by Juan Antonio Revilla
With this I don't mean to describe any actual supersensible experiences, but to illustrate the possibility of having one simultaneously with what we are perceiving through the senses. The point is not how to attain supersensible perception, but how we can relate to experience or perception in a way that the knowledge we obtain from it is "true" or "living". When the relationship we establish with experience is the "right" one, we prepare our soul to receive the gift of imagination, inspiration, and intuition (in many variations and gradations), i.e., of relating to things in a way that is not merely rational or dependent on what can be perceive by the senses.
Imagination, inspiration, and intuition do not constitute knowledge by themselves. They may talk to us and we may not listen, or we may get it all wrong and go mad, etc. We must apply the forces of our *I* expressed in thinking, feeling, and action from the very moment of observation, all through the contemplation and the final processing in the form of concepts. We are not worried about developing our ability for supersensible experience, but about making our experience strong and healthy and our knowledge "true" and alive. This in turn enhances the imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions as well as well as the activity or movements of the *I* through thinking, feelings, and action.
The importance --from my standpoint-- of this approach to knowledge suggested by Rudolf Steiner is that it is accessible to everyone, and not just to those who are committed to become spiritual researches like him. Everybody needs a direct experience of the Spirit, but only a small number want to become "spiritual scientists" or are interested in the conceptualized teachings of Spiritual Science. Nothing supersensible or necessarily spiritual is present at first when we simply delay judgement and wait until the facts themselves or direct experience "fill in the blanks", but as with Goethe, the mastering of this approach leads us towards Life, towards living thinking, instead of a lifeless and deadening conceptualization.
What is living thinking?
Before looking for an abstract definition, please consider first the following description by Rudolf Steiner:
"Let us suppose that a man who has developed this feeling, this attitude of surrender, in a rather high degree, looks out over the fresh bright green of a meadow. At first sight he cannot distinguish the colours of any individual plants; the whole presents a general appearance of fresh green. Such a man, if he has really brought the attitude of surrender to a high degree of development, will perforce feel within him at the sight of the meadow an inner sense of balance; he cannot help being moved to feel this mood of balance - a balance that is not dead but quick with life, we might compare it to a gentle and even flow of water. He cannot help but conjure up this picture before his soul. And it is the same with every taste, every smell and every sense-perception; they inevitably call up in his soul a feeling of inner movement and activity. There is no colour and no tone that does not speak to him; everything says something, and says it in such a way that he feels bound to give answer with inner movement and activity - not with judgment or opinion but with movement, active, living movement.
"When our etheric body grows together with the objects of the world, then we have the impression that we cannot let these objects remain as they are in our ideas and in our conceptions and thoughts. They change for us as soon as we come into relation with them. Suppose a man who has already experienced the mood of surrender in his soul is looking at a green leaf, full of sap. He turns the eye of his soul upon the object before him, and at once he finds he cannot leave it as it is, this juicy green leaf; the moment he beholds it he feels that it grows out beyond itself, he feels how it has in it the possibility to become something quite different... The green leaf stimulates him to feel within him something of a budding and sprouting life. Thus he grows together - quite literally - with the green leaf, feeling in himself, too, a budding and a sprouting of life. But now suppose he is looking at the dry and withered bark of a tree. If he is to grow together with that he cannot do otherwise than be overcome with a feeling of death. In the withered bark he sees - not more, but less than is there in reality. If anyone looks at the bark from the point of view of external appearance alone he can admire it, it can give him pleasure, in any case he does not see in the dead bark something that shrivels him, piercing him, as it were, in the soul and filling it with thoughts of death." (ref. GA.134-2)
Now for a more conceptual explanation:
Cosmic thinking is a never ending impersonal motion of creation and destruction, of utterances of higher spiritual hierarchies that never stop changing or metamorphosing, always moving and never reaching a point of rest. We contemplate it or hear how it comes and goes like a river without end or beginning and without time, like eternity.
Living thinking is this cosmic movement incarnated in our reality, a bridge between the Spirit and human experience in the consciousness soul; it is how man's Spirit knows the world, not through concepts or rationalization but through a dialectical movement between the *I* and the world more akin to music or to a song, like a dialog of reciprocity.
Anthroposophia is an expression of this living thinking, of the cosmic thinking of the higher hierarchies filtered through our human experience of the world. But there is something else: it appears to us differentiated, incorporated into and organized body of knowledge, encased in concepts and a personal style that are expressions of Rudolf Steiner's personality and the spirit of the times in which he lived.
Furthermore, this particular conceptualization is usually printed in stone and the conceptualized encasement becomes doctrine and is no longer living, it is only repetition or association of concepts that were not born out of the souls of the real people to whom they are being communicated, as they originally were when they were created. Anthroposophia taken this way is devoid of spirit.