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Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

Self Observation

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

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Self Observation

On-line since: 31st October, 2016



An object indicates its existence to me through one or other of my sense-organs; I have a Percept. I think; the relevant Concept arises in me; the Percept has become located in its proper thought-nexus and is thus given validity, significance. For a moment — Percept plus Concept — the full reality is before me. Now the object disappears; but there is left in my mind what may perhaps best be called an “Idea,” — a subjective representation of the object, — a concept individualised upon a particular percept. I see the same object again — or one similar to it — and with the help of the Idea in my mind, I can recognise it. The first idea now merges into the second. And so on. And so on ... Thus flows along the quiet grey unperturbed stream of cognitional experience.

Accompanying these cognitional experiences are others of a totally dissimilar character — as if the dull grey stream were streaked with all manner of colours. I am not allowed to be indifferent to what my thinking tells me: it is as if every experience that occurs “in my head” jabbed or stabbed me “in the heart.” Thinking gives me cold information: Feeling brings it vividly home to me ... I see a little child that I love — and my heart fills with joy. I read in bed a tale of Edgar Allen Poe's and find myself sweating with fear. I get a letter telling me that a dear friend is dead and I am filled with sorrow. Every cognitional experience insists, in some way or other, to some degree or other, on causing pleasure or pain.

To the sense-organs, things cannot divulge their secrets. To Thinking, they disclose themselves. What we call “our Thinking” is the quintessence of things themselves. This quintessence comes from the world-reservoir. As it comes from the world-reservoir, it is virginally pure. Our Thinking, as such, is not ours; it is the World thinking in us. It is impossible for Thinking, in itself, to be at fault. In so far as we think, we express the universal.

When I think, I experience the World-whole. But when I feel, I shrink into the petty confines of my own personal existence. When I think, the mighty music of the cosmic orchestra is sounding in my ears. When I feel, I am listening only to my own peevish ill-played piping. Sufferings and rejoicings: anger, gratitude, fear, desire, self-satisfaction, envy, pride, gladness, depression, mirth — enable us, compel us, to become centrally aware of ourselves as individuals. Our feelings give to our cognitional experiences a special value to ourselves exclusively, — so colourful a special value that we are perpetually being tempted to retire completely into ourselves and to sever our connections with the Cosmic Whole.

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