This lecture is the ninth of sixteen lectures from the lecture series entitled Spiritual Relationships within the Human Organism. It is also known as Knowledge of Higher Worlds.
17 November 1922, London
There is no doubt that in the present time a great number of people is longing to know something about the spiritual, supersensible worlds and even scientific men have recently made the attempt to discover paths enabling them to gain knowledge of the supersensible world. But a modern person is continually hampered in all these attempts to penetrate into the supersensible world by the obstacle of judgments based upon modern science, by the authority of modern science. But when one confronts sources out of which it might be possible to draw facts concerning the supersensible world, the following view is generally advanced; It is not possible to obtain exact knowledge of the supersensible worlds, the kind of knowledge which we are accustomed to have in modern science, for all these facts concerning the supersensible worlds do not stand the test.
But the spiritual science of Anthroposophy, which I shall take the liberty to explain to you now and in the following days, strives to reach an exact, a really exact knowledge of the supersensible world. This Knowledge is not “exact” in the meaning that experiments have to be made as is the case in modern science which deals with the external world, but exact spiritual knowledge consists in the fact that inner soul capacities of the human being which in ordinary life and in ordinary science only exist in a dormant state are developed in such a way that in the course, of this development the cle.ar conscious faculties remain throughout in full activity, as they do in exact modern science. Whereas in exact modern science we maintain the state of consciousness which we have in ordinary life and strictly observe the scientific methods while we investigate the external world, the spiritual science of Anthroposophy adopts a different attitude, for we submit to what p might designate as intellectual modesty and say to ourselves; Once upon a time we were children and we then had capacities which did not in the least approach those which we now possess as adults, faculties which we gained through education or through life itself. Even as from childhood onwards we developed certain capacities which we did not have before, so in a grown-up person there are certain dormant capacities which slumber within him in the same way in which his present capacities slumbered within his soul during childhood. These slumbering capacities may be drawn out of the soul with the aid of certain methods.
The spiritual science of Anthroposophy, in the meaning of these lectures, must draw these slumbering capacities out of the human soul in such a way that the methods applied to our development before we attain to supersensible knowledge, manifest every stage of our development, so that it follows a definite course. We therefore prepare ourselves for the perception of the higher worlds by applying first of all these preparatory measures to our own development, measures which in themselves constitute an exact method. As already explained to you in this same hall during my last lectures, an exact clairvoyance can therefore be reached along this path. Clairvoyance is gained in an exact way, whereas in ordinary science, with the aid of the ordinary powers of cognition, we can investigate Nature in an exact way.
To-day I shall not explain in detail how this exact clairvoyance can be acquired, but I shall speak of this more fully in due course. In my last lectures, however, I already spoke to you of the methods by which it is possible to gain exact clairvoyance. Further information on these methods may be obtained above all from the book that is now translated into English: “THE WAY OF INITIATION.”
I wish to point out to you to-day why it is not possible in ordinary life to penetrate into the higher worlds. This is denied to modern people chiefly because they are able to perceive the world only in the present moment. Through our eyes we can only perceive the world and its phenomena in the present moment/. Through our ears we can only hear tones in the present moment. This apples to each sensory organ. To begin with, everything which constitutes our past earthly existence can only be gathered by memory, that is to say, in the form of shadowy thoughts. Compare how living and real were your experiences ten years ago, and how pale and shadowy are the thoughts by which you remember them to-day.
To our ordinary consciousness, everything which transcends the present moment appears in such a form that it can only live in shadowy memories. But these shadowy memories can be stimulated to a higher life. This is possible by methods which, as already stated, will not be explained in detail to-day, by methods which consist of meditation in thought, of concentration upon thoughts, of self-training, and so forth.
Those who apply these methods and thus learn to live in thought just as intensively as they ordinarily live in their sense-impressions, acquire a certain faculty which consists in the fact that they are able to survey the world in a way which transcends the present moment. Such exercises which lead to the result that the world can be observed beyond the present moment, must however be made for a long time, and the time will be in accordance with the individual predisposition of each person, and they must consist of a careful system, that is to say, of exact meditation and concentration. Particularly in our days some people bring with them when they are born capacities which can be developed in this way. That is to say, such capacities are not evident immediately after birth in the form which they may take on afterwards, but at a certain moment of life they emerge from man's inner being and then we know that they could not have been acquired in the ordinary course of existence unless they had been brought into life through birth. These capacities reveal themselves in the fact that we can live in the world of thoughts in the same way in which we ordinarily live in the physical world through our physical body.
Do not take such a statement too lightly. Consider that the existence which we ascribe to ourselves is due to the fact that we are able to take part in the existence of the physical world through our own experience. If we reach the stage in which we are able to unfold an inner life independently of the impressions which we obtain through our eyes, our ears, and our other sense-organs, if we unfold this life which is inwardly just as intensive as the ordinary life of the senses and which does not only weave in shadowy thoughts but in inner living thoughts, so that these are experienced just as livingly as we ordinarily experience sense-impressions we gain the certainty of a second form of existence, we experience a new kind of self-consciousness.
We experience what I might designate as an awakening not outside the body, but within our inner self. A new life awakens within us, although our physical body is just as quiet and inert as when we are asleep in ordinary life, with the senses closed to the impressions which come from outside.
If we cast a glance into our inner self, we find that in ordinary life we are only aware of what we take in through our senses. Through direct perception we know nothing whatever of our own inner being. Our ordinary state of consciousness does not enable us to look into our inner organisation, but when we acquire the new kind or self-consciousness which lives in the sphere of pure thinking, we learn to look into our inner being in the same way in which we ordinarily look out into the physical world.
We then have more or less the following experience: In ordinary life, when we look out info our world, there must be the light of the sun or some other light shedding its rays upon the objects in our environment. This light, which is outside, enables us to perceive the external objects. When we gain consciousness of our inner being in this second state of existence within the activity of pure thought, which is however objectively real with the same intensity, and wealth of colour as the ordinary sense-perceptions, we then feel as it were (not only “as it were,” but in a real sense, meant spiritually of course), we feel an inner light, the existence of a light which sheds its rays upon our own inner being, in the same way in which external lights ordinarily illumine the objects in our environment.
For this reason, the state of human consciousness and experience which we thus acquire, may be designated as a form of clairvoyance. This clairvoyance which exists within the awakened spiritual self-consciousness at first gives rise to a new capacity; We are able to enter again, to live through again, every moment experienced during our earthly existence.
For example, it is quite possible to have the following experience: We were once eighteen years old. When we were eighteen, we experienced this or that thing. Now we do not only remember these experiences, but we live through them again, in a more or less strong and intensive way. We are once more what we were a “Time-body,” in contrast to the spatial physical body, which contains the sense-organs.
This Time-body appears all at once. We do not experience it in successive moments, but it is there all at once. It is there before us, in its inner mobility. We survey our own being within our whole past existence on earth, we survey our whole life, which we ordinarily review in memory, which we can ordinarily survey only in the form of pale thoughts, light falls upon our whole earthly life, but so that we stand within it and can live through every moment of our existence.
If we experience this inner illumination, we know that we do not only have a physical body, a spatial body. We then learn to know that the human being also has a second body, which is less substantial than the physical body, and which is really woven out of the images of our earthly, life. These images, however, are more than pictures, for they are forces which mould our earthly existence in a creative way. They form our physical organism and shape our activities. We thus learn to know of the existence of a second human being within us.
This second human being that now appears to us, is perceived in such a way that it grows aware of its existence. If becomes conscious of itself, even as the physical spatial body is aware of its existence within a physical body, it becomes conscious of its existence within a finer, I might say more etheric world, within a world which is filled with light. The world manifests itself to us in a second form of existence and reveals finer, more etheric shapes. For at the foundation of everything physical lie these finer more etheric forms, which can be perceived in this way.
We then have the strange experience that everything which we experience through this finer body can only be retained for a short time. Generally speaking, people who have acquired exact clairvoyance and can therefore shed light upon their etheric body, or the body of formative forces, as it can also be designated, perceive, the etheric aspect of the world, the etheric part of their own being. At the same time however, they must admit that these impressions vanish very quickly. They cannot be retained. A kind of fear then takes hold of us, and we wish to return as quickly as possible to the perceptions of the physical body, in order to feel an inner sense of firmness as human beings, as human personalities.
When we experience our own SELF within the etheric body, we also experience things pertaining to the higher world, we experience the etheric aspect of the higher world. And at the same time, we discover how fleeting these impressions are, for we cannot retain them for long; we can only retain them by seeking some kind of support.
Let me now give you an example showing you the kind of aid which I must draw in, in order to prevent these etheric impressions from vanishing too quickly. Whenever such impressions arise, I do not only endeavour to see them, but I also try to write them down, so that the activity, which thus sets in, does not only come from the soul's abstract capacities, but is held fast through the act of writing down the impressions. It is not important at all to read these notes afterwards; the essential thing is that a stronger activity should flow into the one which is, to begin with, a purely etheric activity.
By doing this, we pour, as it were, into our ordinary human capacities something which is immensely evanescent and liquid and which vanishes very quickly. This is not done unconsciously, as in the case of a medium, but with full consciousness. We pour our etheric experiences into our ordinary bodily faculties, and are thus able to retain these impressions.
This also enables us to understand something very important: We can now understand how a supersensible etheric world (we shall speak of other supersensible worlds in due course) can be retained. It is a supersensible, etheric world which comprises our own being, the course of our own life and the etheric part of Nature which reaches as far as the starry spheres. We learn to know this etheric world. And we learn to experience our own being within this etheric world, and at the same time we learn to know that unless we come down into the physical body it is impossible to retain the etheric world longer than two or three days at the most. If our clairvoyant faculties are highly developed, the etheric world can be retained for two or three days.
Since certain things, of which I shall speak presently, enable us to have this survey as modern initiates, we are able to form a judgment of what we thus, retain within our etheric body, or within the body of formative forces, without the support of our ordinary bodily capacities. It is the same survey which we obtain from the standpoint of a higher consciousness of self when we pass through the portal of death, after having cast aside the physical bone which decays. But for the reasons stated above, also this post-mortem survey cannot be retained in human consciousness longer than two or three days after death.
The development of an exact clairvoyance thus makes us experience the first conditions which arise after death. We experience them by learning to know them in advance, in a fully conscious state.
Every human being who sheds his physical body when passing through the portal of death, goes through the experiences which an initiate has in advance in a fully conscious state. But the human being would not continue to be conscious (why he has a consciousness after death, in spite of it all, will be explained afterwards) he would have no consciousness throughout the time in which higher knowledge enables him to retain his etheric body, or the body of formative forces, that is to say for two or three days.
Within his etheric body the human being can therefore be conscious of the etheric world for two or three days after death. Then he sheds this consciousness. He feels how the etheric body falls away from him, as it were, in the same way in which his physical body first fell away from him; he feels that it is now necessary to pass over to a new state of consciousness in order to continue to live consciously after death as a human being.
What I have now described to you as the first moments, as it were, after death (for in the face of the life of the cosmos these are only the first moments) can be retained by those who have acquired the above-mentioned capacity to look into the higher worlds. They experience in advance what otherwise takes place only after death. When such a strong consciousness of Self is acquired, so that the support of the physical body is no longer needed, these first moments after death can be experienced in advance within this intensified state of consciousness.
We can then shed light upon our higher existence, and this enables us to recognise within us that light which during the first two or three days after death sheds its rays upon a world which differs from our ordinary physical environment, which we perceive through our senses during our earthly existence between birth and death.
The experiences which follow these first days after death will be explained when the first part of this lecture has been translated.
The inner illumination described to you just now is needed in order to survey the supersensible part of life's course on earth, which, in its character form, continues a few days after death, as already explained. The spiritual light which sheds its rays into man's inner being must be kindled within us. This enables us to go beyond the stage in which we only live in the perceptions of the present moment transmitted by our sense-organs.
If we wish to gain further knowledge of the super-sensible world, not only the perceptive state of consciousness in life should undergo a transformation, but also life itself. Ordinary life generally consists of a state of existence enclosed within our physical spatial body. The boundaries of our skin are at the same time the boundaries of our existence. Our life reaches as far as the boundaries of our body. When we live within this state of consciousness we cannot go beyond that sphere of knowledge of the higher worlds which has been described so far. When we gain knowledge of the higher worlds, we can only transcend our ordinary experiences by acquiring a form of experience which is not closed in by our spatial body, but which participates in the life of the whole world which constitutes our environment in ordinary life.
It is possible to participate in the lit ... of the universe when we gain knowledge of the higher worlds. As already stated, I shall only give a few indications concerning the methods of a modern initiate which enable him to gain an exact knowledge of the higher worlds. Everything else may be found in my book “INITIATION.”
When we acquire the capacity to live not only within a second form of existence that consists in a life of thought still enclosed within the spatial body, but when we acquire the capacity to live outside our body, through the fact that we do not only allow certain thoughts to live intensively within our consciousness, but through the fact that we can also eliminate these thoughts from our consciousness by systematic exercise, we gain this new state of consciousness enabling us to have experiences outside the body. Let me now give you an easy example.
Let us suppose that we are contemplating a crystal. This crystal is there before us, because we see it with our eyes. A person who only wishes to become a medium or to reach a kind of hypnotic condition will stare at this crystal until a dulled state of consciousness arises. But the spiritual science of Anthroposophy has nothing to do with such things. It must draw in quite different exercises. When we look at a crystal, Anthroposophy finally leads us to the point of turning away our attention from the crystal, of abstracting our attention from it in the same way in which we generally abstract our attention from thoughts. We therefore have before us a crystal, but this crystal teaches us to look through it psychically, not physically, so that we do not use our eyes for this kind of contemplation, although our eyes are wide open. This psychical knowledge arises through the fact that we eliminate the crystal from our vision. Such exercises can also be done by eliminating a colour which we have before us, so that we no longer see it, although it is still there before us.
In this way we can above all do exercises consisting in the elimination of thoughts that rise up in the present moment through external impressions. Or we can eliminate thoughts which we have had in some past moment of our life and that now rise up in the form of memories; we eliminate such thoughts, we throw them out of our consciousness, so as to bring about a state of mind which only consists of a waking consciousness and which excludes every impression coming from the external world.
By doing such exercises we discover within us the capacity to transcend the boundaries of our spatial body, so that we no longer live within these boundaries. In that case we participate in the life of the whole world which we ordinarily perceive as our environment from the limited aspect of its physical phenomena.
This gives rise above all to something which can be compared with a recollection of that state of existence in which we live when we are asleep, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up, but it is a recollection which rises up in a completely clear state of consciousness. Even as in our ordinary perceptions we are limited to the present moment, so in our ordinary life we are limited to the experiences which we always have during our waking state of consciousness.
Consider the fact that whenever you remember some portion of your life, the experiences which you have during the hours of sleep remain blanks in your ordinary consciousness. All the soul-experiences from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up do not rise up in your memory; in reality, memory is therefore an interrupted stream. But we do not always notice this.
All the experiences of the soul from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up confront our awakened higher consciousness as if they were intensified memories. This awakened consciousness arises through the fact that the human being can live consciously outside his body. This leads us to the second stage of knowledge in the supersensible worlds; we can, to begin with, perceive what our soul passes through when our body is in a state of repose, when it has no perceptions and no manifestations of the will, as if the soul were no longer contained within it.
We are thus able to remember in ordinary life our experiences outside the physical body, the experiences which we have whenever we go to sleep, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. But we should bear in mind that these experiences must be judged in the right way. We learn to know the experiences of the soul outside the body, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. This can only be perceived if we develop a state of consciousness, a condition of existence outside our body.
At this point we do not only recognise the thing which is illumined, as it were, by that inner light which also sheds its rays over our “time-body” as already explained to you, but within our daytime memory, that has risen to this stage of exact clairvoyance of a higher kind, we now learn to know our real experiences, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. To begin with, however, these experiences are rather surprising. Even as in ordinary life we live within our ordinary consciousness, within our physical body, and know that we have within us the lungs, the heart, etc., so we have a cosmic, not a personal human state of consciousness, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. Although this may sound paradoxical, clairvoyant knowledge enables us to perceive that this cosmic state of consciousness contains the living images of the planetary worlds, of the starry worlds. We feel that we live within the universal life of the cosmos. We contemplate the world, as it were, from the standpoint of this universal experience within the cosmos.
Because we now experience within us what ordinarily exists in our environment, we pass through everything that we experienced during our physical life from the moment in which we last woke up to the moment in which we fell asleep; we live backwards through all these experiences, in the real form in which we experienced them during our waking life.
For example, if we live through an ordinary day and then sleep during the night, the experiences which we had just before going to sleep will be lived through backwards; then come the experiences of the afternoon, and throughout the night we live backwards through our daytime existence.
As stated, in exact clairvoyance it is a question of acquiring this retrospective memory within our ordinary daytime consciousness. Even as our ordinary memory can recall experiences of many years ago in our daytime consciousness, so exact clairvoyance enables us to have this retrospective experience of our daytime existence. This exact clairvoyance therefore constitutes a kind of extended memory. We look back upon the experiences which we have when we are asleep. We know that when we are asleep, we have experiences outside the physical, spatial body, we know that we live in a real world, in an essential world, which contains, as it were, within its consciousness an image of the whole universe, and we know that within this universal essence we live backwards through our daytime life.
We then discern that within this retrospective experience our daytime-existence does not last as long as it does here in the physical world. When we investigate this supersensible sphere, that is to say, when we learn to know these things better and better by systematic practice, we gradually recognise that this retrospective experience is three times faster than the physical experience within our ordinary consciousness. During his sleeping life which lasts one third of his waking life, a person who is awake two thirds of his time and asleep one third of his time, also passes through the experiences which he has during the two thirds which constitute his physical existence. We therefore learn to know a life which we develop outside our body and which takes its course backwards with threefold speed.
When by exact clairvoyance we recollect our sleeping life of the night during the ordinary life of the day, we also know that this retrospective experience of sleep has no meaning of its own What exact clairvoyance can call up within our ordinary daytime consciousness is like a memory. But the experiences of sleep which we are thus able to remember, reveal at the same time that they do not have a meaning in themselves, but that they point to something which lies in the future.
This can be explained as follows: If you ask your selves; How do I judge the memory of an experience which I had twenty years ago? you will reply: I experience it like a shadowy thought. Through its very essence, however, this memory offers the guarantee that, we do not have before us an empty fantasy, but the image of something which we really experienced in the past during the course of earthly life. Even as memory in itself guarantees that it refers to something which really existed in the past, so the experiences of the night upon which we look back contain the guarantee that they have no meaning in themselves but point to something which lies in the future.
In regard to memory it is not necessary to prove that it refers to something past. Similarly, when we acquire exact clairvoyance it is just as little necessary to prove that the night-experiences which we survey are not fancies that arise out of the present, moment, for they show in an evident manner that they are related with man's future, with that moment in the future when the human being lays aside his physical body through death, in the same way in which he lays it aside symbolically through exact clairvoyance.
We thus learn to know the experiences of the human being after death, when he has absolved the three days of which we have spoken. Indeed, this process resembling memory also teaches us to recognise, the importance of the two or three days after death, when we have the feeling as if we lived within ä universal consciousness, within a cosmic consciousness, when we survey our etheric being once more from the aspect of the cosmos and look back upon our experiences during our past earthly life. We then learn to know the experiences which follow this stage of existence, namely we learn to know that the event of death is followed by a life which takes its course three times faster than earthly life. It is the same thing which we learned to know by contemplating the experiences which we have at night, when we are asleep.
We know that the contemplation of our etheric part, which only lasts a short time after death, is followed by a life that lasts twenty, thirty years, or even less, according to the age reached during our life on earth. Approximately — for all these things are approximate — this life after death takes its course three times faster than our earthly life. If a person has, for example, reached the age of thirty, he will pass through the existence referred to above three times faster, that is to say, in ten years. If a person has reached the age of sixty years, he will after death live backwards through his earthly life in twenty years; — but everything must be taken approximately.
We perceive all this by exact clairvoyance in the same way in which we perceive past things through memory. We thus learn to know that death is followed by a supersensible life, by a life in the supersensible world, which consists of a retrospective experience of our whole earthly life. Each night we pass through the preceding day. After death we pass through our whole preceding life retrospectively. We once more pass through every experience of our earthly life. By living again through all these things experienced during our earthly life, by passing through them spiritually, we acquire a right judgment of our own moral value.
During the time through which we pass after death we acquire, as it were, a consciousness of our moral personality, of our moral value, in the same way in which here on earth we are conscious of our existence within a body of flesh and blood. After death we live within that part which constituted our moral essence here on earth. By passing once more through all these things in a reversed order, so that the development of a moral judgment is no longer handicapped by our instincts, impulses and passions — for we now survey them spiritually — we learn to acquire a right and true judgment of our own moral quality.
In order to acquire this judgment, we must pass through the length of time of which we have spoken just now. When we have absolved this length of time after death, our inner moral life begins to vanish, the retrospective memory of our moral value on earth disappears, and we must proceed further through the spiritual worlds, equipped with another state of consciousness, which can also be recognised through exact clairvoyance.
This does not only entail that we should live outside our spatial body, but within a state of consciousness which completely differs from the consciousness which we have here, in the physical world. We then perceive that the living experience of our moral worth, which we acquired by passing through one third of the time which constituted our earthly life, is followed by a supersensible life, by a spiritual life. And we learn to know this life. It is a new form of existence, a purely spiritual life. But in order to know it, exact clairvoyance must be able to rise from the ordinary consciousness to a higher state, to a pure state of consciousness, so that it is fully able to recognise this higher state of consciousness.
I have tried to give you a description of two conditions after death. The description of the third condition of existence will follow, when the above has been translated.
If you consider this retrospective experience described just now, which we have when we are asleep, you will see that this is an experience which the human being has outside his physical, spatial body — he is, as it were, outside himself, by the side of his own self, — but this existence is, I might say, of such a kind that one cannot move in it. Essentially speaking, we then reverse the actions which we carried out during our ordinary daytime consciousness. Even a person who attains supersensible insight into these experiences by exact clairvoyance, in the manner explained to you, feels as if he were a captive in a world which he is able to recall in the clear, daytime consciousness of clairvoyance, but in which he cannot move about, for he is chained and fettered in it.
The third condition of higher knowledge and of higher life which we must attain, is therefore the capacity to move about freely in the spiritual world. Otherwise it is impossible to gain knowledge of the purely spiritual, supersensible state of consciousness.
In addition to exact clairvoyance we must acquire what I designate as ideal magic, but this is to be clearly distinguished from the wrong kind of magic which takes on external forms and which is connected with a great deal of charlatanism. The ideal magic of which I intend to speak is to be clearly distinguished from this charlatanism.
By ideal magic I understand the following:
When we survey our life with our ordinary consciousness, we perceive that in a certain sense we underwent a change with the years and decades that passed by. Though slowly, our habits gradually changed. We acquired certain capacities and certain others disappeared. One who observes himself honestly in regard to certain capacities pertaining to his earthly life can say that whenever he acquired a new capacity he became a different person. This is how life transforms us. We completely surrender to life and life educates and trains us and develops the configuration of our soul.
But those who wish to enter the supersensible world with full knowledge — in other words, those who wish to acquire ideal magic must not only intensify thought, as described, so that it enables them to recognise a second form of their existence. But they must also emancipate their will from the physical body on which it depends in ordinary life. We can only activate our will through the fact that we use our physical body, our legs, our arms, our instruments of speech. The physical body is the foundation of our volitional life.
The following can be done, and this has to be done quite systematically by those spiritual investigators who wish to attain to ideal magic in addition to exact clairvoyance. Such a strong will-power should be unfolded, that at a certain moment of life they can say to themselves: I must lose a certain habit and my soul must assume a new habit.
When we apply our will-power strongly in order to change certain forms of experience completely, a few years may sometimes be needed for this — but it can be done. We can be educated as it were not only by life itself, through the means of the physical body, but we ourselves can take in hand this education, this self-training.
Such strong exercises of the will, which are also described in the above-mentioned books, lead those who wish to be initiates in the modern meaning, to new experiences besides those that imply the retrospection of our daytime experiences during sleep.
It is then possible to develop states of consciousness which are not those of sleep, but which are lived through in full consciousness and which nevertheless render it possible to do something and to move about while one is asleep, so that one is not only in a passive state as is ordinarily the case when one is outside the body in the spiritual world, but one is able to act in it, one can be active in the spiritual world. Otherwise one will not be able to progress during the condition of sleeping.
Those who become modern initiates in this meaning are also active within their human being during their sleeping condition; they carry this activity also into the existence which takes its course from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. If the will is thus carried into the human being during the condition of sleep, when the human being lives outside his body, an entirely new state of consciousness can be developed: a consciousness which is really able to perceive what we pass through during the time which follows the post-mortem period that has just been described.
There, this new state of consciousness really enables us to look into our human existence after our earthly life, in the same way in which we look into our prenatal human existence. We then perceive that we pass through an existence which takes its course within a spiritual world, even as our physical-earthly existence takes its course within a physical world. We learn to know our purely spiritual essence within a spiritual world, even as here upon the earth we learn to know our physical body within a physical world. We then obtain the possibility to judge how long this life may last, which constitutes as it were the epoch of moral valuation, as described above!
If through ideal magic we thus carry the will into our soul-life, we gain knowledge of this adult state of consciousness and we learn to compare it in the right way with the dull state of consciousness which we had at the beginning of our earthly life, as infants.
You know that through our ordinary consciousness we cannot remember the first years of our infancy. There we live in a kind of dull consciousness and we enter the world in a kind of sleep. As adults our consciousness is intensive and clear in comparison with this dull, dark consciousness into which we look back and which we had at the beginning of our earthly life.
Those who ascend to ideal magic in the manner described, learn to know the difference between the ordinary waking consciousness of an adult and the dull consciousness of an infant. They learn to know, as it were, that they rise by stages from the dull consciousness of infancy to the clearer consciousness which they have as adults.
The connection which they discover between the child's dreaming consciousness and the consciousness of an adult, teaches them to judge the other connection which exists between the ordinary consciousness of an adult and that illumined consciousness which contains not only exact clairvoyance, but also ideal magic, a consciousness which enables them to move about freely in the spiritual world.
I might say that we learn to move about freely in the spiritual world in the same way in which we learned to move about freely with our physical body in our physical existence on earth, as we passed over from the helpless state of childhood to this more emancipated state. In addition to the connection which exists between the consciousness of early childhood and our ordinary consciousness, we thus learn to know another connection which exists between our adult state of consciousness and the highest purely spiritual state of consciousness.
But this also enables us to know that in the post-earthly life after death we are spiritual beings among spiritual beings; we work together with these spiritual beings and at the same time learn to judge how long this spiritual existence among them will last.
I must again bring in the example of an ordinary experience which we remember. We now realise that even as a memory contains a past reality, so the experiences which we now have contain the right judgment of the fact that in the initiate's higher consciousness there are not only things which have a significance for our earthly life, but things which pertain to the life after death, when we live as a spiritual being among spiritual beings. We also learn to know what connection there is between the purely spiritual life and the earthly life through which we passed between birth and death.
When an initiate looks back upon his earliest childhood, he knows that the older he grows, the easier it will be for him to look into the spiritual world. To be sure there are some people who are comparatively young and who possess the capacity to look into the spiritual world. But this vision gains in exactness and clearness with every year that passes. As we grow older we are more and more capable to pass over into that other state of consciousness. This shows us the relation which exists between the different states of consciousness.
We learn to know the following; We have, for instance, reached the age of forty years, but we are only able to remember our life as far as the third or fourth year. We study the conditions and realise how much more we have at the age of forty, than during the unconscious, dreamlike state of consciousness which we have in childhood. We learn to recognise that the life after death is longer to the same extent as our earthly life is longer than our dreamlike childhood existence; the life after death lasts for many centuries.
After our retrospective experience of a moral character we therefore enter a purely spiritual life, where man is spirit among spirits. This is a life which lasts for centuries. During this spiritual existence the human being faces tasks which pertain to the spiritual world, even as here, during his earthly existence, he faces tasks which pertain to the physical world.
To exact clairvoyance, which is supported, I might say, by ideal magic, or by the capacity to move about freely in the spiritual world, these tasks become manifest through the fact that from the essence of the spiritual world in which we live after death we extract all the forces which then lead us on to a new life on earth. From the very outset of our existence after death, this new life on earth confronts us as a goal, as an aim which we always have before us. And the earthly existence within the body of a human being, which is a real microcosm, is the result of a powerful experience which we have, in the spiritual world after death.
You see, when we speak of a germ here in the physical world, this germ is small and gradually unfolds itself, until it becomes a large tree or a large animal. I might also speak of a spiritual germ which develops after our physical life on earth, after death. Out of the spiritual forces of the universe the human being develops with the aid of the spiritual Beings, a spiritual germ for his next life on earth. This elaboration does not consist in a repetition of his earthly life, but it contains activities and essential forces which are far greater to be sure than anything which can be experienced on earth. During our post-earthly existence, our first experience in the spiritual world is this preparation of our future earthly life, upon the foundation of experiences which we can only have in the spiritual world.
In addition, we have the cosmic consciousness, of which I have spoken. Through the fact that such a cosmic consciousness arises in one human being and also in other human beings ... indeed, it exists every night, though we pass through it in a dull state which is no real consciousness, but, if I may use the paradoxical expression, an unconscious consciousness ... through this fact the human beings live not only as spiritual beings together with other spiritual beings who never come down to the earth, but who dwell in the purely spiritual world, but they also live together with all the souls who are either incarnated in physical bodies, or who have also passed through the portal of death and consequently have the same experiences: the cosmic state of consciousness which is common to them all.
The threads which were spun here on earth from soul to soul, in the family or in other human relationships, the connections which we made while living within a physical body, these threads and all the ties upon the physical plane are now laid aside. We lay aside everything which we experienced as lovers or friends, or in connection with human beings otherwise closely connected with us, we lay aside these experiences which we had through our physical body, in the same way in which we lay aside the physical body when we enter the spiritual world. But family ties, friendships, loves which we experienced here on earth continue spiritually beyond the portal of death. They become spiritual experiences which build-up our next earthly life. We do not work alone, but during the time in which we pass through the moral valuation if our past life we work together with the human souls who were dear to us here on earth.
Through exact clairvoyance and ideal magic these facts appear as something which is not subjected to faith, but as something which constitutes real knowledge. They are facts which penetrate into our direct vision. Indeed, we may say: Here in the physical world a gulf separates one human soul from the other, no matter now dearly they may love each other, for they can only meet within their bodies and they can only cultivate relations which are determined by the fact that they live within physical bodies.
When we live in the spiritual world, the physical body that belongs to a beloved person here on earth no longer constitutes an obstacle and no longer renders it difficult for us to live together with the other soul. Even as the vision of the spiritual world entails the capacity to look right through earthly objects, as already described to you, so a human being who has passed through the portal of death can commune with the souls whom he left behind upon the earth, he can have intercourse with them by passing right through their bodies. All those who were dear to him are experienced by him as living souls, even while they are still living upon the earth, until the moment when they too pass through the portal of death.
I wished to speak to you first of all of these things, as an introduction to the three lectures on exact clairvoyance and ideal magic, for such truths can give us an insight into the real, supersensible life of the human being. I wished to show you that when we strive after exact clairvoyance and ideal magic, it is really possible to speak of the higher worlds in terms of scientific knowledge, in the same way in which one can speak of the physical world in terms of an exact knowledge of Nature.
If we penetrate further and further into the higher worlds — and there will be people who will develop their faculties so that they will be able to do this — we shall see that no branch of science, even in its most perfect form, need be an obstacle which prevents us from accepting the truths revealed by exact clairvoyance and ideal magic. Upon the foundation of a real scientific mentality we can accept the truths relating to experiences through which we pass not only here upon the earth during our existence between birth and death, but also during our existence between death and a new birth, until we return into a new earthly life.
To-morrow I shall speak to you of the repeated lives on earth and indicate how they will terminate, for I shall take the liberty to give you a description of the relation which was brought into human life on earth by the Event of Christ, by the Event of Golgotha.
I shall then be able to show you that the knowledge of which I have spoken, in so far as it concerns us individually sheds light upon the whole development of the human race during its existence upon the earth, so that it can also illumine what really took place when Christ entered the earthly life of humanity.
These lectures are therefore meant to show on the one hand that it is not necessary to reject the exact natural science of modern times when one speaks of spiritual truths. The subject of to-morrow's lecture will be the Event which is of greatest importance also for mankind's life on earth. The Christ Event will rise up before our souls in a new, more radiant aspect, if our souls are willing to take in the truths concerning the spiritual world, as set forth here.
To-morrow's task will therefore be to explain the connection which exists between the spiritual science of Anthroposophy and Christianity.