Recently, I re-read Rudolf Steiner’s book How to Know Higher Worlds. The book is about developing ‘supersensible knowledge’ which is a refinement of the organs of perception so that we see, hear, taste, touch and smell more subtle aspects of creation.
Steiner encourages seekers to pay close attention to the thoughts and feelings that arise within because this is where supersensible knowledge is found. By attending to these impulses we receive the whisperings of Spirit.
Our habit as humans is to ignore nature and to treat the world as just a collection of objects. We talk at the world and have no time for listening to the world or ourselves.
However, with a lot of introspection we can learn to see everything subjectively. The birds, trees, bugs, stars, wind, rivers… everything elicits a feeling in us. If we pay attention to that feeling and let it arise unobstructed then we will hear the voice of Spirit.
The key indicator of true supersensible knowledge (opposed to just psychic perception) is a deep feeling of joy. Any factual information gained is nothing compared to the joy of deeper perception. The benefit of supersensible knowledge is not in the utility that it can provide, but in the spontaneous appreciation and delight in life.
Of course, this knowledge is barred from the ordinary mind which is blunt, loud and boisterous. To such a mind, supersensible knowledge is just fantasy and impractical. Intuitives with knowledge of the higher worlds must keep quiet about their perceptions or face ridicule from those who do not understand.
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5
Higher knowledge comes at a cost – recognition of lower knowledge. From a higher point of view, the average man’s behaviour is adolescent; crude, offensive and sometimes just plain stupid. Like the way we treat animals and pollute the world.
I found Steiner’s book to be more descriptive than prescriptive. It is very helpful if you already have a taste of supersensible knowledge, but if you don’t then this book is like describing colour to a blind man. However, if your soul is called to this knowledge, then it will no doubt help in the unfolding of supersensible perception.
Fortunately there are many other methods for spiritual development that are much easier and lay a good foundation for this kind of study.
The other thing I’d say about this work is that it is not transcendental – it is worldly, sensory knowledge – even if very refined. In Vedic terms Steiner is teaching the Samkhya school of Indian philosophy. This is in contradistinction to the Vedanta teaching of Ramana Maharshi which advises ignoring the senses – subtle or otherwise – and aiming for nirguna Brahman.
If you are a Raja Yogi and you are attracted to refinement of the senses, then Steiner’s work has a lot to offer, if you can wade through his heavily intellectual style.