the secret of existence, about the world riddles; but there is no possibility to enter another world powerfully. There is no will-intensity of knowledge to recognise this world of the spiritual life as different from what the human being creates in his imagination. Many a person goes just with pleasure to this realm of imagination because it is the only spiritual realm for him. There I could just remember a passage in Grimm's Lectures on Goethe which he had held in the winter 1874/75 where he speaks of that impression which the wholly external, spiritless observation of nature must make on such a spirit like him.

Already thirty years before this encounter in Weimar, Herman Grimm appeared to me as the type of a human being whom all feelings and sensations push to the spiritual world. However, he cannot find the spiritual world as reality but only in the imagination, in its workings. On the other side, he did not want — just because he was such a person — to admit that Goethe sought the origins and riddles of existence in another realm than only in that of imagination, namely in the realm of spiritual reality.

I would like to quote a passage at the starting point of our today's considerations where Herman Grimm speaks of something whose significance spiritual science does not deny. However, it is not only impossible for the sensations and feeling but also for a knowledge that wants to understand itself as it is regarded by the outer natural sciences or by that worldview which wants to stand on the firm ground of the natural sciences. I mean the Kant-Laplace theory that explains our solar system in such a way, as if it consisted only of lifeless, inorganic materials and forces and as if it formed from a gigantic gas ball. I allow myself to read out the passage from Herman Grimm's lectures on Goethe that shows what such an intriguing worldview making such deep impression meant to a spirit like Herman Grimm.

“However, no matter how much Goethe forbids the reason here to take more for truth than one can take, indeed, with the five fingers of the hand, he gives the imagination of the poet the right to create pictures of that from unaware, dreaming strength what the reason longs for to see. However, he maintains the border of both activities sharply. The great Laplace-Kant imagination of the origin and future fall of the globe had already gained ground in his youth. From the rotating world nebula, the central gas drop forms from which the earth originates that experiences all phases, as a solidifying ball, for unfathomable periods, included the episode of the habitation by human beings, to fall, finally as a burnt-out slag into the sun. It is a long, but for the public comprehensible process for whose realisation no other outer intervention is required than the effort of any outer force to maintain the hot temperature of the sun.

One cannot imagine any more futile perspective for the future than that which should be forced upon us in this expectation as scientifically necessary today. A bone of a carrion around which a hungry dog creeps would be a refreshing appetising piece compared with this last excrement of creation as which our earth would become subject, in the end, to the sun again. It is the thirst for knowledge and a sign of ill imagination with which our generation takes up such things and believes it. Future scholars have to use a lot of astuteness to explain it as a historical phenomenon.”

It was necessary to me to point to such a passage because it happens seldom today. The mental pictures of the scientific worldviews work so intriguing, that one seldom points to spirits who are connected deeply with the cultural life of our time and still behave in such a way to it about which countless human beings say, it is a matter of course that the things are in such a way; everybody is, actually, a poor devil who will not concede that the things are in such a way! Yes, today we already see many people who have the deepest longing for building a connecting bridge between the human soul and the spiritual world. On the other side, we see beyond those circles which deeper deal with spiritual science, few people dealing with the means, which can lead the human soul to the land of its longing. Therefore, if we speak of the ways which should lead the human being into the spiritual world, and speak in such a way as it were that the spoken should apply to a narrow circle, but is directed to all those who are equipped with the today's education, then we encounter big resistance in a certain respect. It cannot only happen that one regards our views as daydreaming and fantasy. But they can also annoy many people because they deviate so much from that which applies to the widest circles today — as the suggestive and intriguing mental pictures of those who consider themselves as the most educated ones.

I have already indicated in the first talk that the ascent to the spiritual world is an intimate affair of the soul, and that it contradicts certainly very much what in popular and in scientific circles is usual for the life of feeling and thinking. In particular the scientist demands: what shall apply scientifically must be verifiable any time and for any person and then he probably points to his external experiment which one can prove any time, before any person. It is a matter of course that spiritual science cannot satisfy this demand. — We shall see at once, why. — Hence, spiritual science already defies the methodical demand that science and the worldviews put up today so easily: to be verifiable for everybody everywhere and every time. In popular circles spiritual science very often encounters resistance because in our time — even where one longs for the ascent to the spiritual world — one intermingles the sensations and feelings with materialistic views. With the best will in the world, one cannot help thinking the spirit anyhow materialistically, even if one longs for the spiritual world, or at least imagining the ascent to the spiritual world connected with something material. Hence, most people prefer that one speaks to them about wholly outer means, for example, what they should eat and drink or should not eat and not drink, or what they should undertake usually purely externally in the material world. They prefer that much more than if one demands from them that they introduce intimate moments of development in their souls. Nevertheless, just that matters while ascending to the spiritual world.

Now we want — completely in the sense as spiritual science considers this - to try once briefly to outline this rise of the human soul to the spiritual world. The starting point must be taken always from that in what the human being lives at first. The present human being lives firmly in the outer, sensuous world. Try once to make clear to him how much is still left in this human soul if one turns the look away from what the outer sensory impressions of the physical world have sparked as images in us. Consider what has come in with the outer, physical experiences, with the senses, which sufferings and joys, desires and pains, and what then our reason has combined from these impressions of the sensory world. Try once to eradicate all that from the soul, try to imagine it as not existing, and consider once what would remain then. The human beings who can take this simple self-introspection seriously realise that very little remains in the soul of the present human being. However, at first, the rise to the spiritual world cannot start from that what the outer sensory world gives us, but the human being has to develop soul forces that usually slumber in him. It is a requirement of any rise to the spiritual world that the human being realises that he is internally developable that something else is in him that he surveys with his consciousness at first.

It is an irritating idea for many people, for — taking a particular human being of the modern education — what does, for example, the modern philosopher if he wants to determine the entire significance and the being of knowledge? He says, I want to try once how far we can generally come with our thinking, with our soul forces, what can we understand of the world? There he looks in his way — depending on his present faculties — to grasp a worldview and put it before himself, and then he says as a rule, we cannot know the other things; they are beyond the limits of human knowledge! — It is generally the widespread expression that one can find in the modern literature: we cannot know this!

However, there is another point of view, which goes beyond it quite different from the just mentioned one, while it says, truly, with my present soul forces, I can recognise this or that, but here in the soul is a developable being. This soul maybe has forces in itself that I must get out only from it. I have only to lead it certain ways beyond the current point of view, then I want to see whether I was not to blame when I said, this or that is beyond the limit of our knowledge. Perhaps I need to go on only a little bit in the development of my soul, then the limits extend, and I can deeper penetrate into the things.

One stretches the logic if one wants to judge about that, but one would say, what we recognise depends on our organs. Therefore, for example, the blind-born cannot judge about colours, he can judge only about that if he has got his eyesight by a happy operation. It could also be — I do not want to speak of the “sixth sense” but of something that one can receive from the soul wholly spiritually — that we get spirit eyes or spirit ears out of our souls. Then for us the big event could take place which takes place on a lower level if the blind-born experiences if he is so happy to be operated, so that then for us the supposition could become truth: there is a spiritual world around us, but to behold into it we must have woken the organs in ourselves. This would be the only logical. However, one stretches logic, because in our time the human beings have quite different needs if they hear of a spiritual world than to familiarise themselves with this spiritual world. I have told already once that in a South German city when I had to hold a talk a well-behaved journalist who writes feuilletons started his feuilleton with the words: “The incomprehensibility of theosophy strikes the eye above all.” We gladly believe that for this man theosophy is incomprehensible above all. However, is this a criterion anyhow? Transfer this example on mathematics that somebody may say of it: the incomprehensibility of mathematics mostly strikes the eyes. Then everybody says, indeed, this may be; then, however, he should learn something at first if he wants to write feuilletons! — It would often be better to transfer what applies to a special field on another appropriately. Thus, nothing else is left than that people deny — they can do this only by a decree — that there is a development of the soul — namely if they refuse to experience such a development of the soul — or they start such a development. Then the spiritual world becomes reality, truth for them. However, in order to get to the spiritual world, the soul must become able — not for the physical life, but for the knowledge of the spiritual world — to transform its figure completely in a certain respect, to become another being.

This can often warn us already, what I had often to emphasise here, that someone who feels the urge to ascend to the spiritual world must get clear about it above all repeatedly, whether he has got firm ground here in this world of physical reality whether he is able to be certain here. Since for all conditions which happen in the physical world we must have certainty, willpower and sentience, must not lose ground if we want to ascend from this world to the spiritual one. This is a preliminary stage: doing everything that strengthens our character in the physical world. Then it depends on bringing the soul to a feeling and a willing for the spiritual world different from the feeling and willing in the soul normally. Our soul has to become another organism of feeling and willing than it is in the normal life. There we get on what can bring spiritual science at first in contrast to that what is recognised today as “science” what puts spiritual science, however, on the other side, immediately beside this science with the same validity the outer science has.

If one says that everything that should be science must be verifiable any time and for any human being, one thinks that science must not depend on our subjectivity, on our subjective feelings, on that what we carry in ourselves as will decisions, will impulses, feelings and sensations only individually. Now, however, that who wants to ascend to the spiritual world must make the detour through the inside of his soul at first, must reorganise his soul, must look completely away from that what is outside in the physical world. In the normal life, the human being looks away from that what is within the physical world only if he sleeps; then he lets nothing in his soul through his eyes, ears and through the whole organisation of his senses, but then he becomes unaware of it and is not able to live consciously in a spiritual world.

I have said that it belongs to the basic elements of spiritual knowledge for the human being to find the possibility in himself to exceed himself. That is, however, nothing else than making the spirit effective in himself at first. We all know that we only turn away from the physical world in the normal human life if we become unconscious in sleep. The talk about The Nature of Sleep has shown how the human being is there in a real spiritual world even if he knows nothing about it. Since it would be absurd to believe that the centre of soul and mind disappears in the evening and originates in the morning anew; no, it outlives the states of falling asleep to awakening really. However, the inner force to be aware is absent in the sleep, even if no stimulation of the consciousness arises from the impressions of the senses or by the work of the reason. The soul life is then reduced, so that the human being is not able to inspire and to rouse what the soul lets itself experience internally. If the human being wakes up again, the experiences come in from the outside, and because soul contents are given to him this way, he becomes aware of these soul contents. He cannot become conscious if he is not stimulated from the outside. The strength of the human being is otherwise too weak when he is left to his own resources in sleep.

The rise to the spiritual world is the stimulation of such soul forces that make the soul able to live in itself consciously if it becomes — compared with the external world — in such a way, as the human being is usually in the sleep. That is, the ascent to the spiritual worlds requires a stimulation of inner energy, a getting out of forces, which sleep, otherwise, which are paralysed in the soul, so that the human being cannot use them at all. All those intimate experiences, which the spiritual researcher has to go through in his soul aim at that which I have just characterised. Today I would like to tell something, to sum up something about the way to the spiritual world. In detail these things are shown in their elements — so to speak, in their ABC — in my book which appeared under the title How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? However, today I do not want to recur exactly giving you an extract of this book, but I want to explain from another side what the soul has to do with itself in order to come into the spiritual world. He who is deeper interested in it can read up the details in the mentioned book. However, one must not believe that that what I have written there in detail can be shown here summarising it briefly that one can use the same words and sentences. Those who know the book will not think in such a way, that it is a summary of the book, but that it characterises the matter, nevertheless, from another side.

It is exceptionally important that for the spiritual researcher, who wants to ascend to the spiritual world, many things that lead the other human beings directly to knowledge become simply a means of the intimate education of the soul. Let me illustrate this with an example. Many years ago, I wrote a book, The Philosophy of Freedom. I wrote this book in such a way that it differs completely from other philosophical books of the present that have the intention more or less to give something about the world according to the mental pictures of the authors. This is not the next purpose of this book, but it should give a kind of thought training to that who gets himself into the thoughts there, so that the way of thinking, the special way of getting himself into these thoughts sets his sensations and feelings in motion. What is usually only a means of knowledge is at the same time a spiritual-mental means of education in this book. This is exceptionally important. Hence, it does not matter with this book so much whether one can argue about this and whether something has to be understood one way or the other but that the thoughts which are combined to an organism can teach our souls, can help them.

The same applies to my book Truth and Knowledge.

That also applies to many things that at first shall be basic elements to train the soul to come into the spiritual world. Mathematics, geometry teaches the human being the knowledge of the triangles, quadrangles and other figures. Nevertheless, why do they teach all that? Because the human being should thereby get knowledge how the things are in space to which principles they are subject et cetera. Spiritual science also works with similar figures as symbols. It presents, for example, the symbol of the triangle, the quadrangle, or other symbolic figures to the pupil. That is not why he shall attain immediate knowledge by them which he can attain also otherwise, but that he receives the possibility to train his spiritual abilities with them in such a way that his spirit arises to the higher world getting impressions from these symbols. One deals here with training of thoughts or — do not get me wrong — with gymnastics of thoughts. Therefore, a lot of that what is dry outer science, dry outer philosophy, mathematics, or geometry becomes the living symbol for the spiritual training that leads us in the spiritual world. If we have opened ourselves to this, then we learn to understand what no outer science understands that the old Pythagoreans spoke under the influence of their great teacher Pythagoras about the universe as consisting of figures because they considered the inner principles of the numbers. Now we consider how the numbers face us in the world everywhere. Nothing is easier than to disprove spiritual science or anthroposophy. For one will easily be able to say from a seemingly very serene point of view, these spiritual scientists come out from their mystic darkness with the number symbolism again and say that an inner lawfulness is contained in the numbers, and that one must consider, for example, the heptad as the true basis of the human being. — However, Pythagoras and his pupils also meant such a thing if they spoke of the inner lawfulness of the numbers. If we open ourselves to those miraculous connections which are in the relations of the numbers to the spirit, we can train it in such a way that it wakes up where it sleeps, otherwise, and develops stronger forces in itself to penetrate to the spiritual world.

Thus, it is a training by another science. It is also, actually, the study of that who wants to penetrate into the spiritual world. All that becomes an outer symbol for him that is crude reality more or less for the other human beings. If the human being is able to open himself to these symbols, he thereby does not only free his spirit from the external, physical world, but also penetrates it with strong forces, so that the soul can be aware of itself if no external stimulation is there. I have already mentioned that the human being if he opens himself to such a symbol, as it is the rose cross, can get an impulse to ascend to the spiritual world. We understand by the rose cross a simple black cross to which seven red roses are attached round the intersection of the beams.

What should it say to us? Someone opens himself properly to it while imagining: I look, for example, at a plant; I say about this plant, it is an imperfect being, — and put a human being next to it who is in his way a more perfect being, but just only in his way. Since if I look at the plant, I must say, in it, I face a material being which is not filled with passions, desires, instincts, which lead it down from the height where it could otherwise be. The plant has its inner laws, it follows them from the leaf to the blossom, and to the fruit; thus it stands there chastely, without desire. On the other side, the human being lives, indeed, in his way a higher being but impregnated with desires, instincts, passions by which he can stray from his strict lawfulness. He must overcome something in himself first if he wants to follow his inner principles as the plant follows its inner principles.

Now the human being can say to himself, the expression of the desires, instincts in me is the red blood. I can compare it in certain respect to the chaste plant juice, the chlorophyll, in the red rose. Then I can say, if the human being has become so strong in himself that the red blood is no longer an expression of that which presses down him beneath himself, but raises him above himself, — if the red colour of the rose expresses the pure inwardness, the purified nature of the human blood, I face the ideal of that which the human being can attain by overcoming the outer nature represented by the symbol of the black cross, the charred wood. The red colour of the rose symbolises the higher life that awakes if the red blood has become a chaste expression of the overcome nature of the human instincts.

If one does not let this representation be an abstract image, it becomes the vividly felt idea of development. Then a whole world of feelings and sensations revives in us; we feel a development from an imperfect to a more perfect state in ourselves. We feel the development as something quite different from that abstract thing which gives us the external science in the sense of a wholly external Darwinism. Development becomes something that deeply cuts in our hearts that penetrates us with warmth, with soul warmth, becomes a force in us that carries and holds us. Only by such inner experiences, the soul can develop strong forces in itself, so that it can penetrate its innermost being with consciousness.

One can easily say, of course, you recommend the idea of something quite imaginary, of something fictional. However, a mental picture is only valid if it is an effigy of an outer image, and, nevertheless, an image of the rose cross has no outer counter-image! — However, it does not matter that the image by which we train our soul is an effigy of an outer reality, but that the image wakes forces for our soul and elicits from the soul what slumbers covertly in it. If the human soul is given away to such a pictorial imagination if everything that is real, otherwise, becomes an occasion of pictures that are not got out of imagination arbitrarily, but are based on reality, as the rose cross, then we say: the human being takes care to ascend to the first level of knowledge of the spiritual world. — This is the level of Imaginative knowledge which leads us beyond what deals immediately only with the physical world.

Thus, the human being works on himself who wants to go up to the spiritual world in his soul with particular images, with a particular kind of opening himself to the otherwise outer reality. He works in this soul himself. If he has worked in this way for a while, the external scientist may say to him, this has for you only a subjective, only an individual value. However, the outer scientist does not know that there is a level of inner development with such a strict, lawful training of the soul where for the soul the possibility completely stops letting subjective feelings and sensations speak. The soul arrives at that stage where it must say to itself, now in me images rise which face me as really as trees and rocks, rivers and mountains, plants and animals of the outer world to which my subjectivity can add or subtract nothing.

Indeed, there is an intermediary condition for everybody who wants to ascend to the spiritual world where he is subject to the risk that he can possibly bring in his subjectivity that applies only to him. Nevertheless, the human being has to go through this intermediary condition, and then he comes to a level where the soul experiences become objectively verifiable as all things of the outer, physical reality. Since, in the end, the principle applies to the outer science: what should be scientifically valid must be verifiable for everybody any time, but only for someone who prepares himself sufficiently. Alternatively, do you believe that you can teach the principle of the “corresponding boiling temperature” to an eight-year-old child? I doubt it. You will not even be able to teach the Pythagorean tenet to it. This shows clearly that the human soul is already tied to this principle that the human soul prepares itself suitably if one wants to prove something to it. Like one has to prepare oneself — although it is possible for every human being — to understand the Pythagorean tenet, one must be prepared by a certain practise of the soul if one wants to get to know or to recognise this or that in the spiritual world. Then, however, that what can be recognised is learnable and observable by everybody who prepares himself appropriately. Alternatively, if those who prepare their souls to be able to look back at repeated earth-lives, so that these are facts, inform observations of spiritual science then people come and probably say, there he brings dogmas and demands that we should believe! However, the spiritual researcher does not expect that they should believe his knowledge.

If people mean that this is dogmas what is said, then they should ask themselves: is the fact that there is a whale fish a dogma for that who has never seen one? Indeed, one can explain it with it: it is a dogma for him who has never seen a whale fish. However, the spiritual research does not approach the world with communications only. It does not do that if it understands itself; but it dresses what it gets down from the higher worlds in logical forms that are exactly the same logical forms with which also the other sciences are penetrated. Then everybody can check by healthy sense of truth and impartial logic whether this is right what the spiritual researcher has said. Always one has said: in order to find the spiritual facts a training of the soul is necessary, the soul must have gone through what is described now, but it is not necessary for the understanding of the informed; healthy sense of truth and logic without prejudice are sufficient.

After the spiritual researcher has let such symbolic concepts and pictures work on his soul he notices that his sensory life and emotional life become quite different from that before. How are the sensory life and the emotional life in the usual world? It has become almost trivial today to use the term “egoistic” everywhere and to say, in the normal life, the human beings are egoistic. I would not like to express it in such a way, but I prefer to say, in the normal life, the human beings are tied up closely to the human personality, for example, if anything pleases us, like the most distinguished spiritual creations, the things of art and beauty. This expresses already itself in the proverb “there is no accounting for taste” that many things are bound to our personality and that it depends on it how we face the things subjectively. Examine how everything that can please you is connected with the fact how your education has been, to which place of the world, in which occupation your personality is put et cetera, in order to realise how the sensations and feelings are closely connected with our personality.

However, if one does such soul exercises as the characterised ones, one notices that the sensations and feelings become quite impersonal. This is a big and tremendous experience if the moment occurs when our sensory life and emotional life become impersonal as it were. This moment comes certainly, if the human being is stimulated in the course of his spiritual way by those who take over his spiritual guidance to open him to the following things in particular. I want now to tell something that educates our complete sensory life and emotional life if the human being submits himself to it for weeks, for months.

There the following can come into consideration. If we turn our attention to the spiritual centre of the human being, to the ego which accompanies all our mental pictures, the mysterious centre of any experience, and if we go on with that respect, that esteem and devotion which can associate itself with the fact — for many, however, no fact, but a chimera -: there lives an ego inside! — If this becomes the most striking event that this ego is the most essential of the soul, then in the “I am” immense, strong feelings develop which are impersonal and aim just at recognising how in the ego-point everything is crowded together that hovers around us as world secrets and mysteries to understand the human being from the ego-point. The poet Jean Paul (born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, 1763-1825, German author), for example, tells about this ego becoming conscious in his biography:

“I never forget the phenomenon in myself still told to no one where I stood at the birth of my self-consciousness the place and time of which I can give. In a morning, I stood as a very young child under the front door and looked at the woodshed on the left when all at once the inner face “I am an ego” as a streak of lightning penetrated me and stood still luminously since then, my ego had seen itself for the first time and forever. Deceits of memory are hard to imagine, because no other information could intermingle something in an event that took place only in the veiled sanctum of the human being the novelty of which made everyday minor details permanent.”

It means very much to feel the devotion of this concentration of the world being in one point with all showers of reverence and with all sensations of the greatness of this fact. If the human being feels it over and over again and opens himself to it, it may be in such a way that it does not clarify all world riddles to him, but still gives him a direction leading to the impersonal and to the innermost nature of the human being.

Thus, we educate our emotional life and sensory life by egoity. If we have done it for a while, we can bring our feelings and sensations in another direction, can say to ourselves, this ego in us is connected with what we think, feel, and sense, with our soul life. There we can study the human nature with the ego as the centre of thinking, feeling, and willing without considering ourselves or without becoming personal. The human being becomes a mystery to us, not we to ourselves. There our feelings increase from the ego about the soul. Then we change over to another feeling, can acquire that nice feeling in particular without which we cannot continue leading our soul into the spiritual knowledge. It is the feeling that in everything that faces us the access to an infinite presents itself to us. This is the most wonderful feeling if one allows it to appear before the soul repeatedly.

This may happen where we go out and see a wonderful spectacle of nature: the mountains wrapped by clouds in thunder and flash. This works on our souls tremendously. But then we must learn to see the big and tremendous not only there, but we maybe take a single leaf, look at it exactly with all its veins and all the miraculous things which are in it, and we can perceive an infinite with the smallest leaf as with the biggest spectacle of nature. It may appear weird, but, nevertheless, it is some truth in it, and someone must express himself absurdly afterward: it may do a big impression if the human being sees the glowing lava mass coming out of the earth. Then, however, we imagine, anybody looks at warm milk or coffee, sees there something like small crater-shaped things and sees there a similar play happening in microcosm. Everywhere, in the smallest as in the biggest, you can find access to an infinite.

If we do research on and on, and even if many things have still revealed themselves to us: there are still more things under the cover which we have maybe investigated on top. Thus, we feel just that in every point of the universe something infinite may be revealed. This fills our soul with sensations and feelings that are necessary to us if we want to attain what Goethe calls “spirit eyes,” “spirit ears.” Briefly, we live out our emotional life, which is, otherwise, the most subjective, up to that point where we feel only as the scene on which something happens where we do not at all count our feelings among ourselves. Our personality is quietened. It is almost as if we stretch a canvas and a painter paints a picture on it, that we stretch our soul, if we train ourselves and let the spiritual world paint on the soul. One senses this from a certain time on. Then one must realise only that it is necessary for the recognition of the being of the world to regard a certain stage of the soul life solely as decisive.

Indeed, what the human being attains with warm endeavour becomes the decisive factor of truth. In the soul must be decided whether something is true or not. Not anything external can decide, but while the human being goes beyond himself, he must find the authority in himself to look for truth. Yes, we can say strictly speaking, we cannot yet differ completely from the other human beings. The other human beings look for objective criteria, for something in the outside that confirms truth. However, the spiritual researcher searches the confirmation of truth from the inside. He makes the reverse. If it were that way, one could maybe say for the sake of appearance, it is bad if the spiritual scientists want to turn the world upside down with their craziness. Since in truth the naturalists and philosophers do nothing else than the spiritual researchers do, only they do not know that they do it. I want to give you a proof that is taken from the immediate present.

On the last naturalists' meeting Oswald Külpe (1862-1915, German psychologist and philosopher) held a talk about the relationship of the natural sciences to philosophy in which he goes into the relationship of the human being to the sensory world which he perceives as tone, colour, warmth et cetera, which are only subjective qualities. This is only somewhat different from that which Schopenhauer says: “The world is our (will and) representation (mental picture).” But Oswald Külpe draws the attention to the fact that any sense-perception, briefly everything that appears as pictorial is subjective that, however, what physics and chemistry say has to be characterised as objective; so that we deal in our worldviews partly with something wholly subjective, partly with something objective like pressure, attractive and repulsive forces.

I do not want to get involved with the criticism that was expressed, but go only into the way of thinking. This seems to be proved for the modern epistemologist very easily: because we cannot see without eyes, the light is only something that our eyes cause. However, what happens in the external world, one says, if a ball pushes the other what works there as forces, as resistance, pressure et cetera, one must move this, nevertheless, into the outside world, in the space. Why do people mean that? Oswald Külpe exposes himself at a certain passage very clearly speaking about the sense perceptions. Because he regards them as pictures, he says, they cannot attract each other, bang together, or warm up mutually, can also not have such-and-such big distance in space that they send the light in such-and-such velocity through the space, and cannot be arranged in such a way as the chemist arranges the elements. Why does he say that of the sense perceptions? Because he looks at them as pictures which are caused only by our senses.

Now I would like to present a simple thought that shows that the pictorial nature changes nothing at all. The things bang together and attract each other. If Mr. Külpe looks, however, at the sensations, at this world that cannot bang together or attract, then it does not face Mr. Oswald Külpe as reality, but as a reflection. There he has pictures before himself certainly. However, hit, pressure, resistance and everything that is put there into the world as discerning from the sensations is explained in no other way objectively as by the pictorial nature of the sensations. Why is this that way? Because the human being if he feels pressure, a hit et cetera, changes that what lives in the things into the sensations of the things. He should study, if he says, for example, a billiard ball pushes the other that he puts what he experiences as an impact into the things!

He who stands on the ground of spiritual science does nothing else, too. He makes that which lives in the inside of the soul the expression criterion of the world. There is no other principle of knowledge than what can be found with the development of the soul. That means, the others do the same as the spiritual research does. However, the spiritual research is aware of it. The others do it unconsciously, have no idea of the fact that they do the same on an elementary level, they stop only at the very first step and deny what they themselves do. Therefore, we can say, spiritual science does not contrast the remaining research of truth; the other researchers do the same, only they do the first step and know nothing of it, while the spiritual research does the steps consciously as far as a certain human soul can do it according to its level of development.

If this is now attained that our feelings have become objective in certain way, this happens all the more what I have already indicated what is, however, a necessary condition of the progress in the spiritual worlds. That the human being learns to understand to live in the world so that one assumes, an all-embracing spiritual lawfulness weaves and lives in the spiritual world. In the usual life, the human being is far away from such a way of thinking. He gets angry if anything happens to him that does not suit him. This is quite comprehensible, because another point of view must be hard gained. This other point of view consists in saying: we come from a former life, have put ourselves in the situations, in which we are now, have led us to that what faces us from the future. What faces us there corresponds to a strictly objective spiritual lawfulness. We accept it, because it would be an absurdity not to accept it. What approaches us from the womb of the spiritual worlds whether the world reproves or praises us whether joy or pain appear to us: we accept it as the penetration of the world filled with wisdom. This is something that must become the basic principle of our being slowly and gradually. If it becomes this, our will starts to be trained. Whereas our feelings have to be reorganised before, our will is now reorganised, becomes independent of our personality and thereby an organ to perceive spiritual facts.

Then after the level of Imaginative knowledge, the true Inspiration appears which one can call fulfilment with spiritual facts. However, we must get clear about that repeatedly that the human being can attain the training of the will only on a certain level if his feelings are already purified in a certain respect. Then his will can combine with the lawfulness of the world and he is there only as a human being, so that those facts and beings which want to appear to him, hold a wall before his will on which they can be reflected to him, so that they can be there for him.

I could only describe something of that which the soul has to experience in quiet, patient devotion if it wants to ascend to the higher worlds. In the following talks, I have to describe many things of the world-historical development that the soul must experience to ascend to the spiritual worlds. Regard that which I have said today only as an introduction that by such a training our emotional life and willing life and our whole life of imagining develop in such a way that they become bearers of new worlds. Then we really enter a world, which we recognise as real, as we recognise the physical world in its kind as real.

I have already mentioned on another occasion: someone who approaches reality with healthy thinking is able to distinguish a glowing piece of iron from one that exists only as a mental picture. Even if many Schopenhauerians may come, he will already be able to distinguish both from each other, — what is real and what is a mental picture. The human being can orientate himself towards reality. Therefore, he can only orientate himself towards reality about the spiritual world. Somebody said once that the human being if he only remembers of drinking lemonade also feels the taste of the lemonade on his tongue. I answered to him: as strong as the mental picture may be that somebody who has no lemonade before himself also feels the taste on the tongue by the lively mental picture of a lemonade, but I would like to see once whether anybody has extinguished his thirst with an only imagined lemonade. Then the criterion starts becoming more real. That also applies to an inner development of the human being that he gets to know not only a new soul life, new mental pictures, but collides in his soul with another world and knows: now you face a world that you can also describe as you can describe the outer world. This is not bare speculation, you can compare it only with a development of thought, but this is developing new senses and opening new worlds that stand really before us as our outer, physical world.

I have indicated today that spiritual research is possible and is necessary because of the conditions of our time. However, I do not say that everybody must immediately become a spiritual researcher. For I have to stress the following. If a human being faces the communications of spiritual science with healthy sense of truth and unprejudiced logic, even if he is not able to behold in the spiritual worlds, everything that comes from such communications can become energy and feelings of strength for the soul, even if he believes in Haeckelism or Darwinism at first. What the spiritual researcher has to say is appropriate to speak more and more to the healthy sense of truth, all the more because it is connected with the deepest interests of every human being. There may be human beings who do not regard it as necessary for their soul welfare to know how amphibians and mammals relate to each other. However, what spiritual research resting on sure basis can say has to inspire all human beings: the fact that the soul belongs to the sphere of eternity — in so far as it belongs to the spiritual world descending by birth to the sensuous existence and again ascending through the gate of death to the spiritual world. This must be of the deepest interest for all human beings, what immerses itself in the soul as strength that is in such a way that the soul receives certainty to stand on its place in life. A soul that does not know about that strength can become hopeless, finally, can despair, and feel desolate and void. A soul, however, which fills itself with the achievements of spiritual science, cannot remain void and desolate if it absorbs the communications of spiritual research not as dogmas, but as life inspiring our soul. This gives consolation for all grief in life if we are led through all temporal sufferings to that what can comfort the soul. Briefly: spiritual science can give what the human being needs today because of the conditions of our time in the most lonesome and in the busiest hours of his life, — or if the strength was leaving him — what he needs in order to look into the future and to advance towards this future powerfully.

Thus, spiritual science is always able to confirm, as it starts from the spiritual research, from those who want to do the steps into the spiritual world, what we want to summarise in few words, which express the characteristic of the way into the spiritual world and its significance for the present human beings in a sensation. What we want to summarise in such a way shall not be a consideration of the theories of life but a consideration of remedies, of fortifiers for life:

The spiritual world — it remains closed to you,
Unless you recognise in yourself
The spirit that shines in the soul
And can become light bearing you
To the depths and heights of the universe.

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