Monday 21 August 2017

Thinking as a cure for alienation and a direct source of knowledge

Edited from a 1912 lecture by Rudolf Steiner:

1. The soul has a natural confidence in thinking. It feels that if it could not have this confidence, all stability in life would be lost.

2. The healthy life of the soul comes to an end when it begins to doubt about thinking. For even if we cannot arrive at a clear understanding of something through thought, we may yet have the consolation that clearness would result if we could only rouse ourselves to think with sufficient force and acuteness.

3. We can reassure ourselves with regard to our own incapacity to clear up a specific problem by thinking; but the thought is intolerable that thinking itself would not be able to bring satisfaction, even if we were to penetrate as far into its domain as was necessary for gaining full light on some definite situation in life.

4. The thinker who doubts the validity and power of thought itself is deceived about the fundamental state of his soul. For it is often really his acuteness of thought which, being overstrained, constructs doubts and perplexities. If he did not really rely on thinking, he would not be tormented with these doubts; doubts which themselves are the result of thinking.

5. Thought offers to the soul the consolation which it needs when face to face with the feeling of utter loneliness in the world

- It is possible to experience the feeling: “What am I?... considered in the current of universal cosmic events, flowing from one infinity to another? - What am I? With my petty feelings, desires, and will? - All this stuff can surely be of merely subjective importance, of concern to myself only?”

- Directly the life of thought has been rightly realised, this feeling is confronted by another: “I am living-in those events when I, through thinking, let their being flow-into me.” 

- It is then possible to feel oneself taken into the universe and secure therein.

6. It is but another step from this feeling to that in which the soul says: “It is not only I who think, but something thinks-in-me; the cosmic life expresses itself in me; my soul is the stage upon which the universe manifests itself as thought.”

7. It may be a good preparation for the apprehension of spiritual knowledge to have felt frequently what invigorating force there is in the attitude of soul which says: “I feel myself to be one, in thought, with the stream of cosmic events.”

It is not only a question of recognising what there is in a thought of this kind, but of experiencing it. The thought is recognised when once it has been present in the soul with sufficient power of conviction; but if it is to ripen and bear fruit, this thought must be made to live in the soul again and again.



If the power and scope of thinking can be grasped; if we can have confidence in the validity and potential of our thinking; if thinking can be clarified to its primary nature - the thinking of our true self: in full freedom, agency and creativity; if this thinking can then be practised - practised both in terms of repeated until habitual, and making it the basis of living  -- then we have the answer to many of the deepest yearnings and the solution to the most intractable deficiencies of modern Man.

That is, by such thinking, we may (potentially, over time, with effort) participate-in reality without restriction, know true reality in the fullness of which we are capable; and do so in a manner that is autonomous of the corruption and lies of the world. 

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