Dozens of copies of this essay were distrubuted for free
Ben Franklin Conference in Fair Oaks, California
on the 18th and 19th of August, 2006. It has
been slightly rewritten since then.
In Joyous Celebration of the
Soul Art and Music of Discipleship
In Joyous Celebration of the
Soul Art and Music of Discipleship
- a moderately serious introductory sketch unveiling
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 in America,
and one should look to Emerson and his circle of friends to appreciate
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
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
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 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
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
"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
will to do the Good
(that is to be moral) is the foundation for all feeling and thinking
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:
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 later in
this book . 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 the 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.
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
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
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
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
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 most
needed developmental task.
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
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 Epoch of the Consciousness Soul, we are also becoming more and
more able to form individual free moral ideas as well.
The Consciousness Soul really just means
that if we inwardly wish to know the Good, in any particular moment of
moral demand, crisis or need, we can in fact know what the Good is.
Yet, in order to have this knowledge, we first have to ask, seek and knock. We have to inwardly form the question, and
struggle there to let ourselves answer from the higher nature of our
ego. The Good is what we make it to be, and as this essay
proceeds, we will get deeper and deeper into this Mystery. This
is why my book (found for free on line at
http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/twotf.html or which can be purchased at
www.lulu.com) "the Way of
the Fool" calls this capacity to know the
Good: Moral Grace.
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 double-complex, the Shadow in the Soul.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
[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
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
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 captured by the concept. 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 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, was I able to stand in relationship to the massive and
marvelous thought content of Spiritual Science, inwardly free. I
could then 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
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
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 condition. The
will-in-thinking does not any longer call it forth, nor does it let the
thought call itself forth. When we are captured by a concept, 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. 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
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
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
captured by 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:
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 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), 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. 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, initiate
ourselves, but instead are initiated by Another.
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. 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
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. Subsequent in time to this experience, 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.
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
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.
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. 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 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
thinks in me", albeit this form of expression
is lacking a certain artistry. A more beautiful phrase would be: the delicate and subtle
presence of Fullness and fullness of Presence.
[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 lead 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 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. 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
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
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 long 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 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 live
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
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
not only 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:
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.