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Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness

Reflections of Consciousness, Super-consciousness and Sub-consciousness

Rudolf Steiner Archive Document

Lectures Section

The following lecture was given by Rudolf Steiner at Munich on the 25th of February, 1912. It is a previously unpublished, typewritten transcription of a lecture that is from Bn/GA 143. It is lecture 3 of 14 lectures in the lecture series entitled, Experiential Knowledge of the Supersensible, published in German as, Erfahrungen des Uebersinnlichen. Die wege der Seele zu Christus.

A Lecture given by
Rudolf Steiner
Munich, February 25, 1912
Bn/GA 143

The following lecture was given by Rudolf Steiner at Munich on the 25th of February, 1912. It is a previously unpublished, typewritten transcription of a lecture that is from Bn/GA 143. It is lecture 3 of 14 lectures in the lecture series entitled, Experiential Knowledge of the Supersensible, published in German as, Erfahrungen des Uebersinnlichen. Die wege der Seele zu Christus.

It is also lecture 3 of 5 included in the collection of lectures known as, Psychoanalysis in the Light of Anthroposophy, Psychoanalysis and Spiritual Psychology, or Freud, Jung, and Spiritual Psychology.

This lecture was translated from shorthand reports, unrevised by the lecturer, by an unknown translator. It is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.


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Donated by the Los Angeles Steiner Library, this lecture has been made available to everyone.

From: Anthroposophic News Sheet
3rd Year: No. 17: April 28, 1935

REFLECTIONS OF CONSCIOUSNESS,
SUPER-CONSCIOUSNESS AND SUB-CONSCIOUSNESS

Lecture #2552

(Lecture by RUDOLF STEINER, held at Munich on February 25th, 1912.)

Today and the day after tomorrow it will be my task to discuss some of the more important facts concerning consciousness and also karmic connections.

I should like to connect the essential points with the explanations given yesterday in my public lecture. [Munich, Feb. 24, 1912. Public Lecture: “The Hidden Depths of Soul Life” (not yet translated ... there is another lecture of the same name given on November 23rd, 1911 that is available at the Archive).] When public lectures are held for a larger public, certain things must be dealt with differently than at Group-meetings, because the members of a Group who have worked together and have studied these matters for some time, are prepared to accept such things differently than a larger public. Yesterday we saw that we can speak of hidden aspects of man's soul-life and we must place these hidden sides of human soul-life against the facts ascertained through ordinary, everyday consciousness.

If you were to observe superficially what lives in your soul, from the morning when you awake until the evening when you fall asleep — what lives in it in the form of ideas, feelings or moods, and impulses of the will-including of course all that enters the soul from outside through sense-perception — if you observe all this, then you will obtain all that can be termed as forming the contents of ordinary consciousness. We must now realise that everything which is thus contained in the life of our consciousness, is dependent as far as this ordinary consciousness is concerned upon the instruments of the physical body. The nearest and most obvious fact proving what has just been said, is that man must awake in order to live within the course of events, ascertained through an ordinary consciousness. This signifies that man must dive into the physical body with that part of his being which is outside the physical body during sleep, and that this physical body with its instruments is then at his disposal. He should be able to use these instruments in order to ascertain the happenings which are accessible to ordinary consciousness. The following question immediately arises: — How does man, as a spirit-soul being, use his bodily instruments — the sense-organs and the nervous system? How does he use his bodily organs in order to live within his everyday consciousness? In materialistic spheres it is held that the physical or bodily instruments constitute for man something which produces the facts of his consciousness. I have often pointed out that this is not the case; we should not imagine that the inner structure of our body, namely the sense-organs or the brain, produce the facts of consciousness, just as a candle, for instance, produces a flame. The relationship of what we call consciousness to the bodily instruments is entirely different; we may compare it with the relationship of a man who sees his reflection in a mirror, to this mirror. When we are asleep, we live within our consciousness as if we were walking, so to speak, in a straight line. If we are walking in a straight line, we do not see what our forehead, etc. looks like — but the very moment that someone holds a mirror in front of us, we can see ourselves. Then that which is already a part of us, comes toward us; it begins to exist for us. The same thing occurs in the case of the facts in our ordinary consciousness. They live in us continually, but in reality they have nothing to do with our physical body. Just as we ourselves have nothing to do with the mirror, so the facts in our consciousness have nothing to do with our physical body. The materialistic theory in this sphere is not even an acceptable hypothesis — it is sheer nonsense! For in this connection the materialist states something which may be compared to nothing less than this — namely, that someone who sees himself in a mirror, declares that he has been produced by the mirror. If you wish to delude yourself that the mirror has produced you, because you can only see yourself when a mirror is held before you, then you may also believe that various parts of the brain, or your sense-organs produce the contents of soul-life. Both things are equally clever and equally true. The truth, that a mirror can produce a man, has just the same value as the other truth, that a brain can produce thoughts. The facts that live in our consciousness have their own existence. It is necessary however that our ordinary organisation should perceive these existing facts of consciousness. To render this possible, we must be faced by something which reflects the facts of consciousness — namely, our physical body. Thus we possess in our physical body something which we may call a mirroring apparatus for the facts of our ordinary consciousness. These live in our spirit-soul being, and we perceive them because the mirror of our corporeality is held in front of what lives in us and is part of us, but cannot be perceived by us through the soul (just as we cannot see ourselves unless a mirror is held before us). This is the true aspect of things, But the body is not merely a passive mirroring apparatus — it is something in which processes take place. You may therefore imagine at the back of this mirror — instead of the dark coating which brings about the reflections — all kinds of happenings which take place there, behind the mirror. This comparison may be used to characterise the true relationship between our spirit-soul being and our body. Hence we must bear in mind that the body is a mirroring instrument for everything we experience within our normal, everyday consciousness and that moreover the physical body is a true mirror. Behind — or if you like — beneath these normal facts of consciousness, lie all those things which rise to the surface of our ordinary soul-life, which must be designated as the facts contained in the hidden depths of the soul.

Something of what lives in the hidden depths of the soul is experienced — let us say — by the poet, by the artist. If he is a real poet, a real artist, he will know that he does not attain what comes to expression in his poetry in the usual way — he does not attain it through logical thinking, or in the way in which we come to the facts of consciousness through outer perception. He knows that things arise out of unknown depths and are there, really exist, without having been formed by the forces of ordinary consciousness. But other things also arise out of these hidden depths of soul-life. These are things which play a part in normal consciousness, although we do not know anything about their origin, as far as ordinary life is concerned. But yesterday we saw that we can descend more deeply into soul-life — as far as the region of semi-consciousness, the region of dreams, and we know that dreams lift something out of the hidden depths of soul-life which we would be unable to lift up in the usual, normal way, through an effort of consciousness. If something, which has been buried in memory long ago, rises before a man's soul in the form of a dream-picture, as happens again and again — then, in most cases, this man would never have been in a position to lift these things out of the hidden depths of his soul-life by trying to recollect them — because ordinary consciousness does not reach as far as this. What can no longer be reached through normal consciousness, can however be reached through sub-consciousness. In this semi-conscious state during dreams, many things are brought to the surface which have remained behind, as it were — which have been stored. They surge up — but only those things surge up which could not become active, in the same way as other things become active, which dive down into hidden soul-depths, from out the experiences gained in life. We acquire health or we grow ill, we become bad-tempered or glad — but this takes place so that we do not notice it in the normal course of life, because it constitutes bodily conditions, determined by what has dived down into the soul out of our life-experiences — something which we cannot remember, but which is nevertheless active in the depths of soul-life, making us into what we then become during the course of life. We would understand many human lives if we were to know what has entered the hidden depths during the course of life. We would understand many a human being in his 30th, 40th, 50th year — we would know why he has this or that inclination, why he feels so deeply the cause of his dissatisfaction — we would understand many things if we were to trace the life of such a man back to his childhood. In his childhood, we would see how parents and surroundings influenced him; what was called forth during childhood in the form of sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure — things perhaps that are completely forgotten, but influence a man's entire state of health and of mind. For what surges and rolls down into the hidden depths of soul-life out of our consciousness, continues to be active there below. The strange part of it all is that these forces which are working there, first work upon ourselves and do not abandon — so to speak — the sphere of our personality. Hence, when clairvoyant consciousness descends to these depths (this occurs through imagination, through what we call imaginative knowledge), when it descends to the depths where these forces are active in sub-consciousness, as just described, then man always finds his own self. He finds what surges and lives within him. And this is a good thing. Indeed, in a true self-knowledge, man must learn to know himself; he must contemplate and learn to know all the impulses which are active within him.

If man does not pay attention to this fact, if he pays no attention to the fact that first of all he will find his own self with all that constitutes it and is active within it, he will be exposed to all kinds of errors when his clairvoyant consciousness penetrates into sub-consciousness through the exercises of an imaginative knowledge. Through a form of consciousness resembling the ordinary consciousness, man cannot be aware at all that he comes across his own self when he descends into the depths of soul-life. At a certain stage of development it will be possible to have visions — let us say — to see shapes which are unquestionably something new, when we compare them with what we have learnt to know through the experiences of life. Such a circumstance can indeed arise. But if we were to imagine that such things belong to the outer world, this would be a great illusion. These things do not arise in the same way in which the facts connected with our inner life generally arise in ordinary consciousness. If we have a headache, this is a fact which enters usual consciousness. We know that the pain is in our own head. If we have a stomach-ache, the pain is experienced within our own self. If we descend to the depths which we call the hidden soul-depths, we can only be within our own self — yet we can see things which appear to us as if they were outside our own selves. Let us take, for instance, a striking case. Let us suppose that someone desires most intensely to be the reincarnated Mary Magdalene, (I once mentioned that I have already met twenty-four reincarnated Magdalenes in my life); let us assume that someone desires most intensely to be Mary Magdalene. But let us also assume that this person does not confess this wish to himself (we need not confess our wishes to ourselves — this is unnecessary). Well — someone may read the story of Mary Magdalene and may like it immensely. In his sub-consciousness the desire to be Mary Magdalene may now immediately arise. He is aware of nothing in his usual consciousness except that he likes this character. The person in question has a liking for this character. He is aware of this in his upper consciousness. But in his sub-consciousness lives the burning desire to be himself this Mary Magdalene — yet he knows nothing about this. He does not bother about this. He is guided by the facts of his usual consciousness; he can go through the world without being compelled at all to become aware of this erroneous fact in his consciousness — the intense wish to be Mary Magdalene. But let us suppose that such a person has attained, in some way or other, a kind of occult training. This would enable him to descend into his sub-consciousness — but he would not become aware of the fact, “in me lives the desire to be Mary Magdalene” — he would not become aware of this in the same way that he becomes aware of a headache. If he were to notice this desire to be Mary Magdalene then he would be sensible and assume toward this desire the same attitude as toward a pain — namely, he would try to get rid of it. But through an irregular descent into sub-consciousness, this does not take place, because his desire acquires the form of something which is outside his own personality, and to the man in question it appears as the vision: “You are Mary Magdalene”. This fact stands before him, is projected outside his own being. Moreover, a human being at this stage of development is no longer able to control such a fact through his Ego. This lack of control cannot arise when we undergo a regular, sound and absolutely careful training; for then the Ego accompanies all experiences in every sphere. But as soon as the Ego no longer accompanies all our experiences, the fact described above can arise in the form of an objective outer happening. The observer believes that he can remember the events connected with Mary Magdalene and feels himself identified with this Mary Magdalene. This is unquestionably possible. I emphasize this possibility, because it shows you that only a careful training and the conscientiousness with which we penetrate into occultism, can rescue us from falling into error. If we know that we must first see before us an entire world, that we must see around us facts, not something which we apply to our own selves, but something that is in us, and yet appears like the picture of a whole world — if we know that we do well to consider what we first see before us is the projection of our own inner life — then we possess a good shield against the errors which can beset us along this path. The best thing of all is to consider at first everything that rises out of our inner being as if it were an exterior fact. In most cases these facts arise out of our desires, vanities, ambition — in a few words, out of all the qualities connected with human selfishness. These things above all project themselves outside and now we may ask: — How can we escape from such errors? How can we save ourselves from them?

It is not possible to save ourselves from error through the usual facts of consciousness. Error arises because we cannot, so to speak, come out of ourselves at the moment when we are being faced by a world picture; we remain entangled within ourselves. This will show you that the essential thing is to come out of ourselves, to distinguish in one way or another that here we have before us one kind of vision, and there another. Both visions are outside; one is perhaps merely the projection of a wish, and the other one is a real fact. Yet they do not differ as much as things differ in ordinary life — for instance, when one person states that he has a headache and we ourselves have a headache. For our own inner life, as well as that of another man, are both projected outside into space. How can we discriminate between them?

We must learn to investigate the occult sphere — we must learn to distinguish a true impression from a false one, although all impressions are mixed together and arise as if they were all equally entitled to be taken for true impressions. It is just as if we were to look into the physical world and were to see there, beside the actual trees, other imaginary trees, and as if we were unable to discriminate between them. The true facts outside and the facts which arise only within ourselves are mixed together, just as if false and true trees were standing side by side. How can we learn to distinguish one sphere from the other? We do not learn this at first through our consciousness. If we remain only within the life of thoughts we cannot possibly discriminate, for this possibility is given to us only through a slow occult training of the soul. If we progress more and more, we reach the point where we learn to distinguish one thing from another — that is, we do in the occult what we would have to do if we were to see actual trees beside imaginary ones. If we walk toward imaginary trees, we do not strike against them, but we do collide with real trees! Something similar also occurs — but as a spiritual fact, of course — in the occult sphere. If we proceed in the right way, we can learn to discriminate in a comparatively easy manner between what is true and false in this sphere; but we cannot do this through thoughts — only through a decision of the will. This decision of the will can arise as follows: — If we survey our life, we find in it two distinct groups of events. We often find that this or that thing in which we succeed or fail, is connected quite normally with our capacities. In other words — we can understand our failure in a certain direction because we are not particularly clever in that sphere. On the other hand, we can understand our success in this or in that direction because we know that we have certain capacities which account for it. Perhaps it may not always be so strictly necessary to realise this connection existing between our actions and our capacities. There is also a less clear way of realising it. For instance, when misfortune strikes someone at some later stage in life and he then thinks about this, he may say to himself: — “I have been a man who has done very little in order to become more active . . . ” Or else he may admit to himself: — “I have always been such a happy-go-lucky fellow . . . ” In both cases he will be able to say that he did not realise immediately the connection between his failure and his past actions, but he did realise that a light-hearted lazy man will not succeed in all things as well as a conscientious, diligent one. There are things where we can see quite well their connection with our successes or failures, but there are others where it seems impossible to find a connection — where we must say: — In spite of this or that capacity which should have guaranteed our success in this or in that direction, we have not succeeded. Evidently there are also certain kinds of successes or failures where we can not see at once the connection with our capacities. This is one aspect. The other one is that in the case of certain things which we encounter, such as blows of destiny, we may sometimes say: — “Well, this seems justified; for we ourselves have supplied the conditions for it.” But for other occurrences we find that they happen without our being able to discover anything which could be indicated as their cause. Thus we have two kinds of experiences — experiences which come from us, and where we can see the connection with our own capacities — and the other kind of experience which has just been described. In the case of some experiences which come to us from outside, we find happenings of which we cannot say that we ourselves have given rise to them, and again there are others of which we know that their foundation lies in us. Let us look about us in life and make an experiment which is very useful for every human being. This experiment can be made as follows. We place together all things the causes of which are unknown to us, and also all the things in which we have succeeded and of which we can say that they have happened in some unaccountable way — things for the success of which we are not responsible at all. But also failures which we can remember may be placed together in this way. Then we look upon outer events which have met us by chance, for which we cannot find any influence on our part. Now we may make the following soul-experiment. Let us imagine that we build up in thoughts an artificial man (bear in mind that first of all we make this grotesque soul-experiment) — we construct this artificial man; he is made in such a way that all the things in which we have succeeded in an unaccountable way are brought about through his capacities. Hence when we find that we have succeeded in something which requires wisdom, whereas we are stupid in this very thing, we build up an imaginary man who is particularly wise in this very sphere and who would therefore have met with success in it. We may also apply this experiment as follows in the case of an outer event. Let us assume that a brick falls on our head. At first we cannot realise the cause of this. Let us now construct an imaginary man who brought about the falling of this brick, as follows: — First of all he ran up on to the roof and pulled out a brick so that it would necessarily fall down soon afterwards. Then he quickly ran down again and the brick struck him. This is exactly what we do in certain happenings, although we know quite well in accordance with the usual course of events that we have not caused them; in fact these happenings may even be very much against our will. Let us suppose that someone has struck us at a certain time in our life. To facilitate matters, let us place this occurrence in our childhood; let us suppose that someone engaged to look after us, has beaten us. And let us imagine that we did all we could to deserve this beating. In short, we now construct an imaginary person in whom all those things are centred which are impenetrable to our understanding. You see, if we wish to progress in occultism, we must carry out several things which are in contrast to ordinary facts. But if we only do what appears to be sensible in the usual meaning of the word then we do not come much further in occultism, for the things connected with the higher world may at first seem foolish to an ordinary human being. But it does not matter if the method may appear foolish to a superficial sober-minded man. Let us therefore construct this imaginary human being. At first this may appear grotesque, and perhaps we do not realise its purpose. Yet we shall make a discovery within ourselves; everyone who makes this experiment will discover that it is impossible to get rid of this man whom we have built up in our thoughts — he will begin to interest us. Indeed, when we make this experiment, we will find that we cannot rid ourselves any more of this artificial man — he lives in us. Strange to say, he does not only live in us, but transforms himself within us; he changes greatly. He transforms himself so that in the end he differs entirely from what he was before. He becomes something, of which we cannot but say that after all it is contained in us. This is an experience which we all can have. What has now been described — not the imaginary human being which we have first constructed, but what has become of him — may be designated as a part of what is contained within ourselves. It is exactly that part which has, so to speak, brought about those things in life which apparently have no cause. Thus we find within ourselves something which really brings forth the things that cannot be explained otherwise. What I have described to you constitutes in other words a way enabling us not only to gaze into our own soul-life and to find something in it, but also to tread a path leading out of this soul-life into the surrounding world. For the things in which we fail do not remain in us, but become a part of the world around us. We have taken from it something which is not in keeping with the usual facts of our consciousness. But we have obtained something which appears as if it were contained within us. Then we feel as if we had after all some connections with the things that apparently arise with no real cause. Thus we begin to feel how we are connected with our destiny, with what is called karma. This soul-experiment is a true path, enabling us to experience karma in a certain way.

You may argue: — “I cannot quite understand what you say.” But when you say this, it is not because you think that you cannot understand; you say it because you fail to understand something which is in reality quite easy to understand — but you do not think about it. It is impossible to understand such things unless we have carried out the above mentioned experiment. Hence, these things can be looked upon merely as the description of an experiment which can be made and experienced by everybody. Through this experiment we can all realise that in us something lives which is connected with our karma. If we were to know this beforehand, it would not be necessary to be given directions showing us how to attain it. It is quite natural that this cannot be realised unless we have made the experiment. However, it is not a question of “understanding” things in the usual meaning of the word, but of accepting a communication concerning something which our soul can experience. If our soul treads such paths, it will grow accustomed to live not only within itself, within its wishes and passions, but it will grow accustomed to look upon exterior happenings and to connect them with its own self. Our soul will grow accustomed to this. The very things which we have not desired are those which we ourselves have brought into the occurrences. Finally, if we are able to face our whole destiny so that we accept it calmly, if in the case of things about which we generally grumble and protest, we think instead — “let us accept them gladly, for we ourselves are responsible for them” — if we are able to do this, then we develop a particular frame of mind. This frame of mind will enable us to distinguish the true from the false when we descend into the hidden depths of soul-life, to discriminate with absolute certainty; then what is true and what is false will appear with wonderful clearness and certainty.

If we look upon a vision with the spiritual eye and are able to dispel it simply through the fact that we dispel or conjure away all the forces which we experience as our inner being and which we learn to know anew in this form — if we can dispel them as it were through a mere glance — then this vision is nothing but a phantasm. But if we can not eliminate it in this way and are able to dispel only that part which reminds us of the outer sense world — that is the visionary part — if the spiritual element remains as an undeniable fact, then the vision is a true one. This distinction however cannot be made before we have accomplished what has already been described. Hence, on the super-sensible plane the true and the false cannot be distinguished with certainty unless we have undergone the above mentioned training. The essential fact during a soul-experience is that our usual consciousness is in reality always contained in what we desire, so that through this soul-experiment we become accustomed to consider as our own will what we do not wish at all as far as our ordinary consciousness is concerned — what usually goes against our will. In a certain connection we may have reached a definite stage of inner development; if however such a soul-experiment does not induce us to place this connection with what we have not wished, against the wishes, pensions, sympathies and antipathies living within our soul, then we shall make one mistake after another. The greatest mistake of this kind was made just in the Theosophical Society by H. P. Blavatsky. She observed the field where the Christ may be found, and because her wishes and desires — in a few words all that constituted her upper consciousness — contained antipathy, indeed hatred for everything Christian and Jewish, whereas she had a predilection for all that had spread over the earth as spiritual civilisation, excluding the Christian and the Hebrew, and because she had never passed through the training described today — she was faced by an entirely false idea of the Christ. This is quite natural. She handed this idea over to her more intimate disciples and it is still alive today, coarsened into a grotesque picture. These things reach into the highest spheres. We can see many things on the occult plane, but the capacity of distinguishing them is higher than merely seeing or perceiving them. This must be emphasized sharply.

Now the following problem arises: When we dive down into our hidden soul-depths (every clairvoyant must do this), we first reach our own self. We must learn to know ourselves by passing really and truly through that stage where we are at first faced by a world in which Lucifer and Ahriman continually promise us the kingdoms of the world. This signifies that we are placed before our own inner world and that the devil tells us — this is the objective world. This is the temptation which even the Christ could not escape. The illusions of the inner-world were placed before Him. But through His own strength He was able to see from the very beginning that this was not a real world, but something contained in man's inner world. Through this inner world, in which we must distinguish two parts — one which we can eliminate, namely, our true inner content, and another which remains — we reach the objective super-sensible world through the hidden depths of our soul-life. Just as our soul-spiritual kernel must use the mirror of the physical body in order to perceive the things outside, or what constitutes the facts of ordinary consciousness, so the human being must use his etheric body as a mirror, as far as his soul-spiritual kernel is concerned, in order to perceive the spiritual super-sensible facts which he at first encounters. The higher sense-organs, if we may use this expression, appear in the astral body, but what lives in them must be reflected through the etheric body, just as the soul-spiritual content which we perceive in ordinary life is reflected through the physical body. We must learn to use our etheric body. Since our etheric body is generally unknown to us, although it is that part which really gives us life — it is quite natural that we should first learn to know this etheric body before we learn to know what enters into us from the super-sensible world outside, and before this can be reflected through the etheric body.

You see, what we thus experience by reaching the hidden depths of our soul-life — when we experience, so to speak, our own self and the projection of our own wishes — this very much resembles the life which we usually call Kamaloca. It differs from Kamaloca-life through the fact that during our ordinary life we progress as far as an imprisonment (for we may call it thus) within our own self; yet our physical body is there and we can always return to it, whereas in Kamaloca the physical body no longer exists. Even a part of the etheric body no longer exists — that part which during life throws back to us a reflection; we are surrounded by the general life-ether which is now the reflecting instrument and mirrors everything that is contained in us. During the Kamaloca-period our own inner world is built up around us, with all its wishes and passions. All that we experience and feel within us, is now around us as our objective world. it is important that we should realise that Kamaloca-life can first of all be characterised through the fact that we are enclosed within ourselves and that this constitutes a prison; all the more so, as we cannot return to any form of physical life, which constitutes the foundation of our whole inner life. When we experience our Kamaloca-life so as to realise gradually (we gradually realise this) that everything contained in it can only be eliminated when we begin to feel in a different way, when we no longer have within us passions etc. — only then do we break through the walls of our Kamaloca-prison.

In what sense can this be understood? In this sense: — let us suppose that someone dies cherishing a certain wish. This wish will be part of what is then projected outside; it will be contained in one of the formations that surround him. As long as this wish still lives in him he will not be able to open the gates of Kamaloca with any key, as far as this wish is concerned. When he realises that this wish can be satisfied only by eliminating it, by giving it up, by not desiring any more — only when this wish has been torn out of the soul and he assumes toward it the very opposite attitude, only then everything that imprisons him in Kamaloca, including this wish, will be torn out of the soul. At this stage between death and a new birth we reach the sphere which is called Devachan: we can also reach it through clairvoyance if we have learned to know what forms a part of us. Through clairvoyance we reach Devachan, when we have obtained a definite degree of maturity; during Kamaloca we reach Devachan in the course of time, just because time torments us through our own desires, so that they are gradually surmounted in the course of time. Through this, all that is conjured up before us, as if it were the world and its glory, is burst asunder.

The world of real, super-sensible facts is what we generally call Devachan. How do we generally encounter this world of real, super-sensible facts? Here on the earth we can speak of Devachan only because we can penetrate through clairvoyance (if the Self has really been overcome) into the world of super-sensible facts which actually exist, and these facts coincide with what is contained in Devachan. The chief characteristic of Devachan is that moral facts can no longer be distinguished from physical facts, or physical laws; moral laws and physical laws coincide. What is meant by this? In the ordinary physical world the sun shines over the just and the unjust; one who has committed a crime may perhaps be put in prison, but the physical sun will not be darker because of this fact. This signifies that the world of sense-reality has both a moral order of laws and physical one; but they follow two entirely different directions. In Devachan it is otherwise — there, this difference does not exist at all. In Devachan everything that arises out of something moral, or intellectually wise, or esthetically beautiful, etc., leads to a creation, is creative — whereas everything that arises out of something immoral, intellectually untrue, or esthetically ugly, leads to destruction, is destructive. The laws of Nature in Devachan are indeed of such kind that the sun does not shine equally brightly over the just and the unjust. Speaking figuratively, we may say that the sun actually is darkened in the case of an unrighteous man, whereas the righteous man who passes through Devachan really finds in it the spiritual sunshine, that is, the influence of the life-spending forces which help him forward in life. A liar or an ugly-minded man will pass through Devachan in such a way that the spiritual forces withdraw from him. In Devachan an order of laws is possible, which is not possible here or earth. When two people, a righteous and an unrighteous one, walk side by side here on the earth, it is not possible for the sun to shine upon one and not to shine upon the other. But in the spiritual world the influence of the spiritual forces undoubtedly depends upon the quality of a human being. In Devachan this signifies that the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws do not follow separate directions, but the same direction. This is the essential thing which must be borne in mind — in Devachan the laws of Nature and the moral and intellectual laws coincide.

As a result of this, the following will arise: — When a human being enters Devachan and lives there, with all that is still contained in him from his last life on earth — righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil, esthetic beauty and ugliness, truth and falsehood — all this becomes active in such a way that it immediately takes possession of the laws of Nature existing in Devachan. We may perhaps compare it to the following fact in the sense-world. Let us suppose that someone has stolen, or has told a lie here on earth and then goes out into the sunshine; but the sun no longer shines upon him, he cannot find sunshine anywhere, so that through the want of sunlight he gradually becomes ill . . . Or let us suppose — this can also serve as a comparison, — that someone who has told a lie here on earth cannot breathe any more — all these cases would be similar to what actually happens in Devachan. One who is guilty of this or that sin, will find there, as far as his soul-spiritual being is concerned, that the laws of Nature coincide with the spiritual laws. Consequently, when this man continues to develop in Devachan as described above, and he progresses more and more, then such laws and qualities will live in him, that what he now becomes in Devachan, corresponds to the qualities which he has brought with him from his preceding life. Let us suppose that someone lives in Devachan for 200 years; he has peered through Devachan, and if he told many lies during his life on earth, then the Spirits of Truth will withdraw from him in Devachan. Something in him will then die, whereas in another truth-loving soul this will instead flourish and come to life.

Let us suppose that someone passes through Devachan with a pronounced vanity, which he has not set aside. In Devachan this vanity will be a most foul exhalation, and certain spiritual beings avoid such an individuality that exhales these foul odours of ambition or vanity. This is not described figuratively. Vanity and ambition are indeed most foul exhalations in Devachan, so that certain beings, who withdraw because of this, cannot exercise their beneficial influence. It is just as if a plant were to grow in a cellar, whereas it can flourish only in the sunshine. The vain person cannot prosper. He develops under the influence of this quality. Then, when he reincarnates, he has not the strength to take into himself the good influences. Instead of developing certain organs soundly, he develops an unsound organic system. Thus, not only our physical condition, but also our moral and intellectual condition, show us what we will become in life. On the physical plane, the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws go separate ways. But, between death and a new birth they are one — the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws are one. Destructive forces of Nature enter our soul, as the result of immoral deeds during a preceding life; but life-spending forces enter it, as the result of moral deeds. This is not only connected with our inner configuration, but also with what we encounter in life, as our karma.

The characteristic element of Devachan is that there is no difference between the laws of Nature and spiritual laws. The clairvoyant who really penetrates into the super-sensible worlds experiences this. The super-sensible worlds differ very much from the worlds here on the physical plane. It is simply impossible for a clairvoyant to make the distinction usually made by a materialistic mind, namely, that there are merely objective laws of Nature. Behind the objective laws of Nature there are in reality always spiritual laws; and a clairvoyant cannot, for instance, cross a dry piece of meadow land, or a flooded region, or perceive a volcanic eruption, without realising that spiritual powers, spiritual beings, are behind all phenomena in Nature. A volcanic eruption is for him also a moral deed, although the moral element may perhaps lie on an entirely different plane than we may, at first, imagine. Those who always confuse the physical and the higher worlds will say: — “If innocent people perish through a volcanic eruption, how can we suppose this to be a moral deed.” But at first, we need not consider this opinion; for it would be just as cruelly narrow-minded as the opposite one — namely, to consider this eruption as a punishment inflicted by God upon the people who live near the volcano. Both opinions are only the result of the narrow-minded mentality here on the physical plane. But this is not the point in question; far more universal things must be taken into consideration. Those people who live on the slopes of a volcano and whose possessions are destroyed through an eruption, are perhaps without any guilt in this life. But this will find its balance later on, and does not imply a merciless attitude on our part (to consider it as such would again be a narrow-minded interpretation of the facts). In the case of volcanic eruptions, for instance, we find that in the course of the evolution of the earth human beings cause to certain things; and because these things occur, the entire evolution of humanity is held up. For this very reason, good Gods must work in a certain way in order to establish the balance — and such phenomena in Nature sometimes bring about such a balance. Very often, this connection can be seen only by penetrating into occult depths. Thus, adjustments occur in the case of things brought about by human beings — things which are in opposition to the spiritual course of mankind's true development. All events, even if they are mere phenomena of Nature, have something moral in their depths, and the bearers of this moral element; which lie behind the physical facts, are spiritual beings. Thus, if we imagine a world where it is impossible to speak of a division between the laws of Nature and spiritual laws — in other words, a world where justice rules as a law of Nature — then this world would be Devachan. And in Devachan we need not think that actions which deserve punishment are punished arbitrarily; for there, the immoral element destroys itself and the moral one progresses, with the same necessity with which a flame sets fire to combustible material.

Thus, we see that just the innermost characteristics, the innermost nerve, so to speak, of existence, varies in the different worlds. We cannot form a picture of the various worlds unless we bear in mind these peculiarities which differ radically in each world. Hence, we may characterise the physical world, Kamaloca, and Devachan, as follows: in the physical world, the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws constitute a series of facts which take their course in separate directions. In the world of Kamaloca, the human being is imprisoned within his own self, enclosed in the prison of his own being. The world of Devachan is the very opposite of the physical world. There, the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws are one and the same thing. These are the three characteristics; and if we bear them carefully in mind, if we try to feel the radical difference between our world and one where the intellectual laws, and also the aesthetic laws, are at the same time laws of Nature, then we shall have an inkling of what is contained in Devachan. If we meet an ugly person, or a beautiful one, here in the physical world, we have no right to treat the ugly man as if he had something repulsive in his soul-spiritual being, nor can we place a beautiful human being on a certain height, from a soul-spiritual aspect. But in Devachan it is entirely different. There, we never meet anything ugly, unless it has been caused by something; and the human being who owes his ugly face to his preceding incarnation, but strives to be true and upright in this life, cannot possibly meet us in Devachan with an ugly face. Such a human being will indeed have transformed his ugly face into beauty. On the other hand, it is just as true that one who tells lies and is vain and miserly wanders about in Devachan with an ugly form. Something else, however, must also be borne in mind. In ordinary physical life we do not find that something is continually being destroyed in an ugly face, and that a beautiful face continually adds something to its beauty. But in Devachan we see that ugliness is a destructive element, and whenever we perceive something beautiful we are compelled to realise that it brings about a continual growth, a continual fructification. Hence, in the world of Devachan we must have entirely different feelings than in the physical world.

It will be necessary to find the essential element in these feelings, and to acquire the capacity of adding to the outer description of things these feelings and experiences which are described in spiritual science. If you strive to experience a world wherein the moral, the beautiful, and the mentally true elements appear with the same necessity as a law of Nature, you will attain the experience of Devachan. It is for this reason that we must collect so many facts and work so hard, in order to melt down to a living experience what we have thus acquired through study. Without effort it is impossible to attain a true knowledge of the things which must gradually be made clear to the world through spiritual science. Today there are undoubtedly many people who argue: — “Why should we learn so many things through spiritual science? Must we become schoolboys again? Feelings or experiences seem to be the most important thing in it.” Indeed, feeling is precisely what should be taken into consideration — but, first of all, the right kind of feeling must be acquired. The same thing applies to everything. A painter also would find it far more pleasant if there were no need for him to learn the elements of his art, and so forth, and if he were not obliged to paint his final picture slowly and gradually on the canvas. It would be far more pleasant if he could just breathe on the canvas, and so produce his finished picture! The peculiar thing in the world today is this — that, the more we reach the soul-spiritual sphere, the more people fail to understand that a mere breathing on the canvas does not suffice! In the case of music, few people will admit that a man who has learnt nothing at all can be a composer; this is quite obvious to them. They will also admit this in the case of painting — although less strictly than in the case of music — and in the case of poetry they will admit still less that study and training is necessary. This is why there are so many modern poets. No age has been so unpoetical as our present age, in spite of its many poets! Poets need not learn much — they are simply expected to write (although this has nothing to do with poetry) — at least orthographically; it suffices if they are able to express their thoughts intelligibly! And less still is expected from philosophers. For it is taken for granted that anyone may express his opinion concerning all kinds of things which belong to a conception of the world, or life-conception. Everybody has his own point of view. Again and again we find that careful study, entailing the application of all means available to an inner activity, in order to investigate and know at least something of the world, counts for nothing in the present day. Instead, it is taken for granted that the standpoint of one who has toiled and worked in order, to venture to say at least a few things concerning the secrets of the universe is equivalent to the standpoint of one who has simply made up his mind to have an opinion! Hence today everybody has, so to speak, his own conception of the world. And a Theosophist above all others! In the opinion of some people, still less is required to be a Theosophist. In their opinion, all that is needed is not even to acknowledge the three principles of the Theosophical Society, but only the first one — and this entirely according to their own liking! Since all that is required is to admit with more or less truthfulness that love toward others suffices — whether or not one is really filled with love does not count so much — it is easy enough to be a Theosophist, and then of course one has the right kind of feeling! Thus we descend continually. We begin with an estimation of music and expect a certain standard from those who wish to have an opinion on music — we descend continually and require less and less, until we finally reach Theosophy, where least of all is required! For we think that what is generally considered inadequate in the case of painting, for instance, is sufficient in the case of Theosophy — no effort is needed here, yet we lay the foundation for a universal brotherhood, and then we are Theosophists! We need not learn anything else! But the essential point is this — we must strive with all our might to transform into living experiences what we gather in the form of study — for the shadings of these feelings will give us the highest and truest knowledge. You should direct all your efforts toward the attainment of an experience such as the impression derived from a world where the laws of Nature and the spiritual laws coincide. If you work in full earnestness (let the people believe that you have only studied theoretical facts!), if you have spared no effort in comprehending this or that theory, then an impression will be left behind in Devachan. If an experience, a real feeling, exists not only in your fancy, but you have really acquired it through careful work, then this experience, these nuances of feeling, will reach further than they can reach merely by themselves — they will become real through earnest, diligent study. And then you are not far distant from the point where this nuance of feeling will acquire life, and Devachan will really lie before you. For this nuance of feeling becomes a perceptive capacity if it is worked out truthfully. Our groups, our working centres, are what they should be, only if the work within them is really carried out without any sensation and on an honest basis. In this case our groups and centres are schools which are meant to lead man into the spheres of clairvoyance. Only someone who does not wish to attain this and is unwilling to work can have a false opinion concerning these things.






Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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