Allowing truth to work for us and in us

12th November, 2017


Rudolf Steiner calls thinking the newest capacity Humanity has (Philosophy of Freedom). Thinking he says is the act we, as human beings alone, bring to a traffic intersection for example.  The intersection is just that, an intersection.  It is only understood if we bring our capacity to think to it.  How do we do this?  We bring concepts that we have in us to bear on the intersection.  These include the colours red, orange and green.

We know that red, in this circumstance, means stop.

We know that the orange light warns us when the red light is about to come on.  We then bring our concepts of friction, mass, momentum, ‘eina’ (pain) and others to bear through our ability to think, to draw these concepts into our consciousness.  (Rudolph Steiner says that consciousness is the precondition that makes thinking a possibility.)  All of these concepts, when brought to consciousness by our thinking, give meaning to the traffic intersection.  The traffic intersection is there, but the meaning is within me.  A boulder rolling towards the traffic intersection from a nearby hill would not understand the traffic intersection and the incident would be just like two ships passing each other at night if all were asleep on board both ships.

A roads engineer would be able to bring more meaning to the traffic intersection than the average road user because she has more concepts that are in her consciousness, or available to it, because she studies traffic safety issues, lines of sight, speed limits of traffic approaching the intersection, and so on.  To her, a traffic intersection is something that brings great meaning to her that many of us miss.  We simply have not got the concepts that she has.

What does Anthroposophy offer us with regard to concepts?  Well, it offers us those contained in the first two paragraphs above.  It also offers us the fourfold picture of Man – mineral, plant, animal, and man – and many more.  Our road engineer gets her concepts, we get those of Anthroposophy, Man as a physical and also a spiritual being.  What happens to the soul of someone that takes in the fourfold concept?  Surely everything that they see, like a traffic intersection, becomes understood with the background of the fourfold concept.  We are then able to bring our thinking, a spiritual reality, to bear on the traffic intersection with the added concepts of the fourfold truth, the fundamental truth that we are fourfold beings living in a fourfold world.  The truth of this reality will work through every ‘traffic intersection’, or thing, or situation of the world that comes to face us.

Mineral Plant Animal Humanity
Physical Body Physical Body Physical Body Physical Body
  Rhythmical Life Body Rhythmical Life Body Rhythmical Life Body
    Sentient/Instinctual Organism Sentient/Instinctual Organism
      Thinking I/Ego

Figure 1

Let’s make this practical.  (Ref: Fig 1)  We have a mineral world, a plant world, an animal world and Man.  The mineral world has no life force or etheric and cannot grow and reproduce as the plant can.  The plant has no soul and associated sense organs that animals have, but in plants we have the first signs of memory of itself in its species.  Plants are fixed in one place but animals move and have instincts, where plants have rhythms and cycles.  Man has the ability to think and manage the impulses sent to the soul via his sense organs while an animal responds to the sense impressions that it is exposed to without any idea which sense the impression is coming from.  There are step differences between each of the four realities.  In Man, all four are present, in animals, only three and so on.  Each of us could delve into the detail of each of these and find the underlying sub-concepts of each.  When we then come across a traffic intersection, we know from these concepts that Man designed the traffic intersection from a need.  The traffic intersection is of a mineral nature and will always be in the same spot for example, on the same slope and orientation to the Sun and North.  The systems, processes and procedures that need to be applied to the maintenance and operation of the traffic intersection, even if it is just repainting the lines, needs human design and participation in order to bring them to reality.  Record keeping of transactions and incidents (such as no. of vehicle or pedestrian accidents reported to the Traffic authorities) in relation to the traffic intersection will assist to remember things about this traffic intersection.  These are plant like realities or concepts.  W hen the organisation established to care for this traffic intersection retains people, and the purpose of the traffic intersection is conscious within these people, an instinct is developed whereby the traffic circle, the problems associated therewith, the effects of storms in the area, and what happens over holiday seasons, will become known and instinct will bring appropriate corrective or preventative measures to bear more easily than reinventing the solutions each time anew because people are changed too often.  If attentive, one can see that organisations can develop instincts and natures very useful for looking after traffic intersections.  Man himself will decide when and if a traffic intersection needs to change or not.  This is an ‘I’ function.  He will decide on the quality of design, the degree of maintenance and routines, and the value of staff retention around this traffic intersection.

So it can be that when we fill ourselves with the truth of profound concepts like the fourfold nature of Man and his surroundings that these concepts begin to work in support of our access to real understanding of the world.  Initially we need to bring these concepts to life within us with our own efforts, but note that they work on for us once there, and bring us into new possibilities of understanding and relevance to the world around us.  Saying it another way, we bring form to our souls through our own activity and, as a consequence, our souls, through their independent life and activity as a spirit entity, create a new strength and form that thirsts for and holds more capacity for our future understanding.  It is through our soul capacities so constructed by ourselves that the angels can participate on earth – as we direct our will which is now inspired by truth and goodness.

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