THE EVENT OF DEATH AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHRIST
IN the state of sleep, sense-experience ceases for the ordinary
consciousness as does also the psychic activity of thinking, feeling
and willing. Thus man loses what he terms as himself.
Through the psychic exercises of the soul which have been described in
the previous studies, thinking is the first to be seized by the higher
consciousness. Without being lost first however, thinking cannot be
thus seized. In successful meditation one experiences this loss of
thinking. One does actually feel oneself as an independent inner
being; there is actually some kind of an inner experience. But one
cannot at once experience one's own entity so strongly as to
comprehend it through active thought. This only becomes possible by
degrees. The inner activity grows and the power of thinking is kindled
from a quarter other than ordinary consciousness. In this ordinary
consciousness can one only experience oneself in a momentary glimpse.
But by the rekindling of thought through the psychic exercises, after
passing through not-thinking and arriving at imagining, one
experiences the content of the whole cycle of life from birth to the
present moment as one's own proper Ego.
The memories of ordinary consciousness are also experiences of the
moment, images realized in the present which point to the past only
through their content.
Such memories are at first lost when image-making begins. The past is
then seen as if it was something present. As in sense-perception the
senses are led to the things which are side by side in space, so the
kindled activity of the soul is led to the different events of one's
own life in image-making. The course of events in time is presented as
happening at the same time. A process of growth becomes something
present at the moment.
But in higher consciousness there is something else than just the
memories of the ordinary consciousness. There you have the activity of
the etheric organism previously unknown to this consciousness. The
memories of the ordinary consciousness are only images of man's
experience through his physical organism of the outer world, whereas
the imaginative consciousness knows the activity which the
etheric organism has effected in the physical organism.
The rising-up of this experience happens in such a way that one has
the feeling of something rising from the depths of the soul which
before had indeed lain hidden in one's own nature, but had not surged
up into the consciousness. All this must be experienced in full
consciousness; and that is the case if the ordinary consciousness
continues to be kept side by side with the imaginative.
The experiences gained in the active exchange between etheric and
physical organism must always be capable of being brought into
relationship with the corresponding memory-life of the ordinary
consciousness. Whoever is not able to do this is not dealing with
imagination but with an experience of a visionary kind.
In visionary experience consciousness is not adding a new content to
the old, as in imagination, but it is changed; the old content cannot
be recalled at the same time as the new. The man who has
imagination has his ordinary self next to him, as it were;
the visionary has been turned into quite a different being.
Anybody criticizing Anthroposophy from the outside should take note of
this. Imaginative knowledge has often been considered as leading to
something visionary. This view has to be strictly rejected by the true
researcher into the spirit. He does by no means replace the ordinary
consciousness by a visionary one, but he incorporates an imaginative
one into it. Ordinary thinking fully controls imaginative experience
at every moment. The visionary picturing is a stronger entering of the
ego into the physical organism than is the case in the ordinary
consciousness. Imagining on the other hand is an actual
stepping-out from the physical organism, and the ordinary
constitution of the soul remains by its side consciously held in the
We grow conscious in a part of the soul which before was unconscious,
but that part which before was conscious in the physical organism
remains in the same psychic condition. The interchange between the
experience of imagination and that of ordinary consciousness is just
as real a happening to the soul as is the guiding to and fro of
soul-activity from one thought to another in the course of ordinary
consciousness. If this is kept in mind one cannot mistake imaginative
knowledge for something of a visionary nature. It tends, on the
contrary, to drive out all inclination to what is visionary. But he
who uses imaginative cognition is also in a position to
realize that visions are not independent of the body but dependent on
it in a far higher degree than sense-experiences. For he can compare
the character of visions with that of imagination which is really
independent of the body. The Visionary is more deeply immersed in his
physical functions than the man who perceives the outer world by means
of his senses in the ordinary way.
When Imagination takes place ordinary thinking is recognized as
something having no substantial content. Only what is introduced into
consciousness by imagination is found to be the substantial content of
this ordinary thinking. Ordinary thinking may indeed be compared to a
mirrored picture. But while the mirrored picture rises in the ordinary
consciousness the imagined picture is alive unconsciously.
We imagine also in our ordinary psychic life, but unconsciously. If we
did not imagine we should not think. The conscious thoughts of
ordinary psychic life are the reflections of unconscious imagining
mirrored by the physical organism. And the substantial part of this
imagining is the etheric organism which is manifest in the development
of man's earthly life.
A new element enters the consciousness with inspiration. In order to
attain inspiration the individual human life must be abstracted, as
has been described in the previous studies. But the power of activity
which the soul has won for itself by imagining still remains.
Possessing this power the soul can attain pictures of that which in
the universe underlies the etheric organism just as this underlies the
And thus the soul is faced with its own eternal nature. In the
ordinary consciousness it happens that the soul can only give its
activity a conceptual form by grasping the physical organism. It dives
into it and there finds the pictured reflections of that which it
experiences with its etheric organism. This latter, however, the soul
does not experience in its activity. This etheric organism is itself
experienced in imaginative consciousness. But this happens through the
soul having gone further back with its experience to the astral
organism. As long as the soul merely imagines it lives
unconsciously in the astral organism, and both the physical and
etheric organisms are contemplated; as soon as the soul attains
inspired knowledge the astral organism is also brought
into contemplation; for the soul now lives in the eternal centre of
its being, and can contemplate this by means of the continuation of
intuitive cognition. Through this it lives in the
spiritual world, as in ordinary existence it lives in its physical
The soul learns in this way how the physical, etheric and astral
organisms grow out of the spiritual world. But it can also observe the
continued activity of the spiritual in the organization of the earthly
being man. It sees how the spiritual centre of man's nature
sinks into the physical, etheric and astral organism. This sinking is
not really a merging of something spiritual into something physical,
so that the former dwells in the latter. But it is a transformation of
part of the human soul into the physical and etheric organization.
This part of the soul disappears during earthly life by
being transformed into the physical and etheric organism. It is this
part of the soul which is experienced through thought by the ordinary
consciousness in its reflection. But the soul emerges again elsewhere.
This is the case with that part of it which in earthly existence is
experienced as volition, which has a different character from thought.
Volition even during wakefulness contains a section which is asleep.
The soul receives a thought clearly. Actually man when he thinks is
fully awake, which is not the case with volition. The will is
stimulated by thought. Consciousness extends as far as thought. But
then the act of volition sinks into the human organism. If I
deliberately raise my hand I have the causal thought in my ordinary
consciousness to start with, and the sight of my raised hand with all
the accompanying sensations is the result of my act of will. What is
between remains unconscious. What happens in the depths of the
organism when a man puts his will into action escapes the ordinary
consciousness just as do the events of sleep. Man has always a part of
himself asleep even when he is awake.
This is the part in which continues to live during earthly existence
as much of the Spirit-Soul as had not been transformed into the
physical organism. One perceives this when true intuition has been
achieved by the exercises of the will previously described. Then we
recognize behind the will the eternal part of the human soul, which is
transformed into the head-organization; and disappears in its
form-life during earthly existence, rises again on the other side to
pass through death and to become ready once more to help in a future
physical body and earthly life.
This brings this study to the event of death which is to be further
touched upon in the next. For by the views I have put before you
to-day we are led only to the continuity of the Will and to a
knowledge of that part of the soul from the past, which is transformed
into human head-organization. We have not reached the destiny of the
ego-consciousness, which can only be treated in conjunction with the
Christ-problem. Therefore that study will again lead us back to a
consideration of the mysteries of Christianity.
The customary Philosophy of Ideas consists of thoughts; but they have
no life, no substance. The substance comes by leaving behind the
physical organism in Imagination. As I have shown,
formerly the ideas of Philosophy were only mirrored pictures. If these
are built up into a Philosophy, and if one studies them without
prejudice, one must feel their unreality. One feels vaguely the moment
here described as the one in which all remembered thought entirely
Augustine and Descartes have felt this, but have inefficiently
explained it to themselves as doubt. But Philosophy
acquires life when the unity of life is substantiated in the soul.
Bergson perceived this, and has expressed it in his idea of
Duration. But he did not proceed beyond this point.
Starting with this as a basis, we shall proceed to consider its
bearing upon Cosmology and Religious cognition.