Theosophy, by Rudolf Steiner, , at sacred-texts.com
When Johann Gottlieb Fichte, in the autumn of 1813, gave to the world his "Introduction to the Science of Knowledge" as the ripe fruit of a life wholly devoted to the service of truth, he said, at the very beginning: "This science presupposes an entirely new inner sense organ or instrument, by means of which there is revealed a new world which does not exist for the ordinary man." And he proceeded to give the following comparison to show how incomprehensible this doctrine of his must be when judged by means of conceptions founded on the ordinary senses: "Think of a world of people born blind, who therefore know only those objects and relations which exist through the sense of touch. Go among them and speak to them of colors and the other
relations which exist only through light and for the sense of sight. Either you convey nothing to their minds, and this is the more fortunate if they tell you so, for you will in that way quickly notice the mistake and, if unable to open their eyes, will cease the useless speaking. " Now those who speak to people about such things as Fichte deals with in this instance find themselves only too often in a position like that of a man who can see among the born blind. But these are things that refer to man's true being and highest goal, and to believe it necessary "to cease the useless speaking" would amount to despairing of humanity. On the contrary, one should not for one moment doubt the possibility of opening the eyes of everyone to these things, provided that he is in earnest in the matter. On this supposition have all those written and spoken who felt that within themselves the "inner sense-instrument" had grown by which they were able to know the true nature and being of man, which is hidden from the outer senses. This is why from the most ancient times such a "Hidden Wisdom" has been again and again spoken of. Those who have grasped something
of it feel just as sure of their possession as people with normal eyes feel sure that they possess the conception of color. For them this "Hidden Wisdom" requires no "proof." They know also that it requires no proof for any other person who, like themselves, has unfolded the "higher sense." Such a one can speak as a traveler can about America to people who have not themselves seen that country, but who can form a conception of it because they would see all that he has seen if the opportunity presented itself to them.
But not only to such has the investigator of the higher truth to speak. He must address his words to all mankind. For he has to make known things that concern all humanity. Indeed he knows that without a knowledge of these things no one can, in the true sense of the word, be a "human being." And he speaks to all mankind because he knows that there are different grades of understanding for what he has to say. He knows that even those who are still far from the moment in which they will themselves be capable of spiritual investigation can bring a certain measure of understanding to meet him. For the Afeeling for
truth and the power of understanding it is inherent in every human being. And to this understanding, which can flash forth in every healthy soul, he in the first place addresses himself. He also knows that in this understanding there is a force which, little by little, must lead to the higher grades of knowledge. This feeling, which perhaps at first sees nothing at all of that which is told it, is itself the magician which opens the "eye of the spirit." In darkness this feeling stirs; the soul does not see, but through this feeling it is seized by the power of the truth; and then the truth will gradually draw nearer to the soul and open in it the "higher sense." For one person it may take a longer, for another a shorter time, but everyone who has patience and endurance reaches this goal. For although not every physical eye can be operated on, every spiritual eye can be opened, and when it will be opened is only a question of time.
Erudition and scientific training are not essential to the unfolding of this "higher sense." It can be developed in the simpleminded person just as in the scientist of high
standing. Indeed, what is often called at the present time "the only true science" can, for the attainment of this goal, be a hindrance rather than a help. For this science too often permits to be considered "real" only what is perceptible to the ordinary senses. And however great its merit is in regard to the knowledge of that reality, it creates at the same time a mass of prejudices which close the approach to higher realities.
In objection to what is said here it is often brought forward that "insurmountable limits" have been once and forever set to human knowledge, and that, since one cannot pass beyond these limits, all branches of investigation and knowledge which do not take them into account must be rejected. And a person who wishes to make assertions about things which many regard as proved to lie beyond the limits that have been set to human capacities of knowledge, is looked upon as highly presumptuous. Those who make such objections entirely disregard the fact that a development of the human powers of knowledge has to precede the higher knowledge. What lies beyond the limits of knowledge before
such a development is, after the awakening of faculties slumbering in each human being, entirely within the realm of knowledge. One point in this connection must, indeed, not be neglected. One could say, "Of what use is it to speak to people about things for which their powers of knowledge are not yet awakened, and which are therefore still closed to them?" But that is also the wrong way to look at it. One requires certain faculties to find out the things referred to; but if, after having been found out, they are made known, every person can understand who is willing to bring to bear upon them unprejudiced logic and a healthy instinct for truth. In this book the things made known are of no other kind than such as can produce the impression that through them the riddle of human life and the phenomena of the world find a satisfying explanation. This it can do on anyone who allows thinking that looks at all sides of a subject and is unclouded by prejudice, and a feeling for truth that is free, and sets no reserves, to take effect. Let one merely place himself in the attitude of asking, "If the things that are asserted here are true, do they afford a satisfying
explanation of life?" and one will find that the life of each human being supplies the confirmation.
In order to be a "teacher" in these higher regions of existence, it is by no means sufficient that a person has developed the sense for them. For that purpose "science" is necessary, just as much as it is necessary for the teacher's calling in the region of ordinary reality. "Higher seeing" alone makes a "knower" in the spiritual just as little as healthy sense organs make a "scholar" in regard to the sensible realities. And because in truth all reality, the lower and the higher spiritual, are only two sides of one and the same fundamental essence, anyone who is unlearned in the lower branches of knowledge will as a rule remain so in regard to the higher. This fact creates a feeling of responsibility that is immeasurable in him who, by a spiritual call, is destined to be a teacher in the spiritual regions of existence. It creates in him humility and reservedness. But it should deter no one from occupying himself with the higher truths, not even him whose other circumstances of life afford no opportunity for the study of ordinary science.
[paragraph continues] For one can, indeed, fulfill one's task as a human being without understanding anything of botany, zoölogy, mathematics, and other sciences; but one cannot, in the full sense of the word, be a "human" being without having, in some way or other, come near to a perception of the nature and destination of man revealed in the "Higher Wisdom."
The highest to which a man is able to look up he calls the "Divine." And he has in some way or other to bring his highest destination into connection with this Divinity. For this reason the higher wisdom which reveals to him his own being, and with it his destination, may very well be called "Divine Wisdom," or theosophy.
From the point of view here indicated there will be sketched in this book an outline of the theosophical interpretation of the universe. The writer of it will present nothing that is not a fact for him, in the same sense as an experience of the outer world is a fact for eyes and ears and the ordinary intelligence. Indeed, experiences will be dealt with which become accessible to each person who is determined to tread the "path of knowledge" described in a special section of this work.