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The Soul's Awakening
Rudolf Steiner
A Drama of the Soul and Spirit
The Fourth Mystery Drama
Published by Temple Lodge, London in 1994

A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


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Written between 1909 and 1913, this play is the fourth and final mystery play of Steiner's. I found it to be deeply insightful and incomprehensible, if those two can be said to co-exist. Since I am helpless to make coherent sense of the play, perhaps because I have not read the first three plays, I will share the insights and my thoughts on them.

p. 3 He who would create the new must be able to endure the passing of the old in full tranquillity.

Similar to my insight that "art is the process of destruction," that is, when we see destruction as the passing of the old.

p. 20 For words compel us to conceptualize what we see, and concepts are opposed to powers of seership.

p. 21 It is only people who interact by means of concepts who can work together.
He who wishes to reach the wide horizons of the worlds of light, must keep himself remote from other human beings.

If one thinks of words as maps, the first quote exhorts us to drop our maps in order to see directly the supersensible world. The second quote explains why spiritual seers do most of their real work alone.

p. 51 And wakening-dreaming to souls is revealing the enchanted weaving of their inmost being.

Undoubtedly the most poetic phrase in the play: it gets repeated several times. It seems to hint of wakening as the warp and dreaming as the woof of the ultimate fabric of reality.

p. 55 Don't ask Ahriman - his chief delight is paradox.

p. vii Ahriman('the Father of Deceit') is the power which makes possible objective scientific thinking but at the same time works to conceal all traces of humanity's connection to the spiritual.

First quote: One whose daily bread is earned by taking concepts seriously may be understood to delight in paradox, which is the shattering of concepts (by the juxtaposition of mutually contradictory concepts).

Second quote: Scientists necessarily use concepts (words, maps) in their thinking and thus blind themselves to perceiving supersensible reality (territory).

p. 125 Ahriman: But you are seeking self-knowledge, are you not? And therefore, any unknown spirit entity wishing to do you service, would have to show itself as part of your own self, before it could be fully known to you.

p. 127 when over clear and wakeful spirit-vision, Ahriman, opposing human wisdom, would spread his dark and gloomy night of chaos.

First quote explains so clearly why foreign spirits such as Ahriman disguise themselves as part of us so that we might unknowingly further their goals for us.

Second quote points out poetically how Ahriman cripples human wisdom (ability to perceive supersensible world) by obscuring our supersensible perception with layers of concepts.

p. 128 M.B., A. L. (translators' Note): The right style is not created by employing literary devices, but in the words of David Wansborough, results from being able to 'recreate the gesture of events by employing forms that use a meter or speech rhythm evoked by the changes in the breath stream when events are relived.' (A Pillar of Salt?).

Only operational definition of "right style" I've ever found.

NOTE: A more detailed review of the Fourth Mystery is available here:
The Soul's Awakening


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