Re: The Path of Knowledge
- Jeff wrote:<<<I want to thank you for you contributions lately especially on
the path of knowledge. Without resorting to my usual contrary self, I do have
some problems with contribution. You obviously endorse and have practiced
these steps (as have many) but in real world terms, I would like to open this
up to some deeper reflection.
*******Glad to have a discussion. It's only bringing these into the "real
world" that counts! Let's take them one at a time.
The first requirement for higher knowledge is the development of
objectivity. One must be able to look at oneself (as well as all external to
oneself), and see ones personality and outer things as they are, without
influence from the likes and dislikes of the subjective self. One must
suspend ones past self and all its judgements when one confronts anything
new; rather than immediately summoning up a judgement based on ones life up
to the present, one must lay oneself open to the living impression of the
thing. This does not mean that we never criticize, but only that we do not
judge in place of receiving impressions. Ones self must be an empty vessel
before the new world can flow into it: one does not place new wine in old
You responded: <<there is always the problem of soul suppression of
judgments because one is "trying" to be objective in receiving new
impressions. This process is very tricky and not so obvious and can get one
into real trouble when trying to "interpret" the impressions and experiences
(let them "speak or reveal themselves") and make claims of objective insight
into them. Case in point: one can listen openly to Bush or Gore and "hear"
what they are saying objectively. Then "insights" not judgments, may occur
about the veracity or disinformation they are giving out. Are these insights
true and objective- we don't really know without substantial research. They
simply fall into the realm of intuition or feeling knowledge.
*******There's an old saying that 'hard cases make bad law'. In a similar
way, choosing politcs as a starting-point for being objective is not a good
place to begin, but we'll tackle it anyhow. I don't think there's anything
wrong with suppressing one's judgements instead of jumping right into making
them; in fact, that's absolutely necessary to start. After a time it no
longer becomes suppression of them but not making them at all on the spot.
You may know, for example, people who are so zealous about one candidate that
they speak as if the opponent is pure evil and civilization will perish if
he's elected. Now, on reflection, it must be clear that this is mere
hyperbole and simply can't be objectively true. The same is to be found with
so much that has been politicized in our day: is there really 'global
warming' by the evidence? Is the economy really dominated by a cabal instead
of the laws of supply & demand? etc.
The whole reason science arose is this seeking of objectivity. What seems
right intuitively isn't good enough: it must be tested. Often the truth is
counter-intuitive, and only if one separates "Image" from "Judgement" can one
be open to it. We follow a man who says there are no motor nerves and the
heart isn't a pump, remember. We must stand apart from and be willing to
question our judgements.
I think a great example was set for me by Lawrence Edwards. He had his
pet theories about what he would find in the shapes of things, the rhythms of
growth, etc., but at the conclusion of every theory he expressed he would so
often say, "But I don't know---Nature may prove me wrong tomorrow."
So, to return to politics, I grew up in a Democratic family that were
early John Kennedy backers in Massachussets and that imparted a lot of
prejudices to me. But through the years I've had to challenge them and say
things like, "Wait a minute---do I REALLY know this or that to be true?" I
found that, when I examined the issues, for instance, a flat tax would be
fairer than a graduated tax; that private organizations (like private
schools) often do a better job than the government; and many other things
that have led me to being a Libertarian instead of Democrat or Republican.
But I'm not a Libertarian to the point where I support whatever a Libertarian
candidate says without question. He may be wrong; I may be wrong. It's not a
bad thing to leave open the possibility that one may be wrong. As Socrates
said, "All that I know is that I know nothing", meaning I don't KNOW, but I'm
seeking to know. This is also what led me to become a Quaker, where one
listens to the voice of one's conscience for answers, although I don't agree
always with whatever other Quakers say THEIR conscience says. But then, I
don't have to; objectivity is mostly about SELF, not about other people.
2. DETACHMENT FROM PLEASURE & PAIN
Once a man has attained an objective view of himself and his world---that
is, ceased to follow his subjective whims, judgements and opinions and
instead derived his thoughts only through the things themselves--- he now has
halted his habitual judgements arising from his prejudices. But now, in place
of these, he must learn to evaluate in a new way. He must cease to value
himself too highly at the expense of the world about him. We do this by
allowing a pleasure or a pain caused by the world to overwhelm our inner
being. Instead, we must detach the self from pleasure and pain---learn to
experience them without losing ourselves in them. When we do this, a pleasure
or a pain becomes merely an indication to us that there is a quality in a
thing or being which causes me pleasure or pain; this quality I wish to know,
not merely that I suffer or feel joy because of it.
One does not blunt oneself to feeling in this way, but only halts the
feelings power to make one jump into taking an action of will (such as a
judgement). The habitual egotistical response to feelings is halted, not the
ability to feel-- in fact ones sensitivity grows in proportion as one gains
control over the effects of pleasure and pain upon the self. ...Sympathies
and antipathies take on a higher character if he [the student] curbs those he
In the same way as ones thinking can tell one only about oneself if used
egotistically, but when made transparent through forgetting self can tell
one objectively about the external world---so also ones feelings are at
first egotistically received and bound to the self, but they can likewise be
transformed, through an objjective attitude, into forces which tell one about
things themselves rather than only about the self. Instead of knowing only
about how I feel towards a thing, my feelings---once made objective---begin
to tell me about the things themselves, as we can see by the eye being
transparent itself. Truly, the Soul is the Key to the Universe when the
purely subjective use of it is gone.
Jeff: >>>This step is again tricky from my experience and can led to long
of detachment from life experiences and a feeling of distancing from
people. This may be my own experience with this step but there seems to be
certain abstractness about it. Though the goal can be achieved at times,
the process can be unnatural in the normal course of life.
*******I haven't found it to be unnatural or abstract. I suppose it can lead
to distancing from people; this is why, when practicing these things, it
helps to find the company of others trying the same. It's like they teach in
A.A., to quit drinking sometimes you have to quit your old circle of friends.
If you're around people who want to let themselves go with wild enthusiasm
one day and then wallow in their self-pity on another, it's hard to practice
this without seeming 'cold' to them. But one still FEELS the pleasure or pain
another experiences---it's just that this is separated from their connecting
it to judgements and such. Remember we are not to blunt ourselves to
feelings. But this is too abstract. Maybe you can talk about specific
3. CONTROL OVER THINKING
The next step consists in taking ones thinking in hand to the point
that one not only is objective about whatever confronts one, but so that Man
is not limited in his thinking to whatever happens to confront his senses at
the moment. One must take inner control over ones thought world, and connect
thought to thought only in the way that truth demands. This strictly logical
thinking is best seen in mathematics, and it is this kind of linking thought
to thought on the basis of the nature of the thinking itself, out of its own
inner necessity (rather than anything from the sense-world) which is needed.
Whether one studies mathematics or not, one must regulate ones thinking as
is done in true science. Personal preferences or antipathies, all arbitrary
decisions in thought, must be silenced.
Jeff:>>This method nearly killed all creativity in me for years! By doing it
my early 20's religiously I became inwardly in "control of my thoughts" but
virtually all spontaneity and the ability to let thoughts and feelings flow
and interact in an inspired and creative way. In traditional psychology this
is definitely left brain dominant methodology but we know better from a
spiritual point of view. The issue is: where does inner control end and being
free to act naturally and harmoniously with others and the world begin.
*******I don't know exactly how being rational can kill creativity or
spontanaeity. But then, being "creative" for me has never meant throwing
buckets of paint on a canvas a la Jackson Pollack, but the combining of logic
and art as in the Great Masters like da Vinci, so I never bought the idea
that they're opposites and that to be creative one must be irrational (as our
culture teaches with its 'mad artist' stereotype).
Perhaps a good comparison comes from music: I can be "spontaneous"
playing lead guitar, but I have to stay in the key or mode (as well as the
beat & rhythm) or else you just get noise. In other words, you have to be
spontaneous within a structure.
I guess all I can say is we have to remember that one must not stand over
one's inner self like a slave driver imposing these rules on the inner self,
but they must become like second nature. When one no longer is tempted by the
siren call of irrationality, it isn't felt like a discipline. You can allow
the irrational forces, like what we move our bodies with (not to mention
other *ahem* lower drives), to have their sphere, because one's ability to
think clearly is secure in its own. At first, if one has been raised in an
environment that worships irrationality, like by alcoholics, this thinking
exercise can be performed just for a few minutes a day, and doesn't need to
kill off one's life forces.
4. CONTROL OF ACTIONS
As in ones thinking, so one must also do in ones actions. As one asks in
ones thinking, What is the True? and seeks to make ones thinking a copy
of the laws of the true, so too one must ask in ones actions, What is the
Good? rather than What is advantageous to me?, and follow that which one
recognizes as the good no matter what. If one recognizes a course of action
as good, one must keep to it regardless of personal feelings; likewise, one
cannot pursue a course of action one knows not to be good simply because it
will bring one pleasure.
Such are the rather stern-sounding laws of the Way; but they are not
really so, once experienced. As the Master said, My burden is easy, my yoke
is light. They are only hard while one is resisting them; once adopted as a
Way of life, they become almost effortless---become, in fact, second nature.
And this is how it should be---so long as one must enforce them on oneself,
one is still preparing for initiation, but once they become allied to you as
a part of your being, the processes of initiation (the Trials) can proceed.
>>>Jeff: There is still much to know and understand about preparation for socalled "initiation" but on the face of it and in practice, there seems to be
something more than these instructions imply.
*******There's a lot to know, and that's why I've worked on these. I've seen
many anthroposophists ignoring these fundamentals or even denying them
entirely (like on S98). All I can say is that practicing these 4 steps
transforms one's experiencing of thoughts and feelings and will to the point
where a new world is revealed through them, that one begins to experience as
if one is a sighted man in the kingdom of the blind. A thing takes on a whole
new meaning that a person standing right next to you is opaque to. Then the
'trials' which are actually always going on, become visible, or to put it
another way, you become conscious that you are undergoing them.
>>Grail YogaThe Western Path to Higher Knowledge: Initiation.
A Commentary on Dr. Rudolf Steiners Theosophy and Knowlege of the Higher
Worlds And Its Attainment.
The first things required of one who would develop higher knowledge are
spelled out by Rudolf Steiner in The Path of Knowledge (the last chapter of
his book Theosophy) and described again at the beginning of his Knowlege
of the Higher Worlds And Its Attainment. At the start of Knowlege of the
Higher Worlds, in fact, Dr. Steiner says that all of the essentials of the
Path are included in that brief yet profound last chapter of Theosophy. If
one examines this, one finds several qualities which anyone must develop
first and foremost are stated in The Path of Knowledge, which, in slightly
different language, are repeated in all the lectures Dr. Steiner gave on
developing higher perception.
The beings and events described in Occult Science, Theosophy, etc., are
thought pictures which one can understand and use with normal consciousness,
just by accepting what is described as possible and testing it out with
unprejudiced logic. But they remain pictures of a world one cannot see
directly. In order to SEE these things yourself, the Path of occult training
must be walked. This Way or Path may be called a Western form of Yoga, or the
meditative Way to re-join the Self consciously to the Divine (Yoga meaning
to yoke or join, as religion comes from re ligare, to re-join).
The first steps on the path are the most important. Ones practice of them
must continue for life; for, along with the attempts to take these steps, the
inner discipline is required to begin a daily review of oneself, a daily
This is how one first learns to meditate---to be between---the self
that is and the self that is becoming.
What is meditation?
It is the concentration, through will, of ordinary thinking and feeling
regularly (even five minutes a day) into new organs of the spirit, through
which the hidden worlds become perceptible. This is the secret of occult
science---that clairvoyance is evolved from everyday thinking and feeling and
There are shortcuts to occult power, but beware! Only the true spiritual
path keeps one safe. Observe unfortunates, and imitate them not (to
paraphrase Pythagoras Golden Verses). Power without wisdom destroys. Only
the slow, gradual, step-by-step growth of spiritual organs will result in
healthy ones, without which a man gaining access to higher worlds will suffer
delusions and moral decay. In old times, those steps (graduale) became
known as the Grail.
The path begins with 4 efforts at concentration; and the additional
effort of the concentrating itself. Anything---an object, idea, phrase,
picture---can be a subject for concentration; whatever works for you. The
important thing is to develop the ability to concentrate itself, not what you
use---at least at first.
But in addition, 4 areas require specific concentration work:
1. Objectivity about self and surroundings; gained by cultivating the
devotion to truth and appreciation of the value of all things, even those
which seem most worthy of criticism.
2.Equanimity, balance in pleasure and pain. One must not indulge in the
extremes of these, but one must feel them and yet be detached from them. We
must not at all reduce our ability to feel---no, we must feel ever more
deeply and profoundly---but we must hold back from letting our feelings move
us immediately to any judgement or action.
3. Next, ones thinking must begin to become regulated within itself.
Idea must link itself with idea only in the way required by the nature of the
ideas themselves, rather than ones preferences or prejudices.
4. Finally, ones actions in life must become likewise regulated according
to the inner perception of the laws of the True and Good. One must do only
what one has recognized as the right thing to do.
These have to do primarily with :
1. Sensation (The Physical World)
2. Unconscious Habits (Emotions)
3. Thinking, and
4. Will. >>>>