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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Learning to See in the Spiritual World
GA 350

I. The Development of Independent Thinking and the Ability to Think Backward

28 June 1923, Dornach

A few questions were put to me last time. I will now answer them, but in a somewhat different order than they were asked. The questions are:

What is the relationship between coming to see the secrets of the universe and one's conception of the world and of life?

How far must one go before one finds higher worlds on the path of natural science?

Do the forces from the cosmos influence the whole of humanity?

What connection do plants have with the human being and the human body?

These are, of course, very complicated questions and so I would like to organize my remarks in such a way that the answers emerge gradually. One cannot do otherwise with such complicated questions because if you ask, How can I come to see the secrets of the universe?—this means, How can I arrive at a true spiritual science? Now, you must not imagine that this is something easy to do nowadays. Most people, when they hear that something like Anthroposophy or spiritual science exists, think to themselves: Very well, if that is so, I too will acquire for myself the capacity to see the spirit. I will manage it within a week then I will be able to know everything for myself.

Needless to say, it is not as simple as that. One has to realize that a great deal is required to master even ordinary science. In order to undertake the simplest observations, one must first learn how to use the instruments. Of course it is comparatively easy to use a microscope, but if one wants to investigate something with the help of a microscope one cannot simply say: I will now put a piece of muscle or the like under the microscope and look into it; then I will know what goes on in the muscle. If you were to proceed like that, you would see nothing. To see something under a microscope, one must first prepare the slides. A piece of muscle is no use by itself: one must make very thin slices with a fine razor, and sometimes a little must be removed and another cut made so that finally one has a very thin film. And very often even then the microscope does not help. For if you have such a sliver of muscle or cell under the microscope, you will probably still see nothing. What one must do is ask oneself: How can I make visible what is under the microscope? Then, often, what one must next do is color what one wants to see with certain dyes to make it visible. But then one must realize one has changed something. One has to know how it would be if one had not changed it. But these things are still really quite simple.

If one wants to observe the stars with a telescope one must first learn how to handle a telescope, although this is much simpler than a microscope. You know there are people who set up telescopes in the streets for people to look through. By itself, this does not help much. For this again requires lenses and a clock, which in turn one must then also learn to handle, etc. These are only examples to show you how complicated it is to investigate the simplest things in the physical world.

Now, to investigate the spiritual world is really much more difficult, for more preparation is necessary. People imagine they can learn to do it in a week. But this is not so. Above all, one must realize that one has to activate something one has within oneself. What ordinarily is not active must be made active.

To make things clear for you I must explain that in all investigation of the spiritual world, as in normal science, one must frequently start with some knowledge of what is not normal. You can only learn how things really are if you know how they are when they are not normal. I once gave you a particular example of this. We have to consider this because people in the outside world call people mad who investigate the spiritual world, however normal they may be. We must therefore set about our investigations in such a way that in the end we arrive at the truth. Of course one must not think one can achieve anything by concerning oneself overmuch with what is diseased and abnormal, but one can learn much from it.

For instance, there are people who are not normal because they are, as is said, mentally deranged. What does this mean? There is no worse word in the world than "mentally deranged" (geistesgestört) for the spirit can never be deranged. Consider the following case for instance: If somebody is deranged for twenty years—this happens—and afterward recovers, what has occurred? Perhaps for twenty years this person says that he is being persecuted by others—that he suffers, as one says, from paranoia—or he says that he sees all kinds of specters and apparitions which are not there, etc. This can continue for twenty years. Now somebody who has been deranged for twenty years can become normal again. But in these cases you will always notice one thing. If someone was deranged for three, five or twenty years and recovers, he will not be quite the same as he was before. Above all you will notice that he will tell you, after he has recovered, that throughout the time he was ill he was able to look into the spiritual world. He will tell you all sorts of things that he saw in the spiritual world. If one then pursues the matter with the knowledge one has gained of the spiritual world as a completely healthy person, one finds that some of what he says is rubbish but. that also much of it is correct. This is what is so strange, someone can be deranged for twenty years, recover, and then tell you that he has been in the spiritual world and has experienced these things. And if one knows the spiritual world as a healthy, normal person, one must admit that he is right in many instances. If you speak to him during his mental ill-ness, he will never be able to tell you anything sensible. He will tell you the nonsense he experiences. People who are mentally disturbed over a long period do not actually experience the spiritual world during their illness. They have not experienced anything of the spiritual world. But after they have recovered they can, in a certain way, look back to the time they were ill, and what they have not experienced appears to them like glimpses into the spiritual world. This conviction that they have seen much of the spiritual world only appears when they have recovered.

One can learn much from this. One can learn that the human being contains something that is not used at all during the time he or she is insane. But it was there, it was alive. And where was it? It was not in the outer world for the person told you that the sky was red and the clouds green—all kinds of things. The sick one saw nothing properly in the outer world, But the inner being, which the person cannot use in the deranged state, is in the spiritual world. When he or she can use the brain again and can look back on what the spiritual being lived through, then spiritual experiences come.

From this we see that a human being who is mentally ill lives spiritually in the spiritual world. The spirit in the person is perfectly healthy. What, then, is ill in a mentally ill patient? It is, in fact, the body: the body cannot use the soul and spirit. When a person is called mentally ill, there is always something ill in the body, and obviously when the brain is ill one cannot think properly. In the same way, when the liver is ill, one cannot feel properly.

This is why "mentally ill" (geisteskrank) is the most incorrect expression that one can use, for "mentally ill" does not mean that the spirit (geist) is ill. It means the body is so ill that it cannot use the spirit which is always healthy. Above all you must be quite clear that the spirit is always healthy. Only the body can become ill, with the result that it cannot use the spirit in the right way. When someone has a diseased brain it is like having a hammer that breaks with every blow. If I say to someone who does not have a hammer, You are a lazy fellow, you are not even able to strike a blow—then this is, of course, nonsense. He could well strike a blow but he does not have a hammer. It is therefore nonsense to say someone is mentally ill. The spirit is perfectly healthy, only it lacks the body through which to act.

A good example of what one can learn in this way comes from considering how our thinking works. From what I have told you, you will see that, though one has the spirit, one needs a tool for thinking, and this is the brain. In the physical world one needs the brain. It is not particularly clever of materialism to say one needs a brain. Obviously one needs a brain. But this postulate explains nothing about the spirit. We can also learn that the spirit can completely withdraw itself. In the case of mental illness the spirit does withdraw completely. And it is important to know this, because this shows that people today—and now I am going to tell you something that will really surprise you—cannot think at all. They delude themselves that they can think, but they cannot. I will show you why people cannot think.

You will object: But people go to school; nowadays one already learns to think quite well even in grade school. So it seems, at least. Nevertheless, people today cannot think at all. It only appears as if they could. In grade school we have grade school teachers. These have also learned something; ostensibly they have also learned to think. Those from whom they have learned have, as one says in Stuttgart, "swollen heads." These are very clever people according to present ideas. They have been to a university. Before they went to university they went to high school. There they learned Latin. If you think back a bit you might say: But my teacher did not know Latin. Perhaps not, but he learned from teachers who did. And what they learned was entirely under the influence of the Latin language. Everything one learns today is under the influence of the Latin language. You can see this from the fact that when someone gives you a prescription, he writes it in Latin, It stems from the time when everything was written in Latin. It is not so long ago, only thirty to forty years, that if one went to university one was obliged to write one's thesis in Latin. Everything one learns today is under the influence of Latin. This is because in the Middle Ages, up to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries—this is not so long ago—all teaching was in Latin. For instance the first person to lecture in German was a certain Thomasius1Christian Thomasius (1655-1728), philosopher and jurist, delivered the first lectures in the German language at Leipzig University in 1687. in Leipzig. This was not long ago, it was in the seventeenth century. Everywhere lectures were given in Latin. Everybody who learned anything had to go through the Latin language and in the Middle Ages everything one could learn was in Latin. If one wanted to learn anything new one had to learn Latin first. You may protest: But surely not in the grade schools. But there were no grade schools before the sixteenth century. Only gradually, as the vernacular was adopted by science, did grade schools come into existence. So, you see, Latin influences our whole thinking. All of you think like people who have learned to think under the influence of Latin. And if you were to say that the Americans, for instance, could not have learned Latin so long ago—well, today's Americans emigrated from Europe! They too depended on the Latin language.

Latin has a certain peculiarity. It was developed in ancient Rome in such a way that it thinks by itself. It is interesting how Latin is taught in high schools. One learns Latin; and then one learns thinking, correct thinking according to Latin syntax. So one's whole way of thinking does not depend on anything one does, but on what the Latin language does. You understand, don't you, that this is something quite significant. Anybody today who has learned something does not think for himself: the Latin language thinks in him, even if he has not learned Latin. Strange as it is, one meets independent thinking today only in the few people who have not been to school very much.

I am not suggesting that we return to illiteracy. We cannot do this. In no realm do I advocate going backward, but one must understand how things have become as they are. Therefore it is important to be able to go back to what the simple person knows, though he has not had much schooling. He is not very forthcoming because he is used to being laughed at. In spite of everything, it is important to know that contemporary human beings do not think for themselves, but that the Latin language thinks in them.

You see, as long as one cannot think for oneself, one can in no way enter the spiritual world. This is the reason why modern science is opposed to all spiritual knowledge; because through Latin education people can no longer think for themselves. This is the first thing to learn—independent thinking. People are quite right when they say: the brain thinks. Why does the brain think? Because Latin syntax goes into the brain and the brain thinks quite automatically in modern humanity. What we see running round the world are automatons of the Latin language who do not think for themselves.

In recent years something remarkable has happened. I hinted at it last time, but you may not have noticed it, because it is not easy to see. Something remarkable has happened in recent years. Now, as you know, besides the physical body, we have the etheric body. (I will not speak for the moment of the rest.) The brain belongs to the physical body. The etheric body is also in the brain and one can only think independently with the etheric body. One cannot think independently with the physical body. One can think with the physical hotly only when—as with Latin—the brain is used like an automaton. But as long as one only thinks with the brain, one cannot think anything spiritual. To think something spiritual one must start to think with the etheric body—with the etheric body which, in the case of the mentally ill, is often not used for years. It has to be awakened to an inner activity.

This is the first thing one has to learn: to think independently. Without independent thinking, one cannot enter the spiritual world. But it is, of course, necessary first of all to find out that one has not learned to think for oneself in one's youth! One has only learned to think what has been thought for centuries through the use of the Latin language. And if one really grasps this then one knows that the first condition for entry into the spiritual world is this: Learn to think independently!

Now we come to what I wanted to point out when I said that in recent times something remarkable has happened. The people who, more than anyone else, thought along Latin lines were the people of learning—those who, for instance, created physics. They worked it out with thoughts derived from Latin and with the physical brain. When we were small, when I was about as old as young E. here, we learned physics which was worked out with a Latin brain. We only learned what was thought out with a Latin brain. Since then a lot has happened. When I was small the telephone was just being invented. Until then it did not exist. After this followed all the other great inventions that everyone now takes for granted as if they had always been there. They only appeared in the last decades. This caused more and more people to become involved in science who were not Latin trained. This is rather a strange thing. When one looks into the scientific life of the last decades one finds more and more technicians of this kind involved in science. These people had not had much to do with Latin and so their thinking did not become so automatic. And this non-automatic thinking was then picked up by others. This is why today physics is full of concepts and ideas that fall apart. They are most interesting. There is, for instance, Professor Gruner2Dr. P. Gruner, Professor of Theoretical Physics, gave the Presidential Address, entitled New Guidelines for Physics (1922)," at the eighty-seventh Founder's Day celebration of the University of Bern on the 26 November, 1921. in Bern who two years ago spoke about the new direction in physics. He said that all the concepts have changed in the last years.

The reason that one does not notice this is because if you listen to lectures on popular science people tell you what was thought twenty years ago. They cannot tell you what is thought today because they themselves cannot think yet. If you take the thoughts of thirty years ago as valid, it is just like taking a piece of ice and melting it; the ideas melt away. They are no longer there if one wants to follow them exactly. We must see this. If someone learned physics thirty years ago, and sees what has become of it today, he wants to tear his hair out, because he has to confess: I cannot handle all this with the concepts I have learned. This is how it is. And why? Because in recent years, through the development of humanity, the human being has reached the point when the etheric body is supposed to begin to think, and human beings do not want this to happen. They want to go on thinking with the physical body. The concepts fall apart in the physical body, and yet human beings do not want to learn to think with the etheric body. They do not want to think independently.

Now you see why, in the year 1893, it became necessary for me to write the book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity,3The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (also called The Philosophy of Freedom). First published in German in 1894 and in English in 1916, this basic work of Rudolf Steiner exists at present in two English editions: Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, New York, 1986 (translated by William Lindemann) and Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1988 (translated by Rita Stebbing). It is not the contents of this book that are so important, though obviously at that time one wished to tell the world what is said in it, but the most important thing is that independent thinking appeared in this book for the first time. No one can possibly understand this book who does not think independently. From the beginning, page by page, a reader must become accustomed to using his etheric body if he would think the thoughts in this book at all. Hence this book is a means of education—a very important means—and must be taken up as such.

When this book appeared in the nineties people did not know at all what to make of it. It was as if someone in Europe wrote Chinese and no one could understand it. It was of course written in German, but people were completely unaccustomed to the thoughts expressed in it, because all connection with Latin was purposely cast off. For the very first time, quite consciously, it was intended that there should be no thoughts in it that are influenced by Latin, but only independent thoughts. Only the physical brain is a Latin scholar. The etheric body is no Latin scholar. And therefore one has to try to express such thoughts in a language one can only have in the etheric body.

I will tell you something else. People have noticed, of course, that concepts have changed in the last decades. When I was young the professor filled the whole blackboard with writing. You had to learn it all and then you did well in your exams. But recently, people have begun to notice what Gruner said in his inaugural lecture: none of our concepts would remain valid if there were no solid bodies, only fluids. If the whole world were liquid, as Gruner imagined in his lecture, then our concepts would be invalid and we would have to think quite differently.

Yes, of course one would have to think differently if there were no solid bodies. In that case you, as you sit here, could do nothing with the concepts you learned in school. If you, say, as a fish, suddenly became clever and had the idea that, as a fish, you wanted to attend a human university, then you would learn something that does not exist for a fish, because it lives in water. A fish only has a boundary sensation of a solid body; the moment it touches the body, it is immediately repulsed. So, if a fish began to think, it would have to have thoughts quite different from those a human being has. But a human being likewise needs such different thoughts, because other thoughts escape him, so that he has to say to himself: If everything were liquid I would have to have quite different thoughts. Well, have I not told you about the condition of the earth when there were no solid bodies and when everything was fluid, even the animals? I have told you of this condition. Can you not then understand that present day thinking cannot reach back to these conditions? It cannot think them. So present day thinking cannot make anything of the beginning of the world. Naturally, then, a human being today begins to say to himself: Good heavens! If the world were fluid we would have to have quite different concepts. But in the spiritual world there are no solid bodies. So, with all the concepts with which Latin has gradually schooled us, we are unable to enter the spiritual world. We must wean ourselves of these concepts.

Here is another hidden truth. In Greek times, which preceded the Latin era (the Latin era only began in the fifth or sixth century B.C. but the Greek period is much older), in Grecian times there was still a knowledge of the spirit, One could still see into the spiritual world. When Rome emerged with the Latin language, this was gradually extinguished. Now I must again say something you will find curious, but you will understand it. Who has used Latin, only Latin, throughout the centuries? More than anyone, the Church. It is precisely the Church that claims to teach humanity about the spirit that has contributed the most to drive out the spirit. In the Middle Ages all universities were ecclesiastical. Of course one must be grateful to the Church for founding the universities in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but it founded them in Latin, and Latin thought has no possibility of attaining the spirit. And so it gradually came about that human beings only have concepts relating to solid bodies. Just look at the Romans, they only introduced dry, prosaic and unspiritual concepts into the world. And this was the reason that all ideas became so material. How would the Greeks have described the sacrament of the Eucharist? They would certainly not have described it as if the elements were actually blood and flesh. This stems from materialism. So even the concept of the Eucharist has become materialistic and this is connected with the Latin language.

Latin is entirely logical. I have worked with many people who were Latin in their whole attitude to life, although they spoke German. If one wanted to make something clear one quickly translated it into Latin, because since the time of Christ only in Latin does one think logically. But this logical thinking only applies to solid bodies. If one wants to enter the spiritual world one needs fluid concepts.

There is for instance the Theosophical Society. It also wanted to reach the spiritual world. The Theosophical Society says that man has a physical body, an etheric body, etc. But these people are materialistic because they think the physical body is dense, the etheric body is a little thinner and the astral body thinner still. But all these are still bodies, they never become spirit. If one wants to reach the spirit one has to find concepts which are constantly changing.

Diagram I

Even when I draw something on the blackboard you will notice that I take this into consideration. When I draw the physical body I try to portray physical man as he is. But if I try to draw the etheric body, I would never dream of representing it in the same way. I would do it like this. The human being has an etheric body which expands.

But you must know that this is not so much the etheric body, but the picture of one instant. In the next moment it is different. So if I wish to draw the etheric body, I would have to draw, quickly wipe it off, draw differently, again wipe it off, draw again and wipe it off. It is in constant movement. With the concepts we have today, we cannot catch up with these movements. This is what you have to keep in mind, concepts must become mobile. People must get into the habit of it, This is why it is necessary that thinking become completely independent.

But this is not enough. I will tell you something more. As you know a human being develops, but one does not usually notice it. However, when a person is quite young, one does notice it. One knows that a child who is only four years old can neither write nor read nor do sums. An eight year old child can perhaps do these things. Here one can see development. But in later life when we have made our way, we are so terribly superior that we don't admit that we can still develop. But we do, throughout our lives, and it is remarkable how we develop. Our development goes like this: Imagine this is man:

Diagram II

I will draw him diagrammatically. When the child is quite young its development proceeds from the head. After the change of teeth, the development proceeds from the chest. Therefore one must watch how a child between seven and fourteen breathes—that it breathes adequately, etc. So this is a picture of the older child. (Nowadays one would have to say it differently. Children do not like to be called children any more. From fourteen onward one must call them "young ladies" and "young gentlemen.") Only at puberty does the development proceed from the limbs and from the whole human being. So one can say that only when one has reached puberty is one developing from the whole being. And this goes on throughout our twenties and thirties. But when one becomes older—some of you can already see it in yourselves—there is a certain retrogression. This need not be the case if one has adopted a spiritual mode of life, but in normal life there is a certain retrogression as one gets older. It is just the task of Anthroposophy to see to it that in the future one does not regress as one gets older. Slowly and gradually this must happen.

Now there are people whose mental capacities diminish alarmingly. But the mind, the spirit, cannot diminish. It is again only the body. It is interesting that often it is the most brilliant people who regress very much in old age. You may have heard that Kant was reckoned to be one of the wisest men, but in old age he became feeble-minded. His body regressed so much that he could not express his wise mind any more. And so it often is. Especially the very intelligent become feeble-minded in old age. It is an exaggerated form of what happens to everybody. Eventually in old age there comes a point when one can no longer use the physical body. The reason for this is mainly be-cause the arteries harden with excessive deposits of calcium, And the more this happens, the less one can make use of the physical body. As, up to the fortieth year, development proceeds from the head into the whole body, so, in the same degree, the process reverses. As one proceeds from the forties to the fifties one comes back to using the chest more, and in old age one goes back to using the head. So if one becomes really old, one again has to use one's head much more. But now one would have to use the finer head—the etheric head. But this is not learned in Latin education. And it is just those who, in the last decades, had a materialistic Latin education who were most strongly affected by senility.

In old age one must go back to childhood. There are people in whom this is very noticeable. They become mentally weaker and weaker. The mind, the spirit, however, remains completely intact. Only the body becomes weaker and weaker. In the end such people can no longer do the things they first learned to do in life. Such things happen. Let us say somebody gets old. He can no longer do the work he used to do. He can only do what he did as an older child. Finally he cannot even do this. He can only play and can only understand ideas he learned when playing. There are even very old people who can only understand what their parents or their nurse told them in the very first years of their lives. The saying about returning to second childhood is well founded. One really does return to childhood.

Actually it is not a misfortune, that is, if one has developed a spiritual life. In fact it is rather fortunate, for as long as one is a child, one can use one's etheric body. If a child tears around and shouts and does all kinds of things, this is not done by the physical body—except if it has a stomachache, but even then the stomachache has to be transferred to the etheric and astral bodies so that the child throws itself about as a result. What tears around is not the physical body. Now one grows old and returns to childhood. Gradually one has learned not to tear around any more, but one no longer uses the etheric body like a child, but for something more sensible. So it can be fortunate that one returns to childhood.

This is the second point. The first was that in order to enter the spiritual world one has to learn to think in the right way. We shall have to speak further about how one achieves this. The matter is very complicated. Today we have to concentrate on the question why there has to be independent thinking. One must break away from much in modern education, for what one learns in modern education is not independent thinking, it is Latin thinking. Do not imagine that the thinking emerging from socialist theories being developed today is free thinking! It has all been learned from what originally came from Latin, but people do not know it. The worker may have this or that intention in his will, but when he begins to think he thinks in bourgeois concepts and these originate in Latin thinking. So the first thing one has to learn is independent thinking. The second thing is that one must learn not only to live in the present moment, but to be able to turn back into the life one led in childhood. If you want to penetrate into the spiritual world you must continually remember to ask yourself how it was when you were twelve years old. What did you do? One must not do this superficially, but imagine it in great detail. Nothing is better than to begin to try to picture: Oh yes, there I was twelve years old—I can see it quite clearly—there was a pile of stones by the roadside and I climbed up on it. Once I fell off it. There was a hazel bush and I took out my pocket knife and cut off some branches and cut my finger. It is important really to visualize what one did so many years ago; in this way one gets away from just living in the present. If you think the way one learns to think today, you think with your present physical body. But if you turn back to when you were twelve, you cannot think with your physical body as it then was, for it is no longer there (I told you the physical body is renewed every seven years) so you have to think with your etheric body. If you think back to something that happened twelve or fourteen years ago, you call on your etheric body. This is the way to call up inner activity.

Above all, one should get accustomed to think in a new way, different from one's usual thinking. How do you think? You know we met here at nine o'clock. I began by reading to you the questions on the slips of paper. Then I proceeded with various observations and we have now arrived at saying: We have to think back into the life we lived when we were twelve or fourteen years old. Now when you get home, you can, if you find it really interesting, think through these thoughts again. One can do this. Most people do it. They go through it once again. But you can do something different. You can ask yourself: What did he say last? The last thing he said was that one should think back to one's early life, to the age of twelve or fourteen years. Before that he said one has to have independent thinking. Earlier still he described how Latin gradually took over. Before that, how a person who was mentally ill for a time and then looks back on it, says he has experienced extraordinary things. It was further explained to us how the inner being cannot be mentally ill—only the body can be ill. Now you have run backward through the whole lecture.

But in the world things do not run backward. I could possibly have given you the lecture backward in the first place, but then you would not have understood it. One has to begin at the beginning and then look at the whole as it gradually unfolds, but once one has understood it, one can think it backward. But things do not run backward. So I tear myself free from things. I say: Just to be contrary, I will think things exactly not the way they go in the outer world, but I will think them backward. This requires a certain strength. When I think backward I have to make myself inwardly active. A person who wants to look through a telescope has to learn how to handle it. In the same way a person who wants to see into the spiritual world must learn how to handle it. He must think backward many times. One day the moment will come when he knows: Ah, now I am entering the spiritual world.

You see, throughout your whole life you have accustomed your physical body to thinking forward, not backward. When you begin to think backward your physical body does not take part in it. Something strange happens. This is the first advice to those who ask: How can I reach the spiritual world? You can also read this in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment.4Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment. First published in book form in German in 1909. English editions appeared in 1909 and 1910. Two versions are currently available in English: Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, New York, 1983 (translated by Henry B. and Lisa D. Monges); and Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 1985 (translations by Max Gysi (1909) and Clifford Bax (1910) revised by D.S. Osmond and C. Davy). What is said there repeatedly is: At least learn to go backward through the course of the day; then other things, People have, of course, only learned to think with their physical body. They notice this and have to make a great effort to think backward, but they have only learned to think with the physical body, not with the etheric body. Now there is an all-out strike by the etheric body; yes, a real "general strike." And if people would not fall asleep so easily, they would know that, if they began to think backward, they would arrive at the spiritual world. But the moment the vision begins, they fall asleep. People fall asleep, because the effort is too great. So one must exert one's entire will and all one's strength not to fall asleep. In addition, one must have patience. Sometimes it takes years, but one must have patience.

If somebody could tell you what you experienced unconsciously when you went to sleep after thinking backward, you would see that it was something very wise. The most stupid people begin to have extraordinarily wise thoughts in their sleep, but they do not know anything about it.

So today I have drawn your attention to the fact that one must first learn to think independently. Well, one can do this. I do not want to say—for I am not a conceited fool—that only my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity serves this purpose, but it was quite consciously written in a way that would lead to independent thinking. Independent thinking; thinking backward accurately over things that happened when you were ten or twelve years old, or over other things one has experienced—with these we have at least begun to describe how one tears oneself free from the physical body and how one finds one's way into the spiritual world.

We will pursue this further and eventually deal with all four questions.