Saturday, September 16, 2017

Review: Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1

Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1 Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1 by Rudolf Steiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The soul has three members in Rudolf Steiner's system: the lowest is the sentient soul, the bearer of our passions and desires; the next highest is the intellectual soul, what lets us be rational; and the highest is the consciousness soul, where the I grasps itself.

Each of these members is transformed by the I in its own way.

The sentient soul - the bearer of our passions, whims, and lusts - is transformed through anger. While anger bears the mark of egoism, it is only by going through the temptation to egoism that we can overcome it. If you are never angry or if you suppress anger, you are not selfless. Instead, you have not even reached the selfishness you must overcome. Without it, you are indifferent, complacent, and lack substance.

The intellectual soul is transformed through truth. Truth isn't an abstraction; it's what sets the soul free from itself. The soul is riddled with its own biases, prejudices, and opinions, but these lock it up inside itself. One must learn to love truth, and then you are set free into the wider world that all of us have in common. Still, the only truth that is really effective here is dynamic truth, truth alive with hidden activity, truth that works on you with more than meets the eye. Otherwise, truth is static and abstract. This dynamic truth is represented by Prometheus, who gives the soul the fire of higher worlds. But if you only receive that static, abstract truth, you're like Pandora: since your truth isn't active, it has no part in shaping the future; all that's left is to hope that it will turn out well. This static "reflective" truth is like somebody who wants to help in soccer by standing back and calculating what the best move would be. It doesn't have its head in the game.

The consciousness soul is transformed through reverence. In reverence, the soul comes to love the unknown, what lies beyond the known. However, it is very easy to lose yourself when you do this. So thought has to follow this loving devotion into the unknown, though the devotion comes first. Otherwise, you're basically sleepwalking. Moreover, while humankind has reverence toward God, God's reverence toward humankind is the might he gives to us. If we give reverence to him, he gives might to us. The element that is reverent is the "eternal feminine." The element that animates the reverence with the consciousness that keeps us from mere sleepwalking is the "eternal masculine."

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