Years ago – yes, almost two generations – the search for the “world behind the world” took hold of me. In my childhood I carried an inkling within me that I could not express. I didn’t even want to grasp it; it simply passed over me or through me, like the clouds in the sky, which seemed to me like living beings.
I often lay in the grass and looked up. The clouds were so near and yet so far away. The thin layer in which our lives take place is so narrow, so tiny, before it merges into the universe. I felt it pass through me, but it was not yet a distinct thought that determined my view of the world.
Worlds of books and images
But then I – barely 13 years young – experienced a profound shock. I had a good time in the public library of our small town. I had become a book eater; I had to get eight, ten or even 15 new books every two or three weeks. I immersed myself in the most diverse worlds. I was a detective, an adventurer, a hero. Everything was exciting for me until I got hold of the book Momo by Michael Ende. It was an incredibly special book: enchanting, heroic and disturbing at the same time.
That was over 46 years ago now, but that moment is still very much with me today. I did not read another book for over a year and a half after that, and I was very slow to enter new book worlds again. I also did not know anyone around me with whom I could have shared the impressions of that book. A new reality had taken hold of me, but it remained hidden inside me. Yes, somehow enclosed – and yet it continued to work within me, in secret.
I should add that for me there is almost no difference between the reality I experience around me and the stories in books and films. When I watch a film, I am completely the film. When I read a book, I am the book, living, suffering and rejoicing with the protagonists. Quite often I dive back to the surface from great depths like an apnea diver.
Is that unworldly? Perhaps. I do not know this blatant separation of realities, even though it has been drummed into me again and again over the years.
Although I was invited into and anchored in the world of intellectuality and scientific work, a kind of image consciousness has developed in me. Images rise in me like colourful soap bubbles that burst again and are replaced by new image forms and associations. A permanent round dance of ever newly created images. Sometimes they rise up like bubbles in a glass of water, then again, they take their time and emerge as if in slow motion, developing quietly and only when they have finished “painting” do they dare to show themselves carefully and with dignity. Every now and then, however, pictures arise that seem to be immersed in mist; I cannot focus directly on them, they remain in a blur and sink down again, as if they do not want to reveal themselves. Has their time not yet come?
The spiritual path
After a ‘non-searching quest’ I came into contact with spiritual teachings at an early age, and in the process also with the idea of the Rosycross.
It became clear to me that spiritual impulses seek expression in people who have prepared themselves to do so. Higher vibrating spheres transfer to lower vibrating ones and radiate out into the world. Thus, there are constant changes within as well as without.
Subtle worlds are prepared and form the bridge through which the above reaches the below.
Behind this resonates the great and profound idea that the ever-new reality within us wants to be expressed in a living way.
A structure, a mental ‘building’, a concept only has its justification if we live it. I was ready for this, I immersed myself in the connection with the essence of the Golden Rosycross, with people who have the same or a similar goal. I was ready to place my whole life in this reality that I felt and recognised.
Over the years, like so many others around me, I have come to realise: there is an inner invisible process – a living expression of the true being – and there are the subtle structures that are erected as forms so that the inner being can take shape and express itself.
A glass bead game?
One day, as if out of the blue, the thought came to me that I, that we as a group had mastered the ‘Glass Bead Game’ perfectly down to the last detail. I was deeply shocked and initially could hardly bear to elaborate on this thought.
The Glass Bead Game is an extremely subtle novel by Herrmann Hesse.
The protagonist of this poignant tale is Josef Knecht. He entered a life community that determined his life down to the last detail. The highlight of each year was the Glass Bead Game. Josef Knecht grasped the game in its completeness. He played with the glass beads in such a refined and unique way that everyone around him was fascinated and thrilled.
The experienced glass bead game encompasses values such as serenity through meditation, commitment to music, cheerfulness, mindful interaction with fellow human beings, letting go of office and dignity, the unity of nature and art.
Josef Knecht was celebrated and acclaimed – only he himself was not enthusiastic about his mastery. It meant nothing to him, although he had longed to master the game perfectly and with great devotion. After all, it contains the high values of our lives. Josef Knecht, however, realised: That’s not it! That is not enough!
This perfect mandala has to be wiped away
This ‘group building’ can be compared to a mandala. An unbelievably subtle mandala that was created with a lot of energy, love, joy and dedication by the participants. But then comes the point where you realise: this perfect mandala has to be wiped away. It obscures the reality!
On the one hand this is a shock and yet on the other hand it is not, because everyone in the group knows the hermetic axiom: ‘Receive everything, surrender everything and thereby renew everything’.
It is always the fire element in us, our deep searching, that calls for higher dimensions than what our present thought buildings, structures, mechanisms and fixed spaces can offer.
I suddenly found myself before the reality of my personal structures and concepts and realised: ‘Yes, I have put this high idea before me – and have basked in it’, as Jan van Rijckenborgh once put it. But do I live it? Does it really find expression in my life?
From then on, this perception made me more alert and I observed myself and others more attentively. On the one hand, there was the community and the turning towards a new being. On the other hand, I had to realise that decisive developments in me took place outside the community structures.
A step into the open
I realised that I had projected my inner developments into the areas of the common soul field where I thought I was. But now I discovered my inner fire in new dimensions.
And now, in 2021, we have been in the Corona crisis for more than a year. The masks prevent us from breathing freely.
And yet I currently see the chance to enter into an unheard-of new way of breathing that tears open old limitations. The question is: Can I already breathe myself on my inner path or do I still need an external source of oxygen? Have I been widened enough, is my inner measure strengthened enough to take in a greater expanse and intensity of the real, the universal?
A step into the open has begun in me. We take our own responsibility – and our co-responsibility. Everyone lives for themselves and for the great human family.
(to be continued in part 2)