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Sacramental Thinking

by Joel A. Wendt

This is a collection of my works on the art and craft of thinking in a
sacramental way. I knew instinctively how to do this from the
beginning. But in our scientific age, the instinctive has to become fully
conscious. This took many decades to learn how to do.
All the same, as early as 1986 I described my then practice as follows:
In what follows are only the barest indications. The reader very much
needs to experience their own activity and its consequences, forming
their own conclusions as to which objectives and what processes are
most suitable for them.
a) Preparation: these are exercises, such as those practices in control of
thoughts, developing inner quiet (meditation practice plays a role here)
and so forth. Its like the stretching one must do before beginning serious
b) Sacrifice of thoughts: letting go preconceptions; overcoming habitual
patterns. Nothing will prevent new thoughts from arising, as easily as
c) Refining the question: the moral atmosphere, why do we want to
know; fact gathering and picture forming. It is an artistic activity. What
moral color do I paint my soul, what factual materials do I gather as I
prepare to form an image - i.e. think in all that that act can imply.
d) Offering the question: acknowledging Presence, and not needing an
answer. Tomberg urges us to learn to think on our knees.
e) Thinking as a spiritual Eucharist: receiving and grace. We do not
think alone. It thinks in and with me (Steiner).
f) Attitude: sobriety and play.

I called this practice: Sacramental Thinking, and thus began a

progression of practices which were over time cataloged in various
essays (earliest first): pragmatic moral psychology; The Idea of Mind: a
Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness; The
Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness Soul; In
Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship; Speaking
Truth to Power: Inwardly, in the realm of mind, also known as: soul and
spirit; The IDEA of the thought-world; and, Cowboy Bebop - and the
physics of thought as moral art.
I have ordered this collection of essays mostly in the reverse order of
when written and self-published. The last will be first, yet the reader is
free to wander as they wish among the whole. One note of caution:
some of the essays were written for the general public, and other essays
assumed a familiarity with the language conventions set in place by the
works of Rudolf Steiner connected to what he called: Anthroposophy.
The earliest essays are the least likely to have too much Steiner in them.

1) Cowboy Bebop - and the physics of thought as moral art. (page 4)
2) The IDEA of the thought-world. (page 24)
3) Speaking Truth to Power, Inwardly in the realm of mind also known
as: soul and spirit. (page 49)
4) The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness
Soul. (page 55)
5) In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship.
(page 69)
6) The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of
consciousness. (page 103)
7) pragmatic moral psychology. (page 129)


Is the brain a computer? Is the mind the brain?

Cowboy Bebop
and the physics* of thought as moral art
[*The term physics is here meant to suggest a set of general rules and
processes that in part can be labeled: The Way of Thought and
Thinking. That thought and thinking are also moral and artistic then too
becomes part of a true physics of thought. This means that the three
science, art, and religion cannot actually be separated, as they form in the
soul an organic whole.]
Cowboy Bebop (1) was a Japanese anime television show that was also
made into a movie. It was short lived (1998-99), and critically
acclaimed. The main character was a bounty hunter working from Mars
in the year 2071. Many sequences in this very original animation were
accompanied by music often dominated by a jazz and blues
background. From the beginning this anime was a fusion of American
cultural influences and modern Japanese artistic sensibilities.
In a certain way this work of art carried both instinctive esoteric
Christian and instinctive Zen components, which to elaborate might take
a whole book, and therefore will not be attempted here. The Cowboy
motif fits in with the fact that the Western is the main mythical archetype
of the American Soul (2), and the use of jazz and blues rests the musical
themes within the creative heart/roots of American music, fostered
mostly out of the culture New Orleans. In fact, many of the sequences or
scenes in the show are basically spontaneous dance. Feet and limbs
often move to the underlying jazz and blues bebop of the music.
The visual artistic style is very modern in a Japanese sense, as are the
ideas which positive criticism has come to recognize, such as:
existentialism, existential
ennui, loneliness, and the pasts influence (1, again). The main
characters morality is very much of the Western cowboy type - the
lone stranger doing good while entirely uncertain as to his own meaning
in the great schemes of existence. The dialog is clever, philosophical and

pointed, in the same fashion as the American film-noir movies that were
common in the late 1930s and on into the early 1950s. (3)
These undercurrents within the American Soul influence the path of
thought-creation in Americans. These undercurrents arise from the whole
world in a way - each emigrating culture adding its distinct influence to
the whole. In America is being born the People of Peoples. Cowboy
Bebop is a good modern expression of certain undercurrents that have
greatly influenced the American Soul, beginning with the Western in
the 1920s, and then later in the 1950s when Zen was brought to our
shores in California by Alan Watts (4). California then became a kind of
stew pot of soul-themes, such that West and East met at that edge of the
North American continent and had cultural intercourse.
If we want to look for evidence of this subterranean influence of
cultures, we need go no further than the writings of the modern crime
novelists: Robert Parker and Elmore Leonard. Their dialogue is crisp and
spare, zen-like in wisdom. Their characters are the stranger-other - the
Cowboy archetype who rescues damsels in distress and lays down
his/her life to do the right thing.
That the heroes themselves are flawed, even criminal, really only points
to the fact that in America the soul also can take a path near and through
the Underworld - the ancient world of Faerie, and dark and dangerous
impulses. America is the worlds most earthly culture, and this density of
fallen striving and suffering should not really surprise anyone paying
attention to social phenomena in America.
Not all Paths of development wander among the stars and the
clouds. The American Soul gave birth, with the aid of Christ and the
Holy Mother, to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1933,
which is the most practical spiritual path for dealing with the threefold
double complex or the shadow in the soul. (5) Addictions and their kin
are not the only issues human beings may solve in the company of others
with similar flaws. The hungers for wealth and power can be addictions.
So can be lying - how many of us know the individual whose every word
is an exaggerated tale told to advance their image, and impress their

The point of the immediately above is to set a tone for what is to follow,
for it will be useful and practical to understand from what well of
wisdom do such writers as Parker and Leonard draw their art.
Let us examine this carefully
Thought exists. Everyone knows this. Ordinary mind also is often
naturally virtuous, and the below is what can be understood if one makes
a study of ordinary mind, in a scientific and empirical fashion.
The brain scientist, never actually examining the intimacy of his own
mind, does not understand the art of how to come to an empirical
knowledge of thought. To know thought, through thinking, we must
investigate the own mind. But this journey is rooted in the challenges of
the moral. It requires the encountering of life-trials. There is no
substitute for this is very personal investigation, which is often costly in
terms of suffering.
We are dark and light, which fact makes any exploration of the basics of
the life of the own thought dependent upon an excruciatingly moral
Not everyone needs to do this on purpose. The modern biography,
particularly in America which is at the cutting edge of the evolution of
consciousness, is itself a spiritual developmental Path. (6) The life-trials
of the biography lead to a natural spiritual development. The main
difficulty is an absence of the needed language to describe this fact of
existence. Anthroposophy can provide to modern culture this language of
the Consciousness Soul era if we tease apart the traditional reliance on
the dead thoughts of Rudolf Steiner, entombed in books and in the tragic
overuse of Steiner said (note the use of the past tense of that verb).
Steiner is well worth quoting, but to rely on him as an authority is to
violate his own stated wishes.
Anthroposophists must discover how to think for themselves, outside the
past utterances of Rudolf Steiner.
That religious and moral metaphors might be practical could be denied
by many seeking an operating manual of the mind. The truth is
otherwise, however, for the journey begins here with the washing of the

feet. The higher elements of thinking cannot be consciously known

other than by actions in the spirit-mind that are profoundly moral. To
unveil the secrets of the will-in-thinking begins and ends with
appreciating the nature of the intention (or purpose) from which the
thinking is born - or, the Why of the How.
These moral/heart forces are the only way in which the cold and arid,
almost lifeless, thinking of the intellect alone can be mastered. The
intellect is brilliant, but not wise. Obviously we are a mixture of light
and dark. But to better understand the light we have to also appreciate
the dark.
Washing the feet means thinking must be put in the service of the
Thou. Thought which is self-directed, and meant to only benefit
ourselves, will lack the warm clarity and strength to find anything other
than superficial meaning. The cold thinking of the intellect
alone - without the guidance of the heart - leads only to the error of
misunderstanding. For thinking to find the truth it must sacrifice personal
consequences for those results which are meant to benefit others.
The striving for empathy already is washing the feet. It is very important
to realize that the biography itself, especially in and among
Americans, does this naturally. Here is Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture to
the workmen, on 3 March 1923:
The time will one day come when this American
woodenman, which actually everyone is still - when he begins to
speak. Then he will have something to say very similar to
European Anthroposophy. One can say that we in Europe
develop Anthroposophy in a spiritual way; the American
develops it in a natural way.
This natural development happens because American social-cultural
forces tears the individual away from its original language and cultural
roots. We speak of a third generation American, for example. Our parents
may come to America bringing with them their cultural past, but
generation by generation this past dies away, and the individual
emerges. This is true even of the so-called: Native Americans.
Individuation will triumph, and tradition will fade away.

The same process of development also arises because the family and
community matrix too is falling apart. Elsewhere in the world what
Steiner called the group-soul tends to rule, and the individual bows to
those social forces that define group behavior as against individual and
independent of family and community life choices. Growing up in
America takes away our cultural and language past, strips us of the
normative rules governing families, and spits us out into the modern
world forced to stand on our own. Natural here does not mean painless.
This is not an easy course of life, and once freed of the past of our
ancestors the washing the feet trial is only the beginning. Ultimately we
will travel all of the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ: washing the
feet; the scourging; the crowning with thorns; the carrying of the Cross;
the crucifixion; the entombment; and finally, the resurrection. Each of
these is an exact metaphorical archetype of the various arts of thinking in
the fullness of soul and spirit, and their related trials in life.
Christ warned us: Matthew 10:34-40:
Dont think I came to cause peace across the land. I didnt
come to cause peace, I came to wield a sword, because I came
to divide a man against his father and a daughter against her
mother and a bride against her mother-in-law, and to make a
mans servants his enemies. Whoever prefers father or mother
over me is not worthy of me; and whoever prefers son or
daughter over me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not
take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever
found his life will lose it, and the one who lost his life because of
me will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever
receives me, receives my Sender.
Not only that, but these trials do not confine themselves to linear
time - that is, they do not follow one after the other in sequence. In the
same way a plant lives in an ecology, the life of soul and spirit - in the
biography - lives in a psychological and mental ecology of social
existence, in which various events (trials) arise and become the center of
our lives. The social, with respect to the biography, provides both inertia
and momentum. Life resists us, while at the same time certain impulses
and actions propel us onward.

For example, to become a mother or a father places before the soul the
trial of the washing of the feet in a quite natural fashion. Parenthood
creates a necessity, and the I in responding to this necessity can begin
to learn to put the other - the Thou - before self. In the same
biography, family conflicts exist over life choices and meaning - do we
do what our parents want us to do, or do we follow our own star - the
unfolding of this trial of individuation in our family life will
evoke scourging and crowning with thorns. Details will be described
These stages then do not always appear in sequence. Different life
experiences draw them out, although over time, the general pattern
produces a transformation of the artistic skill level of thinking, which
starts as a natural skill, then (usually with maturation) becomes craft, and
then finally wisdom or art. Maturation, by the way, is not a given. Many
there are who never develop past late (early 20s) adolescence. When
such a person becomes a political or corporate leader, disasters happen.
The mystery of thinking is then trained by the moral struggles in life not just the successes but the failures as well. All experience can be
turned to developmental nourishment when the I reflects on its
actions. The intention behind thought determines the nature of the realm
of the thought-world in which we travel. This intention is instinctive
(natural) in the beginning, becoming more and more conscious over
time. The path, which we in anthrposophical circles conceive of as a
path of development, for the American (and others all over the world at
this same leading edge of the Consciousness Soul) occures in the
biography. We do not have to go to the Swiss Alps to engage it. We just
live our life, for it is - through Divine Intention - the very best School
Recently I was saying some related words to my girl friend, and she
wanted me to take the time for a more careful and somewhat formal
illumination of the nature of thought. What follows next is based in large
part on her notes to that conversation, which mostly consisted of me
making an attempt at an skeleton-like organized presentation, which on
occasion was inspired by questions she asked me during this verbal

intercourse. These notes give order to what follows next ... and flesh has
been added to the observations of structure alone.
The plane or arena of matter is bound to space and time. You cant put
your hand through matter. Thats how we know its exists. Two cars crash
into each other on a highway, and the violence is so powerful it crushes
steel and human flesh, perhaps bringing death in its train of causes and
We live in a physical body and act in a material world. We also act in the
non-material world of thought and thinking. This non-material life
survives death.
Above the plane of matter is the plane of soul, or consciousness. This
astral plane (to use a more ancient form of expression) is bound to
space, but not to time. It is also the plane of perishable or mutable
spirit. We know this realm when we use picture thinking or the
imagination. The imagination needs space in order to appear before
our minds eye. It is, we should note, not three-dimensional, but
plane-like, or two dimensional. We can move around its surfaces and
sometimes right through it, but it remains in essence an arena of organic
(living) thought that longs to be investigated and known directly.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I
know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
In the final episode of Season One of the television show Joan of
Arcadia, the God character there says: You have to trust the world
behind your eyes, and, learn to see in the dark
Our biographies do not take place, in general, when we are alone
(although a prisoner and a monk or a nun, often live lives of virtual
isolation). We live as members of a community. As we grow into the
truthful possibilities of our thinking, we may often find ourselves
needing to speak truth in circumstances where others do not like it. In
order to avoid what this truth has to mean to them, they will deflect, or
act angry or many other forms of finding a way to ignore what we have
said or done (based on what we thought, independent of the cultural or
social norms).

This deflection can often take the form of attacking the

truth-speaker, and this is experienced by the truth-speaker as
a scourging - the own soul experiences a trial of emotional (astral)
pain. Where someone confronts a gossip, for example, in a community
that likes the false content of the gossip, the whole group may turn upon
the person who challenges these lies. Everyone who seeks to speak or act
on the true and the good experiences such trials, even though we yet
have no vocabulary in our shared social existence that recognizes this
On a wider social scale, we have today what is called political
correctness, which are ways of individual doing or speaking that large
portions of the social body do not like. Modern social-media
allows scourging of this kind to apply a huge unjustified condemnation
of acts or words of specific individuals. This public shaming is the
problem of the mote and the beam writ large, forgetting the admonition:
he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.
Matthew 7: 3-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what
judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure
ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest
thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the
beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy
brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold a
beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the
beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to
cast out the mote out of thy brothers eye.
Everywhere that we see social conflict, we see those naturally occurring
trials that for some individuals are best described in the metaphors of the
Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ. When the I-am is authoring what
it can of the Christ-Impulse, this produces social conflict - social strife
and heat. Not peace, but a sword.
The mental plane, or sphere of pure thought (or spirit), is spaceless and
timeless. We are an active creator in this sphere, and through a thorough
study of this capacity to create thought there comes to be one of the best
Ways we can learn to understand thoughts properties and nature however, only if we are so inclined. It is not necessary for everyone to
do this, and in fact the understanding of such facts is the point of any

science of thought or thinking. The scientist of thought makes the

journey and then shares that understanding with others.
Rudolf Steiner writes in the first sentence of the First Leading Thought:
Anthroposophy is a path [Way] of knowledge [cognition] from the
spiritual in man [the human being] to the Spiritual in the Universe.
Human beings create thought, but we are not usually conscious of this
creative activity. When we create thought we are active ourselves as a
spaceless and timeless spirit in the realm of the uncreated and
formless. As thought then descends from this formless state, it takes on
form, ultimately descending into the words that comprise our
languages. To be intuitive, in the sense of Zen for example, is to always
be awake in the creative act that results in the flow of thoughts. Thats
why it is difficult to get Zen, because its locus is outside the realm of
naming, so the Zen masters speak of no-mind or no-name. (7)
Thought is also living. In the arena of the astral, where the imagination
resides, organic thought as spirit is clearly perishable and mutable, for
unless we maintain the mental picture with our conscious intention and
attention it fades away. That Goethe came to perceive the Ur-plant shows
that he eventually entered the realm of the timeless and spaceless and
met a Being, through the gate of recreating, in the imagination, the
changes in matter-based form over time. The arena of space and time
bound matter; and the arena of imaginative space or astral space; and,
the arena of timeless and spaceless thought, - all interpenetrate at their
boundary conditions.
The thought-world, or the ethereal world, has an upper and lower
boundary condition. At the upper boundary we experience the garments
of non-material Beings in the form of Ideas, after the indications of
Plato. Steiner, in A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethes World
Conception describes an Idea as a complex of concepts.
As social beings we sometimes find ourselves in conflict with others
over the Ideas of the Good and the True. Here too we can be attacked, for
our expression of this mental/spiritual world disturbs those who do not
agree with it, or otherwise need a justification for ignoring our
expressions or deeds. These attacks represent a crowning with
thorns. Our head is where we develop thought toward its higher

qualities, and the socially induced crown of of thorns is meant to

penetrate the idea-matrix we have offered, and through pain banish our
ability to express ourselves here.
The Beings of the super-sensible spiritual worlds wear (or appear) as
Ideas so that we can approach them without having to experience the full
impression/power of their real nature. At the upper boundary of the
ethereal or thought-world (8), they step down their nature as an act of
loving kindness. This is also the meeting ground between the 9th
Hierarchy, the realm of the Angels, and the 10th Hierarchy, the realm of
human beings. Christ, as an aspect of His Second Coming, appears in the
ethereal in the form of an Angel.
Like our personal guardian Angel He is now available to speak to us in
the realm of discursive thinking - our inner wording - the same way our
Angel is able to speak to us there. Steiner called this speaking inner
thinking: Inspiration. But first we must learn to silence our inner
discourse - to become poor in spirit, or what in the cultural East might be
called: empty consciousness, or no-mind. Our original experience of
this Angelic contact is via the still small voice of the conscience. With
practice (especially praying out loud and in private) we can learn to
hear other inner voices besides our own.
At the lower boundary of the ethereal or thought-world, we experience
the living aspect of this thought-world as a train of thoughts, in the form
of discursive thinking (inner wording). The speed of the primal or
original thinking is infinite, and that takes place in the realm of the
uncreated and formless. In this realm everything is simultaneous - in the
Now, in the Eternal. This is the gate to the Akashic Record. Everything
that happens, happens Now. All things happened through Him and not
one thing that happened happened without Him.
When we bring a thought out of this realm, through the space bound
astral world of picture thinking, or imagination, into the realm of
concrete words, we also bring it out of the realm of the simultaneous into
the realm of linear time - that is, out of the realm of timelessness and
spacelessness, through pure space (the imagination), and then into
sequential time.


In life, when we do this, it is best called: carrying the Cross. The weight
of the true and the good, as it is born in naturally developing thinking, to
become realized in speaking and doing, - this moral weight is a
burden. At the same time we are not alone. Matthew 11: 28-30: Come
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take my yoke upon, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my
burden is light.
In our ordinary thinking we experience all of this. We just dont notice
it, because our thinking usually has as its object some important (or
playful) aspect of our day to day existence. Thinking serves our
existence, as does thought. It is just that we do not attend to it, or know
yet how to practice our intention in full consciousness.
Thats why Steiner wanted us to turn around in our consciousness
(soul life) and wake up through the path or Way of an empirical and
scientific study of our own minds, following the map he created through
The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, whose subtitle was: some results
of introspection following the methods of natural science, and whose
last sentence of the original preface said: One must be able to confront
an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage.
Here is what Steiner said about cognition, from the preface to Truth
and Knowledge, his doctoral dissertation:
The object of knowledge is not to repeat in conceptual form
something which already exists, but rather to create a
completely new sphere, which when combined with the world
given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus mans
highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of
the universal world-process. The world-process should not be
considered a complete, enclosed totality without this
activity. Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to
evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures cosmic events
taking place without his participation; he is the active
co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most
perfect link in the organism of the universe.


We have today the concrete terms or words: consciousness and

self-consciousness. Two or three hundred years ago in Europe, they
would have used the words soul and spirit to mean the same
experience. In between our Now and this most recent past, as those
terms - soul and spirit - were translated into the English language, the
term/word for soul and spirit became mind. This materialization of our
concepts of our inner life has intensified so that now people no longer
use the term mind, but instead use the word brain, believing that there
is only matter, and never spirit. (9)
The truth is that the brain is a material organ by which the spirit is
able, with the aid of the soul - or astral body - in a mediating fashion, to
integrate itself into a physical body, much the same way consciousness is
moved around in the movie Avatar. The idea that there is only
matter, but no spirit, so common today is due to the existence in the
mind of beliefs. A belief is an idea that has placed the
self-consciousness of our I (or spirit) into bondage.
Steiner called such belief-like ideas aspects of the Ahrimanic
Deception, which I name (for artistic/aesthetic reasons) the Ahrimanic
Errors in the act of thinking produces illusory thoughts, which realm of
illusions Tomberg has called: the Realm of the False Holy Spirit. This
is that portion of the ethereal or thought-world ruled by the legions of
Lucifer. It is at the boundary of the ethereal and astral planes of
existence. According to Tomberg, to get through this realm one needs to
be accompanied by the Holy Mother.
In this experience in life we begin to come to know the crucifixion. We
die inwardly in order to travel higher into the thought-world
consciously, yet in this death we are caught by the Holy Mother, just as
is depicted in Michaelangelos The Pieta. The thinking I gives up its
self for the other - for the Thou, thus experiencing a kind of death in
the astral.
Steiner has said there are more illusions in the spiritual world than there
are in the material world.


This is looking at the process of thinking from below upward. When we

view this process in the fashion it creatively happens, we travel it from
above downward - from, as pointed out before, the realm of the
uncreated and formless, through the space bound world of imaginations
(and mental pictures) into the space and time bound realm of discursive
thinking in the forms of words (language).
Belief is different from true Faith, the latter being an act of trust in the
Divine, not an idea of the Divine. When we encounter
fundamentalism, of either the religious or the scientific kind, we are
meeting a rigidly held belief, which possesses (or holds in bondage) the
mind of the speaker.
MacCoun, in her book On Becoming an Alchemist, writes: that the belief
in absolute facts is ahrimanic (she doesnt actually use that name, but it
is obvious she means to refer to a Being), and the belief in absolute
truths is luciferic (again the same caution).
If people treat the works of Rudolf Steiner as an absolute authority on
anything, they are falling into a relationship of bondage with those
ideas. In a way this is a kind of self-generated entombment. This is
different from social entombment, where the expressions of the good and
the true are experienced by the I in the soul as an inability to effect the
outer world. However hard we try to manifest the good and the true in
the social world, it is rejected or otherwise not heard. We feel we are
alone and powerless. Like someone buried alive (entombed, but living),
we fight and struggle against the social worlds refusal to hear us.
There is a way out of the Tomb. Our empathy must be so rich, that we
realize that the other - the Thou - does not need to be like us. The Thou
is entitled to Its own version of the true and the good, and we must then
sacrifice that version which is ours, and learn, as Steiner pointed out in
The Inner Aspects of the Social Question: to hear the Christ Impulse in
the others thinking. For our own biography we need the true and the
good in order to act the Consciousness Soul, but at the same time part of
the true and the good is that the other - the Thou - is not seen, if Judged.


Thinking as Perception:
This is not a commentary on the nature of sense perception, but only on
the characteristics of thinking as perception - as seeing. (10)
In a crisis situation thinking is aided by the adrenaline to focus and
concentrate. We can ourselves learn to focus and concentrate without this
chemical (astral) support. Through either process we can wake up in the
realm of the uncreated and the formless. We will then see with the
thinking. To consciously experience this, and to also act in the world on
the basis of this seeing is the experience of the resurrection at the level of
our inner life. The social world often compels our seeing.
The Zen master sees the situation of his student. The mother, when
thinking selflessly, sees what to do in a moment of crisis with her
child. The soldier, or first responder, sees with their thinking what the
right action is. An athlete calls this: being in the zone.
The mind in this condition, which is generally completely
spontaneous, is free - no longer in bondage to its old thoughts and mental
This, when sustained while in contact with the world of pure
spirit, Steiner called: Intuition. In our ordinary life we call it
likewise: intuition, without the capital letter. We are united with the Idea
in either case, although Steiners Intuition means a fully aware
experience of the Divine Being, free of our own body - or sense free
(body free) thinking. In the more ordinary types of consciousness, where
our self-consciousness is seeing/perceiving, we have taken to having our
ordinary language talk about a bright idea, or in a cartoon we have
someone with a light-bulb going off over their head. The concentrated
action in thinking lights up the mind.
More light! said Goethe on his death bed.
In spontaneous action we have what MacCoun describes as
see, do. Perceiving and acting are united. Because our attention is
focused on the needed action, we dont notice the inner activity of
seeing/perceiving because we are too committed to the outer world

action to notice the inner world lighting up. In the East, if this state of
pure intuitive experience is constant, it is called: enlightenment.
I had the following personal experience one day. I was in my kitchen
with a friend, and also with my youngest daughter, who was about 3 and
one half years old at that time. My daughter was skipping around the
room, tripped over her own feet, and fell forward with her chin striking
the corner of the clothes dryer which was also in that room.
I immediately picked her up, and sat her on the dryer, looking at her
carefully to see her condition. She had not yet started to cry, something
one ordinarily expects to happen very soon. I next immediately recalled
that there was a bottle of Arnica in a nearby cabinet. I quickly took the
bottle out, unstoppered it and placed some on a finger tip, which I then
placed under her nose for her to smell. I next took another bit on a finger
tip, and rubbed up between her eyebrows over the astral/ethereal
doorway to the pineal gland. Only after these actions did I look at her
chin, notice there was no open wound, and applied the Arnica there.
I had never before thought about any of these actions, other than the last
one. All the same, I saw/I did. She did not cry at all, and was soon very
calm, and sat in my lap for a while before returning to play.
My visiting friend, who was also a curative eurythmist, said to my
daughter: Your father is very wise. Perhaps. What I did know was how
to think - how to be empty or poor in spirit. I didnt need a content of
knowledge already existing, stored somewhere in memory - I only
needed to know how to think. I do not mean here to denigrate experience
and memory, but only to point to the capacities of the purely intuitive
I trusted the world behind my eyes, and saw in the dark.
This Pure Thinking is pure in three ways: It is pure in the sense that
the attention of our I is oriented fully away from sense experience (we
dont actually have to leave the body to do this). It is also pure in a
consciously intended moral sense - that is our thinking is fully
other-directed. We have no egoistic stake in the outcome of the thinking
activity, for we do it for others not for ourselves. The third way such

thinking is pure is that it is only of concepts and ideas - that is the object
of thought is the thought-world itself.
Rudolf Steiner described this kind of inner moral activity in The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, as moral imagination, moral
intuition, and moral technique. This activity can be applied both in the
outer world of our social environment, and in the world of contemplative
thought alone. To apply it contemplatively, or while in a state of reverie
or meditation, means to turn around and enter into the thought-world on
purpose - as a place in itself.
The deeper (higher) we go, the more consciously we become able to
wake up in the realm of the uncreated and formless, where moral thought
arises out of our own creative activity. When we live the true and the
good from out of this realm of experience, then we are truly free - no
bondage to the idea. Weve become a spirit-thought-creator, and then we
are seen. Again, as pointed out by Steiner in Truth and Knowledge:
Man is not a passive onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating
in mental pictures cosmic events taking place without his participation;
he is the active co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the
most perfect link in the organism of the universe.
Ordinary consciousness, as it faces the social-trials of the biography, is
the naturally arising expression of the Seven Stages of the Passion of
Christ. This then is the science or physics of the life of thought as
religious or moral art.
For the American Soul, we now have cowboys and cowgirls, as women
more and more claim their rightful places society. Again, following the
mythical archetype of the Western as regards the American Soul, and
remembering that this Soul is the leading edge of changes in
consciousness occurring on a world-wide scale, those who think their
way to the true and the good, or live in what Steiner called the
Consciousness Soul, burn with a kind of fire for the true and the good
that involves them becoming Christ-like in their biographical
environments, however small and intimate.
As such fore-runners they then are destined to live the Seven Stages of
the Passion of Christ in their individual biographical niche. This can be

true even if someone is in a prison, or works in a large Corporation, or is

In this biographical niche they will run into, and become involved with,
those individuals serving other impulses. Our Age then is an epic social
conflagration brought about by the naturally occurring differences
among individuals, which is bringing in its train that Age of Earth
Existence the Hopi Prophets called: the Day of Purification. As a first
act in this true New Age, Western Civilization is failing.
Those serving other impulses are not necessarily wrong. Each
biographical Path is perfect, and overseen by the most profound Love
(see note 6, again). Each follows their own drummer - their own music.
In my Fathers House are many mansions.
Is the brain a computer? Is the mind the brain? Can a computer be moral
or create art? (11)
a brief summation
The above was mostly parts ... now it is our task to string the parts into a
whole, and as a whole we will then arrive deeper into the realm of the
true and the good ... of the physics of thought and thinking ...
Original thought is created by human beings, in the realm of the
uncreated and unformed - a realm connected to the spaceless and
timeless Now that is Eternity. From there it descends, through the realm
of perishable and mutable spirit - the realm of the imagination and
mental pictues, which arise in that mental/astral space bound existence
we more easily experience. Then from there the descent is into the the
inner wording of discursive thinking in the form of concrete language,
and in that way finally, via speech (12), into the world of social space
and linear time. Steiners map of the mind: The Philosophy of Spiritual
Activity, via its practices of moral imagination, moral intuition, and
moral technique mirrors this process just described. Moral imagination
takes place in the middle realm of the perishable and mutable spirit,
through which activity we ask a question of ourselves, and in forming
the moral intuition that is the answer to that question, we rise into the

realm of timeless and spaceless cognitive creation. Then through moral

technique we once more descend, from our previous assent, into the
process of incarnating the true and the good into deeds, which can
include speech.
Not all thoughts that we utter come from this organic and living
sequence of ascent and descent. Some thoughts come from memory,
such as where we store Steiner-said. We also speak out of habits of
thought, which too live in the astral/ethereal matrix, often in the Realm
of the False Holy Spirit. The liar is trapped in the illusions spun by his
or her lies - a false idea we dont confront places us in bondage. Steiner
called speech without true thought: the empty phrase.
The Creator, named Christ in our current perception of the Now, has
made a world-encompassing social organism in which the human
biography unfolds, in such a way that each individual receives the Love
that belongs to them to receive (see note 6, again). As an aspect of this
organism, there also exists a Path, which we have called The Seven
Stages of the Passion of Christ. The Creator became human and then
went through the gate of death, because He could not ask of us
something He could not himself do - namely be human. Many people
believe falsely that the Passion is something we did to Christ. It is not.
The Passion is the mirror image of something humans do to themselves
as a result of the Fall into Matter. Christ follows us in living out this
Passion. It is our Passion for material existence that He imitates.
The social organism is so perfectly endowed, that what Christ
experienced in the Seven Stages - during the Turning Point of Time as
Steiner phrased it, we can now experience as well. This is possible
because the social world reacts to us, and in reacting plays the same role
as did the Romans and the Hebrews, in the moments when the Creator
God became human. The profound Now of the Turning Point of Time
reverberates through All Time - all Nows. The Seven Stages are also the
ultimate process of metamorphosis. What Goethe observed as the
various renunciations in the Plant, can also be seen in such a way that in
that the totality of all the single renunciations also reflect the Seven
Stages of the Passion. The Ur-plant, first as seed, washes the feet of
material existence, burying itself into Matter, engaging in its own Fall.

This Fall goes ever more deeper into matter, and the life of the Ur-Plant,
on a planetary scale, experiences the resistance of matter to its generative
powers as scourging, crowning with thorns, carrying the cross,
crucifixion, entombment and then resurrrection in the masterful creation
of the new seed. This life is yet without consciousness or
self-consciousness. It is pure life-process, without even instinct.
The animal kingdom and the human kingdom too suffer the Fall into
materiality - and in overcoming the density of matter in order to express
their true spirit, they too go through this Passion. And the human
kingdom, in forgetting its own true nature, adds to the suffering of the
life (plant) process, and the instinctive consciousness pain of the animal
kingdom - by our efforts to manipulate what we do not understand (the
fundamental sin or error we commit by our efforts to genetically
modify organisms - including ourselves). Not appreciating matter, we
also harm spirit, including the spirit of life itself (In it - the Word - was
Life and the Life was the Light of the world).
The Light of the Sun does the same thing (see note 11, again). In
photosythensis It dies into Matter to become food (energy) for the human
being (take and eat for this is my body), only to return/become the inner
sun-light of thought and the mind. The deeds and sufferings of light also
mirror the Seven Stages of the Passion. Everything is part and parcel of
everything else. Those people who vex us, and scourge us and help us be
socially entombed - thats just us wearing a different face in a different
aspect of the Eternal Now (13). Our biographical Time is not their
biographical Time, which is one of the reasons Christ encourages us not
to Judge, for it is ourselves we judge. The other - the Thou - is us
wearing a different face and experiencing a different time-oriented
biography. We only appear to share the same Time.
When asked what is the most important commandment, Christ spoke this
way: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your spirit
and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And
the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and
the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
God is everything, everything is god (14). We are all Cowboy Bebops stranger others - dancing and singing throughout all Eternity; and,

seeking the true and the good is just one Chapter of many in our own
eternal dying and becoming.
(3) See the movie Payback starring Mel Gibson, for an updated film-noir
(5) The Mystery of Evil in the Light of the Sermon on the
God: an
(7) see Zen Anthroposophy:
(9) The Idea of Mind: a Christian meditator considers the problem of
(10) Carl Stegmann, in his book: The Other America: the West in the
thinking: clair-thinking:
(11) Electicity and the Spirit in Nature .. - a tale of certain considerations
of the present state of science, in the light of a modern practical
(12) The Gift of the Word (a poem - meant to be read aloud):
(13) See the Beatles I am the Walrus:
(14) also: All You Need is Love


The IDEA of the Thought-World

- and its practical implications for our
shared political life It is the purpose of this Wikipedia-like entry/essay to shed some light on
something which we all experience, but for which we often have other
names, and of which we frequently believe we know a great deal,
although we do not. We mostly swim in the true nature of thinking like a
fish swims in water - mostly unaware of the complexities of our inner
environment at all.
I have taken, as general examples, thinking and thoughts that are related
to our public life (politics), since everyone seems to share there a
common interest. Different fields could have been used as examples,
such as epistemology, but not as many people will have a direct
experience of that subject matter as will have had thoughts and points of
view about politics.
To make this above discussion more concrete and less abstract: Note that
the words/terms/concepts/ideas conservative and liberal are what needs
to be called: generalizations. Such a class of objects (or human beings)
that might be included under the terms conservative and liberal, dont
really fit us, as individuals. Most individuals have a large number of
complex beliefs, concepts, points of view, tendencies and so forth, not all
of which would fit within such large generalized categories.
They might be liberal" with the way the view their own and others
vices, but conservative" in their ideas of how to raise children. Many
are overly influenced by the ways in which politicians and political
consultants define a political liberal or conservative, and as well tend to
fit themselves into their own families historical views. Not being trained
or educated in how to think, we are grabbed by clever ads that seek to
divide us, rather than serve our need to understand. The often harsh
rhetoric of negative campaigning inflames our emotions, but does not
encourage mental clarity or thoughtful reflection.
Concepts, based on such large and inclusive categories that use terms
that are highly abstract generalizations, actually dont have much

real-world meaning at all. Same with such terms as black, white, Latin,
female and so forth - they are superficial generalities and when used in
speech (or in thinking) they actually stand in the way of true knowledge.
In an unfortunately too real sense, the use of the terms liberal and
conservative in modern political speech is often a cover for what has to
be understood as a kind of political bigotry. That conservatives (or
liberals) automatically decide to dislike and criticize their imagined
opposites is really just a kind of political racism, encouraged by political
consultants and their use of divisive simplistic issues such as abortion.
The linguistic scientist George Lakoff views the matter a little bit more
accurately, applying the principles of cognitive science to define
conservatives as holding a strong father model of government, and
liberals as holding to a nurturant parent model (1), but this still makes
the error of believing the general class has any real world meaning, as
against the individual thinker and speaker. Lakoff finds common
categories in the uses of language (what he calls frames), but fails to
properly emphasize that it is the political consultants efforts to
determine political language itself that fails to provide the citizen with
an adequate complexity of discourse. Stuffing people in Lakoffs Moral
Politics categories also oversimplifies. As well we need note that a
sufficient educational training in Civics has disappeared from our
schools - no one really knows anymore how our government is supposed
to work at all - even many politicians. The professionals in politics have
no use for an electorate that cant be manipulated, and have had years to
misdirect public thinking and train us to believe their lies.
What is worse, as regards Lakoff, is that he is a member of a scientific
community that believes it knows things about the mind/brain
relationship that are not true. For example, I just walked you, as a reader,
through a very simple philosophical investigation of the meaning of
words, in this case the word class generalizations. Lakoff would have
us think that we are beholden to brain structures for how we think, rather
than have the capacity to increase our thinking sophistication in many
alternative ways, including just being taught the basics of an
epistemological way of seeing the world.
Here is Lakoff in a recent article (2) about the problems with the terms
fiscal cliff, trying to explain why people cant be taught how to think
more clearly, and can only think within the limits of our brains:

Because we think with our brains, every thought we have is physical,

constituted by neural circuitry. Because about 98 percent of conscious
thought has an unconscious neural substrate, we are rarely aware of
conceptual metaphors. And because the brain is a physical system
governed by conservation of energy, a tightly integrated cascade of
neural metaphor circuits is more likely to be learned, remembered, and
readily activated.
Lets take a look at the metaphorical complexity of fiscal cliff and how
the metaphors that comprise it fit together. The simplest, is the metaphor
named MoreIsUp, which is a neural circuit linking two distinct brain
regions, one for verticality and one for quantity. It is a high-level general
metaphor widespread throughout the world, and occurs in a vast number
of sentences like Turn the radio up, the temperature fell, and so on.
This is poppycock masquerading as science. Dont think so? Continue
reading. The problem will turn out to be education - as in knowledge of
the real nature of the mind and of thinking, not the brain. Brain and
consciousness scientists can be understood for their errors, because they
mistake discursive thinking, or inner-wording, as the sole nature of
how we think. For this reason, like Lakoff, they pursue studies of
language, believing that the dissection of language rules unveils the
nature of thinking. We actually, if thinking is studied itself
introspectively, do not actually think merely in words.
It is possible for academics to over-think somethings, often being more
in love with their own specialty rather than in the phenomena itself.
Their assumptions guide them. A real history of the last 100 years in
politics might help, for example, Uncommon Sense: the Degeneration,
and the Redemption, of Political Life in America (3). Such a history
would show that there is a great deal more appearing in the phenomena
of our political life than confused metaphors and cascading brain
Those who let themselves think such thoughts (such as that there is a
reality of conservatives and liberals") are being very foolish,
regardless of how clever they frame their bigotry (see the written works
of the conservative" Ann Coulter, or the comedy of the liberal" Bill
Maher). Why are they foolish? Because they pretend to knowledge and

kinds of reason that they not only do not possess, but avoid confronting
in all cases. Where someone reaches toward their errant and foolish
thinking with logical questions, these two retreat into deflections and
other means (such as jokes) of avoiding following out their own
assumptions to their natural and logical conclusions - which
conclusions would be so ridiculous as to prove beyond any doubt that
their thinking was off-course right from the beginning.
The root of this actually exists in our systems of education. We mostly
dont train people in the how of thinking very well at all. We can teach
them what to think (as in a point of view, such as evolutionary theory),
but very often not how to think critically and logically (for a good
example of such critical and logical thinking concerning the theory of
evolution, read Ron Bradys Dogma and Doubt (4) ). Most political
speech suffers from the assumption of the speaker or writer that all is
opinion, and facts and logical thought do not matter. It is my opinion
(belief), and I have a right to it, we frequently assert.
There is not a lot of truth in political speech, in large part because people
work from an ideological point of view (5), and are not really interested
in how the social-political world actually works. When an ideology is
imposed, such as in politics, it frequently fails precisely because the
ideology never asks how the real world works, it only asks: how can I
make (as in force) the world to work the way I want it to. Sort of as if
physicists were trying to get into space by demanding the laws of gravity
have to change and then obey their fantasies, not the real laws of material
Examples of failed political ideological points of view abound and here
are a few of the the most obvious: the War on Poverty; the War on Drugs;
and the War on Terror. The social-political world has a lot of momentum
and inertia, and if we try to change it into something it really cant
change into, we cause a lot of harm. The ideological view may be
wonderful in its fantasy of in what way the world could be nicer, but as
everyone in the recovery movement knows, you cant fix an addict - only
they can fix themselves. The deep nature of our social life is rooted in
human psychology, and while it is possible to manipulate that on
occasion, grand changes only come infrequently, as was noticed in the
Declaration of Independence: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
Governments long established should not be changed for light and

transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown, that human
beings are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to
right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
We could say, with some confidence, that most of us are addicted to our
favorite political ideology, and resist changing that point of view at all,
because it is a kind of belief system. The seeming conflict between
modern science and religion bears the stamp of that identical very human
problem; with one of main difficulties being that many believers in
science refuse to recognize it too is a belief system. See the discussion of
the ideology or philosophy of scientism at note (6).
Understanding the Thought-World may help some overcome these
deficits in their own thinking, and as well understand what goes on in the
real social-political world as a consequence of the rules of this
Thought-World, and our relationship as human beings toward our own
thoughts and thinking. In a way, if we change how we educate, we
change how people think, and as people think more consciously they will
themselves change our social-political life. It is, as Saul Bellow points
out below, as regards the writings of Owen Barfield: a question of inner
For example, we have in English these three terms: beliefs,
understandings and knowledge. An empirical approach to thinking (see
below for details) reveals that each individual swims in a sea of
self-generated vain beliefs, genuine ways of understanding reality, and
actual knowledge of the world. Everyone.
Beliefs are vain because we hold to them in-spite of all evidence to the
contrary - the folk wisdom being: dont confuse me with facts, my mind
is already made up. Most of us cant do a job, or even a simple task,
without understandings - ways of appreciating that often are learned the
hard way, such as what happens when a child touches something hot.
Postmen understand why dogs are chained up. If I am really good at
something, what we try to describe with the word expertise, it is because
I not only understand why the car engine sounds funny, I also know how
to fix it.
In modern political discourse, few politicians or pundits or talking heads
on TV actually know the basics, for example, of the science of

economics. There are a lot of pronouncements rooted in ideological

beliefs, such as that decreasing the taxes on the most wealthy will benefit
the whole economy, but when empirical evidence is offered that shows
this belief to be false, that evidence is buried (7), but everyone is so busy
believing they too can be an economic expert the airwaves are polluted
with dialog that is essentially meaningless.
Since the crisis in world finance, that began in 2008 to continue the
example, all kinds of austerity measures are being advocated, when the
economic historical evidence is to the contrary - austerity only
compounds economic weaknesses. See the writings of the Paul
Krugman, a Noble prize winner (expert) in economics (8). In a similar
ideological vein, during the recent Presidential Election in America
(2012), Republicans favored certain kinds of Polls, but hated the work of
Nate Silver, who predicted correctly the 2008 election and the election of
2012 (9). It is possible to be smart about political questions, and not just
a religious-like believer in an ideology.
Why is the truth so troublesome to so many? When we better
understand the Thought-World and its operational rules, that will become
more clear.
Everyone knows they have thoughts. As modern individuals, in the Age
of Science, we are encouraged to believe, superficially, that our thoughts
come from the activity of our brains. If I was to suggest that good
dancers of a certain sort think with their feet (Dancing is like dreaming
with your feet! ~ Constanze), this might raise some questions about
subjectivity, or about the spurious meaning of words, or that to have such
an experience would be an illusion created by the brain.
The general modern tendency in Science is to believe that all mental
phenomena are products of the neurological structures in that physical
organ we call the brain (10). For some, this causal assumption goes so
far as to hold that even the idea that we have of a "self" is manufactured
by the physical processes in the brain. A corollary of this general
tendency in modern thought is that all perception, such as for example
what we believe we see when we believe we "see" a tree, is
manufactured by the brain. The actual physical world - in its true nature
- is not seen, according to this view.

This often raises a very peculiar question regarding what is "real". For
example, why does the collection of molecules and atoms that
supposedly make up the tree look to our consciousness or brains like a
tree. These are not simple questions, see: The Idea of Mind: a
Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness (11). The
English writer Owen Barfield (12) wrote extensively on consciousness,
perception and thinking, as well as the limits of modern science to
appreciate the relevant nuances.
Saul Bellow, the Nobel-Prize winning novelist, wrote: We are well
supplied with interesting writers, but Owen Barfield is not content to be
merely interesting. His ambition is to set us free. Free from what? From
the prison we have made for ourselves by our ways of knowing, our
limited and false habits of thought, our common sense.
Parts of this complicated "riddle" of existence is discussed in many fields
and in many different ways (13). Simply to provide fully adequate
footnotes for the above commentary could take up dozens of pages. In
order to avoid getting lost in that vast jungle of words, sentences,
meanings, fields of knowledge and so forth, let me just guide the reader's
thinking-attention to what exists right in front of them.
I have written some words on a page, and the reader is reading them.
The words on the page, given our general assumptions, would not exist if
someone didn't write them - so we have the terms: the "author" and the
"reader". Or, perhaps, one brain doing something involving the modern
tool of a laptop computer and another brain doing something with a
similar device.
The writing consists of "signs" - letters. These are essentially "code".
These marks on a page have no meaning in themselves. One could take
this page, and using a translation program get these letters changed into
Chinese ideograms. The signs can be changed, and the question does
exist that if we did that, would the meaning of the signs also be changed?
Of course, certain trends in philosophy in the 20th Century suggested
there might not exist any meaning that could be transferred from an
author to a reader - the "subjective" aspects being too insurmountable
(14). In spite of that school of thought - mostly only of interest in certain
circles of academia, people still read and write and we still teach our

children to read and write. And, you dear reader are in fact reading this,
so at the least your brain is doing something that might well not be a
complete waste of time, - maybe.
In order to write, and read, as all of us subjective brains can at least
fantasize, requires the existence of a language - in this case: English.
Convention gives us dictionaries, and many thousands of books and
schools of thought* on writing and grammar and logic and so forth.
What the existence of these books might suggest is that there is perhaps a
reality to language, otherwise why bother.
*[a small technical aside, regarding the geography of the
Thought-World, we might note that various complex features of this
world could be called schools of thought, or systems of belief, or
ideological points of view.]
Since we (you and I) - two brains (?) - are collectively bothering, is
there anything else we can notice.
Well, - we could turn away from the page for a moment and reflect observe inwardly - that our selves, or our brains - (at this point take your
pick), are engaged in some kind of inner activity, which someone
watching us can not see. These watchers might see me typing and they
might see you looking at a page and on occasion scrolling down, perhaps
sipping some coffee and cleaning your glasses - perhaps even breathing,
sniffing or coughing. What these observers will not see is either of us
If we were to self-observe what the observers cannot see, we might
notice that during this "thinking" there is something we could call:
"sub-vocalizing". Another way to put words to this is: "discursive
thinking." Even when you are not reading, you sometimes think,
perhaps having a moment of reverie where you imagine being on a date
and engaging in a conversation that successfully leads to sex.
During the course of a day we do a lot of this "discursive thinking" - this
inner dialog, which when we engage in the act of reading also can appear
with the phenomena we called above: "sub-vocalizing". Our brain, given
modern views of the mind, seems to be talking to itself in order to

One part of whatever we are "speaks" and another part "hears". Who or
what speaks and who or what hears?
If we were asked to answer that question, most of us would say "I" speak
and "I" hear. Now, given the idea of some that there is no self, my
question is: If the brain is capable of creating language, music, poetry,
science and all the glories of human cultures, how is it that this same
"brain", while so obviously and wondrously clever, is also so stupid as to
create a false belief in an imaginary self? Does it really make any sense
at all to hold that a physical instrument so otherwise assumed capable of
maybe leading us to the "singularity" (15), can at the same time be so
dense? What in the brain makes us stupid in some cases and smart in
another ?
While you'll have to decide that for your "self", let us note in passing the
mode of thought just applied, which can be called: comparative
thinking. The category/word stupid also implies its opposite - smart.
Liberal is often used as the opposite of conservative. Most parts of
grammar called prepositions include their opposite in their natural
meaning: in/out; up/down; although grammarians can make this overly
complicated. (16).
The mode of thinking being labeled here as comparative is basically
where we form an idea* that involves comparing or valuing one object of
thought in relationship to another object of thought. This woman is more
beautiful than that woman. This politician is less honest than that
politician. This profound mode of comparative thinking has deep and
rich meaning when applied in some spiritual disciplines. See this and
that (17), an article of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha.
*[another, a bit more complicated, technical aside: We can get confused
if we mix up such terms and words as: terms, words, concepts and ideas.
On the page is the term or word. In discursive thinking (where we
speak to ourselves, we still have the word, just sub-vocalized. One is
visible (on the page) the other is not visible to others, although clearly
there to our own experience, since we put it there.
Each term or word can have, inwardly, a corresponding mental picture,
generalized concept, pure concept or idea. For purposes of clarity: we

can have a mental picture of a specific book; we can have a generalized

concept of a class of objects of thought, which we call books; we can
have a pure concept, such as bookness, which allows for a metaphorical
or figurative (higher) use, such as Goethes reading the Book of
Nature) and even higher than that, the Idea, which is consistent with
Platos world of forms (an earlier version of what we are studying here:
the Thought-World), which Idea refers to a general class of spiritual
Beings - see below.
All these: mental picture, generalized concept, pure concept, and Idea
can be observed in our minds when we practice a scientific and empirical
introspective study of thinking and thought.
So, for example, the reader in reading this sentence and in forming
inwardly the idea of this sentence - This woman is more beautiful than
that woman - has united in the reading/thinking process: words or
terms; concepts and ideas. The idea is the meaning of the whole
sentence. Each word or term has either a related mental picture (e.g. the
particular women being compared); the generalized concept (woman);
and the pure concept (more beautiful). That we are not taught about this
way of viewing reading and writing is a cultural artifact of the Age in
which we live, with all its limitations and confusion natural to any
particular Age through which humanity necessarily evolves.
Why we make such judgments is another question. That we do is obvious
- we do comparative thinking all the time.]
Whatever else we can think/believe about these riddles, one fact can't be
denied. Something happens of which we are aware (thinking) and others
around us are not (unless we blurt out into speech, our intimate thoughts
usually for emotional reasons). A lot of human discourse, for example
when someone tries to manipulate another person, is calculated - that is
we first think about how we want to get another person to do something,
and then we speak in such a way as to accomplish that goal. There is to
the human being (brain?) an interior quality, that is, as America's
Founders might have said: "self-evident". And, one of the clearest
manifestations of this phenomena is reading and writing. From out of
my personal invisible nature comes what ends up as code on this page,
and subsequently then within your personal invisible nature there is
constructed what you think (as in believe) that code means.

If we didn't find, as an experience - and collectively as human beings that speech and writing were important and valuable, we'd simply stop
doing them -wouldnt we?
Where are we when we do this "thinking" thing, that manifests everyday
in reading and writing?
When we are in the visible world that appears to our senses, such as well
- walking in the woods, or riding in a bus, that fact is fairly obvious.
When we are in this "brain" thing, but not attending to the physical world
- that is only "thinking" or reflecting, or analyzing or whatever - we are
in a place where our language conventions (from centuries of
"self"-knowledge) create such terms as "INsight", "INspiration",
"INtelligence" and so forth.
Now this INterior world is vast and complicated. There are large
disciplines that have sought to penetrate its secrets, most recently
(beginning in the 19th Century) such as psychiatry and psychology,
although these faded away in the late 20th Century into such as cognitive
science (18), neuroscience (19), and their relatives. Each of those
somewhat older (19th Century) disciplines began with the root-term
"psyche", which was generally meant to refer to the "soul". Keep in
mind that "soul" usually is taken to mean something so immaterial that
religions believed it would survive the death of the physical body.
There is a story that when Freud's works were translated into English, the
German words "seele" for soul, and "geistes" for spirit - which he used
when he "wrote" down his thoughts, were simply translated as "mind".
Subsequently, as this "mind" thingy became more an object of scientific
study during the 20th Century (especially among the English logical
positivists (20) ), the concept/term mind was eventually replaced with
the concept/term "brain". Mind, as something originally thought of as
being ephemeral (psyche or soul and spirit), becomes, over the last 100
years, a physical object - the wet-ware organ the brain. has long been recognized that mind does not exist somehow apart
from brain... (The Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll, Bantam Books,

My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we

sometimes call mind - are a consequence of it anatomy and physiology
and nothing more. (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution
of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7, Ballantine Books, 1977).
This bears repeating: That interior world that for centuries was thought
of as a realm of soul and spirit, became over time merely mind, and then
ultimately merely a physical organ: the brain.
The chief problem is that this view is not how we actually experience our
interior lives and our "selves". What many modern brain scientist wants
us to believe is that this interior world is not what it seems to us - not
what it seems to our experience as a world rich with dreams, and ideas
and feelings and thoughts and imaginations, but rather we ought to view
it as something quite physical and often the producer of an illusory
mental world. This change followed in parallel a more general change,
riding on the tails of natural philosophy (science in its infancy), that
eventually abandoned any religious interpretation of causal reality in
favor of a completely materialistic interpretation (all is matter, there is no
spirit - see The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything (21), for a
detailed discussion of the philosophy of science implications).
Please now return to your own observations of this interior world, which
factually is invisible to even the brain scientist. While he can observe his
own interior life (but basically does not bother to do), he cant really see
ours. He only sees then what certain instruments reveal and as well his
own theories of what it all means - using his own discursive
thinking. The social reality is that what his scientific community
"thinks" (as in believes) is by them being proclaimed to be superior to
what we ourselves think (again, as in believe) about our own
experience of our interior lives.
We have direct experience/knowledge which we should (according to
their view) ignore, and instead we should conform our thinking to theirs,
which is completely based on indirect (secondary) experience coupled
with their theories. They put a machine to watch our brains, and then
they watch the machine. The machine never ever sees what we see when
we think.


For a good discussion of the real world consequences of this incursion

into real life of brain/consciousness scientism, see the article Do Addicts
have Free Will (22).
Natural philosophy began by making us doubt our senses, because the
microscope and the telescope (instruments) revealed a world the eye
does not see. Modern consciousness (brain) studies do the same thing our own experience is to be doubted and the only valid approach is
through the instruments and processes by which the consciousness
scientist studies others. Our naive realism is to be replaced with his
imagined empirical scientism.
Now what this all means, in a way, is that one community of thinkers
intends to tell the rest of us what to think. And, not only that, but they
mean to tell us what to think about that aspect of our existence which is
most precious to us - our self-understood interior reality. In the physical
world, where a social-political determinism might concern our freedom
or autonomy to move our bodies about as we wish, or to limit by laws
what we want say - such actions by others to control us would be viewed
as totalitarian.
Our freedom to think for ourselves about our own meaning is now being
assaulted by a mode of thoughts and thinking that ultimately (as a natural
logical conclusion) seeks to define us as not spiritual, not free, and
otherwise completely determined by physical processes over which we
(this illusion" in the brain) have no control whatsoever (23).
In such a world personal responsibility and morality disappear, to be
replaced by the theories of the agents of a claimed superior knowledge of
the working of the brain and its processes. Once a joke on television:
"the devil made me do it", is now being replaced with: "the brain made
him do it." This trend in natural science toward a fully physical
determinism now replaces a previous "God runs everything"
non-physical religious determinism, once upon a time the sole possession
of religions.
Sam Harris (24) and his new atheist friends, for example, while hating
religion, want to be the scientific popes of their own new religion. They
are just changing what we are to worship, and who are to be the new
priests. Their God is faceless random Chance, and we - human beings 36

are a weird accident that amidst most biological life on the planet Earth
is like an out of control deadly virus given the effects of our civilization
on the rest of the living world (25).
Now before the reader of this gets too disquiet, and wanting all kinds of
quotes for these views expressed above, these views were not really the
main point. What I have been doing here is demonstrating to the
reader certain observable aspects of the Thought-World. I wrote, you
read, and together we went some "place" in this Thought-World which is
not visible to the physical eye, but only to the mind's eye, or better yet:
thinkings spiritual eye.
The conceptual world we traveled together is seemingly existentially the
same "place" as is the conceptual world of the brain scientists, such as
Sam Harris. In each particular individual instance the landscape is
assumed to be different - that is the conceptual content of all our minds is
believed to be different, but any thinker can think these thoughts - that is
go to that region in the Thought-World where meaning exists. How do
we do that? By reading what is written by others.
Let us repeat this for it is such a common experience that we hardly give
it the import it deserves. You read several paragraphs that I wrote.
During this reading, sentence by sentence, you constructed in your own
mind what you think I meant. In in very real sense, the mind creates
meaning from the code on a page at near the speed of light. At this point
in our discussions it makes no different whether you actually got what I
meant, for I am pointing not to that, but rather to your direct (but mostly
sub-conscious) experience as a reader. You cant make meaning
(find/create the Idea connected to what I wrote), while reading, without
taking the coded words and terms on the page, join them to mental
pictures, generalized concepts and pure concepts via your skills as a
If you found yourself arguing with what I wrote, you were at the same
time engaged in light-speed comparative thinking, whereby you made
near instant judgments comparing what I was suggesting as an over all
Idea to those Ideas of which you yourself have experience (and/or
believe, understand or know). In every act of reading and writing a

spiritual miracle appears directly to our own conscious perception in

None of this is really new, in a way, as it goes on all the time. For
example, in politics we have different ideologies, in religion different
systems of belief, in science different paradigms (26), (see also Kuhns
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and so forth. The point is to
draw attention to the huge array of systems of thought in the
Thought-World. Vast regions of the Internet house huge recorded
aspects of the great corpus of centuries of human thought, none of which
apparently is visible as Thought itself - that is we record the Thought in
code (written language), but that record does not reproduce the Thought
as it originally came to be in the mind of the primary thinker. All of
which Thought was created by human thinking, and which we for the
most part believe exists in a world private to each of us - i.e. not
interrelated at all, except via social processes.
At the same time, we not only believe we reproduce that Thought when
we read, but social existence would not be possible if the exact same
thing did not happen in speaking and hearing. Again, via code - language
- meaning is carried from one person to another in a fashion we rely
upon entirely, at the center of which is the act of thinking. Please pass the
salt. Shut the fuck up! I love you. Vote for me for President, and I will
remake the world into a place of glory and plenty free of all the assholes
we both dont like.
This main assumption that accompanies this kind of thinking - that each
brain is isolated from each other brain - should itself be questioned. How
can there be a Thought-World if each collection of thoughts, mental
pictures, concepts and ideas is isolated in each individual brain? Or, how
can there not be such a World? If we are to doubt, in order to be
scientific, then all assumptions should be doubted, including our
supposed mental isolation. If the brain scientist wants to doubt the
existence of an I - a self, why then should we also not doubt our
apparent isolation? If one thing can be doubted, it all can be doubted.
Who the fuck gives the brain scientist the right to tell us what to do
and/or think?
Let us return our thinking-attention to our own inwardness, for a
moment, and work with the possibility that this seemingly dark territory

is actually a doorway. Can we go through that doorway to some-"place

else? Can we find within us something that is of the invisible and is like
in kind to the other-invisible? We experience this doorway as isolation
because that is the character of this Age. Prior Ages did not have this
experience, witness their deep religious views.
For example Platonism - through the experiences of Plato - was taught as
thinking that the source of thought was otherwise - holding there was a
world of invisible pure forms, of which our visible forms are a poor copy
(28). Modern thinkers such as Einstein, Godel and Roger Penrose are
seen by some as neo-platonists (see Rebecca Goldsteins:
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gdel). Penrose (29)
wrote in his The Emperors New Mind how as a mathematician he is
beginning to think mathematical truths have their own independent
existence. ...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics the case for
believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least for the more
profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger... (pp. 97).
The development of natural science is filled with what appear to be
instances of the same idea appearing to several human beings around the
same time (a most famous instance, involving August Kekules
somnolent vision of a snake biting its tail, has been supposedly
debunked) (30). Right now the main thing that happens is disputes over
who can patent such common thoughts. Microsoft had a famous
dispute with Apple over the nature of the look and feel of the desktop
environment, and who owned this complicated and remarkable Idea.
(31). A few centuries earlier Newton and Leibniz (and their supporters)
argued over who had invented the calculus (32).
How could it happen that we experience the same, or each others,
thoughts? In the animal kingdom we have the so-called hundredth
monkey phenomena (33) - once a hundred monkeys on an island gain a
new skill, then all of them begin to display that skill. Then, of course,
there are all the reported instances of telepathy and related psychic
experiences. People emotionally close to each other often seem to have
the same thought at the same time. While this is anecdotal, it doesnt
mean it is not true, and rushing to judgment in these instances mostly is
done in order to save the all is matter, there is no spirit assumption
common today to natural science.

Could we then all have the ability to drawn down - download - ideas
from this possibly shared world of pure conceptions? If that is the case,
from what source are these ideas uploaded into the Thought-World in the
first place?
It appears that only small portions of the totality of concepts are
distributed among individual biological based memories (no one knows
everything), and physically large arrays are needed for the storage of this
totality, which require immense material libraries and many terabytes of
hard drive space to hold. Again, not one of us knows everything, most of
us know only a relative little as compared to that totality, and much of
that tends to be very personal.
Yet, we know this huge content is there, but where did this content
originally come from? By this I mean to focus now mostly on the
problem of creativity. From what do concepts originate?
If our explanation is a physical brain, then at the least we have to explain
how they got "there". Now some would say they come into our own
consciousness and memories from processes (34) of reading and study that is we share them somehow, one to the other, c.f. the theory of memes
. That's fine, until we get to what has to be called a "new" idea - an
"idea" or "concept" never before thought. Where did that come from?
If the "brain" is completely a physical organ, it seems unlikely that it can
create something new. Think this through thoroughly. We can agree the
brain is complex. But still, how does something new and original arise
from what we conceive of as an essentially closed system. A closed
system ought only be able to repeat what is already there. The same
question exists in evolutionary biology - how does something essentially
fixed produce something new. The theoretical answer is by accident,
which is a very curious formulation.
If we put random numbers or operations in mathematical proofs, would
that accident not do anything more than foul the works?
Let us for the moment give credence to random chance? Perhaps, but
then you have to explain as random chance the whole history of natural
science, the industrial revolution and then the computer revolution,

which are so full of new ideas that some kind of accidental random
process seems to hardly have had enough time.
People have argued that the idea of physical evolution requires the
magic of a tornado going through a junkyard and creating a 747. The
counter to that is the argument suggesting that evolution has had billions
of years to produce by chance all the needed biological variations. Okay,
... but the Age of Science, in terms of producing new concepts, clearly
didn't have that amount of time. Too much organized change happening
too rapidly. To base it on random chance is to make a very silly and
completely disingenuous bad joke.
There is a field which posits what are called: Laws of Thought (35). We
have the terms logic and reason, and develop all kinds of systems of
thought around these processes, but did not factually find these processes
in nature. We only found them in our own minds. It is we who reason.
The Idea of random chance is that it can organize itself - for there is no
operator that can do the organizing. In fact, if Nature cannot reason or be
logical, having no consciousness or capacity for intention and purpose,
where do we get such capacities that are so very obviously there. How
does random nature, which cannot reason or show purpose, produce an
organism that does reason and show purpose?
We also make assumptions, believing we have arrived at knowledge. Yet,
the fact is that in the practice of science difficult assumptions are often
created, ignored and then converted into beliefs. See again Ron Bradys
Dogma and Doubt (see again note 4) for a description of the confusion
caused in biology by this unconscious, mostly ignored and very human,
mental process (converting assumptions into beliefs).
Some might offer that the computer itself reveals the needed analogous
process to explain how creativity arises in the brain (sort of a combined
up by your bootstraps and cart before the horse argument). That might
be theoretically okay, except for the law of GIGO - garbage in, garbage
out. Physical computers don't create, and don't think. The writers of
"software" think and create - all the computer does is calculate very very
very fast, and get smaller and smaller and smaller. (36)
The computer doesn't even use "concepts". It can't dream, or fall in love
or experience reverie. It can't pray or meditate. While software writers

might create in the computer program a capacity to successfully simulate

the human being (the so-called Turing Test, note 37), that doesnt (and
cant) ever mean the computer does what we experience when we
daydream. In fact, the best evidence for the spiritual nature of the human
being is the computer, which shows clearly the limits of a sense-visible
physical system to do an invisible non-physical action, such as thinking.
The brain may be like a biological computer, to a degree - but the more
true that is, the less likely it is the brain can create new ideas.
How do we know this?
Let us consider for a moment what the brain scientist actually does.
All of us do this. We all use this tool - the computer, but it only does
what we with our thinking inwardness tell it to do. If we want something
to receive some instructions and carry out a complex task requiring
thinking and experience, we ask another human being to do it, not a
computer. A computer can do repetitive tasks fast and accurately, but
complicated tasks, such as just recognizing a face, are nearly impossible
- unless there is human created software in place. Is there god-created
software in the brain? Or is it just chance created software in our
Does the brain have an operating system? It can seem to if we follow
some of the thinking in consciousness studies. But what about from the
point of view of that imaginary I thingy? My computer has an
operator - it doesnt direct itself, although it does a lot of work itself.
But the computer isnt self-aware - it isnt aware that what it is doing is
work - it doesnt know some hacker has sent it out to steal wealth from
others. Unlike most of us, it cant be troubled by what we call a guilty
This particular argument is made all the more crucial when we reflect
that all over the world exists disciplines that are analogous to operating
systems for the mind (not the brain, the mind). Zen and Tibetan
Buddhism. Various kinds of Yoga. Sufism. Anthroposophy and Christian
Hermeticism. Tarot and Alchemy. Kabbalah. Most are ancient, a few are


All of these operating systems of the mind have points of view about
what it means to have ideas, or not. What the I is, or is not. What
separates them from modern brain/consciousness studies is that the
practitioner of these skills, crafts and arts, goes inward, not outward. The
modern scientist looks outward - at others with instruments. The spiritual
seeker looks at his own consciousness directly, as it appears to him.
Rudolf Steiner, who taught Anthroposophy, and called himself a
spiritual scientist had this to say about a Thought-World:
The path that leads to sense-free thinking by way of the
communications of spiritual science is thoroughly reliable and sure.
There is however another that is even more sure, and above all more
exact [emphasis added, ed.]; at the same time, it is for many people
more difficult. The path in question is set forth in my books The Theory
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethes World-Conception and The
Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. These books tell what mans thinking
can achieve when directed not to impressions that come from the outer
world of the physical sense but solely upon itself. When this is so, we
have within us no longer the kind of thinking that concerns itself merely
with memories of the things of the sense; we have instead pure thinking
which is like a being that has life within itself. In the above mentioned
books you will find nothing at all that is derived from the
communications of spiritual science. They testify to the fact that pure
thinking, working within itself alone, can throw light on the great
questions of life - questions concerning the universe and man. The books
thus occupy a significant intermediate position between knowledge of the
sense-world and knowledge of the spiritual world. What they offer is
what thinking can attain when it rises above sense-observation, yet still
holds back from entering upon the spiritual, supersensible research. One
who wholeheartedly pursues the train of thought indicated in these
books is already in the spiritual world; only it makes itself known to him
as a thought-world [emphasis added, ed.]. Whoever feels ready to enter
upon this intermediate path of development will be taking a safe and
sure road, and it will leave with him a feeling in regard to the higher
world that will bear rich fruit in all time to come.
Every human being, unless prevented by some physical defect, has
access to the Thought-World. No machine can do that, because only the
human being has a spiritual invisible aspect that is able to enter into a
non-physical world. This spiritual invisible aspect we call the: "I".

The brain is not the "I". The brain is a physical interface which enables
the non-physical spirit - the "I" - to interact within the physical world,
which actually makes it even more of a remarkable organ then currently
believed even by brain scientists. Let me repeat that. The brain is
physical/material organ, so rich in its complexity, that it enables a
non-physical invisible spirit (the I) to interact in the physical world for spirit to interact with matter. Now that is amazing!
Personal investigation, made by more than a few, reveals that this
thought-world is an invisible place, which can also be called: the
spiritual world. While modern convention tries to teach that there is only
matter, and never spirit, we cannot think a thought without being a spirit
among spirits. To think in a fully awake fashion is to be in the
What I just wrote is - to the reader - a concept or an idea, possibly
unfamiliar and something I do not expect the reader to believe. Although,
the reader could seek to know these matters directly through their own
scientific and empirical investigations of their own minds. Let me finish
out this seemingly "theoretical" idea, by borrowing from a recent film:
In that movie, the "I" consciousness of a human being is transferred into
a biological organism of an alien nature. All the means for doing this is
imagined first in the minds of the creators of this movie - that is the
whole conceptual structure is created by the "I"s of those who made this
movie. How the characters in the movie even built or replicated a copy
of the alien organism is assumed possible in the movie, but not
explained. It is imagined artistically by the movie's creators.
We human beings leave our bodies at night when we sleep, and during
sleep we wake up in the world of spirit. When we re-enter our bodies on
awakening, we forget our night-work, but are - like the characters in
Avatar - having a physical world experience because our spirit is
integrated with a physical body, via the nervous system - most especially
the brain. For our spirits, our physical bodies are our avatars, just like
the creators of imaginative fiction and computer virtual worlds have
thought possible. Physical evolution provides the bodies, but a
corresponding spiritual evolution provides the self-conscious I. We just

live in an Age where the main unproven assumption is that: all is matter,
there is no spirit.
Art, something a computer will never do, is able to go places science, too
tightly today bound up with reason, cannot go. A computer cannot
Yet, if we read the INtrospective ruminations of scientists, such as
Einstein, we are made aware of how much creativity arises precisely in
the imagination. From this non-physical picture-thinking has come all
that science has produced that is original. The transistor revolution that
created Silicon Valley came from the imagination of human beings. It
was first thought into existence by a few minds (spirits) that did not limit
themselves in what they were willing to conceive. No physical organ,
such as a "brain", can do this - make something out of what is otherwise
a fixed thing - the material brain.
Once more, Rudolf Steiner: from the Preface to his doctoral dissertation:
Truth and Knowledge [published in 1892]: The object of knowledge is
not to repeat in conceptual form something which already exists, but
rather to create a completely new sphere, which when combined with the
world given to our senses constitutes complete reality. Thus mans
highest activity, his spiritual creativeness, is an organic part of the
universal world-process. The world-process should not be considered a
complete, enclosed totality without this activity. Man is not a passive
onlooker in relation to evolution, merely repeating in mental pictures
cosmic events taking place without his participation; he is the active
co-creator of the world-process, and cognition is the most perfect link in
the organism of the universe.
Whatever else we believe, it is clear that the picture the brain scientist
has of this completely material organ is that it is a mechanism, however
complicated and biological. It is a really silly self-satisfied fantasy, on
the part of the brain scientist, to hold to the view that the completely
non-material imaginative inner life of the human being can arise from a
tinker-toy structure, however complicated. (38)
A "brain" only appears to be able to do this because hyper-rational
scientific thinking is afraid of the spiritual, the mystical, the sacred, the
imaginative, and the artistic. This is a fear-driven irrational limit placed

by scientists themselves on their own minds. See Carl Sagan's The

Demon-Haunted World.
For details on another way of looking at this, and as well all the logical
flaws underlying modern materialistic scientific thinking, "read" the
previously mentioned: The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything.
(see again note 21).
Some final thoughts, born in the Thought-World, an invisible place
with which we are all intimately familiar:
the gift of the word
(should be read aloud, better
even if we get someone to read it to us)
Speech, / Words, letters, sounds, / heard by both the inner ear
and the outer.
Letters, sounds, words, / linked invisibly to ideas and thoughts.
Ideas, thoughts, letters, sounds, words, / a woven tapestry of
carried by Speech, / sometimes with grace, / but most often just
Meaning, / a weaving of thoughts, sounds, words, letters and
spoken into the air and left there, / abandoned.
Words, spoken and heard. / Meaning intended. / But what is
That which is heard is also intended. / Two intentions, two
purposes, two meanings.
How difficult then communication, / suffering as it does the
contrary pulls of multiple intentions, purposes and meanings.
I speak, you listen. / I mean, you grasp. / Somewhere in this
delicate dance of words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas and
purposes; / understanding is sought after.

Perhaps. / Sometimes.
Voice. / Speech reveals the unspoken. / Anger, fear, pride,
arrogance, true humility.
The ear of the heart hears what is hidden in voice.
Posture, gesture. / Speech is more than sound. / The eye hears
things the ear cannot, just as the ear sees things the eye cannot.
One mind. / Two minds. / Speech, a bridge of woven light
between two minds, and sometimes, although rarely, / between
two hearts.
Speech, rich and full of flavor, / a light bridge, / joining two
separate beings.
Speech denatured, / No sound, no gesture, no posture, no voice.
Speech reduced to lines of dark on light. / Written. / A treasure
map in code spilled across a page
Words, letters, ideas, thoughts, sounds, / reduced to marks upon
a parchment. / Speech dying.
Yet, / even in death, murdered by pen or pencil mark, / some
essence of Speech still.
Meaning embalmed. Understanding buried. / Until read.
Reading. / Words, sounds, letters, thoughts, ideas, meaning,
purposes, intentions,
Speech resurrected in the silence of another mind.
Speech. / Light bridge dying into print, / reborn when read in the
inner quiet of another soul.
Speech, / The Spoken Word. / Writing, / The Word entombed. /
Writing read, / The Word resurrected.
That this is so, / that human beings live in such an exalted state
having Speech, this is Grace.
The spoken word, the written word. / Things so ordinary, so
taken for granted, so pregnant with possibility.
The emptiness between two souls is always / chaste, virgin, pure,
/ waiting for Grace, for the bridge of light, / for Speech.

The Gift of the Word, originally called Speech, was written on

Jan. 6, 1997, in the evening, in about a third of an hour.
(2) Alter Net, Dec 3, 2012
(10) (


Speaking Truth to Power:

in the realm of mind, also known as: soul and spirit***
The philosopher-seer Rudolf Steiner's idea of Freedom, in his book The
Philosophy of Freedom, otherwise in English: The Philosophy of
Spiritual Activity, was not meant to refer to political or social freedom.

The chief clue was this last sentence of the original preface: "One must
be able to confront an idea, and experience it, otherwise one will fall into
its bondage".
We only directly experience the Idea in the spiritual (inner) realm/temple
of Thought. If all we do is "feel", as in all manner of kinds of mysticism
whether Christian or otherwise, we are asleep and only dreaming. Only
consciously willed thinking shines the light of precise and elegant clarity
on Ideas.
When we experience an Idea in the sense world it already is clothed in its
material being. Whatever the Idea of a squirrel is for example, we only
know it in the sense world as the actual squirrel we perceive - what
Steiner called: the Percept. When we experience the Idea in the social
world it is already clothed in those processes which govern the social
world, such as we begin to examine when we ask: what is a family
history or story? In the concrete a family is a collection of specific
indivduals, but in the social world, collectively, "family" is only known
via the mental pictures created by consciously evolved abstract thinking.
We can know both sense world and social world objects, as their Idea,
only through thinking. To distinguish the Idea from the Percept, he
spoke also of the Concept, for to naive consciousness the first pure
thinking experience of the Idea is as an individual concept, or as Steiner
advised in A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World
Conception: An Idea is a complex of concepts.
For example, we have in Ron Brady's wonderful essay: Dogma and
Doubt, the reference to the Theories of natural science as always
containing many individual concepts, even though the Idea, for example
of natural selection, can be simply stated. If we actually examine that
Idea we will see it has many conceptual parts, and each part must
individually be subjected to the logical processes by which we evaluate
the usefulness of any theory.
Human Beings also are psychological beings - beings with a profound
and complicated (and invisible to the senses) interior life. We have
thoughts, and feelings and impulses of the will. These three soul powers
have complicated inter-relationships. In The Philosophy of Spiritual
Activity Steiner speaks of this inner complex nature of the human being
as our: characterlogical disposition. If, for example, our characterlogical

disposition is that we like a particular complex of concepts, we may have

difficulty not falling into bondage to the related Idea. This condition of
bondage, or belief, is also explored in Brady's essay, where he examines
how it is that the belief in dogmas has become the general common
ground of a great deal of thinking in evolutionary biology. Scientific
empiricism, as observed by Brady, was set aside, and answers to deep
questions were assumed (believed) to be already known - thus becoming
We could also observe that this is true just about everywhere in human
civilization: this power of belief. If we want to understand the world we
need to understand this "condition" or characterlogical disposition
common to all of us: the capacity to believe in non-empirical and
unproven dogma. For certain details as to the meaning of this condition,
see my book: The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything.
Another way to look at this is to understand that we have a personal
relationship to that which lives in that particular aspect of the
Thought-World to which we have access, and which we sometimes refer
to as: our point of view, or world-view. The nature of this personal
relationship is an aspect of our characterlogical disposition, which itself
is an aspect of our karma, fate and destiny. Here is a link to a long essay
on the nature of this: The IDEA of the Thought-World.
The existential question posed by Steiner's works on the "theory of
knowledge" is: Are we inwardly free? Do we create and "possess"
knowledge or does knowledge (in the form of beliefs) possess us? A
third way to perceive this is to ask: Before what inner authority do we
bow? Each of us can only know the answer to that question through a
process of an empirical study of our own mind. For each it is
individual. As a consequence, the process of achieving inner freedom
before the concept is for each of us also individual. Rudolf Steiner, in
GA 2 (The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethes World
Conception - 1886); GA 3 (Truth and Knowledge - Steiners
dissertation - 1892); and, GA 4 (The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
- 1894), gives us maps, but we have to empirically traverse the actual
territory to know it directly and scientifically.
One way to begin is to ask yourself: Who are you? What are the names
you use to describe yourself? How do you define those "names"? What

makes you, as individual, fit into that name and that description? How
did you become that name and description? There is no right answer, by
the way - just your answer. Its your path. If you find yourself having
fallen into bondage in some inward fashion, you are the only one that can
create for yourself the freedom with respect to this, for which Steiner
drew maps with words.
Suppose you say: I am an anthroposophist, or a spiritual scientist, or a
Waldorf teacher, or a Catholic, or a Republican, or a mother and so
forth. Several of these would mean some acquaintance with the
ideas/concepts of Rudolf Steiner. A question you could ask: Am I in
bondage to any Ideas I have acquired from Rudolf Steiner, or Ideas from
my Church, or Ideas from my Political Party? How would I know that,
and so forth.
This world of point of view, or of world-view, is a real world. It is not
just a weird accidental product of the material brain. The brain scientist
leaves out studying his own mind, and therefore uses a tool he does not
understand at all, which then severely limits his ability to realize what he
sees in his studies. To then deal with, and have knowledge of this
Thought-World, what do we do? How do we come to knowledge of our
inner world of mind, - or soul and spirit.
In a way, it is by ruling without ruling (intention), and seeing without
looking (attention). Ruling without ruling concerns the influence of our
moral heart on thinking, while seeing without looking concerns the
effects of our choices of objects of thought-activity. Details can be found
here: Living Thinking in Action.
In the Cultural East one is encouraged to give up mind for being, which
is an ancient tradition and point of view that is no longer valid. Both
mind and being have evolved over the millenia since the time of the
creation of these great and ancient Eastern traditions. At the same time
the West is more modern, in a certain way, by thousands of years, so in
the deep spiritual processes of the modern and scientific Cultural West
we have learned to give up being for mind. Rudolf Steiner put it this
way in: West and East: contrasting worlds (Vienna, 1-12 June, 1922)
The will of the West must give power to the thought of the East; the
thought of the West must release the will of the East.

How do we do this?
Instead of the intention of the will resting on breath, as in the East is
mostly taught these days, the will in the West finds its reality in thinking:
- in intention and attention, or why and what. We eventually find
ourselves embracing living thinking, which in the Acts of the Apostles is
called, interestingly enough: Holy Breath. We wake up in thinking, so
that why we think - that is, what is our intention - is entirely clear to us.
And, as well, what we think about, or is our object of thought-creation
process - that also is consciously willed. So the thought of the East can
become the questions we in the West ask. Rather than accept Eastern
thought as doctrine and truth, we turn it into questions, and by that act
our scientific cognition gives that thought-creation process new power
or life. (c.f. the early attempts to do this: The Tao of Physics by F. Capra,
and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by G. Zukav; as well as a more
sophistcated attempt by E. Lehrs - a student of Steiner's - in Man or
Yet, in the thought-culture of the West lies science, which ought to be
neither doctrine and tradition (but being young and human, too often is).
Science is a method, a how. What the East gives to its traditional
inclinations, as in its love of its great and cosmic Ideas, then through the
imitation of the West, via the need for scientific scrutiny, the will of the
East is freed. If there ever was a culture in bondage to Ideas it is the
East. Religion there must become science. (For more details here: West
and East: or Wendts critique of Oshos critique of Rudolf Steiner Osho's critique was recently reprinted in the Southern Cross Review)
And in the West the reverse is true. In the West Science must become
religious, by our taking up the great ideas of the East as valid questions.
In the West an overly intellectual scientific materialism (all is matter,
there is no spirit) has replaced the search for truth with a set of
unquestioned dogmas (such as in evolutionary biology, and big-bang
physics). Only when Science is religious in its higher sense, can the
dogmatic nature of present day science, as pointed out by Brady above,
be overcome. The bridge between Science and Religion is Art. The
self-conscious thinker that desires to bridge the two needs to work out of
his aesthetic feelings - his sense of Beauty. Science gives us Truth, and
Religion gives us Goodness, but only Art gives us Beauty.

From my essay: The Idea of Mind:

Here is what Roger Penrose, a major thinker on the problem of mind and
science, had to say in his The Emperor's New Mind, pp. 421, Oxford
University Press, 1989: "It seems clear to me that the importance of
aesthetic criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of
inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we make all
the time in mathematical (or scientific work) Rigorous argument is
usually the last step! Before that, one has to make many guesses, and for
these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..." And here is
Karl Popper, whose work on scientific method sets the standard (for
many at least), in his Realism and the Aim of Science, pp. 8, Rowan and
Littlefield, 1956: "...I think that there is only one way to science - or to
philosophy, for that matter: to meet a problem, to see its beauty and to
fall in love with it;...". Or as we might add to Mr. Popper's thought: "
meet a problem (reason), to see its beauty (imagination) and to fall in
love with it (devotion);...".
Reason, Imagination, and Devotion; or, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.
How we work with these realities, ... that is how do we speak truth
inwardly to the already established power of our personal beliefs, points
of view or world-views - how do we become free in relationship to our
collection of Ideas, rather than in bondage - for each this is individual.
Next below will be some places where I have traveled for decades in
seeking inner freedom - others will go other Ways. Whether the links
below lead to something useful for the reader, only time and inner effort
will tell.
Keep in mind that while these elements of the Thought-World can be
distinguished from each other, with a certain effort, they in fact cannot be
unmade from their natural unity, the same way a complex ecology
contains many parts but remains one whole, for the whole influences the
parts just as the parts influence the whole.
***By the term soul I mean the almost infinite and remarkable field of
ordinary consciousness and its ancillary unconscious or semi-conscious
aspects as involved in all acts of thinking, feeling and willing, which
includes all sense experiences as well. By the term spirit I mean

self-consciousness, - the spark of self awareness which swims in the seas

of the soul and of the sense world.

Living Thinking in Action*

- an introductory treatise *[Living Thinking in Action - this title is intended in part to honor a
wonderful teacher of Buddhism, the Tibetan Llama Chogyam Trungpa
(1939-1987), and to point to his remarkable little book Meditation in
Action. It was my privilege during my Berkeley years, to hear him
lecture, to read his books and to know a number of his students. I still
periodically reread this book, always finding it ever more enlightening.]
In the following material I come at Living Thinking from two different
directions. The first (The Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the
Consciousness Soul) is from the outside inward, that is we work from
social phenomena and then into the inner life of the human being. In the
second (In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and Music of
Discipleship) we work from the inside outward, from actions taking
place entirely within the soul as these lead toward its latent potentials
from which we are then able to stand on firm spiritual ground as an actor
in the Creation.
The Meaning of Earth Existence
in the Age of the Consciousness Soul
*[John 16: 12-15 "I have much more to say to you, but you can't bear it
just yet. But when the other comes, the breath of truth, he will guide you
in the ways of all truth, because he will not speak on his own, but will
speak what he hears and announce to you what's coming. He will glorify
me, because he will take of what is mine and announce it to you.
Everything the Father has is mine: that's why I said he will take of what
is mine and announce it to you."]

from the book: the Way of the Fool:

There yet remains a small effort to make a synthesis this work - to make
a whole out of seemingly disparate parts. I will try to be brief.
A principle aspect of the great Mystery of our Time is the Mystery of
Evil, both outwardly in the structural backdrop to the shared social world
of humanity, and inwardly in the depths of our own souls. I have tried
above to point out how it is that the essential matter is not the outer
social world, but the inner soul world, and the trials and education of the
i-AM, in the biography. The context, which we need to call the maya of
history and current events, and which is receptively held everywhere
from below by the Dark Mystery of the Divine Mother, all passes away,
and only what is Eternal, that is what becomes an aspect of the
developing i-AM, continues; and, this inner realm (the whole Inwardness
of the Creation, which includes human souls and spirits) only exists
because of the Heavenly Mystery of the penetrating thoughts of the
Father, while the whole (the outer social maya and the eternal inner
mind) is created, loved, overseen and mediated (wherever two are more
are gathered...), in all its Grace filled and Artistic interrelationships, by
the Earthly [new Sun] Mystery of the sacrifices of the Son.
We (humanity) now begin to move out of our spiritual childhood, and in
making our way through the Rite of Passage that is Life as it leads us
toward our spiritual maturity we need to take hold of the complex of the
doubles and the karma of wounds, as these thrive within our souls, and
which encourage human evil through temptation and inner prosecution.
Even so, this task of meeting the Mystery of Evil within the soul is not as
heavy as we think, for through the Shepherd's Tale [Charles Sheldon],
the King's Tale [Rudolf Steiner], the Healers' Tale [the
community-created Twelve-Steps] and the Sermon on the Mount, we
have all the practical instructions that we need.
In seeking to understand in ourselves these three: moral grace, freedom
and love [each of these is elaborated in great detail in the book], we set
before ourselves what is required to be learned in this Age and it is with
these three naturally unfolding capacities that we are Graced and
strengthened so as to be able to meet with courage the Mystery of Evil. If
we do dare this path, and seek for the deepest instruction in Christ's
Sermon on the Mount, then will come to us a change in the nature of our

biography, such that it more and more takes on the pattern, described in
the John Gospel, as the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ (the
washing of the feet; the scourging; the crowning with thorns; the
carrying of the cross; the crucifixion; the entombment and the
resurrection) (for a careful exposition of these Seven Stages, see Valentin
Tomberg's [anthroposophical] book: Inner Development).
Whereas Christ lived this in an apparently mostly physical way, those,
who truly follow In His Steps [the name of Sheldon's book, as well as a
critical phrase** in Ben-Aharon's The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth
Century - a profound Imagination of the True Second Coming], will in
the main feel these trials in their souls, as aspects of the joy and suffering
in the human biography.
These trials may seem difficult, but the truth is they are merely human. It
was Christ becoming human that went to the Cross, for how could He
place an example before us we could not do out of our own humanity
(just as Sheldon wrote in In His Steps). [something written by a
Shepherd (a pastor) in America, at the same time Steiner (a King) was
writing his The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom)] It is the
human in Christ that asks in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup be
taken from him, but if not, He accepts the Father's will. While later it is
the even deeper human in Christ that says on the Cross: "My God, my
God, why did you abandon me?". Who among us, in the trials and
sufferings of life, has not uttered these same thoughts? [That Steiner
teaches an esoteric meaning for the end of life statements of Christ, in no
way contradicts their exoteric meanings, which are also true.]
**["Now when they identified themselves with the situation of earthly
humanity, the souls who remained true to [Archangel] Michael
prefigured, in their planetary Earthly-Sun life, the great Sacrifice of
Christ. They walked again in His steps [emphasis added] as they did in
former earthly lives, only now the order of following was reversed. They
went before Him, showing Him the way, acting out of free and
self-conscious human decision, and He followed in their steps [emphasis
added] only after they fully united themselves with the divided karma of
Earth and humanity. Only then could He offer His sacrifice as the
answer to the new, future question of human existence: the question
concerning the mission and fate of evil." Jesaiah Ben-Aharon, The
Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century.]

***[The word sin does not appear in the original Greek, from which the
Gospels were translated into the other languages. The Greek word
hamartia, misused to indicate sin, actually means "missing the mark" (it
is a term from archery). See in this regard the Unvarnished Gospels by
Andy Gaus.]
Is this foolish? Of course, but we need not fear this Way of the Fool, for
our Faith in Christ's Promises will always be fulfilled, as we ourselves
can learn to become the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Yes, this
Way is full of trials, but whoever has lived life, and reflected upon their
experience, knows that in the meeting of our biography's trials with
courage we discover what it truly means to be human: to struggle, to fall,
to get up and to learn - and, through this process, gently and humbly,
begin to take up along side and with Him, Christ's kind and light, Yoke
of Love.
Having said all this, it becomes necessary to make one last picture for the
reader, for clearly, in that we read the news and hear of the horrors of
man's continuing inhumanity to man, we ourselves face a terrible trial.
How are we to understand a world seemingly so filled with Evil?
Picture, for a moment, the surface of the Earth. Below dense matter and
fiery substance, while above, airless space. Humanity lives out its Earth
Existence only in this narrow spherical band of Life, whose diameter is
just under 8,000 miles (and whose height is just three to four miles,
because above 15,000 feet above sea level, the atmosphere starts to not
contain enough oxygen to support our breathing). The total surface area
of the Earth is 196 million square miles, and the habitable land area 43
million square miles Six billion plus human beings must find all that they
physically need, which when we consider actual available arable land
(land that could be cultivated for food, and other necessary resources),
means that each individual only has a square 161 feet on a side from
which to grow what they need. This then is the physical spacial aspect of
the social organism of the whole world.
Yet, we know that this spherical space is itself often unwisely distributed,
for human social arrangements, whether rooted in dominance and
selfishness (dominion over) or generosity and sharing (communion
with), these social arrangements seem to determine this social order. This

stream of moral gestures (choices), of good and/or of evil, moves out of

and through human beings, organizing the physical one.
As to this moral aspect of the social organism of the whole world, it has
reached in this Time a kind of climax of development, and it will be
important to appreciate the true nature of the logos order in which Christ
has set modern human existence, through His creative powers as the
Artist (Lord) of Karma (the precise and love based placement of
individual biographies in relationship to each other). Here is something
Natural Science cannot do, for the meaning of existence is beyond the
weaknesses of their yet fanciful and spirit-empty images. This will also
help us to understand why so many (falsely, but with some degree of
reason) believe we live in the End Times.
In the Twentieth Century the world was woven together into a single
social organism, not just via the globalization of economic matters, or the
personal interconnections offered by the Internet, but most centrally by
the Media. At the beginning of the 20th Century, few knew what went on
elsewhere the world, in any detail or with any immediacy. At the end of
the 20th Century, at the same time that the returned Kings' were
unfolding the New Revelations of Christ [the story of the 20th Century
involves a return of the meaning-essence of the Three Kings of the
Gospels - that is a return of the knowledge of Gnosis, hungering to be
woven again into a single whole with true Faith - an event which clearly
had to accompany the True Second Coming], the world itself was woven
into a whole in the sense that no macro social event was not to be almost
immediately known everywhere the same day (if not the same hour) that
it happened.
We live in a time when has arisen a Culture of Media - a kind of
knowledge commons, in which vast resources are used to create for us
pictures of the meaning of the world and of events. The more developed
the country, the greater our daily experience can be saturated with the
messages coming from this Culture of Media.
Moreover, great effort and expense is gone into by those who would
force us to believe what they want us to believe. Between advertising,
political propaganda, outright lies, weak or lame reporting, and other
similar failures to reach the truth, this saturation of the soul by the
Culture of Media would seem to fail to offer us any service at all. What

is not appreciated is that the Christ is far wiser than even the deepest
believers imagine. Every evil is eventually turned to good, and next we
will explore the prime example for our time.
Recall what has been pointed out many times now, that the individual
biography is the central reality of life on the Earth. What happens inside
us as we experience life is much more important and enduring than the
outer events which surround us. That Stage Setting (all the world's a
stage....) is but epiphenomena to the reality of the life of the soul. To help
us appreciate this then, let us explore these matters from the point of
view of the individual biography.
In this time, there are over six billion plus of these biographies woven
into the tapestry of the social organism of the whole world. Six billion
lives held delicately and exactly within the Love and Divine Justice of
the Mystery. Within these biographies, all the individual i-AMs
experience that precise and personal instruction that hopes to lead them
to the realization of their own divinity and immortality of spirit. [The
epoch (rite of passage) of the Consciousness Soul is 2100 years long,
going from the time of the beginning of the on-looker separation (and the
creation of Natural Philosophy - Science) in the 1400's, until the years
around 3500 AD.]
To understand this we need to think it from the inside out, and not from
the outside in. The Culture of Media only provides context, never
essence. True, life is hard, even harsh, even terrible. The naive
consciousness wants to turn away from this suffering, and cannot
understand how God (the Divine Mystery) could allow such things as
torture, child abuse and the genocidal acts which are dumbed down by
the terms: ethnic cleansing.
The reality is that what the Divine Mystery does is to allow for freedom.
This most precious gift is essential to the immortal spirit during its Rites
of Passage we are calling: Earth Existence. Moreover, the Mystery also
makes certain there is a true Justice through the post-death passages of
kamaloka and lower and higher devachan, in a manner no human social
structure can provide. Christ has told us this in the Sermon on the Mount:
"to what sentence you sentence others, you will be sentenced". All this
should be kept in mind as we proceed.

As a single ego, I wake in the morning. From the night I bring the
remainder of yesterday, perhaps worked over. Surrounding me, as I live
the day, are the lives of those with whom I have a karma of wounds with whom I have a debt of meaning to creatively work over. This we
carry together, each bearing a part, each bearing their own wounds.
These are wounds from the past, from the present and from the future.
To observe the world of today, as we walk the walk of our lives, is to
observe trials of fire and suffering - rites of wounding and being
wounded. But not just this, for also there is healing. Where we let love
thrive, wounds become healed.
Thus flow all our days, often too fast to even notice the beauty and
wonder of the sea of personal relationships and shared trials. Yes, there is
misfortune, and evil deeds. But do we really imagine Christ and the
Divine Mother lets this evil happen without recourse or justice? We may
not know this directly through Gnosis, but we also can have Faith.
Gnosis without Faith is empty of Life; and, Faith without Gnosis is
empty of the Truth. Only when we join them together, do we get: the
Way (the Mystery of living the Good), the Truth (the Mystery of
knowing the Good) and the Life (the Mystery of union with the Good).
This then is the wonder of the outer and inner biography, for often the
wounds are not visible. Yes, sometimes the wounds are visible to our eye
or ear for we see people too fat, too thin, too lamed in body, too poor, too
physically or mentally deficient. Often, however, so many of us suffer in
silence that we really do not know the nature and personal meaning of
their wounds - only our own are visible to the eye of our heart, unless we
first learn to exercise and unfold certain powers of soul and spirit.
Amidst all this visible and silent suffering, we find ourselves woven into
the Culture of Media. Images and sounds flow around us, pictures of a
world on the verge of chaos and madness. Yes, we have the intimacy of
our personal biography, but through the Culture of Media we are drawn
into the painted backdrop of the whole world - a backdrop we all share.
War in Iraq. Global warming. Governments out of control. Pandemics
waiting in the wings. Local economic recession, and even world-wide


What lives in this painted backdrop - in this Stage Setting - in the wise
relationship of the Culture of Media to the unfolding of our personal
The answer is this: the mirror of our own inner darkness and light...
Inside us the double-complex - our feelings of judgment, our
temptations, our addictions and our sense of failure. Inside us the
darkness that belongs personally to us, and outside us, carried to us by
the Culture of Media, the mirror of that darkness. But also inside us the
Good that we would author.
Think on it. Do we not experience the images and sounds brought to us
by the Culture of Media as something that is filled with what we like and
we dislike? We live our biographies and the Culture of Media confounds
our souls with pictures of dark and light to which we all respond
individually. The great masses of humanity do not make the News. The
great masses of humanity experience the News.
What is News? News is exactly what the reporters and television
personalities call it: stories. The Culture of Media provides us stories
(tales) of the world, which are often presented as if these stories are true,
something most of us have come to know they are not. News stories
reflect all kinds of bias, and in some cases the bias is deliberate.
Moreover, news stories reflect conditions of commerce living in the
agency reporting them.
For example, it is well understood that in the last third of the 20th
Century in American television the news divisions of the major networks
disappeared, and the entertainment divisions took over the responsibility
for the news. The opportunity to inform and educate the receivers of
news stories became secondary to the need to keep them interested so as
to be able to sell commercial time and make a profit. In addition, the
stories are mostly about dire and tragic events, and little is investigated
or reported that is about the positive and the creative.
We are right then to wonder sometimes about the News, about its harsh
nature and artless excessive attention to the dark deeds of many.
Humanity in general bears within it the beam that is not seen, while the
mote is exaggerated. But the world itself is not this beam, is not this

darkness. The greater part of darkness is inside us - in our own souls, and
from there projected onto the world. The Culture of Media exaggerates
this darkness further, at the same time it gives us much that also arouses
our own unredeemed antipathies and sympathies.
Once more for emphasis...
The world in its reality is not this Media generated excess of darkness
(so out of balance with the light that is also everywhere present), which
we all project from within the soul - the beam. Yet, in the Culture of
Media this whole processes of dark projection is exaggerated so that the
mirroring nature of the social world itself begins to bother us. This logos
order of the social world is complex and rich, and worth a deep study.
Pictures of a distorted and untrue meaning of the world abound, and
while we share these pictures, we make personal and individual our
reactions. Just as the intimate events of our biographies have a personal
meaning, so does the shared stage setting have a personal meaning. In a
more general sense, for example, many Christians today are confronted,
via the Culture of Media, with pictures of individuals whose actions as
self-proclaimed Christians either inspire us to imitation or cause us to
turn away in shame. The same is true in Islam. The terrorist who
frightens us in the West, also causes many ordinary Muslims to turn
away in horror. Everywhere fundamentalism rises, to continue the
example, the great mass of humanity, that are not so tied to such arid
rigidity, shrink away in antipathy. Do we not assert quietly, inwardly to
ourselves: this is not me, I am not that - I will not be that!
In our biographies then, we are confronted in the intimacy of our
personal relationships with what are sympathetic and antipathetic
reactions to that which we would choose to admire and imitate, and that
which we would shun and refuse to be like. Via the Culture of Media, we
are met with that which approaches us in the same way, yet on a larger
scale. Just as we as individuals have a Shadow (a double-complex), so
nations, religions and peoples have a Shadow, and the Culture of Media
puts in our faces these pictures and meanings with which we can identify
or from which we can turn away, often in shame.
Christ has arranged, in this particular moment in time (the cusp of the
20th to 21st Centuries, which is also the Dawn of the Third Millennium)

to place in the dying away hierarchical social forms of humanity, those

biographies which do two main forming gestures within that history. This
is all connected to a process in which social chaos arises in order to
cause these old hierarchical [third cultural age] social structures to let go
their no longer valid hold, and in many instances be eventually replaced
with new social form arising out of the social commons [fifth cultural
In the first instance, these biographies living in the decadent social
hierarchies (such as government, corporate and church organizations)
portray strong images, via the Culture of Media, to which we react
equally strongly out of our likes and dislikes. For example, one of
America's wise women, Doris (Granny D) Haddoch, has said that we
should be grateful for such as George W. Bush, because he causes us to
awake from our sleep as citizens. As a consequence, in our individual
biographies we react to the extremes of these dominant religious,
business, cultural and political personalities, and this brings about in us
as individuals certain inner judgments and calls to action.
The second effect of those biographies unfolding in the now decadent
institutional social hierarchies is to drive the social order further into a
needed condition of chaos, something all 6 billion plus biographies
require in order to birth the moral dilemmas necessary for the Age of the
Consciousness Soul. This social chaos sweeps traditional moral authority
aside, and forces us as individuals into situations where we must rely on
the own I in order to properly face the moral crisis. In that human beings
are incarnating in massive karmic communities in order to have these
sometimes shattering moral experiences, this causes the present world
social organism to have the strong tendency to completely dissolve into a
condition of near total social conflagration [thus my website: Shapes in
the Fire].
The moral aspect of the logos ordered social organism of the
world requires crisis in order for the individual biographies to live, not
just intellectually, but fully and dynamically and existentially into
dilemmas of moral choice. Only true moral choice can awaken in us
what is offered in this Age to the development of the Consciousness


Nothing in the world is not touched by the Art of Christ, who as Lord of
Karma - Lord of the Satisfaction of Moral Debt and healer of karmic
wounds, arranges in majestic harmony all the biographies so that even
from the smallest detail to the grandest historical event, meaning is put to
the service of our development - the leaving behind of our spiritual
childhood followed by our birth into spiritual adulthood.
The world historical crises of this time are a complex and rich Stage
Setting, against which 6 billion plus souls live out the dramas of their
individual biographies.
Thus, in this birth from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood, the
Time - the Age of the Consciousness Soul - is a Rite of Mystery, a
Baptismal Mass for all of humanity, just as was told to us by John the
Baptist. [in Matthew 3:11] "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."
(emphasis added)
Consider now more closely what happens inside us as we experience the
intimacy of our biographies, and the shared pictures that come via the
Culture of Media.
Choice confronts us. Do I be like that, or like this? From what place
inside do I choose? In a time so filled with chaos that rules no longer
apply, I discover that I can rely only on myself. Out of myself I must
author the Good in response to the world of meaning that surrounds and
confronts me. So powerful, in its personal immediacy, are these
experiences, images and meanings, that we cannot turn away from them.
It is as if the World itself is on Fire, wanting to burn and burn and burn
until we run from it in terror, or stand up to it and give the fullest of our
participation to its moderation and its healing.
Yet by Grace, I contain the means to know the Good that my biography
and membership in the shared fate of humanity draws out of me. What I
source becomes a part of the world, and I know that this is so. I know my
freedom to enact the moral grace that my heart comprehends in its
deepest places. Deep inside my soul my very own heart hungers to sing:
Love will I give. Love will I create. Love will I author.

So now we think away the physical - the maya of the sense world, and let
our picture thinking gaze only upon this inner, invisible to the physical
eye, moral act. An act more and more emerging everywhere, for while in
America, and the Cultural West, the Consciousness Soul is first widely
appearing, it will and must appear everywhere that human beings let the
world touch their wounds, while they seek to share with others the trials
by fire of their biographies.
Invited by the Love and Art of Divine Circumstance to look within and
to reach into the depths of our own being in order to source and author
that Good which we know to be right, we touch something spiritual and
are Touched by something Spiritual. In this time of the True Second
Coming, in the inwardness of our souls and invisible to all outer seeing,
a Second Eucharist is being enacted - the Good offers Itself - Its own
Being - to us (Moral Grace). For the Good we know is not just known in
the soul as what we tend to think of as a mere thought, but if we attend
most carefully, it is true Spirit, just as the John Gospel writer told us that
Christ spoke: [John 3:6-8] "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; its
the same with everyone born of the breath."
[The existence of a Second Eucharist, to accompany the Second Coming,
in no way means to diminish or change the Original Eucharist. On the
contrary, we will find that via the Second Eucharist our understanding of
the meaning of the Original Eucharist (the transubstantiation of matter)
will deepen. See in this regard, the small pamphlet: Radiant matter:
Decay and Consecration, by Georg Blattmann. From the
transubstantiation of matter we are being led onward to learning how to
participate also in a transubstantiation of thought.]
Thus we are being truly and continuously born again today (each act of
moral grace is another Second Ethereal Eucharist and birth), from out of
our spiritual childhood and into our spiritual adulthood, baptized
outwardly by the fires of the times in our biographies, and by holy breath
within - a Second Eucharist where Christ gives of His own Substance
that biblical knowing of the Good - His own Being. For us to truly know
the Good, requires we join our own soul to the Good. Our yearning to
author the Good out of ourselves is how we participate in the Baptism of

being truly born again, and how we participate in the sacrament of the
Second Eucharist. Christ also participates by giving to us, out of
Himself, this very Good - this Moral Grace. When having received
within ourselves this sacrament of the Second Eucharist, an act that only
arises because we seek it and form its actual application, we remain free
- we create moral law - we author the fulfillment of the law and the
prophets. Given to us within by Christ as a capacity, we then author its
incarnate nature and pass it on to the world of our biographies, - from out
of us thence into the outer world (or into the inner world), do we then
ourselves author this Good: love engendered free moral grace.
But how does Christ do this? Is this Good offered to us in this Second
Sacrament as if it was a thing, passed by hand from one to another?
No. Christ as holy breath breathes upon the slumbering burning embers
of our own good nature, just as we breath upon a tiny fire in order to
increase its power. He sacrifices His Being into this breath, which gives
Life to the tiny ember-like fire of our moral heart. The holy breath
becomes within the soul of each human being who asks, seeks and
knocks a gift of Living Warmth that enlivens our own free fire of moral
The Narrow Gate opens both ways, making possible thereby the intimate
dialog and conversation of moral deeds and thoughts that is woven
between the i-AM, the Thou and the Christ (wherever two or more are
gathered...), which intimate conversation leads ultimately to the
consecration - the character development - of the soul.
In this way our thinking can now behold the Meaning of Earth Existence
in the Age of the Consciousness Soul: A macro-cosmic Rite, a Second
Ethereal Eucharist, in which we give birth out of ourselves in the most
intimate way possible, knowledge of the Good, not as mere thought, but
as Life filled moral will, breathed into greater power by the sacrifice of
the true ethereal substance of Christ's Being in the form of holy breath.
The outer world is but a seeming, and what is brought by the Culture of
Media mere pictures of the Stage Setting for the World Temple that is
home to our biographies. When we think away this outer seeming - this
logos formed and maya based sense world, and concentrate only on the
Idea of the moral grace (Life filled holy breath) we receive and then

enact out of the wind warmed fire of individual moral will - as individual
law givers, as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets - we create this
Meaning of Earth Existence. Every act of moral grace, given greater Life
within in the deepest intimacy of our life of soul, is an ethereal
communion with Christ, even though we may only experience it as what
to us is a mere thought of what is the Good at some moment of need in
the biography.
Christ gives us this Gift, by Grace, freely out of Love, and with no need
that we see Him as its Author. We hunger inwardly to know what the
right thing to do is, and when this hungering is authentic, we receive
Christ's Holy Breath. This does not come so much as a thought-picture of
the Good in response to our questing spirit, but rather as the contentless
breathing substance of Christ's Being. We are touched (inspired) by
Love, and at this touch we shape that Breath into the thought that we
then know. The nature of its application and form in which we incarnate
this thought is entirely our own. We shape the thought completely out of
our own freedom - our own moral fire of will, for only we can apply it
accurately in the individual circumstances of our lives.
As the Age of the Consciousness Soul unfolds accompanied by this
Second Eucharist, the Social World of human relationships begins to
light and warm from within. For each free act of moral grace rests upon
this Gift of Christ's Being to us - an ethereal substance received in the
communion within the Temple of the own Soul, freely given in Love
whenever we genuinely: ask, seek and knock during our search for the
Good. Our participation in this Rite, this trial by Fire leavened by Holy
Breath, leads us to the co-creation of new light and new warmth - the
delicate budding and growing point of co-participated moral deeds out of
which the New Jerusalem is slowly being born.
This co-creation is entirely inward, a slowly dawning Sun within the
macro Invisible World of Spirit. Moreover, we do it collectively (as
humanity). While each of us contributes our part, it is our collective
conscious celebration of the Second Ethereal Eucharist (creating the
Good) that begins the transubstantiation of the collective (presently
materialized and fallen) thought-world of humanity into the New


Thought is real, and it is as equally real as is matter. The Original

Eucharist transforms the already divinely given now-dying substance of
earthly matter into Life-filled Spirit through our ritual invitation of the
active Grace of the Divine Mystery; and, our participation in the Second
Ethereal Eucharist transforms dead thought into living ethereal
Substance, through the mystery of our individual spirit's active and
embryonic grace, that becomes united into the collective co-creation of
In the Invisible World of Spirit, we co-participate, out of the own moral
fire of will, in the Dawn of the New Sun that is to become the New
Let us now slow down here for a moment, and take a deep breath, for
these last thoughts above may seem almost too big - too idealistic - to be
easily contemplated. To ease our understanding and gently ground it, let
us consider this situation once again in it most ordinary aspects.
The world of our biographies places each individual into the fires of
experience. These are remarkable gifts that lead us toward moral
questions - often deep and troubling. We yearn to know what to do, and
in this circumstance we may ask, seek and knock. What has been called
earlier in this book Moral Grace is available to us, yet the mystery of this
practice of inner activity is where we ourselves create moral law - where
we become the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
In the King's Tale, we saw that Rudolf Steiner's book The Philosophy of
Spiritual Activity showed how to come to this knowledge through the
practices of Gnosis - to knowledge - in the form of moral imagination,
moral intuition and moral technique. In the Healers' Tale, we saw how
the 12 Steps helped us to master the soul through the elevation of the
spirit, and in this way come to know God's Will as we understand it.
Finally, in the Shepherd's Tale we came to understand that by asking
What Would Jesus Do out of Faith, we could also come to the needed
individual moral beliefs.
Three different paths (among perhaps many more) all leading to those
individual invisible depths that each of us must uniquely experience,
which we have now seen must be properly called: the Second Eucharist
of Holy Breath. So we come now to perceive the Time - this Age of the

Consciousness Soul - where, if we seek it, we have made ourselves

available to be baptized with Fire and Holy Breath, just as John the
Baptist us told Christ would do, 2000 years ago.
Even so, we still have to truly want to know the Good to authentically
ask, seek and knock.
In Joyous Celebration of the
Soul Art and Music of Discipleship
- a moderately serious introductory sketch unveiling
a mostly 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 that is to develop in America in the future, and one
should look to Emerson and his circle of friends to appreciate it.
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 circles.
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
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 Ben-Aharon's
"America's Global Responsibility: individualism, initiation and
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 (in general) 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 gathered...).
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
called: character development.
"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 which the will to do the Good (that is to be
moral) is the foundation for all feeling and thinking activities.
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: 25-28]
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
[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 on my website . 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 an intimate experience of the threefold 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. The reality
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
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 and feasting.
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 biography.
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 exactly.
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 life-crises.
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 and is
that which is most needed for the development of our personal character.
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 ourselves.
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 Age 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
at or which can be purchased at "the Way of the Fool" calls this capacity to know the
Good: Moral Grace.
[As an aside, for those more familiar with Steiner's terminology, you
should keep in mind that by necessity he was required to cognitively
form his research and understanding into the language of the Intellectual
Soul, as that was the condition of his audiences. In this book we are
writing out of the language of the Consciousness Soul itself (something
toward which American's are instinctively gifted). So, for example, when
in the opening lecture of the book The Challenge of the Times Steiner
speaks of the need for people to work out of an experience of the
threshold, he is using Intellectual Soul terminology. In the essay above,
where I have elaborated carefully on the Second Ethereal Eucharist
experience, this has been a quite concrete and exact picture of human
intercourse across the threshold in the language of the Consciousness
Soul. I also mean to suggest here that it is quite possible to take many of
Steiner's works and translate them from Intellectual Soul language into
Consciousness Soul language. The attentive reader of this text, who takes
to heart the suggested practices, will in fact eventually find themselves
able to do this translation process themselves. Once able to do this, the
reader will be able to confirm not only their own experience, but all that

is written here in Steiner themselves, for nothing here is contrary to what

Steiner offered.]
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,
Noticing these excessive and unredeemed aspects of antipathy and
sympathy will give us our first vague perceptions of the work of the
threefold double-complex, the Shadow in the Soul. Thought is 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

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 shoes.
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
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 reactive one.
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
With a 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 heart).
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 silly.
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.
The 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
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 goodness.
[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 Trial.
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 in bondage to the concept "One must be able to
confront an idea and experience it; otherwise one will fall into its
bondage" (The Philosophy of Freedom, last sentence of the original
Preface). 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 state of being uncreated, unformed). 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
[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
Only after many months of work at sacrifice of thoughts, was I able to
stand in relationship to the massive and marvelous thought content of
Spiritual Science, inwardly free. Through this activity of sacrifice of
thoughts, I eventually stood in relationship to concepts, acquired from

Steiner, in such manner that they only appeared in my consciousness

when called forth. From this free perspective (which I was then able to
survey as a whole), I then could 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 years.]
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 beatitude: "blessed 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 87

the previously noted pralaya (uncreated, unformed) condition. The

will-in-thinking does not any longer call it forth, nor does it let the
thought call itself forth. When we are in bondage to an idea, 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/idea. 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 here.
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 inside you."
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 in bondage to 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: My method 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
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
[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 naturally 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)
especially for Americans, 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 (when reading this lecture, keep in mind that it was
addressed to the Intellectual Soul, not the Consciousness Soul). 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, so much initiate ourselves, but instead are
initiated in a cooperative dance necessarily involving Another.
{ addendum in 2012: concerning later experiences not had at the time
this essay was originally written, read: a brief description of meeting the
Lessor and Greater Guardians in the new way, and as well a description
of the meaning of, and new manner of, the Second Pentecost in the
Ethereal }
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; and, the thought content produced by our cognitive
capacity, during the experience of the supersensible, arises
simultaneously with the experience. 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 spiritual beings.
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 (producing a kind of
wordless knowledge). Subsequent in time to this wordless knowing
experience (which includes a conceptual element), 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.
[*A Parsifal question is a question that if we didn't ask it when we could
have, we may have to wait a long time to later receive an answer.]

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 earthly memory.
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.
How else are we to understand the natural and harmonious state of grace
always potential in such relationships as: mother and child, comrades at
arms and lovers.
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 - that is we
have learned to think with the object of thought. 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 spirit - thus beginning the experience
we have been calling: thinking-within.
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
Steiner's "it thinks in me", albeit this form of expression is lacking a
certain artistry (Intellectual Soul, not Consciousness Soul). A more
beautiful phrase would be: the delicate and subtle presence of Fullness
and fullness of Presence (Holy Breath).
[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 led 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 of soul
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. {2012 update: this became, in 2010, the book The Art of God:
an actual theory of Everything}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 mission.]
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
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 both.
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 longer 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
the question of 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 lived 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 begin to acquire a satisfactory to conscience moral
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 interwoven music.
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. In all our actions and choices, we are (if we think on it) always: "In
the Beginning...".
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 threefold
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 Discipleship stream. Recall from above:
"{addendum in 2012: concerning later experiences not had at the time
this essay was originally written, read: a brief description of meeting the
Lessor and Greater Guardians in the new way, and as well a description
of the meaning of, and new manner of, the Second Pentecost in the
Ethereal }"
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. In the case of egregores or serious tumors or cancers of the soul,
we can call these self-generated 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
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.

The purified 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.[emphasis
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
Steiner's The 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 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:
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: Matthew 3:11
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.
[As I was going through a final revision of the whole text of this book
(American Anthroposophy), the following statement appeared in an
essay, by Michael Howard, in the News for Members:
"This brings us to see another primary reason why Rudolf Steiner gave
such emphasis to the role of the arts. In Rudolf Steiner's view, the
fundamental discipline for each art has to do with learning to perceive
the moral qualities inherent in each artistic medium. The same discipline
can be surmised from Rudolf Steiner's view of spiritual development as
serving the transformation of the human astral body into Spirit Self. Here
too is an avenue for cultivating another dimension of the art of the spirit,
what we might call the Art of the Spirit Self. This Art of the Spirit Self
precedes all others because the art of building community, the Social Art,
and the art of balancing and harmonizing all dimensions of the living
earth, the Ecological Art, depend on the art of self-metamorphosis.
"The Anthroposophical Society will find new life and purpose insofar as
it fosters not only the Science of the Spirit, but also the Art of the Spirit
and its different dimensions: the Art of the Spirit Self, the Social Art, and
the Ecological Art.
"For the Art of the Spirit is the Art of the New Mysteries."


It is my hope that this essay, In Joyous Celebration of the Soul Art and
Music of Discipleship, has made a contribution to this vision.]

The Idea of Mind

- a Christian meditator considers the problem of consciousness by Joel A. Wendt
(originally written in the early '90's, then corrected slightly
in the late fall of 2003)
For many people, having been raised in modern culture, mind is thought
to be something that exists in the brain, and as a byproduct of basically
chemical and electrical processes in cells and nerves. This essay
considers this problem quite directly and finds that, for all its
inventiveness, science has yet to ask and seek the answer to the most
important question - "what is mind to itself". When mind considers
itself directly, in its own inward environment, then the idea of mind, as a
product of the biology of the brain, fails.
If laymen were not intrigued by the mysteries of the world, there would
be little interest in the constant flow of books and magazine articles
explaining modern cosmology, anthropology, paleontology, and so forth.
While such explanations are often fascinating, far too many science
writers unnecessarily confuse the boundaries between fact and
speculation. For the layman this distinction, between what scientists truly
know and what they speculate might be true, is not understood and has
engendered in the public mind a scientific appearing, yet somewhat
mythological, world view.
For example, the once unanimous acceptance of natural selection as the
guiding principle in evolutionary biology is slowly eroding in those
circles where the problem is critically considered. Yet this idea, which is
not supported by any of the geological facts, remains a staple of the
modern view of our evolutionary past. It is used in countless places to

explain and support other speculations, and will no doubt continue for
some time to be one of the main beliefs we have of the world. Its truth is
not proven, however. The known facts do not support it.
In this regard, when speaking of natural selection, or "Darwinism", I am
basically referring to the general idea which modern humanity is taught,
namely that the human being developed through millions of years as a
result of accidental processes leading from a mineral ocean, through a
biological soup, to single celled organisms, then to invertebrates,
vertebrates, mammals and man. It is this general picture which is not
sustainable in the face of the actual facts, and the genuine pursuit of the
The fossil record reveals that between when a geological age begins and
when it ends the plants and animals have remained the same. The
paleontologist calls this "stasis" - over the whole of a geological age
there is no observable evolutionary change, particularly no evidence
whatsoever of one species being transmuted into another. Whatever
change does occur, appears to happen in the interval between ages,
which for unknown reasons remaining quite mysterious, and leaves no
trace of its processes.
This is an objective instance where the theoretical speculations of
science have not stood the test of time, yet our ideas of the world, once
captured by this speculative conception, are unable to disentangle
themselves. Natural selection is such a strongly held article of faith, both
within and without the scientific community, that it will continue to be a
dominant idea for many many years. In human psychology it has more
kinship with myth then it does with truth.
It is this myth making capacity of scientifically authored speculations
that concerns us. It is such a powerful force on the ideas we hold about
the world, that we can fully expect, for example, that many readers will
not believe what has been said here about natural selection. Dozens of
books and articles supporting what is said could be cited, yet most
people would rather dismiss these statements as the prejudices of perhaps
a "creationist", then risk their own belief system and actually look into
what is being discussed in those circles where this question is genuinely
being considered. (See for example: Evolution: a Theory in Crisis,

Michael Denton, (Adler & Adler, 1986); and Dogma and Doubt, by
Ronald H. Brady.
In a most recent popular critical examination of evolutionary biology,
Darwin On Trial, Phillip E. Johnson, (1991, Regnery Gateway), the
whole problem is carefully examined with an eye to aiding the layman in
understanding the difficulties that "Darwinism" represents. The standard,
however, is not to test modern evolutionary biology against some kind of
competing theory, but rather to see whether it is good science. It is this
which "Darwinism" fails at. It is simply bad science, and as a
consequence results in two very serious and dangerous results.
The first is that it holds still the advancement of the biological sciences
in that these might discover important facts upon which a more realistic
theory could be advanced. As long as "Darwinism" is held to, biology is
blind when it looks to the past, trapped in an illusion of its own creation.
The second danger is that this untestable theory is used to support other
kinds of speculations in other realms, most significantly for our
purposes, the investigation of human consciousness. Important questions,
which otherwise would suggest alternative ways of thinking about
consciousness, cannot be asked because "Darwinism" is already
presumed to answer them. At various places, as we proceed with the text,
we will encounter this danger. When this occurs, when we run into this
speculative and myth creating impulse, I will endeavor to point it out.
Recent advances in neurophysiology, in computer science, and in
cognitive science and related disciplines, have produced numerous
books, as well as major television series, on the workings of the mind.
For the most part, when I read these books I find my morality, my
heart-felt concerns, my idealism, my life of prayer, of meditation and
contemplation - all these most precious, most subtle inner experiences increasingly explained as mere electro-chemical phenomena, as products
of brain activity in the most material sense, and nothing else. Here is the
speculative myth making power of science in action. In saying this it
should be noted that it is not so much that I am against science, but rather
that science has only asked one-half of the essential question, namely
what is consciousness viewed from the outside. The other half of the
question is: What is consciousness viewed from the inside.

The views put forward by the vast majority of workers in these fields are
materialistic, deterministic, and ultimately anti-religious, although often
not consciously so. These questions of the ultimate truth of human
nature, in so far as the mind sciences consider them, are being decided
without really debating them in a forum in which the broader
implications are considered. Neurophysiology, for example, really only
asks certain limited kinds of questions (chemical happenings in brain
cells, or how cells cooperate to apparently accomplish computation), yet
appears to assume that inner states of consciousness are produced
exclusively by these cell processes.
"It is old hat to say that the brain is responsible for mental activity. Such
a claim may annoy the likes of Jerry Falwell or the Ayatollah, but it is
more or less the common assumption of educated people in the twentieth
century. Ever since the scientific revolution, the guiding view of most
scientists has been that knowledge about the brain, its cells and its
chemistry will explain mental states. However, believing that the brain
supports behavior is the easy part: explaining how is quite another."
(Mind Matters: How the Mind and Brain interact to Create Our
Conscious Lives, Michael S. Grazzanica Ph.D. pp 1, Houghton Mifflin,
Boston 1988).
We should perhaps note two things about the above quotation. First the
words "common assumption" and "believing", by which Grazanica
tacitly admits that we are not here dealing with proven facts, but rather
with the "belief system" held in common by some unknown portion of
the scientific community. Secondly, he clearly admits that moving from
facts about brain chemistry and related phenomena to an explanation of
consciousness, free will, morality etc. is a gigantic undertaking.
In that portion of the scientific community supportive of Grazzanica's
"common assumption", brain and mind are considered a single
phenomenon, and one popular science writer even goes so far as to say
that the recent advances in neurosciences establish conclusively that
there is no human spirit, and that all states of consciousness are caused
electro-chemically. "There will of course be a certain sadness as the
"human spirit" joins the flat earth, papal infallibility and creationism on
the list of widely held but obviously erroneous convictions." (Molecules
of the Mind, Jon Franklin, p 202, Atheneum, New York, 1987).

There can be no doubt that if a human being ingests certain chemical

substances, whether for recreational purposes or as prescribed medicine,
the state of consciousness is altered. Electrical stimulation of the brain
also produces effects, whether it is simple stimulation of certain brain
centers to cause pleasure or to bring out memories, or whether it is the
more invasive electro-shock therapy, still used routinely today for certain
intractable mental disorders. In one part of our society we say free use of
chemicals to alter mental states is a crime and in another part forced use
is advocated in order to control deviant behaviors. (c.f. Deivance and
Medicalization: from Badness to Sickness, Conrad and Schneider,
Merrill Publishing Company, 1985).
The point of this is to realize that we are not only dealing with serious
questions of truth, of whether scientists actually know what they claim to
believe, but also with the social policy consequences of this knowledge.
The central question remains, however: what is the relationship between
mind and brain? As we proceed, I would like to show how to extend our
knowledge of human consciousness by considering what one can come
to know from what might be called: Christian meditative practice. In
such a practice, what one can know about mind is quite different from
what science knows. In such a practice, mind is explored from the inside
rather than from the outside. Even though, unfortuantely, those who have
explored mind from the outside have pretty much concluded:
" has long been recognized that mind does not exist somehow apart
from brain..." (The Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll, Bantam Books,
"My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings - what we
sometimes call mind - are a consequence of it anatomy and physiology
and nothing more." (The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution
of Human Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7, Ballantine Books, 1977).
Quite other conclusions are possible, in fact, may be said to be
mandated, if one takes the trouble to examine consciouness from the
inside, as is possible for anyone with a more or less intact mental health,
and the requisite good will.
At this point I would like to proceed in such a manner that it is
provisionally allowed to use the words spirit and soul, but in a way that
acknowledges the legitmate requirements of science for exact, emperical

and logically rigorous consideration. These two words ar essential to

understanding mind from a Christian contemplative view and can be put
forward in a way free of metaphysical or mystical implications. The
problem is in part confused by the fact that today, when we use the word
mind in normal langague usage, we mean only the brain and as well
confine this aspect of our nature within the boundaries of the skull. Mind
(in modern usage) means brain, means within the head.
Soul and spirit, on the other hand, are not thought of this way, and while
many people do not even think such entities exist in the same sense as
mind and brain, at least these words have the advantage of being capable
of a usage meaning something beyond the spacially limited confines of
the cranium.
The problem is one of relating personal experience to langauge in a
situation in which the practices of science have tended to already fix the
meaning of certain words. For example, the poet will refer to heart with
regard to the phenomenon of human feeling. Our whole language is
filled with related expressions (heart-felt, warm-hearted etc.). On the
other hand, the scientific community tends to see emotion (feeling) as a
function of glandular and brain chemistry, and therefore as an aspect of
the mind/brain/body nexus. Yet, an electo-chemical explanation seems to
deny human experience, which has produced language implying that the
center of our "feeling" life is not connected to the brain, not located
specially in the head, but rather finds is primary locus in the chest. We
say, "I have a gut feeling", or "my heart got caught in my throat".
The point of this is to notice the denial of this imagery (derived from
human experience) by the processes of scientific thinking which have
over the last few hundred years more and more confined the source of
these experiences to the head and to material causes.
As a general trend in science this is called reductionism and involves a
process which Eddington called earlier in this century: "Knowing more
and more about less and less." Our body of knowledge about cell
chemistry and neural networks in the brain grows, but often at a cost to
genuine human understanding (I say this from direct experience, as one
who has worked in a neuropsychiatric unit in a private hospital). Perhaps
it is time to pause and consider whether or not it is necessary to go the

other way for a while, to reintroduce the study of the soul, from the
inside, as it appears to direct human experience.
This can, I am certain, be done with due regard for the demand of
science for reproducibility. I recognize this is not the usual approach by
religious thinkers, yet in this case our mutual respect for the truth seems
to require it. This ethical demand of science for reproducibility, namely
that whatever is asserted here concerning mind (soul/spirit) be
discoverable by another who is willing to follow the procedures, the
experimental protocols, as it were; this demand I believe is perfectly
In "new age" circles one hears frequently about mind, body and spirit,
meaning, I suppose, that these are three distinguishable human
characteristics. In modern mind sciences we hear of mind and brain. Are
these differing perspectives talking about the same things at all? It will
be useful to note in passing that when Freud's works were translated
from German into English the words "geistes" (spirit) and "seele" (soul)
were both translated as mind (c. Bruno Bettelheim's Freud and man's
soul, A.A.Knopf, 1983), even though English did have the correct
dictionary terms. This really only shows that for the English
consciousness the inner life was already thought of as mind even though
Europe had had a long tradition of referring to inner life in terms of soul
and spirit (Freud thought and wrote out of that tradition).
Modern American English still uses these terms as in: soul power, soul
brother, soul music, or in noting the distinction between the spirit and the
letter of the law.Yet such usage's are more metaphorical, more
imaginative, than the exact language usage which science demands, in
fact depends upon. Even so, while brain has a very concrete physical
existence, mind does not; it is much more ephemeral. It can't be touched,
nor can consciousness, or inner life, or feeling, or even idea. Yet, these
apparently non - sense perceptible - phenomena are all recognized
intuitively. We accept loss of consciousness in sleep and in certain
conditions of trauma or illness. We moderns are in love with feelings and
their expression, about which have recently been written more books
than one can read. The practice of science would get nowhere without
ideas and in fact the principle foundation of science's logical rigor is
mathematics, which has no sense perceptible existence at all, and is
nowhere observable in nature, even with instruments.

Imagine that Descarte invented calculus while high on dopamine (a

neurotransmitter identified as a factor in drug use and satisfaction). How
are we to relate the chemical state of the brain and the simultaneous
ideas? Is one producer and one product? And, if the productive cause is
then questionable, can we accept the product?
Descarte has recently joined the (illustrious?) group of historic
personalities to be diagnosed has having a psychiatric disorder
(depression in his case) by a psychiatrist who never personally met him.
If true would this make calculus a dubious discovery, or a hallucination
(i.e. unreal)? Our electrical technology is impossible without calculus
(and its relative differential equations), so there is something very
different about this non - sense perceptible - phenomena called
mathematics. It is somehow part of the world yet only knowable through
It is clear that accepted scientific ideas are not being disputed because
their producer has been at one time categorized as having been either
physically or mentally ill. Yet, one can find in the literature (in the brain
sciences) the idea that so-called mystic states and other kinds of religious
experiences represent, or are caused by, unusual chemical states; i.e. are
not what their experiencers say they are: experiences of God. But, how
can this be, how can one make such a distinction that the discovery of a
mathematical truth is different from the discovery of a religious truth,
merely on the basis of the possibility that chemical happenings in the
brain can induce hallucinatory states of consciousness?
Now the working scientist should have an argument here, which is, at
first blush, quite reasonable. That nature conforms to mathematically
oriented models at least establishes (I won't say proves) that this formal
relation exists. Granted calculus can't be seen, but it does allow
prediction of physical phenomena. Nature acts in conformance with
mathematical principles. Where is the evidence it acts according to the
principle God - this the working scientist should ask. After all, this is the
habit of mind of the scientist to form such questions. Or, perhaps to put it
another way, what predicted observation would permit the logical
inference of the entity God?


Even so, such a response has not really appreciated the problem as I have
been trying to state it. All the ideas of science are first and foremost
mental phenomena.They appear in mind as a product of mind, not in
sensible nature. I don't see gravity or even light. I see falling objects and
colors. I infer the law of gravity and the existence of light from these
experiences and, if I am a scientist, I make rigorous my observations
through experimentation and precise instrumentation. But natural
selection and the big bang are in each case mental creations, they
proceed from the act of thinking, not from sense perceptible nature.
What this means to me is that if I am going to prefer one kind of mental
phenomena over another (e.g. the idea of accident in the creation of life
versus the idea of God) then I'd better be clear as to why I have such a
preference. Yet, before I can make such choices, I need to understand
mind, to understand the act which makes such a choice. But to
understand mind don't I first need to understand understanding, to think
about thinking?
To the philosophically sophisticated reader this may seem to be running
backward in time. Modern academic philosophy (linguistic analysis),
from Quine to Ayer to Wittgenstein is no longer thinking about thinking,
at least in the way someone such as Frichte or some other 19th century
German philosopher approached the problem. For the lay person the
question might be put this way. How can I look to current work in
linguistic analysis, in neurophysiology, in cognitive psychology, in order
to build up my idea of mind, when these systems are already products of
mind? Is not the cart before the horse? Don't I first have to have clearly
before me what thinking is to my own experience of it, before I apply it
in practice? I have mind directly before me. What might I understand if I
investigate the nature of my own experience first?
This is a crucial point. If we were to examine each of these disciplines
we would find some idea of mind, either being assumed or derived from
the particular work. In some cases very explicit statements are being
made about what thinking is, how it is caused, how it proceeds, what its
potential is and so forth. Yet, it is thinking which is producing these
ideas. How might such investigations evolve if first it was clearly before
the thinker, just what thinking was to his own experience?


There are other reasons for making such a question the foundational step.
Earlier in this century, the physicist/novelist C.P. Snow pointed out the
existence of two cultures, the cultures of science and of literature (or the
humanities). These cultures did not speak the same language and did not
consider the same problems. Moreover the scientists seemed to believe
that only their method produced objective truth, and that the humanities
only produced subjective truths. Alan Bloom (in his The Closing of the
American Mind) recently observed how the distribution of assets in the
university reveals the domination of the sciences today, at least to
governments and businesses, who provide most of the funds for research.
When was the last time a President convened a panel of poets to help
him define a problem? (This is not to say that this is a bad idea by the
way. I suspect in many instances our poets and troubadours would give
much wiser advice). My own view is that Snow did not go far enough,
although his being a scientist/novelist makes this limitation
understandable. There are, I believe, three cultures (or three constituent
spheres to Culture): a culture of science or Reason, a culture of
humanities or Imagination and a culture of religion or Devotion. Reason,
Imagination and Devotion are related to the older ideas of Truth, Beauty
and Goodness, in that the former are human capacities of the soul and the
latter are the outer expressions of those capacities. Reason engenders
truth, Imagination engenders beauty, and Devotion engenders goodness.
In reality this is a complex relationship. On a certain level, or from a
particular viewpoint, these soul capacities are also capable of being
called powers. The romantic poet S.T. Coleridge called imagination the
"esemplastic power" and felt it was not just an aspect of human
consciousness, but was a force of Nature as well. Reason, for example,
could be called Truth, as that appears in the soul as a hunger first, then a
question, and finally an answer. Reason is then a dynamic process which
is intimately connect to Truth. In a way they are a mirror of each other.
The difficulty for both Snow and Bloom is that they have no practical
experience at devotion; they didn't really understand it or appreciate its
role in their own soul, or in the world. Most Christian contemplatives are
cloistered and are not encouraged to either prove their claims (in fact
they make no "claims") or to exhibit works. Certainly no science
curriculum, and few humanities curriculums teach the works of St. John
of the Cross, or St. Teresa of Avila. Our secular age is filled with writings
and teachers who believe religion is superstition, but who have never

tested it on its own terms. When Christ Jesus says "No one comes to the
Father except by me." it doesn't seem to occur to people that knowledge
of God might depend upon method just as much as science does. Perhaps
the reason the scientist doesn't find God behind creation is because he
looked in the wrong place. God being ephemeral (spiritual), perhaps God
can only be observed (known) by the ephemeral in man. Perhaps only to
mind in a pure state is the supra-sensible, the Invisible, apparent.
I have written briefly here of reason, imagination and devotion because I
wanted us to remember that mind (soul/spirit) produces much else
besides technical wonders. So that when we think about thinking we will
remember all the kinds of things which flow from mind and appreciate
that skill and effort are as much involved in the discovery of truth as in
the creation of beauty or in traveling on the stony path to goodness.
Moreover, there seems to be evidence that our greatest geniuses are often
active in such a way that combines these qualities. Are not the true
scientists and artists devoted to their calling? Einstein was mathematical,
musical and faithful. Michael Faraday, who was the founding
theoretician of electrical and magnetic phenomena, was a man of special
religious devotion. Teilhard de Chardin is a very obvious case in point,
and so is Goethe, whose scientific work was impeccable, although today
much under appreciated. Here is what Roger Penrose, a major thinker on
the problem of mind and science, had to say in his The Emperor's New
Mind, pp. 421, Oxford University Press, 1989:
"It seems clear to me that the importance of aesthetic criteria applies not
only to the instantaneous judgments of inspiration, but also to the much
more frequent judgments we make all the time in mathematical (or
scientific work) Rigorous argument is usually the last step! Before that,
one has to make many guesses, and for these, aesthetic convictions are
enormously important..."
And here is Karl Popper, whose work on scientific method sets the
standard (for many at least), in his Realism and the Aim of Science, pp.
8, Rowan and Littlefield, 1956:
"...I think that there is only one way to science - or to philosophy, for that
matter: to meet a problem, to see its beauty and to fall in love with it;...".


Or as we might add to Mr. Popper's thought: " meet a problem

(reason), to see its beauty (imagination) and to fall in love with it
I'd like now to introduce the ideas of Thomas Taylor, as expressed in the
introduction to his early 18th century book: The Theoretic Arithmetic of
the Pythagoreans. He observes there an interesting fact and draws from it
an intriguing conclusion. He starts by deploring the increasing emphasis
in education on the practical side of mathematics instead of the
theoretical side, i.e. teaching math only with the idea of enabling people
to be good accountants or engineers. The theoretic side has special
characteristics for Taylor, which should not be lost to the process of
education. In Nature, says Taylor, we do not find the perfect circle or the
straight line. All the beautiful (or elegant in modern mathematical
parlance) characteristics of mathematics arise not from the contemplation
of Nature, which is imperfect, but rather are products of the soul which
thereby reveals its perfection.
Or to restate Taylor's observation in our terms: mind (soul/spirit) in
showing its capacity to think the idea of the perfect, the elegant, the
beautiful, as that appears in mathematics, reveals its own nature. Mind
could not produce the quality of these ideas except as that reflects the
quality of its own condition. Yet, we know that the brain is a physical
organ, and is no less imperfect that any other aspect of material nature.
How then does this electro-chemical machine come to the ideas which
are clearly beyond its own structure? While you might say that God is an
illusion, and therefore some kind of mental dream or hallucination, I
don't think you can get very far arguing the same way about the circle, or
other geometric, and algebraic formulations without making a complete
mockery of the scientific and technological achievements which depend
upon these ideas.
Taylor's observation, which I make my own as well, is simply this. What
the human being produces, through his soul capacities of reason,
imagination and devotion, namely truth, beauty and goodness,
necessarily reveals that the human spirit possesses a reality clearly
transcendent of a mere brain bound existence.
With this background then I would like to return to the question of what
is thinking, and what the answer to that question can reveal for us about

the nature of mind. I don't expect to answer this question here in the way
it must ultimately be answered. No written work ever convinces, even
scientific papers. The reader must make his own investigation and draw
his own conclusions. This is fundamentally what truly constitutes proof,
even in science. My obligation to reason is to state clearly my
conclusions and observations and to explain adequately my methodology
in order that another can test my results. My reader's obligation is to
honestly carry out the instructions, otherwise there can be no scientific
validation or invalidation. This will not be easy, and few will even try for
the truth is that years of effort have gone into the understanding I
presently have of mind. In fact it is not the point of this essay to establish
or prove the idea of mind that might be held by a Christian
contemplative, but rather to expose it, to make it known, and to do so in
a way which accepts as authentic and justifiable the scientific
requirement for reproducibility. That the effort at replication may well be
beyond the will power of those who agree or disagree is a situation over
which I have no control.
This is not a cop out, by the way. That it takes years of study and
development to be able to understand "Hilbert space", in no way lessens
its mathematical truth. Likewise, do we have to be able to paint the
Mona Lisa in order to appreciate its beauty? So, as well, we can marvel
at the goodness of the idea of mind as a moral/spiritual act, even though
we may lack the ability to completely engender a full understanding of
such a condition ourselves.
On the other hand, and if we are willing, we can learn fundamental
mathematical and scientific truths, without just having faith in the
scientist's teachings. We can, as well, take up artistic activity and
discover our own creative potential; and certainly we might devote
ourselves to prayer and contemplative thinking in order that we learn to
encounter the threshold between the visible and moral (invisible) worlds.
For my own purposes I now want to put aside (for the most part) the
word mind and use instead just the terms soul and spirit. These two
words are to mean no more and no less than what the reader experiences
in his own inner life. Such a process is called introspection or looking
within. It is a most ancient discipline; the meaning of the Greek
admonition: "Know thyself ". This does not mean, by the way, to know
one's subjective individual character traits as is often thought, but rather

to discover the universals of human nature as they appear inside our own
Earlier in this century there was briefly a psychological "school" which
sought to discover truths about the psyche (soul) through introspection,
but this work did not make much headway, did not seem to contribute
scientifically. and was abandoned. Its flaw was to pretend there was no
tradition, no previous exploration of inner life, of psyche (soul) which
might offer some experienced insight into the problems involved. The
pretense is understandable in that invariably those disciplines which
actually know something practical about inner life are spiritual
disciplines and the general trend of scientific thought has been to view
spiritual ideas about the Earth, Cosmos and Man, as mere superstition. It
is no wonder then that, when science seeks to investigate inner life, its
anti-spiritual assumptions and preconceptions become an impediment to
the discovery of just those facts sought after.
Every human being experiences consciousness, which includes sense
experience (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell), varying degrees of
well being (health, vitality and illness), thoughts, dreams, feelings,
impulses of will, desires, sympathies, antipathies, and so forth. Our
language is full of a variety of words for different inner experiences, or
states of consciousness, and these usages can often be very instructive.
For example, why do we call someone "bright" or speak of "flashes of
insight" or draw cartoons in which having a "bright idea" is depicted by a
light bulb going on over someone's head? We do this because we
instinctively know that certain kinds of thought activity (intuitions) are
accompanied by phenomena of inner light. This is not light as seen by
the physical eye, but light experienced by the "mind's eye", the
individual human spirit.
In our ordinary state of soul (consciousness) this experience is not paid
attention to because we are focused outwardly on the problem, whose
solution the "flash of insight" represents. Moreover, the activity by which
we produce the "in-sight", lies below the level of consciousness. It is
unconscious. Now the fact is that within many spiritual disciplines exists
the knowledge by which this unconscious can be made conscious, the
inner eye strengthened and intuitions can be produced more or less at
will. Even so, not all spiritual disciplines are the same, have the same
world view, or the same purposes. It becomes necessary then to say a few
words about this, in particular the differences between Buddhist and

Christian depth meditation practices, the principle paths of Eastern and

Western forms of spiritual life.
Buddhism today enjoys a certain ascendancy in America.
"The Buddhist movement has become a regional phenomenon. It is
pervasive. And it is quietly transforming our North American culture.
This is the golden age of Buddhism. Right here. Right now. " (Don
Morreale, quoted in Masters of the Universe, Pamela Weintraub, Omni,
March 1990.)
Examine, for example, the book by William Irwin Thompson, Imaginary
Landscape. This is a book straining to realize ideas about man and the
world by combining reason, imagination and devotion. Thompson is a
cultural historian fascinated with the cutting edge of the new sciences
such as chaos research and cognitive science.Thompson has clearly been
influenced by Buddhism (apparently the Tibetan Llama Choygam
Trungpa), and this reveals itself in the ethereally vague, almost
ungrounded character of Thompson's prose. If you were to follow
reading Thompson's book by reading Speakers Meaning by Owen
Barfield, who is a student of the Western spiritual teacher, Rudolf
Steiner, the different effect of the style of meditation and related
practices on the thinking of the two writers is clear. There is a mystery
here concerning the effect of meditation styles on cultural life.
I do not say this because I am opposed to Buddhism as a spiritual path,
but rather as an observer of culture and the ebbs and flows in the
dynamics of a civilization's cultural existence. Years ago I had a
profound experience of Buddhism, for which I am ever thankful, yet I
believe there must arise an effort on the part of the leaders of both
Western and Eastern cultural life to work together, in mutually
supportive ways. There is, I believe, hidden in the mysteries behind both
Christianity and Buddhism, a higher unity, which ought to sought for; all
the while remaining mindful of the different effects on the soul life of the
individual which are due to the different practices, and the natural
consequences these must have in the life of a culture. Just like political
leaders, humanities spiritual leaders owe the individual certain

The orientation of Buddhist and Christian inner disciplines toward the

act of thinking is quite different. The reader who begins to take an
objective look at his inner life, at his soul (which includes all that
appears inwardly, both conscious and unconscious), will find that there is
an actor, a self, an egoicity. To this we refer when we think or say "I".
Buddhist meditation takes the view that this "I" is the cause of suffering,
the cause of life's difficulties and that it (the "I") needs to be abandoned,
eventually to disappear into an experience of self within Self.
Christian meditation sees the "I" as the point of creation, as the image of
God, which can be redeemed from its fallen nature, so as to produce the
mysterious and paradoxical Pauline dictum: "Not I, but Christ in me."
The Buddhist leaves the act of thinking, the "I"'s spiritual activity, to take
its own course, believing that this activity only produces illusions.
Christian meditation sees the act of thinking as capable of being
metamorphosed, altered through discipline, into a new organ of
perception, an organ which can then perceive deeper into the mysteries
of creation.
Lest one believe this is an inconsequential matter, just consider the
following as reported in the Boston Globe newspaper in December of
1990. The story reveals that a Carthusian priest, a monk in a Catholic
contemplative order, has just completed seven years training in the
meditation practices of Vipassana Buddhism. This priest, Rev. Denys
Rackley, is quoted as saying: "What Western Christians
practical knowledge...of preparing the mind for the spiritual experience,
something almost entirely unknown in the West." It is understandable
why he believes this, but it is not true. The depth meditative practices
with Christian understanding are not unknown, but one does have to look
for them, rather then look to the East.
Father Denys is also quoted as saying: ' long as you're functioning at
the level of the rational thinking mind, you're not really into the heart of
the spiritual life". This is the Buddhist view, but one of the purposes of
this essay is to suggest that thinking can in fact lead to direct spiritual
experience. And that for the Christian, to abandon his cognitive
capacities in the manner of Eastern meditative practices is to miss
developing "Not I, but Christ in me."

This short consideration hardly exhausts what would be a proper

examination of these differences, nor does it deal with the complex and
difficult relation between modern depth Christianity and the current
theological beliefs of many Christian churches. I did feel it necessary,
however, to note briefly these themes as part of giving as rounded out a
picture of mind (soul/spirit), as that exists for the Christian meditative
The reader may then consider the soul to be all that appears before him
inwardly as his consciousness, including as well sense experience. While
we feel, and have been taught, that sense experience is caused by outer
nature, the actual experiencing of these so-called stimuli occurs within
the soul or conscious awareness. For example, if one whose normal
environment is urban were to be transported suddenly to a grand vista of
nature they would experience the soul's expansive movement deeper into
the senses. Normally in urban life the soul withdraws as far as possible
from its sense experiences which are so chaotic and immoderate. We
tend to hear, see, smell, taste, feel (as in touch) with less sensitivity while
we lead an urban existence. The opposite is also true. If an urban dweller,
who has spent a month or so in raw nature were to suddenly return to
downtown Manhattan, they would experience a sudden contraction of the
soul, a rapid withdrawal from the senses, and a constriction of the
diaphragm (so as to breathe less deeply the toxic air).
Soul includes as well that which exists in the unconscious, and which
manifests over time, such as mood, character, temperament and other
like phenomena. Within the field of soul, within the totality of psychic
life, the "I" or spirit appears as the experiencer, the actor, and the creative
or initiating cause.
Now please remember that this way of describing soul life comes from
the process of active objective introspection. It does not try to infer from
outer perception as do the sciences, but seeks to objectify the direct
experiences of the observer of his own self. Just as science then points to
technological products to validate its views, so can these practices point
to reproducible effects in the inner life brought about by the disciplined
activity of the "I" through self development exercises, such as
concentration, meditation, contemplation and prayer. I would like to put
forward a model here, just as science does, but in this case I want it to be
clear it is only a device by which to convey an idea, a mental

representation of a real process, which can be known, but which can't be

described by the concepts we are used to.
Imagine if you will that you are holding a "stick" between the palms of
your hands. If you move your left hand in such a way as to push the
"stick", your right hand will move as well. Move the right hand and the
"stick" will push the left. This then is the idea I want to suggest for the
brain-mind relationship, or the body/soul/spirit relationship. Brain
chemistry can cause changes in consciousness, but as well the "I", the
spirit, can cause changes in brain chemistry. In Mind Matters,
Grazzanica, having already likened brain to a mechanism, then says
paradoxically: "A thought can change brain chemistry, just as a physical
event in the brain can change a thought". My question for Grazanica is:
what does he think causes the thought which changes the brain
If I ingest substances, food or chemical, I alter my state of soul, of
consciousness. There is no ignoring the fact that brain chemistry effects
statesof mind (soul). However, the opposite is also true. My active spirit
can also effect states of soul, and in some circumstances brain and body
chemistry as well (c.f. the capacities of Jack Schwartz who is able to
control consciously a number of so-called involuntary bodily processes
including blood flow.). Moreover, any conscious physical movement is
initiated by my spirit which first imagines it. Ordinarily we are not aware
of how our "I"'s will brings about this physical movement. The "stick",
as it were, is hidden deep in the unconscious.
With regard to the act of thinking, however, the whole activity lies within
the reach of my self conscious spirit. Thinking takes place in the
conscious parts of the soul and with training one can become aware of
and be active in the whole process.
Ordinarily we experience thinking as an inner dialogue, a flow of words.
This talking to ourselves (don't we say, "I can't hear myself think") is the
end product of unconscious processes. In this instance it is the spirit
which intitiates the silent wording and the soul which hears. This act of
thinking (which is unconscious ) produces thoughts or trains of thought
(the flow of words) of which we are conscious. The training disciplines
of a specific spiritual practice can, stage by stage, uncover and make

open to experience, and will activity, what remains otherwise hidden in

the unconscious.
I will now describe some of the consequences of such a discipline in
terms of capacities and experiences. This is not meant to be exhaustive,
only indicative. Later we will discuss certain books which have much
more to offer in this line, books which I have used (tested) myself. The
stream of "words" can be brought to a halt. The act of thinking can then
be focused on a single concept. The discovery here is that concept and
word are two different experiences. This is another crucial matter, but its
main difficulty for the reader's understanding is that it cannot be put into
words. It is completely a function of experience.
Now ordinarily we think of concept and idea as the same as the word
which we experience in our inner dialogue. The true experience of the
concept is beyond language. It can ultimately be experienced in a way
analogous to that in which a sense object is experienced. The difference
is that I am in an unusual state of consciousness, which can be described
as "sense free". Only to my mind's eye, my spiritual eye, does the
concept appear. Moreover, as an experience it is more vivid, more
intense, than sense experience. It touches, as it were, my whole soul,
filling the soul with "sensation", with image, sound, tactility, engagement
(I am pulled toward it, it seems to rush toward me). In addition the
experience can only be sustained if my "I" is active in a certain way. In
the face of sense experience I can be passive. In the face of the
supra-sensible experience of the pure concept, I must remain active
Roger Penrose in his The Emperor's New Mind relates how as a
mathematician (recall what has been said previously about mathematics
by Taylor) he is beginrung to think mathematical truths have their own
independent existence. "...I cannot help feeling that, with mathematics
the case for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at least
for the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal stronger..."
(pp. 97). Mathematical thinking is a very concentrated activity, is good
practice for meditation and contemplation and can easily evolve into the
contemplation of the pure concept.
When we think, then, in the ordinary way (stream of words), our
unconscious thought-creative activity is within the realm of the pure

concept, but our conscious awareness is only of the words which fall out,
as it were, like autumn leaves blown free of the living tree of our mind.
As with mathematics, so with music. Consider the poetic intuition out of
the imagination of the writer Kim Stanley Robinson in his novel: The
Memory of Whiteness:
"A music leads the mind through the starry night and the brain must
expand to contain the flight like a tree growing branches at the speed of
Thinking cannot only focus on the single concept, it may also suspend
itself just before the act which produces the awareness of the concept.
Thinking can take up a question, but not proceed all the way to an
answer. We can live in the question, in a condition of heightened
anticipation. A great deal can be learned from appreciating the qualitative
difference of the "I"'s activities of "focus" and "question".
Up to now little has been said here of the Christian nature of such
practices. Consider then that the Christian contemplative's practice is to
think in a concentrated and focused way ever and ever again on the
Being of God. If Penrose has begun to suspect that mathematics is
derived from an experience of something that is "there already", are we
to be surprised when the contemplative finds God as an experience in his
consciousness (soul) and as a consequence (in part, we will have to avoid
complicating things with the problem of Grace) of the activity of his
thinking (spirit)? Prayer is another form of question, and by combining
question and focus, or prayer and contemplation, the contemplative
proceeds in an exact, disciplined and rigorous fashion.
The summa of my own investigations (which is not by any means to be
considered more than the work of a beginner) is the discipline of
sacrifice of thoughts. I have found it especially important to learn to give
up any tendency to fixed ideas. Always it is necessary to approach the
situation ignorant, to sacrifice all previous ideas. "Blessed are the poor in
spirit. " is the Beatitude. Only in a condition of humility, of not knowing,
can I come to the more subtle, more intimate inner experiences. One of
my favorite teachers calls sacrifice of thoughts: "...learning to think on
your knees...".

This leads us to the consideration of the core problem, that of morality

and conscience.
Many people today think of education and character development as
having to do with pouring something into an otherwise empty soul. To
my experience this is mistaken. Rather it is always a question of
development, of unfolding. A human being becomes. True morality then
involves the development of a capacity, and is not merely a matter of
instruction. You can get people to conform, but real morality comes from
the inside out and is not a response to expectations of right behavior.
(This appears to be a new condition for mankind. Previously, in human
development, morality, to a great extent, was set for the individual by the
outside social structure, through codes of behavior, traditions, and other
socially enforced expectations.
Depth introspection of the act of thinking will discover that the outcome
of thinking is significantly affected by the moral intention of the thinker.
Just as the act of thinking needs to be made conscious, so the moral
intention connected to the object (or the why) of the thinking needs to be
fully conscious. If, for example, I am a business man looking for a
solution to a certain problem, the answers I get will vary according to the
moral intention. Ultimately the practitioner of such thinking will come to
an appreciation of the activity of conscience within his own soul life.
This is a special experience. The "voice" of conscience needs to be
carefully distinguished from the more subjectively incorporated authority
figures. The conscience, for example, never endlessly nags us, does not
make us feel inferior. Conscience is the experience of the higher element
of our nature, which is normally in the unconscious. In the awakening
and the development of conscience we begin to develop within us this
higher element (What St. Paul calls: "Not I, but me."). The
conscience does cause pain, "pricks of conscience", because it forces us
to recognize the true moral consequences of our actions. The truth hurts
and our voice of conscience reminds us of the truth. The conscience,
however, loves us, which is why it makes us conscious of the truth, but
does not seek to destroy our self image or impair our self esteem.
Now just as one can evoke certain kinds of inner experiences through
various types of thinking disciplines, so can one evoke the voice of

conscience and thereby come to certain moral knowledge. This

understanding of the life of the soul and the activity of the spirit, this part
of the idea of mind, involves the most subtle inner discrimination; and,
since it places morality within the realm of individual knowledge, it
represents a threat to authoritarian organizations, religious or otherwise.
No one, who eventually learns this fine discrimination, will ever assert to
another that they possess a more perfect moral knowledge. Each
individual must make his own experiences.
This does not mean that morality is subjective, or that it is relative and
changeable. The problem is more subtle and more complicated. The
conscience is an organ of knowledge - of understanding the true moral
qualities underlying human action. Two individuals with the same
choices, the same life questions to balance, if they strive for the same
depth of understanding, they will arrive at the same knowledge of what
is right. However, the reality is that, in life, two individuals seldom have
to face the same choice. Our lives are very individual, regardless of
superficial similarities. What needs to be weighed and balanced is
unlikely to be the same. So when the individual problem is presented to
the organ of conscience, we often get an individual result.
This can be very confusing. In part the confusion is due to our usually
thinking of morality as a set of immutable principles, and the teaching of
most religious authorities of quite definite rules and codes. For example,
to many murder and abortion are absolutely prohibited. In these
instances, to suggest, as the above seems to suggest, that the individual
has some kind of free choice, is to appear to go against these most
obvious and traditional moral restrictions. Such thinking, however,
misses the point.
First we should remember that most of us, in many situations, do not
follow the indications of our conscience, to the extent we become aware
of them. Conscience gives us knowledge; we choose to act, or not, upon
that knowledge. That we often choose to ignore conscience in no way
takes away the power of conscience to know what is moral. Secondly,
what is often forgotten, is that one of the most common ways we ignore
conscience is in judging other people. If we put to conscience whether
we should judge another's morality, what answer do you think
conscience will give? "He who is without sin, let him cast the first

In the process of coming to this understanding of the role of conscience,

or moral intention, and the consequences of these acts upon the activity
of thinking, we also come to a practical understanding of many of the
lessons of the Gospels. The teachings of Christ Jesus, in that they have a
practical psychological effect, in that they concern matters of "mind",
conform exactly to all that has been said above. In spite of what religious
dogma might say, this knowledge, which is derived from the direct
experience of a Christian meditant,and which is also representative of a
community of such meditation practitioners, in no way conflicts with
true Christianity.
Certain implications flow from this idea of mind. We might ask the
question: where is the "there" where the "already there" is? When the
mathematician Penrose proposes that mathematical ideas are "already
there", where is this "there"? Inside the physical space of my skull? This
is our habit of thought, but does that "habit" have to be true?
It will help to consider a parallel problem/question. Which comes first in
evolution/creation, mind or matter? We assume matter, or at least such is
the fundamental assumption current in science today. The basic belief is
that at some point in evolution the complexity of the nervous system
reaches a point where consciousness arises and ultimately what we know
as mind (soul/spirit to the Christian meditative expenence). We have no
proof of this. It really hasn't even been seriously investigated, if it can be
investigated at all. That mind arises spontaneously, out of some
accidental physical condition is an axiom (unproven assumption) of
many mainstream scientists.
Such a supposed event, lying as it does in the distant past, cannot even be
the subject of an experiment, or any other direct observation. This
alleged event must be inferred, but from what? The fossil record only
gives us bones, hardened substances. The soft tissues are always
dissolved. And as to the thoughts?
We do have a picture of stages of development, one that we have been
indoctrinated in from our earliest years in school: single cell plant, to
multi-cell, to invertebrate, to vertebrate, to mammal, to man. We have an
idea of mind (soul/spirit) as solely reason, and therefore connect mind
and tool making. This picture itself is an inference. Are we justified in

building inference upon inference. The fact that the majority of scientists
believe this to be the case is of no moment whatsoever. We don't vote
facts into existence, and at the very least the history of science itself
reveals, not an unbroken advance, but rather a series of "beliefs", a series
of substitutions of ideas often quite at odds with each other (c.f. T. Khun,
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).
Is there any reason for inferring the opposite? Is there something which
suggests mind preceded matter? As a matter of fact there is. The
discipline of philology, the study of language as developed by the mind
(soul/spirit) of Owen Barfield reveals that what we call thinking was
experienced by certain ancient peoples as outside them. The whole way
they used language, their references to muses and to genii, shows that
they experienced thoughts as coming into them from the outside. (c.
Owen Barfield's Speaker's Meaning, also his Poetic Diction, History in
English Words, and Saving the Appearances: a Study in Idolatry).
Barfield's investigations, which represent deeply profound and scientific
studies of the history of meaning and the meaning of history, suggest
unequivocally that modern assumptions regarding the nature of
consciousness, both historical and prehistorical, must certainly be
rethought; and if that is done, the inferred idea of matter proceeding
mind in evolution will be replaced with its opposite, that mind is prior.
Moreover, this philological research shows that mind (soul/spirit) has
over the course of history (that is the period of man's evolution for which
we have records) only just finished a long period of contraction;
thinking, having first been outside the human entelechy, is now inside.
This is not the place in which to give a full recapitulation of the relevant
trains of thought (arguments) which Barfield makes, nor to go into the
supporting evidence that can be found in the field of art history (c.f. Art
and Human Consciousness, Gottfried Richter, Anthroposophic Press,
1985). Rather I wanted to point out the question and as well to point to
work which finds a satisfactory answer. Where is the "there" where one
finds ideas already? It is in the great field of Mind (Soul/Spirit) which
encompasses all of Nature (sense perceptible as well as supra-sensible),
to which our individuality, our "I", has access through its own disciplined
inner activity. Just as it is quite unreasonable to expect the imperfect to
conceive the perfect (the material brain to imagine the immaterial and
elegant truths of projective geometry), so it is non-reason to assume that
mind (soul/spirit) is not born out of its own likeness. Matter cannot have

given birth to consciousness, to thinking, or to certain moral knowledge

(conscience). Our inwardness (soul/spirit) can only be the progeny of the
Universe's Inwardness.
How do I know this? Because I have explored my own inwardness, and
found there much more than I had been lead to assume was "there" by
the scientifically oriented education of my youth. It has become a matter
of experience, an empiricism of inwardness. In fact, such is the nature of
this experience that the idea of mind as solely a product of brain
electro-chemistry cannot be sustained. Moreover, there is a community
of practitioners which replicates (repeats) this experience, the whole
activity being conducted with the rigor and discipline justifiably required
in this scientific age.
I would like to remind the reader, as we draw this exploration to a close,
that the intention has never been to prove an opposite idea of the
mind/brain nexus to that one currently held in science, but rather to give
as clear as possible a picture of the idea of mind which can be held by a
Christian meditation practitioner. Further, to do this in a way which at
least offers the reader the opportunity of testing for him or herself the
truth of this idea.
Ultimately, I believe it will be most healthy for our culture and our
civilization, if what is understood as the powers of reason, be
supplemented by the faculties of imagination and devotion, as well.
What is offered then, in this theme, is not adisagreement with present
day mind sciences, but rather an attempt to extend them, to evolve them
by adding to their considerations what can be discovered about the
nature of mind from a disciplined investigation which proceeds from the
inside, from what appears to our direct experience of mind.
We need to remember that these questions are fundamental to the future
course of our civilization. It is crucial, both for the health of our social
order, and the meaning we attribute to our existence, that we have a true
idea of human nature. Our culture is deeply psychologically split, in a
quite unhealthy way, by the confused idea we have of human nature
which raises Reason above the capacities of Imagination and Devotion,
and which makes so-called scientific knowledge the only truth worth
considering. This is a prejudice which grants an illegitimate power to
what is really far too often only another belief system.

In the hospital where I worked for over seven years, powerful drugs are
routinely administered to individuals, without sufficient consideration for
these individuals spiritual nature or needs. That their "depression" might
instead by caused by a life crisis with moral and self definitional
(spiritual meaning) dynamics, is not really considered. At the same time,
just down the hall, in the chemical dependency units, where the
alcoholics anonymous model is practiced, meetings frequently end with
the Lord's Prayer, and spiritual self transformation is considered an
absolute necessity in order to deal with the relevant problems.
What a picture this gives us of the deep inconsistencies that exist in our
We can do no better than to begin to end our considerations of this theme
with these remarks by a spirit (individual) in whom reason, imagination
and devotion were maintained in the soul in a remarkable balance. From
Emerson's essay Nature: "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. "
Here, with remarkable intuitive powers, Emerson sees to the heart of
what we have been attempting to suggest. Contrary to the assumptions of
the scientific age, namely, that there is no correlation between human
thought and the world, the world itself is a product of Thought, and the
human being, in that he or she thinks, has directly before him, in the
experience of his own mind, the like, but rudimentary, capacity. We were
Thought into being, and we also can think.
In the preceding, I attempted to show how one could begin that
exploration which will validate, in a scientifically acceptable way, the
proposition that human consciousness and the act of thinking are not the
product of material happenings in a physical brain, but the products of
acts of soul and spirit. Whether critics of such an idea will be willing to
struggle with the difficult work of replication, I cannot say. At the same
time I will insist that, without such an effort, any argument to the
contrary need not be listened to or heeded.


For those who will wish to take this challenge seriously, I recommend
the following two books: The Philosophy of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner,
Anthroposophical Press; and Meditations on the Tarot: a journey into
Christian Hemeticism, author anonymous, Amity House.

pragmatic moral psychology

Many people have trouble with the idea 'moral". This is understandable
given the history of Christianity (for example), which has included so
many attempts at dominating the moral thinking of others. Especially
in our age we don't like being told what is right to do. We would rather
follow our own judgment. It will come as no supprise to many, that the
Christian Gospels actually support that latter view (personal
moral judgment) instead of the view that allows someone else to tell us
what is moral. But this view of the Gospels is not appreciated until we
have penetrated, in practice, the psychological teachings
these remarkable Books of Wisdom contain. Many so-called Christians
have failed to live the Gospels, and for this reason have never come to
understand what they teach about mind, about soul and spirit in a
practical and pragmatic sense. This essay is the result of my own
explorations of these Books of Wisdom as they apply to life, to thinking
and feeling, and to how the world is ordered in both its social and moral
realms. For it is here, in such practices that the real facing of the
problem of Evil comes toward us. It is only in the brutal self honest
examination of how we introduce Evil into the world, that we learn
what we need to know in order to appreciate how Evil works in the
social. For a deeper examination of this problem, see my book The Way
of the Fool:The conscious development of our human character, and the
future of Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of Faith
and Gnosis.
Social morality is the highest form of art. Remember: the social world is
the moral world, and we need to move from a state of sleep with regard
to this, to a state of awakeness. The material below is offered in support
of the reader's struggles in this regard, and not as a statement of an
activity which the reader must undertake. How one proceeds as regard
these matters is very personal, and the following material, based on the

author's own experience, is given only as an example of how one might

proceed; should they choose to make some efforts in these directions.
The political or community leader, and certainly the story-teller who
wants to encounter the Mystery, should realize that some kind of
practice, some kind of personal effort at inner growth, of a kind similar
to that described below, is essential to carrying out the responsibilities
undertaken. We are not born virtuous, but rather human, with all the
normal failings that implies. The author can state, with some surety,
which he hopes this book demonstrates, that such practice does bear fruit
that can be obtained in no other way. The Mystery draws near that which
strives toward goodness.
This is not an essay meant for psychologists. Nor is it about mental
"health" per se, although its reflections may touch related problems.
This essay is based on an understanding of human inner life that
developed out of the necessity of solving certain real problems of
personal experience. It represents the fruit of many years of practical
work derived from a struggle, only occasionally successful, to live
according to certain teachings of Jesus Christ. It is the latter aspect which
brings in the moral element.
When this work was begun, almost twenty-five years ago when I was in
my early thirties, it first appeared as an instinctive awakening to certain
problems, most notably: what was the relationship between my own
thinking, and the world I experienced through my senses? A secondary
question, more subtle, but quite definitely related, is what was the role of
conscience in the solving of this problem?
Over a few years investigation and practice, I taught myself to: work at
bringing discursive thinking to a halt (no inner dialogue); to think with
my heart, instead of my head; and, to think in wholes, or, what I called at
that time, gestalts.
Subsequent to this, I discovered that essentially the same problems had
been confronted by the genius of a man named Rudolf Steiner, in his
1894 book, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. When I read this book,
I found therein, not only a much clearer statement of the problems I had

already been examining, but what turned out to be an introspection of

human consciousness that was in accord with the methods of natural
science; and which was therefore, at the same time, quite compatible
with all those academic characteristics of philosophy that ordinary
people find so confusing.
A few years later I encountered another book of Steiner's, The Theory of
Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, which, although
again compatible with academic philosophic standards, is nevertheless
much simpler in its language. Both books were extremely helpful in
making it possible to examine these questions (the interrelationship of
thinking, experience and conscience), with all their possible subjectivity,
in a completely objective fashion.
I mention Rudolf Steiner, because he has had an enormous influence on
my thinking, and those readers, who may wish for a more academic
justification for certain themes in this book, should begin with the above
materials. Most people, however, will be satisfied by their own common
I use the word psychology in the title of this essay because this same
struggle has also taught me that Christ's teachings are grounded in a
complete understanding of human inner life. They are, in fact, a moral
psychology par excellence; that is, an understanding of human nature
which both fathoms and appreciates our true moral reality and potential.
This is so regardless of one's conclusions regarding His religious
Those readers who might have some discomfort with the religious
matters below, should be advised that all that I can do is reflect my own
experience. If the reader, for whom this may be some kind of problem, is
careful, they may be able to translate the materials below into their own
understanding and belief system. The person of Christian faith, who feels
there may be matters of even deeper significance, is invited to read:
Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism, author


Matthew 7: 3-5: Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what
judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it
shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is
in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own
eye?Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of
thine eye; and, behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first
cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to
cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
The pragmatic psychological realities I have so far discovered in this
teaching are as follows:
When we meet, or interact, with another person there may arise, within
our own soul life, antipathies, feelings of disliking. Perhaps we will not
like how they look, their class, the nature of the ideas they present to us
or the values they express. Maybe they are of another race or culture, or
believe in abortion, or believe in choice, or have a selfish political
agenda, or a thousand other categories by which we may define them or
weigh their moral or spiritual qualities.
In each and every instance where we experience an antipathetic
judgment (or sympathetic for that matter), we do not perceive the
individual before us, but rather only that classification or label by which
we have identified them. This is so even though it is someone we know
well. In fact, those in our most intimate circles are more likely to be the
object of judgments we have made and continue to make, yet sleep
through. These last have become ingrained habits of thought, a (perhaps
too rigid) soul lens through which we view the world of our daily
We also apply this judgment to ourselves. Just consider how much we do
not like about ourselves. It will even be possible to turn the material in
this essay into another reason for unwarrented self-judgment.
This judgment is the "beam in our own eye". By it we become then
blind, confusing our judgment for the "mote" in their eye, the character
fault we believe we have identified.
Should it actually be possible that we could help them, the existence of
our "beam" nevertheless disables us. We lack the objectivity (which is

neither antipathetic or sympathetic, but is rather empathic) by which we

could actually understand them.
In fact the Gospel promises us that when we can succeed in setting aside
the judgment and can instead empathize, i.e. know them from the
inside-out objectively, then we may actually be able to be of service to
them ("then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy bother's
From Rudolf Steiner, I was lead to understanding, that the most common
types of such judgments are in fact reflections of our own weaknesses
and failings. Our normal psychology is so ordered that our common
antipathies are mirror images of our own defects. We often most strongly
dislike, in others, our own worst flaws. So Jesus Christ advises us: "Thou
hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye..."
This being the case, how do we work with this in a practical manner?
The first step is to wake up to it, to notice each and every act of
judgment. This is painful. A wonderful help is found in an spiritual
exercise Steiner taught, the daily review. This exercise, which the reader
is free to use or not, involves taking time at the end of the day, and
remembering it, backwards, from the most recent events just before
beginning the exercise, to those events surrounding our awakening early
in the morning. In this way we reflect upon our day, and will begin, after
a time, to discover matters which need our attention. When, for example,
we have begun to notice these judgments, they can become an element of
the review. They are "unfinished" soul business.
During the review feelings of remorse and shame are good signs. In
these self reflective feelings the conscience awakens. Out of the impulse
of conscience we can utter a brief prayer to the guardian angel of the one
we have judged, so that the next time we meet, our perception will be
more objective. The angel of the "other" wants to help us do this. Those
who doubt such an idea are simply asked to carry out such activity with
full sincerity. Practice will, itself, establish the truth of these matters.
In this way we slowly refine the impulse to judge, and gain thereby
(small bit by bit) control of our thoughts and mastery of our feelings. The
soul area, in which these unconscious antipathies and sympathies have

previously tended to pull us, can now become an ever growing arena of
spiritual freedom.
One of the mysteries of our inner life that this work, the refining of the
judgment, uncovers, is that we are often captured - enslaved - by these
repeated thought-judgments. Once having made them, our continued
repetition of them, or habitual use of them, becomes then a point of view,
a kind of judgmental colored glass through which we view the world. To
refine the judgment in the manner being described in this essay, is to no
longer by possessed by it - to be inwardly, spiritually, free.
These pragmatic understandings have applications in other areas as well.
The reader, who works patiently with these soul-lawful realities, will
discover other possible uses for the skills developed.
We can in fact be glad of those personalities who irk us so, who bring out
of us these strong and unredeemed feelings. Their lives are a great gift to
us and we appear to have sought out these relationships just so they
could awaken us. Here is good cause for a prayer of thanks during the
Sympathies represent a similar problem to antipathies. How often does
life teach the tragedy of those who fall so in love that the excessive
sympathies and its resulting (love is) blindness leads eventually to
confusion and terrible pain, when clarity finally returns.
To raise another up in excessive praise is also a "beam" of great
proportions. Whenever we do this, we are just as blind to an other's real
humanity as when we live in antipathies. Our judgment is not a source of
true understanding when it is derived from unconscious and unredeemed
In the case where we are turning this unredeemed judgment upon
ourselves, this can become another aspect of our search for spiritual
freedom. In our inner life, once we become awake there, the voice of the
conscience and the voice of the judgment are not the same. Conscience
"hurts" because it expresses the truth, and we "wince" inwardly in this
perception. The judgment dislikes, or excessively likes, but it is not
expressing the truth. Learning to distinguish between these - between
truth and dislike - can be very helpful.

While this does not begin to exhaust all that could be said about the
"beam" and the mote", nonetheless, let us take up another thread.
John 8:5-9: Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be
stoned; but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they
might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger
wrote on the ground as though he heard them not. So when they
continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them. He that is
without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he
stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being
convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one...
We all know this story, but we don't "stone" people anymore; or do we ?
Obviously physical violence, retribution, against "criminals" continues.
We understand these issues, to a degree. Is there then some more subtle
meaning? This is what I have found to be true in practice.
When an unredeemed judgment is spoken, that is, when it passes from
the inner life into the social world, through speech, it becomes a "stone".
The flesh is not wounded by this stone, but the soul surely is. Our
ordinary language in its natural genius recognizes this, for don't we speak
of "hurt feelings"?
Yet our ordinary personal life is full of just these acts of "stone"
throwing. Tired and upset we throw them at our children and our
partners. Believing too much in our own righteousness we will throw
them at work, or at play.
The pragmatic teaching it this. Be silent. Remember, Jesus' response in
this story is first to say nothing: "But Jesus stooped down and with his
finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not". Examine our
own thoughts more rigorously than that of others. Not every thought
must be spoken. An ancient middle-eastern aphorism goes this way.
There are three gates to speech: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Any
thought that cannot pass all three gates should not be spoken. And there
may be even other reasons for not speaking those thoughts which
otherwise could pass.


Further questions are these. What is the moral purpose for our speech?
Why have we said what we have said? What is the objective? Do we
speak to be self important? Or do we have the possible benefit for others
as our purpose? How do we know it will be a benefit, rather than an
interference in their freedom or a hurt? Do we believe we know the truth,
that our knowledge is superior to others? Hidden here are all the
judgments, the consequences of the "beam".
Are we so sure of ourselves, that all our thoughts are worthy of being
spoken? Silence is golden is the clich. In truth, outer silence is just the
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of
If my mind is not quiet, empty, poor in spirit, what can enter there? Inner
silence has two valuable moral consequences.
The first benefit of inner silence is that it is essential to listening to
someone else speak. If we cannot quiet our own mind when we are
listening, if our whole concentration is instead on our anticipated
response or on what we think, then our attention is not focused at all on
the other person or what they are saying.
In some lectures published under the title: The Inner Aspect of the Social
Question, Rudolf Steiner suggests the practice of seeking to hear the
presence, of what he calls "the Christ Impulse", in the other's thinking.
This is very difficult. It is not just listening, but a feeling-imagining of
the heart felt purposes living in the speaker. What brings them to speak
so? What life path has brought them to this place? Even if they are
throwing "stones" at us, we must still "actively" listen; otherwise, there
will be no understanding of their humanity.
There is a wonderful experience possible here, when we have won past
our antipathetic judgment and actually have begun to hear what lives in
the other speaker. Each of us has learned in life some wisdom, and these
little jewels lie every where around us, often in the most improbable
places, the most unsuspected souls. These treasures are often hidden only
by the darkness we cast over the world through our unredeemed

The second benefit is this. Unless I am silent, and empty, that is poor in
spirit, how will it be possible for the Mystery to touch me?
John 3:8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but
you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every
one who is born of the Spirit
The Mystery goes where it wills. If we are not listening outwardly, we
well may miss it when it appears through others. An inflated sense of self
righteousness will certainly interfere. How much have we missed in life
because we did not listen to what was being offered? Even a piece of an
overheard passing conversation on a bus, which seems to jump into our
silent waiting, may have an import just for us. And inwardly? The
Mystery is silence itself, quiet, like an angel's beating wings. How much
has been offered to us just there as well, a barely audible whispering that
our own internal rambling dialogue has covered over in its insistent and
restless commentary.
"It thinks in me" spoke Rudolf Steiner. The Mystery has its own will. "It"
comes like a gentle wind, when "it" wills, and we prepare the way by
"learning to think on our knees", as Valentin Tomberg, another
passionate seeker I find very helpful, has advised. Two acts, only one our
Matthew 11: 28-30: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon, and learn of me; for
I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For
my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Two acts, only one our own. Something comes to meet us and does not
bring weight, but rather eases our burdens.
Pragmatic moral psychology is not meant to be heavy labor. We are
working together with the world of Mystery. We make an offering of
what lives within; we offer it up. In the Celebration of the Mass, the
Offertory precedes the Eucharist.
The soul makes the same rite of gesture, when the unconsciously created
judgment is perceived and then let go, after which the empathic

understanding is yearned for. When this has been done we are then met
by grace, by the work of others. Moreover, this grace is so quiet, so
silent, we may not be able to distinguish it from our own yearning
Since the Mystery seeks no gratitude for its acts, we should not mind
when it has invisibly carried us to subtle heights, breadths and depths. To
expect this, is faith. However alone we may sometimes feel, we are, in
fact, never alone.
Let us review and synthesize, perhaps adding a few new thoughts.
We are born into a culture and a language, a family and a destiny. In our
youth we draw into ourselves a way of seeing the world, consistent with
those who raise us, and, without which we would have become incapable
of being a member of society.
Each of us has an inborn faculty of judgment which finds its center in the
feeling life, but which leaves its most conscious traces in the life of
thought. We do not want to eliminate this faculty, but it does need to be
refined if we are to evolve it into a capacity for perceiving the true, the
beautiful and the good. As the poet Goethe pointed out, particularly in
his scientific works, it is not the senses which deceive, but rather the
The fundamental quality, latent in judgment and from which its evolution
may proceed, is our moral nature, our moral will. Let us consider this in
a more practical way.
What do I do with antipathies (or with excessive sympathies for that
matter)? Something enters my consciousness and my "reaction" is to not
like it. The first thing (borrowing a term from more recent popular
psychology) is to own it. It is my reaction, it arises in my soul, and it is
not (in any obvious way) in the object to which the reaction attaches.
There does seem to be something, a seed perhaps, that does exist in the
judgment and that does belong to the object of the judgment, but this
seed only comes to flower through processes like those outlined below.

The antipathetic reaction, which is a "feeling", then draws concepts

toward it, clothes itself in thought forms, and in this way enters our
conscious thinking life, usually as a stream of inner dialogue (discursive
thinking: our spirit speaks, our soul hears). Above, we considered how to
become alert to these judgments using the daily review, and noted there,
as well, that to feel remorse and shame for having so unconsciously and
hypocritically categorized our fellow human beings, is a sign of an
awakening conscience.
Once we have become more awake in the moment, it is possible to work
with this process during the day, not waiting for the daily review. The
antipathy arises, we notice it. We have learned not to speak it, not to
allow it across the threshold of speech into the social world. We behold it
inwardly, this thing, our judgmental creation. This objective perception
of our self created thought-judgments is an act of spiritual freedom, inner
freedom before the concept.
There are two very practical acts we can do in regard to this object
within our consciousness. One precedes the other, and the second is born
out of the first. The initial act is one of sacrifice. Steiner calls this:
"sacrifice of thoughts". We not only allow it to die, we participate in the
process of its dying. We give it up, we detach ourselves emotionally from
this no longer desired judgment.
Doing this has brought our will into play. Using this same will we now
engender a new becoming of the act of judgment. Dying has preceded
becoming. We actively engage the process of metamorphosis inwardly in
the soul life. The caterpillar of our antipathetic judgment can give birth
to the butterfly of our empathic understanding. The crucial act is our
moral intention. We recreate in the newly freed soul space the object of
our judgment as an act of spiritual will. We choose to behold the "other"
with the forces of resurrection. We clothe the object of our previous
antipathy in a freely chosen word-picture created in the crucible of a
struggle to know them empathically. We redeem them in thought.
The most essential matter to recognize here is that in this activity one is
not acting alone. Two acts, only one our own.
One last thought. In that activity by which we transform unconscious
judgments into conscious ones, we inform the world with new meaning.

We adorn the world, and the individuals which inhabit it, with
self-created significance. The difference is that this new
meaning-significance is neither arbitrary or capricious. The world means
what we choose it to mean. In this act, however, it makes a great deal of
difference whenever we have invited the cooperation of the invisible
With regard to this problem of meaning - the creation of new meaning there is much more yet to say, as this is one of the principle ways for
crafting the resurrection of a new civilization from the decay and debris
of the old and dying culture.
Unto the reader then, I place these gifts of twenty-five years of practice,
with all their flaws, for whatever service they may give.