"Objective" and "Subjective"

I.

Spiritual knowledge is not dissection, nor a collection of facts, nor a subject getting information about an object of scrutiny, but a relationship, something that grows and transforms the "knower" a little into the "known" and viceversa. Inner knowledge is like paying a visit or being visited, like a movement, like flowing or "resonating" one into the other. There is acknowledgement, wonder, impregnation... and a subsequent transformation of the experience by the brain. You don't learn or accumulate "information", it is more like growing branches and leaves and flowers and fruits. It becomes part of your blood and of the light that shines in your eyes.

The way one talks about something reflects how one relates to that something. If I relate soul-to-soul to something, I am so full and transformed by this relationship and knowledge (yes! sounds like "knowing" in the biblical sense), that it becomes impossible to talk about it in certain ways. My mind refuses to talk about the knowledge as if it were objective information. Maybe it is objective, but it is not information, I cannot speak of it "exactly" in a materialistic way without being a falsifier or without lying, which spiritually is like a killing or an assassination.

"Spiritual Science" or "Science of the Spirit", is a contradiction that produces a lot of confusion, because today science and art are separate things, while the way Steiner understood the term, it is my perception that includes "art" also as a way of knowing objectively. Anthroposophy is not simply a question of "clear thinking"; it is imagination, inspiration and intuition as ways of acquiring knowledge. You are never exact with these. You are truthful, but not exact.

I remember reading once a book on Findhorn with a quote of C.S. Lewis answering to someone complaining about the "vagueness" of certain spiritual things that made so difficult to put them in words. The answer was that the experience is very clear, that it is the words that are too vague...

We all experience many encounters with Angels, Archangels, and the like, it is only that our brain is not aware of it, because it has been educated in a certain way. The brain needs re-education. Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, or whatever, are not "objects", they are beings, with whom we have "encounters" often. We are alive because of it. They constitute our experience, they constitute the world. How do I relate to a being that has neither brain nor body, and whose consciousness extends simultaneously over centuries or millennia, without space nor time?

"Objectivity", to me, is only a myth and a prejudice that blocks the path to knowledge. I don't care about objectivity. I am concerned with truthfulness. Steiner himself liked to say that each soul is so constituted as to being capable of recognizing truth when it is there.
 

II.

In my view, it is a horrible error to approach these things as if they were "philosophical" or some sort of metaphysical proposition or conception. Spiritual matters are not philosophy, and many --not all of course-- of the images Steiner gave us should not be viewed as objects of reasoning or debate but as forms, as pictures, or monuments: one "hears them". One "hears" them as inspirations that "touch you" like music, or the wind, or the rain, or the flowing waters...

How do we offer our riddles to the gods, so that they can solve them? By not pretending to solve them "ourselves", which, to me, means solve them intellectually. How often do we confuse real knowledge with mere information. We tend to believe that we "know" simply because we have an intellectual grasp of something, or because we have a "theory" that explains something. We confuse the word with the thing, the make-believe of language with the real experience, the theoretical explanation based on "sound logic" and not in a confrontation with reality or truth.

"Steiner said this", "Steiner said that": we are the "Steiner-said-ers", the fools that think we know something because we translate world-reality to the particular language of Anthroposophy: we confuse translation between languages or codes with real knowledge. We believe that, because we code, we know.

But we don't. Riddles are riddles. Shadow are shadows. I am a question and I am the answer, but the answer is not said by me. If I pretend to say or know the answer myself, I am just a fool. So I offer my question and my shadows to the gods. But before the gods can receive them, they have to be the questions and the shadows of life, of man and woman (and animal, and plant...), of the light and the love and the pain of the world in me.

Then they listen. They acknowledge. They receive, and are grateful. And their gratefulness is my overflowing cup, my magic, invisible and charismatic. My non-answer that is in my voice and bestows life because it doesn't pretend anything and has the occult power to transform everything.

If I offer my riddle, my question, my shadow to them, they pour their non-answer and light upon me, so that my shadow and my light live together in peace.
 

III.

Most probably, in my opinion, "objective" and "subjective", are categories of language that don't make any sense in spiritual --even in psychological-- matters. I feel that they are silly distinctions, just labels. Understanding the process of spiritual experience is more important, and more complex.

I believe that speaking of "objectivity" in one case and "subjectivity" in another is quite meaningless, because inner experiences are both objective and subjective at the same time.

In his autobiography, Steiner tells us about the "abyss of the soul" he went through at the end of the last century; he explains that the darkness came because of his spiritual isolation and his fear that his philosophy of "ethical individualism" was of value only to him but not to the world. This is the distinction that matters, that what I experience be transformed by my soul so that it is of value to the world. This is the occult virtue, not a fallacious distinction between objective and subjective.

There is a difference between being a "spiritual scientist" and being a spiritual person. One can find many "objective" reasons or facts about vegetarianism and the need for it for spiritual perception and development. But this does not make one a spiritual person; in my opinion, it makes one a selfish person. Considering vegetarianism without the feeling of "moral oneness", love, or responsibility with animals, is to me pure selfishness.

From my perspective, the soul and spiritual worlds are made of moral impulses, not "objective facts". Consideration of "objective facts" is a by-product of materialistic science and has nothing to do with spiritual reality; it is alien to rosicrucianism and to anthroposophy alike.

My view is that a "fact" may be there all right, but it is not in abstraction or isolation, it is in relationship... with me, with the world... it is happening, it is history, it is becoming, it is impregnating you, me, and the world, it is present, flowing and transforming itself, it has a moral intent, it is never a mere "object".

Spiritually, to me, everything is a subject because I'm relating to it and my soul is being "fertilized" by it, so the distinction of whether something that is experienced is either "objective" or "subjective" is only academic, artificial. Therefore I feel, so far at least, that these words are not useful to understand or describe spiritual experiences or spiritual "facts".
 

IV.

The usual way in which I understand this, has to do with the difference between theory and practice, or between theory and history. The "Occult Science" of 1909, the way I see it, is a good example. Instead of doing things like the theosophists do, by intellectually explaining a grand "divine plan" where there are no holes and you can find an answer to anything (and everything) just by looking at the place it has in the mental diagram, you have to go there and see. When you see, then you explain what happens, or happened, which is difficult enough to describe or communicate. A theosophist wouldn't go there and "see": he would have the answer already...

This is one of the scientific aspects of Steiner. It is very difficult already to be able to keep the images in consciousness, let alone describe them. But instead of making the effort to hold the images with all their inspirational and intuitional content, people want "nice" theoretical explanations where everything fits. These theoretical, philosophical/metaphysical explanations, are always present, but they are not Anthroposophy. The Anthroposophical perspective requires that you go there and witness in awe what happens, or happened. This is where the image as opposed to theory comes in: you can relate to it with your whole being, with the etheric body and not only the astral. It comes alive in you like a seed that bears fruit "organically", as if by itself, without the foolish intellect trying to reduce it to a formula and pretend that it knows all about it.

Steiner tells us that it is a mistake to think that the occultist speaks to the mind or for the satisfaction of the intellect. No. He speaks to the slumber forces in the human being, to the spiritual memories of the soul's life in the spirit world before rebirth. What Steiner always strove for was the conveying of an experience, of images super-charged with virtue and power: he gave testimony, he "spoke", transmitting through the voice or the living word the presence of those spiritual beings whose activity and manifestations were the "facts".

The way a person talks about an experience is very fundamental, and is the difference between alive and dead. If my soul-forces are strong, if my soul is healthy, I will not speak with grand explain-it-all metaphysical forms of the intellect: I will bear testimony, I will carry the experience in my blood and in my breath, I will dance and say: look! listen! Don't judge and listen! Let yourself be taken by my story for a moment...  Hear the music! Bear with me for a while, my friends! Let's try to go there together!

It is a matter of trust and good will. Steiner's "style" takes us closer to the living beings of which the world is made, feeling their power, their "voice". The way one talks is of paramount importance here, because it is the gesture, the "how" I say it, what can carry the virtue of getting us closer to them. So what is established is a relationship to something that lives and grows inside in freedom, by itself, with me. I get pregnant.

This is the reason for Steiner saying, at the end of his life, that it is a mistake to think that Anthroposophy should be approached in the manner of his book "Theosophy" and his earlier period. He ceased being a follower of Steiner and became an un-stoppable river...
 
 

Juan Antonio Revilla
San Josť, Costa Rica, September 4, 1999.
 


 
 
 
 
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