Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rational spiritual enlightenment

Postmodern spirituality A dialogue in five parts Part V: Can Only A God Save Us? Postmodern Proto-Spirituality And The Current Global Turn To Religion Roland Benedikter
The two poets and thinkers who maybe gave us the best phaenomenological description of inspiration as “free”, open, rational, meta-ideological and spiritual core state of a possible postmodern consciousness of the future, may be the poet of “A moment of true feeling” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1977), Peter Handke (*1942).
Handke is, in my view, one of the most important European poets and writers of the 20th century, at least for my generation. We read every book from him for 20 years now, and we were deeply influenced by him, more than by most of the academic philosophies. I think he should receive the Nobel Price for Literature well ahead from most other poets. And the other one is the author of the “Philosophy Of Freedom”, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). He was the founder of Anthroposophy and of the radically democratic political movement of “Social Threefolding”, which currently plays such an eminent role in globalization (cf. Ibrahim Abouleish and Nicanor Perlas, of whom we talked in our first dialogue).
Their works can help you to understand, as an experience but also as a cognitive philosophy in the strict sense, what inspiration is. The best work of Steiner on this topic probably is: Rudolf Steiner: The Levels Of Higher Cognition: Imagination – Inspiration – Intuition. Collected Works No. 12, Dornach 1986; but also his “Truth And Science. A Cognitive Theory” (Collected Works No. 3, Dornach 1992). With re-studying these works, we may progressively understand better, where the void of postmodern deconstruction can positively lead us. And we must not forget: The works for the future, for continuing postmodernity in the 21st century, have still to be written, of course...
If you are in the state of inspiration, new concepts are generated out of the productive void. But it will not be long that you discover: It is not your own normal egoistic “I” which creates them alone. Because this “I” has, at least partially, disappeared. When you are inspired, it can happen, that something subjective-objective is occurring in your mind at the same time. And, again: You feel it. You feel that you are not alone, when you are truly inspired. There is something which helps you, which guides your intuitions. As we said in one of our previous dialogues, it may be the famous “Geist” or “spirit-mind” (as I would translate the term “Geist”) which Hegel underscored so much, when he said that the goal of rational spiritual enlightenment is the discovery that not I myself are producing and thinking my thoughts, but the order of the cosmos is producing my thoughts and thinking through me. (Cf. Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel: Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford University Press, USA 1979)...
First undergo a true k├ítharsis, which is the only way to “deconstruct” your illusions properly, by creating inner images of the good, the true and the beautiful. And only if you have created these images in a subjective-objective way, you can proceed safely into the realm of inspiration - by cancelling even those images, and remaining only with the pure pre-formal energies which created those images, and with nothing else. Than you will be able to think safely and rationally in a pre-linguistic, pre-imaginary and pre-formal “subjective-objective” way.
If you try instead to go directly into the inspiration state of thinking, you may possibly fall into new, even more dangerous illusions, than the egoistic and linguistic illusions could be. You will, for example, have the illusion that every thought you think is valuable and great, even if in reality it is not. Being inspired does not mean being infallible; therefore, you first have to learn how to behave precisely in the realm of the subjective-objective. The best school, according to Steiner, to learn precise rational thinking in the realm of the subjective-objective, is to exercise imagination.
For example, making a picture of the sky in the morning, and then imagining how the weather may be in the afternoon. You form a judgement out of that imagination. And in the afternoon you control, if it was true or not. With time passing, your imagination will become always more precise. And in the end, you will know with a high percentage of success out of pure observation of the sky in the morning, how the weather will be in the afternoon. Steiner called that “the empirical exercise of practical imagination”. That was the method Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Steiner spiritual father, used to exercise his faculties of imagination. And only having learned that, you should proceed. Only then, it may be safe enough.

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