AS A PREPARATION
FOR ETHERIC VISION
HOW does destiny lead
men to the revelation of the forces of etheric vision ? There is an
answer to this question
which the following considerations will attempt co present.
The development, both of single individuals and also of mankind in
general, is of such a nature that in the process
new capacities are produced at the expense of old ones. The appearance
of a new faculty is preceded by the inhibition
of an old one. For instance, speech became possible through the fact
that a part of the forces which were previously
used for movement were inhibited, and so were induced to seek another channel of activity. Thereby an inward turned movement arose, which was speech ; for speech
is an inner movement, a gesture turned inward.
Through the "silencing" of outer movement, speaking arose as an inner
movement. Similarly, thinking is
the result of the movement of speech turned inward. Thinking is
'internalized' speaking, just as speaking is 'internalized'
movement ; for thinking is the life, on a higher level, of the forces
which have been taken away from speech. It
is born out of silence.
The general tendency of this process of development has been widely
used (and misused). Thus there have been --
and are -- individuals and groups of people in Europe and Asia who have
tried to develop higher faculties by inhibiting
the lower. For instance, the objective of that type of asceticism in
which a person freely renounces movement (some
have spent years upon a column, a stone or other confined space) is the
possibility of metamorphosing powers of
movement into higher powers. In the same way, to willingly remain
silent is a method for transforming lower powers
into higher ones. So, for example, Mahatma Gandhi believes he cannot
command the forces necessary to master the
demands made upon him by his "dharma" without devoting one day of the
week to silence. He intends, through
the suppression of the activity of speech forces, to strengthen his
Now this practice is subject to a danger. It is possible for the
suppression of a power to not lead to the strengthening
of it upon a higher level, but to lead to its degeneration onto a lower
level. In other words, the hindered expression
of a force can cause the strengthening of a lower instead of a higher
force, and a downward metamorphosis can ensue.
So, for instance, the suppression of speech forces can lead to a
tremendous enhancement of the forces living in
the metabolic limb system rather than the cognitive forces in the head
system. And if the life of passions of the
person in question has nor been purified, then what occurs is an
intensification of these unpurified passions.
Instead of higher cognitive life of the soul, there can arise an
intensification of the instincts and passions.
The opposite of what is intended can therefore actually happen.
The opposite of what was intended always happens when one particular
requirement is not fulfilled. That this condition
arises is due to the fact that, just as a small fire is blown out by a
gust of wind but by the same gust a big
fire is greatly increased, so within the soul realm, only the presence
of a certain degree of higher activity assures, in the event of a suppression
of its ordinary outlet of expression, the metamorphosis of a lower into
a higher power. This same fact
of soul-spiritual life is referred to when
it states in the Gospel, "to those that have will be given, but from
those chat have not will be taken away
even that which they have." In other words, those who have developed a
strong inner activity will find this
growing and increasing when the mighty, unavoidable hindrances of the
future will have to be met. Those, however,
who have only produced a feeble inner activity will be deprived even of
that -- it will be extinguished. Not only
will it be extinguished in that it will disappear on the level where it
was formerly active, but furthermore, it
will be transformed into an activity
of a lower nature. For this reason the Apocalypse, when describing the
World Crisis (Last Judgement) in mighty
pictures, speaks of the formation of two different humanities : the
humanity with the "sign of the name of
the Father, of the Lamb" on their foreheads ; and the humanity with the
"sign of the Beast" on their
brows. It is not men who lack the "Sign of the Lamb", but rather those
other sign, the "sign of the
Beast", who make
up the second race. So the
World Crisis will have these two effects :
either soul forces are heightened above the earthly human level, or are
changed into bestial forces that work below the level of the human.
This fact of the double metamorphosis of soul forces illustrated in the
two preceding :examples, the one of Asceticism
and the other from the Apocalypse, is relevant not only to each
individual man but also to mankind as a whole.
If we view it only in its relation to human evolution -- to history --
we are shown by the course of this history
(that is, the complete world history
as described by Rudolf Steiner) that 'crises' like that described in
the Apocalypse have already taken place in
the past. There was in very ancient times -- according to spiritual
scientific investigations -- a mighty crisis
from which there arose on the one hand an ego endowed humanity, and on
the other the animal kingdom. For humanity
this crisis signified an ascent,
for it brought about the development of the organization of
self-consciousness ; for the animal kingdom, however,
it meant a descent. From their
forebears, mankind rose higher, correspondingly higher as other beings
descended and thereby became the animals.
In the animal kingdom we meet with the results of a powerful
metamorphosis downward which happened during the "Lemurian Epoch".
But also for the actual faculty of
free self-consciousness, humanity has to thank the same
crisis, only that it caused for them an upward metamorphosis. And as
the Lemurian crisis
produced the differentiation into two realms, the human and the animal,
so the human race today confronts an equally
mighty crisis which will produce in the future the drastic separation
new race from humanity. This
is the meaning of the above-mentioned pictures
in the Apocalypse.
Now there are, alongside the mighty crises of all mankind, crises which
although they are smaller in scope are
precursors of the greater ones. Yes, they even happen within the life
of an individual man, while still exhibiting
signs of following this same lawfulness ; that is, the law that through
suppression a particular force is transformed
into another. Had, for instance, our brain not been hindered in outer
movement by the skull bones, had no prison
of the brain been produced, it would not have become capable of being
the organ of inner movement, of thinking. While it was bound with
respect to outer movement, it was freed,
on the other hand, for inner movement. Something similar is true for
the soul-life of men.
The inwardization of soul forces is also produced by way of inhibition.
For this any new faculty, when developed
on a natural path, is preceded by a corresponding measure of suffering.
Again the Apocalypse points to this basic
principle of development by speaking of chat part of mankind which bore
"the name of the Father of the Lamb"
as consisting of "martyrs". There
it is written, concerning this portion of mankind, that "they are chose
who underwent the great tribulation".
(Apocalypse 7:14) Suffering raised them up. Through it they could
develop forces in themselves which made it possible
for them to "stand before the Throne". Through tasting the "enmity of
this world", the strong
power which is called "standing before the Throne" arose in them.
Suffering has, of course, this significance only when one is speaking
of so-called 'natural' development ; chat
is, chat which is caused by destiny. For should one impose human
intentions into the sphere of suffering, it can
cause the greatest disaster. This is a path chat muse be left to
destiny. Suffering may not be produced willfully.
But when the suffering which destiny produces is understood ; it is
something which not only can bring comfort,
but can even put 'broken' human souls back onto their feet.
And this comfort can also come to those people who ask with 'hearts
that bleed' about the significance of the tremendous
suffering which at present is borne by Middle and East European mankind
-- the more so the latter. For this suffering
has one special quality -- the suppression of all
of the human soul. In Middle Europe this is caused by enslavement
within the realm of the economy -- through economic
servitude, spiritual life is inhibited. All attention, all striving is forced
to devote itself solely to overcoming economic needs. In East Europe
there is not only
economic slavery, but also a direct suppression of free spiritual life
in any form.
What happens as a result? Just as the wind extinguishes a small fire
and strengthens a large one, so through the
suppression of European spiritual life there are results. On the one
hand, there is an actual extinction of that
passive, traditional spirituality which has given souls a certain
spiritual life up to now. On the other hand,
however, there is -- in the case of a small number of men -- a
preparation for the breakthrough of a new spirituality.
What the first
process looks like is well enough known to the world.
But how the second, more profound process happens, that is mentioned
hardly at all in public. And yet it is taking
place. At first it finds expression in chat the soul is filled with a
mood of boredom, a mood of desolation in
the face of all that is offered by a life devoid of spirit. Then within
this emptiness arises a mighty yearning for the spirit. This yearning is directed, to
begin with, toward other human beings. It appears as a tremendous
hunger and thirst within souls 'to find the other
person'. This need -- to find in the life of loving' something which
may fill the terrible inner emptiness, which
may satisfy the thirst for spiritual life -- becomes the life-nerve of
the soul. And thereby the large measure
of selfless interest for the other person which is necessary for that
expansion of conscience spoken of in an earlier
essay, "The Deepening of Conscience Which Results in Etheric Vision",
A man who feels himself to be empty can no longer satisfy himself. The
power of his interest is freed from himself
and directed toward others.
Now, through this yearning for the spirit, something else happens. The
pain which fills the soul can cause certain
half unconscious efforts of soul forces to arise. These are similar to
those of remembrance. Only here the whole soul, yes, the whole man,
is harnessed in the effort to "remember"
-- not any particular thing -- but just to remember, to bring about a
particular state of soul. This continuous tension of the
deepest powers of remembrance can lead to a loosening
of the consciousness from the body. The consciousness can then
experience itself in the life body. And in this
experience it can behold that which can quench its
thirst for the life of spirit.
Through the inhibition of the spiritual life of the soul, a lifting up
of that soul to experience in the etheric
can occur. By going through the school of suffering, there develops in
the soul a new, higher faculty. The suffering
today laden upon spirit-seeking peoples is a path upon which is
awakened a new faculty to be developed -- namely,
the soul's capacity for
in the life body. And this
event will return to human beings the consciousness of things of
highest moral significance in the form of experience,
things which in tradition have grown ever paler and have threatened at
last to disappear entirely from the consciousness
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