Living Thinking in Action*

- an introductory treatise -

*[Living Thinking in Action - this title is intended in part to honor a wonderful teacher of Buddhism, the Tibetan Llama Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987), and to point to his remarkable little book Meditation in Action.  It was my privilege during my Berkeley years, to hear him lecture, to read his books and to know a number of his students.  I still periodically reread this book, always finding it ever more enlightening.]

In the following material I come at Living Thinking from two different directions.   The first (The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul) is from the outside inward, that is we work from social phenomena and then into the inner life of the human being.  In the second (In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship) we work from the inside outward, from actions taking place entirely within the soul as these lead toward its latent potentials from which we are then able to stand on firm spiritual ground as an actor in the Creation.


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 or which can be purchased at "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  }

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  }"

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.]