The Human Soul on the Path to Self-Observation
In a dream the soul comprehends itself in a fleeting form, which is
really a mask. In dreamless sleep it apparently loses itself entirely.
In spiritual self-contemplation [Anschaung], which is achieved through
circumspect reconstruction [besonnen] of the dream-state, the soul
comes into its own as a creative being, of which the physical body is
the reflected image.
A dream, however, arises out of sleep. Whoever undertakes to raise the
dream up into the clear light of consciousness must also feel the
incentive to go still further. He does this when he tries consciously
to experience dreamless sleep.
That seems to be impossible, precisely because in sleep consciousness
ceases. The desire consciously to experience unconsciousness seems
The folly, however, takes on another light when one confronts the
memories one can follow from a given point of time backward to one's
last awakening. To do so one must proceed in such a way as to connect
the memory pictures vividly with that which they recall. Then, if one
tries — working backward — to proceed to the next conscious memory
picture before that, this will be found before the last falling
asleep. If one has really made the connection vivid with what is
recalled, there arises an inner difficulty. One cannot join up the
memory picture after awaking with the one before falling asleep.
Ordinary consciousness gets one over this difficulty by not vividly
connecting what is recalled, but simply placing the waking image next
to the image one has on falling asleep. The person who has raised his
consciousness to a high degree of sensitiveness, however, through
conscious imitation of the dream, finds that the two images fall apart
from one another [fallen ausenander]. For him an abyss lies between
them, but because he notices this abyss it already begins to fill
itself up. For his self-awareness the dreamless sleep ceases to be an
empty passage of time. Out of it there emerges like a memory a
spiritual content of the “empty time,” like a memory, it is
true, of something that ordinary consciousness had not contained before.
Even so this memory points to an experience of one's own soul like an
ordinary memory. The soul, however, really looks thereby into that
which in ordinary experience — in dreamless sleep — occurred
On this path the soul looks still more deeply within than it does in
the condition that arises as a result of the conscious dream
imitation. In this condition the soul beholds its own body-forming
being. Through the conscious penetration of dreamless sleep, the soul
perceives itself in its own being, completely detached from the body.
Now, however, the soul beholds not only the forming of the body but
also, beyond that, the formation of its own willing [Wollen].
The inner nature of the will remains as unknown to ordinary
consciousness as the events of dreamless sleep. One experiences a
thought that contains the intention of the will. This thought sinks
into the obscure world of the feelings and disappears into the
darkness of the bodily processes. It emerges again as the external
bodily process of an arm movement that is comprehended anew through a
thought. Between the two thought contents there lies something like
the sleep between the thoughts before falling asleep and those after
Now as the inner working of the soul upon the body becomes
comprehensible to the first level of vision, so does the will over and
above the body to the second. The soul can follow the path to behold
its inner working upon the body's organic development; and it can take
the other path by which it learns to comprehend how the soul works on
the body in such a way as to extract the will from it.
And just as dreaming lies between sleeping and waking, so feeling lies
between willing and thinking. On the same path that leads to the
illumination of the will process lies the illumination of the world of
In the first kind of vision the soul's inner working on the organism
is revealed. In the second the soul penetrates to the will. But an
inner activity must precede the outward manifestation of the will.
Before the arm can be raised, the creative current must flow into it
so that in its metabolic processes, which run on quietly, processes
are inserted that are clearly the result of feeling. Feeling is a
willing that remains enclosed within the human being, a willing that
is arrested at its inception.
The processes inserted into the body for feeling and willing reveal
themselves for the second stage of vision as processes that are in
opposition to those that support life. They are destructive processes.
In the constructive processes life prospers; but the soul withers in
them. The life of the body, which itself is built up by the soul, must
be broken down so that the nature and activity of the soul can unfold
out of the body.
To spiritual vision the working of the soul on the body is like a
memory of something that the soul had first to accomplish before it
could exist in its own activity.
Thereby, however, the soul experiences itself as a purely spiritual
being that has let the forming of the body take precedence to the
soul's own activity in order to have the body become the basis for the
soul's inherent, purely spiritual development. The soul first devotes
its creative effort to the body so that, after this has been done
sufficiently, the soul can manifest itself in free spirituality.
And this development of the soul begins already with thinking that
results from the perception of the senses. When one perceives an
object, the soul commences its activity. It shapes the corresponding
part of the body in such a way that it becomes adapted for developing,
in the form of thought, a mirror image of the object. In experiencing
this mirror image, the soul beholds the result of its own activity.
One will never find the spiritual nature of the soul by philosophizing
about the thoughts that arise before ordinary consciousness. The
spiritual activity of the soul does not lie in these thoughts but
behind them. It is true that the thoughts which the soul experiences
are the result of the brain's activity. The brain's activity, however,
is first the result of the spiritual activity of the soul. In
misunderstanding this fact lies what is unsound in the materialistic
world view. This view is right when it demonstrates from every
possible scientific presupposition that thoughts are the result of the
brain's activity. Any other view that seeks to contradict this will
always run up against the claims of materialism. The activity of the
brain, however, is the product of the activity of the spirit. To
realize this it is not sufficient to look back into the inner being of
man. In doing so one encounters thoughts. And these contain only a
pictorial reality. This pictorial reality is the product of the
physical body. In observing retrospectively one must bring to life
reinforced and strengthened soul capacities. One must wrest the
dreaming soul from the twilight of the dream; then it will not
evaporate into fantasies, but rather lay its mask aside so as to
appear as a being active spiritually in the body. One must wrest the
sleeping soul from the darkness of sleep; then the soul does not lose
sight of itself but faces itself as an actual spiritual entity, which
in the act of willing, by means of the bodily organism, creates above
and beyond this body.