SIXTEENTH TO TWENTIETH EDITION
NOW, fifteen years after the first edition of this
book, I may well be allowed to say something publicly about the state
of soul out of which it arose.
Originally, it was my plan to add its essential
content as final chapters to my book
which had been published previously. This proved to be impossible.
At the time of the publication of
the subject matter of
did not yet live in me in its final form as was the case with
In my imaginative perceptions the spiritual nature of individual man stood
before my soul and I was able to describe it; the cosmic
relationships, however, which had to be presented in Occult Science
did not yet live in my consciousness in the same way. I perceived
details, but not the complete picture.
I, therefore, decided to publish Theosophy with
the content I had seen as the nature of the life of individual man,
and then to carry through Occult Science in the near future, without
The contents of this book had, in accordance with
my soul mood at that time, to be given in thoughts that are further
elaborations of the thoughts employed in natural science, suited for
the presentation of the spiritual. In the preface to the first
edition, reprinted in this book, it will be noted how strongly
responsible I felt toward natural science in all that I wrote at that
time about the science of the spirit.
What reveals itself to spiritual perception as the world of spirit
cannot, however, be presented in such thoughts alone. For this
revelation does not fit into a mere thought content. He who has
experienced the nature of such revelation knows that the thoughts of
ordinary consciousness are only suited to express what is perceived by
the senses, not what is seen by the spirit.
The content of what is spiritually perceived can only be reproduced in
pictures (imaginations) through which inspirations speak, which have
their origin in spiritual entity
But he who describes imaginations from the world of spirit cannot at
present merely present these imaginations. For in doing so he would be
presenting something that would stand as quite a different content of
consciousness alongside the content of knowledge of our age, without
any relationship whatsoever to it. He has to fill modern consciousness
with what can be recognized by another consciousness that perceives
the world of spirit. His presentation will then have this world of
spirit as content, but this content will appear in the form of
thoughts into which it flows. Through this it will be completely
comprehensible to ordinary consciousness, which thinks in terms of the
present day but does not yet behold the world of spirit.
This comprehensibility will only then be lacking if we ourselves raise
barriers against it, that is, if we labor under the prejudices that
the age has produced regarding the limits of knowledge
through an incorrectly conceived view of nature.
In spiritual cognition everything is immersed in intimate soul
experience, not only spiritual perception itself, but also the
understanding with which the unseeing, ordinary consciousness meets
the results of clairvoyant perception.
Those who maintain that anyone who believes he understands is merely
suggesting the understanding to himself have not the slightest inkling
of this intimacy.
But it is a fact that what expresses itself merely in concepts of
truth and error within the scope of comprehension of the physical
world becomes experience in regard to the spiritual world.
Whoever permits his judgment to be influenced be it ever so
slightly by the assertion that the spiritually perceived is
incomprehensible to the everyday, still unperceiving
consciousness because of its limitations will find his comprehension
obscured by this judgment as though by a dark cloud, and he really
What is spiritually perceived is fully comprehensible to the
unprejudiced, unperceiving consciousness if the seer gives his
perceptions thought form. It is just as comprehensible as the finished
picture of the painter is to the man who does not paint. Moreover, the
comprehension of the spirit world is not of the nature of artistic
feeling employed in the comprehension of a work of art, but it bears
the stamp of thought employed in natural science.
In order, however, to make such a comprehension really possible, the
one who presents what he perceives spiritually must bring his
perceptions up to a point where he can pour them into thought form
without loss of their imaginative character within this form.
All this stood before my soul as I developed my Occult Science.
In 1909 I felt that, under these premises, I might be able to produce
a book which, in the first place, offered the content of my spiritual
vision brought, to a sufficient degree, into thought form, and which,
in the second place, could be understood by every thinking human being
who allows no obstructions to interfere with his understanding.
I say this today, stating at the same time that in 1909 the
publication of this book appeared to be a risk. For I knew indeed that
professional scientists are unable to call up in themselves the
necessary impartiality, nor are the numerous personalities able to do
so who are dependent on them for their judgment.
But, before my soul there stood the very fact that at the time when
the consciousness of mankind was furthest removed from the world of
spirit, the communications from that world would answer a most urgent
I counted upon the fact that there are human beings who feel, more or
less desperately, the remoteness from all spirituality as a grave
obstacle to life that causes them to seize upon the communications of
the spiritual world with inner longing.
During the subsequent years this has been completely confirmed.
Theosophy and Occult Science, books that presume the goodwill of the
reader in coping with a difficult style of writing, have been widely
I have quite consciously endeavored not to offer a popular
exposition, but an exposition that makes it necessary for the reader
to study the content with strict effort of thought. The character I
impressed upon my books is such that their very study is the beginning
of spiritual training. For the calm, conscious effort of thought that
this reading makes necessary strengthens the forces of the soul and
through this makes them capable of approaching the spirit world.
The fact that I have entitled this book Occult Science has immediately
called forth misunderstandings. From many sides was heard, What
claims to be science must not be secret, occult. How little
thought was exercised in making such an objection! As though someone
who reveals a subject matter would want to be secretive about it. This
entire book shows that it was not the intention to designate anything
occult, but to bring everything into a form that renders
it as understandable as any science. Or do we not wish to say when we
employ the term natural science that we are dealing with
the knowledge of nature? Occult science is the science of
what occurs occultly insofar as it is not perceived in external
nature, but in that region toward which the soul turns when it directs
its inner being toward the spirit.
Occult Science is the antithesis of Natural Science.
Objections have repeatedly been made to my perceptions of the
spiritual world by maintaining that they are transformed reproductions
of what, in the course of the ages, has appeared in human thought
about the spirit world. It is said that I had read this or that,
absorbed what I read into the unconscious, and then presented it in
the belief that it originated in my own perception. I am said to have
gained my expositions from the teachings of the Gnostics, from the
poetic records of ancient oriental wisdom, and so on.
These objections are superficial.
My knowledge of things of the spirit is a direct result of my own
perception, and I am fully conscious of this fact. In all details and
in the larger surveys I had always examined myself carefully as to
whether every step I took in the progress of my perception was
accompanied by a fully awake consciousness. Just as the mathematician
advances from thought to thought without the unconscious or
autosuggestion playing a role, so I told myself spiritual perception
must advance from objective imagination to objective imagination
without anything living in the soul but the spiritual content of
clear, discerning consciousness.
The knowledge that an imagination is not a mere subjective picture,
but a representation in picture form of an objective spiritual content
is attained by means of healthy inner experience. This is achieved in
a psycho-spiritual way, just as in the realm of sense-perception one
is able with a healthy organism to distinguish properly between mere
imaginings and objective perceptions. Thus the results of my
perception stood before me. They were, at the outset,
perceptions without names. Were I to communicate them, I
needed verbal designations. I then sought later for such designations
in older descriptions of the spiritual in order to be able to express
in words what was still wordless. I employed these verbal designations
freely, so that in my use of them scarcely one coincides with its
I sought, however, for such a possibility of expression in every case
only after the content had arisen in my own perception.
I knew how to exclude what had been previously read from my own
perceptive research by means of the state of consciousness that I have
Now it was claimed that in my expressions reminiscences of ancient
ideas were to be found. Without considering the content, attention was
fixed on the expressions. If I spoke of lotus flowers in
the astral body of man, that was a proof, to the critic, that I was
repeating the teachings of ancient India in which the expression is to
be found. Indeed, if I spoke of astral body, this was the
result of my reading the literature of the Middle Ages. If I employed
the expressions Angeloi, Archangeloi, and so forth,
I was simply renewing the ideas of Christian Gnosis.
I found such entirely superficial thinking constantly opposing me.
I wanted to point to this fact, too, now that a new edition of Occult
Science is to be published, for the book contains the outline of
Anthroposophy as a whole. It will, therefore, be chiefly beset by the
misunderstandings to which Anthroposophy is exposed. Since the time
when the imaginations that this book presents merged into a complete
picture in my soul, I have advanced uninterruptedly in my ability to
investigate, by means of soul and spirit perception, the historical
evolution of mankind, the cosmos, and so forth. In the details I have
continuously arrived at new results. But what I offered as an outline
in Occult Science fifteen years ago remains for me basically
undisturbed. Everything I have been able to say since then, if
inserted in this book in the proper place, appears as an amplification
of the outline given at that time.
January 10, 1925