Anxiety and the World Soul
By Dennis Klocek
Esoterically an aspect of the unfolding health crisis is the question of why is there a return of some sort of virus for which there is no remedy? A spiritually oriented person could ask many questions about the world karma of such events. Is human error to blame for the suffering caused by pandemics? What are the global implications of the power of natural pathogens when combined with human lack of foresight regarding health policies? Deeper questions would be why does the spiritual world allow such things to happen? Are suffering and death retribution for culpability or a nudge by the spirit to something better?
Whether it was the onset of personal illness or national catastrophe such as war, Rudolf Steiner consistently took the broadest view possible in describing the mysterious windings of human karma in the context of cosmic evolution. It was not a version the ancient Mosaic law of an eye for an eye law that he presented to his audiences. His view was that Christ was the new Lord of Karma. As such, it was not searching for retribution or guilt that was the key to understanding human suffering and trials. The Christ centered karmic impulse comes from a higher place of free sacrifice of self for a common good. This not only applies to individuals but also to nations as well, when seen in the context of catastrophic events. Going further, we could make a case that natural catastrophic events highlight the hubris of human technology that obscures the spiritual intent of challenges. The world soul currently is filled with anxiety over feelings that something has gone terribly wrong, and that the danger is unsolvable by technology.
In Steiner’s worldview illness and suffering can actually be a hidden blessing for the development of spiritual consciousness in an individual. Expanded to a national level what is to be said of suffering of people that are tied to the health threat now being faced in countries worldwide? Is this event natural or unnatural? Is this an act of God or a human technical/magical drama akin to the sorcerer’s apprentice? Will the people who will have to adjust to a shattered economic system be considered as victims, martyrs, prophets or weaklings? In the large scale flow of karmic forces in the cosmos are the events taking place in the world paying a debt, or enacting a deed of sacrifice for the purpose of awakening a global consciousness towards a better world?
In other areas of the world stage today the firestorm of racial conflicts and upheavals was instigated by the death of a single individual at the callous inhuman hands of another single individual. That single deed when seen as an image to millions proved to be the straw that broke the political camel’s back for a large body of human souls who have been oppressed under egregious social systems. The firestorm of reaction was fanned by contemporary media that gives the world access to the cell-phone-on-the-street viewpoint of such events. At face value this level of reportage has a neutral journalistic scruple. It is both positive stimulus for social change but also, when repeated again and again over the world on the internet, the sheer repetition enhances the inflammatory nature of this kind of news programming. Further, the avalanche of coverage prompts a constant flow of conflicting accounts out of independent sources that expand in an unsettling confusion of opinions. In biblical times, the role of ancestor Adam in Paradise was to give names to the un-named. Today, lacking an opportunity for reaching the truth about most things, humans satisfy that fundamental naming urge by forming an opinion. Today powerful unconscious forces spread out from the daily conflict of public opinion between consciously informed and proudly un-informed minds. When coupled to repeated graphic sensationalism of on-the-spot imagery of tragedies the result is general unconscious emotional instability. These unconscious forces run counter to what could become reasoned interaction among the people who karmically must experience the challenge. The social chaos that ensues from the combination of incessant imagery and incessant opinion without experience blocks the development of true compassion for the plight of others.
Today powerful unconscious forces spread out from the daily conflict of public opinion between consciously informed and proudly un-informed minds. When coupled to repeated graphic sensationalism of on-the-spot imagery of tragedies the result is general unconscious emotional instability.
Paradoxically, through those same media channels, oppressed and challenged minorities are revealing to the world media remarkable self restraint, resilience and self sacrifice in the face of their trials. Their actions show that even in terrible trials; human ideals can be manifested. Human history reveals that when populations are faced with powerful trials what generally emerges is the brightness of the human spirit. Controlled emotion in trials of oppression gives strength and resolve to the will. However, the emotional challenges of those who are just spectators of the actual struggle require a different kind of will. The lack of immediacy in the face of the absorption of relentless imagery of the sufferings of others can lead to a deep sense of helplessness and futility. We take in the terror of the imagery but are powerless to do anything constructive about the reality of the situation. This is destabilizing and dangerous and leads to a broader spread of unconsciousness. Is there anything that can be done to help this situation? Rudolf Steiner has pointed to several approaches to the inner life that can be of use to souls stressed by the implications of these contemporary challenges. Steiner addressed these approaches by reference to three spiritual beings, Archangel Michael, the Black Madonna or Pistis Sophia and the Etheric Christ.
The Michaelic impulse centers on the capacity of humans to realize that demands for diversity that result in exclusionary language, blaming, and retribution, backfire into hindrances that restrict resolution. Transforming these separatist, divisive impulses is the mission of Archangel Michael. Michael acts as the liaison between the whole of humanity and the spirit of the Human Individuality that Rudolf Steiner recognized as Christ in the Etheric realm. The Archangel Michael is, among high spiritual beings, an advocate for the collective struggles of all human beings who are learning to deal with the the conflicting impulses of freedom of the individual that must be transformed to love for the collective. Michael’s mission is to eventually evolve a collective humanity that is dedicated to the total freedom of each individual. We are in the first initial steps in this direction and the path forward is a torturous one since the realization of the new humanity would jeopardize the dark future envisioned by the cosmic adversaries of humans. To collaborate with Michael it is necessary for each individual human being to strive to become master of the inner pictures that instigate feelings that are experienced unconsciously with each sense impression. Achieving this is admittedly a goal for the far future but human beings are just at the beginning of the work and so Michael is resolute and reserved and makes no judgments. Michael has great patience with our failings if we make the effort to become conscious of sensory inputs that cascade into opinions that are just amplified personal feelings.
Michael has great patience with our failings if we make the effort to become conscious of sensory inputs that cascade into opinions that are just amplified personal feelings.
A Michaelic exercise related to world events would be to form as clear a picture of an event as possible in the mind’s eye. Then form another picture of the same event along with what took place a bit later. Then repeat those two images again but add the next developments that arose even a bit later. The whole exercise would be to form three consecutive inner images of a sequence of events as clearly as possible without allowing emotional content such as anxiety, fear or anger color the images. This is a Michaelic deed on the inner planes. In this deed of self control of inner pictures in response to outer stimuli we make the soul or astral body conform to objective reality. This draws our soul closer to world phenomena that are free of prejudice and anxiety. This level of will is the realm of karma. Through such an exercise the soul is gradually led to ask can the event just prior to the first picture be known? Will an insight into that event move the mind towards more certainty? Sequencing exercises are a first step and Michael is our advocate in this work to deal with pictures that come to us from the world and the struggle to make our emotional responses to them conscious.
The second step is to enlist the attention of the great source of inspiration for the alchemical adepts of the past, the Black Madonna or the Pistis Sophia. This is done by thinking the sequence of images formed during the Michaelic objectivity exercise backwards into a state of silence. If there is a strong emotional content in the images used in the first exercise it generally takes several attempts of trying to imagine them backwards, since the soul wants them to emotionally unfold forwards. Thinking backwards in image sequences helps to dissolve the emotions connected with the images making it possible to attain a state of inner balance and understanding about the actual events. Once silence is achieved the being of the Black Madonna can be experienced in the astral planes as the capacity to accept and in that way understand circumstances that are clearly out of one’s control and yet clearly are part of the world karma of the situation. The Black Madonna watches over humans who are facing the darkness and terror of the unknown. She is an intercessor and mentor about the hidden karmic wisdom of the cosmos at play in widespread human challenges. The Black Madonna is a source of wisdom that allows a human soul to realize that an individual life is actually lived to advance all other human beings. We could say that the Black Madonna allows an anxious human to realize that forces are at work in world events that are beyond human understanding but are very wise and caring. The integrity of the inner life of images in the human soul is the pearl of great price in the battle between the progressive and retarding forces in the spiritual world. The Black Madonna teaches patience in the anxious darkness of unknowing. These two exercises that draw the attention of these two great spiritual beings provide a wealth of support for an anxious humanity. It is most effective to do the Michaelic concentration exercise and the Black Madonna backwards into silence exercise together in sequence just before sleep.
This is a summons of these two beings to that between sleep and another awakening. These two great beings guide the individual human soul to interact with the souls of the “so-called-dead” who dwell in the dream dimension that is the source of world karmic events. This dimension formerly known as the realm of the ancestors can be the source of much healing and understanding to those whose souls are fraught with anxiety over world events. Humans benefit from having Michael and the Black Madonna as benefactors and guides in these domains. They just have to be asked to help.
The integrity of the inner life of images in the human soul is the pearl of great price in the battle between the progressive and retarding forces in the spiritual world.
In the morning a period of silence based on listening to one’s heartbeat is useful to gather the dewdrops of any insights that have come out of the sleep/dream realms from the evening exercises. This is best developed by attention devoted to listening into the heartbeat followed by a period of silence. This is done to see if the mood of dreaming has left any feeling impressions in the soul. Other exercises such as repeating mantras or praying a rosary are also useful additions at this time for absorbing dream moods from across the threshold. The esoteric techniques needed for an understanding of the karma of these large events require that humans return again and again in their imaginations to the controlled formation of conscious inner representation of symptoms they individually perceive of world karma. These images must be controlled by the individual and not simply be reruns of past sensory or media inputs. Self-controlled sequences of moving images that are given over in sleep and retrieved again in the morning are highly beneficial and stabilizing.
The first step is the evening meditational flow of the forming and backward dissolving of self selected inner pictures of world events. The second step in the morning is less meditational and more devotional. Listening to your heart and establishing a devotional prayer practice allows for deeper insights to arise in the soul regarding the true karmic implications of world events.
The use of the evening and the morning as a rhythmic counterpoint in the inner planes followed by a devotional practice puts us into contact with the Christ impulse in the life body of the Earth. A key symptom in the mind that the life body of the Earth is being entered is the arising of an interest in understanding planetary rhythms and cycles both in natural seasonal phenomena and in the life of the soul. Esotericists understand that the background to human evolution can be explored through a higher perception of the rhythmic nature of world phenomena seen against a backdrop of planetary events. To find my True Self I must enter consciously into the rhythmic becoming of the world and to understand the world I must enter consciously into the rhythmic becoming of my True Self. The task is to unite these two rhythms through some sort of practice. Steiner has suggested that, in this regard, a consciousness of festival life in community is a productive and creative path.
According to Rudolf Steiner the Christ being works particularly through the morning and evening forces to rhythmically regulate chaotic astral realms. Chaos threatens human souls when they obsess about pictures that result in feelings of powerlessness. When such pictures are accompanied with information that oscillates wildly between truth, half-truth and actual lying the stage is set for psychic aberrations on a mass scale. From an esoteric point of view, these kinds of mass feelings of chaos and powerlessness enter the life body of the Earth and further irritate or reverberate anomalous natural events including pathogens. To prevent this, Christ as the Spirit of the Earth, uses human attention that is free of anxiety and prejudice to harmoniously link the destiny of the Earth to the great demands of cosmic evolution. By enlisting the help of these three great beings, humans gain powerful advocates in the struggle against the dark forces that threaten to engulf human souls in paralyzing anxiety during times of crisis and uncertainty.
Dennis Klocek, MFA, is co-founder of the Coros Institute and a faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College. He is the author of nine books, including the newly released Colors of the Soul; Esoteric Physiology and also Sacred Agriculture: The Alchemy of Biodynamics. Dennis is also an international lecturer.