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An Outline of Occult Science

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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An Outline of Occult Science



(Part 7)

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Imaginative consciousness is attained through the development of the lotus flowers in the astral body. Through the exercises that are undertaken for acquiring inspiration and intuition, certain definite motions, forms, and currents appear in the human ether or life body that were not present previously. They are in fact the organs through which man adds to the scope of his faculties the “reading of the occult script,” and what lies beyond it. The changes in the ether body of a human being who has attained inspiration and intuition present themselves to supersensible cognition in the following manner. Somewhere in the neighborhood of the physical heart a new center becomes conscious in the ether body, which develops into an etheric organ. From this organ, movements and currents flow to the various members of the human body in the most manifold way. The most important of these currents flow to the lotus flowers, permeating them and their various petals, then proceeding outward, pouring themselves like radiations into external space. The more the human being is developed, the greater the sphere around him within which these radiations are perceptible. The center in the region of the heart does not, however, develop immediately at the start of correct training. It is first prepared. There appears, to begin with, a temporary center in the head; this then moves down into the neighborhood of the larynx and finally settles in the region of the physical heart. Were its development irregular, then the organ of which we have been speaking might immediately be formed in the neighborhood of the heart. In that case there would be danger that the student, instead of attaining quiet and factual supersensible perception, would become a visionary and fantast. As he develops further, the student acquires the ability to free the currents and structures of his ether body from his physical body and to use them independently. In doing this, the lotus flowers serve him as organs through which he brings the ether body into motion. Before this occurs, however, special currents and radiations must have formed in the sphere of the ether body, enclosing it like a fine network and making it into a self-contained being. If that has happened, the movements and currents taking place in the ether body are able to come into unhindered contact with the outer world of soul and spirit and to unite with it, so that outer occurrences in the realm of soul and spirit and inner events in the human ether body flow into one another. If that happens, the moment has arrived when man perceives the world of inspiration consciously. This cognition occurs in a different way from cognition in the sensory-physical world. In the latter we gain perceptions through the senses and form from them mental images and concepts. This is not the case with the knowledge derived from inspiration. What one knows is immediately present in the act; there is no reflection after perception. What sensory-physical cognition gains only afterwards in concepts is, in inspiration, given simultaneously with perception. Man would therefore merge with the environment of soul and spirit and would not be able to distinguish himself from it had he not developed the above characterized network in the ether body.

If the exercises leading to intuition are carried out, their effect extends not only to the ether body, but right down into the supersensible forces of the physical body. One should not, however, think that in this way effects take place in the physical body that are accessible to everyday sensory observation. These are effects that only supersensory cognition can judge. They have nothing whatever to do with external cognition. They are the results of the maturity of consciousness, when the latter is able to have experiences in intuition, in spite of the fact that it has excluded all previously known outer and inner experiences. — The experiences of intuition are delicate, intimate, and subtle, and the human physical body is, at the present stage of its evolution, coarse in comparison. It offers therefore a strong hindrance to the success of intuition exercises. If these are continued with energy and persistence and with the requisite inner tranquility, the powerful hindrances of the physical body are finally overcome. The student notices this by the fact that gradually certain expressions of the physical body that formerly took place unconsciously now come under his control. He notices it also by the fact that for a short time he feels the need, for example, so to control the breath that it comes into a sort of concord or harmony with what the soul performs in the exercises or otherwise in inner meditation. The ideal of the development is that no exercises be made at all by means of the physical body itself, also no breathing exercises, but that everything that occurs in the physical body in this way should only come about as a consequence of pure intuition exercises.

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