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Supersensible Knowledge
Rudolf Steiner
12 Lectures in Berlin, 1 in Cologne in 1906

Published by Anthroposophic Press, Inc. in 1987

Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


The search for the Holy Grail: when I reached what I thought was about p. 159, the text seemed familiar. Since Steiner sometimes repeats stories in lectures, I read on. When I encountered the following set of three metaphors, I knew something was funny:

1) A man heard a bone sound from amputation of his brother's leg, and began feeling pain in his leg at the same place for a long time afterward.

2) A physician connected wires to horseshoe and many people experienced a violent shock from touching the wires.

3) A physician gave bread pills (now we call them placebos) to a patient to help her sleep. She tried to kill herself with an overdose her physician was the only one not worried as patient showed all the signs of dying.

I looked back and found that pages 155-186 had been replaced by a repeat of pages 123-154. (A binding error as the pages numbers were repeated as well.) On page 190 Steiner refers to his comments on the Holy Grail in the previous lecture, the second half of which is missing due to the binding error. The exact part is missing that contained his comments on the Holy Grail. Obviously I will have to review that section later, after I've read it.

In spite of the binding error, this is an incredible series of transcribed lectures. Steiner points out carefully the impact of Goethe's saying, "The eyes are created by the light for the light." The impact is this: that our eyes were created as a result of persistent impacts of light rays falling on the surface of the skull, causing pain (an abundance of sensory inputs), destroying the skin, and leading to the creation of a sensory apparatus (eyes) to record the sensation. (Perhaps humans passed through a Cyclops stage, before binocular vision was created.) The key here is that the presence of data created the transducers. Much like a computer systems analyst would add a transducer to record temperature of a device if the temperature of that device were crucial to the operation of the system. Thus we might expect new sensory apparatuses and capabilities to form as soon as persistent sources of new data appear. Supersensible sight is just such an example, and is possessed by what Steiner calls "initiates" what we today would call "psychics."

There is so much meat in this book, one should read all of it twice (not just pages 123-154) on the first reading. Here's a short summary of the rest of the book:

1) The times of birth of the physical, etheric, astral, and the "I" or ego bodies of an individual. The training/education appropriate for each phase of growth of the four bodies.

2) The key role pain plays in the creation of consciousness.

3) The evolution of consciousness. How "ecstatic" once meant to achieve the exalted state of consciousness we experience today as our ordinary state of being.

To not read this book is to shut ones eyes to valuable data that Rudolf Steiner, as our extended sensory apparatus, has collected for us. Can we afford to enter the Third Millennium in a state of blindness?


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