Inner Reading and Inner Hearing: And How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas
Two Lectures Cycles, Followed by Two Christmas Lectures Dornach, October 3–7
and December 12–20, 1914; Dornach, December 26 and Basel, December 27, 1914 (CW 156)
These two lecture courses, given just after the beginning of World War I, stand as a kind of unexpected gift. A few months later, once the war became a reality, the possibilities for esoteric work would change and it would become more difficult to do spiritual research. But in the short interval before the true horror of the conflict unfolded, Rudolf Steiner—almost by the way—was able to give these lectures, which lay out in the clearest fashion the path of anthroposophic meditation, and its assumptions, language, and consequences.
The first lectures expand on the idea of inner “reading” and “hearing” as the path to spiritual knowing. The spiritual world gives something and we, as spiritual researchers, receive and then read or interpret it. Spiritual knowledge is not a matter of will, desire, or intention on our part, but a gift from the spiritual world for which we must prepare ourselves by silencing our desires, emptying ourselves, and presenting ourselves in humility and devotion to the spiritual world. Then we become aware of the reality that the spiritual world is nowhere else but here, all around us; and if we dissolve the sense of being skin-bound, we can become open to it, reflect its images in our astral bodies, and then learn to read them by identification. Steiner describes this complex, subtle, existential and living process, in which ultimately we can become one with the universe, in a masterful way from which anyone who meditates, or wishes to begin to meditate, will gain a great deal.
The second lecture cycle, “How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas,” deepens the themes developed in the first cycle, so that the two together provide a useful guide to the processes underlying meditation or learning to know the spiritual world. At the same time, because work was just beginning on the building that would become the Goetheanum, Steiner connects the esoteric principles of its design with the overall theme of the suprasensory human being in relation to meditation and spiritual knowing.
The volume closes with two wonderful lectures in celebration of Christmas. Here Steiner has a threefold emphasis: Christ, supraearthly, glorious, and divine, fully united with humanity and the Earth and born in each human heart. To celebrate Christmas truly means that we recognize all three of these as one in the spiritual world, in the earthly world, and in ourselves.
- Introduction by Christopher Bamford
PART I: Inner Reading and Inner Hearing
- 1. The Human Being in Relationship to the World (Dornach, October 3, 1914): Inner reading and inner hearing as a method of spiritual scientific research. Acquiring new forms of judgment, thinking, sensing or feeling for the spiritual world. The significance of thinking, feeling, willing on the physical plane as preparation for the investigation of the spiritual world. Difference between perceiving in the physical world and in the spiritual world. Suppressing the self in meditation. Experiences of the soul while learning inner reading. Learning inner hearing.
- 2. Identification with the Signs and Spiritual Realities of the Imaginative World (Dornach, October 4, 1914): The physical organism as a mirror for experience in the outer world. Experience of the astral body in the spiritual world reflected in the etheric body––images of spiritual realities. Differences between natural and trained clairvoyance. Cosmic vowels and consonants.
- 3. The Vowels and Consonants of the Spiritual World (Dornach, October 5, 1914): Experience of the cosmic vowels. Human thoughts and ideas as shadow pictures of real imaginations. The beings of the hierarchy of angels. Practicing loving interest in the world. The animal world as the physiognomy of nature; the plant world as the facial expression; the mineral world as the gesture of nature. The capability to change into other beings. The evil misuse of higher spiritual forces.
- 4. Inner Mobility of Thought (Dornach, October 6, 1914): Space and time relationships and imaginations of the angels, archangels, archai. Experience of the Cosmic Word. Reflections of the seven cosmic vowels in the etheric body and the twelve cosmic consonants in the physical body. Perception in the spiritual world between death and new birth. The future organ of thinking during the Jupiter and Venus periods.
- 5. Times of Expectation (Dornach, October 7, 1914): Christian Morgenstern’s connection with the spiritual-scientific movement. Christian Morgenstern’s soul after death as spiritual guide for souls that had felt on Earth the yearning for the spiritual. Goethe, Hermann Grimm, and Christian Morgenstern and their relationship to the suprasensory worlds. Spiritual science as fulfillment of this expectation. The nature of eurythmy.
PART II: How to Achieve Existence in the World of Ideas
- 6. The Human Organization, Memory, and Inner Reading (Dornach, December 12, 1914): Human memory. The astral body as reader of the esoteric script. The sacred art of writing in ancient times. Goethe’s relation to color. The significance of judgments out of the folk nature, of sympathy and antipathy for a particular folk soul.
- 7. Microcosm and Macrocosm: Human Gestures and the Life of the World (Dornach, December 13, 1914): The transition of the “I” into the astral body, from conscious to subconscious experience. Possibilities of a plant therapy. Ideas in Maeterlinck’s book, Der Schatz der Armen [the treasure of the poor] and Fichte’s Reden an die deutsche Nation [addresses to the German nation] as examples of the striving for the re-enlivening of human spiritual development. Spiritual-scientific impulses for artistic creating. The building of the human form under the influence of the cosmos.
- 8. Human Beings as illuminators of the Cherubim, heaters of the Seraphim (Dornach, December 19, 1914): How can human beings enter reality with concepts and ideas? Perception of the world in mirror image. Spiritual science adds a concluding chapter to Riddles of Philosophy. Developing specific capacities through philosophy. The objective thought world; the world of the hierarchies. The dying of thoughts in the physical body. The world of images and the world of realities. How can we bring reality to the world of images? Moral impulses of human beings and their significance for the hierarchies.
- 9. The Separation of Art, Science, and Religion (Dornach, December 20, 1914): The transformation of a one-sided head culture into a whole-human view of the world as the task of spiritual science. Separation and re-uniting of art, science, and religion. Artistic experience. The transformation of the human organism in the coming Jupiter evolution. The building-forms of the first Goetheanum.
PART III: The Celebration of Christmas
- 10. Toward a New Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha (Dornach, December 26, 1914): The Christmas festival of the renewed understanding of Christ. The descent of Christ out of the spiritual heights. The various views of a divine mediator in the Mithras service, in Manichaeism, and in Gnosis. Augustine and Faust, the renewed understanding of Christ.
- 11. The Birth of Christ in the Human Heart (Basel, December 27, 1914): The cosmic Christ and the birth of the Christ knowledge
This volume is a translation from German of Okkultes Lesen und okkultes Hören (GA 156).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West (2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982); Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books). HarperSanFrancisco included an essay by Mr. Bamford in its anthology Best Spiritual Writing 2000.