Our bookstore is now open. Shop today →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Fruits of Anthroposophy
GA 78

VI. From Imaginative Knowledge to Inspirational Knowledge

3 September 1921, Stuttgart

You will have realized, from what has gone before, that imaginative perception shows some similarity to the way memory works in the human mind. One way of defining imaginative perception is to compare it to the processes going on in our memory. It will, however, be necessary to take a more penetrating look at this life of memory than is normally done by psychologists today.

Memory is very often thought to consist of thoughts becoming attached to outer sensory perceptions. The idea seems to be that we have thoughts about what we perceive with the senses — while we do so, or perhaps a little while after — and those thoughts then subside gently into a subconscious sphere, rising up again from that subconscious when suitable efforts are made are taking the form of remembered ideas. One school of philosophy has referred to such thoughts or ideas as going down below the threshold of consciousness, as it were, to come up again, crossing the threshold, when the moment is right. It is of course exactly what the lazy thinker wants: to imagine a process where ideas are first of all stimulated by sensory perception, and then, when we no longer have those perceptions, they hang around somewhere or float about in a subconscious — which of course one has never seriously thought about — to pop up again when required. Even a very superficial look at what the human soul experiences will show that this certainly is not the case.

To begin with, direct observation will show no appreciable difference between an idea arising in connection with something we perceive with our senses and one held in the memory. In the first case, the outside world stimulates the idea or concept. Something outside is perceived, an idea follows. We do of course have awareness of the process of perception, and are able to follow the process leading to the evolution of an idea if we reflect on this. But that is not really the point. It is true that when a remembered idea comes up we have no immediate awareness of what it is inside us that stimulates this idea. Yet, as I have just indicated, the point is not that we know about sensory perception, but that from one side or another — now from without and now from within — an idea is brought to mind.

It could be said, taking care to use the words properly, that in either case it is something objective that drives us to form an idea. Pursuing the process of sensory perception and ideas arising from it further, the essential point will have to be that we go through certain motions when we want to make sure we remember something, that is, when it matters to us that something we have experienced does not simply fall into oblivion, and it is important to keep it in our memory. Just consider the machinations we used when we were young to help us memorize things when it was important to memorize them. Whatever brings about memory therefore clearly goes beyond what is needed merely to form an idea. If we consider memory as such, we shall find that the ability to remember is at times reduced or else enhanced merely by the physical condition we are in, and that our organism as a whole is involved when memories arise. We shall discover that when we are in the process of forming ideas based on sensory perceptions we carry out an activity that is organic by nature. This organic activity is partly or completely concealed from conscious awareness, yet it is in fact the function responsible for memory. This is so because a concept or idea formed on the basis of sensory perceptions does not simply swirl down into the subconscious. Something else is linked with the process of forming concepts on the basis of what we perceive. The concept or idea fades. Once we have gone past the process of sensory perception that has been in the forefront of our mind, the idea will have faded; but something else has also happened within us, and this will recall the idea when the occasion arises.

Anyone able to observe mental processes will find that a remembered idea is something completely new and that it forms in about the same way as an idea based on sensory perceptions is formed. The difference is that in the one case the process is going from without to within and in the other it goes from within to without. In the one case one is clearly aware of the triggering factor being something perceived by the senses, while in the other it remains hidden from awareness, being an inner process connected with the organism. Let us simply state this fact — I have only been able to give an outline — and return to our discussion of imaginative perception.

I have described how imaginative perception is developed first of all by doing exercises that enable us to form mental images in the same way we form mental images when remembering things. These exercises have been described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and in my Occult Science. They enable us to experience in images. A point is reached where such inner experience of seeing concepts in the form of images has a content that does not recall personal experience but now bears the stamp of representing a reality, a truth, not initially accessible to ordinary consciousness — a truth we may call a spiritual truth.

When imaginative perception is applied to the action I have just described, this action will appear in quite a different light. It becomes apparent how perception linked with the forming of ideas and ideas based on memory appear in relation to the ability to form images. The ability to perceive in images will above all give a specific inner experience of the forming of ideas, of thinking as such. We do not get far when we use our ordinary consciousness for reflection. Philosophical training would be necessary if one wanted to arrive at anything at all when making the forming of ideas, thinking as such, the subject of one's reflections. Anyone without philosophical training will grow impatient when required to think about thinking as such. Even Goethe considered himself lucky for never having thought about thinking. 1‘How did you get as far as that?
They say you have done well indeed.’
‘Ah, child, I did a clever thing:
I never gave a thought to thought.’

Goethe, Works published posthumously (1833), Poems. It is easy to see why if we consider Goethe's nature. He was always endeavouring to achieve a vivid, plastic image — I have already referred to this in these talks. He felt like a fish abandoning the water for the air when he moved from his concrete element into this element of pure thought; there his spirit could not breathe, it being utterly against his nature.

It is however possible, and indeed necessary, to understand thinking as such. Without this, no conclusive philosophical concept can be achieved. This may not be to everybody's taste, but it certainly is the philosopher's business. Our concept of thinking activity, of the forming of concepts, is extraordinarily abstract; it is a pale notion to our everyday consciousness and we do not like to dwell on it for long. Yet to imaginative perception it becomes more concrete, more vivid and graphic; indeed I would say that now the thinking process, the forming of ideas, that previously appeared an abstract, disembodied thing, comes close to being concrete and graphic.

A statement like that should not be misinterpreted. In the first place it must really come as a surprise that something usually regarded as having nothing to do with the material world becomes more concrete when looked at in the first stage of working towards knowledge of the non-physical world — supersensible knowledge. Indeed it approaches a form that, I would say, actually bears the stamp of the material world. The picture one forms of the thinking process — for Imagination consists in receiving pictures — bears the mark of processes to do with life coming to an end, with dying. Imaginative perception does indeed show the process of forming ideas, of thinking, as one in which the material world is dying. Comparing what I have just described with something perceived by the outer senses, I think I may say that the only thing to compare it with is the process to be observed when physical death ensues for a living creature. Basically, the transition from ordinary sensory perception to imaginative perception of the thinking process is an experience of the kind one gets when sharing in a death in the physical world.

The process of gaining insight comes more alive when approaching Imagination and Inspiration, than it is in its abstract form, in ordinary consciousness. This also is the reason why advancement to supersensible perception is combined with what yesterday I referred to as inner experiences of destiny. In ordinary consciousness, the acquisition of knowledge is gone through with a certain inner indifference. We know that life normally lifts us up in delight and takes us down into pain, that we move up and down with the waves of feeling and emotion. We also know that the processes involved in cognitive thinking have an icy coldness to them, a quality that leaves us cold, making few waves in our emotions.

This does indeed change when we advance to imaginative perception. Here, the processes of gaining insight come to resemble more the processes of ordinary life, although they are entirely in the sphere of mind and spirit and have nothing to do with the physical world. A more intimate relation to the processes of perception develops, for they now arouse greater personal interest. And now, in going through this process where thinking, the forming of ideas, becomes vivid, we experience a process so vivid it is almost concrete. Making ourselves really conscious of this process, we are able to use it to gain more of an understanding of the memory process. The human organism in a way becomes transparent if one visualizes it in this way. In the first place, the thinking process has been experienced in mind and spirit, in an Imagination. The same process becomes a material image when we come to study the memory process. The reason is that a remembered idea is preceded by a form of material process similar to the process which presents as a picture to the inner eye when we apply the process of Imagination to thinking, as I have just described. It can be said that imaginative perception offers the possibility of seeing through the memory process. Continuing in our efforts to gain insight in this way, we shall indeed come to realize that Imagination itself is a process in mind and spirit similar to the process of remembering at the level of the physical body. The memory process is however individualized into the human body — if I may put it like this, made individual for our personal experiences. The process of Imagination moves away from the human body, aligning itself with similar processes that occur in the cosmos, outside the human body.

A physical process of dying is active in the organism; in return, memory concepts arise in the conscious mind. A spirit and soul element is active in Imagination. There is an actual process in the outside world corresponding to this, but Imagination is as yet unable to grasp it, because the complete process of supersensible perception consists in Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. But, as you can see, there are certain things in human life, such as memory, such as the processes occurring in body and soul altogether, that cannot be grasped by speculating, nor with philosophical arguments. They can only be approached by training faculties of the soul that initially are latent. That way we can get closer to them, as will be obvious also from the following.

When the life of our hearts and minds is within the sphere of ordinary thinking, the usual way of forming ideas, then our feeling with regard to such thinking processes is that it is we ourselves who let one idea follow the other. Indeed, we are clearly aware that if we do not use our minds to exercise a certain inner choice in letting one idea follow another, and if instead ideas impel one another, we should merely be the reflection of an automatic machine within us, and we should not be real human beings. In my Philosophy of Freedom I have tried to show how this feeling we have towards our ordinary thinking processes is the very source of our feeling of freedom altogether, and it is only through this that the phenomenon of freedom can in fact be grasped — in experience.

This feeling of deliberate inner choice will be lost for a time when we progress to Imagination. Imagination yields images that are experienced purely in soul and spirit and yet, as I said yesterday, have nothing to do with visions, hallucinations and the like. Exactly because they have content, these images show that they no longer permit the same freedom in linking or analysing them as the freedom we know when we put ideas together or separate them in our ordinary consciousness. Very gradually, we get the feeling that with imaginative perception we are not merely entering into pictures the way we enter into our ideas, into ideas that strictly speaking appear as individual concepts we must link up ourselves. The feeling we gradually develop is that the Imaginations are only broken up into individual detail by ourselves, and that in reality they form a whole, that a continuous force is always at work in them, as it were. We experience a presence in the imaginative sphere that only comes to conscious awareness in us through this imaginative perception. In our ordinary consciousness we really have no idea of it.

And again — if we consider ordinary life, and especially if we follow Goethe and observe how plant forms come about, noting the transition from one form to another — living metamorphosis — we shall find that this life of the plants in the material world holds within it the very thing of which the continuous force we experience evolving in the world of Imaginations is a picture. Gradually we find out that through entering into Imagination, we have worked our way through to a point where we are able to grasp the power of growth. We realize that we must reject a vital force arrived at through speculation, indeed, even more so than the mechanists. 2Mechanist — someone holding a mechanical view of the unviverse.
See also notes on page 62.
Anything in the sphere of this vital force will never be understood by the usual thought processes, the usual philosophical speculation. It is accessible only to a higher power of understanding, and this has to be worked for. We come to realize that only the inorganic world is accessible to ordinary understanding, and that the entity alive in the growth process has to be grasped in a state of mind and soul that we shall achieve only by achieving Imagination. This power of growth lives in our organism. We are able to see through it by giving ourselves up to a life in Imagination.

It should be noted that it is really important to observe the rules I have given in my books when following the exercises that lead to imaginative perception. What is the purpose of all those rules? Their purpose is to make sure that everything done by someone working to achieve a capacity for higher understanding is done with the same inner clarity as that experienced in forming mathematical concepts. The conscious mind needs to be in the same state as when it is working with geometry, when it enters in a living way into everything that is needed to develop Imagination and also the next two stages of supersensible perception — Inspiration and Intuition. Just think of life in visions and hallucinations, which is pathological, or of our dream life, which is at least a shadow picture of something pathological, and you will see the tremendous difference between all this and a conscious mind proceeding with the clarity of mathematical thought. The steps taken to reach Imagination must never aim for a reduced level of conscious awareness. Our goal must be achieved purely in the sphere of mind and spirit and with the lucidity we know in mathematics, not with a dreamy, mystical attitude, in confusion and in darkness. Otherwise we would be unable to rise to higher powers of perception. We would sink down into forces we already possessed, the forces of growth, the inner reproductive forces of the human organism. These would be stimulated into growth, and the result would be a tendency to have visions, hallucinations, rather than imaginative perception. It is possible to see how things are related, but we must get a really clear idea of the path to imaginative perception, as it has been described.

In imaginative perception we live in a world of pictures, as I have described it. But it is in the very nature of those pictures that characteristically they are reflections of realities. We do not have the realities. Instead, we have an awareness of living in a world of pictures that are not real. And that is sound and healthy. A person who hallucinates, who has visions, takes his visions, his hallucinations, to be a reality. A person practising Imagination knows that everything he experiences in Imagination is an image — an image of reality, but still an image — and it is this knowledge that gives a person practising Imagination a state of conscious awareness that is not the usual one but has become enhanced. It is impossible for him to confuse this world of images with the reality. It will be Inspiration that carries us forward, as it were, into the reality of the world of images.

Imagination first presents a picture of supersensible reality. Inspiration shows the way beyond, to the reality. We achieve Inspiration by using a mental technique, just as meditation, concentration, is used to make Imagination possible. The new faculty acquired is one that would be anything but welcome in ordinary life, and rightly so. It will be necessary to use observation to help one get a reasonably clear awareness of what it is to forget, to throw out an idea from conscious awareness. Meditative exercises are required in artificially forgetting ideas, separating them out. This must lead to the ability to reject and, in the final instance, wipe out the imaginative life, the life in images, as we have acquired it. Anyone merely able to have Imaginations cannot yet penetrate into a spiritual reality, which can only be done by someone who has reached a point where he is able to erase these Imaginations again. These Imaginations only appear like a realization of imaginative faculties initially and have to be erased, for they are more or less something we have produced ourselves. It is a question of completely clearing the conscious mind, as it were, using the act of forgetting deliberately, applying it to the imaginative life. Then we shall come to know what it means to live in a state of fully awake consciousness, a state where no mental images are formed but where the Imagining that went before has created inner energy and has been cleared of its contents. We shall then come to know what it means to live in such a state of energized consciousness. This we must come to know, and then we progress from Imagination to knowledge through Inspiration. We shall then also know that we are touched by a spiritual reality that reveals itself in a process in soul and spirit that is comparable to breathing in and breathing out, to the rhythmical process of respiration altogether. That process consists in our taking in the outside air, working it through within ourselves, and then releasing it again in a different form, having in a way identified ourselves with it. In the same way we come to know a process in soul and spirit that consists in our being able to sense, to inhale, as it were, the inner conscious energy we have acquired into a conscious awareness strengthened through Imagination. As a result, the objective Imagination will shine forth in our strengthened conscious awareness. We inhale the spiritual world, we take it into ourselves. A rhythmical interaction with the spiritual world occurs.

In ancient India, instinctive efforts were made to attain higher perception. These instinctive efforts active in yoga made use of the breathing process, as you probably know, to make it possible to experience this actual breathing process as a process in soul and spirit, by using a physical method. In oriental yoga exercises, breathing — inhalation, holding the breath, exhalation — is controlled in a special way, and the person enters wholly into this breathing process. As a result, the soul and spirit is sucked out of the breathing process, as it were. The breathing process is removed from conscious awareness by the very fact that it is pushed in, leaving behind the soul and spirit aspect. The organization of our present culture is such that we cannot copy the process gone through in the yoga exercise, and we must not copy it. It would cast us down into the physical organization. It may be said that our soul life is no longer on the plane where the soul life of the Indian was in the past. His soul life tended more towards sensibility, ours tends towards intellectuality. And in the sphere of intellectuality, yoga breathing would present the risk of man destroying his physical organization. Living on the intellectual plane, it is necessary to use exercises of the kind that I have described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. These exercises are entirely in the sphere of soul and spirit. They may just have a hint of the physical breathing process — though even this only rarely and mostly not at all. The essential part of our exercises to achieve Imagination lies entirely in the sphere of mind and spirit, the sphere man has experience of when working with geometry and mathematics. The work which has to be done to achieve Inspiration also has to be in this sphere.

With Inspiration, it becomes possible to gain awareness of an outside world of soul and spirit, objectivity of soul and spirit. This is connected with conscious life itself undergoing an inner metamorphosis. Man simply has to let it happen that as a physical being he goes through external growth and metamorphosis as he passes through childhood, youth, old age and very old age. Where his conscious awareness is concerned, he feels a touch of fear, a hesitation, when it comes to going through something as alive as those metamorphoses in his innermost soul content. Yet this has to be gone through it supersensible perception is to be achieved. Goethe reached a certain perfection in his perception of metamorphosis, and such perception is particularly well able to move on the plane of imaginative life. The reason is that everything subject to Imagination presents itself in living, ever-changing forms. Some form or other comes to awareness. It changes into a completely different form through transitional changes or directly — yet it is possible somehow to transpose the contours of the first figure into those of the second. It is possible to transform one into the other without making too great a jump. This stops when we approach the essential aspect of the world that has to be understood through Inspiration; it stops as soon as we approach the animal organization.

Let me try and show you what it is we have to approach as we turn towards the animal organization. Anyone studying the process of thinking as a psychologist or logician and more or less reaching a point where this can be defined can evolve a certain idea of the thinking process. Logicians, experts in the theory of knowledge and psychologists will take pride in getting such a clear, lucid, definite idea of the thinking process. They will be pleased to have achieved this, to be able to say: The process of thinking is... and now predicates (or the second term of the proposition) will follow. But let us assume someone was really pleased to develop such an idea of the thinking process and then found himself in the situation I found myself in when I wrote my Philosophy of Freedom. He would need to trace the thinking process from the form in which it is active when it links up with external visual perceptions to the form in which it is active in free spirituality in the human individual, as an impulse of will, an impulse to act. In the latter case the thinking process certainly will still be recognized as pure, clarified thinking. We are able to move on from the type of thought we have studied through the sensory perceptions it linked up with, to the thoughts that are the motivation for our actions when we act as free human beings. Yet when we come to consider this particular type of thinking process, which indeed is a genuine process of thinking, it no longer agrees entirely with the definition we established for the thinking process linked to sensory perception. We are no longer able to do anything with the definition, for this form of thinking — and it definitely is thinking — no longer resembles the kind of thinking that is the motivation behind our actions; for now it is also out-and-out will force. It has metamorphosed, one might say, into its opposite, into will, has become will, is out-and-out substantive will, if I may put it like this. You see from this how flexible one has to become in one's mind when using ideas or concepts. Anyone who gets into the habit of forming concepts and then applying them can easily find himself in a situation where realities make his applied concepts utterly meaningless.

Let us assume — and this after all is actually the case where external reality is concerned — we have formed a concept of Joseph Miller in his seventh year. When we get to know him again in his fiftieth year, the concept will not help us to see through Joseph Miller properly. We have to expect a metamorphosis, something must have changed. The definition of young Miller at seven will not help us when face to face with fifty-year old Miller. Life makes a mock of definition, of sharply defined concepts full of content. It is this which causes all the misery in the many discussions and disputes that arise in life. We are really disputing from a point beyond reality, while reality makes a mock of rigid definitions and rigid descriptions. And in the same way we must also come to see how thought becomes will, and will becomes thought.

That was a case applicable to a person, and it is approximately also the case which applies when we simply want to get to know the animal organization through Inspiration. Here we cannot just speak of the type of metamorphosis Goethe spoke of in relation to the plant world, where in a way it is possible still to transform one shape into another. It will be necessary to speak of inner transitions, or — if I may be permitted to use the term Dr Unger and I were using yesterday — of inversion or involution, speaking not only of geometrical but also of qualitative involutions, to get from one thing to another. In short, we have to accept that the inner state of soul goes through a metamorphosis, that we go through a process in which our inner content of experience, content of knowledge gained, grows up, as it were.

And so it happens that, ascending from Imagination to Inspiration, we are not able to use the concepts that are quite rightly and properly used in ordinary consciousness. They will have to remain for purposes of orientation, but need to be modified when perception is addressed to the truly inner world, that is, to the spiritual nature of things. This then lifts the logical distinction between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ out of the abstract as we advance form Imagination to Inspiration. In the world that now presents itself as a spiritual world outside us, we shall no longer be able to manage if we use the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in the same way as we have learned to use them, quite rightly, at an earlier level of perception. The ideas ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ now become something much more concrete, something we now experience in the radiant Imaginations that arise in us. Where they are concerned, we cannot say ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ the way we do with reference to ideas in the intellectual sphere. At this point, more concrete ideas arise specifically in the sphere of soul and spirit; one thing is ‘sound’ or ‘healthy’, another ‘sick’, one encourages life, the other kills it. The abstract notion of ‘right’ turns into a more concrete notion, and what we are tempted to call ‘right’ is something that brings life and health into the spiritual world, while the things we are tempted to call ‘wrong’ bring disease, paralysis and death into the spiritual world.

Ideas we are accustomed to apply in physical life thus arise in a new form when we have crossed the threshold of the spiritual world, and this is because we then experience the content of these ideas at the level of soul and spirit. You will find that someone with integrity towards perception of the spheres that lie beyond sensory perception will use different terms. He will no longer juggle with terms such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ but will of his own accord come to use such terms as ‘sound’ and ‘unsound’ and the like.

I have been attempting to describe — and in the lectures that follow I shall go into these things in much greater detail — how it is possible to progress from ordinary perception to Imagination and to Inspiration, and how access is gained step by step to the true nature, that is, the spiritual nature, of the part of the world that is not accessible to the physical senses.

Let me remind you how in order to describe human actions, to understand the phenomenon of freedom when writing my Philosophy of Freedom, I found it necessary on the one hand to achieve a sharp definition of the concept of purely sensory perception and the thinking process linked to this. On the other hand I pointed out that moral impulses are Intuitions taken from a spiritual world. In my efforts to establish a realistic moral philosophy, I thus found it necessary on the one hand to present a clear definition of how perception of the outside world accessible to the senses has to be penetrated with thought at one extreme of all that is human and, on the other hand, define moral Intuition at the other extreme — on the one hand perception and recognition of physical objects, on the other, intuitive perception. If we really want to understand man as he is in this physical world, with regard to the way he perceives things with his physical senses and with regard to the way he develops his impulses to act out of the very depth of his being, then it is necessary on the one hand to draw attention to sensory perception penetrated by thought-representing reality — and on the other hand to look for a reality existing at the opposite pole, a reality arising out of pure empiricism, pure observation and experience a reality rooted in the intuitive experience of moral impulses.

It is my purpose, in presenting these observations, to show you the different levels of perception that lead to the spiritual world, ‘spiritual world’ meaning nothing more than the world that makes up the whole of reality when combined with our sense-perceptible world. We have to start with object-based perception in the world of matter, which I placed at one pole in my Philosophy of Freedom, and advance to imaginative and inspired perception. There we are touched by the spiritual truth. Then we advance to Intuition, and in Intuition we are not merely touched by the spiritual truth that is outside the physical world — I shall describe this in the lectures that follow — but live into it, become one with it.

We live in Intuition when we are at one with spiritual reality. This means nothing else but that in man as he is today, in this period of world 3ere, Rudolf Steiner used the German world for ‘imagination’ in the everyday sense. (Translator) evolution, perception of physical things is at one pole and intuitive perception at the other. Between these two poles lie Imagination and Inspiration. Yet if we wish to describe man as he is in ordinary life, as someone who does things, someone who is morally active, it will be necessary to look for the moral Intuition relating to this clearly defined area, the area of ethical motivation, if for no other reason but to establish a philosophy of freedom. If the basis for human actions provided out of such a philosophy of freedom is then developed to apply to the whole cosmos, we shall find Intuition realized throughout the whole cosmos, whereas normally one finds it merely in the limited field of human actions. Here in the physical world, any moral person merely joins moral Intuition to everyday perception of material things, for the simple reason that it is part of man's natural constitution to do so. Yet if we wish to arrive at true perception of the universe, if we want to ‘land’ on cosmic Intuition — if I may put it like this — which in the cosmos corresponds to the moral Intuition for man's inner life, it is necessary to pass through the two stages of Imagination and Inspiration. In other words, it is possible to describe man in terms of a philosophy of freedom. This merely necessitates arriving at the limited field of intuitive experience for human actions. Looking for a cosmic philosophy to match this philosophy of freedom, it is necessary to expand what has previously been done with reference to a limited field, by evolving the different stages of perception: object-based perception. Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition.

In principle, therefore, what I mean by Imagination and Inspiration lies between the first part of my Philosophy of Freedom, where I establish the reality of object-based perception, and the second part of the book, where moral Intuition is defined in the chapter on moral imagination. 4Page 245 of the 12th German edition. At the time when the Philosophy of Freedom was in the process of being written, this could only be hinted at. It was hinted at when I wrote the words: ‘The individual human being is not truly separate from the world. He is part of the world, and there is a connection with the cosmos as a whole that is a reality and is broken only in our eyes, the way we perceive it. We see this part initially as something existing by itself because we do not see the “ropes and belts” used by the basic forces of the cosmos to move the wheel of our life.’* If we want to know man only in the terms of this world, we are not aware of the direct transition from physical perception to moral Intuition.

There is something this type of description only touches on — the ‘ropes and belts’ are of course mere metaphor — and that is that there is something within man that links his essential nature to the whole cosmos. This really needs further elucidation. It would be necessary to show that, just as man is able to skip the two middle stages by an empirical approach and get from object-based perception to moral Intuition, he is also able to progress from his perceptive experience as a human being to cosmic Intuition. In his human nature, he is linked to the cosmos through ‘ropes and belts,’ that is, through spiritual entities. Yet man is only able to perceive this connection if he now goes through the intermediate stages between object-based perception and Intuition, stages that are not required for ordinary reflection. He needs to ascend from object-based perception through Imagination and Inspiration to reach cosmic Intuition.

That is how the whole of the anthroposophical science which has been evolved relates to the seed that was given in my Philosophy of Freedom. It must of course be understood that anthroposophy is something alive. It had to be a seed before it could develop further into leaves and all that follows. This fact of being alive is what distinguishes anthroposophical science from the deadness many are aware of today in a ‘wisdom’ that still wants to reject anthroposophy, partly because it cannot, and partly because it will not, understand it.