The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

New Material is Available!
Meditation and Concentration
GA 161

Artwork by Sandro Parise

July 12, 2022

We've added two new lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach, Switzerland in the Spring of 1915 are now available. They are included in a volume of GA 161 that contains a previously posted lecture in which Steiner outlines three types of clairvoyance.

A Shift From Materialism to Spiritual Perception

On May 1, 1915, Steiner discussed the beginning of a new age in which humanity must shift from materialistic thinking to perception of the spiritual impulses and forces behind material sense phenomena. He says,

[J]ust as a pendulum that has swung to one side has then to swing in the opposite direction, we are now faced by an age when the human soul must once more come to the perception that in everything having to do with the senses, in everything material, spiritual impulses, spiritual forces, are experience of the spiritual forces behind material sense phenomena — spiritual forces to which for centuries mankind has been able to give but little attention and but little interest. See MEDITATION AND CONCENTRATION: THREE KINDS OF CLAIRVOYANCE, GA 161, Lecture II

He asserts we can come to know those spiritual forces through science.

Science will lead to the perception of something like what spiritual science assumes, namely, that in the physical body there lives a spiritual man. It is the nature of this spiritual man’s consciousness to which our attention is directed by spiritual science. Ibid.

But a study of the spiritual and imaginative consciousness is difficult. Clear vision or “clairvoyance” requires the development of nonphysical organs of perception.

All that I have just been describing as the normal path to clairvoyance consists in man lifting out from his physical body, his etheric body and also the higher members of his organization, and providing himself with a heart outside the limits of his physical body. Ibid.

He contrasts “brain-thinking” and clairvoyance as follows:

Here (1 in diagram) is the outer world, here the physical body (when brain thinking is in question). Here (2 in diagram) for clairvoyance, is the outer world, what we work upon with our astral body; we let the etheric body throw this back and we altogether exclude the physical body.

Brain thinking versus Clairvoyance

The moment we exclude the physical body and let our thoughts be rayed back from the etheric body we live in what we carry through the gate of death. As long as we let the physical body ray back the thoughts, we are living in all that is between birth and death; when we will, our will belongs entirely to our physical body. Our physical body is there to promote activity. Whereas our thinking stands at the very gate of eternity, our willing is organized for the physical body. Ibid.

The next day, on May 2, 1915, he reiterated how our thoughts are active in the etheric body and are merely reflected in the physical body. We think outside of the physical realm.

Just as when we stand in front of a mirror it is not our face that enters our consciousness out of the mirror but the image of our face, so in everyday life it is not the thinking but its reflection that as thought-content is rayed back into consciousness from the mirror of the physical body. See MEDITATION AND CONCENTRATION: THREE KINDS OF CLAIRVOYANCE, GA 161, Lecture III

He reminds us that our thinking is always outside the physical body. Our willing, on the other hand, penetrates the physical body.

Between birth and death we are therefore permeated by will-forces; whereas the thoughts do not go on within our organism but outside it. From this you may conclude that everything to do with the will is intimately connected with what a man is between birth and death by reason of his bodily organization.Ibid.

Thinking versus Willing Activity

Steiner then discusses how we can apply Spiritual Science to arrive at this understanding and concludes:

We can therefore say: It is just into these facts of life which, when we think about life at all, confront us so enigmatically, that light is thrown by all we gain through spiritual science. Ever more fully can spiritual science enlighten men about what happens in everyday life, because everything that happens has supersensible causes. The most mundane events are dependent on the supersensible, and are comprehensible only when these supersensible causes are open to our view. Ibid.

In a fascinating discussion, he goes on to discuss the forces of thinking and willing in relation to death and the work of an initiate. He discusses these concepts in relation to space and time. He instructs us on the requirements and level of inquiry necessary to develop the soul and how we can strengthen our capabilities through meditation and concentration and delves into a philosophical discussion of these topics.

Knowledge of the Christ—The Crown of Spiritual Science

Finally, he addresses the ultimate need for Spiritual Science which leads to its highest purpose—knowledge of the Christ.

Christ-knowledge is that to which — as the purest, highest and most holy — we are led by all that we receive through spiritual science. . . . [I]n this present time of heavy trial and great suffering many people have their religious feeling aroused in the abstract form of the idea of God. Of a similar deepening of men's perception of the Christ we can hardly speak at all. Ibid.

To come to know the Christ, we must “rise to a conception of mankind as one great whole.”

Then there gradually arises in the soul an urgent need to learn how there exists in man a deepening and then an ascending evolution. In the evolution of Time we must feel one with all mankind; we must look back to how the earth came originally into being, focus our gaze on this ascending and descending evolution, in the centre point of which the Mystery of Golgotha stands; we must feel ourselves bound up with the whole of humanity, feel ourselves bound up with the Mystery of Golgotha. Today the souls of men are nearer the cosmos spatially than they are temporally, that is, to what has been unfolded in the successive evolutionary stages. We shall be led to this, however, when with the aid of spiritual science we feel ourselves part of man's whole course of evolution. For then we cannot do other than recognize that there was a point of time when something entered the evolution of mankind which had nothing to do with human force. It entered man's evolution because into it an impulse made its way from the spiritual world through a human body — an impulse present in the beginning of the Christian era. It was a meeting of heaven with the earth.

Spiritual science must gradually build up for us the stages leading to an understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha — an understanding never again to be lost. This Mystery of Golgotha is the very meaning of the earth. To understand what this meaning of the earth is, must constitute the noblest endeavor of anyone finding his way step by step into spiritual science. Ibid.