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Inner Reading and Inner Hearing
& How One Brings the Reality of Being into the World of Ideas, GA#156

Rudolf Steiner

11 Lectures in Dornach and Basel, Oct. 3 to Dec. 27, 1914
Translated by Michael Miller
Introduction by Christopher Bamford
Published by SteinerBooks in 2008
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2009


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Trained as a physicist, I have certain expectations about what constitutes science, and the repeatability of experiments is an essential aspect. And yet, such repeatability is not found in spiritual science. Why? For one thing the position of the experiment and the world are interchanged. In physics, the human being is the experimenter and the world is subjected to the experiment. In spiritual science, an inversion occurs whereby beings of the spiritual world play the experimenter and we humans are the subjects of the experiment, no matter whether we initiated the experiment or not. Consider how we train our pets, each morning we give our dog a treat to start the day and he excitedly awaits his treat. After awhile, it seems equally true that our dog has trained us to give him a treat each morning, as if he were running an experiment on us, his masters, and could now claim his experiment to be a success, as it is definitely repeatable. Yet, the experiment is only repeatable because we, his masters, wish to feed him the treat for his benefit. If humans try to do experiments with the spiritual world, it is as if they are taking the place of the dog who is trying to achieve a predictable response from his master. To whatever extent humans are successful, it will be because something in the our human karma will have aligned with the spiritual world to produce the success, which might not have been achieved any other way. But few materialistic experimenters would be sensitive enough to their own karma to be successful; instead, they would attempt to create something dramatic and unpredictable as proof that the success was totally unexpected and due solely to their experiment.

By the time I was fifteen, I had read enough about hypnosis to be confident that I could hypnotize someone. When my first opportunity came, I needed something dramatic and unexpected to happen, or the room full of my teenage friends, some four or five years older than I was, would not believe it had happened, especially since they were all in a trance. One friend of mine was engaged to an older boy, maybe twenty or twenty-one, and he was clearly in a deep trance. I hit on this idea for a post-hypnotic suggestion. I would have him, upon my uttering the key word, tell his fiancé that he hated her. I figured we'd all laugh at how silly that action was, and then I'd explain it was a post-hypnotic suggestion. Well, it turned out that I was the subject of the experiment, because when everyone had been re-awakened and began making comments like, "I dozed off", "That was nothing", "When are you going to begin the trance?" etc, I said the word to trigger the post-hypnotic suggestion, and he went over to his fiancé and slapped her across the face! It happened with such force that the two of them subsequently broke up. Something in that room was using me to perform these actions is the way I understand the situation now, but back then I was shocked and vowed never to experiment with hypnosis again until I understood a lot more about the world, which is a path that I am still on yet today.

Christopher Bamford sums up the situation well in his Introduction.

[page xiv, xv] The spiritual world is not at the behest of our desires and intentions. Quite the contrary: it is always a gift: not a generic gift, but a gift given by a specific giver, a spiritual being. For the spiritual world is a world of beings from the highest angelic hierarchies to the so-called dead. Spiritual knowing is not something we can take. It must be received. Therefore, to approach such knowing-receiving, we must silence our desires, purposes, and intentions and present ourselves in devoted, expectant, sensitive waiting. Whatever comes originates in the spiritual world, not in us.

Steiner prepares us for inner reading and hearing by pointing how we think, feel, and will in relation to the physical world and how those activities are useful for our penetration of the spiritual world.

[page 7] We are accustomed to relating to the things and entities of the physical plane through our thinking, feeling, and willing. When we think and form concepts, we acquire definitions and concepts of the things and entities of the physical world and the processes occurring there. In that way we make that which, in our opinion, exists in space and takes place in time into our mental property, so to speak. We learn to know about things through our thinking and forming of concepts. It is the same with feeling. We approach any sort of thing, for example a rose. We are cheered by the rose, and through our feeling transfer something in the outside world into our own soul. In this way we make something that comes from the rose and affects us into the property of our own soul. In the case of willing, we incorporate into the outside world something that lies in our intentions.

Steiner explains that the content of what we learn from the exterior world is useless to us, but the process by which we learn is essential preparation for us to learn about the spiritual world. Scientists who are trained to use their own processes in uncovering the content of the world will likely miss this crucial distinction, up until now.

[page 7] When we consider our manner of being on the physical plane we see only relationships between ourselves and the outside world. Everything we apply in thinking, feeling, and willing, everything we do when we engage the exterior world for ordinary physical, bodily matters, is of no use to us in the form in which it is carried out on the physical plane in knowing something of the higher world in some way. Rather everything that is useful to us, in knowing some thing about the physical world the ways of feeling and the ways of forming concepts so as to know about the physical world can serve only as preparation for spiritual-scientific research.
       Take note: In the physical world what we do when we think, feel, and will serves us directly in knowing something of that world or in doing something in it, but for the higher worlds everything that serves us so directly in the physical world is only a preparation. What we are capable of thinking about the physical world, no matter how acutely we think, gives us no knowledge about the higher worlds. Through thinking, however, our soul is prepared, or brought up, so to speak, in such a way that it gradually becomes capable of penetrating into the spiritual world in the right way. What we can will and feel about the physical world is useful merely for the self-education of the soul, as preparation for its penetration into the spiritual worlds.

In this next metaphor of a botanist, Steiner clearly spells out that he is talking about a process by which we train ourselves to become a spiritual researcher.

[page 8, 9] If I am active as a botanist and make amazing efforts decade after decade in the field of botany, that is a fine thing on the physical plane. However, all this effort has a secondary effect: I become agile in thinking; my thinking becomes, so to speak, trained. Spiritual researchers must enter into the training and use what is used in ordinary life in the service of external knowledge to make the intellectual powers more agile, more supple. For when, instead of applying these powers to usefulness and advantage in the physical world, we use them in the service of self-education, as happens in meditation, concentration, and the exercises received, then we are preparing ourselves to penetrate into the spiritual world. . . . We can only prepare ourselves, so that when the things of the spiritual world approach us they do not escape our notice, but rather really make an impression on us.

It is as if we wished to experience Rome directly and we prepare ourselves to the point that Rome visits us. All we can do is prepare and wait in readiness for it to arrive. This may seem silly to those of you halfway around the world from Rome, but in the spiritual world, there is no need to travel to arrive where you wish to go: it is everywhere around where you are, right now, today, this minute as I type these words and you read them. Why do we not see the spiritual world? Well, as Steiner explains, we do, but our consciousness is too dim to receive it, up until now.

[page 10] We continually go straight through the spiritual world and do not see it; we are inattentive to the spiritual world because our constitution is not prepared for it. Moreover, if we have the opportunity to penetrate that world, as is the case at night in sleep, then our consciousness proves too weak, too dull, to perceive the spiritual beings around us.

In "Riddles of Philosophy" Steiner said that "Nature and spirit are not two different entities, but one and the same being in two different forms," and then quoted Schelling as saying: "Nature is to be the visible spirit; spirit the invisible nature." It is a delusion to believe we exist only within our skin. Our physical body is but a mirror which reflects the physical world around us, but with our soul and spirit we exist outside the body and within the objects we observe around us.

[page 11] One of the worst thing about maya is that we believe our spiritual-soul being is within our skin. It is not. In reality we are located in the things we see. If I face other people, I am located within them with my "I" and astral body. Were I not to place my organism over against them, I would not see them. My organism is responsible for the fact that I see them, but with my "I" and my astral body I am inside them. The failure to recognize this is one of the most disastrous aspects of maya.

On page 120 is a remarkable diagram which shows the physical body as a concave mirror, the soul as an ellipse enveloping the physical body, and the spirit as a parabolic shape extending from the physical. Three arrows show the reflections from soul-physical body into the soul-spiritual bodies which receive those reflections in what we call consciousness.

[page 120] This is the physical body. Outside it, outside the physical person, the soul-spiritual nature of the human being lives, as it were, poured out into the endless universe. But during the day, in daytime waking life, this same soul-spiritual being extends itself into the soul-physical entity. And thereby a reflection arises. And this reflection is actually what we sense as the content of our daytime wakeful life. Really, our body is like a mirror, and just as we do not see the mirror, but what is reflected in it, what we see when a person is awake is fundamentally not what is happening in the body, but rather what is reflected in the body of the outer physical world.

We will return to this diagram a bit later. For now let us note that we receive experiences in ordinary waking life mirrored by the physical body and that we perceive in the spiritual world the experiences of our astral body mirrored by our etheric body. In the physical world, objects exist are subject to Newton's laws remaining at rest till put into motion; in the spiritual world, "Everything there is living and weaving. Nothing is at rest, even for a moment." (Page 13) We must learn to live in this fluctuating fineness. We cannot do this unless we tone down our self-ness and day-time consciousness, in other words, move from living in our soul-physical bodies to living in our soul-spiritual bodies.

Steiner mentions in several other lectures that materialists act as though, instead of reading and understanding what he writes, they were analyzing the ink which comprises the words on the page, and talking about the content of that ink instead of the content of his words, or perhaps others more artistically inclined who appreciate only the pretty letters.

[page 13, 14] The only way we can experience anything from the spiritual world is to understand that we must take what it offers us as letters and words, which we must learn to read. That is it. And not to learn, to believe that we can spare ourselves learning to read the esoteric script, would be just as clever as someone taking a book and saying, "There are fools who say that something is expressed in this book. I thumb from page to page in it and see only pretty letters." those who cannot read the letters absorb only what they see and are unconcerned about what is expressed.

We come here to a passage which illuminates the theme of this book to us, and we must come to grips with this in our reading of this book if we are to develop a balanced relationship with the spiritual world.

[page 14] One who does not pay attention to what I have just said come to an entirely unbalanced relation to the spiritual word. There it is a matter of learning to interpret and read what one perceives. we shall learn in the following lecture how this interpretation and reading is meant.
       Now I can say that I have clarified, at least in an introductory manner, the preliminary concept of esoteric reading [RJM: inner reading]. It occurs when we experience ourselves in the astral body as we otherwise do in the "I" in the physical world, so that the experiences of the astral body are reflected in the etheric body, rather than the experiences of the ego in the physical body.

In the song, "Old Man River", we hear the Mississippi River spoken of as a man. What is old about him? What is man-like about the river? Only the spirit that lives within it. Our own human body is like a river in that the very molecules that make up our physical body today are only temporary residents, like the molecules of water in a river. In about seven years, those molecules today will have all flown away from our body, replaced by new ones as humans we are simply that which endures as these molecules flow out of and into our body.

[page 16] To speak of the "ancient Rhine" only makes sense when we mean what is permanent in it: the elemental beings who actually live in the Rhine, the river god Rhine, a spiritual being who is ancient. Only then have we said something with any meaning. We must mean something spiritual with the expression "ancient Rhine," or we speak thoughtlessly. It is profoundly true that we only come to true realities when we hold fast o the spiritual worlds. Only then do we penetrate the true realities.

Do our brains create our thoughts and soul experiences? Artificial intelligence researchers claim this to be so, and they plan to create brains better than our own brain. What they miss is the essence of the matter: our brain no more produces our soul experience than a mirror produces the things we see in the mirror.

[page 18] Therefore our organism is in truth a mirroring device, and what we experience is not produced in us by our physical organism an erroneous idea of materialism but is reflected. Our organism no more produces what we experience in our souls about things than a mirror produces what we see in the mirror. Materialists who assert that the brain or another organ produces our soul experiences are saying the same thing as those who would assert that the image they use of their own face in the mirror does not belong to them, but is instead produced by the mirror.

In the 1970s I studied several forms of dream therapy including Senoi dream work and Gestalt dream work. On a couple of pages, Steiner sketches out two ways of working with dreams which mirror both the technique innovated by the Malaya-Senoi people and the curmudgeon Fritz Perls. The Senoi people shared their dreams in their communal hut each morning. If a child had a scary dream of a tiger, they would have the child relive the dream, but at the point the tiger would appear, the child would be encourage to make friends with the tiger, complimenting it of being large and fierce and asking of it a token of its esteem.

[page 22] Let us suppose, for example, that the [dream] image is there and that you have successfully distinguished yourself from the image. then suppose that certain personality who looks disagreeable, unfriendly, appears in the world of images. Try to capture the feeling of how it would be if you were really nice to this personality, so that it would look at you in a friendlier way after giving you such a dirty look. If you succeed in consciously altering something in the world of images, then you have an easier time establishing your position in relation to that world.

Fritz Perls taught people to interpret every component of a dream as a part of their own self. If you are driving a car and some one is skating in front of you slowing you down, you are both the driver of the car and the skater. If you then encounter a woman whose pickup truck is broken down, you are both the truck and the woman seeking help.

[page 22, 23] If, for example, one person fights or wounds another, you experience yourself as the inflictor of the wound and also as the soul that is wounded or attacked. You are everything in these images. You are utterly within them. If you had an image in front of you in which a beheading is depicted you experience yourself at the same time as the person who is beheaded and the person who does the beheading. That is how you experience yourself within this very fluctuating world of images. You yourself are every image and every movement in it.

It is possible for the untrained clairvoyant to perceive something from the spiritual world, but that something must always have some contact with the physical world, or to say it crudely, but in a way to help remember the process, "where there's a will, there's way," as the example Steiner gives of a will that was lost in a cabinet.

[page 25, 26] Let us say, for example, that someone has died and has left behind a will without being able to tell anyone where the will is deposited. The person dies. A personality with the preconditions of untrained clairvoyance arrives on the scene and possibly, in a trance-like condition of imagination, is brought into relation with the dead person in question(1). And the untrained seer can then perceive the thoughts of the dead person about where the will was deposited, seeing the image of the place, a cabinet for example. That can happen. But these cases always depend on the external physical plane, on something that happened on the physical plane. The things involved could be more complicated, but they are always dependent on the physical, the earthly plane. One will not proceed much further in this field of primitive clairvoyance. In order to proceed further and have contact with the spiritual world in a truly clear and certain way, the preparations I have spoken of are indeed necessary.

In the spiritual world, which is flowing all around us and in us constantly, our "human powers of perception are too dull and too coarse" to make sense of. To do so, we would have to carry forces within our body which bring us to the brink of death. This is a serious risk which anyone who undergoes initiation confronts.

[page 34] Let it be said once more: a series of images stands before the soul. We try to identify ourselves with it, to digest it, so to speak; we unite with the series of images and are inside it at this stage. In this moment we know the answer to the question about why we must in fact remain outside our body; why we must, so to speak, go outside our body and identify ourselves with the series of images on the outside if we wish to perceive it, and why we can only receive the images, as we have seen, reflected from our own etheric body. We learn why it is necessary, why it is so arranged.
      Through what we experience with these images when we have identified ourselves with them, we know the following directly: if, after identifying ourselves completely with the series of images, we were to go back into the physical body, if we did not remain outside and wait until the etheric body reflects the essence of the images, we would carry everything we have become one with into our physical body, into the space enclosed by the skin and we would immediately destroy the physical body to the point that it would be ripe for death. It would immediately be the seed of death in the physical body. When death does make its entrance in earthly existence, the soul has reached the point that it can identify itself with what in the normal course of life lives outside as imagination. Then death really does enter.

In his book, The Story of San Michele, Dr. Axel Munthe reveals his personal experience with goblins and the lonely Reaper who stood in the room as he sat by his dying patients, clearly indicating the confluence of clairvoyance and a personal experience of Death.

[page 35] So you see, we can take seriously in the deepest possible way something that permeates all esoteric considerations like a powerful motto. It is the statement made by all those who have become esotericists in the true sense of the word: The moment one arrives at true clairvoyance, the experience is that of standing in the company of death. One reaches the portal of death. I have often stressed this from other points of view: One learns to recognize what it is like for a person who steps through the portal of death. One cannot arrive at clairvoyance without going through this serious, powerful moment, which esotericists designate as standing before the portal of death.

This next passage illuminates the reality behind the metaphor of the Cave that Plato made famous. We humans are like people bound in chains inside a cave, on the back of which the shadows of objects and people passing by are projected. Seeing nothing but these shadows, we take them as reality, having no idea that they are but shadow images of the colorful, vibrant life taking place outside the cave, if we could only see it. But we are chained to the physical sides of the cave, chained to the physical world of Earth, the tie which binds us to our home(2).

[page 35] But we learn something else as well. I have already alluded to it once in a series of lectures held in Munich, but from another point of view. We learn to pose from then on, in deepest seriousness, a vital question of spiritual science. We learn to ask: How is it really with us human beings since we still fundamentally live constantly in a fluctuating web of spiritual entities that we cannot bring into our physical bodies without bringing in the seed of death? Outside, we are always surrounded by imaginations, we are right in the middle of a sphere of imaginations-but they must not come inside us. What then comes into us from these imaginations? Shadowy images, reflections, mirror images, as our thought, as our ideas. On the outside are the full-blooded, real imaginations. They reflect themselves in us; we experience them in the diluted, shadowy form of our thoughts and ideas. If we were to bring them into us in their full-bloodedness instead of merely bringing them to reflection, we would stand in every moment before the danger of death.
       What is really going on in this? Nothing less is going on than that we are protected by the world order from experiencing the spiritual entities and processes surrounding us in their full-blooded state. We are protected because in our ordinary, everyday consciousness only shadows of these full-blooded spiritual entities touch us. And yet, a great many of these imaginations belong to us, belong to the powers that are creatively active in us. In this world of imaginations the creative forces live in us. We may not experience them in their original form, but only in the shadowy form in which they are in us as thoughts.

When we learned to read, we quickly learned our vowels and consonants. The consonants are like fixed positions, sounds clipped and stopped in a precise way. Vowels are more fluidic we do not stop them, they flow easily from one vowel sound to another, as in the Old MacDonald nursery rhyme, "E, i, e, i, o." When Steiner reveals there are 7 vowels and 12 consonants in the spiritual world, we notice the similarity of vowels to the seven planets and consonants to the 12 positions in the zodiac of astrology. The constellation of stars in the zodiac are fixed, but the planets move around seemingly at will, in fact, they were originally called "roving stars" by the ancients. In Chapter 3, Steiner discusses three of the vowels of the spiritual world.

In my essay The Childhood of Humanity, I strive to express a truth about our early childhood, a truth that will be difficult for many people to accept because few, if any, can remember much of their childhood before five years old, and as one goes further back, one's memories become less frequent and very dim, fading away completely below the age of three for most. During the time before three, I hypothesize that children have clairvoyant skills because they have not yet developed their coarse powers of perception and thus they are yet able to perceive the "subtle weaving beings and formations" (Page 36) that fill the spiritual world around. Angels, imaginary friends, fairies, elves, and many other spiritual perceptions are still possible for them, but parents who have long ago lost this ability, discount such reports from their children, up until now. Is there a way for parents to live again, even for a brief time, in this halcyon time? There is one way which I have stumbled across and would like to share it with you. If this is so, then it is a way for us to contact angelic and higher beings, to allow them to feed memories to us of this time. The process I will share with you will be a conscious one, except that you will not be conscious of the appearance of the angelic beings until after the fact when they will have fed up to you some long-lost memory.

Here is Steiner's way of describing a similar process that he is familiar with, talking about something we lived through as if we had just completed it.

[page 38] Now we know that we have lived through something we could say lived as a thinking being through something ("thinking," however, here has a much higher significance than in the physical). We have thinkingly lived through something. However, no matter how far developed we are as human beings, what we can be as a human being cannot approach what we went through while we were in the relative nothingness. Human beings cannot think through that; they cannot thinkingly live through it. For that reason, in the time between the diving under and resurfacing, another being must have taken over the function of thinking for us, of thinking inside us. We could not think on our own; we can only remember afterward what this being, this angelic being, thought in us. We know that in the interval we were interwoven with our angelic being, which thought for us while our consciousness was suppressed. Now we awaken and remember with ordinary thought-experience what the angel experienced and thought in us.
      That is the process. It is the way spiritual experiences are usually attained. We attain them in such a way that we know we must first arrive at a state in which a being of the next higher hierarchy enters into us, identifies itself with us. Then what we could not in our own weakness achieve, we are capable of achieving through the being of the next higher hierarchy but with muted consciousness. We are not permitted the immediate experience; it comes later in memory, in the full "I"-consciousness.
      So in actuality the spiritual experiences we are granted are experienced at one time and become conscious to us at another.

This experience happened to me about a week ago. I was having a bad day and had a constant frown on my forehead. "Did I have such a day in my childhood, before I was five?" I wondered about that, and immediately the answer came to me, "Do a speed trace." A speed trace(3) is a way I have of asking my body, "Is this a doyle?" A doyle is a doylic memory present in my body as a physical body, such as a frown which originally happened before I was five and was then pestering me due to the external events of my bad day triggering the doylic memory of a previous bad day. I didn't know all this was true about the frown, but a speed trace is a way of asking my body if it were true. So I did the speed trace. Directly upon going from 1 year old to 6 months old, the frown went away, and a thought materialized in my mind that the first bad day was when I was weaned from my mother's breast milk to bottled milk, from a live human nipple to an artificial rubber nipple. This image came to me, as I understand it now, as a reflection from my etheric body (which holds all memories indefinitely) to my astral body, and an angelic being then shared the memory with me. Naturally I was not conscious of the reflection of memory from my etheric body to my astral body nor of the intervention of the angelic being in handing the memory to me the memory just appeared in my consciousness. One consequence of asking the question of my body using the speed trace will be that my body will no longer re-experience the frown when I have some bad day.

This process of having an angelic being produce a memory and hand it to you is what Steiner refers to as Vowel No. 1.

[page 40] You may have the feeling that the world surrounds you, but you cannot live in this world with your feeble human powers. You feel that what surrounds you while you live in your human body can only be perceived in the shadowy forms of your thoughts and ideas; or, better said, they reflect themselves from inside you. You may also come to feel that you cannot experience these imaginations directly; your protecting angelic being in ordinary life must reduce it. And when you feel all of this inwardly with the necessary tone of inner piety, then you have the ability to perceive one of the vowels of the spiritual world.

We have the power to transform ourselves and if we do so morally, it brings us a feeling of religious piety and deep humility. What would a fidelity to natural obligations of the spiritual world entail but acting morally in all thoughts and deeds? But how do we determine whether a thought or deed is moral? The answer to this question is as elusive as the question of what is freedom, and curiously the answer to both can be found together thanks to the innovative concepts promulgated by Dr. Andrew Joseph Galambos around the middle of the twentieth century. He developed a unique definition of freedom, the first and only operational definition of freedom, so far as I know. As a physicist, he used operational definitions all the time because they specified the operations necessary to determine whether some thing was covered by them. The definition of mass and weight specify what one must do to distinguish between the two it is one of the first crucial distinctions one learns to make as a physicist, and nothing previously experienced prepared one for this distinction which involves separate physical units of mass and weight. Weight we discover only exists in the presence of gravity; mass exists even when there is no gravity.

Here is the definition of freedom by Galambos, "Freedom is the societal condition which exists when everyone has complete control of one's property." Now, this definition will immediately sound materialistic and turn off many people, until they come to understand the definition of property, "Property is one's life and all non-procreative derivatives of one's life." What are the derivatives of one's life? One's thoughts and ideas, and the other things which one acquires as the result of one's thoughts and ideas. For simplicity's sake, Galambos gave names to each kind of property, 1. Primordial property (one's life), 2. Primary property (one's thoughts and ideas) and 3. Secondary property (all the things acquired by one's thoughts and ideas). There is an entire course, V50, built to describe these definitions and their far-reaching implications,(4) one of which is the ability to determine whether a deed is moral. One need only ask this question, "Whose property does the deed involve?" Remember that we live in a society which has many controls over secondary property and few if any controls over primary property. Thus, most everyone understands the morality of the use of secondary property, but few people understand the morality of the use of primary property!

When have you ever proposed some project and had someone object by saying, "Whose idea was that originally?" In America, there seems to be a wide-spread delusion that ideas are free for the taking. After hearing someone at a nearby table discuss an idea, the average Americans feel as though it has become theirs to use as they see fit.

Look at how we create immoral acts by violating each kind of property:

Primal property Killing, enslaving, any form of coercion

Primary property Use of other people's thoughts and ideas without permission (plagiarism, intellectual property theft, etc)

Secondary property Use of other people's things without permission (theft, vandalism, etc)

It may not be immediately clear to those seeing these definitions of property for the first time how important Primary property is, but innovative people who have innovated products for a company and had the ideas taken away by the company will explain to you the injustice done to them. If a company saw fit to lord their will over an employee in an unjustified way, in a way in which the Primary property of its employee was interfered with, it has used powers of transformation to harm its employee. The power of transformation is Vowel No. 2.

[page 45] It does happen on the physical plane that we use the powers that are otherwise powers of transformation. We use that power, without knowing anything about it, every time we do our fellow human beings the injustice of making our own will lord over theirs in an unjustified way. It begins already when we tell lies to others. Through this we attach a wrong to them. One wins a certain power over them, because the lies continue to work within them.

Clearly, Steiner understood in general terms how the process of injustice works, and the operational definitions of Galambos allows us to decipher when an injustice is being done in specific cases. Rudolf Steiner's idea for a Threefold Society can be achieved by the general acceptance of the definitions of freedom and property because any coercive interference between the three branches of society would be a clear violation of one or more areas of property.

One aspect of injustice we do to one another that I pondered a lot was that of lies, the telling of untruths. How can telling a lie or untruth be a violation of property? Let us ask, "Whose property is it?" and see where that leads us. When one tells a lie, whose idea was it to lie? A lie does not exist in the world, only truth exists. Clearly animals cannot lie. They live in the world, but cannot lie, isn't that so? But how came it about that humans can lie? The Fall. The precocious gift of Lucifer to humankind produced the ability for us to lie and the temptation to do so. Thus, rightly understood, every time we tell a lie, that lie came to us from the Devil or Satan and we offer to another human being as if it were from us, as if it were God's gift to them, instead of from the Evil One. With a lie we give others some idea or thought which will do them some injustice, thereby causing them harm. And since the idea for the lie came from the Devil/Satan, we can truthfully say later when confronted by our lie, "That wasn't my idea!"

In 1979 I was awaiting the start of a lecture on the Tao of Physics by its author when a gal sat down next to me and began talking non-stop. What she said was so interesting that I took some notes. She was telling about all the words she discovered which when spelled backwards meant the opposite of what they mean spelled forward. The one I recall vividly was LIVE and EVIL or LIVED and DEVIL. These words have come back to me many times over the past three decades, especially when I first encountered this idea from Rudolf Steiner, "Evil is a good out of its time." It's as though LIVE is a good in its time and its inverse EVIL is a good out of its time. Live is what humans do morally and Evil is what we receive as temptations from the Devil/Satan to do, which would be a good in its proper time, but we are fed a lie about this deed, lie which lead us to do evil instead of good. The secret of evil is Vowel 3.

To summarize the three vowels of the spiritual world: Vowel 1 is the ability of angelic beings to convert and hand over to you long-forgotten memories from your etheric body. The other two vowels are summarized in the passage below:

[page 46] The same is also true when we do something bad. The powers with which we do something bad are in fact the powers of transformation, only applied in the wrong place. Everything bad in the world is the unlawful application of these powers of transformation. We can make deep insights into the secret of existence when we know where the injustice, evil, crime, and destruction that happen in the world come from. They happen when one applies the best, most holy powers that exist, the powers of transformation, in a wrong way. There would be no evil in the world if there were no transformative powers. Once in a public lecture I even alluded to this peculiarity, that evil is a wrong application of powers that, used in the proper place, would lead to the highest good. A certain mood is present in our soul when we know it contains something that on the one hand can transform itself into all people and beings, and on the other hand can transform itself into egotism. We must be able to hold this mood up to the cosmos if we wish to hear in a spiritual sense. That is a second vowel.
      The mood we can have in relation to the secret of evil as I have presented it is the third vowel what we experience when we know how a person can become evil. If we know this secret, that there are very lofty powers that can be used in a wrong way, then we have the mood of a third cosmic vowel. We must experience these moods, for that is the heart of the matter.

As we continue on learning about Inner Reading and Inner Hearing from Steiner, it would be well to review how he organized his classic work, The Philosophy of Freedom, along the line of the seven vowels and twelve consonants, only there he called the vowels "world moods" and the consonants "world outlooks". Note the diagram which shows all the moods (vowels) and outlooks. Below is a quotation from my review of Human and Cosmic Thought whose lectures were given in January of 1914, about twelve months before he gave the lectures for this current book:

These moods are like the planets that move through the twelve astrological signs. They are Gnosis, Logicism, Voluntarism, Empiricism, Mysticism, Transcendentalism, and Occultism.
       [page 44 of HACT ] One can be a Gnostic in connection with all twelve world-outlook signs. Hence, if we want to put Gnosis in its right place, we must draw a circle, and the whole circle signifies that the Gnosis can move round through all twelve world-outlook signs.

Through the seven vowels of the spiritual world we can understand the etheric body and through the twelve consonants we can understand the physical body.

[page 53] What I have said up until now refers to the vowels of the spiritual world. Just as there are seven vowels, there are also consonants of the spiritual world, twelve in number. We approach these twelve consonants most easily when we comprehend the physical body in the same way we have grasped the etheric body in its vowel-nature. The physical body reveals itself then as a twelvefoldness.
      [page 54] The etheric body is then indeed a living entity, but it shows nothing of the duty, the function that it has as the life-principle at the foundations of our physical organism. It reveals itself as a sign of the seven vowels. It becomes something objective, which we contemplate and which in its changeability is a reflection of the vowel system of the entirety of the universe. We become as alien to our etheric body as we are to the vowels of the physical external alphabet. And we become as alien to our physical body which has now become a totality of the twelve signs brought together in it as we are alien to the consonants or the ordinary alphabet. And just as consonants and vowels permeate the words of the ordinary alphabet, enabling us to read this or that word according to how vowels and consonants are connected, so do we read or hear in the spiritual world something different according to how the etheric body, which can manifest itself in seven different ways, harmonizes with or is connected to one or another of the consonants of the physical body.

Now he leads us to see that learning these seven vowels and twelve consonants of the spiritual world are as necessary for us to prepare for our inner reading of the spiritual world, as vowels and consonants are necessary for a child learning to read the words of everyday human speech on Earth. We must learn to transcend our materialistic conception which has been ingrained in us, up until now.

[page 57] We can accomplish much if we seriously attempt to free ourselves from the purely materialistic conception of the human body. Through that we can accomplish much to prepare ourselves so that feelings for the vowel and consonant systems of the cosmos awaken these inner experiences and impulses in the soul. We must only call forth in ourselves a feeling for this preparation for development into higher worlds, which is really similar to what a child must do in the physical world to learn to read and understand the words of our external physical human speech.
      The materialistic conception of the human physical body takes it just as it presents itself physically. It is taken the same way as symbols written on a blackboard say INK would be taken if we investigated them by looking at the curves and strokes, noting that they go up or down or bend around like so, and so on. In brief, we would describe the forms of the letters. That is just how we approach the physical body today. We describe it anatomically, physiologically heart, lung, liver, and so forth, just as they present themselves on the surface. It is the same as if we were to describe a word by the stroke's it consists of; however, the only person who gets anything out of it is the person who has learned to read the word "ink" from the strokes.

Likewise the physical world is a written page which we must learn to read, not by noting the way each letter or stroke curves or bends, but by inner reading by which we become conscious of the meaning the spiritual hierarchies have written into the physical world for us. (Page 62)

[page 62] We learn to recognize how what we see about a person, what presents itself directly to us, although it is reality, can be false and untrue. We learn in the alphabet what the cosmos wants to express, not in its present state of being, but in its becoming. In this way we gradually learn to decode, interpret, read substantially the essence, and comprehend what the world truly is. The physical world is nothing more than a written page that lies before us. If we only gape at it, we don't understand what it is all about. We must learn to read. We know equally little about the world when we regard it only with what physical perception provides and do not become aware that we must decode it and penetrate into it. We must read it to understand its meaning.
      If we become more and more conscious that the world is a book that the hierarchies have written for us, so that we may read in it, then we first become human in the fullest sense of the word.

What is human memory? How are the etheric and astral bodies related to our memory? During our waking periods we do not experience either our etheric or astral bodies, only our "I" body, i. e., all our conscious experiences are "I"-experiences. The astral body is far wiser than our "I" body in that it can read the esoteric writing by performing inner reading upon the etheric body which acts as a writing pad. (Page 88)

[page 89] So, in addition to many other concepts that can give us an understanding of the astral body, it is also a reader of esoteric writing. On the other hand, the etheric body is, among many other things, something like a tablet, upon which esoteric writing is engraved through the processes of the world.
      While we live and we are always living, whether in waking and sleeping between birth and death, or between death and a new life processes are constantly occurring in the universe; events unfold in the cosmos. The essential lives in the cosmos, and all of it replicates itself, inscribes itself, in the etheric body. The human etheric body in fact truly replicates the whole cosmos. There is nothing in the cosmos that does not imprint an image of itself in the etheric body of the human being and mirror itself in the imagination. And the human astral body constantly reads what the world inscribes in the etheric body. This process proceeds in the human subconscious, where the human astral body reads what the world inscribes in the human etheric body.

But we as human beings are part of the world and when our astral body is forming an internal concept from an external event, that concept is written upon the writing pad of our etheric body also.

[page 89] Even in our conscious, waking life, when we encounter an event or an object that makes an impression on us, we form a concept of it. The astral body is first occupied with this formation of the concept. It is in active movement while we are forming a concept of an object or of the impression of an external event. What we form in this way as a concept, what we have as an experience in the soul, is also inscribed in our etheric body. Just as the world with its events is constantly inscribing itself in our etheric body, so we also inscribe in our etheric body what we ourselves experience in our soul. There it remains inscribed. Thus, when we remember something, a complicated process takes place. Our astral body reads what has been inscribed in our etheric body, and the result of this reading is that an idea forces its way up to the surface, which we call memory.
      In this way memory can be traced back to a way of reading our astral body in the etheric body. And as soon as we know this, we can no longer entertain the simplistic idea that the soul is a storage cupboard for what we have experienced; rather we will understand that, in fact, when it has experienced something, the astral body transforms itself over and over into a few habits and then impresses these into the etheric body.

It is through such activities of the astral boy and what it impresses into the etheric body that we are able to keep our baby experiences as a living process within us as we age. We smile as we did as a baby, we like to sleep as we did as a baby, we feel most comfortable dressed as we were as a baby (why we wear pajamas instead of sleeping in our day clothes), we like food we liked as a baby, and so on. Life would be dull indeed if we lost all of our baby processes as we grew up. In talking about a baby's experience of drinking milk, Steiner explains elsewhere that a baby never gets bored drinking milk, instead it experiences a feeling of delight and comfort which pervades its entire body, that it tastes the milk with its entire body. In this next passage, he explains that this process of tasting with our entire body never wanes, but rather it simply disappears from our conscious attention.

[page 102, 103] Now, in the case of taste experiences, we can study the transition from the "I" to the astral body in an interesting way. It is not difficult to establish that taste experiences die off to a certain extent when the food has passed a certain distance. Taste experiences die off then for conscious life; but this is only so in appearance. In reality, expressed in a gross sense, the taste experience of the mouth passes over into the taste experiences of the entire organism; the whole organism is basically permeated by taste experiences during the course of the food's penetration into our body, in the course of digestion and so on; and what we consciously taste is only a small part of the general tasting that our entire body experiences.
       Not only the nerve organs of our mouth taste, but our whole digestive canal tastes, and with the transition of the food into the organism, into the blood and so forth, the whole organism tastes again what the digestive organisms have prepared for it. One could say the entire organism is permeated with experiences of taste. In fact, this organism is permeated and inhabited by experiences of taste in such a way that we can speak of differentiated tastes. Each organ has its particular, specific experience of taste; the stomach has its particular taste experience; liver, lungs, and heart have their special taste experiences. Taste in general is differentiated into tastes by organ.

In discussing the human body's formation in Chapter 7, Steiner explains something that will sound very familiar to us: that genii and other spirits do not have legs because they did not undergo development upon the Earth. I have drawn a rough sketch to remind you of Aladdin's Genie which arises from his Lamp without any legs. Recently while visiting a Greek Orthodox church, I noted the two stained glass windows, one containing image of the Cherabim and the other of the Seraphim they had a human face but their lower body tapered to a point, no legs. In representations of angels, usually the flowing garment seems to hide the legs and feet, both of which are in real angels not there.

[page 116] If we consider other genii, other spirits, we cannot make them with human legs. To give legs to spirits that do not belong to earthly existence is simply wrong, as we can really understand from spiritual-scientific knowledge.

Earlier in this review I explained about the how what we experience of the world is mirrored to us from our soul-physical body. We live within a maze of mirrors, as Steiner explains below, and the sum of all the mirrors we call maya for convenience.

[page 120] However, insofar as we are inside the body in waking daily consciousness, our "I" -what we are as soul beings-is in fact basically also present in this world of mirror images. For the world all around us is maya; it is a sum of mirror images. Our waking "I" is inside this sum of mirror images, and, as beings on the physical plane, we are basically nothing other than a reflection among reflections.

The thoughts on these pages inspired me to write a poem called, "An Amazing Reality".

When you realize that life is just a maze of mirrors,
      it's amazing.

When you reflect that life on a daily basis give us reflections upon reflections,
      it's amazing.

When you analyze that life is what reflects from the surface of things,
      it's amazing.

When you realize no full-blooded being lies in a mirror,
      it's amazing.

When you realize you cannot place a vase upon the table in the mirror,
      it's amazing.

When you realize your soul as you experience it on Earth
      is like the table in the mirror,
      it's amazing.

When you philosophize and strive to pull the table
      from out of the mirror,
      it's amazing.

Why philosophize when life
      is just a maze of mirrors?
      It's amazing.

When you realize that when you philosophize
      you prepare your soul to enter the spiritual reality
      behind the world of lies.
      It's amazing.

Yes, we live in a world we can call maya, a world of images, reflections of reflections, like a maze of mirrors in the amusement park. How do we achieve then a world of reality from these reflections?

[page 127,128] But when it is a matter of creating realities ourselves, it is actually correct that we live in a world of images; for although the images have no reality, we can bestow reality upon them. Do we actually do that?
      Yes, we do that; in one area of our life we do that. We do that when we act morally. The moment moral impulses make their way through our soul life, we create something and put it into the world something that would not be there without us. When we form a concept of the world, we have only images; when we act morally, we put realities into the world. We would never arrive at the point of living morally in a world that came to meet us as already self-sufficiently real. For in that case we would, in respect to what we wanted to do morally, run up against the world everywhere.
      Consider the animals. Animals experience the world entirely differently than people. They do not experience it as a world of images, but rather as a world of true realities. For that reason, animals cannot develop morals. Human beings can develop morals because they can themselves introduce moral impulses into the world; a world which is otherwise only one of reflections. What human beings make flow into the world as moral impulses, flows into the world as a reality coming out from them into the world. The gods have set us out on the physical plane and turned our spiritual experience into a world of unreality, so that we arrive at the position of introducing moral impulses into unreality as reality. There you have creation ex nihilo, creation out of nothing through ideas, which are in fact only images, only unrealities.

No reasonable person can read the above and still claim that human beings are just another species of animal, can they? Animals cannot create something from ideas; at best, the highest apes can only imitate the actions of others. Certainly animals neither have morals, nor can they develop morals. Humans by moral thoughts bring light to the Cherabim; humans by moral deeds bring warmth to the Seraphim.

[page 129, 130] Look, there come the cherubim; they collect the light and use it for the further world order and all of us are lights set out in the world order. While we think, perceive, and form concepts, we are the lights of the cherubim in the world order. Just as a light illuminates the space here in the physical world, so are we the lights in the spiritual world for the cherubim. While we are thinking, light appears in us; the light of thoughts radiates from us, and that illuminates the world in which the cherubim live.
      When we carry into our body from the world of the hierarchies the substances from which moral impulses are born and these penetrate our whole organization, will impulses, actions follow. Everything we do happens because will impulses are active in us. Then what is going on in the external world through us, insofar as it is a moral action, is collected by the seraphim, and this moral activity is the source of warmth for the entire world order. Under the influence of people who act immorally, the seraphim freeze; that is, they receive no warmth with which they can heat the whole cosmic world. Under the influence of moral action, the seraphim obtain the forces through which the cosmic world is preserved, just as the physical world order is preserved through physical warmth.

There is no better description of the importance of warmth to the world than as portrayed in the movie "A. I. Artificial Intelligence". As the world is taken over by robots, the external world freezes over due to the lack of warmth created by the moral deeds of humans who no longer exist. If animals have no moral capability, then certainly human-made machines, no matter how sophisticated, will never be capable of moral actions. All attempts to portray that process of robots or androids with moral actions presuppose the existence of the very thing they strive to show is possible given enough technology. Given enough technology humans can destroy themselves, either in a Big Bang or in a frozen whimper, but only living humans with moral thoughts can light up the Cherabim or warm up the Seraphim.

The Continuation of these Lectures follows here:

Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom, GA#275
8 Lectures in Dornach, Dec. 28, 1914 to January 4, 1915

---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------

Footnote 1. Two movies which deal this kind of clairvoyance: "Ghost" a 1980s movie, and "Ghost Town" a 2008 movie. In both of these movies, when the items are recovered, the ghosts disappear from sight into the "light" that is, into the spiritual world not connected with any earthly items.

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Footnote 2. A favorite card deck, Bulldog Squeezers, of my childhood, had two bulldogs chained to their doghouses with a full Moon smiling down up them. The motto at the bottom haunts me yet today as an unanswered question, "There is a tie that binds us to our Homes." On the face of it, the ties are the chains of the dogs, but it is also the chains which bind us to the physical world, the chains in Plato's Cave.

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Footnote 3. This is only one of many speed traces I and many other people have done, and nearly always some cognitive memory will become conscious at its completion. Instructions for learning the speed trace process can be found here:

Return to text directly before Footnote 3.


Footnote 4. One can start by reading this book which is a full-size transcription of V50 as given by Galambos in 1968, Sic Itur Ad Astra or Google "V50 Volitional Science" for other sources of the course.

Return to text directly before Footnote 4.


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