25 November 1911, Munich
Spiritual research, as it is meant here, is aware very well that there are some, also substantial objections against it. I tried to show that in the last winter with two talks that I have also held here How Does One Disprove Spiritual Science? and How Does One Reason Spiritual Science? At that time, I intended to discuss the pros and cons more from the point of view of general scientificity. This time I want to speak about the pros and cons from the point of view of the spiritual researcher in this and the next talk. I will deal less with individual questions than rather with the question how one gets to the truths of spiritual science and which errors confront the spiritual researcher as well as those who want to approach this knowledge and make them a component of their soul lives.
It could seem peculiar from the start that one can speak about numerous causes of error that refer just to the most important questions of human life. These are the questions of the nature and destination of the human being, of the soul experiences after death, of death and immortality, of repeated lives on earth et cetera, which are objects of spiritual research. Hence, it is the more inevitable to speak about the ways of truth and error to illumine these questions.
If it is talk of spiritual research, its truths and errors, I ask you to take into consideration that it concerns only the ways of this spiritual research at first, so attaining the truths of spiritual life. Here one has to consider as a basic requirement that the spiritual researcher has a generally healthy soul life. With it, I do not say that the results or the suggestions of spiritual research could only help a healthy soul. I do not at all claim this. On the contrary, these results have just something recovering, something that not only gets the lost soul, but also an ill soul life on the straight and narrow. This should be clear from the start. If today it should mainly be talk of a healthy soul life as the right requirement for spiritual research, this means that one can get to the truths in spiritual area only with a healthy soul life. What then spiritual science can give can be almost called a remedy for the human soul.
A healthy soul life is the requirement. Why? Because the origins of spiritual research are inside of the human soul because one can look into the concealed spiritual depths of existence only if one changes his own soul into a tool of spiritual research.
Talking not generally, I would immediately like to take something as starting point that I have already mentioned here several times. If the human soul should be transformed into an instrument for beholding into the spiritual world, then it is necessary that the soul forces that are sufficient for the everyday life are strengthened. In the everyday life, the human being is only concerned with that which his senses teach him and which the reason recognises. We already know from a trivial consideration of life that the statements of the outer senses as well as the usual reason are quiet if the human being is sleeping. Our everyday life proceeds between waking and sleeping. We notice that our senses gradually fail and we get to a state of unconsciousness. Now it would go indeed against the usual logical rules if one believed that everything that the human being experiences from morning to evening were extinguished at every evening and originated anew at the next morning. Everything certainly exists from falling asleep up to the awakening. The sleep does not cause that the experiences of the day do not exist at night in our soul life, but the soul forces are not strong enough to experience during sleep. It is easy to realise that everything depends on whether the human being is able to become aware of that which is unconscious during sleep.
Are we able to perceive if our senses are quiet if our brain is not called for its service — is it possible that we have an experience with that which is independent of body in us? Then this experience can already show us whether it is supersensible or not. That means so that the soul can become an instrument to perceive other things than with the instrument of the body, it is necessary to cause a state which is similar to sleep and is, nevertheless, completely different from it. In this respect, one has to extinguish the usual sense perception if the soul should become an instrument of another perception. However, unconsciousness must not happen; that is we have to evoke a state that is similar to sleep and is still dissimilar because full consciousness must exist.
One can cause such a state different. It is the healthiest way to cause it with methods, as I have described them in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? and will outline them once again here.
You cause this state with inner soul work, with conceptual efforts that we do not do in the usual life. One calls them concentration of thinking, of imagining, of feeling or also meditation. We immediately want to bring in an example that appears weird at first, but from which we realise at once why it seems so paradoxical. It concerns that we evoke particular images to reach the desired state and relate to these images in a particular way. We imagine facing two glasses; one is half-full with water, the other empty. Now we imagine that we pour some water from the half-full glass into the empty glass, and the first glass would become fuller and not emptier. This is a paradoxical mental picture, isn't that so? Now you may have not only this mental picture and turn it over in your mind, but you have to connect a particular sense with this mental picture, then only it will become a meditation.
We all know one fact that flows through our life everywhere whose depth one can fathom difficultly. This is love in its different forms. Love has the peculiarity that the lover pours as it were his full heart onto the other human being that he does not become poorer with it but richer. This is the secret of love that the soul becomes fuller of contents, the more of it is given away. Love is something complex and deep that we can always grasp some sides of it only; however, its being is unfathomable. However, this one side of love can be symbolised by the image of the two glasses. We do something similar there concerning a moral experience of life that we experience, for example, also in geometry.
We take a round medallion of any substance. If we draw a circle with the help of the medallion we can study everything that refers to a circle, and this applies to that which we have as reality before ourselves. The geometrician forms symbols of reality with his figures. The soul can also create symbols of the everlasting if it gets clear about the fact that these are just symbols.
If we have such a mental picture like that of the two glasses and have the sensation that this picture points to such an important phenomenon as love, then we process this picture in the right sense if we try, by strong effort of will, to eliminate all images which come from the senses. As well all mental pictures disappear while falling asleep, one extinguishes everything arbitrarily that comes from without and everything that the reason can think, and all soul forces are concentrated upon this one picture.
Of course, it is not enough to do this only once, but one has to practise it in patience and perseverance repeatedly, then we strengthen our soul forces gradually. Then it happens that we become aware of such soul experiences by internal experience that a time comes at which we do no longer need to put such symbolic images before our souls, but gradually from deep, concealed depths of our soul life such pictures appear by themselves.
It is better that the human being uses such mental pictures with these exercises which are only symbols, that is they refer to no outer reality. One could also use usual mental pictures, but they do not work so efficiently. If anybody wanted to argue, it is foolish to imagine something that is not there at all, one has to say, this concentration work is not there to copy the outer reality, but it should educate the soul to get forces from it, which are not active, otherwise. This exercise is not there to recognise truths. It concerns education of the soul to get concealed forces from it.
If now the time has come when in the soul the pictures emerge, then you have to set the soul by a regular mental training into a particular mood. If we speak about this mood in which the soul must be if these pictures appear by themselves, there one has to point to the fact that this imagery appears to the layman who knows nothing of the whole matter as that which one regards as visions, as hallucinations and other phenomena of the pathological soul life. Someone who knows something of that which modern borderline sciences, between physiology and psychology, bring forward can think very easily — and this is repeatedly argued — that the spiritual researcher educates himself artificially for something that a pathological soul attains if it has visions, hallucinations, delusions et cetera.
Now, just by the education of the soul that we can only touch today, this soul can make an exact distinction between visions and similar phenomena and the symbolic mental pictures which spiritual science calls the Imaginative world. The spiritual researcher learns to distinguish these two worlds. Since that which is generally necessary to be successful is that one is hostile to all delusions, hallucinations and the like. It belongs to this spiritual training to characterise them distinctly.
There we want to indicate an important difference. Visions, delusions et cetera have something in common: they overpower the soul; they have something that demands the strongest belief for itself. One knows from the everyday life that it is easier to persuade a person who has visions or delusions from any fact of the outer life than from his delusions. He possibly finds the most astute reasons for his illusions. He has an invincible belief in these soul experiences. However, the spiritual researcher has to become free from any belief toward the Imaginative world. Although he has brought up the pictures in his soul and must regard them as worthy, he has to regard them as nothing at all that can give him objective truth. It would be his biggest error if he regarded that which he has attained there as something that refers to an outer reality. He has to educate himself just by strong soul forces and willpower that the soul settles in a world of pictures at first, which do not express any objective reality.
What do they express? They are only the expression of the soul life. One gets to know nothing by this imagery at first but the own soul life. One must not try at all to regard them as something else than that it concerns an outflow of the own soul life. These are the essentials.
If one wants to compare an Imagination to a vision, a hallucination on the way to spiritual research, one has to say, a vision, a hallucination overpowers the human being, it requests an almost invincible belief in the objectivity of this vision; against it the spiritual researcher is aware of the fact that he himself creates the Imagination.
He has to pass this state. He has to get out a rich Imaginative world from his inside to attain the consciousness at the same time that it is only a mirror of his own soul. This consciousness has something rather uneasy, because the world in which one settles down is like a second world, a world full of beauty and greatness, a beatific world. However, persons who settle in such a world get easily angry if one wants that they doubt the objectivity of this world because one lives well in it. However, just one has to overcome this good life. What happens in this world, actually? If I should describe this, we can compare it to a phenomenon of the everyday life.
Imagine that you have all mental pictures at this moment again in your soul that you ever had if all that were now in your soul — you could not live with it at all. The soul wants oblivion. We can bring up the forgotten again in our memory. As well as now in the usual life these images submerge in oblivion, the spiritual researcher must be able by the training of his will to forget his whole Imaginative life, this new world in which he liked to stay. The spiritual researcher has to make this Imaginative world disappear more and more often in the depths of his sub-consciousness about which he knows nothing at first. Then he has to cause moments again, at which the soul is quite empty, thinks nothing, feels nothing, remembers nothing, worries about nothing, has no affects and so on. Then gradually the Imaginations that he has sent down to the unconscious emerge again. The pictures return but quite different. They appear in such a way that one knows that they are not fantasies but expressions of realities. Toward these emerging pictures one has the immediate consciousness that they express something real.
What has one really done, while one has carried out this process? One has strengthened the inside of the soul life so that this soul life has completely developed its formative capacity. What one has produced, one has sacrificed, detached from himself. One receives it again. As well as you put out your hand in the physical world to touch something and thereby get knowledge of that which you have touched, one puts out his soul forces, one sends them away, they combine with the spiritual world, and something returns from the spiritual world.
The objection was mentioned already repeatedly that one could also harbour illusions because one knows that sensitive persons can feel this or that, even if nothing at all is there. Thus, there are, for example, persons who feel the taste of a lemonade if they only remember it. This is right. However, a healthy soul can still distinguish an only imagined lemonade from a real one; you can have the taste, but you cannot quench your thirst with an imagined lemonade. There is such an objection also against the thought of Schopenhauer's philosophy that the world is only our mental picture or idea. However, the trivial objection is right, one can imagine a piece of steel that is 1,000 degrees hot which will not burn your hands. You are able to distinguish imagination, mental picture, and reality in life. You do not have any other proof in the sensory world. The same applies to the spiritual world. If you enter into the spiritual world, then that returns quite different which you have sent down in the area of oblivion and is now expression of those spiritual beings and facts, which are behind the physical sensory world. You obtain mental pictures that you have not given yourself. Since the mental pictures which you have given yourself were there only to practise.
Thus, you get truths from the spiritual world, after the soul has gone through an only imagined mindscape first — not to recognise anything but to develop the soul, so that it becomes strong to perceive what it can only perceive with other forces than those of the usual soul life. Thus, you achieve raised cognitive faculties; the soul life becomes more concentrated, compressed. Then you live, so to speak, only in a world of cognition. All mental pictures of the spiritual beings that you get this way are completely saturated with reality. They are much more active than the impressions of the outer sensory world and still do not claim to be believed just like that. We will recognise immediately, how it behaves.
However, I have to repeat something important before: if the pictures of this Imaginative world that you yourself have created first appear before you have sent this whole symbolic world down to oblivion, they are ambiguous, oracular, and someone is on bad way who believes these ambiguous things just like that who gets involved with them. Even if by all available means of the spiritual-scientific training such pictures are obtained at first, it is impossible to assign any logical value to them. Not before they return and show full clarity, they are expressions of the spiritual world.
People think very frequently that spiritual research is done so airily, and then many objections are raised. One says, for example, how hard has the outer science to work to obtain its results. There these spiritual researchers come and believe to know everything, while they simply submerge with their souls in the spiritual world. — First no true spiritual researcher will claim anything else than that which he has really investigated, and secondly one cannot observe the inner soul work as the work in the laboratories and on the observatories. It is much more intensive than the work performed there. The conscientious spiritual researcher will reply, this is rhetorical-ness; the spiritual-scientific knowledge is attained really not easier than things of the outer science, but laboriously and gradually.
Every person without damage can carry out what I have described within certain limits. Today there are already methods with which one comes slowly and gradually into the spiritual world, so that that which could work frightening with quick coming into the spiritual world does not occur, but that one can enter quiet and calm into the spiritual world. This way is harmless and more reliable than all other ways because consciousness does not decrease. We are not put to sleep, but our soul is always awake. We perform every step that we do with a much stronger consciousness than in the everyday life. If one speaks about dangers of this real spiritual research, one just does it because one knows nothing about the fact that one performs all steps much more consciously than in the everyday life.
It is different if the soul forces are not used to get knowledge but to something else. This may happen. We have seen that the path of knowledge of spiritual research is based on concentration of the soul forces. However, the same forces — unless they are used to get knowledge but if the will and the mood are called — lead to the counter-image of the Imaginative knowledge. This counter-image exists with the medium. There is, actually, no bigger difference between the spiritual-scientific recognising human being who enters with increased consciousness into the spiritual world and the medium.
With the medium, just those forces, which must be conscious with the spiritual researcher, are pushed into the will and mood. The consciousness decreases, and the result is a certain degree of unconsciousness, at least of daze. The person concerned will carry out things as a medium with decreased consciousness to witness the direct influence of the spiritual world. With it, I do not say that with the medium spiritual things cannot appear and can be investigated; I only mean such cases where any dizziness and any charlatanism is excluded.
There already forces become known that lead us into the nature of the soul as far as this soul has no body, for example, after death. However, one has to stress that the spiritual researcher completely has himself under control, while the medium becomes dependent from the surroundings, or more precisely, he/she can be made dependent. Even if now and again right results may arise which are not to be doubted, one has to say that appropriate investigations in this area are only possible if they are carried out with absolute control of all appropriate laws. Since there one gets into dangerous things which an outer science cannot approach and, therefore, stares at them in a dilettantish way. Mediumship is just the counter-image of Imaginative cognition. However, within certain limits it is possible to convince a person of something that one can inform difficultly. Important things can be already revealed there, and one has to acknowledge as something important if anybody ventures on this field. I refer someone who wants to inform himself in detail to the book The Mystery of Man by Ludwig Deinhard (1847-1917, engineer, theosophist) and to the writing The Cardinal Question of Humanity by Max Seiling (1852-1928).
Thus, we realise that the human being attains a more intensive, more active consciousness than in the usual life on the path of higher knowledge at first. However, we also realise that mediumship is the counter-image where the forces directly work into the human being, so that he/she speaks or writes with decreased consciousness after instructions of a spiritual world. Not by some definitions, but by the fact that one describes the things, as they are, as they are experienced, one receives a concept of truth and error concerning spiritual research.
We have now to advance farther than to Imaginative knowledge. One calls the next level Inspirative knowledge. It occurs if the human being has repeatedly sent his Imaginations into the depths of his soul and has already attained knowledge on this first way and thereby his spiritual forces have become stronger and stronger. Then a state occurs in which he perceives something shapeless that does no longer remind of something that one can perceive with the reason in the physical world. The Imaginative world resembles our own soul life, for example, if the mental pictures return which one has sent down, and appear in colours and in similar figures, as one sees them in the outer world. It is hard to distinguish illusion from reality.
However, the Inspirative world has nothing at all that could be a quality of the sensory world. Against it, something appears on this level that you can compare with that process if the human being listens to his own speech. You have this consciousness immediately. You have the consciousness in higher measure than before that you are present with everything, that you only recognise beings and facts of the spiritual world if you submerge in them and witness them, as well as you can only speak your own words, if you use the own organs. About this fact, you must not deceive yourself: you yourself let your consciousness penetrate in everything and its life appears in the other things and facts. Because this is in such a way, the preparation of a true spiritual science is the possibility to regard that which you yourself create in the soul as nothing but what arises from your own arbitrariness.
The human being knows if he speaks that he can form words that he can express himself after his passions, depending on what he likes or dislikes. However, he also knows that there is already in the usual life a possibility to put forward not only that which is pleasant but also to speak about that which is true. Here one has to start. This development of feeling of truth is the most essential for the Inspirative knowledge. You can attain something in this area only, if you eliminate your own opinion, your preferences, everything repeatedly that you would like that it takes place in a way. You can develop these sensations. They only lead to a truthful knowledge in this area. I would like to give an example immediately.
The question of immortality belongs to the most important ones. In which question could the human being be more interested? An old wisdom saying of occult science says, only that can gain real knowledge of immortality who has advanced so far that the idea to be mortal or immortal is indifferent to him. Before, the interest clouds the real knowledge. It is a difficult inner work to regulate your sensations this way.
With the Inspirative knowledge it concerns to get the soul into a certain mood, in particular towards that which it can endure or which it does not like to endure. The human being often imagines that he can endure the one as well as the other thing. There he has repeatedly to go through renewed soul inspections to develop such a mood of calmness gradually, which enables objective knowledge.
If the spiritual researcher has attained Imagination, then he gets a view of beings of the spiritual world that are on par with our soul. However, our soul is connected with a physical body here in the physical world. We have to ignore this if we want to recognise beings that do not have physical bodies. One can reach spiritual beings and facts already on the way of Imagination. On the way of Inspiration, everything must be attained that refers to beings that contribute to the phenomena of nature. Natural sciences if they are aware of their limits know principles and accept forces that work there. However, the spiritual knowledge recognises beings that control the elements as it were and cause the phenomena of nature behind all that which is active in nature. The real creative in the world that produces the outer material things is accessible only to the Inspirative knowledge to which the soul becoming stronger gets gradually because it completely lives in the beings.
Then the level of Intuition follows where the spiritual researcher witnesses the actions of the creative forces that form the basis of the material existence that are of spiritual kind, but can embody themselves in space and time, either in the big nature or as single restricted beings. Our souls are concerned with the usual knowledge only. The soul that is our spiritual goes from earth-life to earth-life. We live a life from birth or conception to death, and then we live between death and a new birth in the wholly spiritual-mental, then again a life between birth and death and so on. There we deal with the soul.
If you develop the Imaginative knowledge sufficiently if you allow yourself plenty of time, until you really have the ability to discriminate that which comes from your soul and which emerges from the subsoil, then you can distinguish that which belongs to this one life and that which comes over from former lives on earth. With advancing Imaginative knowledge, you get to an insight into former lives on earth. This is relatively easy to get. However, this knowledge restricts itself at the own soul which goes from one life to the next. It is much more difficult to know anything about the former lives of another person. Since if one faces anybody, one is concerned with a physical body in which he lives, and you can only recognise the soul in it with Intuition. Hence, you have to ascend to this highest level of knowledge if you want to behold into the repeated earth-lives of another person. This belongs to the most difficult that the seer can attain. The same fact may still arise from something else.
Instead of Imagination, you can take, indeed, another way of self-knowledge to the spiritual world in certain restricted way.
If the human being knows the principle of karma and
If he does not only know but if he experiences in himself that he caused that which happens to him by former earth-lives,
If this self-knowledge is connected with the karma idea and
If he practises repeatedly to reflect on his own strokes of fate and abilities,
Then he may get to a kind of Imagination, but to a subjective, personal one that does not lead to objective truth and cannot be applied to every human being.
However, this way leads us only to knowledge of us. We cut ourselves off in our own soul. We can advance maybe to a certain knowledge of former earth-lives, but much uncertainty remains. However, we can never get to the objective knowledge that refers to another human being.
If you want to have a real concept of the truths of the spiritual world, you have to distinguish reality and truth. You get to know a new world, but getting to know and judging is not the same, it is very different. You can experience many things in the spiritual world, you can be able to tell many things of it; the things that you tell can be real pictures, you may have beheld the picture properly — however, it has not to be true. As paradoxical as it sounds, I have to say that it is something extremely important that someone who wants to enter into this spiritual world brings the judgement from the usual world with him.
Somebody who has learnt to develop common sense in the usual world who does not deceive himself and is not deceived by anything in the usual world will bring common sense with him into the spiritual world and will judge the things that he beholds there correctly. Only by own judgement, reality becomes truth. You cannot develop judgement in the spiritual world; you have to bring it with you. One is allowed to say, someone who thinks logically in the usual world will also find the right and the true in the spiritual world. He who is a fool in the usual world and thinks illogically will think even more brainlessly and illogically if he applies his thinking to the things of the spiritual world. The most necessary if the human being wants to make a decision of truth or error in the spiritual world is the development of a healthy sense of truth and a healthy talent for observing in the physical world. You should not trust in someone who does not note with attention, with healthy talent for observation how the things proceed in the physical world and who proceeds inexactly in the physical world, if he tells anything of the spiritual world. Since the things of the spiritual world become true only if they touch our sense of truth.
A certain moral sense and spiritual condition is also necessary. Someone who enters into the spiritual world with a moral spiritual condition will come into relation with the healthy forces of the spiritual world and get to know its truths. However, someone who enters with immoral forces, in particular not with a meticulous sense of truth beholds everything distorted, caricatured in the spiritual world and, hence, tells it this way.
What I wanted to reach today is to cause a sensation of the truth ways into the spiritual world. Nevertheless, any investigation in the spiritual world is based on the development of certain forces slumbering in the soul, which are connected with the human ego that has sympathies and antipathies, and forces, which can darken the truth. In the outer life, life itself controls and corrects. If we think wrong, the outer reality corrects us. To the spiritual researcher the direction of truth is only given by the direction of the soul. Hence, first one has to develop that truth which is independent from this subjective ego. That means, the soul has to outgrow itself if it has to become a spiritual researcher.
Moreover, the results of spiritual research have to be informed. As well as not everybody in the laboratory or on the observatory can investigate what the outer science investigates, not everybody can attain all results of spiritual research, although in our present everybody can cover a way to a certain restricted aim. But that who does not want or is not able to cover it cannot argue that he has to leave to the spiritual researchers to know something about the spiritual world. There the prejudice can originate about which we still want to speak the day after tomorrow that the spiritual researcher is a particular animal that simply thereby turns out to be a more valuable human being because he can behold into the spiritual world. We shall realise that that does not raise the value of the human being that the value of the human being depends on something quite different. It would be very useful if just this truth would find wide distribution that one has not to consider someone who makes himself a bearer of spiritual-scientific knowledge as an authority or the like. Against it, the true spiritual researcher has the obligation to incorporate what he can investigate into the concepts and ideas of his time.
This is even a difficult task to find an expression of that which one beholds in the spiritual world, so that every unbiased human being can understand the results. Since you must not believe that the spiritual researcher has anything for his own certainty and soul strength from that which he beholds in the spiritual world. It becomes a property of the soul, a soul food first if he expresses the beheld facts in usual concepts and ideas and makes them comprehensible. The destiny of our soul depends only on these concepts and ideas, it depends that we have strength. If the spiritual researcher succeeds in grasping the beheld truths with the laws of common sense and logic, they have the same value for him as for the other human beings. As long as he can only behold into the spiritual world, he has nothing for his soul life. Not before he can tell the things in such a way that the fellow men understand them with their logic, only then he has something from it. Hence, the essential task of the incorporation of spiritual research in our civilisation is not the development of the spiritual researcher, but the possibility to hand over the spiritual-scientific results to the common sense and the civilisation of his time so that every unbiased human being can understand them.
One understands them in a particular way, which we want to bring to mind by a comparison. Let us assume that we have a picture before ourselves. We only look at it, just without understanding. However, we can open ourselves to it, and after some time, after we have become engrossed in the picture, we understand its contents. Of course, we do not need that we ourselves paint the picture. It would be also misplaced if anybody said, you have to look at the picture this or that way, and then I can prove to you that the picture expresses this or that. Someone who wants to make us understand the picture by proofs would drive us to desperation at best, but would not make us understand the picture. Understanding the picture depends on the fact that something originates from the picture and that it is independent from the painter's ability to paint it. That also applies similarly to that which the spiritual researcher investigates in the spiritual world, and to that which he brings forward in the form of ideas and concepts to his fellow men.
You find two books by me on the book table. In one book, How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?, I have described the ways how one can develop the soul, so that it ascends into spiritual worlds. In the other book, Occult Science. An Outline, you find results of spiritual science in the first part. As well as I could, I have tried there to formulate the investigated matters in such a way that now every contemporary who looks at them unbiasedly and with common sense can understand them. We face two things in these books: once the path into the spiritual world and secondly, the portrayal of the attained results in form of concepts and ideas that every human being can understand.
I understand very well that people say, nobody can understand this, because it is speculative fiction. — That is possible with those people who do not exactly go into it. However, if anybody goes exactly into it, that can occur which really occurred to me. A very prudent and clever man said that one can understand that which one can read in my books very well, so well that somebody can get on it by mere logic. — Well, you cannot investigate the things with the usual logic, but if they have been investigated, they can be understood with the usual logic. However, that man continued: I can hardly imagine that these things have been taken from the spiritual world, because they make such a plausible impression to me that they can be reached in only logical way without insight into the spiritual world. — I said to him that I would consider that as an advantage of the book and that I would like to hear that my description was successful.
This leads us again to that which the painter must be able to do. The spiritual researcher has to recognise in the spiritual world; if he processes the recognised, and conceptualises it, then it faces us as the picture of the painter faces us. Then the moment comes when that who opens himself to these results of the spiritual world understands the thing immediately, without doing research in the spiritual world. One can probably distinguish whether one dedicates himself to a belief or to the cogency of that which one has put in words.
I shall characterise the paths of truth even more if we get around to considering the almost more important part, the origins of errors of spiritual research, the day after tomorrow. However, that which one has always to consider with spiritual research may be mentioned already today at the end of this talk.
I have said that if the spiritual researcher has finally got to the formulated truth of the supersensible worlds every unbiased human being can open himself to its cogency. Then, however, the sum of spiritual truths is food for the soul, and then we attain something without which our soul cannot live in the end. One can take the spiritual food away from the soul but not the hunger after spiritual food. Even if the human being lives from day to day absent-mindedly and wants to know nothing about the spiritual food, the hunger after it continues, although the human being is not clear in his mind of the reason — namely that he does not want to approach the spiritual world. If this hunger is not satisfied, it destroys the whole soul life; this appears in all possible pathological phenomena of our time.
We get to know by the outer science that we have certain substances in the body that are the same as outdoors in space. We feel by spiritual science that we rest on the whole world. We recognise that that which lives in our soul and is intimately associated with the vicissitudes of life, is one with the spiritual-mental of the whole world that extends in space and time. In our spiritual part, we recognise what is effective outdoors all over the world. Then we feel what such knowledge can give our souls as strength, certainty, and health.
We can summarise this into two remarks. Goethe wanted to show once that the eyes must be created for the light — a thought that also some philosophers pronounced — and that the soul must have something spiritual in itself. He wanted to show this with the nice dictum:
Unless the eye were like the sun,
How could we see the light?
Unless God's own force were in us,
How could delight us the divine?
However, Goethe also added that the human being was once a being without eyes and that the sun had to be there, so that the human being could have eyes that the light created the eyes. It is true that everything would be dark without eyes; the light must have been there to form the eyes. As well as the light forms the eyes, the spirit that penetrates the whole universe forms the human mind. We are allowed to say, you recognise the one-sidedness of a significant truth deeper just by such a thing. It is true that light and spirit must be present in us if we want to perceive light and spirit. It is true that the whole world must be filled with light if an organ of light should be created in a being by this light, and it is true that the whole world has to owe its origin to the spirit if in the human being the spirit should emerge.
However, it is also true if one adds another truth to this deep, but one-sided truth that arises from our consideration:
Unless the world does have the sun,
How could the beings get their eyes?
Unless existence were God's revelation,
How could suffuse us the divine?
Question: Has one acquired anything of the fourth dimension and of higher ones spiritual-scientifically?
Rudolf Steiner: It is not easy to make you understand this. The human being takes the physical-sensory world as starting point, and there space has three dimensions. The mathematician forms, at least theoretically, mental pictures of the fourth dimension and of higher dimensions, extending the mental pictures of the three-dimensional space analytically with variables. Thereby one can speak of higher manifolds in the mathematical thinking. If anybody is familiar with these things, that means, who puts his heart into it and is familiar with mathematics at the same time, for that many things arise. I would like to point to the works of Oskar Simony (1852-1915, mathematician, physicist) in Vienna.
At first, it is only a mental picture. You get a view of it if you enter into the spiritual world. There the real necessity exists to familiarise yourself immediately with more than three dimensions. Since everything that is imagined pictorially — so still with the characteristic feature of three dimensions — is nothing but a reflection of your soul processes. In the higher worlds are quite different conditions of space and time, if one can even speak about conditions of space and time. Above all, those should take this into considerations who always argue that that which is claimed about the spiritual world is nothing but hallucinations. One does not consider that one works in the area of spiritual research with things that are quite different from hallucinations.
This question gives opportunity to complement what I have said in this talk, to point to the change that the things undergo concerning time and space if they get to the spiritual world. One cannot say everything in one talk, and today it has lasted already very long. If the pictures [of Imagination] return which one has sent as it were down to the underworld, that which returns makes sense generally only if one touches upon it as something multidimensional. This is a given then, as just the three-dimensions are a given in the sensory world. This is why one cannot apply the usual geometry to the things of the spiritual world.
For mathematicians I have to add that then the speculations of the fourth dimension start having real value. However, normally [the higher dimensions] are thought only as generalisation [of the three-dimensional space], not from reality to which these spaces do not completely correspond. One needs, actually, still better mathematics if one possibly wants to count in the things with which the spiritual researcher is concerned.
Nevertheless, I have to answer yes. Correlations to a supersensible world, also mathematical ideas of infinity become real, in particular things of the border area of mathematics. I once experienced, for example, a sudden insight into an exceptionally important quality of the astral space when I was occupied with modern geometry, as one called it at that time, and analytic mechanics many years ago.
The fact that with an infinite straight line the infinite distant point is identical on the left with that on the right that the straight line is a circle in reality and one returns to the starting point from the other side if one runs long enough — one can realise this, but [one should not draw] any conclusion from it. Conclusions lead to nothing in spiritual research. You have to open yourself to the things, this leads to the knowledge of the supersensible world. For generally the mathematical element should not be overestimated if it concerns the supersensible world. Mathematics is useful only formally; it cannot get to reality. However, mathematics can be understood with the forces within the soul, and it can be applied to any other human being. Mathematics has this in common with spiritual science.
Question: How do physical body, astral body, and ego coincide?
Rudolf Steiner: Well, these things become clear completely if one has done spiritual science for years. The things are not so simple, and what one simply states, sounds then, so to speak, like an oracle. The things of spiritual science cannot be taken as dogmas if one wants to understand them one day. I have described the sleep, for example, saying, physical body and etheric body are lying in the bed, and astral body and ego leave them. — How have we to imagine such a thing? At first, we have it to take as a picture. As a picture, it is right. If it may sometimes sound in such a way that a fact forms the basis of this picture, nevertheless, this is only quite one-sided. It is possible that one describes the matter exactly contrariwise, saying, in the wake state, the ego and the astral body are beyond the physical body in a way.