What man sees in the kingdoms of Nature around him on the physical plane, he takes to be reality. He looks at an animal or a plant, and pictures to himself that these are realities in the forms in which they appear. But in truth it is not so, for what is actually present as a reality is the spiritual world — that and that alone. And not until we have recognised the Spiritual in the things around us do we truly know reality.
Everything else that is revealed to us in surrounding nature is tantamount only to a symbol for the spiritual world behind it. Everything to be seen in the kingdoms of mineral, plant, animal, and also in the physical human kingdom, everything that makes an impression upon the sense-organs, upon intellect and intelligence — all these things are nothing but symbols of the Spirit; and only one who learns how to interpret these symbols reaches the reality, the Spirit.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 143 – Experiential Knowledge of the Supersensible – Calendar of the Soul – Cologne, May 7th, 1912
Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond
Previously posted on April 11, 2015