Re: [steiner] Re: The Path of Knowledge
- Thanks to you both for a very interesting discussion! I would like to add my two
cents worth to it, if I may.
It has seemed to me that the first step toward a greater objectivity is to
realize that your past, family, and culture have created you (at least the part
of you with which you consciously identify). There is no such thing as
discarding this wholesale, but what you can do is practice "will reversal". This
means that you habitually deny yourself the automatic response to any situation,
knowing that this is invariably the one programmed into you. The use of politics
to illustrate this effort toward objectivity, as Dr. Starman pointed out, is a
very unfortunate one, because politics always arises from unconscious group
karma. The "leader" is "chosen" who most perfectly embodies the strengths,
weaknesses, and needs of a particular cultural and time. By definition, there
can be absolutely nothing conscious about it. The "leader" is no more free to
be objective about his choice of actions or opinions than he is free to lift off
the ground and fly. To be a leader is truly to be a servant (however much one's
ego wants it to be otherwise.)
Sympathies and antipathies are equally tricky. It is not possible, nor
advisable, to attempt to do away with them. Just as Lucifer and Ahriman are
vital aspects of earthly experience and have many gifts to offer us as
individuals and as communities as long as the Christ stands in the middle, so
sympathies and antipathies (the experience of Lucifer and Ahriman) have much to
offer us as long as we cultivate the heart knowledge which keeps us human in the
midst of it all. The point is not to deny ourselves these experiences, the point
is to know where they come from - to discriminate the SOURCE, and consecrate the
experience for "thy will, not mine", thereby purifying and spiritualizing it so
that it can serve progressive spiritual beings and purposes. At our best, we
mediate between heaven and earth.
Easy to say and hard to do!
> 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.
> 1. OBJECTIVITY
> 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
> already has.
> 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.
> Any comments???
> *******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 so
> called "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.
> Dr. Starman
> >>Grail Yoga
> The 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
> meeting self.
> 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
> daily actions.
> 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. >>>>
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