Virgin and Mother Earth
by Juan Antonio Revilla
There are many thoughts that can be derived right away simply by observing with attention and methodically, but we usually don't do that and instead accommodate the object of observation very conveniently into our established conceptual universe. However, in this case, we want to observe with attention and learn from it, as if the experience were really new and important to us. The difference with ordinary thinking in this case is that we are not interested in registering the observation as a sum of physical parts or details but as as a whole, we want to know its meaning, its place in the universe, we want it to reveal itself to us, to reach its soul and read it like an open book, breaking the lock that the order of nature placed in front of us, like God telling us: "it is not for you to know what is going on in the object's soul, you can know it only indirectly, but you shall never have access to the actual experience of the other soul, you are condemned or locked inside yourself, this knowledge is forbidden for you!".
But then we remember that Rudolf Steiner said (ga 136-5): "by means of a special enhancement of the experiences which we have in ordinary life in the feelings of sympathy and love, by raising these feelings to the occult path, we may succeed in pouring forth our own being, coming out of ourselves, as it were, and plunging into the being we wish to observe."
Let's go back to the original example of observing someone praying to the Virgin. We are using our eyes but are not looking for anything physical, so instead of fixing our line of sight on one specific point, we look at the object as a whole, as if it were a landscape where everything is distant, or we were looking at the starry sky, looking at everything from the corner of our eye. The focus of the observation now is the atmosphere that surrounds the object, the movement or gesture, which in this case is a feeling that for us constitutes a riddle. We observe faith, devotion, a state of grace, an inner beauty and humility that shines from the head and induces to look down, to close the eyes, or to cry, we feel humility, etc.; but instead of looking coldly with our intellect, we come alive and open our souls to it, letting all those feelings touch us with enough strength to leave a lasting impression in us. We don't let our intellect corrupt the experience, we surrender to the feeling while we quietly and silently observe ourselves feeling it. We allow this feeling to work on us freely while we observe, wondering and in a state of profound respect for the integrity and value of what we are observing, feeling its riddle and silencing any desire to obtain answers: we only open ourselves and feel grateful for what we are receiving.
It may happen that the object doesn't have so much intensity for us. This means that the observation must be "enhanced" in different ways. One way is by concentrating on feelings, as I have been describing, or we could also carry on a systematic series of similar observations over time, multiplying them so that the effect left on our soul is reinforced, and we could expand the observations by experimenting with different objects and carry on comparisons of our response so that eventually we can identify what feelings are associated with what objects and we become very sharp doing this. This way are the things themselves, the objects (in this case the feelings of faith and devotion observed), that begin to talk or be audible to us, telling us about themselves. I begin to know them, I become familiar with those feelings, even though I have not come up with any concept or have constructed any theory about them.
Up to this point there is nothing supersensible and there is no theory or concepts about the object, but there is real knowledge. However, if we have reached this point we observe one thing: the feeling that was the object of observation is no longer attached to the physical act of observation, it is no longer attached to any individual person in an act of praying to the virgin: we have come to the point where to perceive or experience the feeling we don't have to go look for it in a Church or some other place, but it seems to live in us and have a life of its own. It is not a matter of remembering because it is no longer attached to a specific person or event, a specific time and space, yet we are able to "see it" when we focus our attention or our thinking on it. When we focus our thinking this way, we no longer are using our physical organs and have begun to "see" by means of imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions. Then the thoughts about the object begin to appear, they fall upon us like a gentle rainfall that we know is a gift of gratitude and love that comes from the object itself.