Experiencing the world as an interior – Part 2

An interview with Prof. Wolfgang Schad (Witten, Germany), for LOGON: Gunter Friedrich - We are more than our conscious everyday selves.

Experiencing the world as an interior – Part 2

To part 1

The freedom to be there for the world again

W.S. Friedrich Nietzsche noticed that freedom “from” is not enough, and he once wrote: What do I care about freedom “from” – I ask about freedom “for”. This means that I can also take the freedom to be there for the world again. I can take the freedom to overcome the separation from the world again. And this overcoming is the real cultural ability of man. It happens in religious life, it happens in every fruitful art; this overcoming happens in every understanding, in every thinking that grasps a piece of reality in such a way that I do not get stuck in my subjectivity, which is what constitutes every good science. We get an adult culture by cultivating the ability to overcome the dualism, the separation from the world, in a self-active way.

In very practical terms, this separation has led to our current ecological disaster. Humanity is behaving as if the nature of the earth in all its wonder does not exist. We exploit nature for our own subjectivism. In earlier advanced civilizations this existed only to a limited extent in certain places on earth, but today it is the case globally across the whole earth. This is what the twentieth century has brought, and it continues in this direction every day. The whole call for a different way of dealing with the earth stems precisely from the fact that we have to break out of our self-made or self-implemented prison and regain global connectivity. A phrase from a Rilke poem also comes to my mind. Rilke speaks of the “world interior space”. This overcomes the distinction between the human interior and the world as an exterior by experiencing the world itself as an interior.

G.F. This Rilke poem also says:

The birds fly silently

through us. O that I would grow,

I look out, and inside me the tree grows.

This dualistic structure is also in every single person. The dualism exists not only between me and nature, but I am also no longer one with myself. I am no longer one with my immortal self.

Wolfgang, you have set a course for your life by becoming an anthroposophist. Anthroposophy is an effort to overcome dualism in a special way.

Self-knowledge as the basis of all knowledge

W.S. Anthroposophy is the striving to make self-knowledge the basis of all knowledge of the world. I cannot understand the world if I do not understand the one who wishes to understand the world. The prerequisite for all understanding of the world is me, are we human beings. But people do not know what they are if they do not pursue anthropology or ist extension, anthroposophy, that is, if they do not strive for a deeper understanding of human nature. They can then only recognise the world to a limited extent.

How do I manage to get an enlightened relationship with myself? My consciousness of self, which usually begins with the first saying of “I“ in the third year of life, sometimes today in the second year of life, provides the first impulse for the separation from the world. From then on it starts: “First I come and only then comes everything else.“ This already contains that the I becomes the ego, in the sense that we associate with the word egoism.


Anthroposophy observes that this process is not carried out willingly, in freedom by the human being. He does not yet have a consciously awakened will at the time of early childhood. But who drives him to get this ego which is separated from the world? And that is where anthroposophy takes up the spiritual side of the process and says: It is a spiritual being that brings freedom to man in this way. But only the freedom “from”. The biblical myth calls this spiritual being Lucifer, which interestingly enough means “bringer of light”. What does Lucifer bring? He brings man the light of consciousness of himself. He is described in the Bible as a high angelic being, who has fallen. And what Lucifer has performed with himself – separating himself from the world as a whole for his own benefit – man now also experiences in his ego-consciousness. The awakening of ego-consciousness is the fall from the monistic world unity. The solution to this is not to say, “now I’m going to act like an infant” in order to get back there. Rather, we have to go through this dualism, because only then a monism becomes possible, that is achieved in freedom and not inflicted on us by other spirits. It is man’s own creative contribution to the course of the world.

I am more than my conscious everyday self

With my conscious self I can ask the question: Am I more than my conscious everyday self? There are borderline experiences to this question, which then come up and which may, indeed must, be taken into focus. One such experience is that of sleep. When I fall asleep, I lose the everyday ego-consciousness and am then, let’s say for seven to eight hours, without this consciousness. But have I stopped being me? When I wake up in the morning I am sure that I am the same person I was yesterday and the day before. This means that the reality of the continuity of the I is not bound to permanent I-consciousness. But what is that so unconscious I in us that is the effective I in sleep?

Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture to a congress of philosophers in Bologna, 1911 [1]. In this lecture he pointed out that the I, the true, real I, does not live in the body, but is the content of the world. If I am interested in something that I am not myself, that is, in a beautiful flower or a rainbow or something else beautiful or even ugly, then the word “interest” already says that I am “in between”, between things. The Latin word inter-esse means being in between. So the word already indicates that when I am interested, I am not with myself, but with the other person, that I am in the world. In real interest I forget myself and only by forgetting myself in my self-referential self can I be open to others. This is the basic social process that we want to, may, and must practise in future in our dealings with other people and also with nature.

(to be continued in parts 3 and 4)



[1]  AnthroWiki GA 35: 111 ff.


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Date: October 16, 2020
Author: Gunter Friedrich (Germany)
Photo: Pixabay

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