Man's Sensing and Thinking Systems in their Relation to the World
When Man, in the study of his own human being, begins by
applying the Imaginative mode of knowledge to himself, he
strips off in contemplation his sense-system. He becomes for
his own self-contemplation a being without a sense-system. He
does not cease to have before his soul pictures such as were
previously conveyed by the organs of sense; but he ceases to
feel himself connected with the physical outer world by means
of these organs. The pictures which he has before his soul of
the physical world outside, are not now conveyed by the
sense-organs. They are a direct proof of the fact that, through
and beyond the sensory connection, Man has all the time another
connection with the natural world around him — one that is
not conveyed by the outer senses. It is his connection with the
Spirit which finds embodiment in the outer world of Nature.
contemplation of this kind, the physical world drops away from
man. It is the earthly element that is falling off. Man feels
this earthly element no more investing him.
might be supposed that therewith his consciousness of Self
would vanish. This would appear to follow from what was said in
our previous studies, where the consciousness of Self was
described as being a result of Man's connection with the
Earth-Being. This is not however the case. What Man has
acquired through the Earthly element still remains his, even
when after acquiring it, he strips the earthly wrapping
off him in the living experience of knowledge.
Seen as described — with spiritual, Imaginative
vision — it is plain that Man's sense-system is not, after
all, so very closely bound up with him. It is not really
he who is living in this sense-system, but the World
around him. The world has built itself with its own form of
being into the sensory organism of Man.
the man therefore, who views it with Imaginative vision, this
sensory organism too is a piece of Outer World. It is a piece
of outer world which certainly lies more close to him than the
natural world around, but which is nevertheless outer world. It
is distinguished from the rest of the outer world only by this,
that into the latter Man can only enter with cognition through
the medium of sense-perception, whereas into his sense-organism
he enters livingly, in immediate acquaintance. The
sense-organism is outer world, but into all the recesses of
this outer world, Man stretches out his own being of soul and
spirit, which he brings with him from the spirit-world on
entering earthly life.
Except for the fact that Man enters his sense-organism and
fills it with his own soul and spirit, this organism is as much
‘outer world’ as is the plant-world spread out round about him.
The eye belongs, when all is said and done, to the World, not
to Man; just as the rose which Man perceives belongs not to him,
but to the World.
the age through which Man has just passed in cosmic evolution,
scientifically minded persons began to maintain the view that
color, sound, heat-impressions, are not really in the World,
but in Man. The supposed ‘red color’ is not — they
say — a thing outside, in the real world-environment of
Man, but merely the effect produced in the man himself by an
unknown something. The truth however is the direct opposite of
this. It is not that the Color together with the Eye is part of
the human being; but that the Eye together with the Color is
part of the World. Man is not passively taking into himself,
all through his life on earth, a current of impressions from
his earthly surroundings; but rather, he himself is growing
out, from birth to death, into this world outside him.
is significant that at the end of the ‘dark age,’ when Man
stares out into the world without inwardly realizing so much as
a dawning glimmer of the spirit's light, the true picture of
Man's relation to this world about him should be converted into
the direct opposite of the truth.
When in Imaginative knowledge man has divested himself of that
first environing world in which he lives with his
sense-organism, he becomes inwardly aware of another organism,
by which the Thinking process is supported, even as the
perception of sensory images is supported by the
now he is aware that as Man he is connected by this Thinking
organism with his cosmic environment of ‘Stars,’ even as he was
hitherto aware of being connected through the sense-organism
with his Earth-environment. He recognizes himself as a cosmic
being. No more are his thoughts mere shadow-pictures; they are
saturated with reality like the sense-pictures of sensible
perception. And if the disciple of knowledge rises higher,
namely to Inspiration, he becomes aware that he can again strip
off this world on which the Thinking organism rests, just as,
before, he stripped off the earthly one. He clearly perceives
that with his thinking organism too, he belongs not to his own
being, but to the World. He perceives how World-Thoughts are
working through his own Thinking system within him. Once more
he becomes aware that in his Thinking he is not taking into
himself mere images of the World, but growing out with his own
Thinking-organism into the World-Thinking.
Both in respect of his Sense-organism and of his Thinking
system, Man is World. The World builds itself into him.
Hence, in his sense-perception and in his thinking, he is not
he himself; here, he is world-informed.
into this Thinking organism, Man stretches forth that part now
of his being of soul and spirit which belongs neither to the
earth world, nor yet to the star world, but which is of a
purely spiritual kind, and lives on from earth-life to
earth-life within Man. This form of the soul and spirit is only
accessible to Inspiration.
Man goes out of his earthly and cosmic organism and stands
before himself, through his Inspiration, as a being of pure
soul and spirit.
this, his purely spiritual being, Man meets with the ordering
of his destiny of fate.
With his sense-organism Man lives in his physical body; with
his Thinking organism in his ether-body. After both these
organisms have been laid aside in the living experience of
knowledge, he is in his astral body.
Every time that Man lays aside part of his acquired being, his
soul becomes, it is true, poorer in content on one side; but at
the same time, he becomes richer on the other. If with the
laying aside of the physical body the beauty of the
plant-world, as it shone upon the senses, now becomes faint and
colorless. Man has before his soul, in place of it, the whole
world of elemental beings who live in the plant kingdom.
Because this is so, a man whose knowledge is really spiritual
will not be given to any tone of asceticism towards what the
senses can shew him. Through all the inner experience of
spiritual life, he still feels fully alive in him the need to
behold over again, through the senses, what has been
experienced in the life of the Spirit. In the whole man,
striving after living knowledge of complete reality, the
perceptions of the senses awaken a longing for their
counterpart, the world of the elemental beings; so too the
contemplation of the elemental beings awakens a longing for
what the sense-perceptions have to give.
the totality of human life, Spirit cries for Sense, and Sense
for Spirit. Spiritual existence would be a void, did it not
bear in it the mindfulness of what was experienced in the life
of sense-perception. Sense-perception would be darkness, were
there not at work in it — below consciousness at first, yet
ever shedding light — the power of the Spirit.
Therefore, when Man shall have made himself ripe to realize,
along with his realization of Nature's life, the action therein
of Michael, there will be no impoverishment in all that the
life of Nature gives to men's souls, but on the contrary, a
greater wealth. Nor will the Feeling-life be in any way
inclined to withdraw from the life of the senses; rather will
there be a joyful readiness to welcome into the soul all the
wonders of the sense-world.
The human sense-organism does not
belong to the being of Man, but is built into it during
earth-life from the World without. The seeing Eye is
spatially in Man; essentially, it is in the World.
And Man stretches forth his own essence — his own being
of soul and spirit — into what the World is realizing
in him through his senses. Man, during earth-life, does not
take in the physical surroundings into himself; he grows
out with his being of soul and spirit into these
It is similar with the Thinking
organism. Man grows out through his Thinking organism into
the life of the Stars. He recognizes himself as Star-World.
Man is living and weaving in the World-Thoughts, when in
the living realization of knowledge, he has laid aside his
After both have been laid
aside — both Earth-world and Star-world — Man
stands before himself as a being of Soul and Spirit. Here
he is no longer World; here he is in the truest sense Man.
To awaken to what he here experiences is
Self-Knowledge, even as it is World-Knowledge
to awaken to perception in the Sense and Thought