Friday 23 October 2020

The disharmony between sleep experiences and waking consciousness - from Rudolf Steiner (1919)

"What a great difference there is between the way a man felt himself to be within the whole cosmos in the Egyptian age, let us say, and even in the time of Greece, and how he feels since the beginning of the modern age, since the close of the Middle Ages. 

"Picture to yourselves a well-instructed ancient Egyptian. He knew that his body was constituted not merely of the ingredients which exist here on earth and are embodied in the animal kingdom, plant kingdom, mineral kingdom. He knew that the forces which he saw in the stars above, worked into his being as man; he felt himself a member of the whole cosmos. He felt the whole cosmos not only quick with life, but ensouled and imbued with spirit; in his consciousness there lived something of the spiritual beings of the cosmos, of the soul-nature of the cosmos and its life. 

"All this has been lost in the course of later human history. Today man gazes from his earth up to the star-world and to him it is filled with fixed stars, suns, planets, comets, and so on. 

"But with what means does he examine all that looks down to him out of cosmic space? He examines it with mathematics, with the science of mechanics. What lies around the earth is robbed of spirit, robbed of soul, even of life. It is a great mechanism, in fact, only to be grasped by the aid of mathematical, mechanistic laws. With the help of these mathematical, mechanistic laws we grasp it magnificently! 

"A student of spiritual science is undoubtedly just the one to value the achievements of a Galileo, a Kepler, and others, but what penetrates human understanding and consciousness through the tenets of these great spirits in human evolution merely shows the universe as a great mechanism. 

"What this means is only revealed to one who is able to grasp man in his whole nature. It is all very well for astronomers and astro-physicists to present the universe as a mechanism which can be understood and calculated by mathematical formulae. This indeed is what a man will believe in the time from waking in the morning till going to sleep again at night. 

"But in those unconscious depths which he does not reach with his waking consciousness but which yet belong to his existence and in which he lives between going to sleep and waking, something quite different concerning the universe flows into his soul. 

"There lives in the human soul a knowledge which, although unknown to the waking consciousness, is yet present in the depths and moulds the soul — a knowledge of the spirit, of the life of the soul, of the life of the cosmos. And although in his waking consciousness man knows nothing of what goes on there; in communion with the spirit, soul and life of the universe while he sleeps — in the soul the things are there; they live within it. 

"And much of the great discord felt by modern man is derived from the disharmony between what the soul experiences and what the waking consciousness acknowledges as its world-conception."

From The Ahrimanic Deception - a lecture by Rudolf Steiner 1919. 


Sonny Robinson said...

I've heard the "schism," this separating of the self from the universe, described as "bicameralism" by Julian Jaynes and Colin Wilson. "Ego" literally means "I" so the perception of the self as separate from everything else, consciousness itself and the individual, could potentially be perceived as a repudiation of the real. The distinction of the self from everything else, the invention of an "I," makes the adversarial relationship between man and everything else unavoidable, if one accepts the premise. I'm curious as to your thoughts about Deism, since it seems to be referenced in this post? I suppose the Egyptians were animists. They had a concept of "up there" but I think their word for the sky translates as "Iron Bowl." This could be because an iron-rich meteor made landfall in Egypt sometimes back. Naturally smelted iron was found in some of their artifacts, as well as in lodes/deposits in the ground, which, considering their culture effloresced pre-Iron Age, is kind of curious.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SR. The dream state corresponds with early, hunter gatherer Man, and modern Man's waking state with adolescent alienation. For Steiner Man's proper destiny was a state of conscious and free thinking that included the spiritual as well as material. Colin Wilson wrote a good book about Steiner.