Transforming Fantasy Into Imagination

I went around in my head a lot about how I was going to approach this subject because I think it's a serious one, and yet I didn't want to be too serious about it. However, it is serious. The issue of what we could call occult discrimination is always the step forward that a Mystery school makes, and it's always the seed of destruction of that same school. The very gift of perception that is developed in the school becomes the weak link that causes it to fall. If you read the history of the Mysteries you will find it again and again. And the symptom of that is that the teachings of the teacher become splintered into splinter groups. Basically that's what happens, and then there is internecine warfare among the sects, and then new cults grow out of that and the teaching moves on.

The difficulty with Mystery training is that it is not really recognized by the regular world; it is sort of an undercurrent that carries the creative impulse that is going to be the "hardwired" impulse for the next couple hundred years. That's the task of the Mysteries. In the regular world they say the soft science of today is the hard science of tomorrow. So the real task of Mystery training is to create creative protocols, creative methods of working that incarnate ideas that need to be incarnated in the culture, but that the culture basically can't accept yet because they require a shifting of the paradigm that's too radical for the general culture.

So the Mystery schools are always a kind of undercurrent in that activity, providing a kind of yeast that the general culture will then take up and codify until it becomes rules. The very things the Mystery schools are crucified about become the rules in the next couple of hundred years. It's because there is a kind of lurching forward that happens in creative activity that creates a backlash from the Pharisees who annihilate the person making the step forward, and then adopt what has been brought forward and codify it into dogma. If you read about the Mysteries and Mystery training, that's the way it happens.

I’d like to sketch for you two different streams of how that happens and try to reference them to events that are happening in the anthroposophical movement today having to do with certain states of consciousness that I will call "the King" and "the Queen" as an alchemical idea [Rudolf Steiner called them the "King consciousness" and the "Shepherd consciousness"]. And these two oscillate with each other in the biography of the Mystery schools. The "Shepherd consciousness," the "Queen consciousness," is a nod toward mystical union, mysticism, and the "King consciousness" is a nod toward the dogmatizing of what has been a creative act. And so today in the world we have a tremendous rise of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is a shadow of the "King consciousness." No matter what the fundamentalism is, behind it there's a kind of yearning, and this yearning we can actually find in the physiology of the human being: a great gift that's been given to humans is that once they have a sense experience, the sense experience is taken away from them so that they don't have to keep repeating the same thing. Hierarchies are designated to make that happen, that’s called your ether body. But sometimes certain sensory experiences are brought back again by us, and we call that memory. But in memory we have to make a certain attempt to override the dissolving the hierarchies are trying to do. The hierarchies are trying to protect us from what a psychologist would call a "fixed idea". In fundamentalism-no matter what the stripe-there is always the mood of what we could call "the dilemma of being born again." That is: once you are born again, there's no chance to get born again. It's like: "One to a customer, sorry." If you've been born again, the rest of your life is spent remembering how it was when you were born again. If we think about that, it's very depressing because what that means is: for the rest of your life there's no possibility of peak experience in the spiritual realm. That is a tremendous dying of experience into memory. When that happens, the experience dying into memory loses some of the enthusiasm of the will that's trying to find its way in the unknown to discover something, to seek something, to look for the Christ. We meet the Christ, and the rest of the time Christ is just the memory. If you look at that with your heart, it's very sad. And so in order to get some kind of energy I have to form a club of the people that once knew Christ. If you want to be in my club of “We used to know Christ," then you're in that club and if you’re not in that club, then, well, "Hey, sorry! There's no hope for you because you're not part of our memory." In Islam, for example, it might be trying to remember the outrage at having the Prophet's body tied to a camel and then his brother-in-law usurping the space where the camel stopped, the place that was supposed to be the center of the new religion-that's what the civil war in Iraq is being fought over right now. You look behind the Sunnis and the Shiites, and their struggle-that's the issue.

Who took over when the camel stopped? A memory of the experience that was had by the grandfather of the grandfather of the grandfather of the grandfather of the grandfather of the grandfather. Because that happened in my memory, it's no longer in my experience. I form it into a dogma and then I start a civil war with you because you were the guy who had the other view of the camel. If you think I'm making this up, check it out.

This is fundamentalism. It's a memory of an experience, and the memory gets codified into a structure of beliefs that mirror the experience of the original founder. As anthroposophists maybe you can see where I'm going. What those experiences do is create a yeaning in the soul to recapitulate the experience of the founder, the aspiration toward meeting the spirit and yet "Can we get there?” I don't know. “Is it possible?" Well, Rudolf Steiner left many trails and said, "Don't do this just in memory of me, do it and do it. Don't just Alchemical King and Queen remember it. Do it." This is a science, and in science we have a faculty that needs to be brought into the world, one that's new; the ability to say: "I don't know if I really understand that, but I think I'm going to transform that experiment and do it myself and see if it lives in me the way it did. And if I can, then I am a pupil in the Mystery School; my teacher has helped me towards a better life." If I simply read about what the teacher has said and don't actually strive to recapitulate or re-form it in myself, then the label of fundamentalist can be leveled at me because I'm speaking a dogma rather than out of my own experience. I can tell you I deal a lot with young people, and they're extremely sensitive to this element. They know the time is short, and they want Mystery training, they don't want a codification of what already exists. They want to be taught to touch what is new in their life through the work of Rudolf Steiner. There's ample opportunity to do that if we can structure our institutions to allow that to happen.

So that's the one side. We could call it the shadow of the King side or the Jehovah side: if you don't do it the way I say you do it, then you are out of he club. Rudolf Steiner said many times that that has changed. Something has changed, and what has changed is that we now have a new faculty to bring to bear on the relationship between memory and experience. We have the possibility as Western people to follow a path given by Rudolf Steiner and do what in the ancient Mystery teachings was called metanoia, changing our thinking.

A fundamental root in Rudolf Steiner's work is that you must change your thinking. If you change your thinking, not just simply absorbing dogma and facts-spiritual facts-but if you actually change your thinking, your thinking will lead you on your own destiny, using Rudolf Steiner as a guide, of course. But you need to recapitulate the experience so you can have an authentic faith rather than dogmatic faith. In dogmatic faith you are told to believe because you will never be able to experience the knowing. In authentic faith, you believe it because you've experienced it. Rudolf Steiner was a champion of authentic faith. You must experience anthroposophy, not just remember it. So, that's the one side. As I said, the young people are hoping that things change regarding that issue.

The other side is mysticism. Mysticism is the experience that the images that arise in me have come to me from the spiritual world, so that I, as a seer, can share them with others.

There is a hitch in that. Rudolf Steiner says it in kind of a funny way. He said, "Hildegard of Bingen had a beautiful stomach." What he's speaking about is his distinction between what he calls "belly clairvoyance" and "head clairvoyance." The belly clairvoyant works in such a way that they teach themselves [or they have natural gifts] to remember the pictures that arise off of their life organs and their digestive organs. Rudolf Steiner calls those "imaginations." In the ancient world, clairvoyance was based on the ability of human beings to monitor the images that arose out of their viscera, off of their liver, lung, kidney, heart, intestines, gall bladder, etc. Those imaginations are the actual functions of our organs. Whether we know it or not, through sense experience the configuration of those life organs, the tonus of the organ, the ability of it to secrete or not secrete, is constantly being impacted by sense experiences coming into it, flooding into it all the time. The organ responds as a result of those glandular secretions and the sensory experiences, and it releases images. If I fast, or if I drum for power, or if I dance till I drop, or if I chant until I zone, what happens is that I become able to monitor the stress images arising from the organ because the organ gets locked into its life response. I can learn to read the images that rise up, rising consciousness, like a code. I can stress a particular organ by fasting or I can hit my heart and go "Ya La Lu, Ya La Hu" for hours, and that heart starts to be entrained and release images that I train myself to remember. I call it spiritual experience.

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