Anthroposophy for Dummies

Any topics primarily focused on metaphysics can be discussed here, in a generally casual way, where conversations may take unexpected turns.

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Anthony66
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Post by Anthony66 »

Ashvin, I'm going to continue to ask a clarifying question or two in relation to your list.
AshvinP wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:28 pm 1. Inseparable relation of perception and cognition as it manifests in our current experience.
I think this one is reasonably clear. What are the objects of perception you have in mind? Are they confined to those mediated by our 5 senses or do you also include the perceptions of the inner contents of consciousness?

Would you say one is visually perceiving when staring at a scene with a "blank mind", purposely disengaging the cognitive processing of the sensory data?
Ben Iscatus
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

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"The refusal of modern 'enlightenment' to treat 'possession' as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete experience in its favour, has always seemed to me a curious example of fashion in things scientific. That the demon theory (not necessarily a devil-theory) will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain. One has to be 'scientific' indeed to be blind and ignorant enough to suspect no such possibility" ~ William James
Yes, what with possession and channelling (by deceased human souls), one day Analytic Idealism is going to have to incorporate those nested hierarchies BK sometimes refers to which exist beyond the end of earthly dissociation...
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AshvinP
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

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Anthony66 wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 3:26 pm Ashvin, I'm going to continue to ask a clarifying question or two in relation to your list.
AshvinP wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 4:28 pm 1. Inseparable relation of perception and cognition as it manifests in our current experience.
I think this one is reasonably clear. What are the objects of perception you have in mind? Are they confined to those mediated by our 5 senses or do you also include the perceptions of the inner contents of consciousness?

Would you say one is visually perceiving when staring at a scene with a "blank mind", purposely disengaging the cognitive processing of the sensory data?

Anthony,

Good questions!

I call any form which can become an 'object' of our thinking a "perception". That includes our own thought-forms, like the form of "triangle". When one is staring with "blank mind", the perceiving of 'objects' like thought-forms is simply being obscured but not eliminated. I think the same holds for deep mystical states where one purposefully moves towards the pole of formless conscious activity and away from the formative pole. In broad terms, there are 12 senses I would identify. I am pasting below a section of a previous essay where I discuss them (the quoted descriptions are from Steiner):


viewtopic.php?f=5&t=441

HUMANITY'S SENSE-ORGANS:

INWARD (WILLING)

(1) Touch-sense
"If you come up against a needle, you will notice that it is pointed, but of course you do not get inside the point."

(2) Life-sense
"This vital enlivening or damping down is something we are aware of, but generally we are too accustomed to the feeling of being alive to be constantly aware of it."

(3) Movement-sense
"I am referring to movements such as the bending of an arm or leg, or the movements of the larynx when you speak... all these inner movements that entail changes in the position of separate parts of the organism."

(4) Balance-sense
"When we relate ourselves to the world, orientating ourselves with respect to above and below and to right and left so that we feel upright, we are employing our sense of balance..."


OUTWARD AND INWARD (FEELING)

(5) Smell-sense
"...smell does not take you very far outside yourself... people are willing to use the sense of smell to perceive the world, but they do not want the world to come very close."

(6) Taste-sensing
"When we taste sugar or salt, the experience of its qualities is already very inward... more so than with smell... there is already more of a connection established between inner world and outer world."

(7) Sight-sense
"In seeing we take into ourselves more of the properties of the external world than we do with the sense of smell."

(8) Warmth-sense
"When we are aware of the warmth or the coldness of an object we also experience this warmth or coldness — we experience it along with the object."


OUTWARD (THINKING)

(9) Hearing-sense
"Sight only gives us pictures, so to speak, pictures of the outer surface... when I take hold of something, a piece of ice, say, I am sure that the ice is cold through and through... but when I make an object resonate, the sounds bring me into a particular relationship with what is within it."

(10) Speech-sense (also Word-sense or Tone-sense)
"...when I perceive a mere word I am still not so intimately connected with the object, with the external thing, as I am connected with it when I perceive the thoughts behind the words..."

(11) Thought-sense
"...a sense that goes deeper than the usual word sense must come into play before I can come into a living relationship with the being that is forming the words... before I can enter through the words and transpose myself directly into the being that is doing the thinking and forming the concepts."

(12) Ego-sense (also "I-sense")
"We are referring to the ability of one person to be aware of the "I" of another... it is the sense that enables you to feel another being as yourself and that makes it possible to be aware of yourself while at one with another being."
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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Cleric K
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

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Anthony66 wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:55 pm Thanks Cleric. I certainly plan to try, as time permits over the forthcoming weeks, to further understand the list Ashvin provided .

I tried your: "I think the speech" exercise but found myself gravitating to the "I" and not being able to locate it. This is likely due to my Buddhist inspired meditation practices where one is challenged to locate the I/self only to discover it to be a search in vain.
Yeah, this exercise probably runs completely counter to what you've become accustomed to with Buddhist practices. In the latter we really view the activity of the "I" and the soul contents related to it, as a kind of electron-positron pair. As long as they are active, it is like hysteresis process in physics or dog chasing its tail. The solution seems to be to allow the pair to blissfully annihilate back into the quantum foam. I completely understand that exercises in the spiritual scientific sense, where the emphasis is on fully self-conscious, focused spiritual activity, are viewed from the Buddhist perspective as the most basic mistake. The Buddhist looks with compassion on the person, realizing that he willfully perpetuates the electron-positron dance, never realizing that they must annihilate.

This seems as one of those forever unresolvable conflicts. Yet it is resolvable but through inner experience. Outer words can sketch the path to the experience but it can only be walked through the good will of the individual.

Let me approach it thus (one of the possible way to approach the issue). When the Buddhist achieves the annihilation, the world doesn't end. It's only that there's no longer doer and things done. It's only pure existence. Yet existence that doesn't end, we don't eject from the body, leave it behind and enter Nirvana. We're still on Earth. Thus, by necessity one must assume that true annihilation will occur only after physical death.

Now we reach a point where it is really up to the essential character of the individual person, if he'll feel satisfied at that stage. For me, for example, long before I got at all involved with spirituality, there was something missing in that picture. One overcomes the personality in this way, annihilates the ego, but for me there was a dangling question: what's the nature of the World? Who/what is responsible for the stars, the planets, rocks, plants, animals. Why we have two legs and two arms? Why not four or six? Why not two heads? None of this receives any answer in Buddhism or any other school of mysticism.

Here I can refer you to Ashvin's latest essay where he deals with polarities. It's not necessary here to consider the 3D cross, the 2D will work. Let's imagine the horizontal bar. We can picture that as the electron-positron pair that when perfectly balanced are annihilated. But as we saw, the World doesn't end with this. This is where Western esoterism continues further and recognizes the vertical bar. Even though the horizontal is in balance there's still a possibility to work along the vertical axis, as long as we realize that there's still polarity there - spiritual activity and receptivity, masculine and feminine. When consciousness grows along the vertical axis we then recognize also what the mystic state really is. It's a specific configuration of our head and larynx soul organs (chakras). The head organ (the two petal lotus, which unsurprisingly has something to do with the two brain hemispheres) is really in perfect balance (the horizontal bar). Yet our Spirit can still be active along the vertical axis, through the higher forms of consciousness.

Here I would like to say that the above is in no way a critique of Gautama Buddha. The Buddha impulse was completely evolutionary at its time. Cognition along the vertical became possible only after the Christ impulse.

So it is things like these that we must consider and really investigate how they work upon our soul. Intellectual attempts to decide which is 'right' don't lead very far. We must really look into ourselves and determine if we want to go towards the depths of reality, even though this will paint a quite different picture, where we actually have creative responsibilities towards the Whole.
Anthony66 wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 2:55 pm I wonder if I'm cut out for the Steiner style meditations given I think I suffer from aphantasia. Perhaps I can develop the ability to visualize over time.
Your 'suffering' from aphantasia can also be your greatest advantage. Actually it might be more difficult for someone with very vivid imagination to grasp the essentials of the spiritual scientific meditation. The thing is that people want to 'see' things. They expect that higher worlds press into their souls, similarly to the way visual perceptions do, as something that forces itself upon us. Yet this is not how true higher cognition is developed. And also why people with very vivid imagination (unless they grasp properly the principles of spiritual training) can easily become mere fantasts, where they simply contemplate the vivid shapes that proceed from them (even it not in a fully conscious way).

You can try to draw simple geometric forms in thought. If you don't see visually anything it is in a sense even easier for you! Because the focus should be precisely on the thought-experience itself. It's important to feel that you are moving your thought in the lines of the geometric shape and experience the meaning of what you do. Any visual thought-perception that may accompany this activity is not at all that important.

The goal of this type of development is that gradually we begin to know much more intimately our thinking activity. We find out that we can move thinking in ways that we have never suspected before, and not only hear verbal thoughts. Higher seeing is developed as a result of thinking becoming something altogether different. Imagine an octopus that can mimic shapes and colors. In certain sense our thinking transforms from simple spitting of sequential words into a fluid-like activity which expands, assumes shapes, dynamics, etc. We don't do that as unrestricted fantasy. It's much more like doing mathematics, where this fluid activity is interested into exploring the constraints, forces, processes and beings of reality. We experience these not as something external that we perceive but directly through the way they impress into our thinking. All this is experienced as diversification and increase in resolution in the very fabric of thought. Since thought is immediate meaning, as this meaning becomes more and more comprehensive it becomes a kind of pictorial perception. Except that it is not like a visionary state (for example psychedelics), where we see stuff and must interpret them with the intellect but what we see is an immediate reflection of the higher order meaning that we experience in our transfigured thinking.

So don't worry. Colors and forms will most definitely come but that should happen as the result of diversifying and increasing in resolution, texture of thinking.

As far as the "I" - no, you will never see it, just as the "eye" never sees itself. What I see is only what I bring forth into existence. But I know myself precisely because I live in the activity that brings forth the thoughts. So the goal of the "I think the speech" exercise is not to see ourselves from the outside but to experience ourselves as the active spiritual force which utters the thoughts. Only in the experience of this force we can know ourselves as an "I". As you say, if we find ourselves trying to find the "I", then we should simply realize that the real "I" is the being that is "trying to find the 'I'". We can only be that being but not step outside of it and contemplate it.
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AshvinP
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

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AshvinP wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 3:28 pm
Herger The Joyous wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 1:01 pm Have you looked into John David Ebert with his work on Rudolf Steiner?
He is an experienced Steiner scholar with a large body of work covering Steiner's work.
This lecture series is a decent place to start.

Herger,

I have watched some of JDE's videos. I did really like his analysis at first, but then I grew more weary. I found videos where he purports to be talking to Jung, Steiner, and other souls via some lady who is a channeling medium. He asked a bunch of questions and the answers were always the most vague possible ones which could be given, especially when it came to their specific philosophical-scientific ideas during their most recent incarnation. I'm not sure if he was skeptical and just wanted to explore the possibility, or if he actually thought he was in direct contact with them through the medium. After that, I basically stopped watching.

I don't really want to distract from the productive conversations here, but I came across JDE on Twitter and, either his account has been hacked by someone who wants to ruin his reputation, or... he has gone absolutely insane. I won't say more, but here is his Twitter handle if anyone wants to check it out for themselves - @johndavidebert. Based on his videos, I cannot imagine him ever speaking that way, but who knows...
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Sep 05, 2021 4:51 amI don't really want to distract from the productive conversations here, but I came across JDE on Twitter and, either his account has been hacked by someone who wants to ruin his reputation, or... he has gone absolutely insane. I won't say more, but here is his Twitter handle if anyone wants to check it out for themselves - @johndavidebert. Based on his videos, I cannot imagine him ever speaking that way, but who knows...
That twitter account @johndavidebert seems to now be defunct, so something suspect going on there. Not being familiar with JDE, out of curiosity, I've been checking out some of his recent interviews, such as the one below, and he seems to have it together ... notwithstanding the so-called channelling explorations.

Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Post by Soul_of_Shu »

Actually, on deeper examination of some of JDE's other more recent rants on youtube, it does seem that he has lost it, and has either taken to drinking and micro-dosing before going on air, and/or gone off some meds. Sad thing to see, so I won't share it here.
Here out of instinct or grace we seek
soulmates in these galleries of hieroglyph and glass,
where mutual longings and sufferings of love
are laid bare in transfigured exhibition of our hearts,
we who crave deep secrets and mysteries,
as elusive as the avatars of our dreams.
Anthony66
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Post by Anthony66 »

Thanks again!
AshvinP wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 4:19 pm ...

(7) Sight-sense
"In seeing we take into ourselves more of the properties of the external world than we do with the sense of smell."

...
The physicalist model of visual perception has the physics of light, the optical processing, the receptors, the nerve impulses, the neural processing and then of course magic happens and we get subjectivity.

BK understands it all as impingements across various forms of mental processes. I think this is the weak point of his framework - inadequate and short on details.

Do you have a model of visual perception or at least something we can hang our hats on?
Anthony66
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

Post by Anthony66 »

Cleric K wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 8:54 pm This seems as one of those forever unresolvable conflicts. Yet it is resolvable but through inner experience. Outer words can sketch the path to the experience but it can only be walked through the good will of the individual.
I must admit to being a little wary with respect to resolution through inner experience. This of course has been the tool of choice of so many religionists - the Mormon burning in the bosom and the Pentecostal manifestations of the Spirit for example. But it's certainly my intention to learn as much as I can about "spiritual science" and to diligently perform the various meditations. I had an altered state experience a month or so ago where "Steiner imaginings" appeared forcefully in my consciousness so I'm following that lead...
Cleric K wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 8:54 pm Your 'suffering' from aphantasia can also be your greatest advantage. Actually it might be more difficult for someone with very vivid imagination to grasp the essentials of the spiritual scientific meditation. The thing is that people want to 'see' things. They expect that higher worlds press into their souls, similarly to the way visual perceptions do, as something that forces itself upon us. Yet this is not how true higher cognition is developed. And also why people with very vivid imagination (unless they grasp properly the principles of spiritual training) can easily become mere fantasts, where they simply contemplate the vivid shapes that proceed from them (even it not in a fully conscious way).
Thanks for your encouragement. After day 5, I have been able to create a fuzzy, indistinct red dot in my mind and I can make it move. I'm slightly pleased with that!
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AshvinP
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Re: Anthroposophy for Dummies

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Anthony66 wrote: Sun Sep 05, 2021 1:35 pm Thanks again!
AshvinP wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 4:19 pm ...

(7) Sight-sense
"In seeing we take into ourselves more of the properties of the external world than we do with the sense of smell."

...
The physicalist model of visual perception has the physics of light, the optical processing, the receptors, the nerve impulses, the neural processing and then of course magic happens and we get subjectivity.

BK understands it all as impingements across various forms of mental processes. I think this is the weak point of his framework - inadequate and short on details.

Do you have a model of visual perception or at least something we can hang our hats on?

Anthony,

One more thing on the thought-forms discussed earlier - it is helpful to practice with the "blank mind" and slowly bring objects in your field of vision into focus, so you perceive some portion, however slight, of how your thinking activity brings conceptual meaning to the bare perceptions. That is a core aspect of Steiner's philosophy as I think Cleric already mentioned - finding that "firm point" within our spiritual activity of Thinking from which you can proceed to investigate the noumenal relations with that same spiritual activity. Once we observe our own thought-forms in this manner and find the phenomenal form arriving together with its conceptual meaning from our own activity, we are reaching that "firm point". This also relates to your question above. The process of bringing conceptual meaning to the perceptual content of the world is not other than "visual processing" - that is truly how it occurs. The underlying explanation for where the conceptual meaning comes from will never be found in purely physical processes or abstract models of the physical world, because the concepts-ideas are born of the spiritual realms. But that does not mean the physical phenomena are unimportant, because they most definitely are important, but only when considered in an integral qualitative way together with the ideal content we are bringing to them. We cannot leave our own spiritual activity outside the phenomenal process and still expect an accurate image of what is occurring.

A couple more points along those same lines:

1 - The core of this approach is to eventually transcend all abstract models of how we experience the world. We should always keep in mind that our conceptual exploration is simply a tool to leverage ourselves into that direct experience of the noumenal relations. As an analogy, it is sort of like standing at the city limits of Paris and, before crossing the border, asking someone for a bunch of pictures or a 2-D map that you can study in lieu of actually crossing over into the city. That being said:

2 - The conceptual foundation is very important, just as getting a map would be important before you cross over so that you can identify what you are seeing as you travel around the city and some of their relations to the other perceptions you come across in the city. And that being said:

3 - It is even better still if we can construct much of the map for ourselves rather than relying completely on someone else's previously constructed map. That is really how we internalize the knowledge, so that our seed is sown in the good soil and bears fruit, rather than along the path, the rocks, or the thorns and can be snatched away easily by any trials and tribulations, including doubts, social pressures, etc., which will inevitably occur.

4 - In my experience, constructing the map ourselves is not at all like what I previously pictured it to be, i.e. going to a library and studying a bunch of books and slowly putting a bunch of little knowledge fragments together. Instead, there is truly a qualitative transformation which takes place by way of the Spirit and makes the learning curve an altogether different experience than what we are used to with the mere earthly knowledge we learn in school or at our job. The latter is important too, but I am just saying we can really expect the Spirit to work within us in many incredible ways on our journey. As Saint Paul said, by the Spirit, we are "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."
Last edited by AshvinP on Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
“It is your presumption that freedom is something which you already possess that ensures that you will remain in chains."
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