Re: [steiner] Continuing The 12 Holy Nights' Study: Scientific "Mysticism"
*******Well, thanks very much for the appreciation, Sheila. I didn't mean that the study was a failure, just that we couldn't keep the speed up of doing it all in the 12 days too well.
So let's continue awhile with the book and what was in it. No one responded to the first post I made, about what Steiner says in the Preface:
In CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT, Steiner wanted to show how what we have come to know as an organized religion, Christianity, had its very source in the world that we mystics experience, and its true essence can only be understood from that realm of experience.
Only the content of the book can prove that the author has not used the word “mystical” to denote a conception which relies more on indefinite knowledge gained through feelings, than on “strictly scientific exposition.”
In many circles today the word “mysticism” carries such a connotation, hence the tendency is to explain this as a region of the life of the human soul which can have nothing to do with “real science.” In this book the word “mysticism” is used for the exposition of a spiritual fact whose nature can be recognized only when the powers of cognition are taken from the source of spiritual life itself. Whoever declines a method of cognition founded on such a source will be unable to take any position with regard to this book. Only one who admits that in “mysticism” the same clarity can exist as in the truthful exposition of natural phenomena will accept this method of describing the mystical content of Christianity. For even more important than the content of the text is the means of cognition which has led to its existence.
In our present day many people violently abhor such a means of cognition. They see it as contradictory to true scientific method. This is the case not only among those who will not allow the validity of any interpretation of the world which is not founded upon “genuine natural scientific fact,” but also among those who wish to consider Christianity in the capacity of believers."
*******In other words, "mysticism" usually means a sort of knowing through your feelings without being able to say how exactly you know, as we still commonly use the word "intuition" to mean a sort of vague feeling. (Later on, Steiner would name one of the 3 levels of higher knowledge he experienced "intuition", but with a completely different meaning than this common everyday one of today.) What Steiner is saying in this, one of his earliest books written out of his clairvoyance, is that true mystical experience such as he had is neither vague nor based on mere feelings, but rather can be joined to the logical intellect, so that what can be perceived through a mystical experience can be known with complete clarity, just as the intellect clearly knows what it experiences of nature in natural science.
He of course recognizes that scientifically-minded people who think "mysticism" means vague feelings will immediately refuse to consider anything by that name because they mistake what he has for this mere feeling mysticism. And then he makes the point that, besides the scientists, even many members of the Christian religion will refuse to consider anything from 'mystical' sources for similar reasons.
He then goes on to explain what he would later name his 'Anthroposophy' is:
"The author of this text takes as his basis an interpretation which acknowledges
that the natural scientific achievements of our day demand elevation to true mysticism. This interpretation can show that any other attitude toward cognition absolutely contradicts everything offered by natural scientific achievements."
******Meaning that what he has succeeded in doing is taking the same thinking used in natural science and elevating it to mystical knowing. And he's saying that this is the only way that is in harmony with being a thinker; he rejects the kind of feeling mysticism that throws out thinking and says you have to go by mere feelings.
He continues: "The means of cognition which so many people who assume that they stand on firm natural scientific ground, would like to use, simply do not embrace the facts of this natural science. Only that reader will accept this book who is able to admit that full understanding of our present marvelous knowledge of nature can be combined with genuine mysticism."
*******In other words, the usual kind of consciousness possessed by a natural scientist is not enough for understanding spiritual matters; what he is calling mystical consciousness must be added to it.
*******There's certainly plenty there to reflect on and discuss. What is a scientific approach to mystical knowing and how is it developed?
Dr. Starman, I don't think we had a lack of success during these Holy Nights. For me, it's quality rather than quantity, and I believe we can feel enough depth from what was offered. Sometimes the thought comes to me far too many other influences come to bear just when we have planned to do particular things, and today was a good example of such a happening. One of my neighbors, a young girl temporarily living nearby for University studies, is from Rodina - I don't know when I've felt so joyful as when I greeted her today by asking how her Rodina (Russian) family is on this Holy Day. Such surprise is seldom seen on a young lovely face such as she's blessed with, and a dawning realization that this American woman realized the importance of January 6. I had been called to spend time with a young boy who had been shot last week, since he likes the way I sit and tell fairy tales. One thought led to another - how I offered only one writing for us and it was on the smallest lecture of all we had. Instead of mailing in another, my time was instead given to a small boy, a lonely elderly lady, a hungry family and the young Russian girl. What did I bring them, if anything, I wondered? I feel a lightness within my heart as the gifts they handed on to me, and while mulling over *Christianity as Mystical Fact* I wondered which was more giving? I don't know, but events handled that rather than what I would have chosen to do consciously. I think all of us can look deeply within our souls and find gifts to others, often not even recognized, but we are so often led in a right way without realizing it. Your knowledge so kindly and lovingly shared with all of us is far more precious than repeating in summation what all of us are reading anyway. I treasure what you so willingly and freely give to all of us, but it's only now that I realize what gifts you so carefully hand to us whether we deserve it or not - it's as the rain and sun falls on all the plant kingdom regardless. This gift of your's is rare and to be treasured, and the small "thank you" isn't quite so small after all! Thank you, Dr. Starman!
Love in Christ,