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

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

Post by Federica »

I am again behind - I have only browsed the video of Session 12 (close to the end of chapter IV). But I wanted to pin down the following. A participant - Bruce - pointed to Steiner's "wrong claim" about radioactivity (starting at about minute 40:00) Steiner said it has existed only for the last few thousand years. Bruce asserted this is a mistake, and provided an article (at the link below). I haven't tried to get deeper into this question yet, but just adding this point for now. Surely there are relevant reflections one could have on the nature of radioactivity, and what kind of inner phenomena it reflects.

https://substack.com/@urphanomen/note/c-57550361
"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."
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AshvinP
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by AshvinP »

Federica wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 4:57 pm I am again behind - I have only browsed the video of Session 12 (close to the end of chapter IV). But I wanted to pin down the following. A participant - Bruce - pointed to Steiner's "wrong claim" about radioactivity (starting at about minute 40:00) Steiner said it has existed only for the last few thousand years. Bruce asserted this is a mistake, and provided an article (at the link below). I haven't tried to get deeper into this question yet, but just adding this point for now. Surely there are relevant reflections one could have on the nature of radioactivity, and what kind of inner phenomena it reflects.

https://substack.com/@urphanomen/note/c-57550361

Thanks for sharing, Federica. There are many interesting intuitions this sparks for me and they are all quite fluid and unformed, so I will let them stir around more. Matt's response directing attention to the flaws of uniformitarian thinking, and how they have been repeatedly exposed as time goes by and thinking evolves, seems reasonable to me.

The Steiner quote in question seems to be pointing toward the transition between consolidation of the physical world (decoherence of the spiritual spectrum) and decay of the physical world (recoherence of the spiritual spectrum) as the latter is sublimated into the 'fluid' imaginative spectrum. At the most superficial level, that the mechanism of radioactive decay would only become possible to cognize during the spiritual evolutionary phase makes sense to me. But I would need to dwell on that more.

I will briefly mention two other things for now, which are related to the above as well.

1/ I have a sense this question is intimately related to what we also discussed recently here.
Cleric wrote:My present investigations lead to the view that the fossil record, for example, takes shape precisely in the way of the negative questions. As human consciousness crystallizes in the Earthly sphere, together with it crystallize the physical states of the Earth that are consistent with our state here and now. Every constellation of physical facts seems as part of an infinite chain of causes and effects.

2/ It also reminds me of something like wave-particle duality. When these experiments were conducted at the beginning of the 20th century, people could have wondered, "How did we miss this? Has light always manifested as both wave and particle, in some paradoxical fashion, or do we create that duality depending on how we design the detector, in some equally paradoxical way?" Such questions are born of participatory thinking consciousness in the blind spot. They result from the thinking perspective implicitly believing natural phenomena can express themselves independently of all the contextual factors that make such a perspective possible. Such phenomena are our uniquely 4th rung way of cognizing the totality of contextual relations at any given time and bringing to light certain aspects of that totality, depending on our mode of perceiving and questioning. If we were to conclude light has always manifested in some dual state of wave-particle for millions of years, or alternatively, it began as particles and became waves or vice versa or both, it is simply adopting a 3rd-person perspective.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

Thanks Ashvin. For my part I feel I first need to gain some understanding of what radioactivity is from a conventional scientific perspective. I'll paste here a simple description from this webpage.


Radioactivity, a Natural or Man-Made Phenomenon

The decay of unstable atoms releases radiation, a phenomenon called radioactivity 1. As unstable atoms exist in all matter, we are surrounded by natural radiation. Radiation can also come from man-made sources, through military, medical or industrial applications. Man-made radiation is closely measured and strictly controlled in order to avoid releasing it into the environment and living tissue.


To date, 118 chemical elements have been identified, characterized by a defined number of protons in their nucleus. These 118 elements encompass 2,800 isotopes (same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons). Of these 2,800 nuclei known today, only 264 are stable.

But nature doesn't like instability. Unstable isotopes will evolve towards a state of stability and gradually transform themselves in a process known as "decay" or "disintegration" by emitting one or more particles and electromagnetic rays. This is commonly referred to as radioactivity. In other words, radioactivity is the quest for stability.

As the atoms decay, an element's radioactivity decreases. This is called radioactive decay 2. The time it takes for the radioactivity to decrease by half is called the half-life. Each physical element has its own half-life, which can vary from fractions of seconds to billions of years. The half-life of oxygen-15 is two minutes; iodine-131, eight days; carbon-14, 5,730 years; and uranium-2383, more than 4.5 billion years.


A natural or artificial phenomenon

To a greater or lesser extent, all matter in the universe is made up of radioactive atoms. We therefore live permanently in an environment that is naturally radioactive. Even the human body is slightly radioactive (about 150 becquerels per kilogram).

Natural radioactivity comes largely from the Earth, particularly granitic regions. It can also be of cosmic origin, due to nuclear reactions in the upper layers of the atmosphere. As a result, the higher we go in the atmosphere, notably during air travel, the more we are exposed to radioactivity. Air also contains radioactive substances, essentially radon 4.

More than two thirds of the radiation to which we are exposed each year comes from natural sources. The remainder is due to man-made sources, primarily medical exams and the treatment of certain illnesses (28%) and, to a very small degree, certain industrial activities (coal-fired power plants, nuclear or non-nuclear industries) and military applications.


The different types of radiation

There are three main types of radiation:
Alpha radiation (α), made up of particles containing two protons and two neutrons and whose air range is a few centimeters. These particles can be stopped by an ordinary sheet of paper.
Beta radiation (β), made up of electrons, which travel a few meters in the air. A sheet of aluminum foil, a window pane or a wooden plank are enough to stop them.
Gamma radiation (γ), comprising electromagnetic rays that are much more penetrating than alpha and beta (they can travel several hundred meters in the air) and of the same nature as X rays. Thick layers of lead or concrete are needed to block them.

Radioactivity: Units of measure

The intensity of the radioactive source is measured by the becquerel (Bq). One Bq corresponds to one disintegration per second (an infinitely small unit). The becquerel has replaced the earlier unit of measure, the curie.
The quantity of radioactivity absorbed by inert material or living tissue is measured by the gray (Gy). This “dose” of radioactivity is the quantity of energy absorbed by a kilogram of matter.
The quantity of radioactivity absorbed specifically by living tissue (plant, animal or human) is measured by the Sievert 5 (SV), with its sub-units the millisievert (mSv) and the microsievert (µSv). For beta and gamma radiation, 1 Sv is equivalent to 1 Gy.

The unit of measure with respect to living tissue is known as the Sievert (Sv). Radioactivity has major effects on living tissue. In the case of acute radiation of the entire body, the first health effects appear above 5,000 mSv and the patient’s life is threatened.

National nuclear safety authorities are responsible for protecting the public and operators from the possible harmful effect of ionizing radiation. These effects are measured by the "dose rate", generally expressed in mSv per year. Natural radiation in France is about 2.4 mSv per year, but it reaches 260 mSv in certain regions of the world. It is not possible to establish a correlation between low doses (typically less than 100 mSv per year) and an excessive probability of radiation-induced cancers. French law has set strict limits on man-made radiation at 1 mSv per year. For professional personnel such as nuclear industry operators or medical workers, the limit has been set higher at 20 mSv, but without recognized risk. By way of comparison, one year aboard a space station corresponds to exposure of 100 to 300 mSv.

***

1. Radioactivity. Discovered by French physicist Henri Becquerel in 1896, a natural phenomenon whereby unstable atomic nuclei split into two (sometimes three) lighter nuclei, releasing high-energy electromagnetic waves or particles.

2. Radioactive decay. Process affecting all radioactive elements in which they gradually and steadily lose atoms. It is expressed as half-life, which is the time it takes for half of an element’s atoms to decay. Half-life may be very short (fractions of a second) or extremely long (several billion years). This property is used to date objects (carbon-14 dating of objects a few hundred to 50,000 year old) and calculate the age of the Earth (uranium-238) or the universe (thorium-232).

3. Uranium. Gray, very dense radioactive metal that is relatively abundant in the Earth's crust and oceans in the form of UO2 - uranium dioxide (uraninite). Once extracted, the ore undergoes various processes to produce a fuel that can be used in nuclear fission power plants.

4. Radon. Rare, odorless gas formed by the decay of radium (itself formed by the natural decay of uranium and thorium). Radon’s high radioactivity and its highly diffusive, gaseous nature make it the number one contributor to natural radiation exposure in humans. It can pose a critical health risk in confined spaces. Some regions, especially those with uranium in rock and soil, have higher levels of radon than others.

5. Sievert. The unit of measurement for the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body. The Sievert corresponds to the gray (ionizing energy absorbed per unit of mass, expressed in J.kg-1) weighted by two factors: the biological effectiveness of the type of radiation and the biological impact on the type of tissue affected.
"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."
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AshvinP
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

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Federica wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 10:50 am Thanks Ashvin. For my part I feel I first need to gain some understanding of what radioactivity is from a conventional scientific perspective. I'll paste here a simple description from this webpage.

Thanks, Federica, I agree it's important to understand the phenomena as well, as it presents to the sensory intellect, and to also get a sense of how the conventional explanation came into being. I would say the latter usually falls into one or another category of modern externalized thinking assumptions, where the meaningful perspective of the researcher is left out of account.

With a quick search for 'atomic decay' on the archive, I came across the following lecture that should be helpful. Essentially, he points to how every new discovery in science, especially since the end of the 19th century, has paved the way to more and more spiritualized understandings of phenomenal processes, where the classical mechanical and atomistic frameworks become less and less useful. In a certain sense, the very existence of the radioactive decay phenomenon leads us to the conclusion that it can't be fruitfully used to date long durations of the Earth organism's history, as conditions become more and more spiritualized, and therefore less amenable to any atomistic framework of thinking, the further we go back.

GA 56 wrote:If now we consider that the atoms disintegrate under our hands, we must ask ourselves, do these natural sciences lead on their crossroads—where the atoms scatter, the most certain up to now—to the recognition of that which they once regarded as external expression, as an appearance? The natural sciences lead to this view today!

Today, the entire atomic theory falters that has been the base of the natural sciences long time. Today, the facts are in such a way that the theories that are not based on facts must fall. Atoms and molecules are nothing factual, but something fictional. If this falls because it itself is an effect, we must ask, of what is it an effect? At first, people will attempt to come again to something else that forms the basis. Today, they are just speaking of liquid electricity. Very nice is what Balfour (Arthur James B., 1848–1930, British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary) said: if we imagine atoms, we can only say, something like a fluid flows through the world, and the atoms are in it like ice lumps in the water.—This is a nice picture. However, whereto does it lead? Try once to continue it. It leads to that point where the natural sciences get around to recognising as the actually real what they have denied once what was only an appearance for them. This was a weird belief that colours exists only in my head that outdoors only small particles exist that knock and press each other and thereby produce the sensations of light, colour and sound. These mental pictures will soon have to disappear due to the power of the facts. It will become obvious that what we see and hear is real, and that it was a great speculative fiction to think a material world behind this world. This material world will scatter and disintegrate. On will appreciate what is behind it. Then that will have to move up which one experiences and can experience. Then one will recognise that the atom can be nothing else than frozen electricity, frozen heat, frozen light. Then one has still to advance so that one has to realise that everything consists of compressed spirit. There is no matter! What is matter relates to the spirit as ice relates to the water. If you dissolve the ice, there is water. If you dissolve matter, it disappears as matter and becomes spirit. Everything that is matter is spirit, matter is the external manifestation of the spirit.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 3:57 pm
Federica wrote: Sun Jun 02, 2024 10:50 am Thanks Ashvin. For my part I feel I first need to gain some understanding of what radioactivity is from a conventional scientific perspective. I'll paste here a simple description from this webpage.

Thanks, Federica, I agree it's important to understand the phenomena as well, as it presents to the sensory intellect, and to also get a sense of how the conventional explanation came into being. I would say the latter usually falls into one or another category of modern externalized thinking assumptions, where the meaningful perspective of the researcher is left out of account.

With a quick search for 'atomic decay' on the archive, I came across the following lecture that should be helpful. Essentially, he points to how every new discovery in science, especially since the end of the 19th century, has paved the way to more and more spiritualized understandings of phenomenal processes, where the classical mechanical and atomistic frameworks become less and less useful. In a certain sense, the very existence of the radioactive decay phenomenon leads us to the conclusion that it can't be fruitfully used to date long durations of the Earth organism's history, as conditions become more and more spiritualized, and therefore less amenable to any atomistic framework of thinking, the further we go back.

GA 56 wrote:If now we consider that the atoms disintegrate under our hands, we must ask ourselves, do these natural sciences lead on their crossroads—where the atoms scatter, the most certain up to now—to the recognition of that which they once regarded as external expression, as an appearance? The natural sciences lead to this view today!

Today, the entire atomic theory falters that has been the base of the natural sciences long time. Today, the facts are in such a way that the theories that are not based on facts must fall. Atoms and molecules are nothing factual, but something fictional. If this falls because it itself is an effect, we must ask, of what is it an effect? At first, people will attempt to come again to something else that forms the basis. Today, they are just speaking of liquid electricity. Very nice is what Balfour (Arthur James B., 1848–1930, British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary) said: if we imagine atoms, we can only say, something like a fluid flows through the world, and the atoms are in it like ice lumps in the water.—This is a nice picture. However, whereto does it lead? Try once to continue it. It leads to that point where the natural sciences get around to recognising as the actually real what they have denied once what was only an appearance for them. This was a weird belief that colours exists only in my head that outdoors only small particles exist that knock and press each other and thereby produce the sensations of light, colour and sound. These mental pictures will soon have to disappear due to the power of the facts. It will become obvious that what we see and hear is real, and that it was a great speculative fiction to think a material world behind this world. This material world will scatter and disintegrate. On will appreciate what is behind it. Then that will have to move up which one experiences and can experience. Then one will recognise that the atom can be nothing else than frozen electricity, frozen heat, frozen light. Then one has still to advance so that one has to realise that everything consists of compressed spirit. There is no matter! What is matter relates to the spirit as ice relates to the water. If you dissolve the ice, there is water. If you dissolve matter, it disappears as matter and becomes spirit. Everything that is matter is spirit, matter is the external manifestation of the spirit.


Yes, and, to complete the idea of atomic decay, there is also the following passage.
From there, I have the impression that Steiner speaks of radioactivity as a phenomenon of convergence. That little by little all "atoms" (or the majority of them, current science would say, the unstable ones) are discovered to converge (progressive alignment of the patterns?) to a "lowest common denominator" that has the properties of lead (a stable metal, the one with the highest atomic number). Like the mid point of human Earthly evolution is behind.


Steiner wrote:Take a specific case. The old Initiates took for granted the presence of lead everywhere in earthly existence—because to the radiation of lead they attributed what works in the human form from the extreme top, from above downwards. In the widely distributed lead on earth they saw something that is connected with the inner structure of man, especially also with human self-consciousness. Naturally, the modern materialist would say: But lead has nothing to do with the human organism. In answer to that the old Initiate would have told him: It is certainly not, as you imagine, the gross lead-substance that we have in mind, but the forces emanating from exceedingly fine lead-constituents; and such lead is very widely distributed. That is what the ancient Initiate would have said.

What does the modern student of natural science say? He says: There are minerals which give off radiations, among them the so-called radioactive ones. The radiations of uranium are, of course, known; it is known that certain rays—alpha rays they are called—stream out; then, the remaining part, in the course of further radiation, undergoes certain changes, even comes to possess—as the chemists say—a different atomic weight. Briefly, in radioactive matter, transmutations take place. In fact there are people today who are already talking about a kind of revival of the old mystical metamorphoses of matter. But now, those who have investigated such matters say: These radiations give rise to something which appears as a terminal product, no longer radioactive, and this has the properties of lead. Thus you can learn strictly from the investigations of modern science that there are radioactive substances; within the source of these radioactive radiations there is something which, in accordance with its inherent forces, is in course of formation. There is always a lead-content at the bottom.

You see, the researches of modern natural science are getting critically near to ancient initiation-Science. And just as today modern scientists cannot help discovering the presence of lead right under their noses, as it were—or at least under the noses of their physical instruments—so they will also find out things about the other metals. Then it will gradually dawn upon them what was meant when it was said that lead is to be found everywhere in nature. You see, it is only through spiritual science that one can discern what is implicit in the discoveries of natural science—discoveries with which, in the context of ordinary general knowledge, one hardly knows what to do.

https://rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA213/En ... 02p01.html
"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."
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

Is there an alchemist in da house? :)
What is lead?
"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."
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

I am still pondering the last posts in the Riddle thread. In the meantime, I want to briefly comment on Urphänomen's last episode on Secret Science (n. 14). A bit sad that the episode conclusion seizes the occasion of the themes of Chapter V to praise the value of psychedelic use ("disciplined" of course) as just another "tool" available for spiritual awakening, parallel to what Steiner proposes. Luckily, there was this Swedish woman who very appropriately wrapped up the session with a simple yet necessary word of caution. Interesting to observe people's body language as she speaks! Noticeable, also, that pushing back psychedelics is equalled to puritanism (in the comments). All a bit sad. Basically the pro-psychedelics are screaming in unison: "Please come, the Spirit! Take me here and now! I don't want to grow up!"
"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."
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

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Federica wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 7:24 am I am still pondering the last posts in the Riddle thread. In the meantime, I want to briefly comment on Urphänomen's last episode on Secret Science (n. 14). A bit sad that the episode conclusion seizes the occasion of the themes of Chapter V to praise the value of psychedelic use ("disciplined" of course) as just another "tool" available for spiritual awakening, parallel to what Steiner proposes. Luckily, there was this Swedish woman who very appropriately wrapped up the session with a simple yet necessary word of caution. Interesting to observe people's body language as she speaks! Noticeable, also, that pushing back psychedelics is equalled to puritanism (in the comments). All a bit sad. Basically the pro-psychedelics are screaming in unison: "Please come, the Spirit! Take me here and now! I don't want to grow up!"

"Beware of unearned wisdom." (Jung)

I agree, that is a rather devastating trend in modern spirituality. It is one of the most stubborn 'golden calfs'. And when people feel there is a much easier way to attain deeper spiritual insights, avoiding all of that patient and disciplined study-meditation, imaginative concentration, and soul purification work, they will surely take it. They will find any way possible to intellectually justify the validity of this unearned approach and rationalize away the reasoning against it.

It seems Steiner did not speak much about substance use for spiritual purposes, apart from cocaine and stimulants, since the other ones were not well known at that time. That is unfortunate because some of these people would probably pay more attention to the reasoning if it came from an initiate like Steiner rather than their spiritual peers. At the same time, I am not quite sure what the experience would be like for someone who pursues spiritual training proper but also partakes in psychedelics from time to time, perhaps micro-dosing. I doubt that is a common approach, but perhaps it would mitigate some of the associated dangers.

I asked Cleric and Max about this psychedelic issue a while ago and will share their responses here (I think Max is explicitly referring to some people involved in the YT discussion as part of the 'psychedelic community' in SF):

Cleric wrote:I'm not aware of RS speaking directly about psychedelics. I think they were virtually unknown at that time. Cocaine and other stuff were known but psychedelics came later.

Everything is actually quite clear when one has even the basic understanding of things. In reality, the Imaginative veil becomes impenetrable wall for the ego, which finds itself as if encapsulated from all sides. The 'bubble of consciousness' that we often speak about become quite literal in this case. When the "I" enjoys this Imaginative veil from the inside it actually becomes thicker and thicker, it becomes buffer between the "I" and the spiritual world. Consider this:

"THERE are two experiences whence the soul may gain an understanding for the mode of knowledge to which the supersensible worlds will open out. The one originates in the science of Nature; the other, in the Mystical experience whereby the untrained ordinary consciousness contrives to penetrate into the supersensible domain. Both confront the soul of man with barriers of knowledge — barriers he cannot cross till he can open for himself the portals which by their very essence Natural Science, and ordinary Mysticism too, must hold fast closed.

Natural Science leads inevitably to certain conceptions about reality, which are like a stone wall to the deeper forces of the soul; and yet, this Science itself is powerless to remove them. He who fails to feel the impact, has not yet called to life the deeper needs of knowledge in his soul. He may then come to believe that it is impossible in any case for Man to attain any other than the natural-scientific form of knowledge. There is, however, a definite experience in Self-knowledge whereby one weans oneself of this belief. This experience consists in the insight that the whole of Natural Science would be dissolved into thin air if we attempted to fathom the above-named conceptions with the methods of Natural Science itself. If the conceptions of Natural Science are to remain spread out before the soul, these limiting conceptions must be left within the field of consciousness intact, without attempting to approach them with a deeper insight. There are many of them; here I will only mention two of the most familiar: Matter and Force. Recent developments in scientific theory may or may not be replacing these particular conceptions; the fact remains that Natural Science must invariably lead to some conception or another of this kind, impenetrable to its own methods of knowledge.

To the experience of soul, of which I am here speaking, these limiting conceptions appear like a reflecting surface which the human soul must place before it; while Natural Science itself is like the picture, made manifest with the mirror's help. Any attempt to treat the limiting conceptions themselves by ordinary scientific means is, as it were, to smash the mirror, and with the mirror broken, Natural Science itself dissolves away. Moreover, this experience reveals the emptiness of all talk about ‘Things-in-themselves,’ of whatsoever kind, behind the phenomena of Nature. He who seeks for such Things-in-themselves is like a man who longs to break the looking-glass, hoping to see what there is behind the reflecting surface to cause his image to appear."
https://wn.rsarchive.org/Articles/SupKno_index.html

The whole problem stems from the fact that the inner realms are being artificially pumped into consciousness, instead of being attained through developing cognition. The result is that processes in the etheric and astral body begin to precipitate in images. The great difference with true Imagination, however, is that these confront the intellect. When the images of the etheric and astral as attained to through cognition, they are experienced in the way described at every occasion - they are reflections of meaning through which we move, just as ordinary thoughts are reflections of ordinary intellectual meaning. This is the huge difference. When the meaningful curvature is simply being pumped into intellectual-sensory cognition it precipitates as visions that the ego confronts with ordinary thoughts. The more experienced the ego becomes in these states, the more it becomes insensitive for the actual spiritual world. In certain sense, the ego can live comfortably within the visions only if it reduces them to sensory-like images. This holds true also for mysticism, even though it's not as vividly colored. But still, the ego lives within the capsule of the Imaginative veil and considers this to correspond to the grounds of reality.

These states are so extraordinary in comparison to baseline consciousness that when I speak about these things in the forum, most people simply smile in their mind and think "he simply doesn't have an idea what reality really is. He's confusing his conceptions for reality." These states lead to a certain form of pride and achievement and it becomes difficult to realize that they are only our Imaginative interior. That's the reason that things forever remain uncertain. And no honest psychonaut would deny this. Ultimately, they cant's say how the images come about, what's behind them. It's the same as RS's quote above. These states depend on the thick mirror. If the mirror is to be shattered one remains only with the thoughts of beings. Here thoughts should be considered in the sense we spoke in the other mail - only the thinking gestures, without any images. If we haven't developed our ability to be conscious of thinking gestures in the astral body without images in the etheric, we lose consciousness, as Adur in the Absolute Nothingness. To put it into a comparison, to have consciousness in the Inspirative world we need to be able to live fully consciously in the thinking gesture of 'falling' without using any image for support. If we can experience the movement of our thinking up and down, as pure spiritual activity, without the need to visualize it, we get an approximate idea of the state in Inspiration.

It's really difficult to point things like these to those fascinated with the Imaginative interior. Probably the only way is to try and hint that they take too much for granted. They live in images but they don't know what the consciousness that is responsible for the images is. This is usually excused with the dissociative theories, the bubble and so on. There's always some assumption of the intellect which excuses itself why on Earth it is not possible to know anything about the opaque side of the Imaginative cocoon (if that opaque side is admitted at all).
Max wrote:Cleric's comments make perfect sense and tend to corroborate my observation that psychedelics tend more often to hamper than to promote people's development. I had a fair amount of exposure to the psychedelic community several years ago when I was attending graduate school in SF so I have a good general idea of the method.

Generically speaking, my impression is that the substances function through (a) an artificial elevation of neuromodulators associated with the perception of salience, importance, and interest—what in another context we might think of as reverence or devotion coupled with (b) a mechanical stimulation of the sensory pathways. The combined effect is that anomalies in the nervous system are amplified and elaborated by the imaginative faculties that have been at once liberated from their natural organic function but bound to the agitated nervous system. At the same time, these pseudo-imaginations are experience with an inflated sense of cosmic significance by the individual, who is tempted to extrapolate the inflated conditions of his psyche onto the objects of his imagination. I am reminded of a quote from Novalis that seems tangentially pertinent:

"Each voluntarily or randomly chosen individual can become a world-organ for us. A glance, a star, a region, an ancient tree can in our interior create epochs. This is the great reality of fetishism, of idolatry."

Perhaps it is also fitting to observe the typical pattern of collusion between Luciferic and Ahrimanic impulses that are operative in the administration and enjoyment of psychedelics. In this case, a technological method is leveraged for the sake of escaping into a pseudo-mystical paradise.

I hope something I said will prove illuminating and I stand open to being corrected if someone believes that I have made a mistake in my evaluations.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
Posts: 1900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2022 2:30 pm
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 12:48 pm
Federica wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 7:24 am I am still pondering the last posts in the Riddle thread. In the meantime, I want to briefly comment on Urphänomen's last episode on Secret Science (n. 14). A bit sad that the episode conclusion seizes the occasion of the themes of Chapter V to praise the value of psychedelic use ("disciplined" of course) as just another "tool" available for spiritual awakening, parallel to what Steiner proposes. Luckily, there was this Swedish woman who very appropriately wrapped up the session with a simple yet necessary word of caution. Interesting to observe people's body language as she speaks! Noticeable, also, that pushing back psychedelics is equalled to puritanism (in the comments). All a bit sad. Basically the pro-psychedelics are screaming in unison: "Please come, the Spirit! Take me here and now! I don't want to grow up!"

"Beware of unearned wisdom." (Jung)

I agree, that is a rather devastating trend in modern spirituality. It is one of the most stubborn 'golden calfs'. And when people feel there is a much easier way to attain deeper spiritual insights, avoiding all of that patient and disciplined study-meditation, imaginative concentration, and soul purification work, they will surely take it. They will find any way possible to intellectually justify the validity of this unearned approach and rationalize away the reasoning against it.

It seems Steiner did not speak much about substance use for spiritual purposes, apart from cocaine and stimulants, since the other ones were not well known at that time. That is unfortunate because some of these people would probably pay more attention to the reasoning if it came from an initiate like Steiner rather than their spiritual peers. At the same time, I am not quite sure what the experience would be like for someone who pursues spiritual training proper but also partakes in psychedelics from time to time, perhaps micro-dosing. I doubt that is a common approach, but perhaps it would mitigate some of the associated dangers.

I asked Cleric and Max about this psychedelic issue a while ago and will share their responses here (I think Max is explicitly referring to some people involved in the YT discussion as part of the 'psychedelic community' in SF):

Cleric wrote:I'm not aware of RS speaking directly about psychedelics. I think they were virtually unknown at that time. Cocaine and other stuff were known but psychedelics came later.

Everything is actually quite clear when one has even the basic understanding of things. In reality, the Imaginative veil becomes impenetrable wall for the ego, which finds itself as if encapsulated from all sides. The 'bubble of consciousness' that we often speak about become quite literal in this case. When the "I" enjoys this Imaginative veil from the inside it actually becomes thicker and thicker, it becomes buffer between the "I" and the spiritual world. Consider this:

"THERE are two experiences whence the soul may gain an understanding for the mode of knowledge to which the supersensible worlds will open out. The one originates in the science of Nature; the other, in the Mystical experience whereby the untrained ordinary consciousness contrives to penetrate into the supersensible domain. Both confront the soul of man with barriers of knowledge — barriers he cannot cross till he can open for himself the portals which by their very essence Natural Science, and ordinary Mysticism too, must hold fast closed.

Natural Science leads inevitably to certain conceptions about reality, which are like a stone wall to the deeper forces of the soul; and yet, this Science itself is powerless to remove them. He who fails to feel the impact, has not yet called to life the deeper needs of knowledge in his soul. He may then come to believe that it is impossible in any case for Man to attain any other than the natural-scientific form of knowledge. There is, however, a definite experience in Self-knowledge whereby one weans oneself of this belief. This experience consists in the insight that the whole of Natural Science would be dissolved into thin air if we attempted to fathom the above-named conceptions with the methods of Natural Science itself. If the conceptions of Natural Science are to remain spread out before the soul, these limiting conceptions must be left within the field of consciousness intact, without attempting to approach them with a deeper insight. There are many of them; here I will only mention two of the most familiar: Matter and Force. Recent developments in scientific theory may or may not be replacing these particular conceptions; the fact remains that Natural Science must invariably lead to some conception or another of this kind, impenetrable to its own methods of knowledge.

To the experience of soul, of which I am here speaking, these limiting conceptions appear like a reflecting surface which the human soul must place before it; while Natural Science itself is like the picture, made manifest with the mirror's help. Any attempt to treat the limiting conceptions themselves by ordinary scientific means is, as it were, to smash the mirror, and with the mirror broken, Natural Science itself dissolves away. Moreover, this experience reveals the emptiness of all talk about ‘Things-in-themselves,’ of whatsoever kind, behind the phenomena of Nature. He who seeks for such Things-in-themselves is like a man who longs to break the looking-glass, hoping to see what there is behind the reflecting surface to cause his image to appear."
https://wn.rsarchive.org/Articles/SupKno_index.html

The whole problem stems from the fact that the inner realms are being artificially pumped into consciousness, instead of being attained through developing cognition. The result is that processes in the etheric and astral body begin to precipitate in images. The great difference with true Imagination, however, is that these confront the intellect. When the images of the etheric and astral as attained to through cognition, they are experienced in the way described at every occasion - they are reflections of meaning through which we move, just as ordinary thoughts are reflections of ordinary intellectual meaning. This is the huge difference. When the meaningful curvature is simply being pumped into intellectual-sensory cognition it precipitates as visions that the ego confronts with ordinary thoughts. The more experienced the ego becomes in these states, the more it becomes insensitive for the actual spiritual world. In certain sense, the ego can live comfortably within the visions only if it reduces them to sensory-like images. This holds true also for mysticism, even though it's not as vividly colored. But still, the ego lives within the capsule of the Imaginative veil and considers this to correspond to the grounds of reality.

These states are so extraordinary in comparison to baseline consciousness that when I speak about these things in the forum, most people simply smile in their mind and think "he simply doesn't have an idea what reality really is. He's confusing his conceptions for reality." These states lead to a certain form of pride and achievement and it becomes difficult to realize that they are only our Imaginative interior. That's the reason that things forever remain uncertain. And no honest psychonaut would deny this. Ultimately, they cant's say how the images come about, what's behind them. It's the same as RS's quote above. These states depend on the thick mirror. If the mirror is to be shattered one remains only with the thoughts of beings. Here thoughts should be considered in the sense we spoke in the other mail - only the thinking gestures, without any images. If we haven't developed our ability to be conscious of thinking gestures in the astral body without images in the etheric, we lose consciousness, as Adur in the Absolute Nothingness. To put it into a comparison, to have consciousness in the Inspirative world we need to be able to live fully consciously in the thinking gesture of 'falling' without using any image for support. If we can experience the movement of our thinking up and down, as pure spiritual activity, without the need to visualize it, we get an approximate idea of the state in Inspiration.

It's really difficult to point things like these to those fascinated with the Imaginative interior. Probably the only way is to try and hint that they take too much for granted. They live in images but they don't know what the consciousness that is responsible for the images is. This is usually excused with the dissociative theories, the bubble and so on. There's always some assumption of the intellect which excuses itself why on Earth it is not possible to know anything about the opaque side of the Imaginative cocoon (if that opaque side is admitted at all).
Max wrote:Cleric's comments make perfect sense and tend to corroborate my observation that psychedelics tend more often to hamper than to promote people's development. I had a fair amount of exposure to the psychedelic community several years ago when I was attending graduate school in SF so I have a good general idea of the method.

Generically speaking, my impression is that the substances function through (a) an artificial elevation of neuromodulators associated with the perception of salience, importance, and interest—what in another context we might think of as reverence or devotion coupled with (b) a mechanical stimulation of the sensory pathways. The combined effect is that anomalies in the nervous system are amplified and elaborated by the imaginative faculties that have been at once liberated from their natural organic function but bound to the agitated nervous system. At the same time, these pseudo-imaginations are experience with an inflated sense of cosmic significance by the individual, who is tempted to extrapolate the inflated conditions of his psyche onto the objects of his imagination. I am reminded of a quote from Novalis that seems tangentially pertinent:

"Each voluntarily or randomly chosen individual can become a world-organ for us. A glance, a star, a region, an ancient tree can in our interior create epochs. This is the great reality of fetishism, of idolatry."

Perhaps it is also fitting to observe the typical pattern of collusion between Luciferic and Ahrimanic impulses that are operative in the administration and enjoyment of psychedelics. In this case, a technological method is leveraged for the sake of escaping into a pseudo-mystical paradise.

I hope something I said will prove illuminating and I stand open to being corrected if someone believes that I have made a mistake in my evaluations.

Thanks for adding these, Ashvin.
I remember you already took up this idea of microdosing being perhaps OK (which obviously irritates me :D )
Cleric already gave a perspective on your microdosing question here. Basically, there's the risk of becoming the outlet of certain group souls of plants, or even Ahrimanic beings, if the substance is synthetic. I'm sure you remember that post, but I am explicitly recalling it for other readers who may find intellectual appeal in the sleek idea of "micro-dosing" (it sounds so smart, I like it :) )
"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."
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AshvinP
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Re: GA 13 - Rudolf Steiner's "Secret Science in Outline"

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Federica wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 1:49 pm Thanks for adding these, Ashvin.
I remember you already took up this idea of microdosing being perhaps OK (which obviously irritates me :D )
Cleric already gave a perspective on your microdosing question here. Basically, there's the risk of becoming the outlet of certain group souls of plants, or even Ahrimanic beings, if the substance is synthetic. I'm sure you remember that post, but I am explicitly recalling it for other readers who may find intellectual appeal in the sleek idea of "micro-dosing" (it sounds so smart, I like it :) )

I think it's important to approach these topics with dispassionate reasoning, trying to trace exactly how the substances influence the subtle organization and promote or hinder spiritual development under varied circumstances. We don't already have all the answers and so we should recognize there are still open questions to be investigated.

My question on that thread you linked was prompted by reviewing a post where Cleric mentioned his recent experimentation with mushrooms for purposes of spiritual research, particularly how the altered states compare with higher cognitive states. That is the key - what is our level of inner development and what are our intentions when approaching these substances? We will necessarily encounter the group souls of animals, plants, minerals, as well as Ahrimanic and Lucifering beings, in our spiritual retracing efforts. We encounter these spiritual beings on a daily basis whenever we interact with the sensory spectrum to consume sensory impressions (including food) and to think about them, but we are normally oblivious to that fact. As long as we try to remain clearly conscious of these spiritual influences in our sensory, emotional, and ideal environments, and we approach them with wholesome intentions, we cannot become unwitting outlets for them.

I would say the main risk in that scenario, as also discussed on that thread, is conditioning our "I" to the physical substances, making it more reliant on some outer stimulus to remain conscious in the higher strata. That is also the risk with using caffeine or any other substance designed to alter our inner state. Surely there are other risks as well, but again we should remain with humble and open minds with respect to the spiritual influences that we have not already traced. I think Cleric's comment illustrates that open attitude when he said, "Whether this is very detrimental - I don't know." That doesn't mean it is incumbent upon us to start micro-dosing and figure it all out, but just that we should be honest about what is known and what still remains an open question.

PS - if it's not clear, I'm not insinuating you are not open or honest about these questions, but am just conveying some additional thoughts on my current perspective for anyone who is following.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
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