UNDERSTANDING OF THE SPIRIT;
CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE OF DESTINY
This week something will be given in the communications addressed to
members in these columns, which may serve to bring us to a further
understanding of the weekly Leading Thoughts.
The understanding of anthroposophical truth can be furthered if the
relation which exists between man and the world is constantly brought
before the human soul.
When man turns his attention to the world into which he is born and
out of which he dies, he is surrounded in the first place by the
fullness of his sense-impressions. He forms thoughts about these
In bringing the following to his consciousness: I am forming
thoughts about what my senses reveal to me as the world, he has
already come to the point where he can contemplate himself. He can say
to himself: In my thoughts I live. The world
gives me the opportunity of experiencing myself in thoughts. I
find myself in my thoughts when I contemplate the world.
And continuing to reflect in this way, he ceases to be conscious of
the world; he becomes conscious of the I . He
ceases to have the world before him; he begins to experience the self.
If the experience be reversed, and the attention directed to the inner
life in which the world is mirrored, then those events emerge into
consciousness which belong to our life's destiny, and in which our
human self has flowed along from the point of time to which our memory
goes back. In following up the events of his destiny, a man
experiences his own existence.
In bringing this to his consciousness: I with my own self have
experienced something that destiny brought to me, a man has
already come to the point where he will contemplate the world. He can
say to himself: I was not alone in my fate; the world played a part in
my experience. I willed this or that; the world streamed into
my will. I find the world in my will when I experience this will in
Continuing thus to enter into his own being, man ceases to be
conscious of the self, he becomes conscious of the world; he ceases to
experience himself, he becomes feelingly aware of the world.
I send my thoughts out into the World, there I find myself; I
sink into myself, there I find the World. If a man experiences
this strongly enough he is confronted with the great riddles of the
World and Man.
For to have the feeling: I have taken endless pains to understand the
world through thinking, and after all there is but myself in this
thinking this gives rise to the first great riddle. And to feel
that one's own self is formed through destiny, yet to perceive in this
process the onward flow of world-happenings this presents the
In the experience of this problem of Man and the World germinates the
frame of mind in which man can so confront Anthroposophy that he
receives from it in his inner being an impression which rouses his
For Anthroposophy asserts that there is a spiritual experience which
does not lose the world when thinking. One can also live in
thought. Anthroposophy tells of an inward experience in which one does
not lose the sense-world when thinking, but gains the Spirit-world.
Instead of penetrating into the ego in which the sense-world is felt
to disappear, one penetrates into the Spirit-world in which the ego
Anthroposophy shows, further, that there is an experience of destiny
in which one does not lose the self. In fate, too, one can still feel
oneself to be active. Anthroposophy points out, in the impartial,
unegoistic observation of human destiny, an experience in which one
learns to love the world and not only one's own existence. Instead of
staring into the world which carries the ego on the waves of fortune
and misfortune, one finds the ego which shapes its own fate
voluntarily. Instead of striking against the world on which the ego is
dashed to pieces, one penetrates into the self, which feels itself
united with the course of events in the world.
Man's destiny comes to him from the world that is revealed to him by
his senses. If then he finds his own activity in the working of his
destiny, his real self rises up before him not only out of his inner
being but out of the sense-world too.
If a person is able to feel, however faintly, how the spiritual part
of the world appears in the self, and how the self proves to be
working in the outer world of sense, he has already learned to
understand Anthroposophy correctly. For he will then realise that in
Anthroposophy it is possible to describe the Spirit-world which the
self can comprehend. And this will enable him to understand that in
the sense-world the self can also be found in a different way
than by diving within. Anthroposophy finds the self by showing how the
sense-world reveals to man not only sense-perceptions but also the
after-effects of his life before birth and his former earthly lives.
Man can now gaze on the world perceptible to his senses and say: It
contains not only colour, sound, warmth; in it are active the
experiences passed through by souls before their present earthly life.
And he can look into himself and say: I find there not only my ego
but, in addition, a spiritual world is revealed.
In an understanding of this kind, a person who really feels who
is not unmoved by the great riddles of Man and the World, can
meet on a common ground with the Initiate who in accordance with his
insight is obliged to speak of the outer world of the senses as
manifesting not only sense-perceptions but also the impressions of
what human souls have done in their life before birth and in past
earthly lives, and who has to say of the world of the inner self that
it reveals spiritual events which produce impressions and are as
effective as the perceptions of the sense-world.
The would-be active members should consciously make themselves
mediators between what the questioning human soul feels as the
problems of Man and the Universe, and what the knowledge of the
Initiates has to recount, when it draws forth a past world out of the
destiny of human beings, and when by strengthening the soul it opens
up the perception of a spiritual world.
In this way, through the work of the would-be active members, the
Anthroposophical Society may become a true preparatory school for the
school of Initiates. It was the intention of the Christmas Meeting to
indicate this very forcibly; and one who truly understands what that
Meeting meant will continue to point this out until sufficient
understanding of it can bring the Society fresh tasks and
May the Leading Thoughts to be given in this number proceed,
therefore, out of this spirit.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society
62. In our sense-perceptions, the world of the senses bears on to the
surface only a portion of the being that lies concealed in the depths
of its waves beneath. Penetrative spiritual observation reveals within
these depths the after-effects of what was done by souls of men in
ages long gone by.
63. To ordinary self-observation the inner world of man reveals only a
portion of that, in the midst of which it stands. Intensified
experience in consciousness shows it to be contained within a living
64. The destiny of man reveals the workings, not only of an external
world, but of the man's own Self.
65. The experiences of the human soul reveal not only a Self but a
world of the Spirit, which the Self can know by deeper spiritual
knowledge as a world united with its own being.
Further Leading Thoughts issued from the Goetheanum for the Anthroposophical Society
66. The Beings of the Third Hierarchy reveal themselves in the life
which is unfolded as a spiritual background in human Thinking. In the
human activity of thought this life is concealed. If it worked on in
its own essence in human thought, man could not attain to Freedom.
Where cosmic Thought activity ceases, human Thought-activity begins.
67. The Beings of the Second Hierarchy manifest themselves in a
world-of-soul beyond humanity a world of cosmic
soul-activities, hidden from human Feeling. This cosmic world-of-soul
is ever creative in the background of human Feeling. Out of the being
of man it first creates the organism of Feeling; only then can it
bring Feeling itself to life therein.
68. The Beings of the First Hierarchy manifest themselves in spiritual
creation beyond humanity a cosmic world of spiritual Being
which indwells the human Willing. This world of cosmic Spirit
experiences itself in creative action when man wills. It first creates
the connection of man's being with the Universe beyond humanity; only
then does man himself become, through his organism of Will, a freely