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Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Mystics of the Renaissance and Their Relation to Modern Thought

by Rudolf Steiner


St. Augustine declares himself unable to find within himself the source for that which he should believe. He says: "I would not believe in the Gospel, did not the authority of the Catholic Church move me thereto." That is in the same spirit as the Evangelist, who points to the external testimony: "That . . . which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; . . . that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us." But Meister Eckhart would rather impress upon man the words of Christ: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you"; and he explains these words by saying: "Just as if he had said: Ye have set too much joy upon my present appearance, therefore the full joy of the Holy Ghost cannot come to you."

Eckhart thinks that he is speaking of no God other than that God of whom Augustine, and the Evangelist, and Thomas, speak, and yet this testimony as to God is not his testimony, their witness is not his. "Some people want to see God with the same eyes they see a cow withal, and want to love God as they would love a cow. So they love God for the sake of outer riches and inner comfort; but such folk do not rightly love God. . . . Simple folk fancy they should behold God as though He stood there and they here. But it is not so. God and I are one in the act of knowing {im Erkennen)." What underlies such expressions in Eckhart's mouth is nothing else than the experience

of the inner sense; and this experience shows him things in a higher light. He therefore believes himself to have no need of an external light in order to attain to the highest insight: "A Master says: God became man, whereby the whole human race is uplifted and made worthy. Thereof may we be glad that Christ our brother of His own strength rose above all the choirs of angels and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. That Master spake well; but, in truth, I would give little for it. What would it help me, had I a brother who was a rich man, and I therewithal a poor man? What would it help me, had I a brother who was a wise man, and I were a fool? . . . The Heavenly Father begetteth His Only-Begotten Son in Himself and in me.. Wherefore in Himself and in me? I am one with Him; and He has no power to shut me out. In the self-same work, the Holy Ghost receives its being and proceeds from me, as from God. Wherefore? I am in God, and if the Holy Ghost takes not its being from me, neither does it take it from God. In no wise am I shut out."

When Eckhart recalls the saying of St. Paul: "Put ye on Jesus Christ," he means to imply in this saying the meaning: Sink yourselves into yourselves, dive down into self-contemplation: and from out the depths of your being, God will shine forth to meet you; He illumines all things for you; you have found Him within you; you have become united with God's Being. "God became man, that I might become God."

In his booklet upon Loneliness, Eckhart expresses himself as follows upon the relation of the outer perception to the inner: "Here thou must know that the Masters say that in every man there are two kinds of man: the one is called the outer man, and yet he acts through the power of the soul. The other man is called the inner man, that is, that which is within the man. Now thou must know that every man who loveth God maketh no more use of the powers of the soul in the outer man than so far as the five senses absolutely require; and that which is within turns not itself to the five senses, save in so far as it is the guide and conductor of the five senses, and shepherds them, so that they follow not after their craving to bestiality." One who speaks in such wise of the inner man can no longer direct his gaze upon a Being of things lying outside himself; for he sees clearly that from no kind or species of the outer world can this Being come to him.

An objector might urge: What can it matter to the things of the outer world, what you add to them out of your own mind? Do but rely upon your own senses. They alone give you information of the outer world. Do not adulterate, by a mental addition, what your senses give you in purity, without admixture, as the image of the outer world. Your eye tells you what colour is; what your mind knows about colour, of that there is nothing whatever in colour itself. To this, from Meister Eckhart's standpoint, the answer would have to be: The senses are a physical apparatus; therefore what they have to tell us about objects can concern only that which is physical in the objects. And this physical factor in the objects communicates itself to me in such wise that in myself a physical process is set going.

Colour, as a physical process of the outer world, sets up a physical process in my eye and brain. Thereby I perceive colour. But in this manner I can perceive of colour only so much as is physical, sensuous. Sense-perception cuts out everything non-sensuous from objects. Objects are thus by sense-perception stripped of everything about them which is non-sensuous. If I then advance to the spiritual, the ideal content, I in fact only reinstate in the objects what sense-perception has shut out therefrom. Thus sense-perception does not exhibit to me the deepest Being of objects, it rather separates me from that being. But the spiritual, the ideal conception, seizing upon them again, unites me with that being. It shows me that objects are inwardly of exactly the same spiritual (geistigen) nature as I myself.

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