GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Any topics primarily focused on metaphysics can be discussed here, in a generally casual way, where conversations may take unexpected turns.
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Location: Sweden

GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

I thought I would open a thread to collect thoughts specifically arising from this book, that I plan to read along with the online reading group Urphänomen (since I can't attend their Tuesday meetings).

Chapter I seems to have a continued introductory character. Now reading Chapter II - The nature of humanity - I have been slightly surprised by the affirmation that, for the new student of spiritual science, it's necessary to comprehend the nature of man, first by reading its narration, rather then by first working at developing the faculties that would allow to discover that same nature as direct supersensible experience:

The way man can attain such observation, so that the ‘hidden reality’ becomes as manifest to him as are the phenomena of the sense-world to his ordinary vision, will be dealt with in a later chapter. Here, the results of supersensible observation must first be described. As has already been pointed out, information about the path to the attainment of higher faculties of cognition can only be of value to a man when he has first made himself acquainted, through simple narrative, with that which supersensible research reveals. In this domain it is indeed possible to comprehend what one cannot yet observe. Nay more, the right path to seership is one that takes its start from such comprehension.

Study-meditation is given as a precondition to develop supersensible knowing. Probably one way to see it is that, since myth creates language and not the other way around - as Barfield said - familiarizing oneself with our collective human 'mythology' (cosmology) that is our original, ever-present experiential flow, opens the way to the recognition of the language of that collective unfolding - the language (Logos) of ideal, concentrical interconnectedness whose alphabet is then progressively discovered in the practice of concentrative meditation.
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 1715
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Cleric K »

Federica wrote: Sun Mar 10, 2024 10:15 pm I thought I would open a thread to collect thoughts specifically arising from this book, that I plan to read along with the online reading group Urphänomen (since I can't attend their Tuesday meetings).

Chapter I seems to have a continued introductory character. Now reading Chapter II - The nature of humanity - I have been slightly surprised by the affirmation that, for the new student of spiritual science, it's necessary to comprehend the nature of man, first by reading its narration, rather then by first working at developing the faculties that would allow to discover that same nature as direct supersensible experience:

The way man can attain such observation, so that the ‘hidden reality’ becomes as manifest to him as are the phenomena of the sense-world to his ordinary vision, will be dealt with in a later chapter. Here, the results of supersensible observation must first be described. As has already been pointed out, information about the path to the attainment of higher faculties of cognition can only be of value to a man when he has first made himself acquainted, through simple narrative, with that which supersensible research reveals. In this domain it is indeed possible to comprehend what one cannot yet observe. Nay more, the right path to seership is one that takes its start from such comprehension.

Study-meditation is given as a precondition to develop supersensible knowing. Probably one way to see it is that, since myth creates language and not the other way around - as Barfield said - familiarizing oneself with our collective human 'mythology' (cosmology) that is our original, ever-present experiential flow, opens the way to the recognition of the language of that collective unfolding - the language (Logos) of ideal, concentrical interconnectedness whose alphabet is then progressively discovered in the practice of concentrative meditation.
One way to understand the need for this is by conceiving that when we think with full engagement through the communications of deeper experiences, we stretch our thinking feelers into unknown territories. This in itself stretches the horizon of our imagination.

If we take the other approach and imagine that we can discover everything by ourselves, it's practically guaranteed that we'll reach some inner plateau and we'll wonder why we don't seem to make any progress. It's like sitting in a dark room and saying "I meditate and meditate, yet I stay in the same place". But if someone has invited us to stretch our feelers into the surrounding space, then even if we don't see it, we say "Aaah, I see that there's this direction in which my being can grow." Then, equipped with this inner attitude, our concentration grows in a fertile context.

By studying what is already revealed by those before us, our thinking being stretches into the depth of reality in the most real way. As said many times, when we do that in a living manner, we're not simply making an intellectual model of the higher worlds - our being in full reality grows there. Then, through the concentration and the inner attunement of our contextual 'optical' system, this expanded thinking horizon begins to be filled with 'substance' from all directions.

In mathematics, if we learn 1+1=2 like a parrot, this is a fact that stands like something arbitrary, floating in the air. But if we explore the whole field of mathematics, we discover that such a statement is supported from all directions by all kinds of complementary mathematical truths. They all form an interconnected medium of ideal relations. Similarly, the communicated facts of inner investigation initially stand as quite arbitrary, even fantastic. Here, however, we don't deal only with the intellect (as it is in mathematics) but with the full spectrum of reality. When we deepen our own life experiences, things begin to be understood flowing through lawful ideal streamlines, that complement and support each other with mathematical beauty.

In the same way that 1+1=2, when properly understood, is already an experience within the full field of mathematical interrelatedness (even if we do not yet have intuitive orientation in its vastness), so when a fact of the deeper grooves of existence is grasped in its essence, we live within the full Cosmic ideal interrelatedness. This doesn't mean that our intellectual concept of the fact is the full reality, but only that the intuitive context within which this concept makes sense, is the same one that becomes elucidated from all directions when our being integrates into the Macrocosmic depth of reality.

In a nutshell, we study to break the boundaries of our imagination, to push the horizon even further, and attain intuitive orientation within the depth of reality. Another very important aspect is that in this way we meet in a safe manner with our inner resisting soul forces. If we can't bear the mere thought of a certain fact of the higher worlds, how much worse it would be if we stumble upon it without any preparation in its full explicity and it shocks us? By thinking through the depth of reality, we also understand what are the obstacles within ourselves that we must work on. Meditation, concentration, attunement of inner and outer life, then all organize our being within this depth and the latter becomes tangible reality.
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

Cleric K wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 8:24 am One way to understand the need for this is by conceiving that when we think with full engagement through the communications of deeper experiences, we stretch our thinking feelers into unknown territories. This in itself stretches the horizon of our imagination.

If we take the other approach and imagine that we can discover everything by ourselves, it's practically guaranteed that we'll reach some inner plateau and we'll wonder why we don't seem to make any progress. It's like sitting in a dark room and saying "I meditate and meditate, yet I stay in the same place". But if someone has invited us to stretch our feelers into the surrounding space, then even if we don't see it, we say "Aaah, I see that there's this direction in which my being can grow." Then, equipped with this inner attitude, our concentration grows in a fertile context.

By studying what is already revealed by those before us, our thinking being stretches into the depth of reality in the most real way. As said many times, when we do that in a living manner, we're not simply making an intellectual model of the higher worlds - our being in full reality grows there. Then, through the concentration and the inner attunement of our contextual 'optical' system, this expanded thinking horizon begins to be filled with 'substance' from all directions.

In mathematics, if we learn 1+1=2 like a parrot, this is a fact that stands like something arbitrary, floating in the air. But if we explore the whole field of mathematics, we discover that such a statement is supported from all directions by all kinds of complementary mathematical truths. They all form an interconnected medium of ideal relations. Similarly, the communicated facts of inner investigation initially stand as quite arbitrary, even fantastic. Here, however, we don't deal only with the intellect (as it is in mathematics) but with the full spectrum of reality. When we deepen our own life experiences, things begin to be understood flowing through lawful ideal streamlines, that complement and support each other with mathematical beauty.

In the same way that 1+1=2, when properly understood, is already an experience within the full field of mathematical interrelatedness (even if we do not yet have intuitive orientation in its vastness), so when a fact of the deeper grooves of existence is grasped in its essence, we live within the full Cosmic ideal interrelatedness. This doesn't mean that our intellectual concept of the fact is the full reality, but only that the intuitive context within which this concept makes sense, is the same one that becomes elucidated from all directions when our being integrates into the Macrocosmic depth of reality.

In a nutshell, we study to break the boundaries of our imagination, to push the horizon even further, and attain intuitive orientation within the depth of reality. Another very important aspect is that in this way we meet in a safe manner with our inner resisting soul forces. If we can't bear the mere thought of a certain fact of the higher worlds, how much worse it would be if we stumble upon it without any preparation in its full explicity and it shocks us? By thinking through the depth of reality, we also understand what are the obstacles within ourselves that we must work on. Meditation, concentration, attunement of inner and outer life, then all organize our being within this depth and the latter becomes tangible reality.

Thanks, Cleric. Yes, it’s all clear. In basic terms, one could probably speak of yet another variation of the “map and territory” metaphor. Steiner’s point actually made me think, by contrast, of Scaligero's method of instructing new students to do practical work, concentration exercises, without complicating it for them with any added considerations (when he said that, in one of the transcribed lectures, he was referring to people under psychological stress, which is probably the reason why he used to point them to thinking exercises alone).

I like how you put it at the end, that we can 'stress test' our thinking elasticity using the supersensible, cosmological facts narrated in the book. It comes to mind that AI picturing can probably be used to this effect, to see how much it takes before one is shocked (but also stunned, or inspired) by various illustrations. Much more appropriate ways of prompting the tools should be found, but here I was trying to get MS Copilot image designer to picture Old Saturn as first embodiment of the Earth:

Image
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 1715
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Cleric K »

Federica wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 3:41 pm I like how you put it at the end, that we can 'stress test' our thinking elasticity using the supersensible, cosmological facts narrated in the book. It comes to mind that AI picturing can probably be used to this effect, to see how much it takes before one is shocked (but also stunned, or inspired) by various illustrations. Much more appropriate ways of prompting the tools should be found, but here I was trying to get MS Copilot image designer to picture Old Saturn as first embodiment of the Earth:
Nice attempt :) I found it quite impossible to make it draw what I want if the scene has to be more complicated. It simply stacks things in some order, no matter how much you try to explain. Some time ago I wanted to generate some images, which I liked as a visual style but were more or less arbitrary otherwise:

Image

Image

Image
User avatar
Lou Gold
Posts: 2025
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:18 pm

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Lou Gold »

Cool image, Federica!
Be calm - Be clear - See the faults - See the suffering - Give your love
User avatar
Lou Gold
Posts: 2025
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:18 pm

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Lou Gold »

Seems like a fun sandbox Cleric. Thanks for the examples.
Be calm - Be clear - See the faults - See the suffering - Give your love
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

Lou Gold wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 7:39 pm Cool image, Federica!
Cleric K wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 7:37 pm Nice attempt :) I found it quite impossible to make it draw what I want if the scene has to be more complicated. It simply stacks things in some order, no matter how much you try to explain. Some time ago I wanted to generate some images, which I liked as a visual style but were more or less arbitrary otherwise:
Thanks, Lou!

Cleric, I wonder how you managed to get these multilevel pictures - they are fairly complex!
Please don't reveal your prompts, in case we end up picking a theme to do a sort of image generator lineup :)
Have you already created something like an image of, say, the etheric body? I have just tried, it doesn't look good.

I've also noticed, the generator is not good at recognizing instructions to insert text. The words are always distorted. There should be a workaround...
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
User avatar
Cleric K
Posts: 1715
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:40 pm

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Cleric K »

Federica wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 8:04 pm Thanks, Lou!

Cleric, I wonder how you managed to get these multilevel pictures - they are fairly complex!
Please don't reveal your prompts, in case we end up picking a theme to do a sort of image generator lineup :)
Have you already created something like an image of, say, the etheric body? I have just tried, it doesn't look good.

I've also noticed, the generator is not good at recognizing instructions to insert text. The words are always distorted. There should be a workaround...
I don't remember the exact prompt before but now I tried with:
"Artistic representation of various planes of existence within Cosmic context, starting from below with a mineral realm, then above it plants realm, then animal, then human, then angelic and finally Divine at the top. A ray of Light goes from the highest to the lowest. Man is in the middle in a radiant body."

Image

Text is notoriously problematic for AI image generators. It is simply because presently there's no abstraction layer for text generation. If you ask it to draw some word which is fairly common, like Love, it will probably succeed. Not because there's any special handling of text but because it has been trained on many images that contain that word. It simply generates it like a picture, just like it generates a dog. But telling it to write some specific text simply doesn't work at this stage.
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

Cleric K wrote: Mon Mar 11, 2024 8:35 pm "Artistic representation of various planes of existence within Cosmic context, starting from below with a mineral realm, then above it plants realm, then animal, then human, then angelic and finally Divine at the top. A ray of Light goes from the highest to the lowest. Man is in the middle in a radiant body."
I see, indeed the result is casual.

My prompt just got blocked as "unsafe content". The prompt: "A net of colorful and dynamic lines of force spun around and above a transparent human body, where the organs and the bodily functions are dynamically visible. Sunny blue sky in the background." Unsafe image content detected. Your image generations are not displayed because we detected unsafe content in the images based on our content policy.

I think I'll go back to reading! :)
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

As I keep reading SSiO Chapter II, I am prompted to reflect further on the nature of the four bodies of man. The physical body contains a self-destructive principle. The life body constantly opposes it, by holding the former together. On top of which, the soul body comes in, to once again destruct and consume the physical through its conscious activities. So much so, that these activities - our thinking, feeling, willing activities - need to be withdrawn from every day, for as long as a third of the day-cycle, so as to let the life body's restoring action spring up and operate. Steiner says - as plant life blossom and grows again every spring, so our plant-like level of life, taken care of by the life body, springs up and blossoms every time we go to sleep. Like we go into the unconsciousness of sleep every day, the Earth goes to sleep with half of itself every year, during spring, with the restoring and blossoming of plant life, unconcious life.

However, if I am getting it right, these are two different destructive processes taking place in the human organization. On the one hand, the destructive nature of the chemical elements that make up our physical body - evident in the human corpse, the condition in which it is isolated from the restoring action of the life body - keeps us blindly true to the mineral nature of our current planetary incarnation, which is the densest; on the other hand, the destructive nature of our conscious activities, by which our entire organization is exhausted and consumed by the light of consciousness (and the sharper its ray the more exhausting the effect at the end of each day) is more like a sacrifice, not a blind destruction. By spending our mineral capital, we actually learn to deal with the light of consciousness, nurturing it and enlivening it. So this latter destructive process is our only means to honor and realize our human nature, instead of wasting it. And to the extent that we are not fully in control of it, bits and pieces of our activity fall back down at the level of our physicality, to increment and enlarge the first, blind process of destruction. In this way, whatever part of our activity is not enlightened and not fully mastered by the ray of our conscious activity - all the non-concentric, unconscious, uncontrolled or immoral thoughts, feelings, and actions we flow into - sink into our physical body and facilitate and accelerate its blindly self-destructive nature, by means of illnesses and accidents.

So far, I've just expressed my efforts to think through what's been discussed many times already, hopefully with a tiny bit more overall clarity. Now, the new thing I would like to submit has been evoked by the following passage about the most elevated part of the mentioned soul activities. It comes from a lecture called "Death in Man, Animal, and Plant" that I'm reading as a complement to SSiO Chapter II "The Nature of Humanity":

Steiner wrote:So, then, we find in the human being still another process: we see how out of the whole organism the so-called higher feelings and emotions emerge again in the soul. What is the characteristic of these? Whoever deals with this question without prejudice, but also without false asceticism, without false piety and hypocrisy, will say: What we may call the higher moral feelings and those moods in a man which develop into enthusiasm for all that is good, beautiful and true, for all that brings about the progress of the world, this is alive in us only because we are able, by the disposition of our heart and soul, to rise above everything originally implanted in us by instinct; so that, in our spiritual feelings, in our spiritual enthusiasm, we raise ourselves above all that the bodily organism alone can arouse. This can go so far that he whose enthusiasm is in his spiritual life, sets so much store by the object of it that it is a light thing for him even to give his physical life for the sake of what has inspired his higher moral and aesthetic feelings.

The bolded has brought to the forefront of my thoughts a question I've been pondering over the last two weeks, namely: how to understand a fact such as this.
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
Post Reply