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RE: Robert Mason wrote...

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  • Robert Mason
    (Martha, this isn t about me; it s on the general topic, so I m posting it to the list.) ... the development of Imaginative knowledge and consciousness to know
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 19, 2008
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      (Martha, this isn't about me; it's on the
      general topic, so I'm posting it to the list.)

      To Martha, who wrote:

      >>It takes achieving only the first steps in
      the development of Imaginative knowledge and
      consciousness to know that artificial and
      electro-mechanical images, as from television
      and the computer, do interfere with
      Imagination. This doesn't require proof from
      the spiritual-scientific research of a true
      *Initiate.* Just keep a notebook of all the
      pictures you struggle to remember from your
      (lucid) dreams, and especially those pictures
      in-between the dreaming and waking stages and
      vice versa. After a certain time has elapsed
      and the notebook is consulted, it will easy to
      count how many of these pictures and
      impressions can be traced back to television or
      the computer. But among these pictures will
      also be found truly significant pictures, and
      also sounds and memories of feelings. After a
      while the notebook won't be needed any longer;
      the pictures will be remembered.<<

      Robert writes:

      This is helpful information from your
      experience. I take it as evidence that TV and
      so on can be experienced as an interference
      with emerging faculties of Imagination. This
      would seem to be plausible; surely the
      artificial visual environment must have some
      effect on the subtle faculties? More
      testimonies like this would be helpful.

      However, I would still caution that testimony
      from those who are "achieving only the first
      steps in the development of Imaginative
      knowledge and consciousness" would still not be
      enough to reliably establish the proposition
      *as a general rule*. The beginner is still
      subject to the sources of illusion across the
      Veil, as RS often warned (for instance in *The
      Stages of Higher Knowledge). Only the true
      Initiate can dependably eliminate these
      sources, as RS outlined, for instance, in the
      chapter on initiation in *OS*. It would seem
      to me that only such an Initiate could survey
      the wide expanses of evolution so as to make a
      reliable estimate of the subtle effects of
      artificial imagery *as a general rule*.

      And, as I now recall, RS did say something in
      this vein, about the imaging technology of his

      "It is quite natural that the world today
      should be confronted with impulses leading
      entirely to materialism. That cannot be
      prevented, it is connected with the deep needs
      of the age. But a counterbalance must be
      established. One very prominent means of
      driving man into materialism is the
      cinematograph. It has not been observed from
      this standpoint; but there is no better school
      for materialism than the cinema. For what one
      sees there is not reality as men see it. Only
      an age which has so little idea of reality as
      this age of ours, which worships reality as an
      idol in a material sense, could believe that
      the cinema represents reality. Any other age
      would consider whether men really walk along
      the street as seen at the cinema; people would
      ask themselves whether what they saw at such a
      performance really corresponded to reality. Ask
      yourselves frankly and honourably, what is
      really most like what you see in the street: a
      picture painted by an artist, an immobile
      picture, or the dreadful sparkling pictures of
      the cinematograph. If you put the question to
      yourselves quite honourably, you will admit
      that what the artist reproduces in a state of
      rest is much more like what you see. Hence,
      while people are sitting at the cinema, what
      they see there does not make its way into the
      ordinary faculty of perception, it enters a
      deeper, more material stratum than we usually
      employ for our perception. A man becomes
      etherically goggle-eyed at the cinema; he
      develops eyes like those of a seal, only much
      larger, I mean larger etherically. This works
      in a materialising way, not only upon what he
      has in his consciousness, but upon his deepest
      sub-consciousness. Do not think I am abusing
      the cinematograph; I should like to say once
      more that it is quite natural it should exist,
      and it will attain far greater perfection as
      time goes on. That will be the road leading to
      materialism. But a counterbalance must be
      established, and that can only be created in
      the following way. With the search for reality
      which is being developed in the cinema, with
      this descent below sense-perception, man must
      at the same time develop an ascent above it, an
      ascent into Spiritual reality. Then the cinema
      will do him no harm, and he can see it as often
      as he likes. But unless the counterbalance is
      there, people will be led by such things as
      these, not to have their proper relation to the
      earth, but to become more and more closely
      related to it, until at last, they are entirely
      shut off from the Spiritual world." (Cosmic
      and Human Metamorphoses; lecture 4)

      . . . and:

      ". . . . it is part of the natural evolution of
      humanity; we should be clear about the
      following characteristic of our age, namely,
      that if man does not strive out of inner
      activity for development and maintain it
      consciously, then with mere intellectualism at
      his twentieth year he will begin to get rusty.
      He then receives stimuli only from outside, and
      through these external stimuli keeps himself
      going. Do you think that if things were not
      like that people would flock to the cinema?
      This longing for the cinema, this longing to
      see everything externally, depends on the human
      being becoming inwardly inactive, on his no
      longer wanting inner activity. The only way to
      listen to lectures on Spiritual Science, as
      meant here, is for those present to do their
      share of the work. But today that is not to
      people's liking. They flock to lectures or
      meetings with lantern slides so that they can
      sit and do as much as possible without
      thinking. Everything just passes before them.
      They can remain perfectly passive." (Younger
      Generation: Lecture X)

      I think that we could plausibly hypothesize
      that the tendencies that RS spoke of here are
      intensified with TV and computer imaging. But
      I would assume that the computer at least
      offers the opportunity for the viewer to be
      somewhat less passive, depending on how much he
      uses it for creative work. Still, I doubt that
      this, in itself, would be the kind of
      *thinking* work that Steiner was talking about.

      Steiner does give us an outline of the
      *general* problem: inner passivity, ethereal
      goggle-eyes, materialistic effects on the soul.
      And he is no Luddite; he allows that these
      things are necessary in our times. More, he is
      not a defeatist; he gives us strong hints about
      the healthy counterbalance: inner work, the
      inner activity of real thinking, the kind he
      taught in *PoF*.

      Martha wrote:

      >>We're the *Initiates* now -- don't look
      anywhere else for the *Initiate,* only to the
      source, to the "fountain" within. This will
      begin to release the spellbound Ethereal

      Robert writes:

      I would dissent from this too, if you're using
      a general *we*. Obviously, most of us are not
      Initiates now, as RS explained initiation. I'm
      not disparaging the "fountain within", but I
      would caution against jumping to conclusions.

      Anyway, thanks for your input. I'll try to
      file away your experience in my memory. And at
      least you jogged my memory about RS and the

      Robert M
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