Posts Tagged Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Nothing is such a joy as to learn something new, so enjoy each time you are wrong, you get wiser.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observations and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason; conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. (Chop Wood, Carry Water p. 281)
Buddha was once asked, “What is truth?” He replied, “Truth is that which can be used.”
[ What can be used? See truth as a puzzle piece, it fits together with other puzzle pieces and together they create the full picture. A lie is a piece that don’t fit. ]
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect of church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. 1897
Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.
Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal assent.
Faith… must be enforced by reason… when faith becomes blind it dies.
Those who know how to think need no teachers.
And, not least
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
Lie, n. :
A very poor substitute for the truth, but the only one discovered to date.
Sometimes we have to spend more time trying to understand, instead of pretending that we already do. Katherine gm
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth.
To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.
Beware the man of one book.
Truth is the equation of thing and intellect.
A judgment is said to be true when it conforms to the external reality.
14, 6: I am the way and the truth and the life.
Personality is only ripe when a man has made the truth his own.
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
The truth is a trap: you cannot get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.
The reason I cannot really say that I positively enjoy nature is that I do not quite realize what it is that I enjoy. A work of art, on the other hand, I can grasp. I can — if I may put it this way — find that Archimedian point, and as soon as I have found it, everything is readily clear for me. Then I am able to pursue this one main idea and see how all the details serve to illuminate it.
Knowledge resides in brains that are filled with the thoughts of others, but wisdom resides in the souls of those who attentively listens to their own thoughts.
Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though ’twere his own.
Oblivion is full of people who allow the opinions of others to overrule their belief in themselves.
First and last, what is demanded of genius is love of truth.
Common sense is the genius of humanity.
Few people have the imagination for reality.
We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.
A person hears only what they understand.
Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.
Not to keep from error, is the duty of the educator of men, but to guide the erring one, even to let him swill his error out of full cups — that is the wisdom of teachers. Whoever merely tastes of his error, will keep house with it for a long time, … but whoever drains it completely will have to get to know it.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
‘I have the courage to be mistaken’.
Sokrates could save his life if he renounced his teachings, but he said: “I think it’s better to have my lyre or a chorus that I might lead out of tune and dissonant, and have the vast majority of men disagree with me and contradict me, than to be out of harmony with myself, to contradict myself, though I’m only one person.”
True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
Understanding a question is half an answer
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.
To find yourself, think for yourself.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
The unexamined life is not worth living
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.
I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.
He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.
If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.
Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.
Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own.
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.
The word “belief” is a difficult thing for me. I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing, and then I know it – I don’t need to believe it.
Truth never triumphs — its opponents just die out.
It is not the possession of truth, but the success which attends the seeking after it, that enriches the seeker and brings happiness to him.
New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
No matter where and how far we look, nowhere do we find a contradiction between religion and natural science. On the contrary, we find a complete concordance in the very points of decisive importance. Religion and natural science do not exclude each other, as many contemporaries of ours would believe or fear. They mutually supplement and condition each other. The most immediate proof of the compatibility of religion and natural science, even under the most thorough critical scrutiny, is the historical fact that the very greatest natural scientists of all times — men such as Kepler, Newton, Leibniz— were permeated by a most profound religious attitude.
Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.
Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.
I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterwards.
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
E. F. Schumacher
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
Reserve your right to think.
For even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.
Consequently he who wishes to attain to human perfection, must therefore first study Logic, next the various branches of Mathematics in their proper order, then Physics, and lastly Metaphysics. He, however, who begins with Metaphysics, will not only become confused in matters of religion, but will fall into complete infidelity.
Dalai Lama XIV
Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.
Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.
Being wrong is erroneously associated with failure, when, in fact, to be proven wrong should be celebrated, for it elevates someone to a new level of understanding.
What we are trying in all these discussions and talks here, is to see if we cannot radically bring about a transformation of the mind. *Not accept things as they are* – but to understand it, to go into it, examine it, give your heart and your mind with every thing that you have to find out. A way of living differently. But that depends on you and not somebody else. Because in this there is no teacher, no pupil. There’s no leader, there is no guru, there’s no master, no savior. You yourself are the teacher, and the pupil, you’re the master, you’re the guru, you are the leader, you are everything! And, to understand is to transform what is“.
You must understand the Whole of life, not just one little part of it.
That is why you must read,
that is why you must look at the skies,
that is why you must sing and dance,
and write poems,
for all that is life.
The more one knows, the more one simplifies.
One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
If you can’t answer a man’s argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
If you live by what I say, you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And do not marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
So, you have full responsibility for what you believe!
You are the light of Presence, the awareness that is prior to and deeper than any thoughts and emotions.
If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well-governed.
When making a mistake, do not be afraid to correct it.
We journalists… are also extremely impressed with scientists, and we will, frankly, print just about any wacky thing they tell us, especially if it involves outer space.
It sounds paradoxical to say the attainment of scientific truth has been effected, to a great extent, by the help of scientific errors.
“If only the sun-drenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together.”
To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.
A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth gets out the front door.
Nevertheless, one feature, at any rate, we have in common with the scientific method of investigation. We take nothing on faith, and we go beyond and higher than any dogmatic religion or materialistic physical science, since our motto—“There is no religion higher than truth” is followed by the principle enunciated by Arago: “outside of pure mathematics never pronounce the word impossible.”
I speak “with absolute certainty” only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any “authority” let alone “divine revelation”!
Intellect may arrive at certain inferences, but intellect is an unconscious phenomenon. You are almost behaving sleepily. Intelligence is awakening, and unless you are fully awake, whatsoever you decide is bound to be wrong somewhere or other. It is bound to be so, it is doomed to be wrong, because it is a conclusion arrived at by an unconscious mind.
To bring intelligence into activity you don’t need more information, you need more meditation. You need to become more silent, you need to become more thoughtless. You need to become less mind and more heart. You need to become aware of the magic that surrounds you: magic that is life, magic that is God, magic that is in the green trees and the red flowers, magic that is in people’s eyes. Magic is happening everywhere! All is miraculous, but because of your intellect you remain closed inside yourself, clinging to your stupid conclusions arrived at in unconsciousness or given to you by others who are as unconscious as you are.
Savita, intelligence is certainly creative because intelligence brings your totality into functioning — not only a part, a small part, the head. Intelligence vibrates your whole being; each cell of your being, each fiber of your life starts dancing, and falls in a subtle harmony with the total. That’s what creativity is: to pulsate in absolute harmony with the total. That’s how one becomes a Buddha, Christ, Zarathustra. These are the real creative people.
Beinsa Douno (Peter Deunov)
Wise persons do not need long speeches, what they need is a short, but sensible and comprehensible talk.
To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.
there’s something else that lies between believing and disbelieving, and that is listening without prejudice
Many people think that they’re working for the good of mankind from morn till eve, but this is questionable.
A clairvoyant can see that efforts coming from materialistic thinking have the wrong effect, and it may lie in some people’s karma that they should wait until they can do certain things. Then a higher being can whisper such a task in his ear, so that it’s not induced by outer circumstances. Life is a destructive process for someone who only devotes himself to outer sense impressions. A meditating esoteric doesn’t let his life be determined by outer circumstances as much. One who makes repeated meditational efforts isn’t exposed to astral confusions at night and makes himself ready to receive the instructions of spiritual beings. And it’s very necessary that we be instructed in this way.
The fact is, no art of any kind can be mastered without humour, especially the art of dealing with human beings.
This means that part of the art of education is the elimination of ill-humour and crossness from the teachers, and the development of friendliness and a love full of humour and fantasy for the children, so that the children may not see portrayed in their teacher the very thing he is forbidding them to be.
Nevertheless one will sometimes have great trouble in controlling the children’s liveliness. You will succeed in controlling it if you possess a thing not sufficiently appreciated in this connection, namely humour.
The teacher must bring humour into the class room as he enters the door.
Essentially, there is no education other than self- education, whatever the level may be. […] Every education is self-education, and as teachers we can only provide the environment for children’s self-education. We have to provide the most favourable conditions where, through our agency, children can educate themselves according to their own destinies.
That is what you need – an enthusiasm in the experience of truth. This enthusiasm is an absolute sine qua non.
For years it has been so terribly painful to me, the way the members of the anthroposophical movement stand there as if they were rooted to the spot – and the young too, almost as much as the old. But now consider what it means, that they can stand there so impassively.
Look at Nietzsche! What a different sort of fellow he was – even if he did get ill from it! He made his Zarathustra become a dancer. Can’t you become dancers – in the sense Nietzsche meant it?
Why, you should be leading lives of joy – deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating than the experience of truth.
The right attitude for raising oneself into the higher world is never a sentimental one. Mere sentimentality is of no use for the man who wants to toil up the spiritual heights, in the right way, for it always smacks of egoism. You know how often, when the highest spiritual subjects are being discussed, I mix with our considerations something not designed to take you out of the mood, but simply to banish any egoistic sentimentality from it.
A genuine ascent to the spiritual must be undertaken in purity of soul (which is never destitute of humour), not from a motive of egoistic sentimentality.
Theosophists also often tend to turn away from the outer world. But a loving interest in our surroundings is absolutely necessary if one wants to make progress. One doesn’t have to neglect what one is striving for theosophically thereby.
Love is higher than opinion. If people love one another, the most varied opinions can be reconciled. Hence it is deeply significant that in Theosophy no religion is attacked and no religion is specially singled out, but all are understood, and so there can be brotherhood because the adherents of the most varied religions understand one another.
This is one of the most important tasks for mankind today and in the future: that men should learn to live together and understand one another. If this human fellowship is not achieved, all talk of occult development is empty.
The mood of meditation should not be: I will inwardly lie down in a warm nest, which must become warmer and warmer for me.
Rather, our mood must be that we are about to dip into reality, to grasp something real.
Devoted attention to little things, indeed to the least thing, is what it comes down to.
“Never should the phrase be heard that truths are accepted simply because I have voiced them!
We should sin against the truth were we to say any such thing. One thing or another may be grounded on confidence; but that can never be made into a principle.
Someone else may perhaps be better able to tread the path; but the rule to which every individual should adhere is this: not to accept things on authority, but to put them to the test.
Truth has to conquer its domain with complete disinterestedness. That is why, at bottom, nothing is more hated than the truth, the unvarnished truth. And so there may be many adherents here and there who actually cherish hatred deep down within them. No wonder that this hatred sometimes cuts through the force that builds a wall against it — cuts through this force because the hatred has been accumulating for so long. Such hatred is far more widespread than is imagined and it is a factor that must be reckoned with.
The occultist will never dream of imposing dogmas.
He is one who tells what he has seen and tested in the astral and spiritual worlds or what has been revealed to him by trustworthy and reliable teachers.
He does not desire to convert but to quicken in others the sense that has awakened in him and to enable them to see likewise.
The Rosicrucian way, which leaves the pupil with the greatest possible independence. … When we are on the physical plane, we perceive with the physical senses only what is to be found on that plane. Astral perceptions are valid for the astral plane; devachanic hearing is valid only in Devachan. Thus each plane has its own specific form of perception.
But one activity — logical thinking — goes through all worlds. Logic is the same on all three planes. Thus on the physical plane you can learn something which is valid also for the higher planes; and this is the method followed by Rosicrucian training when on the physical plane it gives primary attention to thinking, and for this purpose uses the means available on the physical plane.
A penetrative thinking can be cultivated by studying theosophical truths, or by practising mental exercises. Anyone who wishes further training for the intellect can study books such as Truth and Science, and The Philosophy of Freedom, which are written deliberately in such a way that a thinking trained by them can move with certainty on the highest planes. Even a person who studies these books and knows nothing of Theosophy might find his way about in the higher worlds.
But, as I have said, the teachings of Theosophy act in the same way.
The first condition is the cultivation of absolutely clear thinking. For this purpose a man must rid himself of the will-o’-the-wisps of thought, even if only for a very short time during the day – about five minutes (the longer, the better).
He must become the ruler in his world of thought. He is not the ruler if external circumstances, occupation, some tradition or other, social relationships, even membership of a particular race, the daily round of life, certain activities and so forth, determine a thought and how he works it out.
There is, in truth, no difference between esoteric knowledge and all the rest of man’s knowledge and proficiency. This esoteric knowledge is no more of a secret for the average human being than writing is a secret for those who have never learned it. And just as all can learn to write who choose the correct method, so, too, can all who seek the right way become esoteric students and even teachers….He must begin with a certain fundamental attitude of soul.
In spiritual science this fundamental attitude is called the path of veneration, of devotion to truth and knowledge. Without this attitude no one can become a student.
The disposition shown in their childhood by subsequent students of higher knowledge is well known to the experienced in these matters. There are children who look up with religious awe to those whom they venerate…. Only it must not be thought that this disposition leads to submissiveness and slavery. What was once a childlike veneration for persons becomes, later, a veneration for truth and knowledge.
Experience teaches that they can best hold their heads erect who have learned to venerate where veneration is due; and veneration is always fitting when it flows from the depths of the heart. … If we do not develop within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve to something higher.
The initiate has only acquired the strength to lift his head to the heights of knowledge by guiding his heart to the depths of veneration and devotion. The heights of the spirit can only be climbed by passing through the portals of humility. You can only acquire right knowledge when you have learned to esteem it. Man has certainly the right to turn his eyes to the light, but he must first acquire this right. …
A person who darts from one impression of the outer world to another, who constantly seeks distraction, cannot find the way to higher knowledge. The student must not blunt himself to the outer world, but while lending himself to its impressions, he should be directed by his rich inner life.
This life of the soul in thought, which gradually widens into a life in spiritual being, is called by Gnosis, and by Spiritual Science, Meditation (contemplative reflection).
This meditation is the means to supersensible knowledge. But the student in such moments must not merely indulge in feelings; he must not have indefinite sensations in his soul. That would only hinder him from reaching true spiritual knowledge. His thoughts must be clear, sharp and definite, and he will be helped in this if he does not cling blindly to the thoughts that rise within him. Rather must he permeate himself with the lofty thoughts by which men already advanced and possessed of the spirit were inspired at such moments.
He should start with the writings which themselves had their origin in just such revelation during meditation. In the mystic, gnostic and spiritual scientific literature of today the student will find such writings, and in them the material for his meditation. The seekers of the spirit have themselves set down in such writings the thoughts of the divine science which the Spirit has directed his messengers to proclaim to the world.
For through his I the human being attains to control of his sensations, feelings, thoughts, instincts, passions, and desires. Perception and thought cannot be left to themselves in the soul. They must be regulated through attentive thinking.
It is the I that employs these laws of thinking and through them brings order into the life of visualization and thought. It is similar with desires, instincts, inclinations, and passions. The ethical principles become guides of these soul powers. Through moral judgment the I becomes the guide of the soul in this realm.
If the human being now draws a higher I out of his ordinary I, the latter becomes independent in a certain sense. From this I just as much of living force is withdrawn as is bestowed upon the higher I.
Let us suppose, however, the case in which the human being has not yet developed a sufficient ability and firmness in the laws of thought and in his power of judgment, and he wishes to give birth to his higher I at this stage of development. He will be able to leave behind for his everyday I only so much thought power as he has previously developed. If the measure of regulated thinking is too small, then there will appear a disordered, confused, fantastic thinking and judgment in the ordinary I that has become independent. Because the new-born I can only be weak in such a personality, the disturbed lower I will gain domination over supersensible perception, and man will not show equilibrium in his power of judgment in observing the supersensible world.
If he had developed sufficient ability in logical thinking, he would be able, without fear, to permit the ordinary I to have its independence.
This is also true in the domain of the ethical. If the human being has not attained firmness in moral judgment, if he has not gained sufficient control over his inclinations, instincts, and passions, then he will make his ordinary I independent in a state in which these soul powers act. It may happen that the human being in describing the knowledge he has experienced in the supersensible is not governed by the same high sense of truth that guides him in what he brings to his consciousness in the physical outer world.
With such a demoralized sense of truth, he might believe anything to be spiritual reality that in truth is only his own fantastic imagining. Into this sense of truth there must act firmness of ethical judgment, certainty of character, keenness of conscience, which are developed in the lower, first I, before the higher, second I becomes active for the purpose of supersensible cognition.
Indeed, we only understand this physical world aright when we realize it to be this copy of reality. It behooves us, however, to feel the true reality within us [Astral world]; we must be aware of our connection with the spiritual world. And this is only possible if the bond that links us with pre-earthly existence remains intact.
This bond is strengthened by a love of truth and Integrity. Nothing establishes man’s true and original sense of existence so firmly as a feeling for truth and truthfulness.
To feel himself in duty bound first to “prove all things” he utters, to set due restraint on all his words — this helps to consolidate the sense of existence that is worthy of his being.
To be aware of the spirit within the physical body — with this, indeed, the sense of being is connected. There is, in effect, an intimate kinship between the physical body and this ideal of Truth.
After Atlantis was destroyed by water, continued evolution resulted in our contemporary fifth race, during which deductive reasoning was a special achievement. This enabled the human race to bring art and science to a high level of development, which previously had not been possible.
People think often enough that it is unnecessary to talk about the principles of man’s being, or the evolution of humanity or the different planetary evolutions, they would rather acquire beautiful feelings, they do not want to study earnestly.
Nevertheless, however many beautiful feelings one acquires in one’s soul it is impossible to rise into the spiritual worlds by that alone. Rosicrucian theosophy does not try to arouse the feelings, but through the stupendous facts of the spiritual worlds to let the feelings themselves begin to resound.
The Rosicrucian feels it a kind of impertinence to take people by storm with feelings. … It is only an empty phrase to say one should address oneself direct to the feelings, that is just indolence. Rosicrucian theosophy lets the facts speak, and if these thoughts flow into the feeling nature and overpower it, then that is the right way.”
Rosicrucian Theosophy does not wish to revel in feelings, it wishes to bring the facts of the spirit before your eyes. The pupil must take part, must let himself be stimulated by the facts which have been described, feelings and sensations must be aroused in him through them.
In this sense Spiritual Science should become a powerful impulse for the sphere of feeling, but at the same time be that which leads us direct into the facts of supersensible perceptions, which lets them first arise as thoughts and then leads the seeker upwards into the higher worlds.
Reality is not contained in the abstract concept; it is, however, contained in thoughtful observation, which does not one-sidedly consider either concept or percept alone, but rather the union of the two. PoF
Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.
Fanatism and Objectivity
How does a fanatic behave? He wants to convert people as quickly as possible — while they, as a rule, do not want to be converted. Everybody is expected immediately to believe what the fanatic wants them to believe and he is angry when this does not happen.
In our day, when someone sets out to expound a particular subject, people simply do not believe that his aim may be not to voice his own views but something quite different, namely, the thoughts and opinions of the one of whom he is writing. For many years I was held to be a follower of Nietzsche because I once wrote an absolutely objective book about him.
People simply cannot understand that the aim of a writer may be to give an objective exposition. They think that everyone must be a fanatic on the subject of which he happens to be speaking!
Imaginaire Thinking – Memory
The pupil now, however, begins to perceive his etheric body more directly. The most striking change that takes place in the etheric body, which many do not appreciate at all, and which is not recognised as a change in the etheric body, although it is such, is that as a result of esoteric or theosophical development it becomes very distinctly evident that the power of memory begins somewhat to diminish.
Through esoteric development, the ordinary memory almost invariably suffers diminution. At first one’s memory becomes poorer. If the student does not wish to have a less efficient memory, he cannot undergo an esoteric development.
Especially does that memory cease to be strongly active which may be described as the mechanical memory, best developed in human beings in childhood and youth, and generally meant when memory is alluded to.
Many esotericists have to complain of the diminution of their memory, for it soon becomes perceptible. In any case, this depreciation of the memory can be observed long before one perceives the more delicate things which have just been explained. But as the student, by pursuing correct theosophical training, can never suffer injury in his physical body — in spite of its becoming more mobile — neither will his memory be injured for long. …
Now, as regards the memory, we must also do the correct thing. We lose the memory belonging to the external life: but we need suffer no injury if we take care to develop more interest, a deeper interest in all that affects us in life, more concern than hitherto.
We must especially acquire a sympathetic interest for the things which to us are important. Previously we developed a more mechanical memory, and the working of this mechanical memory was fully reliable for a time, even without any particular liking for the things observed; but this ceases.
It will be noticed that when undergoing a theosophical or esoteric development it is easy to forget things. But only those things fly away for which one has not a sympathetic interest, which one does not particularly care for, which do not become part of one’s soul, as it were.
On the other hand, that which appeals to one’s soul fixes itself in the memory all the more. Therefore, the student must try systematically to bring this about. The following may be experienced. Let us imagine a man in his youth, before he came to Theosophy when he read a novel he was quite unable to forget it; he could relate it again and again. Later, when he has come into Theosophy, if he reads a novel, it very often vanishes from his mind; he cannot recount it. But if a student takes a book, of which he has been told — or tells himself — that it might be valuable, and reads it through once and then tries directly afterwards to repeat it mentally, and not only to repeat it, but repeat it backwards, the last matters first and the first last; if he takes the trouble to go through certain details a second time, if he becomes so absorbed in it that he even takes a piece of paper and writes brief thoughts on it, and tries to put the question: — what aspect of this subject especially interests me — then he will find that in this way he develops a different kind of memory. It will not be the same memory. By using it, the difference can be accurately observed.
When we use the human memory, things come into our soul as remembrances; but if, in the manner just described, we systematically acquire a memory as an esotericist or theosophist, then it is as though the things thus experienced had remained stationary in time.
We learn to look back into time, as it were, and it really seems as though we were looking at what we were remembering; indeed, we shall notice that the things become more and more picture-like and the memory more and more imaginative.
If we have acted in the manner just described — for instance, with a book — then, when it is necessary to bring the matter to mind again, we need only meet with something in some way connected with it, and we shall look back, as it were, at the occasion when we were studying the book, and see ourselves reading it.
The remembrance does not arise, but the whole picture appears. Then we are able to notice that, while previously we only read the book, now the contents actually appear. We see them as at a distance in time; the memory becomes a seeing of pictures at a distance in time. This is the very first beginning, elementary to be sure, of gradually learning to read the Akashic Record.
The memory is replaced by learning to read in the past. And very often a man who has gone through a certain esoteric development may have almost entirely lost his memory, yet he is none the worse for it, because he sees things in retrospect. He sees those with which he himself was connected, with special clearness. I am now saying something which, if it were said to anyone not connected with Theosophy, would only make him laugh. He could not help laughing, because he could not form any idea of what it means when an esotericist tells him that he no longer has any memory, and yet that he knows quite well what has happened, because he can see it in the past. The first man would say: ‘What you have is in reality a very excellent memory,’ for he cannot conceive of the change that has taken place. It is a change in the etheric body that has brought it about.
Then, as a rule, this changing of the memory is connected with something else, viz., we form, we might say, a new opinion about our inner man. For we cannot acquire this retrospective vision without at the same time adopting a certain standpoint as regards our experience. Thus when at a later date a man looks back at something he has done, as in the case described above about the book, for instance, when he sees himself in that position, he will, of course, have to judge for himself whether he was wise or foolish so to occupy himself.
With this retrospect there is closely united another experience, viz., a sort of self-criticism. The pupil at this stage cannot do otherwise than define his attitude towards his past. He will reproach himself about some things; he will be glad he has attained others. In short, he cannot do otherwise than judge the past he thus surveys, so that, in fact, he becomes a sterner judge of himself, of his past life.
He feels within him the etheric body becoming active, the etheric body which — as may be seen by the retrospect after death — has the whole of his past within it; he feels this etheric body as included in himself, as something that lives in him and defines his value. Indeed, such a change takes place in the etheric body that very often he feels the impulse to make this self-retrospect and observe one thing or another, so as to learn in quite a natural manner to judge of his own worth as a man.
While in ordinary life one lives without being aware of the etheric body, in the retrospective view of one’s own life it can be perceived, and this gradually rouses in the student an impulse to make greater efforts when he undergoes an esoteric development. The esoteric life makes it necessary for one to pay more attention to one’s merits and demerits, errors and imperfections. [GA-145]
Thinking in Words
Our ordinary thought life reaches only up to the astral world. No matter how brilliant our thoughts may be, thoughts that are not sustained by feelings go no further than into the astral world; they have no significance for other worlds. You will certainly understand in this connection what is said in regard to external science, dry, matter-of-fact external science.
No man can by means of thoughts not permeated by emotion affirm anything regarding other worlds than the astral realm. Under ordinary circumstances, the thinking of the scientist, of the chemist, the mathematician, runs its course without any sort of feeling. This goes no further than just under the surface. Indeed, scientific research even demands that it shall proceed in this way, and for this reason it penetrates only into the astral world.
Where there is desire for discussion, however, there is as a rule no knowledge of the truth. Discussion begins only when there is a lack of knowledge, and it is always and everywhere the sign of a decline regarding the seriousness of a subject when it is discussed. Disintegration of a particular trend is always proclaimed by discussions. It is important that in spiritual science we come increasingly to understand that the wish for discussion may really be taken as a sign of ignorance.
On the other hand, the opposite of discussion, the will to learn, the will gradually to comprehend what is in question, should be cultivated.
Only when delight or repugnance are associated with the thoughts of the research scientist is there added to these thoughts the element needed in order to penetrate the world of Devachan.
Only when emotions enter into thoughts, into concepts, when we feel one thing to be good and another evil, do we combine with thoughts that which carries them into the Heavenly World. Only then can we get a glimpse into deeper foundations of existence. If we wish to grasp something belonging to the world of Devachan, no theories help us in the least. The only thing that helps us is to unite feelings with our thoughts. Thinking carries us only into the astral world.
To say something that is incorrect is not the worst thing that can happen, for the world itself will soon put one right about it; but it is really serious to regard a one-sided truth as the absolute truth and to persist in so regarding it.
Again and again one can listen: this is my opinion, I think this or that… As if it matters, what one or the other thinks! The point is much more to what the truth is!
KGM: “When Rudolf Steiner made the first Goetheanum, an artist asked if he could design the doorknobs. Steiner said “Yes, but you’ll have to design the whole of Goetheanum around them”.
All of our reality is an integral whole, and that includes good art. So when we study esoteric science we should look for the whole pattern, and not draw conclusions out of details.”
Compare the soul of an average European man with the soul of some of the people Darwin came across on his travels. The soul of contemporary man has a sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, of true and false.
Darwin wanted to explain to an aborigine, who was still cannibalistic, that one should not eat fellow human beings, that it was bad to do such things. The aborigine looked at him strangely and said, “How can you know that, you have to first have eaten him. Only if we have eaten him can we know if he was good or bad.”
That is how an imperfect soul understands the world; it will develop through time, becoming more and more perfect. Our individual souls do not arrive in the world like new-born babies but each soul has developed first through many imperfect incarnations in which at first it understood nothing more of right and wrong, than the pleasant or unpleasant taste on the tongue and the like.
Stage by stage the soul has evolved and only through many incarnations has it learned to get to the level it has reached at present.
‘The more often a human being incarnates, the stronger becomes his character and his moral sense, and the more numerous and greater the talents and abilities.’ GA 55 VIII.
Thinking… is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.
I have changed “ego” to “I” in Steiner’s texts as it’s a better translation of the German “Ich”, as “ego” is used in modern New Age to describe the Sentient Soul.
Anima Sola – From an Esoteric View
In the following I have some texts describing Anima Sola or Lonely Soul from Catholic lore, and Steiners description of the Homeless Souls and in relation to his description of Goethe’s distinctiveness.
The Anima Sola or Lonely Soul is a Catholic depiction of a suffering person — almost always a woman — in chains amidst the barred prison doors and flames of Purgatory, the place where sinners go while awaiting final judgement.
It is said that those who die while wearing a blessed brown scapular, as directed by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, will not suffer long in Purgatory, but on the Saturday following their death, the Virgin of Mount Carmel will arrive bearing the Infant Jesus in her arms, accompanied by a group of angels, and at her direction, the angels will pull from the flames all those who died while wearing her scapular. Thus the Anima Sola, whose purgatorial chains are broken, is closely identified with the Carmelite devotion to Mary.
The Blessed brown scapular is the Etheric Mantle, the result of Illumination or Initiation, the background for the meeting with Christ in the Etheric. The releasing of Anima Sola of purgatory means that the person don’t die as a person, but continues living in the Etheric body. The first person known to wear the etheric mantle was Saint John, the Evangelist, and it’s reasonably to believe that it also were the case with Mary Magdalene.
The Anima Sola (Lonely Soul or Solitary Soul) has its roots in the Latin folk religions…
The woman appears penitent and reverent, and her chains have been released, so this sends quite an ambiguous message to the believer: she suffers and at the same time is released from suffering – perfectly representing Purgatory itself – a way-station for on the way to redemption to clear or burn away past sins.
Anima Sola is celebrated in folk religions much as a saint – and she hears the prayers of the living. She may bless and intercede on the prayer’s behalf to accelerate the conclusion of a purgatorial penance of a loved one who died in sin.
She might also be called up on to create a living purgatory for someone who has hurt the person praying to her.
The Lonely Souls becomes God’s helper. Even though some woman want to take all virtues in under the female brand, this is quite democratic, it’s distributed in pairs, one man one woman, Dual’s – Twin Spirits.
From The Homeless Souls
In contrast, there are a number of souls, particularly at present, whose interest is concentrated less on
worldly happenings as they approach a new life on earth than on the question of how they can develop maturity in the spiritual world. Their interest lies in the spiritual world right up to the moment before they find their way to earth. As a consequence, when they incarnate they arrive with a consciousness which has its origins in spiritual impulses. With their spiritual ambitions they outgrow their environment, and are thus predestined and prepared to go their own way.
Thus the souls who descend from pre-earthly to earthly existence can be divided into two groups. One group, to which the majority of people today still belong, comprises those souls who can make themselves remarkably at home on earth; who feel thoroughly comfortable in their warm nest, which so fascinated them long before they came down to earth, even if it does occasionally appear unpleasant — but that is only appearance, maya.
Other souls, who may pass patiently through childhood — appearance is not always the decisive thing — are less able to make themselves at home, are homeless souls, and grow beyond the warmth of the nest much more than they grow into it. …
The things which are being sought by these souls on the byways of life, away from the major highways, manifest themselves in many ways. If the others did not find it so agreeable to take the well-trodden paths and did not put such obstacles in the way of homeless souls, the numbers of the latter would be much more obvious to their contemporaries. But it is widely apparent today how many souls have a hint of such homelessness about them.
The tendency to such homelessness could be anticipated: the rapidly growing evidence of a longing in homeless souls for an attitude to life which was not laid out in advance; a longing for the spirit in the chaos of contemporary spiritual life.
The Sign of the Rosicrucian
A chock, an accident, or a sickness can loosen the etheric body from the physical, making it possible for the person to look at the world and himself as spectator, that he is not as immersed into the physical world as is usual. This is the sign of the Rosicrucian. It is symbolized with Jacob’s wrestling with the Angel, one who is too absorbed in the physical don’t fight with his angel, the physical world is too fascinating. Jacob is marked physically after the ‘fight’ with his angel, who symbolizes the spiritual world or his higher I, himself; he is becoming less physical.
From “The Karma of Vocation” – On Goethe
With Goethe, this force of soul became even stronger, and yet he lived to an advanced age. What enabled him to live so long? You will recall that I reminded you yesterday of a fact that intervened significantly in Goethe’s life. After he had spent some years in Leipzig as a student, he became seriously ill and stood face to face with death. He virtually looked death in the face. This illness is, to be sure, a natural phenomenon in the organism. However, we never learn to understand a man who creates out of the elemental forces of the world — indeed, we never learn really to understand any man — unless we take into consideration such events in the course of his karma. What really happened to Goethe when he became ill in Leipzig? We may describe it as a complete loosening of the etheric body in which the life forces of the soul had been active until then. It was loosened to such an extent that, after this illness, he no longer had that closely knit connection between the etheric and the physical bodies that he had formerly possessed.
The etheric body, however, is the supersensible member in us that really makes it possible to form concepts, to think. Abstract concepts such as we have in ordinary life, the only concepts that are approved by most persons who are materialistically disposed, come about through the fact that the etheric body is, as it were, closely united with the physical by a strong magnetic union. It is also through this fact that we possess a strong impulse to project our will into the physical world, that is, provided the astral body is strongly developed. In the case of Robespierre, Mirabeau and Danton, we have an etheric body strongly united with the physical but also a powerfully developed astral body. This works, in turn, upon the etheric body, which establishes these human individualities strongly in the physical world. Goethe was also organized like this, but another force now worked in him and brought about a complication. The result was that the etheric body was loosened and remained so through the illness that had brought him to the point of death. When the etheric body is no longer so intimately united with the physical body, however, it no longer thrusts its forces into the physical but retains them. This explains the transformation Goethe passed through when he returned to Frankfurt. There, during his acquaintance with Fräulein von Klettenberg, the mystic, and with various medical friends who were devoted to studies in alchemy, and through the writings of Swedenborg, he really developed a systematic spiritual world conception. It was still somewhat chaotic, but nevertheless a systematic spiritual world conception, and he was profoundly inclined to occupy himself with supersensible things.
Here we see how a natural event seems to enter with immense significance into the life of a human being. Undoubtedly, it points to a deeper interrelationship than the one the biographers generally wish to reveal. The significance of an illness to a man cannot be explained on the basis of hereditary tendencies but rather points to the connection between a man and the world in such a way that this relationship must be conceived spiritually. You will note also how Goethe’s life was thus complicated; such experiences determine how we take things in and what we are ourselves.
This event of near death appeared in Goethe at the end of the sixties in Leipzig, but its force had been prepared long before that….In anyone possessing a compact connection between the physical and etheric bodies, the external world exerts its influence and, as it makes impressions on the physical body, they pass over immediately into the etheric body; this is one and the same thing. Such a person simply lives in direct contact with the impressions of the external world. In Goethe’s case, the impressions are, of course, made upon the physical body, but the etheric body does not immediately respond because it is loosened. As a result, such a person can be more isolated, in a sense, from his environment, and a more complicated process takes place when an impression is made on his physical body. If you establish a connection between this organic structure of Goethe and the fact that, as we learn from his biography, he lays himself open even to historic events without forcing them, you have then arrived at an understanding of the peculiar functioning of his nature. I told you that he took the autobiography of Gottfried of Berlichingen and, influenced only by the dramatic impulses received from Shakespeare, did not really alter much in it. So he did not call it a drama but The History of the Iron-handed Gottfried of Berlichingen, Dramatized. You see, this soft and almost timid handling of things, as I might call it, without taking hold of them forcefully is due to his quite unusual connection between the etheric and physical bodies.
Through what I have explained, a sort of chasm had been created between his unusual inner nature and the external world. Just as he does not alter by force what is living in the external world but only delicately modifies its form, he also does not carry his feelings and sensations, which he can experience only in his etheric body, through the physical body to such a firm contact with the external world — something that, in others, would have led to quite definite events in life.
There is really a tremendous difference between Goethe’s mood up to 1775 and that after 1775, a difference that may be compared with a mighty wakefulness followed by a subdued life. The word “Dumpfheit,” an inner feeling of numbness, comes into his mind when he describes his life in Weimar, where he engages himself so much in events but responds to them more than at an earlier age, when he had rebelled against them. It is peculiar that after this dampening down for ten years there followed a period when events confronted him in a more gentle way. Just as the life of sleep is by no means a direct effect of the preceding daytime life, so also this sleep life of Goethe was not at all the result of what had gone before.
If, however, as in the special case of Goethe, the astral body is brought into a more vivid relationship with the spinal cord system and the ego with the ganglionic, because the ether body has withdrawn from the head, then far more vivid intercourse occurs with what is going on in our surroundings. But it is concealed from us in normal life because it is only while we are asleep at night that we enter into relationship with our spiritual environment.
He was able to sense this because what lived mysteriously in his fellow men made an impression on him such as is made by one person on another only when an especially intimate relationship, indeed when love, develops between them. In such a case of ordinary life, the connection of the ego with the ganglionic system, and of the astral body with the spinal cord system is highly active, although this is not consciously perceived as such. Something very special is activated. But what is otherwise active only in a love relationship came about in Goethe vis à vis a far larger number of people, so that he experienced a tremendous, more or less subconscious, compassion for the poor fellows — excuse the expression — who did not know what their inner natures were going through as they were driven from class to class and from examination to examination.
They were nothing but actual experiences that he gained from the most extensive environment because his ganglionic and spinal cord life was stimulated to more than normal wakefulness. This was the opposite from the subdued head life, but it was a potentiality in him even in his boyhood. We can see this from his description of what became active in him: not only what ordinarily engages people, say in piano lessons, became active in him but also the entire being. Goethe partook much more in the happenings of real life as a whole person than others, and we must say, therefore, that he was more wide-awake during the day than they. During the time in his youth when he was working on Faust, he was more awake during the day, and because of this he also needed what I described yesterday as the time of sleep — the ten years in Weimar. This dampening was necessary.
The world must be protected, so to speak, from standing still. It seems trivial to say this, but it is nevertheless a profound mystery-truth: not all people can dream in this way. The forces with which they dream must first be applied in the external world to something different so that through it a foundation may be created for a further evolution of the earth. It would come to a standstill were all men to dream as I have indicated.
An astrological session exemplifying some of the above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze8VwNle15I
These homeless souls don’t have as massively an impact on the physical world as those with strong physical connections, but they may have a much more subtle influence on other people, may be changing other peoples destiny by putting inspirations into words. In this way they don’t create new karma, but resolves old karma.
From “The Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz” on The Mark of Christian Rosenkreutz
Christian Rosenkreutz has always made use of the short intervals of time between his incarnations to call into his particular stream of spiritual life those souls whom he knows to be ripe; between his deaths and births he has concerned himself, as it were, with choosing out those who are ready to enter his stream. But human beings themselves, by learning to be attentive, must be able to recognise by what means Christian Rosenkreutz gives them a sign that they may count themselves among his chosen. This sign has been given in the lives of very many human beings of the present time, but they pay no heed to it. Yet among the apparently “chance” happenings in a man’s life there may be such a sign — it is to be regarded as an indication that between death and a new birth Christian Rosenkreutz has found him mature and ready; the sign is, however, given by Christian Rosenkreutz on the physical plane. This event may be called the mark of Christian Rosenkreutz. Let us suppose that a man is lying in bed … in other places I have mentioned different forms of such a happening but all of them have occurred … for some unaccountable reason he suddenly wakes up and as though guided by instinct looks at a wall otherwise quite dark; in the half-light of the room. He sees, written on the wall: “Get up now, this minute!” It all seems very strange, but he gets up and goes out of the house; hardly has he done so than the ceiling over his bed collapses; although nobody else would have been in danger of injury, he himself must inevitably have been killed. The most thorough investigation proves that no single being on the physical plane warned him to get up from the bed! If he had remained lying there, he would certainly be dead. — Such an experience may be thought to be hallucination, or something of the kind; but deeper investigation will reveal that these particular experiences — and they come to hundreds of people — are not accidental. A beckoning call has come from Christian Rosenkreutz. The karma of the one called in this way always indicates that Christian Rosenkreutz bestows the life he may claim. I say explicitly: such experiences occur in the lives of many people at the present time, and it is only a question of being alert. The occurrence does not always take such a graphic form as the example quoted, but numbers of human beings nowadays have had such experiences.
Many people think that they’re working for the good of mankind from morn till eve, but this is questionable. A clairvoyant can see that efforts coming from materialistic thinking have the wrong effect, and it may lie in some people’s karma that they should wait until they can do certain things. Then a higher being can whisper such a task in his ear, so that it’s not induced by outer circumstances. Life is a destructive process for someone who only devotes himself to outer sense impressions. A meditating esoteric doesn’t let his life be determined by outer circumstances as much.