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Sacramental Thinking

by Joel A. Wendt


This is a collection of my works on the art and craft of thinking in a sacramental way. I knew instinctively how to do this from the beginning. But in our scientific age, the instinctive has to become fully conscious. This took many decades to learn how to do.  All the same, as early as 1986 I described my then practice as follows:  In what follows are only the barest indications. The reader very much needs to experience their own activity and its consequences, forming their own conclusions as to which objectives and what processes are most suitable for them.

a) Preparation: these are exercises, such as those practices in control of thoughts, developing inner quiet (meditation practice plays a role here) and so forth. Its like the stretching one must do before beginning serious physical exercise.
b) Sacrifice of thoughts: letting go preconceptions; overcoming habitual patterns. Nothing will prevent new thoughts from arising, as easily as already believing one knows the answer.
c) Refining the question: the moral atmosphere, why do we want to know; fact gathering and picture forming. It is an artistic activity. What moral color do I paint my soul, what factual materials do I gather as I prepare to form an image - i.e. think in all that that act can imply.
d) Offering the question: acknowledging Presence, and not needing an answer. Tomberg urges us to learn to think on our knees.
e) Thinking as a spiritual Eucharist: receiving and grace. We do not think alone. It thinks in and with me (Steiner).
f) Attitude: sobriety and play.”

I called this practice: Sacramental Thinking, and thus began a progression of practices which were over time cataloged in various essays (earliest first): pragmatic moral psychology; The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness; The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul; In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship; Speaking Truth to Power: Inwardly, in the realm of mind, also known as: soul and spirit; The IDEA of the thought-world; and, Cowboy Bebop - and the physics of thought as moral art. I have ordered this collection of essays mostly in the reverse order of when written and self-published. The last will be first, yet the reader is free to wander as they wish among the whole. One note of caution: some of the essays were written for the general public, and other essays assumed a familiarity with the language conventions set in place by the works of Rudolf Steiner connected to what he called: Anthroposophy. The earliest essays are the least likely to have too much Steiner in them.

1) Cowboy Bebop - and the physics of thought as moral art.
2) The IDEA of the thought-world.
3) Speaking Truth to Power, Inwardly in the realm of mind also known
as: soul and spirit.
4) The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness
5) In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship.
6) The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of
7) pragmatic moral psychology.

Is the brain a computer?  Is the mind the brain?

 Cowboy Bebop

and the physics* of thought as moral art

by Joel A. Wendt

[*The term physics is here meant to suggest a set of general rules and processes that in part can be labeled: the Way of a science of thought and thinking. That thought and thinking are also moral and artistic then too becomes part of a truephysicsof thought. This means that the threescience, art, and religion cannot actually be separated, as they form in the soul an organic whole.]


Cowboy Bebop (1) was a Japanese anime television show that was also made into a movie. It was short lived (1998-99), and critically acclaimed. The main character was a bounty hunter working from Mars in the year 2071. Many sequences in this very original animation were accompanied by music often dominated by a jazz and blues background. From the beginning this anime was a fusion of American cultural influences and modern Japanese artistic sensibilities.

In a certain way this work of art carried both instinctive esoteric Christian and instinctive Zen components, which to elaborate might take a whole book, and therefore will not be attempted here. The Cowboy motif fits in with the fact that the Western is the main mythical archetype of the American Soul (2), and the use of jazz and blues rests the musical themes within the creative heart/roots of American music, fostered mostly out of the culture New Orleans.  In fact, many of the sequences or scenes in the show are basically spontaneous dance.  Feet and limbs often move to the underlying jazz and blues bebop of the music.

The visual artistic style is very modern in a Japanese sense, as are the ideas which positive criticism has come to recognize, such as:philosophical concepts including existentialism, existential ennui, loneliness, and the past’s influence” (1, again). The main character’s morality is very much of the Western “cowboytype - the lone stranger doing good while entirely uncertain as to his own meaning in the great schemes of existence. The dialog is clever, philosophical and pointed, in the same fashion as the American film-noir movies that were common in the late 1930s and on into the early 1950s. (3)

These undercurrents within the American Soul influence the path of thought-creation in Americans. These undercurrents arise from the whole world in a way - each emigrating culture adding its distinct influence to the whole. In America is being born the People of Peoples. Cowboy Bebop is a good modern expression of certain undercurrents that have greatly influenced the American Soul, beginning with the Western in the 1920s, and then later in the 1950s when Zen was brought to our shores in California by Alan Watts (4). California then became a kind of stew pot of soul-themes, such that West and East met at that edge of the North American continent and had cultural intercourse.

If we want to look for evidence of this subterranean influence of cultures, we need go no further than the writings of the modern crime novelists: Robert Parker and Elmore Leonard. Their dialogue is crisp and spare, zen-like in wisdom. Their characters are the stranger-other - the Cowboy archetype who rescues damsels in distress and lays down his/her life to do the right thing.

That the heroes themselves are flawed, even criminal, really only points to the fact that in America the soul also can take a path near and through the Underworld - the ancient world of Faerie, and dark and dangerous impulses. America is the world’s most earthly culture, and this density of fallen striving and suffering should not really surprise anyone paying attention to social phenomena in America.

Not all Paths of development wander among the stars and the clouds. The American Soul gave birth, with the aid of Christ and the Holy Mother, to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1933, which is the most practical spiritual path for dealing with the threefold double complexor the shadow in the soul. (5) Addictions and their kin are not the only issues human beings may solve in the company of others with similar flaws.  The hungers for wealth and power can be addictions.  So can be lying - how many of us know the individual whose every word is an exaggerated tale told to advance their image, and impress their acquaintences. 

The point of the immediately above is to set a tone for what is to follow, for it will be useful and practical to understand from what well of wisdom do such writers as Parker and Leonard draw their art.

Let us examine this carefully

Thought exists. Everyone knows this. Ordinary mind also is often naturally virtuous, and the below is what can be understood if one makes a study of ordinary mind, in a scientific and empirical fashion.

The brain scientist, never actually examining the intimacy of his own mind, does not understand the art of how to come to an empirical knowledge of thought. To know thought, through thinking, we must investigate the own mind. But this journey is rooted in the challenges of the moral. It requires the encountering of life-trials. There is no substitute for this is very personal investigation, which is often costly in terms of suffering.

We are dark and light, which fact makes any exploration of the basics of the life of the own thought dependent upon an excruciatingly moral self-honesty.

Not everyone needs to do this on purpose. The modern biography, particularly in America which is at the cutting edge of the evolution of consciousness, is itself a spiritual developmental Path. (6) The life-trials of the biography lead to a natural spiritual development. The main difficulty is an absence of the needed language to describe this fact of existence. Anthroposophy can provide to modern culture this language of the Consciousness Soul era if we tease apart the traditional reliance on the dead thoughts of Rudolf Steiner, entombed in books and in the tragic  overuse of Steiner said (note the use of the past tense of that verb).   Steiner is well worth quoting, but to rely on him as an authority is to violate his own stated wishes.

Anthroposophists must discover how to think for themselves, outside the past utterances of Rudolf Steiner.

That religious and moral metaphors might be practical could be denied by many seeking an operating manual of the mind. The truth is otherwise, however, for the journey begins here with thewashing of the feet. The higher elements of thinking cannot be consciously known other than by actions in the spirit-mind that are profoundly moral. To unveil the secrets of the will-in-thinking begins and ends with appreciating the nature of theintention” (or purpose) from which the thinking is born - or, the Why of the How.

These moral/heart forces are the only way in which the cold and arid, almost lifeless, thinking of the intellect alone can be mastered.  The intellect is brilliant, but not wise.  Obviously we are a mixture of light and dark.  But to better understand the light we have to also appreciate the dark.

Washing the feet means thinking must be put in the service of the Thou. Thought which is self-directed, and meant to only benefit ourselves, will lack the warm clarity and strength to find anything other than superficial meaning. The cold thinking of the intellect alone - without the guidance of the heart - leads only to the error of misunderstanding. For thinking to find the truth it must sacrifice personal consequences for those results which are meant to benefit others.

The striving for empathy already is washing the feet.  It is very important to realize that the biography itself, especially in and among Americans, does this naturally.  Here is Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture to the workmen, on 3 March 1923:

The time will one day come when this American woodenman, which actually everyone is still - when he begins to speak.  Then he will have something to say very similar to European Anthroposophy.  One can say that we in Europe develop Anthroposophy in a spiritual way; the American develops it in a natural way.

This natural development happens because American social-cultural forces tears the individual away from its original language and cultural roots.  We speak of a third generation American, for example.  Our parents may come to America bringing with them their cultural past, but generation by generation this past dies away, and theindividualemerges.  This is true even of the so-called: Native Americans.  Individuation will triumph, and tradition will fade away.

The same process of development also arises because the family and community matrix too is falling apart.  Elsewhere in the world what Steiner called the group-soul tends to rule, and the individual bows to those social forces that define group behavior as against individual and independent of family and community life choices.  Growing up in America takes away our cultural and language past, strips us of the normative rules governing families, and spits us out into the modern world forced to stand on our own.  Natural here does not mean painless.

This is not an easy course of life, and once freed of the past of our ancestors the washing the feet trial is only the beginning. Ultimately we will travel all of the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ: washing the feet; the scourging; the crowning with thorns; the carrying of the Cross; the crucifixion; the entombment; and finally, the resurrection. Each of these is an exact metaphorical archetype of the various arts of thinking in the fullness of soul and spirit, and their related trials in life. 

Christ warned us: Matthew 10:34-40: 

Don’t think I came to cause peace across the land.  I didn’t come to cause peace, I came to wield a sword, because I came to divide a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a bride against her mother-in-law, and to make a man’s servants his enemies.  Whoever prefers father or mother over me is not worthy of me; and whoever prefers son or daughter over me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever found his life will lose it, and the one who lost his life because of me will find it.  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me, receives my Sender.

Not only that, but these trials do not confine themselves to linear time - that is, they do not follow one after the other in sequence.  In the same way a plant lives in an ecology, the life of soul and spirit - in the biography - lives in a psychological and mental ecology of social existence, in which various events (trials) arise and become the center of our lives.  The social, with respect to the biography, provides both inertia and momentum.  Life resists us, while at the same time certain impulses and actions propel us onward.

For example, to become a mother or a father places before the soul the trial of the washing of the feet in a quite natural fashion.  Parenthood creates a necessity, and theIin responding to this necessity can begin to learn to put the other - the Thou - before self.   In the same biography, family conflicts exist over life choices and meaning - do we do what our parents want us to do, or do we follow our own star - the unfolding of this trial of individuation in our family life will evoke scourging and crowning with thorns.  Details will be described below.

These stages then do not always appear in sequence. Different life experiences draw them out, although over time, the general pattern produces a transformation of the artistic skill level of thinking, which starts as a natural skill, then (usually with maturation) becomes craft, and then finally wisdom or art.  Maturation, by the way, is not a given.  Many there are who never develop past late (early 20's) adolescence.  When such a person becomes a political or corporate leader, disasters happen.

The mystery of thinking is then trained by the moral struggles in life - not just the successes but the failures as well. All experience can be turned to developmental nourishment when the "I" reflects on its actions.  The intention behind thought determines the nature of the realm of the thought-world in which we travel.  This intention is instinctive (natural) in the beginning, becoming more and more conscious over time.  The path, which we in anthrposophical circles conceive of as a path of development, for the American (and others all over the world at this same leading edge of the Consciousness Soul) occures in the biography.  We do not have to go to the Swiss Alps to engage it.  We just live our life, for it is - through Divine Intention - the very best School possible.


Recently I was saying some related words to my girl friend, and she wanted me to take the time for a more careful and somewhat formal illumination of the nature of thought. What follows next is based in large part on her notes to that conversation, which mostly consisted of me making an attempt at an skeleton-like organized presentation, which on occasion was inspired by questions she asked me during this verbal intercourse.  These notes give order to what follows next ... and flesh has been added to the observations of structure alone.

The plane or arena of matter is bound to space and time. You can’t put your hand through matter. That’s how we know its exists. Two cars crash into each other on a highway, and the violence is so powerful it crushes steel and human flesh, perhaps bringing death in its train of causes and effects.

We live in a physical body and act in a material world.  We also act in the non-material world of thought and thinking.  This non-material life survives death.

Above the plane of matter is the plane of soul, or consciousness. Thisastral plane” (to use a more ancient form of expression) is bound to space, but not to time. It is also the plane of perishable or mutable spirit. We know this realm when we use picture thinking or the imagination. The imagination needsspacein order to appear before our mind’s eye. It is, we should note, not three-dimensional, but plane-like, or two dimensional. We can move around its surfaces and sometimes right through it, but it remains in essence an arena of organic (living) thought that longs to be investigated and known directly.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the final episode of Season One of the television show Joan of Arcadia, the God character there says:You have to trust the world behind your eyes, and,learn to see in the dark.

Our biographies do not take place, in general, when we are alone (although a prisoner and a monk or a nun, often live lives of virtual isolation). We live as members of a community. As we grow into the truthful possibilities of our thinking, we may often find ourselves needing to speak truth in circumstances where others do not like it. In order to avoid what this truth has to mean to them, they will deflect, or act angry or many other forms of finding a way to ignore what we have said or done (based on what wethought, independent of the cultural or social norms).

This deflection can often take the form of attacking the truth-speaker, and this is experienced by the truth-speaker as a scourging - the own soul experiences a trial of emotional (astral) pain. Where someone confronts a gossip, for example, in a community that likes the false content of the gossip, the whole group may turn upon the person who challenges these lies. Everyone who seeks to speak or act on the true and the good experiences such trials, even though we yet have no vocabulary in our shared social existence that recognizes this fact.

On a wider social scale, we have today what is calledpolitical correctness, which are ways of individual doing or speaking that large portions of the social body do not like. Modern social-media allows scourging of this kind to apply a huge unjustified condemnation of acts or words of specific individuals. This public shaming is the problem of the mote and the beam writ large, forgetting the admonition: he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

Matthew 7: 3-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Everywhere that we see social conflict, we see those naturally occurring trials that for some individuals are best described in the metaphors of the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ.  When the I-am is authoring what it can of the Christ-Impulse, this produces social conflict - social strife and heat.  Not peace, but a sword.

The mental plane, or sphere of pure thought (or spirit), is spaceless and timeless. We are an active creator in this sphere, and through a thorough study of this capacity to create thought there comes to be one of the best Ways we can learn to understand thought’s properties and nature - however, only if we are so inclined.  It is not necessary for everyone to do this, and in fact the understanding of such facts is the point of any science of thought or thinking.   The scientist of thought makes the journey and then shares that understanding with others.

Rudolf Steiner writes in the first sentence of the First Leading Thought:Anthroposophy is a path [Way] of knowledge [cognition] from the spiritual in man [the human being] to the Spiritual in the Universe.

Human beings create thought, but we are not usually conscious of this creative activity. When we create thought we are active ourselves as a spaceless and timeless spirit in the realm of the uncreated and formless. As thought then descends from this formless state, it takes on form, ultimately descending into the words that comprise our languages. To be intuitive, in the sense of Zen for example, is to always be awake in the creative act that results in the flow of thoughts. That’s why it is difficult to getZen, because its locus is outside the realm ofnaming, so the Zen masters speak ofno-mindorno-name. (7)

Thought is also living. In the arena of theastral, where the imagination resides, organic thought as spirit is clearly perishable and mutable, for unless we maintain the mental picture with our conscious intention and attention it fades away. That Goethe came to perceive the Ur-plant shows that he eventually entered the realm of the timeless and spaceless and met a Being, through the gate of recreating, in the imagination, the changes in matter-based form over time. The arena of space and time bound matter; and the arena of  imaginative space or astral space;  and,  the arena of timeless and spaceless thought, - all interpenetrate at their boundary conditions

The thought-world, or the ethereal world, has an upper and lower boundary condition. At the upper boundary we experience the garments of non-material Beings in the form of Ideas, after the indications of Plato. Steiner, in A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception describes an Idea as acomplex of concepts.

As social beings we sometimes find ourselves in conflict with others over the Ideas of the Good and the True. Here too we can be attacked, for our expression of this mental/spiritual world disturbs those who do not agree with it, or otherwise need a justification for ignoring our expressions or deeds. These attacks represent a crowning with thorns. Our head is where we develop thought toward its higher qualities, and the socially induced crown of of thorns is meant to penetrate the idea-matrix we have offered, and through pain banish our ability to express ourselves here.

The Beings of the super-sensible spiritual worlds wear (or appear) as Ideas so that we can approach them without having to experience the full impression/power of their real nature. At the upper boundary of the ethereal or thought-world (8), theystep downtheir nature as an act of loving kindness. This is also themeeting groundbetween the 9th Hierarchy, the realm of the Angels, and the 10th Hierarchy, the realm of human beings. Christ, as an aspect of His Second Coming, appears in the ethereal in theformof an Angel.

Like our personal guardian Angel He is now available tospeakto us in the realm of discursive thinking - our inner wording - the same way our Angel is able to speak to us there. Steiner called this speaking inner thinking: Inspiration. But first we must learn to silence our inner discourse - to become poor in spirit, or what in the cultural East might be called: empty consciousness, or no-mind.   Our original experience of this Angelic contact is via the still small voice of the conscience.  With practice (especially praying out loud and in private) we can learn to "hear" other inner voices besides our own.

At the lower boundary of the ethereal or thought-world, we experience the living aspect of this thought-world as a train of thoughts, in the form of discursive thinking (inner wording). The speed of the primal or original thinking is infinite, and that takes place in the realm of the uncreated and formless. In this realm everything is simultaneous - in the Now, in the Eternal. This is the gate to the Akashic Record. Everything that happens, happens Now.All things happened through Him and not one thing that happened happened without Him.

When we bring a thought out of this realm, through the space bound astral world of picture thinking, or imagination, into the realm of concrete words, we also bring it out of the realm of the simultaneous into the realm of linear time - that is, out of the realm of timelessness and spacelessness, through pure space (the imagination), and then into sequential time.

In life, when we do this, it is best called: carrying the Cross. The weight of the true and the good, as it is born in naturally developing thinking, to become realized in speaking and doing, - this moral weight is a burden. At the same time we are not alone. Matthew 11: 28-30: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

In our ordinary thinking we experience all of this. We just don’t notice it, because our thinking usually has as its object some important (or playful) aspect of our day to day existence. Thinking serves our existence, as does thought. It is just that we do not attend to it, or know yet how to practice our intention in full consciousness.

That’s why Steiner wanted us toturn aroundin our consciousness (soul life) and wake up through the path or Way of an empirical and scientific study of our own minds, following the map he created through The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, whose subtitle was:some results of introspection following the methods of natural science, and whose last sentence of the original preface said:One must be able to confront an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage.

Here is what Steiner said aboutcognition, from the preface to Truth and Knowledge, his doctoral dissertation:

The object of knowledge is not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but rather to create a completely new sphere, which when combined with the world given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus man’s highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of the universal world-process. The world-process should not be considered a complete, enclosed totality without this activity. Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in the organism of the universe.

We have today the concrete terms or words: consciousness and self-consciousness. Two or three hundred years ago in Europe, they would have used the words soul and spirit to mean the same experience. In between our Now and this most recent past, as those terms - soul and spirit - were translated into the English language, the term/word for soul and spirit becamemind. This materialization of our concepts of our inner life has intensified so that now people no longer use the term mind, but instead use the wordbrain, believing that there is only matter, and never spirit. (9)

The truth is that thebrainis a material organ by which the spirit is able, with the aid of the soul - or astral body - in a mediating fashion, to integrate itself into a physical body, much the same way consciousness is moved around in the movie Avatar. Theideathat there is only matter, but no spirit, so common today is due to the existence in themindof beliefs. Abeliefis an idea that has placed the self-consciousness of ourI” (or spirit) intobondage.

Steiner called such belief-like ideas aspects of the Ahrimanic Deception, which I name (for artistic/aesthetic reasons) the Ahrimanic Enchantment.

Errors in the act of thinking produces illusory thoughts, which realm of illusions Tomberg has called:the Realm of the False Holy Spirit. This is that portion of the ethereal or thought-world ruled by the legions of Lucifer. It is at the boundary of the ethereal and astral planes of existence. According to Tomberg, to get through this realm one needs to be accompanied by the Holy Mother.

In this experience in life we begin to come to know the crucifixion. We die inwardly in order to travel higher into the thought-world consciously, yet in this death we arecaughtby the Holy Mother, just as is depicted in Michaelangelo’s The Pieta. The thinkingIgives up itsselffor the other - for the Thou, thus experiencing a kind of death in the astral.

Steiner has said there are more illusions in the spiritual world than there are in the material world.

This is looking at the process of thinking from below upward. When we view this process in the fashion it creatively happens, we travel it from above downward - from, as pointed out before, the realm of the uncreated and formless, through the space bound world of imaginations (and mental pictures) into the space and time bound realm of discursive thinking in the forms of words (language).

Belief is different from true Faith, the latter being an act of trust in the Divine, not anideaof the Divine. When we encounter fundamentalism, of either the religious or the scientific kind, we are meeting a rigidly held belief, which possesses (or holds in bondage) the mind of the speaker.

MacCoun, in her book On Becoming an Alchemist, writes: that the belief in absolute facts is ahrimanic (she doesn’t actually use that name, but it is obvious she means to refer to a Being), and the belief in absolute truths is luciferic (again the same caution).

If people treat the works of Rudolf Steiner as an absolute authority on anything, they are falling into a relationship of bondage with those ideas. In a way this is a kind of self-generated entombment. This is different from social entombment, where the expressions of the good and the true are experienced by theIin the soul as an inability to effect the outer world. However hard we try to manifest the good and the true in the social world, it is rejected or otherwise not heard. We feel we are alone and powerless.  Like someone buried alive (entombed, but living), we fight and struggle against the social world's refusal to hear us.

There is a way out of the Tomb.  Our empathy must be so rich, that we realize that the other - the Thou - does not need to be like us.  The Thou is entitled to Its own version of the true and the good, and we must then sacrifice that version which is ours, and learn, as Steiner pointed out in The Inner Aspects of the Social Question: to hear the Christ Impulse in the other's thinking.  For our own biography we need the true and the good in order to act the Consciousness Soul, but at the same time part of the true and the good is that the other - the Thou - is not seen, if Judged.

Thinking as Perception:

This is not a commentary on the nature of sense perception, but only on the characteristics of thinking as perception - asseeing. (10)

In a crisis situation thinking is aided by the adrenaline to focus and concentrate. We can ourselves learn to focus and concentrate without this chemical (astral) support. Through either process we can wake up in the realm of the uncreated and the formless. We will thenseewith the thinking. To consciously experience this, and to also act in the world on the basis of this seeing is the experience of the resurrection at the level of our inner life. The social world often compels ourseeing.

The Zen masterseesthe situation of his student. The mother, when thinking selflessly, sees what to do in a moment of crisis with her child. The soldier, or first responder, sees with their thinking what the right action is. An athlete calls this: being in the zone.

Themindin this condition, which is generally completely spontaneous, is free - no longer in bondage to its old thoughts and mental habits.

This, when sustained while in contact with the world of pure spirit, Steiner called: Intuition. In our ordinary life we call it likewise: intuition, without the capital letter. We are united with the Idea in either case, although Steiner’s Intuition means a fully aware experience of the Divine Being, free of our own body - or sense free (body free) thinking. In the more ordinary types of consciousness, where our self-consciousness is seeing/perceiving, we have taken to having our ordinary language talk about abrightidea, or in a cartoon we have someone with a light-bulb going off over their head. The concentrated action in thinkinglightsup the mind.

"More light!" said Goethe on his death bed.

In spontaneous action we have what MacCoun describes assee, do. Perceiving and acting are united. Because our attention is focused on the needed action, we don’t notice the inner activity of seeing/perceiving because we are too committed to the outer world action to notice the inner world lighting up. In the East, if this state of pure intuitive experience is constant, it is called: enlightenment.

I had the following personal experience one day. I was in my kitchen with a friend, and also with my youngest daughter, who was about 3 and one half years old at that time. My daughter was skipping around the room, tripped over her own feet, and fell forward with her chin striking the corner of the clothes dryer which was also in that room.

I immediately picked her up, and sat her on the dryer, looking at her carefully to see her condition. She had not yet started to cry, something one ordinarily expects to happen very soon. I next immediately recalled that there was a bottle of Arnica in a nearby cabinet. I quickly took the bottle out, unstoppered it and placed some on a finger tip, which I then placed under her nose for her to smell. I next took another bit on a finger tip, and rubbed up between her eyebrows over the astral/ethereal doorway to the pineal gland. Only after these actions did I look at her chin, notice there was no open wound, and applied the Arnica there.

I had never before thought about any of these actions, other than the last one. All the same, I saw/I did. She did not cry at all, and was soon very calm, and sat in my lap for a while before returning to play.

My visiting friend, who was also a curative eurythmist, said to my daughter:Your father is very wise.Perhaps. What I did know was how to think - how to be empty or poor in spirit. I didn’t need a content of knowledge already existing, stored somewhere in memory - I only needed to know how to think. I do not mean here to denigrate experience and memory, but only to point to the capacities of the purely intuitive mind.

I trusted the world behind my eyes, and saw in the dark.

This Pure Thinking is pure in three ways: It is pure in the sense that the attention of our I is oriented fully away from sense experience (we don’t actually have to leave the body to do this).  It is also pure in a consciously intended moral sense - that is our thinking is fully other-directed. We have no egoistic stake in the outcome of the thinking activity, for we do it for others not for ourselves. The third way such thinking is pure is that it is only of concepts and ideas - that is the object of thought is the thought-world itself.

Rudolf Steiner described this kind of inner moral activity in The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, as moral imagination, moral intuition, and moral technique. This activity can be applied both in the outer world of our social environment, and in the world of contemplative thought alone. To apply it contemplatively, or while in a state of reverie or meditation, means to turn around and enter into the thought-world on purpose - as a place in itself.

The deeper (higher) we go, the more consciously we become able to wake up in the realm of the uncreated and formless, where moral thought arises out of our own creative activity. When we live the true and the good from out of this realm of experience, then we are truly free - no bondage to the idea. We’ve become a spirit-thought-creator, and then we are seen. Again, as pointed out by Steiner in Truth and Knowledge:

Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in the organism of the universe.

Ordinary consciousness, as it faces the social-trials of the biography, is the naturally arising  expression of the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ.  This then is the science orphysicsof the life of thought as religious or moral art.

For the American Soul,
 we now have cowboys and cowgirls, as women more and more claim their rightful places society.  Again, following the mythical archetype of the Western as regards the American Soul, and remembering that this Soul is the leading edge of changes in consciousness occurring on a world-wide scale, those who "think" their way to the true and the good, or live in what Steiner called the Consciousness Soul, burn with a kind of fire for the true and the good that involves them becoming Christ-like in their biographical environments, however small and intimate. 

As such fore-runners they then are destined to live the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ in their individual biographical niche.  This can be true even if someone is in a prison, or works in a large Corporation, or is homeless.

In this biographical niche they will run into, and become involved with, those individuals serving other impulses.   Our Age then is an epic social conflagration brought about by the naturally occurring differences among individuals, which is bringing in its train that Age of Earth Existence the Hopi Prophets called: the Day of Purification.  As a first act in this true New Age, Western Civilization is failing.

Those serving other impulses are not necessarily wrong.  Each biographical Path is perfect, and overseen by the most profound Love (see note 6, again).  Each follows their own drummer - their own music.  In my Father's House are many mansions.

Is the brain a computer?  Is the mind the brain? Can a computer be moral or create art? (11)

a brief summation

The above was mostly parts ... now it is our task to string the parts into a whole, and as a whole we will then arrive deeper into the realm of the true and the good ... of the "physics" of thought and thinking ...

Original thought is created by human beings, in the realm of the uncreated and unformed - a realm connected to the spaceless and timeless Now that is Eternity.  From there it descends, through the realm of perishable and mutable spirit - the realm of the imagination and mental pictues, which arise in that mental/astral space bound existence we more easily experience.  Then from there the descent is into the the inner wording of discursive thinking in the form of concrete language, and in that way finally, via speech (12), into the world of social space and linear time.  Steiner's map of the mind: The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, via its practices of moral imagination, moral intuition, and moral technique mirrors this process just described.  Moral imagination takes place in the middle realm of the perishable and mutable spirit, through which activity we ask a question of ourselves, and in forming the moral intuition that is the answer to that question, we rise into the realm of timeless and spaceless cognitive creation.  Then through moral technique we once more descend, from our previous assent, into the process of incarnating the true and the good into deeds, which can include speech.

Not all thoughts that we utter come from this organic and living sequence of ascent and descent.  Some thoughts come from memory, such as where we store Steiner-said.  We also speak out of habits of thought, which too live in the astral/ethereal matrix, often in the Realm of the False Holy Spirit.  The liar is trapped in the illusions spun by his or her lies - a false idea we don't confront places us in bondage.  Steiner called speech without true thought: the empty phrase.

The Creator, named Christ in our current perception of the Now, has made a world-encompassing social organism in which the human biography unfolds, in such a way that each individual receives the Love that belongs to them to receive (see note 6, again).  As an aspect of this organism, there also exists a Path, which we have called The Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ.  The Creator became human and then went through the gate of death, because He could not ask of us something He could not himself do - namely be human.  Many people believe falsely that the Passion is something we did to Christ.  It is not.

The Passion is the mirror image of something humans do to themselves as a result of the Fall into Matter.  Christ follows us in living out this Passion.  It is our Passion for material existence that He imitates.  

The social organism is so perfectly endowed, that what Christ experienced in the Seven Stages - during the Turning Point of Time as Steiner phrased it, we can now experience as well.  This is possible because the social world reacts to us, and in reacting plays the same role as did the Romans and the Hebrews, in the moments when the Creator God became human.  The profound Now of the Turning Point of Time reverberates through All Time - all Nows.   The Seven Stages are also the ultimate process of metamorphosis.  What Goethe observed as the various renunciations in the Plant, can also be seen in such a way that in that the totality of all the single renunciations also reflect the Seven Stages of the Passion.  The Ur-plant, first as seed, washes the feet of material existence, burying itself into Matter, engaging in its own Fall.  This Fall goes ever more deeper into matter, and the life of the Ur-Plant, on a planetary scale, experiences the resistance of matter to its generative powers as scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying the cross, crucifixion, entombment and then resurrrection in the masterful creation of the new seed.  This life is yet without consciousness or self-consciousness.  It is pure life-process, without even instinct.

The animal kingdom and the human kingdom too suffer the Fall into materiality - and in overcoming the density of matter in order to express their true spirit, they too go through this Passion.  And the human kingdom, in forgetting its own true nature, adds to the suffering of the life (plant) process, and the instinctive consciousness pain of the animal kingdom - by our efforts to manipulate what we do not understand (the fundamental "sin" or error we commit by our efforts to genetically modify organisms - including ourselves).  Not appreciating matter, we also harm spirit, including the spirit of life itself ("In it - the Word - was Life and the Life was the Light of the world").
The Light of the Sun does the same thing (see note 11, again).  In photosythensis It dies into Matter to become food (energy) for the human being (take and eat for this is my body), only to return/become the inner sun-light of thought and the mind.  The deeds and sufferings of light also mirror the Seven Stages of the Passion.   Everything is part and parcel of everything else.  Those people who vex us, and scourge us and help us be socially entombed - that's just us wearing a different face in a different aspect of the Eternal Now (13).  Our biographical Time is not their biographical Time, which is one of the reasons Christ encourages us not to Judge, for it is ourselves we judge.  The other - the Thou - is us wearing a different face and experiencing a different time-oriented biography.  We only appear to share the same Time.

When asked what is the most important commandment, Christ spoke this way:   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your spirit and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

God is everything, everything is god (14)We are all Cowboy Bebops - stranger others - dancing and singing throughout all Eternity; and, seeking the true and the good is just one Chapter of many in our own eternal dying and becoming.


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_Bebop

(2) Learning to Perceive the American Soul http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/learning.html 

(3) See the movie Payback starring Mel Gibson, for an updated film-noir representation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payback_(1999_film)
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts 

(5) The Mystery of Evil in the Light of the Sermon on the Mount http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/mysteryofevil.html 

(6) The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/artofgod.html 

(7) seeZen Anthroposophy: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/ZenA.html

(8) “The IDEA of the thought-world: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/thoughtworld.html

(9) “The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness:  http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/tidom.html

(10) Carl Stegmann, in his book:The Other America: the West in the Light of Spiritual Science" called this new thinking: clair-thinking: http://www.amazon.com/The-Other-America-Carl-Stegmann/dp/0945803281

(11) Electicity and the Spirit in Nature .. - a tale of certain considerations of the present state of science, in the light of a modern practical understanding of the nature of mind - http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/electricityandthespiritinnature.html
(12) The Gift of the Word (a poem - meant to be read aloud):  http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/giftoftheword.html

(13) See the Beatles "I am the Walrus": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42luHhrsNhg

(14) also: All You Need is Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I

The IDEA of the Thought-World

- and its practical implications for our

shared political life -


It is the purpose of this Wikipedia-like entry/essay to shed some light on something which we all experience, but for which we often have other names, and of which we frequently believe we know a great deal, although we do not.  We mostly swim in the true nature of thinking like a fish swims in water - mostly unaware of the complexities of our inner environment at all.

I have taken, as general examples, thinking and thoughts that are related to our public life (politics), since everyone seems to share there a common interest.  Different fields could have been used as examples, such as epistemology, but not as many people will have a direct experience of that subject matter as will have had thoughts and points of view about politics.

To make this above discussion more concrete and less abstract: Note that the words/terms/concepts/ideas conservative and liberal are what needs to be called: generalizations.  Such a class of objects (or human beings) that might be included under the terms conservative and liberal, don’t really fit us, as individuals.  Most individuals have a large number of complex beliefs, concepts, points of view, tendencies and so forth, not all of which would fit within such large generalized categories.

They might be “liberal" with the way the view their own and other’s vices, but “conservative" in their ideas of how to raise children.  Many are overly influenced by the ways in which politicians and political consultants define a political liberal or conservative, and as well tend to fit themselves into their own families historical views.  Not being trained or educated in how to think, we are grabbed by clever ads that seek to divide us, rather than serve our need to understand.   The often harsh rhetoric of negative campaigning inflames our emotions, but does not encourage mental clarity or thoughtful reflection.

Concepts, based on such large and inclusive categories that use terms that are highly abstract generalizations, actually don’t have much real-world meaning at all.  Same with such terms as black, white, Latin, female and so forth - they are superficial generalities and when used in speech (or in thinking) they actually stand in the way of true knowledge.  In an unfortunately too real sense, the use of the terms liberal and conservative in modern political speech is often a cover for what has to be understood as a kind of political bigotry.  That conservatives (or liberals) automatically decide to dislike and criticize their imagined opposites is really just a kind of political racism, encouraged by political consultants and their use of divisive simplistic issues such as abortion.

The linguistic scientist George Lakoff views the matter a little bit more accurately, applying  the principles of cognitive science to define conservatives as holding a “strong father model” of government, and liberals as holding to a “nurturant parent model” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lakoff), but this still makes the error of believing the general class has any real world meaning, as against the individual thinker and speaker.  Lakoff finds common categories in the uses of language (what he calls “frames”), but fails to properly emphasize that it is the political consultants’ efforts to determine political language itself that fails to provide the “citizen” with an adequate complexity of discourse.  Stuffing people in Lakoff’s Moral Politics categories  also oversimplifies.  As well we need note that a sufficient educational training in Civics has disappeared from our schools - no one really knows anymore how our government is supposed to work at all - even many politicians.  The professionals in politics have no use for an electorate that can’t be manipulated, and have had years to misdirect public thinking and train us to believe their lies.

What is worse, as regards Lakoff, is that he is a member of a scientific community that believes it knows things about the mind/brain relationship that are not true.  For example, I just walked you, as a reader, through a very simple philosophical investigation of the meaning of words, in this case the word class “generalizations”.  Lakoff would have us think that we are beholden to brain structures for how we think, rather than have the capacity to increase our thinking sophistication in many alternative ways, including just being taught the basics of an epistemological way of seeing the world.

Here is Lakoff in a recent article (Alter Net, Dec 3, 2012) about the problems with the terms “fiscal cliff”, trying to explain why people can’t be taught how to think more clearly, and can only think within the limits of our brains:

Because we think with our brains, every thought we have is physical, constituted by neural circuitry. Because about 98 percent of conscious thought has an unconscious neural substrate, we are rarely aware of conceptual metaphors. And because the brain is a physical system governed by conservation of energy, a tightly integrated cascade of neural metaphor circuits is more likely to be learned, remembered, and readily activated.

Let’s take a look at the metaphorical complexity of “fiscal cliff” and how the metaphors that comprise it fit together. The simplest, is the metaphor named MoreIsUp, which is a neural circuit linking two distinct brain regions, one for verticality and one for quantity. It is a high-level general metaphor widespread throughout the world, and occurs in a vast number of sentences like Turn the radio up, the temperature fell, and so on.

This is poppycock masquerading as science.  Don’t think so?  Continue reading.  The problem will turn out to be education - as in knowledge of the real nature of the mind and of thinking, not the brain.  Brain and consciousness scientists can be understood for their errors, because they mistake “discursive thinking”, or inner-wording, as the sole nature of how we think.  For this reason, like Lakoff, they pursue studies of language, believing that the dissection of language rules unveils the nature of thinking.  We actually, if thinking is studied itself introspectively, do not actually think merely in words.

It is possible for academics to over-think somethings, often being more in love with their own specialty rather than in the phenomena itself.  Their assumptions guide them.  A real history of the last 100 years in politics might help, for example, Uncommon Sense: the Degeneration, and the Redemption, of Political Life in America http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/degeneration.html  Such a history would show that there is a great deal more appearing in the phenomena of our political life than confused metaphors and cascading brain structures.

Those who let themselves think such thoughts (such as that there is a reality of “conservatives” and “liberals") are being very foolish, regardless of how clever they frame their bigotry (see the written works of the “conservative" Ann Coulter, or the comedy of the “liberal" Bill Maher).  Why are they foolish?  Because they pretend to knowledge and kinds of reason that they not only do not possess, but avoid confronting in all cases.  Where someone reaches toward their errant and foolish thinking with logical questions, these two retreat into deflections and other means (such as jokes) of avoiding following out their own assumptions to their natural and logical conclusions - which “conclusions” would be so ridiculous as to prove beyond any doubt that their thinking was off-course right from the beginning.

The root of this actually exists in our systems of education.  We mostly don’t train people in the how of thinking very well at all.  We can teach them what to think (as in a point of view, such as evolutionary theory), but very often not how to think critically and logically (for a good example of such critical and logical thinking concerning the theory of evolution, read Ron Brady’s Dogma and Doubt: http://natureinstitute.org/txt/rb/dogma/dogmadoubt.htm).  Most political speech suffers from the assumption of the speaker or writer that all is opinion, and facts and logical thought do not matter.  It is my opinion (belief), and I have a right to it, we frequently assert.

There is not a lot of truth in political speech, in large part because people work from an ideological point of view (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology), and are not really interested in how the social-political world actually works.  When an ideology is imposed, such as in politics, it frequently fails precisely because the ideology never asks how the real world works, it only asks: how can I make (as in force) the world to work the way I want it to.  Sort of as if physicists were trying to get into space by demanding the laws of gravity have to change and then obey their fantasies, not the real laws of material existence.

Examples of failed political ideological points of view abound and here are a few of the the most obvious: the War on Poverty; the War on Drugs; and the War on Terror.  The social-political world has a lot of momentum and inertia, and if we try to change it into something it really can’t change into, we cause a lot of harm.  The ideological view may be wonderful in its fantasy of in what way the world could be nicer, but as everyone in the recovery movement knows, you can’t fix an addict - only they can fix themselves.   The deep nature of our social life is rooted in human psychology, and while it is possible to manipulate that on occasion, grand changes only come infrequently, as was noticed in the Declaration of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that human beings are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

We could say, with some confidence, that most of us are addicted to our favorite political ideology, and resist changing that point of view at all, because it is a kind of belief system.  The seeming conflict between modern science and religion bears the stamp of that identical very human problem; with one of main difficulties being that many believers in science refuse to recognize it too is a belief system.  See the discussion of the ideology or philosophy of “scientism”, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism


Understanding the Thought-World may help some overcome these deficits in their own thinking, and as well understand what goes on in the real social-political world as a consequence of the rules of this Thought-World, and our relationship as human beings toward our own thoughts and thinking.  In a way, if we change how we educate, we change how people think, and as people think more consciously they will themselves change our social-political life.  It is, as Saul Bellow points out below, as regards the writings of Owen Barfield: a question of inner freedom.

For example, we have in English these three terms: beliefs, understandings and knowledge.  An empirical approach to thinking (see below for details) reveals that each individual swims in a sea of self-generated vain beliefs, genuine ways of understanding reality, and actual knowledge of the world.  Everyone. 

Beliefs are vain because we hold to them in-spite of all evidence to the contrary - the folk wisdom being: don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up.  Most of us can’t do a job, or even a simple task, without understandings - ways of appreciating that often are learned the hard way, such as what happens when a child touches something hot.  Postmen understand why dogs are chained up.  If I am really good at something, what we try to describe with the word expertise, it is because I not only understand why the car engine sounds funny, I also  know how to fix it.

In modern political discourse, few politicians or pundits or talking heads on TV actually know the basics, for example, of the science of economics.  There are a lot of pronouncements rooted in ideological beliefs, such as that decreasing the taxes on the most wealthy will benefit the whole economy, but when empirical evidence is offered that shows this belief to be false, that evidence is buried  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/09/12/840641/tax-cuts-rich-economic-growth/, but everyone is so busy believing they too can be an economic expert the airwaves are polluted with dialog that is essentially meaningless. 

Since the crisis in world finance, that began in 2008 to continue the example, all kinds of austerity measures are being advocated, when the economic historical evidence is to the contrary - austerity only  compounds economic weaknesses.  See the writings of the Paul Krugman, a Noble prize winner (expert) in economics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Krugman.  In a similar ideological vein, during the recent Presidential Election in America (2012), Republicans favored certain kinds of Polls, but hated the work of Nate Silver, who predicted correctly the 2008 election and the election of 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nate_Silver.  It is possible to be smart about political questions, and not just a religious-like believer in an ideology.

Why is the “truth” so troublesome to so many?  When we better understand the Thought-World and its operational rules, that will become more clear.

Everyone knows they have thoughts.  As modern individuals, in the Age of Science, we are encouraged to believe, superficially, that our thoughts come from the activity of our brains.  If I was to suggest that good dancers of a certain sort think with their feet (“Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!” ~ Constanze), this might raise some questions about subjectivity, or about the spurious meaning of words, or that to have such an experience would be an illusion created by the brain.


The general modern tendency in Science is to believe that all mental phenomena are products of the neurological structures in that physical organ we call the brain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brain).  For some, this causal assumption goes so far as to hold that even the idea that we have of a "self" is manufactured by the physical processes in the brain.  A corollary of this general tendency in modern thought is that all perception, such as for example what we believe we see when we believe we "see" a tree, is manufactured by the brain.  The actual physical world - in its true nature - is not seen, according to this view.


This often raises a very peculiar question regarding what is "real".   For example, why does the collection of molecules and atoms that supposedly make up the “tree” look to our consciousness or brains like a “tree”.  These are not simple questions, see: The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness (http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/tidom.html).  The English writer Owen Barfield wrote extensively on consciousness, perception and thinking, as well as the limits of modern science to appreciate the relevant nuances. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Barfield

Saul Bellow, the Nobel-Prize winning novelist, wrote: “We are well supplied with interesting writers, but Owen Barfield is not content to be merely interesting. His ambition is to set us free. Free from what? From the prison we have made for ourselves by our ways of knowing, our limited and false habits of thought, our ‘common sense’”.


Parts of this complicated "riddle" of existence is discussed in many fields and in many different ways (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinary_language_philosophy ).  Simply to provide fully adequate footnotes for the above commentary could take up dozens of pages.  In order to avoid getting lost in that vast jungle of words, sentences, meanings, fields of knowledge and so forth, let me just guide the reader's thinking-attention to what exists right in front of them.


I have written some words on a page, and the reader is reading them.  The words on the page, given our general assumptions, would not exist if someone didn't write them - so we have the terms: the "author" and the "reader".  Or, perhaps, one brain doing something involving the modern tool of a laptop computer and another brain doing something with a similar device.


The writing consists of "signs" - letters.  These are essentially "code".  These marks on a page have no meaning in themselves.  One could take this page, and using a translation program get these letters changed into Chinese ideograms.  The signs can be changed, and the question does exist that if we did that, would the meaning of the signs also be changed?


Of course,  certain trends  in philosophy in the 20th Century suggested there might not exist any meaning that could be transferred from an author to a reader - the "subjective" aspects being too insurmountable (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction).  In spite of that school of thought - mostly only of interest in certain circles of academia, people still read and write and we still teach our children to read and  write.  And, you dear reader are in fact reading this, so at the least your brain is doing something that might well not be a complete waste of time, - maybe.


In order to write, and read, as all of us subjective brains can at least fantasize, requires the existence of a language - in this case: English.  Convention gives us dictionaries, and  many thousands of books and schools of thought* on writing and grammar and logic and so forth.  What the existence of these books might suggest is that there is perhaps a reality to language, otherwise why bother.

*[a small technical aside, regarding the “geography” of the Thought-World, we might note that various complex features of this “world” could be called “schools of thought”, or systems of belief, or ideological points of view.]


Since we (you and I) - two brains (?) - are collectively  bothering, is there anything else we can notice.


Well, - we could turn away from the page for a moment and reflect - observe inwardly - that our selves, or our brains - (at this point take your pick), are engaged in some kind of inner activity, which someone watching us can not see.  These  watchers might see me typing and they might see you looking at a page and on occasion scrolling down, perhaps sipping some coffee and cleaning your glasses - perhaps even breathing, sniffing or coughing.  What these observers will not see is either of us "thinking".


If we were to self-observe what the observers cannot see, we might notice that during this "thinking" there is something we could call: "sub-vocalizing".  Another way to put words to this is: "discursive thinking."  Even when you are not reading, you sometimes think, perhaps having a moment of reverie where you imagine being on a date and engaging in a conversation that successfully leads to sex.


During the course of a day we do a lot of  this "discursive thinking" - this inner dialog, which when we engage in the act of reading also can appear with the phenomena we called above: "sub-vocalizing".  Our brain, given modern views of the mind, seems to be talking to itself in order to “think”.


One part of whatever we are "speaks" and another part "hears".  Who or what speaks and who or what  hears?


If we were asked to answer that question, most of us would say "I" speak and "I" hear.  Now, given the idea of some that there is no self, my question is: If the brain is capable of creating language, music, poetry, science and all the glories of human cultures, how  is it that this same "brain", while so obviously and wondrously clever,  is also so stupid as to create a false belief in an imaginary self?  Does it really make any sense at all to hold that a physical instrument so otherwise assumed capable of maybe leading us to the "singularity" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity ), can at the same time be so dense?  What in the “brain” makes us stupid in some cases and smart in another ?


While you'll have to decide that for your "self", let us note in passing the mode of thought just applied, which can be called: comparative thinking.   The category/word stupid also implies its opposite - smart.  Liberal is often used as the opposite of conservative.  Most parts of grammar called prepositions include their opposite in their natural meaning: in/out; up/down; although grammarians can make this overly complicated. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prepositions).

The mode of thinking being labeled here as “comparative” is basically where we form an idea* that involves comparing or valuing one object of thought in relationship to another object of thought.  This woman is more beautiful than that woman.  This politician is less honest than that politician.  This profound mode of comparative thinking has deep and rich meaning when applied in some “spiritual” disciplines.  See this and that, an article of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha.  http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/thath.html


*[another, a bit more complicated, technical aside: We can get confused if we mix up such terms and words as: terms, words, concepts and ideas.  On the page is the term or word.  In discursive thinking (where we “speak” to ourselves, we still have the word, just “sub-vocalized”.  One is visible (on the page) the other is not visible to others, although clearly “there” to our own experience, since we put it there.

Each term or word can have, inwardly, a corresponding mental picture, generalized concept, pure concept or idea.  For purposes of clarity: we can have a mental picture of a specific book; we can have a generalized concept of a class of objects of thought, which we call books; we can have a pure concept, such as bookness, which allows for a metaphorical or figurative (higher) use, such as Goethe’s “reading the Book of Nature”) and even higher than that, the Idea, which is consistent with Plato’s world of forms (an earlier version of what we are studying here: the Thought-World), which Idea refers to a general class of  spiritual Beings - see below.

All these: mental picture, generalized concept, pure concept, and Idea can be observed in our minds when we practice a scientific and empirical introspective study of thinking and thought.

So, for example, the reader in reading this sentence and in forming inwardly the idea of this sentence - “This woman is more beautiful than that woman” - has united in the reading/thinking process: words or terms; concepts and ideas.   The idea is the “meaning” of the whole sentence.  Each word or term has either a related mental picture (e.g. the particular women being compared); the generalized concept (woman); and the pure concept (more beautiful).  That we are not taught about this way of viewing reading and writing is a cultural artifact of the Age in which we live, with all its limitations and confusion natural to any particular Age through which humanity necessarily evolves.

Why we make such judgments is another question.  That we do is obvious - we do comparative thinking all the time.]

Whatever else we can think/believe about these riddles, one fact can't be denied.  Something happens of which we are aware (thinking)  and others around us are not (unless we blurt out into speech, our intimate thoughts usually for emotional reasons).  A lot of human discourse, for example when someone tries to manipulate another person, is calculated - that is we first think about how we want to get another person to do something, and then we speak in such a way as to accomplish that goal.  There is to the human being (brain?) an interior quality, that is, as America's Founders might have said: "self-evident".  And, one of the clearest manifestations of this phenomena is reading and writing.  From out of my personal invisible nature comes what ends up as code on this page, and subsequently then within your personal invisible nature there is constructed what you think (as in “believe”) that code means.


If we didn't find, as an experience - and collectively as human beings - that speech and  writing were important and valuable, we'd simply stop doing them -wouldn’t we?.


Where are we when we do this "thinking" thing, that manifests everyday in reading and writing?


When we are in the visible world that appears to our senses, such as well - walking in the woods, or riding in a bus, that fact is fairly obvious.  When we are in this "brain" thing, but not attending to the physical world - that is only "thinking" or reflecting, or analyzing or whatever - we are in a place where our language conventions (from centuries of "self"-knowledge) create such terms as "INsight", "INspiration", "INtelligence" and so forth.


Now this INterior world is vast and complicated.  There are large disciplines that have sought to penetrate its secrets, most recently (beginning in the 19th Century) such as psychiatry and psychology, although these faded away in the late 20th Century into such as cognitive science http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_science, neuroscience http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience, and their relatives.   Each of those somewhat older (19th Century) disciplines began with the root-term "psyche", which was generally meant to refer to the "soul".  Keep in mind that "soul" usually is taken to mean something so immaterial that religions believed it would survive the death of the physical body. 


There is a story that when Freud's works were translated into English, the German words "seele" for soul, and "geistes" for spirit - which he used when he "wrote" down his thoughts, were simply translated as "mind".  Subsequently, as this "mind" thingy became more an object of scientific study during the 20th Century  (especially among the English logical positivists http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_positivism), the concept/term mind was eventually replaced with the concept/term "brain".  Mind, as something originally “thought of” as being ephemeral (psyche or soul and spirit), becomes, over the last 100 years, a physical object  - the wet-ware organ the “brain”.

...it has long been recognized that mind does not exist somehow apart from brain...” (The Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll, Bantam Books, 1988);

My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we sometimes call mind - are a consequence of it anatomy and physiology and nothing more.” (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7, Ballantine Books, 1977).

This bears repeating: That interior world that for centuries was thought of as a realm of soul and spirit, became over time merely mind, and then ultimately merely a physical organ: the brain.


The chief problem is that this view is not how we actually experience our interior lives  and our "selves".  What many modern brain scientist wants us to believe is that this interior world is not what it seems to us - not what it seems to our experience as a “world” rich with dreams, and ideas and feelings and thoughts and imaginations, but rather we ought to view it as something quite physical and often the producer of an illusory mental world.  This change followed in parallel a more general change, riding on the tails of natural philosophy (science in its infancy), that eventually abandoned any religious interpretation of causal reality in favor of a completely materialistic interpretation (all is matter, there is no spirit - see The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/artofgod.html, for a detailed discussion of the philosophy of science implications).


Please now return to your own observations of this interior world, which factually is invisible to even the brain scientist.  While he can observe his own interior life (but basically does not bother to do), he can’t really see ours.  He only sees then what certain instruments reveal and as well his own theories of what it  all  means - using his own “discursive thinking”.  The social reality is that what his scientific community "thinks" (as in believes) is by them being proclaimed to be superior to what we ourselves think (again, as in “believe”) about our own experience of our interior lives.

We have direct experience/knowledge which we should (according to their view) ignore, and instead we should conform our thinking to theirs, which is completely based on indirect (secondary) experience coupled with their theories.  They put a machine to watch our brains, and then they watch the machine.  The machine never ever sees what we see when we think.

For a good discussion of the real world consequences of this incursion into real life of brain/consciousness  scientism, see the article Do Addicts have Free Will: http://www.alternet.org/do-addicts-have-free-will?akid=9744.10660.5mg149&rd=1&src=newsletter753630&t=19

Natural philosophy began by making us doubt our senses, because the microscope and the telescope (instruments) revealed a world the eye does not see.  Modern consciousness (brain) studies do the same thing - our own experience is to be doubted and the only valid approach is through the instruments and processes by which the consciousness scientist studies others.  Our naive realism is to be replaced with his imagined empirical scientism.


Now what this all means, in a way, is that one community of thinkers intends to tell the rest of us what to think.  And, not only that, but they mean to tell us what to think about that aspect of our existence which is most precious to us - our self-understood interior reality.  In the physical world, where a social-political determinism might concern our freedom or autonomy to move our bodies about as we wish, or to limit by laws what we want say - such actions by others to control us would be viewed as totalitarian.


Our freedom to think for ourselves about our own meaning is now being assaulted by a mode of thoughts and thinking that ultimately (as a natural logical conclusion) seeks to define us as not spiritual, not free, and otherwise completely determined by physical processes over which we (this “illusion" in the brain) have no control whatsoever (c.f. http://phys.org/news186830615.html)


In such a world personal responsibility and morality disappear, to be replaced by the theories of the agents of a claimed superior knowledge of the working of the brain and its processes.  Once a joke on television:  "the devil made me do it", is now being replaced with: "the brain made him do it."  This trend in natural science toward a fully physical determinism now replaces a previous "God runs everything" non-physical religious determinism, once upon a time the sole possession of religions.


Sam Harris (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Harris) and his new atheist friends, for example, while hating religion, want to be the scientific popes of their own  new religion.  They are just changing what we are to worship, and who are to be the new priests.  Their God is faceless random Chance, and we - human beings - are a weird accident that amidst most biological life on the planet Earth is like an out of control deadly virus given the effects of our civilization on the rest of the living world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Smith).


Now before the reader of this gets too disquiet, and wanting all kinds of quotes for these views expressed above, these views were not really the main point.  What I  have been doing here is demonstrating to  the  reader certain observable aspects of the Thought-World.  I wrote, you read, and together we went some "place" in this Thought-World which is not visible to the physical eye, but only to the mind's eye, or better yet: thinking’s spiritual eye.


The conceptual world we traveled together is seemingly existentially the same "place" as is the conceptual  world of the brain scientists, such as Sam Harris.  In each particular individual instance the landscape is assumed to be different - that is the conceptual content of all our minds is believed to be different, but any thinker can think these thoughts - that is go to that region in the Thought-World  where meaning exists.  How do we do that?  By reading what is written by others.

Let us repeat this for it is such a common experience that we hardly give it the import it deserves.  You read several paragraphs that I wrote.  During this reading, sentence by sentence, you constructed in your own mind what you think I meant.  In in very real sense, the mind creates meaning from the code on a page at near the speed of light.  At this point in our discussions it makes no different whether you actually got what I meant, for I am pointing not to that, but rather to your direct (but mostly sub-conscious) experience as a reader.  You can’t make meaning (find/create the Idea connected to what I wrote), while reading, without taking the coded words and terms on the page, join them to mental pictures, generalized concepts and pure concepts via your skills as a thinker/reader. 

If you found yourself arguing with what I wrote, you were at the same time engaged in light-speed comparative thinking, whereby you made near instant judgments comparing what I was suggesting as an over all Idea to those Ideas of which you yourself have experience (and/or believe, understand or know).  In every act of reading and writing a spiritual miracle appears directly to our own conscious perception in thinking.


None of this is really new, in a way, as it goes on all the time.  For example, in politics we have different ideologies, in religion different systems of belief, in science different paradigms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigms, see also Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and so forth.  The point is to draw attention to the huge array of systems of thought in the Thought-World.  Vast regions of the Internet house huge recorded aspects of the great corpus of centuries of human thought, none of which apparently is visible as Thought itself - that is we record the Thought in code (written language), but that record does not reproduce the Thought as it originally came to be in the mind of the primary thinker.  All of which Thought was created by human thinking, and which we for the most part believe exists in a world private to each of us - i.e. not interrelated at all, except via social processes.

At the same time, we not only believe we reproduce that Thought when we read, but social existence would not be possible if the exact same thing did not happen in speaking and hearing. Again, via code - language - meaning is carried from one person to another in a fashion we rely upon entirely, at the center of which is the act of thinking.  Please pass the salt.  Shut the fuck up!  I love you.  Vote for me for President, and I will remake the world into a place of glory and plenty free of all the assholes we both don’t like.

This main assumption that accompanies this kind of thinking - that each brain is isolated from each other brain - should itself be questioned.  How can there be a “Thought-World” if each collection of thoughts, mental pictures, concepts and ideas is isolated in each individual brain?  Or, how can there not be such a World?  If we are to doubt, in order to be scientific, then all assumptions should be doubted, including our supposed mental isolation.  If the brain scientist wants to doubt the existence of an “I” - a self, why then should we also not doubt  our apparent isolation?  If one thing can be doubted, it all can be doubted.  Who the fuck gives the brain scientist the right to tell us what to do and/or think?

Let us return our thinking-attention to our own inwardness, for a moment, and work with the possibility that this seemingly dark territory is actually a doorway.  Can we go through that doorway to some-"place” else?  Can we find within us something that is of the invisible and is like in kind to the other-invisible?  We experience this doorway as isolation because that is the character of this Age.  Prior Ages did not have this experience, witness their deep religious views.

For example Platonism - through the experiences of Plato - was taught as thinking that the source of thought was otherwise - holding there was a world of invisible pure forms, of which our visible forms are a poor copy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonism).   Modern thinkers such as Einstein, Godel and Roger Penrose are seen by some as neo-platonists (see Rebecca Goldstein’s:  Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel.   Penrose  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Penrose) wrote in his The Emperor’s New Mind how as a mathematician  he is beginning to think mathematical truths have their own independent existence. “...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics the case for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least for the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger...” (pp. 97).


The development of natural science is filled with what appear to be instances of the same idea appearing to several human beings around the same time (a most famous instance, involving August Kekule’s somnolent vision of a snake biting its tail, has been supposedly debunked - see: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/16/science/the-benzene-ring-dream-analysis.html.)  Right now the main thing that happens is disputes over who can patent such “common” thoughts.  Microsoft had a famous dispute with Apple over the nature of the “look and feel” of the desktop environment, and who “owned” this complicated and remarkable Idea.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Microsoft_Corporation”.  A few centuries earlier Newton and Leibniz (and their supporters) argued over who had “invented” the calculus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leibniz%E2%80%93Newton_calculus_controversy).

How could it happen that we experience the same, or each other’s, thoughts?  In the animal kingdom we have the so-called hundredth monkey phenomena (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_Monkey) - once a hundred monkeys on an island gain a new skill, then all of them begin to display that skill.  Then, of course, there are all the reported instances of telepathy and related psychic experiences.  People emotionally close to each other often seem to have the same thought at the same time.  While this is anecdotal, it doesn’t mean it is not true, and rushing to judgment in these instances mostly is done in order to save the all is matter, there is no spirit assumption common today to natural science.

Could we then all have the ability to drawn down - download - ideas from this possibly shared world of pure conceptions?  If that is the case, from what source are these ideas uploaded into the Thought-World in the first place?

It appears that only small portions of the totality of concepts are distributed among individual biological based memories (no one knows everything), and physically large arrays are needed for the storage of this totality, which require immense material libraries and many terabytes of hard drive space to hold.   Again, not one of us knows everything, most of us know only a relative little as compared to that totality, and much of that tends to be very personal.


Yet, we know this huge content is there, but where did this content originally come from?  By this I mean to focus now mostly on the problem of creativity.  From what do concepts  originate?


If our explanation is a physical brain, then at the least we have to explain how they got "there". Now some would say they come into our own consciousness and memories from processes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) of reading and study - that is we share them somehow, one to the other, c.f. the theory of memes .  That's fine, until we get to what has to be called a "new" idea - an "idea" or "concept" never before thought.  Where did that come from?


If the "brain" is completely a physical organ, it seems unlikely that it can create something new.   Think this through thoroughly.  We can agree the brain is complex.  But still, how does something new and original arise from what we conceive of as an essentially closed system.  A closed system ought only be able to repeat what is already there.  The same question exists in evolutionary biology - how does something essentially fixed produce something new.  The “theoretical” answer is “by accident”, which is a very curious formulation.

If we put random numbers or operations in mathematical proofs, would that “accident” not do anything more than foul the works?

Let us for the moment give credence to random chance?  Perhaps, but then you have to explain as random chance the whole history of natural science, the industrial revolution and then the computer revolution, which are so  full of new ideas that some kind of accidental random process seems to hardly have had enough time.


People have argued that the idea of physical  evolution requires the magic of a tornado going through a junkyard and creating a 747.   The counter to that is the argument suggesting that evolution has had billions of years to produce by chance all the needed biological variations.  Okay, ... but the Age of Science, in terms of producing new concepts, clearly didn't have that amount of time.  Too much organized change happening too rapidly.  To base it on random chance is to make a very silly and completely disingenuous bad joke.

There is a field which posits what are called: Laws of Thought (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_Thought).  We have the terms logic and reason, and develop all kinds of systems of thought around these processes, but did not factually find these processes in nature.  We only found them in our own minds.  It is we who reason.  The “Idea” of random chance is that it can organize itself - for there is no operator that can do the organizing.  In fact, if Nature cannot reason or be logical, having no consciousness or capacity for intention and purpose, where do we get such capacities that are so very obviously there.  How does random nature, which cannot reason or show purpose, produce an organism that does reason and show purpose?

We also make assumptions, believing we have arrived at knowledge.  Yet, the fact is that in the practice of science difficult assumptions are often created, ignored and then converted into beliefs.  See again Ron Brady’s Dogma and Doubt (http://natureinstitute.org/txt/rb/dogma/dogmadoubt.htm) for a description of the confusion caused in biology by this unconscious, mostly ignored and very human, mental process (converting assumptions into beliefs).

Some might offer that the computer itself reveals the needed analogous process to explain how creativity arises in the brain (sort of a combined up by your bootstraps and cart before the horse argument).  That might be theoretically okay, except for the law of  GIGO - garbage in, garbage out.  Physical computers don't create, and don't think.  The writers of "software" think and create - all the computer does is calculate very very very fast, and get smaller and smaller and smaller.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/24/science/scientists-see-advances-in-deep-learning-a-part-of-artificial-intelligence.html?hp&_r=0

The computer doesn't even use "concepts".  It can't dream, or fall in love or experience reverie.  It can't pray or meditate.  While software writers might create in the computer program a capacity to successfully simulate the human being (the so-called Turing Test http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test), that doesn’t (and can’t) ever mean the computer does what we experience when we daydream.  In fact, the best evidence for the spiritual nature of the human being is the computer, which shows clearly  the limits of a sense-visible physical system to do an invisible non-physical action, such as thinking.  The brain may be like a biological computer, to a degree - but the more true that is, the less likely it is the brain can create new ideas.


How do we know this?

Let us consider for a moment what the brain scientist actually does.


All of us do this.  We all use this tool - the computer, but it only does what we with our thinking inwardness tell it to do.  If we want something to receive some instructions and carry out a complex task requiring thinking and experience, we ask another human being to do it, not a computer.  A computer can do repetitive tasks fast and accurately, but complicated tasks, such as just recognizing a face, are nearly impossible - unless there is human created software in place.  Is there god-created software in the brain?  Or is it just chance created software in our wetware?

Does the brain have an “operating system”?  It can seem to if we follow some of the thinking in consciousness studies.  But what about from the point of view of that imaginary “I” thingy?  My computer has an “operator” - it doesn’t direct itself, although it does a lot of work itself.  But the computer isn’t self-aware - it isnt’ aware that what it is doing is work - it doesn’t know some hacker has sent it out to steal wealth from others.  Unlike most of us, it can’t be troubled by what we call a guilty conscience.

This particular argument is made all the more crucial when we reflect that all over the world exists disciplines that are analogous to operating systems for the mind (not the brain, the mind).  Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.  Various kinds of Yoga.  Sufism.  Anthroposophy and Christian Hermeticism.  Tarot and Alchemy.  Kabbalah.   Most are ancient, a few are new.

All of these operating systems of the mind have points of view about what it means to have ideas, or not. What the “I” is, or is not.  What separates them from modern brain/consciousness studies is that the practitioner of these skills, crafts and arts, goes inward, not outward.  The modern scientist looks outward - at others with instruments.  The spiritual seeker looks at his own consciousness directly, as it appears to him.  Rudolf Steiner, who taught Anthroposophy, and called himself a “spiritual scientist” had this to say about a Thought-World:

The path that leads to sense-free thinking by way of the communications of spiritual science is thoroughly reliable and sure.  There is however another that is even more sure, and above all more exact [emphasis added, ed.]; at the same time, it is for many people more difficult.  The path in question is set forth in my books The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World-Conception and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.  These books tell what man’s thinking can achieve when directed not to impressions that come from the outer world of the physical sense but solely upon itself.  When this is so, we have within us no longer the kind of thinking that concerns itself merely with memories of the things of the sense; we have instead pure thinking which is like a being that has life within itself.  In the above mentioned books you will find nothing at all that is derived from the communications of spiritual  science.  They testify to the fact that pure thinking, working within itself alone, can throw light on the great questions of life - questions concerning the universe and man. The books thus occupy a significant intermediate position between knowledge of the sense-world and knowledge of the spiritual world.  What they offer is what thinking can attain when it rises above sense-observation, yet still holds back from entering upon the spiritual, supersensible research.  One who wholeheartedly pursues the train of thought indicated in these books is already in the spiritual world; only it makes itself known to him as a thought-world [emphasis added, ed.].  Whoever feels ready to enter upon this intermediate path of development will be taking a safe and sure road, and it will leave with him a feeling in regard to the higher world that will bear rich fruit in all time to come.”


Every human being, unless prevented by some physical  defect, has access to the Thought-World.  No machine can do that, because only the human being has a spiritual invisible aspect  that is able to enter into a non-physical world.  This spiritual invisible aspect we call the: "I".


The brain is not the "I".  The brain is a physical  interface which enables the non-physical spirit - the "I"  - to interact within the physical world, which actually makes it even more of a remarkable organ then currently believed even by brain scientists.  Let me repeat  that.  The brain is physical/material organ, so rich in its complexity, that it enables a non-physical invisible spirit (the “I”) to interact in the physical world - for spirit to interact with matter.  Now that is amazing!

Personal investigation, made by more than a few, reveals that this
thought-world is an invisible place, which can also be called: the spiritual world.   While modern convention tries to teach that there is only matter, and never spirit, we cannot think a thought without being a spirit among spirits.  To think in a fully awake fashion is to be in the thought-world


What I just wrote is - to the reader - a concept or an idea, possibly unfamiliar and something I do not expect the reader to believe.  Although, the reader could seek to know these matters directly through their own scientific and empirical investigations of their own minds.  Let me finish out this seemingly "theoretical" idea, by borrowing from a recent film: Avatar.


In that movie, the "I" consciousness of a human being is transferred into a biological organism of an alien nature.  All the means for doing this is imagined first in the minds of the creators of this movie -  that is the whole conceptual structure is created by the "I"s of those who made this movie.  How the characters in the movie even built or replicated a copy of the alien organism is assumed possible in the movie, but not explained.  It is imagined artistically by the movie's creators.

We human beings leave our  bodies at night when we sleep, and during sleep we wake up in the world of spirit.  When we re-enter our bodies on awakening, we forget our night-work, but are - like the characters in Avatar - having a physical world experience because our “spirit” is integrated with a physical body, via the nervous system - most especially the brain.  For our spirits, our physical bodies are our “avatars”, just like the creators of imaginative fiction and computer virtual worlds have thought possible.  Physical evolution provides the bodies, but a corresponding spiritual evolution provides the self-conscious “I”.  We just live in an Age where the main unproven assumption is that: all is matter, there is no spirit.


Art, something a computer will never do, is able to go places science, too tightly today bound up with reason, cannot go.  A computer cannot imagine.


Yet, if we read the INtrospective ruminations of scientists, such as Einstein, we are made aware of how much creativity arises precisely in the imagination.  From this non-physical picture-thinking has come all that science has produced that is original.  The transistor revolution that created Silicon Valley came from the imagination of human beings.  It was first thought into existence by a few minds (spirits) that did not limit themselves in what they were willing to conceive.  No physical organ, such as a "brain", can do this - make something out of what is otherwise a fixed thing - the material brain.

Once more, Rudolf Steiner: from the Preface to his doctoral dissertation: Truth and Knowledge [published in 1892]: “The object of knowledge is not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but rather to create a completely new sphere, which when combined with the world given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus man’s highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of the universal world-process. The world-process should not be considered a complete, enclosed totality without this activity. Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in the organism of the universe.

Whatever else we believe, it is clear that the “picture” the brain scientist has of this completely material organ is that it is a mechanism, however complicated and biological.  It is a really silly self-satisfied fantasy, on the part of the brain scientist, to hold to the view that the completely non-material imaginative inner life of the human being can arise from a tinker-toy structure, however complicated.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/opinion/sunday/neuroscience-under-attack.html?hp


A "brain" only appears to be able to do this because hyper-rational scientific thinking is afraid of the spiritual, the mystical, the sacred, the imaginative, and the artistic.  This is a fear-driven irrational limit placed by scientists themselves on their own minds.  See Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World.


For details on another way of looking at this, and as well all the logical flaws underlying modern materialistic scientific thinking, "read" the previously mentioned: The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything. http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/artofgod.html


Some final thoughts, born in the Thought-World, an invisible “place with which we are all intimately familiar:


the gift of the word  

(should be read aloud, better even if we get someone to read it to us)

Speech, / Words, letters, sounds, / heard by both the inner ear and the outer.

Letters, sounds, words, / linked invisibly to ideas and thoughts.

Ideas, thoughts, letters, sounds, words, / a woven tapestry of meaning,

carried by Speech, / sometimes with grace, / but most often just carelessly.

Meaning, / a weaving of thoughts, sounds, words, letters and ideas,

spoken into the air and left there, / abandoned.

Words, spoken and heard. / Meaning intended. / But what is heard?

That which is heard is also intended. / Two intentions, two purposes, two meanings.

How difficult then communication, / suffering as it does the contrary pulls of multiple intentions, purposes and meanings.

I speak, you listen. / I mean, you grasp. / Somewhere in this delicate dance of words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas and purposes; / understanding is sought after.

Perhaps. / Sometimes.

Voice. / Speech reveals the unspoken. / Anger, fear, pride, arrogance, true humility.

The ear of the heart hears what is hidden in voice.

Posture, gesture. / Speech is more than sound. / The eye hears things the ear cannot, just as the ear sees things the eye cannot.

One mind. / Two minds. / Speech, a bridge of woven light between two minds, and sometimes, although rarely, / between two hearts.

Speech, rich and full of flavor, / a light bridge, / joining two separate beings.

Speech denatured, / No sound, no gesture, no posture, no voice.

Speech reduced to lines of dark on light. / Written. / A treasure map in code spilled across a page

Words, letters, ideas, thoughts, sounds, / reduced to marks upon a parchment. / Speech dying.

Yet, / even in death, murdered by pen or pencil mark, / some essence of Speech still.

Meaning embalmed. Understanding buried. / Until read.

Reading. / Words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas, meaning, purposes, intentions,

Speech resurrected in the silence of another mind.

Speech. / Light bridge dying into print, / reborn when read in the inner quiet of another soul.

Speech, / The Spoken Word. / Writing, / The Word entombed. / Writing read, / The Word resurrected.

That this is so, / that human beings live in such an exalted state having Speech, this is Grace.

The spoken word, the written word. / Things so ordinary, so taken for granted, so pregnant with possibility.

The emptiness between two souls is always / chaste, virgin, pure, / waiting for Grace, for the bridge of light, / for Speech.

The Gift of the Word, originally called Speech, was written on Epiphany,

Jan. 6, 1997, in the evening, in about a third of an hour.



Speaking Truth to Power:
in the realm of mind, also known as: soul and spirit***

Whatever you do, don't laugh ... this is all very very serious, and, For folks who would like simple questions and simple answers, here are The Rules

The philosopher-seer Rudolf Steiner's idea of Freedom, in his book The Philosophy of Freedom, otherwise in English: The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, was not meant to refer to political or social freedom.  The chief clue was this last sentence of the original preface:  "One must be able to confront an idea, and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage".

We only directly experience the Idea in the spiritual (inner) realm/temple of Thought.  If all we do is "feel", as in all manner of kinds of mysticism whether Christian or otherwise, we are asleep and only dreaming.  Only consciously willed thinking shines the light of precise and elegant clarity on Ideas.

When we experience an Idea in the sense world it already is clothed in its material being.  Whatever the Idea of a squirrel is for example, we only know it in the sense world as the actual squirrel we perceive - what Steiner called: the Percept.  When we experience the Idea in the social world it is already clothed in those processes which govern the social world, such as we begin to examine when we ask: what is a family history or story?   In the concrete a family is a collection of specific indivduals, but in the social world, collectively, "family" is only known via the mental pictures created by consciously evolved abstract thinking.  We can know both sense world and social world objects, as their Idea, only through thinking.  To distinguish the Idea from the Percept, he spoke also of the Concept, for to naive consciousness the first pure thinking experience of the Idea is as an individual concept, or as Steiner advised in A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception: An Idea is a complex of concepts.

For example, we have in Ron Brady's wonderful essay: Dogma and Doubt, the reference to the Theories of natural science as always containing many individual concepts, even though the Idea, for example of natural selection, can be simply stated.   If we actually examine that Idea we will see it has many conceptual parts, and each part must individually be subjected to the logical processes by which we evaluate the usefulness of any theory.

Human Beings also are psychological beings - beings with a profound and complicated (and invisible to the senses) interior life.  We have thoughts, and feelings and impulses of the will.  These three soul powers have complicated inter-relationships.  In The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity Steiner speaks of this inner complex nature of the human being as our: characterlogical disposition.  If, for example, our characterlogical disposition is that we like a particular complex of concepts, we may have difficulty not falling into bondage to the related Idea. This condition of bondage, or belief, is also explored in Brady's essay, where he examines how it is that the belief in dogmas has become the general common ground of a great deal of thinking in evolutionary biology.  Scientific empiricism, as observed by Brady, was set aside, and answers to deep questions were assumed (believed) to be already known - thus becoming dogma.

We could also observe that this is true just about everywhere in human civilization: this power of belief.  If we want to understand the world we need to understand this "condition" or characterlogical disposition common to all of us: the capacity to believe in non-empirical and unproven dogma.  For certain details as to the meaning of this condition, see my book: The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything.

Another way to look at this is to understand that we have a personal relationship to that which lives in that particular aspect of the Thought-World to which we have access, and which we sometimes refer to as: our point of view, or world-view.  The nature of this personal relationship is an aspect of our characterlogical disposition, which itself is an aspect of our karma, fate and destiny.  Here is a link to a long essay on the nature of this: The IDEA of the Thought-World. 

The existential question posed by Steiner's works on the "theory of knowledge" is: Are we inwardly free?  Do we create and "possess" knowledge or does knowledge (in the form of beliefs) possess us?  A third way to perceive this is to ask: Before what inner authority do we bow?  Each of us can only know the answer to that question through a process of an empirical study of our own mind.  For each it is individual.  As a consequence, the process of achieving inner freedom before the concept is for each of us also individual.  Rudolf Steiner,   in GA 2 (“The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception- 1886); GA 3 (“Truth and Knowledge- Steiner’s dissertation - 1892); and, GA 4 (“The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity- 1894), gives us maps, but we have to empirically traverse the actual territory to know it directly and scientifically.

One way to begin is to ask yourself: Who are you?  What are the names you use to describe yourself?  How do you define those "names"?  What makes you, as individual, fit into that name and that description?  How did you become that name and description?  There is no right answer, by the way - just your answer.  Its your path.  If you find yourself having fallen into bondage in some inward fashion, you are the only one that can create for yourself the freedom with respect to this, for which Steiner drew maps with words.

Suppose you say: I am an anthroposophist, or a spiritual scientist, or a Waldorf teacher, or a Catholic, or a Republican, or a mother and so forth.  Several of these would mean some acquaintance with the ideas/concepts of Rudolf Steiner.  A question you could ask: Am I in bondage to any Ideas I have acquired from Rudolf Steiner, or Ideas from my Church, or Ideas from my Political Party?  How would I know that, and so forth.

This world of point of view, or of world-view, is a real world.  It is not just a weird accidental product of the material brain.  The brain scientist leaves out studying his own mind, and therefore uses a tool he does not understand at all, which then severely limits his ability to realize what he sees in his studies.  To then deal with, and have knowledg of this Thought-World, what do we do?  How do we come to knowledge of our inner world of mind, - or soul and spirit? 

In a way, it is by ruling without ruling (intention), and seeing without looking (attention).  Ruling without ruling concerns the influence of our moral heart on thinking, while seeing without looking concerns the effects of our choices of objects of thought-activity.  Details can be found here: Living Thinking in Action.

In the Cultural East one is encouraged to give up mind for being, which is an ancient tradition and point of view that is no longer valid.  Both mind and being have evolved over the  millenia since the time of the creation of these  great and ancient Eastern traditions.   At the same time the West is more modern, in a certain way, by thousands of years, so in the deep spiritual processes of the modern and scientific Cultural West we have learned to give up being for mind.  Rudolf Steiner put it this way in: West and East: contrasting worlds (Vienna, 1-12 June, 1922) “The will of the West must give power to the thought of the East; the thought of the West must release the will of the East.

How do we do this?

Instead of the intention of the will resting on breath, as in the East is mostly taught these days, the will in the West finds its reality in thinking: - in intention and attention, or why and what.  We eventually find ourselves embracing living thinking, which in the Acts of the Apostles is called, interestingly enough: Holy Breath.  We wake up in thinking, so that why we think - that is, what is our intention - is entirely clear to us.  And, as well, what we think about, or is our object of thought-creation process - that also is consciously willed.  So the thought of the East can become the questions we in the West ask.  Rather than accept Eastern thought as doctrine and truth, we turn it into questions, and by that act our  scientific cognition gives that thought-creation process new power or life. (c.f. the early attempts to do this: The Tao of Physics by F. Capra, and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by G. Zukav; as well as a more sophistcated attempt by E. Lehrs - a student of Steiner's - in Man or Matter.)

Yet, in the thought-culture of the West lies science, which ought to be neither doctrine and tradition (but being young and human, too often is).  Science is a method, a how.  What the East gives to its traditional inclinations, as in its love of its great and cosmic Ideas, then through the  imitation of the West, via the need for scientific scrutiny, the will of the East is freed.  If there ever was a culture in bondage to Ideas it is the East.  Religion there must become science.  (For more details here: West and East: or Wendt’s “critique” of Osho’s critique of Rudolf Steiner - Osho's critique was recently reprinted in the Southern Cross Review)

And in the West the reverse is true.  In the West Science must become religious, by our taking up the great ideas of the East as valid questions.  In the West an overly intellectual scientific materialism (all is matter, there is no spirit) has replaced the search for truth with a set of unquestioned dogmas (such as in evolutionary biology, and big-bang physics).  Only when Science is religious in its higher sense, can the dogmatic nature of present day science, as pointed out by Brady above, be overcome.  The bridge between Science and Religion is Art.  The self-conscious thinker that desires to bridge the two needs to work out of his aesthetic feelings - his sense of Beauty.  Science gives us Truth, and Religion gives us Goodness, but only Art gives us Beauty.

From my essay: The Idea of Mind:

Here is what Roger Penrose, a major thinker on the problem of mind and science, had to say in his The Emperor's New Mind, pp. 421, Oxford University Press, 1989: "It seems clear to me that the importance of aesthetic criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we make all the time in mathematical (or scientific work) Rigorous argument is usually the last step! Before that, one has to make many guesses, and for these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..." And here is Karl Popper, whose work on scientific method sets the standard (for many at least), in his Realism and the Aim of Science, pp. 8, Rowan and Littlefield, 1956: "...I think that there is only one way to science - or to philosophy, for that matter: to meet a problem, to see its beauty and to fall in love with it;...".  Or as we might add to Mr. Popper's thought: "...to meet a problem (reason), to see its beauty (imagination) and to fall in love with it (devotion);...".  

Reason, Imagination, and Devotion; or, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

How we work with these realities, ... that is how do we speak truth inwardly to the already established power of our personal beliefs, points of view or world-views - how do we become free in relationship to our collection of Ideas, rather than in bondage - for each this is individual.


The Meaning of Earth Existence

in the Age of the Consciousness Soul

*[John 16: 12-15 "I have much more to say to you, but you can't bear it just yet.  But when the other comes, the breath of truth, he will guide you in the ways of all truth, because he will not speak on his own, but will speak what he hears and announce to you what's coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take of what is mine and announce it to you.  Everything the Father has is mine: that's why I said he will take of what is mine and announce it to you."]


from the book: the Way of the Fool: 

There yet remains a small effort to make a synthesis this work - to make a whole out of seemingly disparate parts.  I will try to be brief.

A principle aspect of the great Mystery of our Time is the Mystery of Evil, both outwardly in the structural backdrop to the shared social world of humanity, and inwardly in the depths of our own souls.  I have tried above to point out how it is that the essential matter is not the outer social world, but the inner soul world, and the trials and education of the i-AM, in the biography. The context, which we need to call the maya of history and current events, and which is receptively held everywhere from below by the Dark Mystery of the Divine Mother, all passes away, and only what is Eternal, that is what becomes an aspect of the developing i-AM, continues; and, this inner realm (the whole Inwardness of the Creation, which includes human souls and spirits) only exists because of the Heavenly Mystery of the penetrating thoughts of the Father, while the whole (the outer social maya and the eternal inner mind) is created, loved, overseen and mediated (wherever two are more are gathered...), in all its Grace filled and Artistic interrelationships, by the Earthly [new Sun] Mystery of the sacrifices of the Son.

We (humanity) now begin to move out of our spiritual childhood, and in making our way through the Rite of Passage that is Life as it leads us toward our spiritual maturity we need to take hold of the complex of the doubles and the karma of wounds, as these thrive within our souls, and which encourage human evil through temptation and inner prosecution.  Even so, this task of meeting the Mystery of Evil within the soul is not as heavy as we think, for through the Shepherd's Tale [Charles Sheldon], the King's Tale [Rudolf Steiner], the Healers' Tale [the community-created Twelve-Steps] and the Sermon on the Mount, we have all the practical instructions that we need.

In seeking to understand in ourselves these three: moral grace, freedom and love [each of these is elaborated in great detail in the book], we set before ourselves what is required to be learned in this Age and it is with these three naturally unfolding capacities that we are Graced and strengthened so as to be able to meet with courage the Mystery of Evil.  If we do dare this path, and seek for the deepest instruction in Christ's Sermon on the Mount, then will come to us a change in the nature of our biography, such that it more and more takes on the pattern, described in the John Gospel, as the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ (the washing of the feet; the scourging; the crowning with thorns; the carrying of the cross; the crucifixion; the entombment and the resurrection) (for a careful exposition of these Seven Stages, see Valentin Tomberg's [anthroposophical] book: Inner Development).

Whereas Christ lived this in an apparently mostly physical way, those, who truly follow In His Steps [the name of Sheldon's book, as well as a critical phrase** in Ben-Aharon's The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century - a profound Imagination of the True Second Coming], will in the main feel these trials in their souls, as aspects of the joy and suffering in the human biography.

**["Now when they identified themselves with the situation of earthly humanity, the souls who remained true to [Archangel] Michael prefigured, in their planetary Earthly-Sun life, the great Sacrifice of Christ.  They walked again in His steps [emphasis added] as they did in former earthly lives, only now the order of following was reversed.  They went before Him, showing Him the way, acting out of free and self-conscious human decision, and He followed in their steps [emphasis added] only after they fully united themselves with the divided karma of Earth and humanity.  Only then could He offer His sacrifice as the answer to the new, future question of human existence: the question concerning the mission and fate of evil."  Jesaiah Ben-Aharon, The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century.]

These trials may seem difficult, but the truth is they are merely human.  It was Christ becoming human that went to the Cross, for how could He place an example before us we could not do out of our own humanity (just as Sheldon wrote in In His Steps). [something written by a Shepherd (a pastor) in America, at the same time Steiner (a King) was writing his The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom)]  It is the human in Christ that asks in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup be taken from him, but if not, He accepts the Father's will. While later it is the even deeper human in Christ that says on the Cross: "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?".  Who among us, in the trials and sufferings of life, has not uttered these same thoughts? [That Steiner teaches an esoteric meaning for the end of life statements of Christ, in no way contradicts their exoteric meanings, which are also true.]

It is here that Christ's teachings strongly diverge from the Wisdom of the Buddha, for the Buddha would have had us overcome suffering by learning not to know it (one version of the third Noble Truth of the Buddha reads as follows: " ...concerning the Cessation of Suffering; verily,it is passionless, cessation without remainder of this very craving; the laying aside of, the giving up, the being free from, the harboring no longer of, this craving.", whereas Christ asks us to embrace our human pain so that we can pass through the Narrow Gate of suffering to then know our deepest self, the true i-AM, and then through this burning trial of knowledge of the true-self, ultimately come to Him.  If we would follow In His Steps then we too must take on ourselves the errors (sins)*** of the world, and the tasks of forgiveness and love, for every love engendered free act of moral grace takes up a small part of Christ's suffering, so that we too participate in the deepest creative acts of the Seventh Day of Creation - the transformation of evil into love.  [This is for anthroposophists the teaching attributed to Mani, but the reason such a personality even knows this is because the transformation of evil into love is modeled for us in the deepest felt actions of the Divine Mother and the Son.  When we know intimately these actions of the Divine Mystery, we know the true spiritual meaning of the Mystery of Evil, and that this Mystery is Itself the real source of the earthly doctrine connected to it that is sometimes called Manichaeism.]

***[The word sin does not appear in the original Greek, from which the Gospels were translated into the other languages.  The Greek word hamartia, misused to indicate sin, actually means "missing the mark" (it is a term from archery).   See in this regard the Unvarnished Gospels by Andy Gaus.]

Is this foolish?  Of course, but we need not fear this Way of the Fool, for our Faith in Christ's Promises will always be fulfilled, as we ourselves can learn to become the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  Yes, this Way is full of trials, but whoever has lived life, and reflected upon their experience, knows that in the meeting of our biography's trials with courage we discover what it truly means to be human: to struggle, to fall, to get up and to learn - and, through this process, gently and humbly, begin to take up along side and with Him, Christ's kind and light, Yoke of Love.

Having said all this, it becomes necessary to make one last picture for the reader, for clearly, in that we read the news and hear of the horrors of man's continuing inhumanity to man, we ourselves face a terrible trial.  How are we to understand a world seemingly so filled with Evil?

Picture, for a moment, the surface of the Earth.  Below dense matter and fiery substance, while above, airless space.  Humanity lives out its Earth Existence only in this narrow spherical band of Life, whose diameter is just under 8,000 miles (and whose height is just three to four miles, because above 15,000 feet above sea level, the atmosphere starts to not contain enough oxygen to support our breathing).  The total surface area of the Earth is 196 million square miles, and the habitable land area 43 million square miles   Six billion plus human beings must find all that they physically need, which when we consider actual available arable land (land that could be cultivated for food, and other necessary resources), means that each individual only has a square 161 feet on a side from which to grow what they need.  This then is the physical spacial aspect of the social organism of the whole world.

Yet, we know that this spherical space is itself often unwisely distributed, for human social arrangements, whether rooted in dominance and selfishness (dominion over) or generosity and sharing (communion with), these social arrangements seem to determine this social order.  This stream of moral gestures (choices), of good and/or of evil, moves out of and through human beings, organizing the physical one.

As to this moral aspect of the social organism of the whole world, it has reached in this Time a kind of climax of development, and it will be important to appreciate the true nature of the logos order in which Christ has set modern human existence, through His creative powers as the Artist (Lord) of Karma (the precise and love based placement of individual biographies in relationship to each other).   Here is something Natural Science cannot do, for the meaning of existence is beyond the weaknesses of their yet fanciful and spirit-empty images.  This will also help us to understand why so many (falsely, but with some degree of reason) believe we live in the End Times.

In the Twentieth Century the world was woven together into a single social organism, not just via the globalization of economic matters, or the personal interconnections offered by the Internet, but most centrally by the Media.  At the beginning of the 20th Century, few knew what went on elsewhere the world, in any detail or with any immediacy.  At the end of the 20th Century, at the same time that the returned Kings' were unfolding the New Revelations of Christ  [the story of the 20th Century involves a return of the meaning-essence of the Three Kings of the Gospels - that is a return of the knowledge of Gnosis, hungering to be woven again into a single whole with true Faith - an event which clearly had to accompany the True Second Coming], the world itself was woven into a whole in the sense that no macro social event was not to be almost immediately known everywhere the same day (if not the same hour) that it happened.

We live in a time when has arisen a Culture of Media - a kind of knowledge commons, in which vast resources are used to create for us pictures of the meaning of the world and of events.  The more developed the country, the greater our daily experience can be saturated with the messages coming from this Culture of Media.

Moreover, great effort and expense is gone into by those who would force us to believe what they want us to believe.  Between advertising, political propaganda, outright lies, weak or lame reporting, and other similar failures to reach the truth, this saturation of the soul by the Culture of Media would seem to fail to offer us any service at all. What is not appreciated is that the Christ is far wiser than even the deepest believers imagine.  Every evil is eventually turned to good, and next we will explore the prime example for our time.

Recall what has been pointed out many times now, that the individual biography is the central reality of life on the Earth.  What happens inside us as we experience life is much more important and enduring than the outer events which surround us.  That Stage Setting (all the world's a stage....) is but epiphenomena to the reality of the life of the soul.  To help us appreciate this then, let us explore these matters from the point of view of the individual biography.

In this time, there are over six billion plus of these biographies woven into the tapestry of the social organism of the whole world.  Six billion lives held delicately and exactly within the Love and Divine Justice of the Mystery.  Within these biographies, all the individual i-AMs experience that precise and personal instruction that hopes to lead them to the realization of their own divinity and immortality of spirit. [The epoch (rite of passage) of the Consciousness Soul is 2100 years long, going from the time of the beginning of the on-looker separation (and the creation of Natural Philosophy - Science) in the 1400's, until the years around 3500 AD.]

To understand this we need to think it from the inside out, and not from the outside in.  The Culture of Media only provides context, never essence.  True, life is hard, even harsh, even terrible.  The naive consciousness wants to turn away from this suffering, and cannot understand how God (the Divine Mystery) could allow such things as torture, child abuse and the genocidal acts which are dumbed down by the terms: ethnic cleansing.

The reality is that what the Divine Mystery does is to allow for freedom.  This most precious gift is essential to the immortal spirit during its Rites of Passage we are calling: Earth Existence.  Moreover, the Mystery also makes certain there is a true Justice through the post-death passages of kamaloka and lower and higher devachan, in a manner no human social structure can provide.  Christ has told us this in the Sermon on the Mount: "to what sentence you sentence others, you will be sentenced".  All this should be kept in mind as we proceed.

As a single ego, I wake in the morning.  From the night I bring the remainder of yesterday, perhaps worked over.  Surrounding me, as I live the day, are the lives of those with whom I have a karma of wounds - with whom I have a debt of meaning to creatively work over.  This we carry together, each bearing a part, each bearing their own wounds.   These are wounds from the past, from the present and from the future.

To observe the world of today, as we walk the walk of our lives, is to observe trials of fire and suffering - rites of wounding and being wounded. But not just this, for also there is healing.  Where we let love thrive, wounds become healed.

Thus flow all our days, often too fast to even notice the beauty and wonder of the sea of personal relationships and shared trials.  Yes, there is misfortune, and evil deeds.  But do we really imagine Christ and the Divine Mother lets this evil happen without recourse or justice?  We may not know this directly through Gnosis, but we also can have Faith.  Gnosis without Faith is empty of Life; and, Faith without Gnosis is empty of the Truth.  Only when we join them together, do we get: the Way (the Mystery of living the Good), the Truth (the Mystery of knowing the Good) and the Life (the Mystery of union with the Good).

This then is the wonder of the outer and inner biography, for often the wounds are not visible.  Yes, sometimes the wounds are visible to our eye or ear for we see people too fat, too thin, too lamed in body, too poor, too physically or mentally deficient.  Often, however, so many of us suffer in silence that we really do not know the nature and personal meaning of their wounds - only our own are visible to the eye of our heart, unless we first learn to exercise and unfold certain powers of soul and spirit.

Amidst all this visible and silent suffering, we find ourselves woven into the Culture of Media.  Images and sounds flow around us, pictures of a world on the verge of chaos and madness.  Yes, we have the intimacy of our personal biography, but through the Culture of Media we are drawn into the painted backdrop of the whole world - a backdrop we all share.  War in Iraq.  Global warming.  Governments out of control.  Pandemics waiting in the wings.  Local economic recession, and even world-wide depression.

What lives in this painted backdrop - in this Stage Setting - in the wise relationship of the Culture of Media to the unfolding of our personal biographies?

The answer is this: the mirror of our own inner darkness and light...

Inside us the double-complex - our feelings of judgment, our temptations, our addictions and our sense of failure. Inside us the darkness that belongs personally to us, and outside us, carried to us by the Culture of Media, the mirror of that darkness.  But also inside us the Good that we would author.

Think on it.  Do we not experience the images and sounds brought to us by the Culture of Media as something that is filled with what we like and we dislike?  We live our biographies and the Culture of Media confounds our souls with pictures of dark and light to which we all respond individually.  The great masses of humanity do not make the News.  The great masses of humanity experience the News.

What is News?  News is exactly what the reporters and television personalities call it: stories.  The Culture of Media provides us stories (tales) of the world, which are often presented as if these stories are true, something most of us have come to know they are not.  News stories reflect all kinds of bias, and in some cases the bias is deliberate.  Moreover, news stories reflect conditions of commerce living in the agency reporting them.

For example, it is well understood that in the last third of the 20th Century in American television the news divisions of the major networks disappeared, and the entertainment divisions took over the responsibility for the news.  The opportunity to inform and educate the receivers of news stories became secondary to the need to keep them interested so as to be able to sell commercial time and make a profit.  In addition, the stories are mostly about dire and tragic events, and little is investigated or reported that is about the positive and the creative.

We are right then to wonder sometimes about the News, about its harsh nature and artless excessive attention to the dark deeds of many.  Humanity in general bears within it the beam that is not seen, while the mote is exaggerated.  But the world itself is not this beam, is not this darkness.  The greater part of darkness is inside us - in our own souls, and from there projected onto the world.  The Culture of Media exaggerates this darkness further, at the same time it gives us much that also arouses our own unredeemed antipathies and sympathies.

Once more for emphasis...

The world in its reality is not this Media generated excess of darkness (so out of balance with the light that is also everywhere present), which we all project from within the soul - the beam.  Yet, in the Culture of Media this whole processes of dark projection is exaggerated so that the mirroring nature of the social world itself begins to bother us.  This logos order of the social world is complex and rich, and worth a deep study.

Pictures of a distorted and untrue meaning of the world abound, and while we share these pictures, we make personal and individual our reactions.  Just as the intimate events of our biographies have a personal meaning, so does the shared stage setting have a personal meaning.  In a more general sense, for example, many Christians today are confronted, via the Culture of Media, with pictures of individuals whose actions as self-proclaimed Christians either inspire us to imitation or cause us to turn away in shame.  The same is true in Islam. The terrorist who frightens us in the West, also causes many ordinary Muslims to turn away in horror.  Everywhere fundamentalism rises, to continue the example, the great mass of humanity, that are not so tied to such arid rigidity, shrink away in antipathy.  Do we not assert quietly, inwardly to ourselves: this is not me, I am not that - I will not be that!

In our biographies then, we are confronted in the intimacy of our personal relationships with what are sympathetic and antipathetic reactions to that which we would choose to admire and imitate, and that which we would shun and refuse to be like.  Via the Culture of Media, we are met with that which approaches us in the same way, yet on a larger scale.   Just as we as individuals have a Shadow (a double-complex), so nations, religions and peoples have a Shadow, and the Culture of Media puts in our faces these pictures and meanings with which we can identify or from which we can turn away, often in shame.

Christ has arranged, in this particular moment in time (the cusp of the 20th to 21st Centuries, which is also the Dawn of the Third Millennium) to place in the dying away hierarchical social forms of humanity, those biographies which do two main forming gestures within that history.  This is all connected to a process in which social chaos arises in order to cause these old hierarchical [third cultural age] social structures to let go their no longer valid hold, and in many instances be eventually replaced with new social form arising out of the social commons [fifth cultural age].

In the first instance, these biographies living in the decadent social hierarchies (such as government, corporate and church organizations) portray strong images, via the Culture of Media, to which we react equally strongly out of our likes and dislikes.  For example, one of America's wise women, Doris (Granny D) Haddoch, has said that we should be grateful for such as George W. Bush, because he causes us to awake from our sleep as citizens.  As a consequence, in our individual biographies we react to the extremes of these dominant religious, business, cultural and political personalities, and this brings about in us as individuals certain inner judgments and calls to action.

The second effect of those biographies unfolding in the now decadent institutional social hierarchies is to drive the social order further into a needed condition of chaos, something all 6 billion plus biographies require in order to birth the moral dilemmas necessary for the Age of the Consciousness Soul.   This social chaos sweeps traditional moral authority aside, and forces us as individuals into situations where we must rely on the own I in order to properly face the moral crisis.  In that human beings are incarnating in massive karmic communities in order to have these sometimes shattering moral experiences, this causes the present world social organism to have the strong tendency to completely dissolve into a condition of near total social conflagration [thus my website: Shapes in the Fire].

The moral aspect of the logos ordered social organism of the world requires crisis in order for the individual biographies to live, not just intellectually, but fully and dynamically and existentially into dilemmas of moral choice.  Only true moral choice can awaken in us what is offered in this Age to the development of the Consciousness Soul.

Nothing in the world is not touched by the Art of Christ, who as Lord of Karma - Lord of the Satisfaction of Moral Debt and healer of karmic wounds, arranges in majestic harmony all the biographies so that even from the smallest detail to the grandest historical event, meaning is put to the service of our development - the leaving behind of our spiritual childhood followed by our birth into spiritual adulthood.

The world historical crises of this time are a complex and rich Stage Setting, against which 6 billion plus souls live out the dramas of their individual biographies.

Thus, in this birth from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood, the Time - the Age of the Consciousness Soul - is a Rite of Mystery, a Baptismal Mass for all of humanity, just as was told to us by John the Baptist. [in Matthew 3:11]  "Now I bathe you in the water to change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I'm not big enough to carry his shoes. He will bathe you in holy breath and fire." (emphasis added)

Consider now more closely what happens inside us as we experience the intimacy of our biographies, and the shared pictures that come via the Culture of Media.

Choice confronts us.   Do I be like that, or like this?  From what place inside do I choose?  In a time so filled with chaos that rules no longer apply, I discover that I can rely only on myself.  Out of myself I must author the Good in response to the world of meaning that surrounds and confronts me.  So powerful, in its personal immediacy, are these experiences, images and meanings, that we cannot turn away from them.  It is as if the World itself is on Fire, wanting to burn and burn and burn until we run from it in terror, or stand up to it and give the fullest of our participation to its moderation and its healing.

Yet by Grace, I contain the means to know the Good that my biography and membership in the shared fate of humanity draws out of me.  What I source becomes a part of the world, and I know that this is so.   I know my freedom to enact the moral grace that my heart comprehends in its deepest places.  Deep inside my soul my very own heart hungers to sing: Love will I give.  Love will I create.  Love will I author.

So now we think away the physical - the maya of the sense world, and let our picture thinking gaze only upon this inner, invisible to the physical eye, moral act.  An act more and more emerging everywhere, for while in America, and the Cultural West, the Consciousness Soul is first widely  appearing, it will and must appear everywhere that human beings let the world touch their wounds, while they seek to share with others the trials by fire of their biographies.

Invited by the Love and Art of Divine Circumstance to look within and to reach into the depths of our own being in order to source and author that Good which we know to be right, we touch something spiritual and are Touched by something Spiritual.  In this time of the True Second Coming, in the inwardness of our souls and invisible to all outer seeing, a Second Eucharist is being enacted - the Good offers Itself - Its own Being - to us (Moral Grace).  For the Good we know is not just known in the soul as what we tend to think of as a mere thought, but if we attend most carefully, it is true Spirit, just as the John Gospel writer told us that Christ spoke: [John 3:6-8] "What's born of the flesh is flesh, and what's born of the breath is breath.  Don't be amazed because I told you you have to be born again.  The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don't know where it comes from or where it goes; its the same with everyone born of the breath."

[The existence of a Second Eucharist, to accompany the Second Coming, in no way means to diminish or change the Original Eucharist.  On the contrary, we will find that via the Second Eucharist our understanding of the meaning of the Original Eucharist (the transubstantiation of matter) will deepen.  See in this regard, the small pamphlet: Radiant matter: Decay and Consecration, by Georg Blattmann.  From the transubstantiation of matter we are being led onward to learning how to participate also in a transubstantiation of thought.]

Thus we are being truly and continuously born again today (each act of moral grace is another Second Ethereal Eucharist and birth), from out of our spiritual childhood and into our spiritual adulthood, baptized outwardly by the fires of the times in our biographies, and by holy breath within - a Second Eucharist where Christ gives of His own Substance that biblical knowing of the Good - His own Being.  For us to truly know the Good, requires we join our own soul to the Good.  Our yearning to author the Good out of ourselves is how we participate in the Baptism of being truly born again, and how we participate in the sacrament of the Second Eucharist.  Christ also participates by giving to us, out of Himself, this very Good - this Moral Grace.  When having received within ourselves this sacrament of the Second Eucharist, an act that only arises because we seek it and form its actual application, we remain free - we create moral law - we author the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  Given to us within by Christ as a capacity, we then author its incarnate nature and pass it on to the world of our biographies, - from out of us thence into the outer world (or into the inner world), do we then ourselves author this Good: love engendered free moral grace.

But how does Christ do this?  Is this Good offered to us in this Second Sacrament as if it was a thing, passed by hand from one to another?

No.  Christ as holy breath breathes upon the slumbering burning embers of our own good nature, just as we breath upon a tiny fire in order to increase its power.  He sacrifices His Being into this breath, which gives Life to the tiny ember-like fire of our moral heart.  The holy breath becomes within the soul of each human being who asks, seeks and knocks a gift of Living Warmth that enlivens our own free fire of moral will.

The Narrow Gate opens both ways, making possible thereby the intimate dialog and conversation of moral deeds and thoughts that is woven between the i-AM, the Thou and the Christ (wherever two or more are gathered...), which intimate conversation leads ultimately to the consecration - the character development - of the soul.

In this way our thinking can now behold the Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul: A macro-cosmic Rite, a Second Ethereal Eucharist, in which we give birth out of ourselves in the most intimate way possible, knowledge of the Good, not as mere thought, but as Life filled moral will, breathed into greater power by the sacrifice of the true ethereal substance of Christ's Being in the form of holy breath. 

The outer world is but a seeming, and what is brought by the Culture of Media mere pictures of the Stage Setting for the World Temple that is home to our biographies.  When we think away this outer seeming - this logos formed and maya based sense world, and concentrate only on the Idea of the moral grace (Life filled holy breath) we receive and then enact out of the wind warmed fire of individual moral will - as individual law givers, as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets - we create this Meaning of Earth Existence.  Every act of moral grace, given greater Life within in the deepest intimacy of our life of soul, is an ethereal communion with Christ, even though we may only experience it as what to us is a mere thought of what is the Good at some moment of need in the biography.

Christ gives us this Gift, by Grace, freely out of Love, and with no need that we see Him as its Author.  We hunger inwardly to know what the right thing to do is, and when this hungering is authentic, we receive Christ's Holy Breath.  This does not come so much as a thought-picture of the Good in response to our questing spirit, but rather as the contentless breathing substance of Christ's Being.  We are touched (inspired) by Love, and at this touch we shape that Breath into the thought that we then know. The nature of its application and form in which we incarnate this thought is entirely our own.  We shape the thought completely out of our own freedom - our own moral fire of will, for only we can apply it accurately in the individual circumstances of our lives.

As the Age of the Consciousness Soul unfolds accompanied by this Second Eucharist, the Social World of human relationships begins to light and warm from within.  For each free act of moral grace rests upon this Gift of Christ's Being to us - an ethereal substance received in the communion within the Temple of the own Soul, freely given in Love whenever we genuinely: ask, seek and knock during our search for the Good.  Our participation in this Rite, this trial by Fire leavened by Holy Breath, leads us to the co-creation of new light and new warmth - the delicate budding and growing point of co-participated moral deeds out of which the New Jerusalem is slowly being born.

This co-creation is entirely inward, a slowly dawning Sun within the macro Invisible World of Spirit.  Moreover, we do it collectively (as humanity).  While each of us contributes our part, it is our collective conscious celebration of the Second Ethereal Eucharist (creating the Good) that begins the transubstantiation of the collective (presently materialized and fallen) thought-world of humanity into the New Jerusalem.

Thought is real, and it is as equally real as is matter.  The Original Eucharist transforms the already divinely given now-dying substance of earthly matter into Life-filled Spirit through our ritual invitation of the active Grace of the Divine Mystery; and, our participation in the Second Ethereal Eucharist transforms dead thought into living ethereal Substance, through the mystery of our individual spirit's active and embryonic grace, that becomes united into the collective co-creation of humanity.

In the Invisible World of Spirit, we co-participate, out of the own moral fire of will, in the Dawn of the New Sun that is to become the New Jerusalem.

Let us now slow down here for a moment, and take a deep breath, for these last thoughts above may seem almost too big - too idealistic - to be easily contemplated.  To ease our understanding and gently ground it, let us consider this situation once again in it most ordinary aspects.

The world of our biographies places each individual into the fires of experience.  These are remarkable gifts that lead us toward moral questions - often deep and troubling.  We yearn to know what to do, and in this circumstance we may ask, seek and knock.  What has been called earlier in this book Moral Grace is available to us, yet the mystery of this practice of inner activity is where we ourselves create moral law - where we become the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

In the King's Tale, we saw that Rudolf Steiner's book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity showed how to come to this knowledge through the practices of Gnosis - to knowledge - in the form of moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique.  In the Healers' Tale, we saw how the 12 Steps helped us to master the soul through the elevation of the spirit, and in this way come to know God's Will as we understand it.  Finally, in the Shepherd's Tale we came to understand that by asking What Would Jesus Do out of Faith, we could also come to the needed individual moral beliefs.

Three different paths (among perhaps many more) all leading to those individual invisible depths that each of us must uniquely experience, which we have now seen must be properly called: the Second Eucharist of Holy Breath.  So we come now to perceive the Time - this Age of the Consciousness Soul - where, if we seek it, we have made ourselves available to be baptized with Fire and Holy Breath, just as John the Baptist us told Christ would do, 2000 years ago.

Even so, we still have to truly want to know the Good - to authentically ask, seek and knock.


In Joyous Celebration of the

Soul Art and Music of Discipleship

- a moderately serious introductory sketch unveiling

a mostly American way of understanding the New Thinking -

first some necessary context

Recently in the News for Members of the Anthroposophical Society in America (late 2005), was published a wonderful lecture given by Dennis Klocek, elaborating the alchemical foundations living in Rudolf Steiner's spiritual scientific work.  The essay below means to be something from just one voice out of another of the streams that seeks to find its home within the Anthroposophical Society and Movement - the stream of discipleship, of those who are karmically related to the original Twelve and the direct participation in certain aspects of the Mystery of Golgotha. [See the essay above (The Meaning...) for why I write in this way.]

In the essay that follows, it might help the reader to understand that it is mostly written for, and out of, the American Soul.  About this Soul, Rudolf Steiner spoke in different places and in the following ways, which I will paraphrase:  The American comes to Anthroposophy naturally.  English speakers are instinctively in the Consciousness Soul in their Life of Rights.  There is a hidden and unique form of Anthroposophy that is to develop in America in the future, and one should look to Emerson and his circle of friends to appreciate it.

The reader, of whatever Soul background and gesture,  who would seek inner stimulation from actively engaging this essay, should understand that for the American Soul much of what is described below is already instinctively present.  This instinctive relationship to the art and music of discipleship appears first in the American Soul in the dominant tendency to be directed outwardly toward the world, fully engaged in social reality, and sometimes (often more frequently than appears on the Evening News) seeking to heal the social world's wounds.  Part of the hidden mystery of this Soul is that it is possible to take what is so present instinctively, and awaken it by gradual degrees into full consciousness.  This task may turn out to be far easier for the American Soul, than has so far been imagined within Anthroposophical circles.

To fully inaugurate this gradual awakening, however, does require turning from the outer world and its worries and wonders for a bit, and to look within - to practice introspection.  When looking within becomes a normal part of soul life, American anthroposophists should not be surprised to find that they already live instinctively in their wills in ways with considerable kinship with the path of discipleship - the path of moral action in the world through renunciation and love.  With the addition of this introspective looking within, we add to the thinking we already do about the field of outer-world social moral action, a complementary and much needed thinking about the soul-field of inner moral action.  Outer world thinking and action are enhanced by everything we learn from the practice of looking, thinking and acting within.

By the way, it is not the point of this essay to encourage any divisive distinction, such as might be assumed because of the emphasis on matters American.  Nor is it being suggested here, for example, that Americans are any better at Anthroposophy in any way.  On the contrary, we are just different.  Each Soul gesture in the Threefold World has unique gifts to offer, and this essay means to serve the potential freeing of those yet untapped American gifts from a kind of child-like imitation of things European.  This tendency, to model our soul practices on a kind of European anthroposophical idealism of the soul, was a natural impulse connected to our admiration of the work of our European brothers and sisters.  It is time to grow past this however, to discover our far more earthly and pragmatic way to the Spirit.   And, to do this not only for the benefit of the American Soul Itself, but also for the benefit of the Anthroposophical Movement world-wide.

There are then two themes, which while related are also quite separate.   The relationship of the Alchemical stream and the Discipleship stream is one theme, and the relationship of the American Soul to the wider world is another.  The point of intersection, between the Discipleship stream and the instinctive capacities of the American Soul, shows only that the Rosicrucian and Manichean streams of the Old World, and their connection to Initiation, does not quite have the same meaning for the American Soul as does the natural Christ Impulse inspired in Americans, and revealed by their relationship to the outer world of social need (in part a consequence of the fact, that due to its rampant individualism, the Consciousness Soul is developing faster here - See Ben-Aharon's "America's Global Responsibility: individualism, initiation and threefolding").

The Alchemical stream is a stream of studied spiritual knowledge and of initiation.  It is more of the Kings and of Gnosis than of the Shepherds and of Faith.  The Discipleship stream is more related to that moral work in life that comes from following the Teachings of Christ, and thus is more of the Shepherds than of the Kings.  The disciples, who were meant to be fishers and shepherds of human beings, were not (in general) of the old mystery streams as were the Kings.  The Shepherds belong to what was being newly created - to the future Mysteries that are to arise from the social commons.  These future Mysteries are not to flow out of the old, now impotent and dysfunctional hierarchically organized Mystery Centers, but from finely and homeopathically distributed Branches and Discussion Groups - that is the New Mysteries are to be born out of and in ordinary social life where groups of individuals draw together (wherever two or more are gathered...).

At the same time, while the America Soul is more naturally of the Shepherd stream, - of the discipleship stream, because of its orientation to outer world moral action, it can by turning inward and seeking a pragmatic introspective life, begin to draw from the wisdom-well of renewed European spiritual life.  Rudolf Steiner, in his works on objective philosophical introspection ("A Theory of Knowledge Implicit In Goethe's World Conception"; "Truth and Knowledge"; and "The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity") gives us a quite useful generalized map to this introspectively investigated inner territory - a territory that for the American Soul has many different and unique characteristics.  With Emerson, we get a similar map, not as exact and scientifically rigorous, but one which nonetheless is more in harmony with the actual landscape of the American Soul.

We can then read Steiner to initiate us into our introspective soul voyages, in the most objective and scientific fashion; and, read Emerson for that travelogue, which is more attuned to the unique scenic beauty to be actually found there, given that the American Soul, like the other soul-gestures of the Threefold world, is differently oriented in its fundamental nature.

I have tried here to distinguish two problems that ought not to be confused.   This article is not saying that the American Soul and the Discipleship stream are identical, only that there is a definite kinship.  What is also being said is that for those in this discipleship stream (of which there are no doubt many - Americans and otherwise - within the Society and Movement, and for whom this article also aims to provide greater self-understanding), they will tend to be less attracted to exercises aimed at spiritual development, and more called to moral action in life, which incidental to its true deeds, produces the after effect called: character development.

"For every one step in spiritual development, there must be three steps in character development".  Rudolf Steiner: "Knowledge of Higher Worlds and How to Attain It".

[Keep in mind, when thinking about character development, this question: To what aspect of character development do we relate a good sense of humor, laughter, foolishness and dance?  Please also note that at one time the word silly meant to be possessed by the sacred.]

This is not to suggest that specific spiritual developmental exercises are unimportant, but rather just to point out that if the moral (character) development lags behind, it more and more becomes a danger that spiritual experience will come toward us in a one-sided way.  Further, we need to understand that true heart thinking is almost entirely a consequence of the extent to which the will to do the Good (that is to be moral) is the foundation for all feeling and thinking activities.

To make some of this a little more concrete, we might notice that it would not be uncommon for those drawn to the Discipleship stream to find that their biography involves a need to encounter the 12 Steps of AA, or to have to undertake some similar deep moral-Trial work.   Challenges to character development are common in biographies with a strong kinship with the discipleship stream.  Which thought then leads us to the essential point.  Moral or character development does not result from spiritual exercises, but only from inner and outer actions in the biography, and their related moral dilemmas.  The practice of exercises builds capacities in the Soul, while moral actions, both inward and outward, apply these capacities in life (which then purifies the Soul).  Christ puts it this way: Blind Pharisee, wash out the inside of the cup and saucer first, if you want the outside to end up clean [for the whole theme, see Matthew 23: 25-28]

Let us review a bit:  From a certain point of view, the Alchemical stream is very European, and thus has a tendency to put forward the incarnation of an Ideal as a goal, leading to the emphasis on spiritual exercises, knowledge and initiation.  Americans, on the other hand, tend to face the social as a problem to be solved through moral action.  This is very pragmatic, for it is not the purity of an ideal that matters as much as being able to do something to help others.  In this sense, the stream of Discipleship is more natural to Americans because, in harmony with our engagement with and in the world, as social helpers, discipleship is rooted in moral action - in doing the Good ("...and crown thy Good, with Brotherhood...").

[Isn't this Brotherhood also partly related to our ability to help each other experience the katharsis of laughter, especially under dire circumstances.  Conversation does have a higher function than light, but then what about a well encouraged giggle?  The Shadow cannot abide humor, and runs away when we make fun of it.]

In a sense, the idealism of the European anthroposophist has blinded the American anthroposophist, first by suggesting there is only one way to be anthroposophical (a European soul idealism), and second by failing to appreciate that the American Soul is considerably different.  The result is that instead of coming to true self knowledge, we (in America) have been pursuing what is at best a temporary illusion (a goal we really can't achieve), instead of our developing, more consciously, the earthly (including humorous and joyous), socially oriented and pragmatic instinct that is our given nature.

I hope the above has not been too confusing.  Mostly I just wanted to point out certain contextual themes, and leave to the reader's own thinking precisely what to make of these ideas.  In what comes next, where we get more deeply into the pragmatic and the concrete, I hope then that these contextual matters will, as we proceed, begin to make a more practical, and a less abstract, sense.


[a brief biographical note:  My interest in introspection began around 35 years ago, in 1971, as a result of a kind of spontaneous awakening in my 31st year.  I didn't call it introspection at that time, but I had become quite awake inwardly, and was only able to orient myself to these experiences using the Gospels.  Seven years later, in 1978, I met the work of Rudolf Steiner, and gravitated to his writings on philosophy, particularly A Theory of Knowledge...,  and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.  I also became very interested in Goethean Science, projective geometry and all the Steiner material on the social problem, which was my own main outer-world interest.  It was over 25 years later, in 1997, that I wrote my first effort at describing what I had learned about the moral nature of the Soul under these two influences: the Gospels and Steiner's writings on objective philosophical introspection.   That essay was called "pragmatic moral psychology" and can be found on my website .  At that time, however, I did not yet know enough about the Shadow, and only now, almost 10 years later, can I write the immediately below with some confidence in my appreciation of the intricacies of these problems in the light of an intimate experience of the threefold double-complex.]

substance, or better yet,

selling water by the river*

*[The river of the soul lies inward in everyone.  To teach, as it were, about the soul, is to sell water by the river, to give to someone something that is already right in front of their own true face.  In spite of all that exists, for example in our home libraries of Steiner texts etc., there are really only two essential books for the study of the soul: the Book of Life, and the Book of our Own Soul.  Learn to read those, and you'll know the core of what you need to know.  A text, even this text, can at best be a word-map describing a territory you'll only really know by direct experience, however many other books you ever read.  The reality of matters spiritual is, however, not found in reading, but only in action.  We can acquire a lot of concepts by reading, but we need experience (the consequences of action) more.]

We should keep in mind as we begin, that what is described below is essentially very human and very ordinary.  It is one possible descriptive word-map, as it were, of the soul engaged in the dynamics of inner awakening via the path of discipleship.  As a map, it will be somewhat abstract and defined.  The actual territory is something else altogether - human, messy, inconstant, prone to emotional ups and downs - that is all the wonders of ordinary consciousness. All a word-map tries to do is to point out various significant features.  Look out for these mountains, notice those valleys.  Here is a pure spring, there is a hard and dangerous rock wall.  It is my hope that the reader will find below some guidelines which will help them to chart their own path through the pristine forests and dark swamplands of the soul.  Keep in mind it takes courage to explore there, but at the same time there is no other adventure quite like it.

Recall then what Dennis Klocek gave in his lecture to the 2005 AGM, and then published shortly thereafter in the News for Members  (or if you didn't hear or read it,  try to find a copy as soon as you can):  On the blackboard a mandala: a circle, expressing a series of alchemical relationships: earth (freedom); water (phenomenology); air (silent practice) and fire (dialog).  The circle form suggests a return to earth (freedom) at some new or higher kind of level.  But before considering that, first some deep background.

If, from a certain point of view, we think of the above four elements in Dennis Klocek's lecture as notes in a rising scale, we could also find that in between each note is an interval.   While the note is in itself more of a step in spiritual development supported by spiritual exercises, the use in life (the interval) of the acquired spiritual skill/capacity is more of a moral act - an aspect of the process of character development.  The soul is fallen - it is an out of tune instrument, yet we hunger to return, to rise up and to experience reintegration, and to give voice to the joy of coming Home, which the Story of the Return of the Prodigal Son tells us leads to celebration and feasting.

Because the spiritual development exercises are so well known, and so completely covered elsewhere in Steiner's basic books, as well as Dennis Klocek's books, I will not be discussing them here.  This essay assumes a general knowledge of that work, and some practice in their use. Here we are looking at the development of the Soul solely with regard to its struggles with the so very messy, personal and human moral questions of the biography.

In case there is some confusion here, in Steiner's Knowledge of Higher Worlds, the moral is approached mostly through a series of admonitions, encouraging the student to orient him or her self in life in certain ideal ways.   Only in The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, with the discussions of moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique, did Steiner confront the moral problem directly and exactly.

The details that follow I have derived from my own (naturally messy and human, stupid and silly, and when I really get serious - pretentious) introspective investigations of the moral dimensions of the soul, but it should be kept in mind that while it is prudent to describe these phases and Trials as if separated in time in the soul, they are much more likely to be layered over each other - and often simultaneous in a variety of ways.  It also needs to be clear that what is to follow wishes only to add another dimension - another view from a different direction - to what Dennis Klocek gave, and not to contradict it in any way whatsoever.

It is particularly crucial to note here that we are mostly discussing those moral acts that take place in the Soul, not those in the outer biography.  There is a relationship to be sure, but it will help to understand that we are moral in both worlds: the outer world of our biographies, and the inner world of Soul practice and art.

I emphasize the word Trial to add another quality to our understanding.  Moral development takes place in the biography through Trials.  These challenges to the life of soul and spirit are meant to be difficult.  We become deeply engaged in our karma of wounds with others in these Trials.  Moreover, these are called Trials precisely because there is great pain, suffering and effort (as well as not enough fun) connected to them, and because the Shadow plays such an important and often decisive role.  Furthermore, various aspects of the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ (as described in the John Gospel) are enacted in the Soul via these biographical Trials: the Washing of the Feet, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Entombment, and the Resurrection.  There is nothing abstract about these difficult processes of  soul transformation, and this should be kept in mind as we go forward, namely that: every time I use the word Trial I am speaking of quite human, difficult  and sometimes years long life-crises.

There is, in this regard, something of a kind of spiritual law involved.  Just as the world of the senses has its laws of gravity and color, so the soul world has its laws.  The ones to keep in mind here are the karma of wounds in the outer biography, as well as the outer and inner moral Trials to be faced there, which bear an exact and direct interrelationship. To face a challenge in life, to face a Trial, means to engage in just that personal teaching which belongs specifically to our individually and is that which is most needed for the development of our personal character.

Consider a marriage for example, or the children to be raised there.  These relationships are not trivial distractions to any spiritual development, but rather are precisely those riddles and mysteries of life belonging particularly to our own ego's character developmental needs.  One can read all kinds of spiritual books, practice all manner of spiritual exercises, and still not advance because the biographical tasks are ignored.  To begin to awaken within, and to appreciate that we are surrounded in our biography with just those moral tasks and Trials we individually need, is to recognize just how precisely and miraculously has Christ, as the Artist of our karma of wounds, woven us into the world of personal relationships.  So when Christ advises that unless we become again as little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, He is, among other matters, telling us precisely who our deepest spiritual teachers in life often are.

This world of personal relationships, and their corresponding moral Trials, whether of family or work, or even wider world challenges, is also very elastic in a sense.  We are quite free in it, and it has a quality that can respond rather exactly to only those tasks which we choose to take up.   Part of true Faith is to accept what comes to us as challenges, yet at the same time to recognize that our freedom also allows us to choose at every juncture, which way to turn, what burden to carry and when to laugh at ourselves.

For example, the interval from earth (freedom) to water (phenomenology) involves the skill: thinking-about.  This skill we receive as a natural aspect of living in this age, in that we are inwardly free to decide what to think; and, in accord with the Age of the Consciousness Soul, we are also becoming more and more able to form individual free moral ideas as well.

The Consciousness Soul really just means that if we inwardly wish to know the Good, in any particular moment of moral demand, crisis or need, we can in fact know what the Good is.  Yet, in order to have this knowledge, we first have to ask, seek and knock.  We have to inwardly form the question, and struggle there to let ourselves answer from the higher nature of our ego.  The Good is what we make it to be, and as this essay proceeds, we will get deeper and deeper into this Mystery.  This is why my book (found for free on line at http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/twotf.html or which can be purchased at www.lulu.com) "the Way of the Fool" calls this capacity to know the Good: Moral Grace.

[As an aside, for those more familiar with Steiner's terminology, you should keep in mind that by necessity he was required to cognitively form his research and understanding into the language of the Intellectual Soul, as that was the condition of his audiences.  In this book we are writing out of the language of the Consciousness Soul itself (something toward which American's are instinctively gifted).  So, for example, when in the opening lecture of the book The Challenge of the Times Steiner speaks of the need for people to work out of an experience of the threshold, he is using Intellectual Soul terminology.  In the essay above, where I have elaborated carefully on the Second Ethereal Eucharist experience, this has been a quite concrete and exact picture of human intercourse across the threshold in the language of the Consciousness Soul.  I also mean to suggest here that it is quite possible to take many of Steiner's works and translate them from Intellectual Soul language into Consciousness Soul language.   The attentive reader of this text, who takes to heart the suggested practices, will in fact eventually find themselves able to do this translation process themselves.  Once able to do this, the reader will be able to confirm not only their own experience, but all that is written here in Steiner themselves, for nothing here is contrary to what Steiner offered.]

Now in this thinking-about there is the object of our interest, in relationship to which we are the subject.  As subject, we think about this object.  This thinking is also essentially (and initially)  discursive to our inner experience.  We appear to inwardly talk to ourselves.   Our spirit seems to inwardly speak that which our soul then hears.

It is with the skill thinking-about that we first enter on the problem of the Water Trial of phenomenology.  Thinking-about naturally contains something of the shadow forces of the soul, in that our feeling life is, in the beginning, dominated by antipathies and sympathies.  These natural likes and dislikes of our individualized soul color all that we think about. Through them what we think about acquires an individualized (non-objective) meaning for the spirit - the i-AM, in the soul.

[The use of this form of the term "i-AM", is meant to lessen the emphasis on the being nature of the ego - its noun-like aspect, and to place more emphasis on the action nature - on the verb-like aspect of the ego.  The being nature of the ego tends to be more related to the teachings of the Buddha, while  the action nature of the ego tends to be more related to the teachings of Christ.]

In the light of Steiner's The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, the experience (the percept) is, in the beginning, distorted in its meaning (the thought, the concept) by the shadow elements lingering in the yet unredeemed antipathies and sympathies.  By the way, the reader should be clear that only their own personal introspective observations can adequately discern what is going on within ones own soul.  We have little business believing we can make such determinations about, or for, another.

Noticing these excessive and unredeemed aspects of antipathy and sympathy will give us our first vague perceptions of the work of the threefold double-complex, the Shadow in the Soul.  Thought is a flower rooted in the soul-soil of feeling, and filled from within by the blossoming life of the will-in-thinking. Where an excess of unconsciousness infects this soil and this life, the Shadow is given free play.

In order to progress properly through the life passages that comprise the Water Trial, we have to learn to renounce the unredeemed antipathy and sympathy.  This is the central moral act that makes possible the transformation via the Water Trial from thinking-about to thinking-with.  We enter the Water Trial knowing how to think about, and we can leave the Water Trial knowing how to think with.  The essential moral nature of this Trial is outlined in the Gospels in the Sermon on the Mount, in the teaching concerning the mote and the beam.  In the biography, when we learn to struggle with the covering over (or painting in thought via the unconscious Shadow driven creation of mental pictures) of the persons that we meet with our individual unredeemed antipathies and sympathies, we are learning about the beam in our own eye.  We see not the person, but our own soul as that lives in our projected sympathies and antipathies.  To learn to see past the beam, to meet the true phenomena of the other, to learn to think with them rather than about them, this is the moral craft to be discovered during the Water Trial.

The biography gives us just those experiences that challenge this learning.  The spouse, the child, the co-worker, the boss, the neighbor, the relative, or the stranger-other, all will evoke the beam, the unredeemed mental pictures.   We must learn how not to paint our experience with this already unconsciously given thought-content, and instead learn to let the experience itself speak into the soul, and to become consciously active as a creator of the free thought in relationship to the experience.

Again, one way to banish the Shadow influence here (when we discover our thinking to be possessed by the beam) is to laugh at ourselves - to see the essential silliness of our dark inner depictions of others, as well as those depictions which are too sympathetic (that is where we raise another up to the level of a kind of minor deity, such as how too many view Rudolf Steiner - and others - out of a soul mood of ungrounded and unrealistic admiration).

Sobriety, for all its virtues, must be balanced with play, otherwise the soul becomes an arid desert.

So, for example, when we look at another person and recognize that they are, in themselves, not just that which we observe in the moment, but rather that they are their whole history - their whole biography (in fact a sequence of biographies), and when we learn to consciously set aside the reactive feelings of antipathy and sympathy, only then can we start to think with who they truly are, and not just about them.  Our folk wisdom calls this learning to walk in another's shoes.

This thinking-with can of course be applied to anything living, anything that has a life element to its nature, not just human beings, plants or animals.  This includes the history (the story) of a social form, such as a family, or even an Anthroposophical Branch.  When we recreate in the imagination, free of antipathy and sympathy, the story-picture of something, we are then learning to think with the object of our thought.

Goethe taught himself to think with the plant, and to this organic way of thinking Rudolf Steiner later gave the name: Goetheanism, which is a thinking that leaves behind the discursive aspect of thinking-about, and replaces that with a thinking-with - a qualitative characterizing picture thinking (Tomberg's formulation).  We do this by learning to make inner images (mental pictures) consciously.  We still retain the ability to think discursively about these inner images - thinking-about does not disappear, but remains a skill which can be applied when we choose and where we feel it is appropriate (which is why I wrote earlier of the layered nature of these soul phenomena).

Two additional aspects of soul phenomena need to be understood here - the attention and the intention and their relationship.  The moral act of renunciation is more related to those actions of the will-in-thinking that determines on which particular object we focus our attention.  When we are lost to the beam in our own eye, part of our attention is unconsciously focused on our own soul's reactive feelings of antipathy and sympathy.  To the act of renunciation of these interfering aspects of our attention, we need to join the intention to love the object of this phenomenological (story-picture) thinking.  After subduing the impulse to live imprisoned and in the thrall of the beam in our own eye (reactive feelings of antipathy and sympathy), we use our first stage (necessarily awkward and tentative) understanding of how to love the other in such a way so as to redeem them in thought.  We consciously create a new picture to replace the old unconscious and reactive one.

As part of the Water Trial, we don't just set aside the reactive feelings, but we learn how to create in the soul cultivated feelings. We create freely chosen cultivated moods of soul - that is intended feelings of reverence, wonder and so forth, which then have a salutary effect on the thought content that is to be produced according to where we let our attention come to rest.  This is an example of where the exercises bear fruit.  If we have practiced these exercises, this will be a great help when we then need to apply the newly learned ability to form cultivated moods of soul, as a prelude and foundation for thinking-with someone in a new way.

With a cultivated feeling we transform the soul-soil from which the thought is born and then flowers (which is also why the ideal is expressed as: thinking with the heart).

In a certain sense, what is renounced, love replaces.  What is given up, becomes transformed.  What is dark, is turned to gold.  What is evil - our dark habits rooted in the unconscious fear and mistrust of the other - the Thou, are beginning to be transformed into love.  And, best of all, what is too sober, particularly in our Self, can - as is necessary - be made silly.

The renunciation of unredeemed antipathy and sympathy does not, however, mean their elimination.  The will acquires the capacity to master this somewhat base song of the soul. We cease attending to it unconsciously, and turn that attention (and the related intention) elsewhere.  We master the unconscious soul gesture that leads antipathies and sympathies into the forefront of the soul, and like a good choir director, silence it so that we can concentrate on other instruments of soul potential, other voices.  Transformed and conscious feelings of antipathy and sympathy become a valid means of discernment.  But we need to be awake to the arising and becoming of these feelings, if we wish not to give the shadow element free play.

The will-in-thinking (an awake and more and more morally pure intention and attention) fills the thought with life (which is why I add to the ideal of thinking with the heart, the ideal also to will the good).

In this way we also refine the gold that is latent in antipathy and sympathy - their capacities for discernment and truth are enhanced, because we apply them with more consciousness - a more awake attention and intention.  In the teaching on the beam and the mote, Christ, in Matthew 7:5, ends it this way: You fake, first get the log out of your own eye and then you can see about getting the splinter out of your brother's eye.

Again, one of the best ways to eliminate the log is to learn to laugh at it.  The log arises from the Shadow side of soul life, and in the light and warmth of our learning to laugh at ourselves, the Shadow's hold dissolves.

In Steiner's The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, we are taught the importance of the moral basis for our actions, whether outwardly in the sense world, or inwardly in the soul. Only that action, which is preceded by a self-determined moral reason (intention), is truly free.  Even so, no one should be surprised to discover that they are already trying to do these activities in some fashion or another.  Emerson said this: In self trust all virtues are comprehended.  The purpose of this essay - this word-map - is to help us raise out of the realm of instinct, step by step into full consciousness, our already existing natural goodness.

[Another brief biographical note: As I shared previously, I underwent a kind of spontaneous awakening at age 31, and one of the by-products of this inner infusion of light, was that I became hyper-aware of judging people.  I could see myself putting them into various boxes and categories, and being now awake to this beam in my own eye, I could also see that this was not right - it violated conscience, so that I struggled to learn how to not do it.  That said, learning how not to do it, does not mean that we always apply this newly learned moral craft.  On the contrary, I often fell back into old ways many times over the years, although there did slowly dawn a kind of sensitivity, that let me see that I had been again in thrall of the beam.  Stepping outside the prison of the beam does not become automatic - a habit, but must always be applied, in the moment, consciously, with intention and attention (the will-in-thinking).]

After we have learned to renounce (consciously and for specific and individually freely chosen moral reasons) our soul gestures of yet unredeemed antipathy and sympathy, in order to learn how to think with that object of thinking which we are learning to love, do we then move out of the Water Trial, via more necessity, to the life passages of the Air Trial. This movement from water (phenomenology) to air (silent practice), which before (at the entrance to the Water Trial) began with thinking-about, now begins with the newly learned craft of thinking-with.  We start with that which we have now discovered as a spiritual development in the course of the Water Trial, and then apply that new level of moral craft (capacity of the will) of renunciation and love to the Air Trial.  The will-in thinking, which has learned to master the unredeemed aspects of feelings of antipathy and sympathy, and to replace these with thoughts born out of cultivated moods of soul, is now strengthened.  It is this strength that then lends itself to the life lessons of the Air Trial.

Dennis Klocek described the Air Trial as a learning to think backwards - of unraveling, or unrolling, the thought content produced by thinking-with. The Discipleship stream sees it from a slightly different direction, one which, however, is not in opposition, but which instead is once more intended to be complementary.

Via the Water Trial we have learned how to think with, and that has produced a thought content in the soul.  It is this content that must now be renounced in the Air Trial.  When Steiner wrote of this he called it: sacrifice of thoughts.  We learn how, again in meeting people, to not have a thought content at all.  We become inwardly silent.  Strong forces of will are needed in order to subdue the already achieved thought content, which we have wrapped around another person (or any other object of thinking), even if this content now lives free of unredeemed antipathies and sympathies.  We can also renounce, during the life passages of major aspects of the Air Trial, those thoughts produced only by thinking-about.

Further, in the feeling life there live attachments to the thought content.  We have, after all, produced it.  It is our creation, and we like it (most of the time - where the Shadow has unconsciously produced the thought content, we can learn to relate to this soul phenomena out of a healthy antipathetic discernment - we can come to not liking it that we have such a thought).  Sometimes, however, we can't even separate our own sense of self from this thought content.  Nonetheless, to traverse the Air Trial we need to renounce our collection of mental pictures (thoughts).  Remember, the self development that accompanies the sequence of alchemical Trials is not just related to spiritual exercises, but also to moral or character development; the chief features of which are acts of sacrifice - acts of renunciation, and acts of love (the beginnings of: Not I, but Christ in me).

Steiner also calls this attachment to our thought content, in certain circumstances: being in bondage to the concept "One must be able to confront an idea and experience it; otherwise one will fall into its bondage" (The Philosophy of Freedom, last sentence of the original Preface).  It can be a savage inner struggle - this Air Trial - to learn to forcefully set aside our favorite pictures of the world, a seemingly negative artistic act, sometimes taking months to accomplish.  At the same time, their essential nature does not disappear, for the very same qualitative aspects of our true nature - our true i-AM - can once again call them forth. Thought does not disappear, it only becomes latent and goes into a kind of pralaya (the state of being uncreated, unformed).  The will-in-thinking is strengthened by this act of renunciation, and when we choose to think again concerning this same object of our thought, the penetrating new powers of the will-in-thinking (attention and intention) can call forth from this pralaya an ever deeper understanding of the underlying meaning and truth of that about which we have chosen to think.

[another biographical note: I first explored this process during my many long years of the Water Trial, which really began when I discovered that I had become captured by a psychological paradigm, or world picture.  I had come to view everyone, after a time, through the lens of this psychologically based world picture.  I discovered that the best way to become inwardly free of this capture, was to undo any relationship to this paradigm, an activity that took several months.  A year or so later, I let myself be captured by a similar world picture, this one connected to Tibetan Buddhism.  Again, many months were needed to become inwardly free - to break the chains of the teaching - to be able to only experience these thoughts when and if I consciously called them forth.  Subsequently, upon encountering Anthroposophy, I gave myself wholly to it - became intoxicated with it in a way, and spent three years drinking in all that I could manage, eventually once more finding myself inwardly lacking the spiritual freedom before the concept that I knew by then was essential.  

Only after many months of work at sacrifice of thoughts, was I able to stand in relationship to the massive and marvelous thought content of Spiritual Science, inwardly free. Through this activity of sacrifice of thoughts, I eventually stood in relationship to concepts, acquired from Steiner, in such manner that they only appeared in my consciousness when called forth.  From this free perspective (which I was then able to survey as a whole), I then could see that Anthroposophy was not a thought content at all, but rather just the method of awake, and fully conscious (intended and attended) free thinking I had been instinctively seeking for many years.]

As the shadow elements (unredeemed antipathies and sympathies - Water Trial, and emotional attachments to our self-created thought content - Air Trial) are being let go, we now begin to have another experience connected to the Gospels.  This is again related to the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the beatitude: "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".

The rolling back, the sacrifice of, the renouncing of the previously created thought content, makes the soul inwardly poor in spirit.  As we empty out the soul, we begin to learn a new spiritual activity, which might be called thinking-within.   The Air Trial passages of life are taking us from thinking-with toward thinking-within.  This opens us to the delicate first stages of the conscious experience of the kingdom of heaven as It begins to appear with greater clarity out of the general background noise of the soul, and on the wings of our natural instinct for the embryonic New Thinking.   The Air Trial is developing that which is meant to take us upward and onward to the Fire Trial, or dialog.  When we are poor in spirit, empty of the previously given thought content (and master of silent practice), then we can, to a degree, experience directly the inside of the object of our thought.  In personal relationships, this is the capacity for the beginnings of true empathy.

In a sense, the base elements of unredeemed antipathy and sympathy are a foundation in the soul. They are of the earth.  In the Water Trial, we rise to a more subtle and plastic condition in the soul.  To think with, to know the phenomenology of the object of thought, is to bring the thinking into movement with its object.  The earth aspect is more solid and crystallized, while the water aspect more fluid and more mobile.  The discursively produced thought is dead (the instinctive living element necessary for any thought remains in the unconscious), while the consciously created picture-thought is more living.  With the air element, the soul becomes more expansive.  Thought that is renounced in the Air Trial dissipates, disperses and dissolves into the general spiritual background of the soul - the previously noted pralaya (uncreated, unformed) condition.  The will-in-thinking does not any longer call it forth, nor does it let the thought call itself forth.  When we are in bondage to an idea, it calls itself forth, and the Air Trial teaches us to break the chains by which we have let our unconscious feeling attachment tie us to the concept/idea.  We break these chains of feeling by dissolving them, and Dennis Klocek's metaphor of rolling back the thought is quite apt.  We untie it from its attachment to the soul, and without doubt the practice of the spiritual exercise of the Ruskshau is a great help here.

Only then, when we are truly empty, can thought, in the sense that it is the true inside of our object of thinking, come toward us.  The true idea of the object moves toward us, as we learn to open ourselves to it, such that it then thinks in us.  As Christ says in Luke 17: 20-21 "Asked by the Pharisees when the the kingdom of God was coming he answered: "The kingdom of God doesn't come with the watching like a hawk, and they don't say, Here it is, or There it is, because, you know what? the kingdom of God is inside you."

Steiner writes at age 25, in "The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception", published in 1886, that: What takes place in human consciousness is the interpretation of Nature to itself.  Thought is the last member in the series of processes whereby Nature is formed.

While Emerson writes at age 33 in the essay "Nature"", published in 1836, 50 years before Steiner wrote the above: Nature is the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping again into the state of free thought.

Thus, having mastered (to a degree) silent practice (learned how to be poor in spirit), we are at the beginning of the Fire Trial, and similar in kind to our previous renunciations, the soul now begins to discover how thinking can be in deepest kinship with its object, by abandoning the Self - by no longer seeing ourselves as the center of the universe.  Instead we begin to love the object of thinking more than we love ourselves.  This deepening intention to love, in that our own i-AM learns to stand out of the way, allows the i-AM of the other more room in the soul - we begin to see them not just from their inside - true empathy or thinking-within, but as them, united with them.  Again, anything living that can be thought empathically, can also be even more deeply known when we learn to unite with it in thought.  But this requires more than our own action.  The art of true empathy, or thinking-within, now, as we let go our own centrality of being, becomes the chalice in which It can think in us - and the life passage of Fire Trial begins to unfold.

This is the fruit of the Air Trial now carried further - the spiritual developmental capacity to have dialog with the realm of the invisibles, for true empathy free of self importance and rooted in inner silence, now lets the inner being of the other - the Thou - speak.  Having understood how we become in bondage to the concept, and emotionally attached to it, we no longer repeat those actions, with the result that thought tends not to come to rest in the soul, to coagulate there.  Instead, thought now passes through the soul - flows like a living stream.

[In 1999, seven years ago, I wrote this:  My method basically now consists (when life circumstances allow it) of sitting at my desk and writing descriptive passages of social and political realities.  Inwardly the experience is analogous to looking at a clear stream.  The surface of the stream results from my inner activity in sacrifice of thoughts, fact gathering, picture forming and artistic expression (more or less done simultaneously).  At the same time as my thinking sees this clear surface, I can perceive that there arises, on the other side of that surface, activity which does not belong to my own will, but which appears there spontaneously of its own accord.  The clear surface is then a product of two activities acting in concert.  With my writing I record what appears there.]

With this art (thinking-within), which was earlier merely a skill (thinking-about) and then a craft (thinking-with), we now are in the midst of the Fire Trial.  But before discussing this Trial more deeply from the point of view of Discipleship, we need to look ahead a bit and understand what lies on the other side of the Fire Trial.  We need to have a picture of what happens in between - in the moral interval between fire (dialog) and the new earth (new freedom), as the circle gesture spirals around in a kind of completion, before moving on to a new level of experience.

[a bit more biography: the material next to be presented, regarding what can happen after the life passage of the Fire Trial, is a little bit speculative on my part.  While I have had quite definite experiences of the kind: Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition (mostly by Grace from Above), I am neither naturally clairvoyant nor an initiate. I am not even sure most of us need anymore to strongly seek such a goal, at least certainly not in a single lifetime.  When I get deeper into the Fire Trial material itself (below), especially given the layered nature of the soul capacities and experiences of all the Trials, and as well the true mystery nature of ordinary consciousness, why I encourage a consideration of the more modest goal of a kind of sacramental thinking (as against initiation) especially for Americans, will be made more plain.]

This culmination of the Fire Trial is described in Steiner's John Gospel lectures, in lecture twelve, as: The Nature of the Virgin Sophia and of the Holy Spirit (when reading this lecture, keep in mind that it was addressed to the Intellectual Soul, not the Consciousness Soul).  The previous spiritual developmental tasks, interwoven with the moral and character developmental intervals, or Trials, produces a katharsis, or purification of the astral body, such that the Rite of Initiation may now be enacted, and the seed organs of clairvoyance may now be impressed on the etheric body.  I emphasize the term may, because while a great deal of the development leading to this stage is rooted in our own actions - our own will-in-thinking, as the Fire Trial progresses we become more and more interdependent with the will activity of the invisibles.

We do not, as I understand it, so much initiate ourselves, but instead are initiated in a cooperative dance necessarily involving Another. { addendum in 2012: concerning later experiences not had at the time this essay was originally written, read: a brief description of meeting the Lessor and Greater Guardians in the new way, and as well a description of the meaning of, and new manner of, the Second Pentecost in the Ethereal  http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/threshold.html  }

On the other side of the Fire Trial, if initiation is to be the result, we have acquired new faculties of perception.  The spiritual world is now there to be experienced directly, and the soul has fully developed that spiritual freedom, which The Philosophy of Freedom (or Spiritual Activity) contemplates, for we have renounced unredeemed antipathy and sympathy, we have renounced our emotional attachments to a given thought content and we have renounced even the significance of our own i-AM in relationship to others; all the while learning to love ever more deeply the objects of our perception (beholding) and thinking.

[From this point onward, I will be often using the term beholding instead of perception (in certain cases) and for this nuance I am grateful to Clifford Monks, who provided this in a recent conversation between the two of us.]

Now before us stand new objects of inward beholding.  The world of Imaginations is faced with this new freedom, but it stands inwardly over there, as it were, such that once more we have something which we think about, only this time it is not a sense object but a spiritual object.  Moreover, the perceptual element of an Imagination has required our co-participation; and, the thought content produced by our cognitive capacity, during the experience of the supersensible, arises simultaneously with the experience.   Contrary to a sense object, which has as an aspect of its nature what Steiner called the necessary given, a spiritual Imagination as an object of clairvoyant beholding does not exist independently of our own will-on-fire in thinking.  We have authored and sourced (for this language, grateful thanks to Harvey Bornfield) it in cooperation with spiritual beings.

Our new thinking about has participated in the creation of the Imagination.  We experience the Imagination in infinite internal space (ethereal and peripheral space) as an object, whose existence comes about because our own activity is coupled with the by Grace activity of higher beings.  The intention and attention are involved in a Parsifal question* to which the Imagination is an answer (producing a kind of wordless knowledge).  Subsequent in time to this wordless knowing experience (which includes a conceptual element), cognition then produces the word forms, either written or spoken, in which the living Imagination dies into a crystallized word-picture, such as what is given to us in many of Steiner's lectures and writings.  When we actively (not passively) read these word-pictures, recreating them in our own picture-thinking, the soul harmonizes with the Imaginative aspect of the world of spirit, creating out of this harmony a rudimentary chalice in which later spiritual experiences can arise.

[*A Parsifal question is a question that if we didn't ask it when we could have, we may have to wait a long time to later receive an answer.]

So we begin then to repeat at a higher level the previous Trials, but this time facing experiences we have never before had.  We travel once more around the mandala of the circling spiral of soul metamorphosis, learning in new ways to think about (Imaginations), then on to new thinking-with (Inspirations) and finally to new thinking-within (Intuitions).  [There would seem to be here a great mystery, about which I have not (yet) any experience, but at the same time a great curiosity: do angels etc. tell jokes or laugh and dance?]

This full new thinking, however, is itself at a higher stage.  It is thinking transformed into willed creative and participatory beholding.  The normal thought content, which we know as an aspect of our original state of consciousness (earth and freedom, in discursive thinking about), only arises in the soul after the clairvoyant thinking perceiving / beholding.  This thought content falls out, as it were, during the period of time the spiritual experience is fading away.  The spiritual experience does not continue in earthly memory, but at the same time, the thought content produced (that is, how the experience was initially cognized as it fades away) does remain in earthly memory.

Let us now return to a deeper appreciation of the life passages we are calling: the Fire Trial.

All the work we do, through the various Trials and passages of our biography, more and more purifies the soul, making it ready for clairvoyant spiritual perception.  At the same time, there is constant spiritual music in the soul - the song of the wind and of the breath - even as far back as when we are only being newly born out of the first Trial of earth and freedom.

Ordinary consciousness is already full of spirit.  Our problem is how do we pick the gold out of the dark shadowy and leaden dross of the soul, normal to its given fallen state of earth and freedom.  Two factors are clues.  These are discovered during the early stages of introspection in the idea of needs and the idea of choices.  The wind - the breath - the living river of thought - blows through the soul constantly, but always in accord with need and most often in accord with other-need, that is the needs not of the Self, but of the Thou.  To live into this Grace given always present intuition-like breath, we need to choose. When we do choose service to other-need, then true, good and beautiful intuitions flow on the wind of Grace into the soul, even in its ordinary and fallen state of consciousness.

How else are we to understand the natural and harmonious state of grace always potential in such relationships as: mother and child, comrades at arms and lovers.

Other-need also helps keep our ambitions in check.  One of the temptations that the Shadow offers to us is to let us believe we can, for example, out of reading a Steiner text speak with authority about matters concerning which we have had no other experience than the text.  Absent the real experience - the percept - true thought (the concept) cannot arise. Only in conjunction with actual clairvoyant experience can we, in full conscience, speak of such matters with the same confidence as did our Teacher, Rudolf Steiner.  Yet, in the face of other-need, and our choice to devote ourselves to this need, spiritual contact (experience) does appear in the soul.  The spiritual percept (experience) arises within the soul as a response to the Parsifal question which our intention and attention have created out of our relationship to other-need; and, the modest nature of our choice to serve this need makes our soul a suitable chalice to receive that thought content which then serves this need.

For example, we have no need (besides a vain curiosity) to know who was the 20th Century Bodhisattva incarnation of the future Maitreya Buddha.  Yet, on the other hand, there is a deep need to know how to love those intimate others in our biography, so that we can learn to heal our shared karma of wounds.

With this in mind (and also keep in mind the layered nature of soul development, as against the one-sided idea that it is a mere linear progression) let us look at the Fire Trial, which Dennis Klocek has described also as: dialog; and which he related to meeting with the dead, who come to us through our encounters with others.  From the standpoint of the Discipleship stream, this is once more perceived a bit differently, yet again in a complementary fashion.

Having passed through the previous Trials, our will-in-thinking now possesses certain capacities, certain inner arts, the essence of which are moral in nature. The self development spiritual exercises are secondary to, but supportive of, the character (moral) developments.  We have learned in the Water Trial to renounce unredeemed antipathies and sympathies and to replace those with a redeemed thought-content produced in a chalice of freely chosen cultivated feelings - that is we have learned to think with the object of thought. In the Air Trial we have renounced as well even this self-produced thought-content, in order to live in the silence, that is poor in spirit - thus beginning the experience we have been calling: thinking-within.

In Fire Trial, which begins with its capacity of thinking-within won in the Air Trial, we now enter into dialog on the wings of a renunciation of self importance.  That which is not-Self is to become more important than that which is Self.   Love of the other fills the attention and intention, and the work toward Not I, but Christ in me matures.  In this case, the dialog element for the Discipleship stream is more accurately characterized as Steiner's "it thinks in me", albeit this form of expression is lacking a certain artistry (Intellectual Soul, not Consciousness Soul).  A more beautiful phrase would be: the delicate and subtle presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence (Holy Breath).

[another biographical note: I learned, over many years of hard experience, that the essential matter was the Parsifal question - the deeply felt question, coupled with the absence of personal ambition in this question.  The knowledge I seek must be consciously intended to serve others, not to serve my vain curiosity.  In fact, my success in my researches into the social (see other essays in this book), seems to have been entirely related to my renunciation of the possibility of initiation in order to more deeply be led to an understanding of the social, an act which occupied my prayer life for a number of years in the mid-'80's.  As a consequence, I began to experience this wind, this delicate and subtle presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence in response to my Parsifal questions concerning an understanding of the social, which I had sought in order to serve other-need.  My biography led me to working, from my mid-thirties onward, as a member of the working poor.  I cleaned toilets, washed dishes in restaurants, worked in mental hospitals, and the last three years of my work life (59-62), I worked in a factory.  This led me to not only a personal, but a shared experience of the suffering in the world due to the Age of Materialism, which has led the i-AM not to appreciate itself or the causes of its suffering, and which gave me such pain of soul that the only way I could think to alleviate this was to seek, via the New Thinking, the ability to tell a new story of the world and of human meaning{2012 update: this became, in 2010, the book The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything}This was my Parsifal question in its broadest form, and the wind would come at anytime It choose as I lived out these experiences, so that I had to learn to be sensitive to this wind, and to serve It, even by pulling off the road when driving and taking notes, or getting up from bed at night and writing when called.  The success of this inner work also made me on more than one occasion, an obnoxious moral nut case, filled with excessive moments of grand hubris - my own Shadow intoxicated and inflamed.  Fortunately, the Trials would knock me down whenever I got too drunk with the seriousness of any luciferic fantasies of having a mission.]

The moral art of thought not only comes to the truth of the object of thinking, but also knows its goodness and its beauty.  In intimate relationships, where we learn to love the will of the other - the Thou, and to see the beauty, not of their physical appearance, but of their deeds - in this selfless perception we then start to live in their true Fullness and Presence.

Thinking-within, as it traverses the Fire Trial, begins to experience the spiritual world as a thought world, via a pure thinking, which is a cooperative art - Grace will be present. This purity is three-fold.  It is pure in the sense that it is only thought - that is it is sense free.  The attention is so focused only on thought, that the outer sense world recedes far into the background of consciousness.  That is one aspect.  The second kind of purity is moral in nature.  The soul is pure in its intention and attention.  The intention and attention are chaste, as it were.  Modest, or moderate.  Without ambition of any kind.  Not even seeking initiation or enlightenment.  Insight increases in the soul, but each time as a surprise - as a wonder.

The third kind of purity is as regards the thought - the concept itself.  It is only pure concept or idea and in this it is thought as Being, as Presence and Fullness.  Our earthy grasping of the thought, which in the beginning tends to render it into mere mental pictures or generalized concepts, has been gone beyond.  We have sensed thought unconsciously in this beginning, and caused it to fall into our earthly and darkened consciousness from out of its original living environment.  When we learn how to return thought to its true realm and nature, then our sense-free thinking, and the purity of our intention and attention now lets the pure nature of the Being of the Thought think in us (dialog).

At the same time, this conversation has what seems at first blush an odd quality to it, in the sense of our freedom.  As discussed in the essay above, on The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul, just as Christ gives his Being to our need for knowledge of the Good as an act of Grace in such a way that the thought of the Good is entirely ours to shape, so also that which thinks in us does not answer our knock with any authority whatsoever.  This Holy Spirit (the wind in the soul spends - exhausts - Its will into us in a way).  Its participation with our i-AM in the nature of the thought's form is such that, while the Holy Spirit elevates our perception of truth, we remain the final author and source.  The Holy Spirit's participation is also a gift and becomes the wind to the wings of our soul.  Borne on this wind we see from whatever height, depth or breadth that must be there for other-need.  We serve the Thou and the Holy Spirit serves us both.

The soul is now grateful for whatever wills to dialog with it, and has no need for anything other than the occasional, but profoundly nourishing, experiences of Grace, all of which it had already begun to know, even coming in the beginning in the wonderful mystery of ordinary consciousness, and in accord with other-need and choice.

Yet, in this same beginning, the karma of wounds, and the unredeemed aspects of the astral or desire body move us forward in life, and we are guided by the Shadow into and toward our necessary biographical experiences.  In the processes of the Fire Trial, we learn to let go these drives, to move with and within the stream of Providence in Life.  The soul now tends to want only to be content and at rest, no longer driven.  We love the necessity that Providence brings us, and devote ourselves to that task, recognizing that the Great Whole of Life is in Other and far more competent Hands (Christ's Love).

There can be, by the way, either (or both) an outer necessity and an inner necessity.  Self observation, with an evocation of conscience applied to the question of whether we are being truthful to ourselves, will reveal whether an inner necessity is to have the same weight as an outer one.  This essay, in fact, was very much produced out of an inner necessity in connection with the delicate and subtle presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence, brought into the stream of Time, because of a Parsifal question that occurred to me regarding the pending conference on Ben Franklin (August 18-19, 2006), where I lived in Fair Oaks, California.  Yet, even in this work, I encountered Fire Trial elements, for latent and unredeemed ambitions limited and distorted my first versions of this essay.  Only after I had recognized these ambitions and laughed at myself for them, did matters begin to acquire a satisfactory to conscience moral clarity.

We need to keep in mind that we remain of the earth, even when the wind - the kingdom of heaven - is blowing through the soul.  In our earthly dialogs, one with the other, we need to learn to just listen and not to always impose our own opinions upon the others' freedom of thought (for parents of children and others in a teaching necessity, this will be different, sometimes).  We can let the soul rest in wonder at what the Thou will say and do.  So also with the invisible other-presence in the soul.  In this way the outer biography and the inner biography more and more consciously harmonize their naturally interwoven music.

Life itself - the biography - will demand of ordinary layered consciousness, and in harmony with the necessities of our karma of wounds, those experiences to be faced in which other-need and choice appear.  If we think with the heart and will the good, Grace will come in the form of those other-needed intuitions - the deepening consciousness of what other-presence wants to say into our inwardness, in concordance with our slowly growing and developing capacities, as is necessary for service to the Thou.

This is the essence of the Fire Trial - a burning away purification of self for other.  Just as in the Air Trial we set aside attachment to a given thought content, so in the Fire Trial we give away our attachments to our own meaning - we dissolve the self descriptive concepts with which we previously adorned our i-AM, as if wearing a costume.  Instead, we just are.  In all our actions and choices, we are (if we think on it) always: "In the Beginning...".

We no longer are this or that, but just are (i-AM).  Each favorite self-name: father, mother, anthroposophist, alchemist, lawyer, ditch digger - all these names of self are let go, using the craft and art acquired in the Air Trial.  We do this in order to get ready for the first part of Not I, but Christ in me - the Not I part.  We burn away the I concepts, which by their very nature are limiting and mark us as not-free and are a beam in our own eye-inside, directed at ourselves.

We don't have to think of ourselves as a father or mother, for example, since the necessity of the biography places those tasks before us already.  The inner biography too, with its ambitions, hopes, dreams and wishes, pulls us forward as well.

There is as yet no traditional clairvoyant spiritual perception - the astral body is still being purified during the Fire Trial.  What was the lower ego, or that which begins its path accompanied by the Shadow or threefold double-complex, has more and more merged and identified itself with the higher ego - the self-participated aspect of conscience.

When we live purely in Parsifal questions (that is, poor in spirit), in the artistic mastery of our antipathies and sympathies, having set aside self-importance and attending to the object of thinking with the intention to love, then thinking is meet with other-presence, as needed.  This is the quite definite inner experience of the delicate and subtle presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence, which is described in the John Gospel as follows: What's born of the flesh is flesh, and what's born of the breath is breath.  Don't be amazed because I told you you have to be born again.  The wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you don't know where it comes from or where it goes; it's the same with everyone born of the breath John 3: 6-8

This Fire Trial is all the more painful, because we have become exposed via the previous layers (stages) of spiritual and character development, to a much deeper introspective understanding of our own desire body - our own astral body.  We can now not only think within the other - the Thou, but also we can now think much deeper within our own soul - we are naked before our own introspective clarity of perception.   That which remains unredeemed, and still yet outside the full and completed Fire Trial of purification, lies inwardly exposed to us.  The descending conscience (like the descent of the dove in the Gospels) meets the rising lower ego, both seeking union and marriage; and this light from above, a kind of deep moral Grace, illuminates and warms all that is yet shadow in the soul.  Emerson has put the bare bones of it like this in his lecture, The American Scholar: "For the instinct is sure, that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks.  He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds..."


Just as we learned to think about, with and within the other - the Thou, so we learn to think about, with and within ones own soul.  Each skill, craft and art of thinking emerges from its corresponding Trial.   The Earth Trial is a given, it is where most of us start.  The Water Trial requires our first struggles with renunciation and the beginning, and delicate, expressions of love.  The Air Trial takes us even further, to the abandonment of our favorite thoughts.  Then we also renounce our excessive sense of Self, in the process of facing the Fire Trial.  There we are also most exposed to our own other-Self, - the Shadow - which is now fully illuminated - no secrets whatsoever.

Let us consider, briefly, some hints on the encounter with the Shadow, from the point of view of the Discipleship stream.  Recall from above: "{ addendum in 2012: concerning later experiences not had at the time this essay was originally written, read: a brief description of meeting the Lessor and Greater Guardians in the new way, and as well a description of the meaning of, and new manner of, the Second Pentecost in the Ethereal  http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/threshold.html  }"

When Valentin Tomberg was writing as an anthroposophist, he described in his book "Inner Development", three aspects to the Shadow: a luciferic double, an ahrimanic double and a human double.  Later, in his profoundly Christian "Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism" he wrote of the tempter, the prosecutor and of egregores - that is of self-created psychic parasites in the soul (Steiner called these latter creatures, in Man as Symphony of the Creative Word: cancers or tumors of the soul).

When we think discursively - talk inwardly to ourselves, the unconscious works into the soul.  That is, both the higher and the lower unconscious are present.  No true thought, for example, can arise in the soul except for its having come to us via the living stream of thought (see Kuhlewind here).  But, because in ordinary and fallen soul consciousness, we are bound (intentionally by the Gods so as to give us true freedom on the earth) into an inner darkness of spirit, we only can know thought as it falls out and down into the soul from its original living element.  In discursive thought the living element has died.

Conscience, another higher element of the unconscious, also speaks into the soul via discursive thought, as that whispering still small voice.

At the same time, the Shadow is active here as well.   When we struggle with our own temptation or tempt others (the luciferic double), or when we hurt ourselves, or others (prosecute ourselves) with mean thoughts (the ahrimanic double), these too come from the unconscious into discursive thinking.  When we fall, over and over again into temptation such as addiction or alcoholism, part of the soul becomes excessively free of the ego, for the ego is weak in many ways.  This part can be called an egregore or a tumor of soul.

However, since all manner of bad habits (an ill temper, an abusive tongue) are also connected to tiny tumors of soul, I have began to feel that this language lacks what art and a sense of beauty needs to give to our conceptions, so above I wrote only of wounds, of our karma of wounds.  In the case of egregores or serious tumors or cancers of the soul, we can call these self-generated wounds.

What the life passages of the Trials give to us is ever greater consciousness.  We draw out of the unconscious, through a more and more awake intention and attention,  not only its lower elements, the Shadow and darkly cold side of temptations, prosecutions and wounds, but also the Light and heart warmed side, the stream of living thought and participated conscience.

So, in facing the Water Trial of the mote and the beam we begin the work of discipleship, the work of seeking reintegration and reunion with the Divine Mystery Itself.  So also with the Air Trial and the Fire Trial.  Bit by bit we perceive and then let go what is dark in the unconscious, thereby separating and drawing into the light the gold of our growing will-in-thinking.

The fruit of each Trial remains with us, and at each passage becomes deeper.  The soul becomes a rich texture of layers of inner song and music in the form of ever unfolding capacities of will, in the corresponding creative cultivation of sublime elements in the feeling life, all interwoven with the arising and passing away of the breath-stream of living thought.

The purified will (an appropriately moral intention and attention) creates heart warmth in the soul-soil of feeling, out of which the light and life-filled flower of thought is born. And, because we are first born into this process out of the Earth Trial of freedom, our whole passage in these Life Trials goes forward in freedom.  It all evolves out of our choices. Recall Emerson: In self trust all virtues are comprehended.[emphasis added]

Nothing renounced has disappeared, but rather the soul becomes an instrument, which the i-AM in freedom learns to play.  The notes and intervals become primal dynamic expressions of soul forces and capacities, many generated out of spiritual exercises.   Just as we must practice the use of a material musical instrument, so we must practice the capacities of the soul.  At the same time, many forces and capacities (if not more) have a quality that comes only from the moral tone of the soul.  We purify the instrument of the soul as much as we learn how to use it.  Both are needed, both are necessary.  The spiritual exercises, that is the how as in technique, has more kinship with the teachings of the true Alchemists - the stream of the Kings, while the moral purity of the soul has more kinship with the teachings of Christ - the stream of the Shepherds.

Steiner's The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is the modern transformation of the Christ-in-me moral essence of the John Gospel, while Knowledge of Higher Worlds is the modern transformation of the Rosicrucian Ideals of spiritual developmental exercises.   While the latter has more kinship with the soul nature of Central Europe -  the seeking to incarnate the Ideal, the former has more kinship with the soul nature of the American - the need to act morally in the world.  Both are present everywhere in the world, it is just the mix and their proportions that vary from one soul gesture to another, in the wonder and mystery of the Threefold World.

Let us now seek to make a whole.

We become more and more inwardly free as we renounce and transform sympathies and antipathies, then as well the very thought content itself, until finally we sacrifice our own importance.  Each act of renunciation is accompanied by a corresponding and deeper capacity to love.  Each act of love, beginning with the most simple appreciation of the other - the Thou, creates inner purity: inner light and warmth.  We are in the process of learning to make of the soul a temple, and to fill it with created and cultivated feelings of reverence and wonder at not only the world of nature, but also the world of social community - the stream of karmic wounds and free destiny meetings with our companions in life.

Ultimately, this inner and outer moral work leads us to becoming fully inwardly naked to ourselves in the Fire Trial (where there is no longer the possibility of escaping the Shadow), and as well fully and consciously naked to the other-Presence (the kingdom of heaven is within you).  But even in the face of the other-Presence we are nevertheless completely free. The nature of the breath (the other-Presence) is to bring not only a new depth of comprehension, but ever more freedom, for we never stop being the principle willful agent of the thought-content that arises in the soul.  Overtime we become even freer and more creative - a true artist in thought.

The creation of a human thought content is the sole province of the 10th Hierarchy.  Only in us, and through our love, does the Cosmos know Itself in the beauty of human thought.  We were told this as long ago as Genesis 2:19-20, with the symbolic picture that unto Adam is given the power of naming every living creature.  We name the world, give it its human meaning, with every thought we source and author.

Here we can now come to understand more deeply the truth, beauty and goodness hidden in Christ's comments in response to the question of what is the most important commandment: He said to them, "You are to love your lord God with all your heart and all your spirit and all your mind.  That is the important and first commandment. [love other-Presence] The second one is similar: You are to love those close to you as you love yourself. [love the Thou, the companions in life]  All the law and the prophets hang from these two commands" .  Matthew 22: 37-40.

What we really learn is to participate sacramentally in the arrival of the thought-content in the soul, which becomes then ever new each time we truly think.  We are, in this, inwardly born again and again and again.  This living thinking is a perpetual rebirth of thought, which comes into being and dies away - a constant dying and becoming.  We learn to unite with this living stream of thought, the living stream of breath within.  We give ourselves over to it, in a participatory Rite - an artistic soul dance of sacred-heart thinking, and then discover the true secret of the Fire Trial, which has been hidden out in the open in the Gospels, just in this: Now I bathe you in the water to change hearts, but the one coming after me is stronger than me: I'm not big enough to carry his shoes.  He will bathe you in holy breath and fire.  John the Baptist: Matthew 3:11

leading us, through His Grace (holy breath within)

and His Love (as Artistic arranger of the Karma

of the Fire of Trials in our biographies), to:

Not I, but Christ in me.


[As I was going through a final revision of the whole text of this book (American Anthroposophy), the following statement appeared in an essay, by Michael Howard, in the News for Members:

"This brings us to see another primary reason why Rudolf Steiner gave such emphasis to the role of the arts.  In Rudolf Steiner's view, the fundamental discipline for each art has to do with learning to perceive the moral qualities inherent in each artistic medium.  The same discipline can be surmised from Rudolf Steiner's view of spiritual development as serving the transformation of the human astral body into Spirit Self.  Here too is an avenue for cultivating another dimension of the art of the spirit, what we might call the Art of the Spirit Self.  This Art of the Spirit Self precedes all others because the art of building community, the Social Art, and the art of balancing and harmonizing all dimensions of the living earth, the Ecological Art, depend on the art of self-metamorphosis.

"The Anthroposophical Society will find new life and purpose insofar as it fosters not only the Science of the Spirit, but also the Art of the Spirit and its different dimensions: the Art of the Spirit Self, the Social Art, and the Ecological Art.

"For the Art of the Spirit is the Art of the New Mysteries."

It is my hope that this essay, In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship, has made a contribution to this vision.]

The Idea of Mind

- a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness -


Joel A. Wendt
(originally written in the early '90's, then corrected slightly with
the addition of active URLs in the late fall of 2003)

For many people, having been raised in modern culture, mind is thought to be something that
exists in the brain, and as a byproduct of basically chemical and electrical processes in
cells and nerves.   This essay considers this problem quite directly and finds that,
for all its inventiveness, science has yet to ask and seek the answer to the
most important question - "what is mind to itself".   When mind
considers itself directly, in its own inward environment,
then the idea of mind, as a product of the biology
of the brain, fails.


If laymen were not intrigued by the mysteries of the world, there would be little interest in the constant flow of books and magazine articles explaining modern cosmology, anthropology, paleontology, and so forth. While such explanations are often fascinating, far too many science writers unnecessarily confuse the boundaries between fact and speculation. For the layman this distinction, between what scientists truly know and what they speculate might be true, is not understood and has engendered in the public mind a scientific appearing, yet somewhat mythological, world view.

For example, the once unanimous acceptance of natural selection as the guiding principle in evolutionary biology is slowly eroding in those circles where the problem is critically considered. Yet this idea, which is not supported by any of the geological facts, remains a staple of the modern view of our evolutionary past. It is used in countless places to explain and support other speculations, and will no doubt continue for some time to be one of the main beliefs we have of the world. Its truth is not proven, however. The known facts do not support it.

In this regard, when speaking of natural selection, or "Darwinism", I am basically referring to the general idea which modern humanity is taught, namely that the human being developed through millions of years as a result of accidental processes leading from a mineral ocean, through a biological soup, to single celled organisms, then to invertebrates, vertebrates, mammals and man. It is this general picture which is not sustainable in the face of the actual facts, and the genuine pursuit of the truth.

The fossil record reveals that between when a geological age begins and when it ends the plants and animals have remained the same. The paleontologist calls this "stasis" - over the whole of a geological age there is no observable evolutionary change, particularly no evidence whatsoever of one species being transmuted into another. Whatever change does occur, appears to happen in the interval between ages, which for unknown reasons remaining quite mysterious, and leaves no trace of its processes.

This is an objective instance where the theoretical speculations of science have not stood the test of time, yet our ideas of the world, once captured by this speculative conception, are unable to disentangle themselves. Natural selection is such a strongly held article of faith, both within and without the scientific community, that it will continue to be a dominant idea for many many years. In human psychology it has more kinship with myth then it does with truth.

It is this myth making capacity of scientifically authored speculations that concerns us. It is such a powerful force on the ideas we hold about the world, that we can fully expect, for example, that many readers will not believe what has been said here about natural selection. Dozens of books and articles supporting what is said could be cited, yet most people would rather dismiss these statements as the prejudices of perhaps a "creationist", then risk their own belief system and actually look into what is being discussed in those circles where this question is genuinely being considered. (See for example: Evolution: a Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton, (Adler & Adler, 1986); and Dogma and Doubt, by Ronald H. Brady.

In a most recent popular critical examination of evolutionary biology, Darwin On Trial, Phillip E. Johnson, (1991, Regnery Gateway), the whole problem is carefully examined with an eye to aiding the layman in understanding the difficulties that "Darwinism" represents. The standard, however, is not to test modern evolutionary biology against some kind of competing theory, but rather to see whether it is good science. It is this which "Darwinism" fails at. It is simply bad science, and as a consequence results in two very serious and dangerous results.

The first is that it holds still the advancement of the biological sciences in that these might discover important facts upon which a more realistic theory could be advanced. As long as "Darwinism" is held to, biology is blind when it looks to the past, trapped in an illusion of its own creation.

The second danger is that this untestable theory is used to support other kinds of speculations in other realms, most significantly for our purposes, the investigation of human consciousness. Important questions, which otherwise would suggest alternative ways of thinking about consciousness, cannot be asked because "Darwinism" is already presumed to answer them. At various places, as we proceed with the text, we will encounter this danger. When this occurs, when we run into this speculative and myth creating impulse, I will endeavor to point it out.

The Idea of Mind

Recent advances in neurophysiology, in computer science, and in cognitive science and related disciplines, have produced numerous books, as well as major television series, on the workings of the mind. For the most part, when I read these books I find my morality, my heart-felt concerns, my idealism, my life of prayer, of meditation and contemplation - all these most precious, most subtle inner experiences - increasingly explained as mere electro-chemical phenomena, as products of brain activity in the most material sense, and nothing else. Here is the speculative myth making power of science in action. In saying this it should be noted that it is not so much that I am against science, but rather that science has only asked one-half of the essential question, namely what is consciousness viewed from the outside. The other half of the question is: What is consciousness viewed from the inside.

The views put forward by the vast majority of workers in these fields are materialistic, deterministic, and ultimately anti-religious, although often not consciously so. These questions of the ultimate truth of human nature, in so far as the mind sciences consider them, are being decided without really debating them in a forum in which the broader implications are considered. Neurophysiology, for example, really only asks certain limited kinds of questions (chemical happenings in brain cells, or how cells cooperate to apparently accomplish computation), yet appears to assume that inner states of consciousness are produced exclusively by these cell processes.

"It is old hat to say that the brain is responsible for mental activity. Such a claim may annoy the likes of Jerry Falwell or the Ayatollah, but it is more or less the common assumption of educated people in the twentieth century. Ever since the scientific revolution, the guiding view of most scientists has been that knowledge about the brain, its cells and its chemistry will explain mental states. However, believing that the brain supports behavior is the easy part: explaining how is quite another." (Mind Matters: How the Mind and Brain interact to Create Our Conscious Lives, Michael S. Grazzanica Ph.D. pp 1, Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1988).

We should perhaps note two things about the above quotation. First the words "common assumption" and "believing", by which Grazanica tacitly admits that we are not here dealing with proven facts, but rather with the "belief system" held in common by some unknown portion of the scientific community. Secondly, he clearly admits that moving from facts about brain chemistry and related phenomena to an explanation of consciousness, free will, morality etc. is a gigantic undertaking.

In that portion of the scientific community supportive of Grazzanica's "common assumption", brain and mind are considered a single phenomenon, and one popular science writer even goes so far as to say that the recent advances in neurosciences establish conclusively that there is no human spirit, and that all states of consciousness are caused electro-chemically. "There will of course be a certain sadness as the "human spirit" joins the flat earth, papal infallibility and creationism on the list of widely held but obviously erroneous convictions." (Molecules of the Mind, Jon Franklin, p 202, Atheneum, New York, 1987).

There can be no doubt that if a human being ingests certain chemical substances, whether for recreational purposes or as prescribed medicine, the state of consciousness is altered. Electrical stimulation of the brain also produces effects, whether it is simple stimulation of certain brain centers to cause pleasure or to bring out memories, or whether it is the more invasive electro-shock therapy, still used routinely today for certain intractable mental disorders. In one part of our society we say free use of chemicals to alter mental states is a crime and in another part forced use is advocated in order to control deviant behaviors. (c.f. Deivance and Medicalization: from Badness to Sickness, Conrad and Schneider, Merrill Publishing Company, 1985).

The point of this is to realize that we are not only dealing with serious questions of truth, of whether scientists actually know what they claim to believe, but also with the social policy consequences of this knowledge. The central question remains, however: what is the relationship between mind and brain? As we proceed, I would like to show how to extend our knowledge of human consciousness by considering what one can come to know from what might be called: Christian meditative practice. In such a practice, what one can know about mind is quite different from what science knows. In such a practice, mind is explored from the inside rather than from the outside. Even though, unfortuantely, those who have explored mind from the outside have pretty much concluded:

"...it has long been recognized that mind does not exist somehow apart from brain..." (The Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll, Bantam Books, 1988);

"My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we sometimes call mind - are a consequence of it anatomy and physiology and nothing more." (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7, Ballantine Books, 1977).

Quite other conclusions are possible, in fact, may be said to be mandated, if one takes the trouble to examine consciouness from the inside, as is possible for anyone with a more or less intact mental health, and the requisite good will.

At this point I would like to proceed in such a manner that it is provisionally allowed to use the words spirit and soul, but in a way that acknowledges the legitmate requirements of science for exact, emperical and logically rigorous consideration. These two words ar essential to understanding mind from a Christian contemplative view and can be put forward in a way free of metaphysical or mystical implications. The problem is in part confused by the fact that today, when we use the word mind in normal langague usage, we mean only the brain and as well confine this aspect of our nature within the boundaries of the skull. Mind (in modern usage) means brain, means within the head.

Soul and spirit, on the other hand, are not thought of this way, and while many people do not even think such entities exist in the same sense as mind and brain, at least these words have the advantage of being capable of a usage meaning something beyond the spacially limited confines of the cranium.

The problem is one of relating personal experience to langauge in a situation in which the practices of science have tended to already fix the meaning of certain words. For example, the poet will refer to heart with regard to the phenomenon of human feeling. Our whole language is filled with related expressions (heart-felt, warm-hearted etc.). On the other hand, the scientific community tends to see emotion (feeling) as a function of glandular and brain chemistry, and therefore as an aspect of the mind/brain/body nexus. Yet, an electo-chemical explanation seems to deny human experience, which has produced language implying that the center of our "feeling" life is not connected to the brain, not located specially in the head, but rather finds is primary locus in the chest. We say, "I have a gut feeling", or "my heart got caught in my throat".

The point of this is to notice the denial of this imagery (derived from human experience) by the processes of scientific thinking which have over the last few hundred years more and more confined the source of these experiences to the head and to material causes.

As a general trend in science this is called reductionism and involves a process which Eddington called earlier in this century: "Knowing more and more about less and less." Our body of knowledge about cell chemistry and neural networks in the brain grows, but often at a cost to genuine human understanding (I say this from direct experience, as one who has worked in a neuropsychiatric unit in a private hospital). Perhaps it is time to pause and consider whether or not it is necessary to go the other way for a while, to reintroduce the study of the soul, from the inside, as it appears to direct human experience.

This can, I am certain, be done with due regard for the demand of science for reproducibility. I recognize this is not the usual approach by religious thinkers, yet in this case our mutual respect for the truth seems to require it. This ethical demand of science for reproducibility, namely that whatever is asserted here concerning mind (soul/spirit) be discoverable by another who is willing to follow the procedures, the experimental protocols, as it were; this demand I believe is perfectly justified.

In "new age" circles one hears frequently about mind, body and spirit, meaning, I suppose, that these are three distinguishable human characteristics. In modern mind sciences we hear of mind and brain. Are these differing perspectives talking about the same things at all? It will be useful to note in passing that when Freud's works were translated from German into English the words "geistes" (spirit) and "seele" (soul) were both translated as mind (c.£ Bruno Bettelheim's Freud and man's soul, A.A.Knopf, 1983), even though English did have the correct dictionary terms. This really only shows that for the English consciousness the inner life was already thought of as mind even though Europe had had a long tradition of referring to inner life in terms of soul and spirit (Freud thought and wrote out of that tradition).

Modern American English still uses these terms as in: soul power, soul brother, soul music, or in noting the distinction between the spirit and the letter of the law.Yet such usage's are more metaphorical, more imaginative, than the exact language usage which science demands, in fact depends upon. Even so, while brain has a very concrete physical existence, mind does not; it is much more ephemeral. It can't be touched, nor can consciousness, or inner life, or feeling, or even idea. Yet, these apparently non - sense perceptible - phenomena are all recognized intuitively. We accept loss of consciousness in sleep and in certain conditions of trauma or illness. We moderns are in love with feelings and their expression, about which have recently been written more books than one can read. The practice of science would get nowhere without ideas and in fact the principle foundation of science's logical rigor is mathematics, which has no sense perceptible existence at all, and is nowhere observable in nature, even with instruments.

Imagine that Descarte invented calculus while high on dopamine (a neurotransmitter identified as a factor in drug use and satisfaction). How are we to relate the chemical state of the brain and the simultaneous ideas? Is one producer and one product? And, if the productive cause is then questionable, can we accept the product?

Descarte has recently joined the (illustrious?) group of historic personalities to be diagnosed has having a psychiatric disorder (depression in his case) by a psychiatrist who never personally met him. If true would this make calculus a dubious discovery, or a hallucination (i.e. unreal)? Our electrical technology is impossible without calculus (and its relative differential equations), so there is something very different about this non - sense perceptible - phenomena called mathematics. It is somehow part of the world yet only knowable through mind.

It is clear that accepted scientific ideas are not being disputed because their producer has been at one time categorized as having been either physically or mentally ill. Yet, one can find in the literature (in the brain sciences) the idea that so-called mystic states and other kinds of religious experiences represent, or are caused by, unusual chemical states; i.e. are not what their experiencers say they are: experiences of God. But, how can this be, how can one make such a distinction that the discovery of a mathematical truth is different from the discovery of a religious truth, merely on the basis of the possibility that chemical happenings in the brain can induce hallucinatory states of consciousness?

Now the working scientist should have an argument here, which is, at first blush, quite reasonable. That nature conforms to mathematically oriented models at least establishes (I won't say proves) that this formal relation exists. Granted calculus can't be seen, but it does allow prediction of physical phenomena. Nature acts in conformance with mathematical principles. Where is the evidence it acts according to the principle God - this the working scientist should ask. After all, this is the habit of mind of the scientist to form such questions. Or, perhaps to put it another way, what predicted observation would permit the logical inference of the entity God?

Even so, such a response has not really appreciated the problem as I have been trying to state it. All the ideas of science are first and foremost mental phenomena.They appear in mind as a product of mind, not in sensible nature. I don't see gravity or even light. I see falling objects and colors. I infer the law of gravity and the existence of light from these experiences and, if I am a scientist, I make rigorous my observations through experimentation and precise instrumentation. But natural selection and the big bang are in each case mental creations, they proceed from the act of thinking, not from sense perceptible nature.

What this means to me is that if I am going to prefer one kind of mental phenomena over another (e.g. the idea of accident in the creation of life versus the idea of God) then I'd better be clear as to why I have such a preference. Yet, before I can make such choices, I need to understand mind, to understand the act which makes such a choice. But to understand mind don't I first need to understand understanding, to think about thinking?

To the philosophically sophisticated reader this may seem to be running backward in time. Modern academic philosophy (linguistic analysis), from Quine to Ayer to Wittgenstein is no longer thinking about thinking, at least in the way someone such as Frichte or some other 19th century German philosopher approached the problem. For the lay person the question might be put this way. How can I look to current work in linguistic analysis, in neurophysiology, in cognitive psychology, in order to build up my idea of mind, when these systems are already products of mind? Is not the cart before the horse? Don't I first have to have clearly before me what thinking is to my own experience of it, before I apply it in practice? I have mind directly before me. What might I understand if I investigate the nature of my own experience first?

This is a crucial point. If we were to examine each of these disciplines we would find some idea of mind, either being assumed or derived from the particular work. In some cases very explicit statements are being made about what thinking is, how it is caused, how it proceeds, what its potential is and so forth. Yet, it is thinking which is producing these ideas. How might such investigations evolve if first it was clearly before the thinker, just what thinking was to his own experience?

There are other reasons for making such a question the foundational step. Earlier in this century, the physicist/novelist C.P. Snow pointed out the existence of two cultures, the cultures of science and of literature (or the humanities). These cultures did not speak the same language and did not consider the same problems. Moreover the scientists seemed to believe that only their method produced objective truth, and that the humanities only produced subjective truths. Alan Bloom (in his The Closing of the American Mind) recently observed how the distribution of assets in the university reveals the domination of the sciences today, at least to governments and businesses, who provide most of the funds for research. When was the last time a President convened a panel of poets to help him define a problem? (This is not to say that this is a bad idea by the way. I suspect in many instances our poets and troubadours would give much wiser advice). My own view is that Snow did not go far enough, although his being a scientist/novelist makes this limitation understandable. There are, I believe, three cultures (or three constituent spheres to Culture): a culture of science or Reason, a culture of humanities or Imagination and a culture of religion or Devotion. Reason, Imagination and Devotion are related to the older ideas of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, in that the former are human capacities of the soul and the latter are the outer expressions of those capacities. Reason engenders truth, Imagination engenders beauty, and Devotion engenders goodness.

In reality this is a complex relationship. On a certain level, or from a particular viewpoint, these soul capacities are also capable of being called powers. The romantic poet S.T. Coleridge called imagination the "esemplastic power" and felt it was not just an aspect of human consciousness, but was a force of Nature as well. Reason, for example, could be called Truth, as that appears in the soul as a hunger first, then a question, and finally an answer. Reason is then a dynamic process which is intimately connect to Truth. In a way they are a mirror of each other.

The difficulty for both Snow and Bloom is that they have no practical experience at devotion; they didn't really understand it or appreciate its role in their own soul, or in the world. Most Christian contemplatives are cloistered and are not encouraged to either prove their claims (in fact they make no "claims") or to exhibit works. Certainly no science curriculum, and few humanities curriculums teach the works of St. John of the Cross, or St. Teresa of Avila. Our secular age is filled with writings and teachers who believe religion is superstition, but who have never tested it on its own terms. When Christ Jesus says "No one comes to the Father except by me." it doesn't seem to occur to people that knowledge of God might depend upon method just as much as science does. Perhaps the reason the scientist doesn't find God behind creation is because he looked in the wrong place. God being ephemeral (spiritual), perhaps God can only be observed (known) by the ephemeral in man. Perhaps only to mind in a pure state is the supra-sensible, the Invisible, apparent.

I have written briefly here of reason, imagination and devotion because I wanted us to remember that mind (soul/spirit) produces much else besides technical wonders. So that when we think about thinking we will remember all the kinds of things which flow from mind and appreciate that skill and effort are as much involved in the discovery of truth as in the creation of beauty or in traveling on the stony path to goodness. Moreover, there seems to be evidence that our greatest geniuses are often active in such a way that combines these qualities. Are not the true scientists and artists devoted to their calling? Einstein was mathematical, musical and faithful. Michael Faraday, who was the founding theoretician of electrical and magnetic phenomena, was a man of special religious devotion. Teilhard de Chardin is a very obvious case in point, and so is Goethe, whose scientific work was impeccable, although today much under appreciated. Here is what Roger Penrose, a major thinker on the problem of mind and science, had to say in his The Emperor's New Mind, pp. 421, Oxford University Press, 1989:

"It seems clear to me that the importance of aesthetic criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we make all the time in mathematical (or scientific work) Rigorous argument is usually the last step! Before that, one has to make many guesses, and for these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..."

And here is Karl Popper, whose work on scientific method sets the standard (for many at least), in his Realism and the Aim of Science, pp. 8, Rowan and Littlefield, 1956:

"...I think that there is only one way to science - or to philosophy, for that matter: to meet a problem, to see its beauty and to fall in love with it;...".

Or as we might add to Mr. Popper's thought: "...to meet a problem (reason), to see its beauty (imagination) and to fall in love with it (devotion);..."

I'd like now to introduce the ideas of Thomas Taylor, as expressed in the introduction to his early 18th century book: The Theoretic Arithmetic of the Pythagoreans. He observes there an interesting fact and draws from it an intriguing conclusion. He starts by deploring the increasing emphasis in education on the practical side of mathematics instead of the theoretical side, i.e. teaching math only with the idea of enabling people to be good accountants or engineers. The theoretic side has special characteristics for Taylor, which should not be lost to the process of education. In Nature, says Taylor, we do not find the perfect circle or the straight line. All the beautiful (or elegant in modern mathematical parlance) characteristics of mathematics arise not from the contemplation of Nature, which is imperfect, but rather are products of the soul which thereby reveals its perfection.

Or to restate Taylor's observation in our terms: mind (soul/spirit) in showing its capacity to think the idea of the perfect, the elegant, the beautiful, as that appears in mathematics, reveals its own nature. Mind could not produce the quality of these ideas except as that reflects the quality of its own condition. Yet, we know that the brain is a physical organ, and is no less imperfect that any other aspect of material nature. How then does this electro-chemical machine come to the ideas which are clearly beyond its own structure? While you might say that God is an illusion, and therefore some kind of mental dream or hallucination, I don't think you can get very far arguing the same way about the circle, or other geometric, and algebraic formulations without making a complete mockery of the scientific and technological achievements which depend upon these ideas.

Taylor's observation, which I make my own as well, is simply this. What the human being produces, through his soul capacities of reason, imagination and devotion, namely truth, beauty and goodness, necessarily reveals that the human spirit possesses a reality clearly transcendent of a mere brain bound existence.

With this background then I would like to return to the question of what is thinking, and what the answer to that question can reveal for us about the nature of mind. I don't expect to answer this question here in the way it must ultimately be answered. No written work ever convinces, even scientific papers. The reader must make his own investigation and draw his own conclusions. This is fundamentally what truly constitutes proof, even in science. My obligation to reason is to state clearly my conclusions and observations and to explain adequately my methodology in order that another can test my results. My reader's obligation is to honestly carry out the instructions, otherwise there can be no scientific validation or invalidation. This will not be easy, and few will even try for the truth is that years of effort have gone into the understanding I presently have of mind. In fact it is not the point of this essay to establish or prove the idea of mind that might be held by a Christian contemplative, but rather to expose it, to make it known, and to do so in a way which accepts as authentic and justifiable the scientific requirement for reproducibility. That the effort at replication may well be beyond the will power of those who agree or disagree is a situation over which I have no control.

This is not a cop out, by the way. That it takes years of study and development to be able to understand "Hilbert space", in no way lessens its mathematical truth. Likewise, do we have to be able to paint the Mona Lisa in order to appreciate its beauty? So, as well, we can marvel at the goodness of the idea of mind as a moral/spiritual act, even though we may lack the ability to completely engender a full understanding of such a condition ourselves.

On the other hand, and if we are willing, we can learn fundamental mathematical and scientific truths, without just having faith in the scientist's teachings. We can, as well, take up artistic activity and discover our own creative potential; and certainly we might devote ourselves to prayer and contemplative thinking in order that we learn to encounter the threshold between the visible and moral (invisible) worlds.

For my own purposes I now want to put aside (for the most part) the word mind and use instead just the terms soul and spirit. These two words are to mean no more and no less than what the reader experiences in his own inner life. Such a process is called introspection or looking within. It is a most ancient discipline; the meaning of the Greek admonition: "Know thyself ". This does not mean, by the way, to know one's subjective individual character traits as is often thought, but rather to discover the universals of human nature as they appear inside our own being.

Earlier in this century there was briefly a psychological "school" which sought to discover truths about the psyche (soul) through introspection, but this work did not make much headway, did not seem to contribute scientifically. and was abandoned. Its flaw was to pretend there was no tradition, no previous exploration of inner life, of psyche (soul) which might offer some experienced insight into the problems involved. The pretense is understandable in that invariably those disciplines which actually know something practical about inner life are spiritual disciplines and the general trend of scientific thought has been to view spiritual ideas about the Earth, Cosmos and Man, as mere superstition. It is no wonder then that, when science seeks to investigate inner life, its anti-spiritual assumptions and preconceptions become an impediment to the discovery of just those facts sought after.

Every human being experiences consciousness, which includes sense experience (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell), varying degrees of well being (health, vitality and illness), thoughts, dreams, feelings, impulses of will, desires, sympathies, antipathies, and so forth. Our language is full of a variety of words for different inner experiences, or states of consciousness, and these usages can often be very instructive. For example, why do we call someone "bright" or speak of "flashes of insight" or draw cartoons in which having a "bright idea" is depicted by a light bulb going on over someone's head? We do this because we instinctively know that certain kinds of thought activity (intuitions) are accompanied by phenomena of inner light. This is not light as seen by the physical eye, but light experienced by the "mind's eye", the individual human spirit.

In our ordinary state of soul (consciousness) this experience is not paid attention to because we are focused outwardly on the problem, whose solution the "flash of insight" represents. Moreover, the activity by which we produce the "in-sight", lies below the level of consciousness. It is unconscious. Now the fact is that within many spiritual disciplines exists the knowledge by which this unconscious can be made conscious, the inner eye strengthened and intuitions can be produced more or less at will. Even so, not all spiritual disciplines are the same, have the same world view, or the same purposes. It becomes necessary then to say a few words about this, in particular the differences between Buddhist and Christian depth meditation practices, the principle paths of Eastern and Western forms of spiritual life.

Buddhism today enjoys a certain ascendancy in America.

"The Buddhist movement has become a regional phenomenon. It is pervasive. And it is quietly transforming our North American culture. This is the golden age of Buddhism. Right here. Right now. " (Don Morreale, quoted in Masters of the Universe, Pamela Weintraub, Omni, March 1990.)

Examine, for example, the book by William Irwin Thompson, Imaginary Landscape. This is a book straining to realize ideas about man and the world by combining reason, imagination and devotion. Thompson is a cultural historian fascinated with the cutting edge of the new sciences such as chaos research and cognitive science.Thompson has clearly been influenced by Buddhism (apparently the Tibetan Llama Choygam Trungpa), and this reveals itself in the ethereally vague, almost ungrounded character of Thompson's prose. If you were to follow reading Thompson's book by reading Speakers Meaning by Owen Barfield, who is a student of the Western spiritual teacher, Rudolf Steiner, the different effect of the style of meditation and related practices on the thinking of the two writers is clear. There is a mystery here concerning the effect of meditation styles on cultural life.

I do not say this because I am opposed to Buddhism as a spiritual path, but rather as an observer of culture and the ebbs and flows in the dynamics of a civilization's cultural existence. Years ago I had a profound experience of Buddhism, for which I am ever thankful, yet I believe there must arise an effort on the part of the leaders of both Western and Eastern cultural life to work together, in mutually supportive ways. There is, I believe, hidden in the mysteries behind both Christianity and Buddhism, a higher unity, which ought to sought for; all the while remaining mindful of the different effects on the soul life of the individual which are due to the different practices, and the natural consequences these must have in the life of a culture. Just like political leaders, humanities spiritual leaders owe the individual certain responsibilities.

The orientation of Buddhist and Christian inner disciplines toward the act of thinking is quite different. The reader who begins to take an objective look at his inner life, at his soul (which includes all that appears inwardly, both conscious and unconscious), will find that there is an actor, a self, an egoicity. To this we refer when we think or say "I". Buddhist meditation takes the view that this "I" is the cause of suffering, the cause of life's difficulties and that it (the "I") needs to be abandoned, eventually to disappear into an experience of self within Self.

Christian meditation sees the "I" as the point of creation, as the image of God, which can be redeemed from its fallen nature, so as to produce the mysterious and paradoxical Pauline dictum: "Not I, but Christ in me."

The Buddhist leaves the act of thinking, the "I"'s spiritual activity, to take its own course, believing that this activity only produces illusions. Christian meditation sees the act of thinking as capable of being metamorphosed, altered through discipline, into a new organ of perception, an organ which can then perceive deeper into the mysteries of creation.

Lest one believe this is an inconsequential matter, just consider the following as reported in the Boston Globe newspaper in December of 1990. The story reveals that a Carthusian priest, a monk in a Catholic contemplative order, has just completed seven years training in the meditation practices of Vipassana Buddhism. This priest, Rev. Denys Rackley, is quoted as saying: "What Western Christians need...is practical knowledge...of preparing the mind for the spiritual experience, something almost entirely unknown in the West." It is understandable why he believes this, but it is not true. The depth meditative practices with Christian understanding are not unknown, but one does have to look for them, rather then look to the East.

Father Denys is also quoted as saying: '...as long as you're functioning at the level of the rational thinking mind, you're not really into the heart of the spiritual life". This is the Buddhist view, but one of the purposes of this essay is to suggest that thinking can in fact lead to direct spiritual experience. And that for the Christian, to abandon his cognitive capacities in the manner of Eastern meditative practices is to miss developing "Not I, but Christ in me."

This short consideration hardly exhausts what would be a proper examination of these differences, nor does it deal with the complex and difficult relation between modern depth Christianity and the current theological beliefs of many Christian churches. I did feel it necessary, however, to note briefly these themes as part of giving as rounded out a picture of mind (soul/spirit), as that exists for the Christian meditative practitioner.

The reader may then consider the soul to be all that appears before him inwardly as his consciousness, including as well sense experience. While we feel, and have been taught, that sense experience is caused by outer nature, the actual experiencing of these so-called stimuli occurs within the soul or conscious awareness. For example, if one whose normal environment is urban were to be transported suddenly to a grand vista of nature they would experience the soul's expansive movement deeper into the senses. Normally in urban life the soul withdraws as far as possible from its sense experiences which are so chaotic and immoderate. We tend to hear, see, smell, taste, feel (as in touch) with less sensitivity while we lead an urban existence. The opposite is also true. If an urban dweller, who has spent a month or so in raw nature were to suddenly return to downtown Manhattan, they would experience a sudden contraction of the soul, a rapid withdrawal from the senses, and a constriction of the diaphragm (so as to breathe less deeply the toxic air).

Soul includes as well that which exists in the unconscious, and which manifests over time, such as mood, character, temperament and other like phenomena. Within the field of soul, within the totality of psychic life, the "I" or spirit appears as the experiencer, the actor, and the creative or initiating cause.

Now please remember that this way of describing soul life comes from the process of active objective introspection. It does not try to infer from outer perception as do the sciences, but seeks to objectify the direct experiences of the observer of his own self. Just as science then points to technological products to validate its views, so can these practices point to reproducible effects in the inner life brought about by the disciplined activity of the "I" through self development exercises, such as concentration, meditation, contemplation and prayer. I would like to put forward a model here, just as science does, but in this case I want it to be clear it is only a device by which to convey an idea, a mental representation of a real process, which can be known, but which can't be described by the concepts we are used to.

Imagine if you will that you are holding a "stick" between the palms of your hands. If you move your left hand in such a way as to push the "stick", your right hand will move as well. Move the right hand and the "stick" will push the left. This then is the idea I want to suggest for the brain-mind relationship, or the body/soul/spirit relationship. Brain chemistry can cause changes in consciousness, but as well the "I", the spirit, can cause changes in brain chemistry. In Mind Matters, Grazzanica, having already likened brain to a mechanism, then says paradoxically: "A thought can change brain chemistry, just as a physical event in the brain can change a thought". My question for Grazanica is: what does he think causes the thought which changes the brain chemistry?

If I ingest substances, food or chemical, I alter my state of soul, of consciousness. There is no ignoring the fact that brain chemistry effects statesof mind (soul). However, the opposite is also true. My active spirit can also effect states of soul, and in some circumstances brain and body chemistry as well (c.f. the capacities of Jack Schwartz who is able to control consciously a number of so-called involuntary bodily processes including blood flow.). Moreover, any conscious physical movement is initiated by my spirit which first imagines it. Ordinarily we are not aware of how our "I"'s will brings about this physical movement. The "stick", as it were, is hidden deep in the unconscious.

With regard to the act of thinking, however, the whole activity lies within the reach of my self conscious spirit. Thinking takes place in the conscious parts of the soul and with training one can become aware of and be active in the whole process.

Ordinarily we experience thinking as an inner dialogue, a flow of words. This talking to ourselves (don't we say, "I can't hear myself think") is the end product of unconscious processes. In this instance it is the spirit which intitiates the silent wording and the soul which hears. This act of thinking (which is unconscious ) produces thoughts or trains of thought (the flow of words) of which we are conscious. The training disciplines of a specific spiritual practice can, stage by stage, uncover and make open to experience, and will activity, what remains otherwise hidden in the unconscious.

I will now describe some of the consequences of such a discipline in terms of capacities and experiences. This is not meant to be exhaustive, only indicative. Later we will discuss certain books which have much more to offer in this line, books which I have used (tested) myself. The stream of "words" can be brought to a halt. The act of thinking can then be focused on a single concept. The discovery here is that concept and word are two different experiences. This is another crucial matter, but its main difficulty for the reader's understanding is that it cannot be put into words. It is completely a function of experience.

Now ordinarily we think of concept and idea as the same as the word which we experience in our inner dialogue. The true experience of the concept is beyond language. It can ultimately be experienced in a way analogous to that in which a sense object is experienced. The difference is that I am in an unusual state of consciousness, which can be described as "sense free". Only to my mind's eye, my spiritual eye, does the concept appear. Moreover, as an experience it is more vivid, more intense, than sense experience. It touches, as it were, my whole soul, filling the soul with "sensation", with image, sound, tactility, engagement (I am pulled toward it, it seems to rush toward me). In addition the experience can only be sustained if my "I" is active in a certain way. In the face of sense experience I can be passive. In the face of the supra-sensible experience of the pure concept, I must remain active inwardly.

Roger Penrose in his The Emperor's New Mind relates how as a mathematician (recall what has been said previously about mathematics by Taylor) he is beginrung to think mathematical truths have their own independent existence. "...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics the case for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least for the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger..." (pp. 97). Mathematical thinking is a very concentrated activity, is good practice for meditation and contemplation and can easily evolve into the contemplation of the pure concept.

When we think, then, in the ordinary way (stream of words), our unconscious thought-creative activity is within the realm of the pure concept, but our conscious awareness is only of the words which fall out, as it were, like autumn leaves blown free of the living tree of our mind.

As with mathematics, so with music. Consider the poetic intuition out of the imagination of the writer Kim Stanley Robinson in his novel: The Memory of Whiteness:

"A music leads the mind through the starry night and the brain must expand to contain the flight like a tree growing branches at the speed of light."

Thinking cannot only focus on the single concept, it may also suspend itself just before the act which produces the awareness of the concept. Thinking can take up a question, but not proceed all the way to an answer. We can live in the question, in a condition of heightened anticipation. A great deal can be learned from appreciating the qualitative difference of the "I"'s activities of "focus" and "question".

Up to now little has been said here of the Christian nature of such practices. Consider then that the Christian contemplative's practice is to think in a concentrated and focused way ever and ever again on the Being of God. If Penrose has begun to suspect that mathematics is derived from an experience of something that is "there already", are we to be surprised when the contemplative finds God as an experience in his consciousness (soul) and as a consequence (in part, we will have to avoid complicating things with the problem of Grace) of the activity of his thinking (spirit)? Prayer is another form of question, and by combining question and focus, or prayer and contemplation, the contemplative proceeds in an exact, disciplined and rigorous fashion.

The summa of my own investigations (which is not by any means to be considered more than the work of a beginner) is the discipline of sacrifice of thoughts. I have found it especially important to learn to give up any tendency to fixed ideas. Always it is necessary to approach the situation ignorant, to sacrifice all previous ideas. "Blessed are the poor in spirit. " is the Beatitude. Only in a condition of humility, of not knowing, can I come to the more subtle, more intimate inner experiences. One of my favorite teachers calls sacrifice of thoughts: "...learning to think on your knees...".

This leads us to the consideration of the core problem, that of morality and conscience.

Many people today think of education and character development as having to do with pouring something into an otherwise empty soul. To my experience this is mistaken. Rather it is always a question of development, of unfolding. A human being becomes. True morality then involves the development of a capacity, and is not merely a matter of instruction. You can get people to conform, but real morality comes from the inside out and is not a response to expectations of right behavior. (This appears to be a new condition for mankind. Previously, in human development, morality, to a great extent, was set for the individual by the outside social structure, through codes of behavior, traditions, and other socially enforced expectations.

Depth introspection of the act of thinking will discover that the outcome of thinking is significantly affected by the moral intention of the thinker. Just as the act of thinking needs to be made conscious, so the moral intention connected to the object (or the why) of the thinking needs to be fully conscious. If, for example, I am a business man looking for a solution to a certain problem, the answers I get will vary according to the moral intention. Ultimately the practitioner of such thinking will come to an appreciation of the activity of conscience within his own soul life.

This is a special experience. The "voice" of conscience needs to be carefully distinguished from the more subjectively incorporated authority figures. The conscience, for example, never endlessly nags us, does not make us feel inferior. Conscience is the experience of the higher element of our nature, which is normally in the unconscious. In the awakening and the development of conscience we begin to develop within us this higher element (What St. Paul calls: "Not I, but Christ.in me."). The conscience does cause pain, "pricks of conscience", because it forces us to recognize the true moral consequences of our actions. The truth hurts and our voice of conscience reminds us of the truth. The conscience, however, loves us, which is why it makes us conscious of the truth, but does not seek to destroy our self image or impair our self esteem.

Now just as one can evoke certain kinds of inner experiences through various types of thinking disciplines, so can one evoke the voice of conscience and thereby come to certain moral knowledge. This understanding of the life of the soul and the activity of the spirit, this part of the idea of mind, involves the most subtle inner discrimination; and, since it places morality within the realm of individual knowledge, it represents a threat to authoritarian organizations, religious or otherwise. No one, who eventually learns this fine discrimination, will ever assert to another that they possess a more perfect moral knowledge. Each individual must make his own experiences.

This does not mean that morality is subjective, or that it is relative and changeable. The problem is more subtle and more complicated. The conscience is an organ of knowledge - of understanding the true moral qualities underlying human action. Two individuals with the same choices, the same life questions to balance, if they strive for the same depth of understanding, they will arrive at the same knowledge of what is right. However, the reality is that, in life, two individuals seldom have to face the same choice. Our lives are very individual, regardless of superficial similarities. What needs to be weighed and balanced is unlikely to be the same. So when the individual problem is presented to the organ of conscience, we often get an individual result.

This can be very confusing. In part the confusion is due to our usually thinking of morality as a set of immutable principles, and the teaching of most religious authorities of quite definite rules and codes. For example, to many murder and abortion are absolutely prohibited. In these instances, to suggest, as the above seems to suggest, that the individual has some kind of free choice, is to appear to go against these most obvious and traditional moral restrictions. Such thinking, however, misses the point.

First we should remember that most of us, in many situations, do not follow the indications of our conscience, to the extent we become aware of them. Conscience gives us knowledge; we choose to act, or not, upon that knowledge. That we often choose to ignore conscience in no way takes away the power of conscience to know what is moral. Secondly, what is often forgotten, is that one of the most common ways we ignore conscience is in judging other people. If we put to conscience whether we should judge another's morality, what answer do you think conscience will give? "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.".

In the process of coming to this understanding of the role of conscience, or moral intention, and the consequences of these acts upon the activity of thinking, we also come to a practical understanding of many of the lessons of the Gospels. The teachings of Christ Jesus, in that they have a practical psychological effect, in that they concern matters of "mind", conform exactly to all that has been said above. In spite of what religious dogma might say, this knowledge, which is derived from the direct experience of a Christian meditant,and which is also representative of a community of such meditation practitioners, in no way conflicts with true Christianity.

Certain implications flow from this idea of mind. We might ask the question: where is the "there" where the "already there" is? When the mathematician Penrose proposes that mathematical ideas are "already there", where is this "there"? Inside the physical space of my skull? This is our habit of thought, but does that "habit" have to be true?

It will help to consider a parallel problem/question. Which comes first in evolution/creation, mind or matter? We assume matter, or at least such is the fundamental assumption current in science today. The basic belief is that at some point in evolution the complexity of the nervous system reaches a point where consciousness arises and ultimately what we know as mind (soul/spirit to the Christian meditative expenence). We have no proof of this. It really hasn't even been seriously investigated, if it can be investigated at all. That mind arises spontaneously, out of some accidental physical condition is an axiom (unproven assumption) of many mainstream scientists.

Such a supposed event, lying as it does in the distant past, cannot even be the subject of an experiment, or any other direct observation. This alleged event must be inferred, but from what? The fossil record only gives us bones, hardened substances. The soft tissues are always dissolved. And as to the thoughts?

We do have a picture of stages of development, one that we have been indoctrinated in from our earliest years in school: single cell plant, to multi-cell, to invertebrate, to vertebrate, to mammal, to man. We have an idea of mind (soul/spirit) as solely reason, and therefore connect mind and tool making. This picture itself is an inference. Are we justified in building inference upon inference. The fact that the majority of scientists believe this to be the case is of no moment whatsoever. We don't vote facts into existence, and at the very least the history of science itself reveals, not an unbroken advance, but rather a series of "beliefs", a series of substitutions of ideas often quite at odds with each other (c.f. T. Khun, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).

Is there any reason for inferring the opposite? Is there something which suggests mind preceded matter? As a matter of fact there is. The discipline of philology, the study of language as developed by the mind (soul/spirit) of Owen Barfield  reveals that what we call thinking was experienced by certain ancient peoples as outside them. The whole way they used language, their references to muses and to genii, shows that they experienced thoughts as coming into them from the outside. (c.£ Owen Barfield's Speaker's Meaning, also his Poetic Diction, History in English Words, and Saving the Appearances: a Study in Idolatry). Barfield's investigations, which represent deeply profound and scientific studies of the history of meaning and the meaning of history, suggest unequivocally that modern assumptions regarding the nature of consciousness, both historical and prehistorical, must certainly be rethought; and if that is done, the inferred idea of matter proceeding mind in evolution will be replaced with its opposite, that mind is prior. Moreover, this philological research shows that mind (soul/spirit) has over the course of history (that is the period of man's evolution for which we have records) only just finished a long period of contraction; thinking, having first been outside the human entelechy, is now inside.

This is not the place in which to give a full recapitulation of the relevant trains of thought (arguments) which Barfield makes, nor to go into the supporting evidence that can be found in the field of art history (c.f. Art and Human Consciousness, Gottfried Richter, Anthroposophic Press, 1985). Rather I wanted to point out the question and as well to point to work which finds a satisfactory answer. Where is the "there" where one finds ideas already? It is in the great field of Mind (Soul/Spirit) which encompasses all of Nature (sense perceptible as well as supra-sensible), to which our individuality, our "I", has access through its own disciplined inner activity. Just as it is quite unreasonable to expect the imperfect to conceive the perfect (the material brain to imagine the immaterial and elegant truths of projective geometry), so it is non-reason to assume that mind (soul/spirit) is not born out of its own likeness. Matter cannot have given birth to consciousness, to thinking, or to certain moral knowledge (conscience). Our inwardness (soul/spirit) can only be the progeny of the Universe's Inwardness.

How do I know this? Because I have explored my own inwardness, and found there much more than I had been lead to assume was "there" by the scientifically oriented education of my youth. It has become a matter of experience, an empiricism of inwardness. In fact, such is the nature of this experience that the idea of mind as solely a product of brain electro-chemistry cannot be sustained. Moreover, there is a community of practitioners which replicates (repeats) this experience, the whole activity being conducted with the rigor and discipline justifiably required in this scientific age.

I would like to remind the reader, as we draw this exploration to a close, that the intention has never been to prove an opposite idea of the mind/brain nexus to that one currently held in science, but rather to give as clear as possible a picture of the idea of mind which can be held by a Christian meditation practitioner. Further, to do this in a way which at least offers the reader the opportunity of testing for him or herself the truth of this idea.

Ultimately, I believe it will be most healthy for our culture and our civilization, if what is understood as the powers of reason, be supplemented by the faculties of imagination and devotion, as well. What is offered then, in this theme, is not adisagreement with present day mind sciences, but rather an attempt to extend them, to evolve them by adding to their considerations what can be discovered about the nature of mind from a disciplined investigation which proceeds from the inside, from what appears to our direct experience of mind.

We need to remember that these questions are fundamental to the future course of our civilization. It is crucial, both for the health of our social order, and the meaning we attribute to our existence, that we have a true idea of human nature. Our culture is deeply psychologically split, in a quite unhealthy way, by the confused idea we have of human nature which raises Reason above the capacities of Imagination and Devotion, and which makes so-called scientific knowledge the only truth worth considering. This is a prejudice which grants an illegitimate power to what is really far too often only another belief system.

In the hospital where I worked for over seven years, powerful drugs are routinely administered to individuals, without sufficient consideration for these individuals spiritual nature or needs. That their "depression" might instead by caused by a life crisis with moral and self definitional (spiritual meaning) dynamics, is not really considered. At the same time, just down the hall, in the chemical dependency units, where the alcoholics anonymous model is practiced, meetings frequently end with the Lord's Prayer, and spiritual self transformation is considered an absolute necessity in order to deal with the relevant problems.

What a picture this gives us of the deep inconsistencies that exist in our culture!

We can do no better than to begin to end our considerations of this theme with these remarks by a spirit (individual) in whom reason, imagination and devotion were maintained in the soul in a remarkable balance. From Emerson's essay Nature: "Nature is the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as ice becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping again into the state of free thought. "

Here, with remarkable intuitive powers, Emerson sees to the heart of what we have been attempting to suggest. Contrary to the assumptions of the scientific age, namely, that there is no correlation between human thought and the world, the world itself is a product of Thought, and the human being, in that he or she thinks, has directly before him, in the experience of his own mind, the like, but rudimentary, capacity. We were Thought into being, and we also can think.

In the preceding, I attempted to show how one could begin that exploration which will validate, in a scientifically acceptable way, the proposition that human consciousness and the act of thinking are not the product of material happenings in a physical brain, but the products of acts of soul and spirit. Whether critics of such an idea will be willing to struggle with the difficult work of replication, I cannot say. At the same time I will insist that, without such an effort, any argument to the contrary need not be listened to or heeded.

For those who will wish to take this challenge seriously, I recommend the following two books: The Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical Press; and Meditations on the Tarot: a journey into Christian Hemeticism, author anonymous, Amity House.


pragmatic moral psychology

Many people have trouble with the idea 'moral".   This is understandable given the history of Christianity (for example), which has included so many attempts at  dominating the moral thinking of others.   Especially in our age we don't like being told what is right to do.   We would rather follow our own judgment.   It will come as no supprise to many, that the Christian Gospels actually support that latter view (personal moral  judgment) instead of the view that allows someone else to tell us what is moral.   But this view of the Gospels is not appreciated until we have penetrated, in practice, the psychological teachings these remarkable Books of Wisdom contain.   Many so-called Christians have failed to live the Gospels, and for this reason have never come to understand what they teach about mind, about soul and spirit in a practical and pragmatic sense.   This essay is the result of my own explorations of these Books of Wisdom as they apply to life, to thinking and feeling, and to how the world is ordered in both its social and moral realms.  For it is here, in such practices that the real facing of the problem of Evil comes toward us.  It is only in the brutal self honest examination of how we introduce Evil into the world, that we learn what we need to know in order to appreciate how Evil works in the social.  For a deeper examination of this problem, see my book The Way of the Fool: The conscious development of our human character, and the future of Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis.

Social morality is the highest form of art. Remember: the social world is the moral world, and we need to move from a state of sleep with regard to this, to a state of awakeness. The material below is offered in support of the reader's struggles in this regard, and not as a statement of an activity which the reader must undertake. How one proceeds as regard these matters is very personal, and the following material, based on the author's own experience, is given only as an example of how one might proceed; should they choose to make some efforts in these directions.

The political or community leader, and certainly the story-teller who wants to encounter the Mystery, should realize that some kind of practice, some kind of personal effort at inner growth, of a kind similar to that described below, is essential to carrying out the responsibilities undertaken. We are not born virtuous, but rather human, with all the normal failings that implies. The author can state, with some surety, which he hopes this book demonstrates, that such practice does bear fruit that can be obtained in no other way. The Mystery draws near that which strives toward goodness.


This is not an essay meant for psychologists. Nor is it about mental "health" per se, although its reflections may touch related problems.

This essay is based on an understanding of human inner life that developed out of the necessity of solving certain real problems of personal experience. It represents the fruit of many years of practical work derived from a struggle, only occasionally successful, to live according to certain teachings of Jesus Christ. It is the latter aspect which brings in the moral element.

When this work was begun, almost twenty-five years ago when I was in my early thirties, it first appeared as an instinctive awakening to certain problems, most notably: what was the relationship between my own thinking, and the world I experienced through my senses? A secondary question, more subtle, but quite definitely related, is what was the role of conscience in the solving of this problem?

Over a few years investigation and practice, I taught myself to: work at bringing discursive thinking to a halt (no inner dialogue); to think with my heart, instead of my head; and, to think in wholes, or, what I called at that time, gestalts.

Subsequent to this, I discovered that essentially the same problems had been confronted by the genius of a man named Rudolf Steiner, in his 1894 book, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. When I read this book, I found therein, not only a much clearer statement of the problems I had already been examining, but what turned out to be an introspection of human consciousness that was in accord with the methods of natural science; and which was therefore, at the same time, quite compatible with all those academic characteristics of philosophy that ordinary people find so confusing.

A few years later I encountered another book of Steiner's, The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, which, although again compatible with academic philosophic standards, is nevertheless much simpler in its language. Both books were extremely helpful in making it possible to examine these questions (the interrelationship of thinking, experience and conscience), with all their possible subjectivity, in a completely objective fashion.

I mention Rudolf Steiner, because he has had an enormous influence on my thinking, and those readers, who may wish for a more academic justification for certain themes in this book, should begin with the above materials. Most people, however, will be satisfied by their own common sense.

I use the word psychology in the title of this essay because this same struggle has also taught me that Christ's teachings are grounded in a complete understanding of human inner life. They are, in fact, a moral psychology par excellence; that is, an understanding of human nature which both fathoms and appreciates our true moral reality and potential. This is so regardless of one's conclusions regarding His religious significance.

Those readers who might have some discomfort with the religious matters below, should be advised that all that I can do is reflect my own experience. If the reader, for whom this may be some kind of problem, is careful, they may be able to translate the materials below into their own understanding and belief system. The person of Christian faith, who feels there may be matters of even deeper significance, is invited to read: Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism, author anonymous.


Matthew 7: 3-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

The pragmatic psychological realities I have so far discovered in this teaching are as follows:

When we meet, or interact, with another person there may arise, within our own soul life, antipathies, feelings of disliking. Perhaps we will not like how they look, their class, the nature of the ideas they present to us or the values they express. Maybe they are of another race or culture, or believe in abortion, or believe in choice, or have a selfish political agenda, or a thousand other categories by which we may define them or weigh their moral or spiritual qualities.

In each and every instance where we experience an antipathetic judgment (or sympathetic for that matter), we do not perceive the individual before us, but rather only that classification or label by which we have identified them. This is so even though it is someone we know well. In fact, those in our most intimate circles are more likely to be the object of judgments we have made and continue to make, yet sleep through. These last have become ingrained habits of thought, a (perhaps too rigid) soul lens through which we view the world of our daily relationships.

We also apply this judgment to ourselves. Just consider how much we do not like about ourselves. It will even be possible to turn the material in this essay into another reason for unwarrented self-judgment.

This judgment is the "beam in our own eye". By it we become then blind, confusing our judgment for the "mote" in their eye, the character fault we believe we have identified.

Should it actually be possible that we could help them, the existence of our "beam" nevertheless disables us. We lack the objectivity (which is neither antipathetic or sympathetic, but is rather empathic) by which we could actually understand them.

In fact the Gospel promises us that when we can succeed in setting aside the judgment and can instead empathize, i.e. know them from the inside-out objectively, then we may actually be able to be of service to them ("then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy bother's eye").

From Rudolf Steiner, I was lead to understanding, that the most common types of such judgments are in fact reflections of our own weaknesses and failings. Our normal psychology is so ordered that our common antipathies are mirror images of our own defects. We often most strongly dislike, in others, our own worst flaws. So Jesus Christ advises us: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye..."

This being the case, how do we work with this in a practical manner?

The first step is to wake up to it, to notice each and every act of judgment. This is painful. A wonderful help is found in an spiritual exercise Steiner taught, the daily review. This exercise, which the reader is free to use or not, involves taking time at the end of the day, and remembering it, backwards, from the most recent events just before beginning the exercise, to those events surrounding our awakening early in the morning. In this way we reflect upon our day, and will begin, after a time, to discover matters which need our attention. When, for example, we have begun to notice these judgments, they can become an element of the review. They are "unfinished" soul business.

During the review feelings of remorse and shame are good signs. In these self reflective feelings the conscience awakens. Out of the impulse of conscience we can utter a brief prayer to the guardian angel of the one we have judged, so that the next time we meet, our perception will be more objective. The angel of the "other" wants to help us do this. Those who doubt such an idea are simply asked to carry out such activity with full sincerity. Practice will, itself, establish the truth of these matters.

In this way we slowly refine the impulse to judge, and gain thereby (small bit by bit) control of our thoughts and mastery of our feelings. The soul area, in which these unconscious antipathies and sympathies have previously tended to pull us, can now become an ever growing arena of spiritual freedom.

One of the mysteries of our inner life that this work, the refining of the judgment, uncovers, is that we are often captured - enslaved - by these repeated thought-judgments. Once having made them, our continued repetition of them, or habitual use of them, becomes then a point of view, a kind of judgmental colored glass through which we view the world. To refine the judgment in the manner being described in this essay, is to no longer by possessed by it - to be inwardly, spiritually, free.

These pragmatic understandings have applications in other areas as well. The reader, who works patiently with these soul-lawful realities, will discover other possible uses for the skills developed.

We can in fact be glad of those personalities who irk us so, who bring out of us these strong and unredeemed feelings. Their lives are a great gift to us and we appear to have sought out these relationships just so they could awaken us. Here is good cause for a prayer of thanks during the review.

Sympathies represent a similar problem to antipathies. How often does life teach the tragedy of those who fall so in love that the excessive sympathies and its resulting (love is) blindness leads eventually to confusion and terrible pain, when clarity finally returns.

To raise another up in excessive praise is also a "beam" of great proportions. Whenever we do this, we are just as blind to an other's real humanity as when we live in antipathies. Our judgment is not a source of true understanding when it is derived from unconscious and unredeemed feeling-perceptions.

In the case where we are turning this unredeemed judgment upon ourselves, this can become another aspect of our search for spiritual freedom. In our inner life, once we become awake there, the voice of the conscience and the voice of the judgment are not the same. Conscience "hurts" because it expresses the truth, and we "wince" inwardly in this perception. The judgment dislikes, or excessively likes, but it is not expressing the truth. Learning to distinguish between these - between truth and dislike - can be very helpful.

While this does not begin to exhaust all that could be said about the "beam" and the mote", nonetheless, let us take up another thread.

John 8:5-9: Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one...

We all know this story, but we don't "stone" people anymore; or do we ? Obviously physical violence, retribution, against "criminals" continues. We understand these issues, to a degree. Is there then some more subtle meaning? This is what I have found to be true in practice.

When an unredeemed judgment is spoken, that is, when it passes from the inner life into the social world, through speech, it becomes a "stone". The flesh is not wounded by this stone, but the soul surely is. Our ordinary language in its natural genius recognizes this, for don't we speak of "hurt feelings"?

Yet our ordinary personal life is full of just these acts of "stone" throwing. Tired and upset we throw them at our children and our partners. Believing too much in our own righteousness we will throw them at work, or at play.

The pragmatic teaching it this. Be silent. Remember, Jesus' response in this story is first to say nothing: "But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not". Examine our own thoughts more rigorously than that of others. Not every thought must be spoken. An ancient middle-eastern aphorism goes this way. There are three gates to speech: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Any thought that cannot pass all three gates should not be spoken. And there may be even other reasons for not speaking those thoughts which otherwise could pass.

Further questions are these. What is the moral purpose for our speech? Why have we said what we have said? What is the objective? Do we speak to be self important? Or do we have the possible benefit for others as our purpose? How do we know it will be a benefit, rather than an interference in their freedom or a hurt? Do we believe we know the truth, that our knowledge is superior to others? Hidden here are all the judgments, the consequences of the "beam".

Are we so sure of ourselves, that all our thoughts are worthy of being spoken? Silence is golden is the cliché. In truth, outer silence is just the beginning.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

If my mind is not quiet, empty, poor in spirit, what can enter there? Inner silence has two valuable moral consequences.

The first benefit of inner silence is that it is essential to listening to someone else speak. If we cannot quiet our own mind when we are listening, if our whole concentration is instead on our anticipated response or on what we think, then our attention is not focused at all on the other person or what they are saying.

In some lectures published under the title: The Inner Aspect of the Social Question, Rudolf Steiner suggests the practice of seeking to hear the presence, of what he calls "the Christ Impulse", in the other's thinking. This is very difficult. It is not just listening, but a feeling-imagining of the heart felt purposes living in the speaker. What brings them to speak so? What life path has brought them to this place? Even if they are throwing "stones" at us, we must still "actively" listen; otherwise, there will be no understanding of their humanity.

There is a wonderful experience possible here, when we have won past our antipathetic judgment and actually have begun to hear what lives in the other speaker. Each of us has learned in life some wisdom, and these little jewels lie every where around us, often in the most improbable places, the most unsuspected souls. These treasures are often hidden only by the darkness we cast over the world through our unredeemed thought-judgments.

The second benefit is this. Unless I am silent, and empty, that is poor in spirit, how will it be possible for the Mystery to touch me?

John 3:8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit

The Mystery goes where it wills. If we are not listening outwardly, we well may miss it when it appears through others. An inflated sense of self righteousness will certainly interfere. How much have we missed in life because we did not listen to what was being offered? Even a piece of an overheard passing conversation on a bus, which seems to jump into our silent waiting, may have an import just for us. And inwardly? The Mystery is silence itself, quiet, like an angel's beating wings. How much has been offered to us just there as well, a barely audible whispering that our own internal rambling dialogue has covered over in its insistent and restless commentary.

"It thinks in me" spoke Rudolf Steiner. The Mystery has its own will. "It" comes like a gentle wind, when "it" wills, and we prepare the way by "learning to think on our knees", as Valentin Tomberg, another passionate seeker I find very helpful, has advised. Two acts, only one our own.

Matthew 11: 28-30: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Two acts, only one our own. Something comes to meet us and does not bring weight, but rather eases our burdens.

Pragmatic moral psychology is not meant to be heavy labor. We are working together with the world of Mystery. We make an offering of what lives within; we offer it up. In the Celebration of the Mass, the Offertory precedes the Eucharist.

The soul makes the same rite of gesture, when the unconsciously created judgment is perceived and then let go, after which the empathic understanding is yearned for. When this has been done we are then met by grace, by the work of others. Moreover, this grace is so quiet, so silent, we may not be able to distinguish it from our own yearning thinking.

Since the Mystery seeks no gratitude for its acts, we should not mind when it has invisibly carried us to subtle heights, breadths and depths. To expect this, is faith. However alone we may sometimes feel, we are, in fact, never alone.


Let us review and synthesize, perhaps adding a few new thoughts.

We are born into a culture and a language, a family and a destiny. In our youth we draw into ourselves a way of seeing the world, consistent with those who raise us, and, without which we would have become incapable of being a member of society.

Each of us has an inborn faculty of judgment which finds its center in the feeling life, but which leaves its most conscious traces in the life of thought. We do not want to eliminate this faculty, but it does need to be refined if we are to evolve it into a capacity for perceiving the true, the beautiful and the good. As the poet Goethe pointed out, particularly in his scientific works, it is not the senses which deceive, but rather the judgment.

The fundamental quality, latent in judgment and from which its evolution may proceed, is our moral nature, our moral will. Let us consider this in a more practical way.

What do I do with antipathies (or with excessive sympathies for that matter)? Something enters my consciousness and my "reaction" is to not like it. The first thing (borrowing a term from more recent popular psychology) is to own it. It is my reaction, it arises in my soul, and it is not (in any obvious way) in the object to which the reaction attaches. There does seem to be something, a seed perhaps, that does exist in the judgment and that does belong to the object of the judgment, but this seed only comes to flower through processes like those outlined below.

The antipathetic reaction, which is a "feeling", then draws concepts toward it, clothes itself in thought forms, and in this way enters our conscious thinking life, usually as a stream of inner dialogue (discursive thinking: our spirit speaks, our soul hears). Above, we considered how to become alert to these judgments using the daily review, and noted there, as well, that to feel remorse and shame for having so unconsciously and hypocritically categorized our fellow human beings, is a sign of an awakening conscience.

Once we have become more awake in the moment, it is possible to work with this process during the day, not waiting for the daily review. The antipathy arises, we notice it. We have learned not to speak it, not to allow it across the threshold of speech into the social world. We behold it inwardly, this thing, our judgmental creation. This objective perception of our self created thought-judgments is an act of spiritual freedom, inner freedom before the concept.

There are two very practical acts we can do in regard to this object within our consciousness. One precedes the other, and the second is born out of the first. The initial act is one of sacrifice. Steiner calls this: "sacrifice of thoughts". We not only allow it to die, we participate in the process of its dying. We give it up, we detach ourselves emotionally from this no longer desired judgment.

Doing this has brought our will into play. Using this same will we now engender a new becoming of the act of judgment. Dying has preceded becoming. We actively engage the process of metamorphosis inwardly in the soul life. The caterpillar of our antipathetic judgment can give birth to the butterfly of our empathic understanding. The crucial act is our moral intention. We recreate in the newly freed soul space the object of our judgment as an act of spiritual will. We choose to behold the "other" with the forces of resurrection. We clothe the object of our previous antipathy in a freely chosen word-picture created in the crucible of a struggle to know them empathically. We redeem them in thought.

The most essential matter to recognize here is that in this activity one is not acting alone. Two acts, only one our own.

One last thought. In that activity by which we transform unconscious judgments into conscious ones, we inform the world with new meaning. We adorn the world, and the individuals which inhabit it, with self-created significance. The difference is that this new meaning-significance is neither arbitrary or capricious. The world means what we choose it to mean. In this act, however, it makes a great deal of difference whenever we have invited the cooperation of the invisible world.

With regard to this problem of meaning - the creation of new meaning - there is much more yet to say, as this is one of the principle ways for crafting the resurrection of a new civilization from the decay and debris of the old and dying culture.

Unto the reader then, I place these gifts of twenty-five years of practice, with all their flaws, for whatever service they may give.