Visible World / Invisible World

Just as there could be no life in the ordinary sense of the word without death, so can there be no true knowledge of the visible world without insight into the supersensible. All knowledge of what is visible must plunge again and again into the invisible in order to evolve. Thus it is evident that the science of the supersensible alone makes the life of revealed knowledge possible. It never weakens life when it appears in its true form. When, having been left to itself, life becomes weak and sickly, supersensible knowledge strengthens it and makes it, ever and again, fresh and healthy.

Source:Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – III. Sleep and Death

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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The two main thoughts of occult science

The whole of occult science must spring from two thoughts that can take root in every human soul. For the occult scientist, as he is meant here, these two thoughts express facts that can be experienced if we use the right means. For many people these thoughts signify extremely controversial statements about which there may be wide differences of opinion; they may even be “proved” to be impossible.

These two thoughts are the following. First, behind the “visible” there exists an invisible world, concealed at the outset from the senses and the thinking bound up with the senses; and second, it is possible for man, through the development of capacities slumbering within him, to penetrate into this hidden world.

One person maintains that there is no such hidden world, that the world perceived by means of the human senses is the only one, that its riddles can be solved out of itself, and that, although the human being at present is still far from being able to answer all the questions of existence, a time will surely come when sense experience and the science based upon it will be able to give the answers.

Others state that we must not maintain there is no hidden world behind the visible, yet the human powers of cognition are unable to penetrate into it. They have limits that cannot be overstepped. Let those who need “faith” take refuge in a world of that kind: a true science, which is based upon assured facts, cannot concern itself with such a world.

There is a third group that considers it presumptuous if a man, through his cognitive activity, desires to penetrate into a realm about which he is to renounce all “knowledge” and be content with “faith.” The adherents of this opinion consider it wrong for the weak human being to want to penetrate into a world that is supposed to belong to the religious life alone.

It is also maintained that a common knowledge of the facts of the sense world is possible for everyone, but that in respect of supersensible facts it is only a matter of the personal opinion of the individual, and that no one should speak of a generally valid certainty in these matters. Others maintain still other things.


Source: GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – 1. The Character of Occult Science

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges.

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Previously posted on April 14, 2018

Illusion /Reality / Danger

I would like today to draw your attention to the fact that on the border between the sensuous-visible world and the invisible-extrasensory world, indeed, a certain danger lies in wait for the human being, and that someone who wants to become an initiate has to overcome this danger at first. It consists in the fact that it is exceptionally difficult to distinguish illusion from reality, dreams from reality, vision from the real view at the border of the physical and the supraphysical worlds. In this area, it is very easy to confuse own fantastic things of the soul with the objective reality. One needs different qualities that are explained in the following: keeping cool, retaining certainty of the soul, courage, perseverance and energy at the border. If the human being lost the clearness about that which is appearance and what is reality at this border, he would have lost his mind, then he would be a fool instead of an initiate.

Nowadays an immense greed, a true fury exists with most people indeed, if they hear of such matters to behold something of the higher worlds. However, with most human beings the perseverance and the will and above all the strength to overcome everything that must remove the indicated dangers do not exist. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture IV: Initiation – Berlin, 28 November 1907

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What purpose is served by all our studies of the higher worlds?

And so in this introductory lecture today, we will begin straight-away and without hesitation to speak on a certain chapter of the higher worlds that will lead us to a deeper understanding of man’s character and personality. For after all, what purpose is served by all our studies of the higher worlds? We talk about the astral world, about the devachanic world. In what sense do we members of the physical world talk about them in the first place? 

We talk of these higher worlds not at all with the consciousness that they are quite foreign to us and stand in no kind of connection with the physical world. Rather are we conscious that the higher worlds, as we call them, lie all around us, that we live in them, that they project into our physical world, and that in these higher worlds lie the causes and grounds for facts that take place before our physical eyes and senses. 

And so we learn to know this life around us with its human beings and nature-events, only when we look at what is invisible but reveals itself in the visible; that is, when we look at what belongs to other worlds in order to be able to form a judgment as to where it plays into our physical world. Normal and abnormal phenomena of ordinary physical life first become clear to us when we learn to know the spiritual life lying behind it — the spiritual life that is far richer and more extensive than the physical life, which forms only a small section of it

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 107 – The astral world: Lecture 1 – Berlin, October 19, 1908 

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Today, people still deny the existence of a spiritual realm

Just as mankind has to do with the three realms of nature, he also has to do with three spiritual realms. Now you may say: It is of no consequence whether I believe it or not, for these three kingdoms are not visible, not perceptible. Yes, gentlemen, I have known people, to whom it had to be explained that air exists! They could not believe that there was something like air. When I say to such a person, this is a table – that he can believe, for when he goes to the table, he can knock on the table, and when he looks at it, he sees the table with his own eyes, but he cannot bump into the air. He looks around and says, there is nothing here. However, everyone nowadays admits the existence of air. The existence of air is simply accepted. 

In the same way, it will happen that people will come to admit the existence of a spiritual world. Today, people still say: The spiritual realm simply does not exist – in the same manner that the peasants used to say: There is no air. – In my native village the peasants used to say: there is no air at all, only the big-headed people from the city assert that because they want to give the impression that they are so clever; one can walk through it because there is nothing to walk through! – But that was long ago. Today, farmers also accept that air exists. But even the smartest people still don’t recognize that there are spiritual beings everywhere! They will, however, acknowledge it in due time, because otherwise certain things simply will be inexplicable, things that will need to be understood.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 353 – Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturvölker – Dornach, June 25, 1924 (page 306)

Translated bij Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on July 27, 2018