The Akasha Chronicle

Whatever a person has done and accomplished is recorded in that imperishable book of history even if there is no mention of it in our history books. We can experience there everything that has ever been done on Earth by conscious beings. Suppose the seer wants to know something about Caesar: he will take some little incident from history as a starting-point on which to concentrate. This he does “in the spirit”; and then around him appear pictures of all that Caesar did and of all that happened round him — how he led his legions, fought his battles, won his victories.

All this happens in a remarkable way: the seer does not see an abstract script; everything passes before him in silhouettes and pictures, and what he sees is not what actually happened in space; it is something quite different. When Caesar gained one of his victories, he was of course thinking; and all that happened around entered into his thoughts; every movement of an army exists in thought. The Akasha Chronicle therefore shows his intentions, all that he thought and imagined as he was leading his legions; and their thoughts, too, are shown. It is a true picture of what happened, and whatever conscious beings have experienced is depicted there. (Plants, of course, cannot be seen.) Hence the Initiate can read off the whole past history of humanity — but he must first learn how to do it.

These Akasha pictures speak a confusing language, because the Akasha is alive. The Akasha image of Caesar must not be compared with Caesar’s individuality, which may already have been reincarnated again. This sort of confusion may very easily arise if we have gained access to the Akasha pictures by external means. Hence they often play a part in spiritualistic séances. The spiritualist imagines he is seeing a man who has died, when it is really only his Akasha picture. Thus a picture of Goethe may appear as he was in 1796, and if we are not properly informed we may confuse this picture with Goethe’s individuality. It is all the more bewildering because the image is alive and answers questions, and the answers are not only those given in the past, but quite new ones. They are not repetitions of anything that Goethe actually said, but answers he might well have given. It is even possible that this Akasha image of Goethe might write a poem in Goethe’s own style. The Akasha pictures are real, living pictures. Strange as these facts may seem, they are none the less facts.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE TWO: THE THREE WORLDS – Stuttgart, 23rd August, 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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One who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer

I have often emphasised that one who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer or enthusiast, living only in the higher worlds and not seeing external reality. People who are ever dreaming in higher worlds, or about them, and do not see external reality, are not initiates; they should be considered from a pathological point of view, at least in the psychological sense of the term. The real knowledge of initiation does not estrange one from ordinary, physical life and its various relationships. On the contrary, it makes one a more painstaking, conscientious observer than without the faculty of seership. Indeed we may say: if a man has no sense of ordinary realities, no interest in ordinary realities, no interest in the details of others’ lives, if he is so ‘superior’ that he sails through life without troubling about its details, he shows he is not a genuine seer.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction: Lecture VIII – Dornach, 9th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett

Previously posted on May 11, 2016

The difference between an initiate and a clairvoyant

The person who, without being clairvoyant, understands everything spiritual science has to say, is an initiate. However, he who can enter these worlds, which we call the invisible world, is a clairvoyant. In earlier times, not so long ago, there existed a strict separation in the secret schools, between clairvoyants and initiates. As an initiate, without being clairvoyant, a person could attain to knowledge of higher worlds, if only he or she used their intellect in the right way.

On the other hand, someone could be clairvoyant without being initiated into a particularly high degree. It will be clear to you what is meant. Imagine two people, a very scholarly man, who knows all that physics and physiology possibly have to say about light and the phenomena of light, but who is so near-sighted, that he can barely see ten centimetres in front of himself: his eyesight is weak, but he is thoroughly acquainted with the laws of light.

Similarly, someone can be initiated into the spiritual world, but still be unable to perceive clearly what he sees. Another has excellent sight in the outer sensory world but has almost no knowledge of everything the scholarly man knows. Thus, there can also be clairvoyants who are able to perceive the spiritual world – they see into the spiritual world, but have no realisation, no knowledge of that which they see.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, October 10, 1907 (page 26)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

How an initiate experiences his own death

For the initiate the next physical death is an entirely different event from the death as he knew it formerly. He experiences death consciously by laying aside the physical body as one discards a garment that is worn out or perhaps rendered useless through a sudden rent. Thus his physical death is of special importance only for those living with him, whose perception is still restricted to the world of the senses. For them the student dies; but for himself nothing of importance is changed in his whole environment. The entire supersensible world stood open to him before his death, and it is this same world that now confronts him after death.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – IX – The Guardian of the Threshold

Translated by George Metaxa, with revisions by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on December 18, 2015

Common sense

Even the Initiate, if he has not developed his reason in the right way, gains nothing whatever from his super-sensible experiences. When someone today — please take what I am now saying as a really serious matter — has learnt to think in a way perfectly adapted to meeting the demands of school examinations, when he acquires habits of thought that enable him to pass academic tests with flying colours — then his reasoning faculty will be so vitiated that even if millions of experiences of the super-sensible world were handed to him on a platter, he would see them as little as you could physically see the objects in a dark room.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Some Conditions for Understanding Supersensible Experiences – Dornach, 18th January 1920

Previously posted on February 27, 2016