PHENOMENON AND EXPERIENCE
The degree of knowledge of truth a person has is determined by his experiences; by the intensity of his experiences, – but not by the phenomena which cause these experiences.
As simple and easy this fact is to understand, it is nonetheless little understood.
Everywhere you come across a boundless overestimation of phenomena, whilst the ability to experience is in the vast majority of cases so atrophied that it requires particular sensations, novel external stimulation, before it can be just temporarily stirred into life.
Who can be surprised that the ‘experiences’ produced in this way then reflect a reduced capacity for experiencing?!
What is ‘experienced’ is but froth on the surface, since the capacity to penetrate deeper into the phenomenon is missing, even if it is on the face of it dissected with a lancet to its very inner essence and examined under a microscope to discover its most delicate fibres.
Even if the physical conditions of the phenomenon are precisely known through accurate research methodology, there remains nonetheless one last thing which can never be known in this way: – the ‘soul’ of the phenomenon. This can only be known if the ability to experience is developed in such a way that it reacts to stimuli remaining completely imperceptible to the physical senses.
It is of no importance for this kind of knowledge whether the phenomenon is dissected to its most delicate fibres, or whether it exerts its effect by its entire form, without having been broken down mechanically, or even by the mechanics of thinking, into its individual components.
Inherently there is no limit to the depth and significance of the experience created by the extensiveness or mechanical force by which a phenomenon is perceived!
Fireworks can dazzle the eyes and end up in an almighty crackling and fizzing; yet a tiny glow worm in the darkness of a forest on a summer’s night can bring about a much deeper experience than all the artifice of pyrotechnics might arouse within us …
It is like this with all phenomena, whether they are ‘comprehended’ by us through the eyes, ears or another physical sense!
To be sure, the majesty of towering mountain peaks, or the raging wildness of storm-driven surf on the sea can be the cause of a deep and strong experience. But the minute and apparently insignificant can also awaken a powerful experience.
Countless people – and in truth not just those whose souls are the most frigid – continually await an immense experience to shake their innermost depths. Since all their longing is incapable of summoning up this experience, they rush restlessly searching from experience to experience, caught up in the delusion that the hoped for experience is bound to be attained, if they could only locate the powerful phenomenon capable of overpowering their souls with its immensity.
In the end there is no miracle of nature which is foreign to them; all corners of the earth are familiar, but the yearning of their soul has still not been satisfied.
Others seek this great fulfilment in the spheres of art, science or abstract thought; others still, particularly nowadays, expect salvation from the ‘miracles of technology’, if they do not regard sporting ‘sensation’, or, as a victim of self-hypnosis, the thrill of an audacious game with life and death as the experience they long for with all their powers.
No one considers that all these temporary stimulations acquired in these ways – whether they are bestowed upon them in the heights or depths of the world of phenomena, – amount only to a benumbing, even deception, of one’s own soul which continues to claim its right to feel the joy of the experience through which it can become conscious of itself.
Yet everyone can find plenty of experiences of this kind in their very vicinity; if they know to find them, all obsession with what is distant and unknown will become foolish for them, and every tickling of the nerves he hears praised by others as ‘experience’ will only seem to be a dubious surrogate for genuine experience.
Yet – as was said at the beginning – true experience requires: the ability to experience.
This ability is there latent in everyone, yet no one will be able to use it if they have not developed it to a certain extent within themselves; this development is the work of constant practice.
Experience requires extreme concentration: – focussing the whole of the will to receive on an individual point, – and continual readiness to ‘gather’ oneself immediately in such concentration at a given stimulus.
On the other hand, those who are always on the look out for ‘distraction’ will certainly not develop their ability to experience!
They simply chase from one phenomenon to the next, insatiable like a slave to intoxicating poison; at the end of their days they will at best recognise that everything they have done was ‘vanity’, – and end up in bitter resignation. –
One should never go searching for experience, – nor should one regard it as festive gift.
Genuine experience always comes without being sought and can best be found within everyday life.
Suddenly you find it on paths you certainly did not set out on to seek experience, – yet when you set out in great readiness, you will surely return home with an empty heart and full of sadness …
This applies primarily to any experience which can bring news of a world of the essential spirit.
Earth-bound man is able to comprehend the spiritual not in earthly phenomena but through experience, and yet this experience also needs to be released in forms and events belonging to the world of phenomena. Indeed, the spiritual itself is the inner world of phenomena and can only be comprehended in the inner soul. –
But one should always be on one’s guard when external phenomena comprehensible to earthly senses seek to push themselves forward as messengers from the pure world of spirit; for rarer than diamonds in the sand of the seashore are those constellations of power which allow the spiritual to be grasped in phenomena by earthly senses; among all the millions of people on earth there are at any one time only as few capable of comprehending these phenomena that they could gather in a small room. –
He who has, however, comprehended spiritual things, even if only on one occasion, in the innermost experience of his soul, will no longer seek its revelation in the phenomena of the outside world. For he has received a revelation of the kind which has brought such joy to those who have seen it, that they considered the whole external world as nothing other than appearance and deception compared with the light-filled reality they had experienced within himself. –
If it is folly to believe that one has penetrated the outer world of phenomena because one has made its smallest parts comprehensible to one’s senses, – one has sought to detect its working possibilities and created in thought an analogy by which one imagines one possesses it, then it is folly beyond words to even want the world of the spirit to be found in this way in the visible world of phenomena, concluding with childlike obstinacy: that, as it could not thus be found, it also cannot be attained in any other way.
No less foolish is the demand for proof for the existence of spiritual powers through manifestations which can be comprehended by earthly senses.
Those who are still caught in the labyrinth of the world of thought have not even the faintest idea of the nature and form of ‘essential spirit’. Indeed, they even regard that part of the world of thought whose existence they feel, although it has not yet opened up to them: – the part outside the labyrinth which encompasses them, – as the eternal, substantial spirit!
Thus many also hear that the world of essential spirit is only revealed in experience, and imagine that they have known this experience for a long time as the experience of their brain-conditioned thinking.
But the experience I speak of here has not the slightest to do with thinking; the world of true, genuine spirit is skies above all the wonders of the world of thought! –
Just as every area of human knowledge opens up to those who fulfil its conditions, so too will one who trains his capacity for inner experience, by using all the possibilities for experience in the outer world of phenomena, gradually reach the point of gaining stimulus through phenomena for that experience which will reveal to him the world of the essential spirit.
He will only comprehend it in the experience of his own soul, – that world which is beyond senses and beyond thinking! –
Only then will all phenomena reveal to him that inner being as whose reflection they appear …
Only then will those who experience be able to interpret their own existence; what was dark up till then will now shine in eternal light! – – –