by Juan Antonio Revilla
There are today very large portions of the world's population that seem to be able to establish a personal connection to spiritual beings, and perhaps the most extended and common example is the cult of the Virgin Mary. This has nothing to do with spiritism, clairvoyance, or traditional paths of spiritual Initiation.
Is this conscious or not? Does this "Virgin" really exist? What is the meaning of praying to or conversing with the Virgin? Is this an authentic spiritual experience or just a form of self-hypnotism?
It is very easy to judge what an experience like this might be and apply to it a pre-fabricated label and a nice little diagram that explains it all, but when we are there to observe we realize that it is not a matter of presuming to know beforehand, rather, we must let the observation grow inside of us, and wait until it begins to reveal itself as we contemplate it in mental stillness.
The contemplation of the picture we form of the experience in our minds slowly begins to pour itself in us like a state of grace where we have imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions that come from it as a gift, and our gratefulness is expressed through the clarity of the concepts that we are able to produce about it. These concepts complete the cycle of reciprocity and one "rests", even though in many cases the concepts are only questions. When the reciprocity is fulfilled this way, the answer to the questions looses its urgency and is not important.
In other words, we "know" the experience, we have learned, we have changed because of it, even though we don't know the answers.
Before we can say that we know an object, we must first be able to hear the thoughts of this object in us. To achieve this we must empty our soul and concentrate on the object accompanied by the intensifications of certain feelings like wonder and surrender. When we have practiced this enough, thinking about the object begins to pour in us and concepts begin to take shape through the weaving activity of our inner soul forces. This state of having thoughts and forming concepts is experienced by the soul as a blessing similar to the blessing of the green color in Nature. This is the grace and the gratitude. Without fertilization by these feelings, thinking cannot come alive in us.
The idea is to give life to our thinking by means of disciplined imagination, inspiration and intuition, liberating it from the brain. This is achieved by the cultivating and enhancing of the *right* feelings with the forces of our *I* present in thinking.
Inspiration is not something that "one thinks", it is an arresting experience of something that comes like a breeze, something that one receives and completely fills our soul in full consciousness. It has little to do with the logic of the brain. The Arts are closer to it than mere conceptualization. Together with Imagination and Intuition as Rudolf Steiner uses the terms, they are an expression of living thinking.
Concepts are quite a different thing, they are produced by this thinking through the medium of the brain and are needed for communication, but are of secondary importance, they are derivative time-space encasements of this living thinking, and are therefore of limited or relative or of some specific value or usefulness. When the concepts are not the result of direct experience, but are borrowed from the past, other people, other times, other cultures, then the thinking becomes a force of death not of life.
What does it mean to be able to converse with the Virgin in full consciousness with an enhanced living thinking? This is the question I will try to answer little by little.
> feeling cannot lead to living thinking. Only through thinking. Imbued with forces of the will. The two have an action of feeling. Feeling then is at the center of our attention during meditation.
I am not suggesting or implying that feeling alone leads to thinking, what I'm saying is that feeling together with thinking is necessary for the thinking to become alive and "made flesh". The problem is when feeling interferes with the thinking, when it intrudes, and that depends on the type of feeling. But without --for example-- a feeling of reverence or respect for what comes to us from observation (in this case the feelings toward the Virgin someone may have), the thinking is merely "correct", but it doesn't become "true", it is not living.
What I am and will be describing is the contemplation of a feeling of faith and devotion evoked by the Virgin, by means of the mental picture that is associated with it. It is not important if the feeling is ours or of someone else. We suspend judging and concentrate on the picture, allowing our soul to be filled by the feeling that stems from it. We enhance or enrich this activity by approaching it or "enveloping it" with feelings of wonder, reverence, concordance, surrender. When we are doing all this consciously and deliberately, observing the feeling, the thinking begins to appear (it strikes us, it springs, it pours on us) in the form of imaginations, inspirations, or intuitions. This "fruition" is felt by the soul as state of grace.
I mentioned "surrender" as an example of the enhancement or amplification or intensification of feeling, by means of which we form a relationship where we allow our soul to be filled by the object, thus establishing a real, actual reciprocity between subject and object. We "surrender" consciously, with opened eyes, observing everything but at the same time feeling it and observing ourselves doing it. Then thinking of the object begins to appear in our soul, we begin to form concepts in the form of imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions that are in themselves the object, and we fill blessed: the object has been born in us, we have been impregnated by it, and we bear fruit in the form of concepts.
For clarity, one could speak of the thinking at the start of the exercise I described, and the thinking at the end, and use concepts such as awareness of thinking, feeling and willing in oneself at the start vs knowledge of the object in terms of inspiration, imagination, intuition at the end, or thinking (of the object) without content at the start vs thinking with content at the end. But there is a concept that is probably simpler and more to the point: the thinking at the beginning is thinking about the relationship we establish with the object, the thinking at the end is the thinking of the object itself (thinking with which, by the way, we also establish a relationship)
The first (the relationship) is what some call "the method", i.e., the way of relating to the object. When we come to understand that this method is not a prescription or a recipe but a series of principles that must be practiced creatively and differently in each case, we have the concept some have of Anthroposophia as a living being in contrast to "Spiritual Science" which is the conceptual formulation made by Rudolf Steiner 100 years ago. So when we set up to approach a specific experience or object of knowledge in an "anthroposophical way", this living being makes itself present and sheds its light on the process, guiding the knower, giving him confidence, etc.
> Whether you call Anthroposophia or Spiritual Science anthroposophically oriented, it makes no differences. To call it Spiritual Science does not scare away people.
J: The point is not how we call it, but to understand the difference. Let me try to summarize it in the following way:
There are few in the world who are interested in becoming spiritual "scientists", yet everybody is hungry for a direct experience of the Spirit. Anthroposophia is a gift of true knowledge for everybody who has this hunger and is willing to receive it, it is not for a select group or sect who is interested in the works of Rudolf Steiner. This gift cannot be received unless it's offered as living knowledge, and for the large majority in the world this is impossible if we don't develop first a language that comes directly from their lives. This language we must find and develop ourselves in response to the direct experience of what these needs are in the real people we meet. If we disregard the characteristics and actual, concrete spiritual needs of the souls we would like receive this gift, and simply reproduce the conceptual language of Rudolf Steiner, then what we say is mere theory and goes only to their heads, where it becomes a sickening agent that must be rejected by the healthy forces of the soul. Presented that way it is not heard except by a few, and Anthroposophia is born dead, lost to those who need it more.