L.: Mr Kirchhoff, I have read a number of your books, including the work Die Anderswelt (The Otherworld). It has the subtitle An Approach to Reality. What did you mean by the term Otherworld?
A second level of being – the actual reality
J.K.: There are many indications that there is a second world level, a second level of being, behind the physical-sensual world we know and are familiar with. In it I see the actual reality. This does not mean that the sensory world is only a phantasmagoria, but in a certain sense, as the philosopher Schelling put it, it is only “half real”. Sensitive people feel this again and again. The physical-sensual world cannot be understood on its own. It can only be understood if one takes into account that there is a more comprehensive reality. The physical-sensual world is also real, it is tangible, it can cause pleasure or pain. But there is always the feeling that there is something else. My book also has a second subtitle: Space, Time and Self in Altered States of Consciousness.
L.: I believe that my own life is marked by numerous touches from the realms that you call the Otherworld. And I have read very many accounts by writers and poets that were about such touches. A passage in Goethe’s Faust reads:
And then, from eternal space, there breaks
A flood of flame, we stand amazed before:
We wished to set the torch of life ablaze,
A sea of fire consumes us, and such fire!
Is this also about the other world?
J.K.: Yes, this is the famous passage where Faust turns away because the light is too bright. He experiences the sunrise in the mountains. Then the light gets stronger and stronger, and finally, pierced by eye pain, he turns away and utters the words “Let the sun shine on, behind me, then!“ Faust realises that we cannot directly experience the other, the higher world. A little later he experiences the rainbow in a falling mountain stream and speaks the words:
Reflect on it, you’ll understand precisely:
We live our life amongst refracted colour.
L.: At the end of Faust it also says: “All of the transient, is parable only.“
J.K.: Yes, that is also an indication that there is a second level of reality and that it can be experienced.
L.: But we have turned away from it.
J.K.: It is well documented that we as humanity have done that through centuries and millennia. There is a lot of evidence, a lot of experience in relation to the higher reality. I too have experienced a lot in that direction. It is not a fantasy, it is a basic experience since I was 19 years old that one can come into contact with the higher reality.
L.: What are the characteristics of this reality?
The individual is more himself there
J.K.: You have to put it in relation to the physical-sensual world that we know. We can look inside ourselves, meditatively or also mentally-meditatively, and reach certain layers of our being where we have the feeling: I know this, I remember this, yes, this is actually me. This other reality is not simply a mirror image of our physical-sensual world. It transcends the normal space-time coordinates we know. I have indeed chosen the term Otherworld, which comes from Celtic mythology. But the Celts had given the term a different meaning. For them, the Otherworld was more or less a subtle duplicate of our world.
The level I am talking about is more deeply anchored. To express this brings us to the limits of language. The individual is more himself in the Otherworld than he is here. Space is more space, time is more time. The self, space, time are anchored deeper – in a root ground of time, space, self, in a sphere of origin. And this sphere of origin is protected. One cannot simply enter it, just as one undertakes a journey. It requires certain conditions. There is always a secret door to the Otherworld, but you have to fulfil certain conditions to open it and gain valid knowledge there. It has to do with meditation, with a certain way of thinking and with authenticity.
L.: Every human being has a consciousness. What is the relationship of our consciousness to the realms of consciousness in the Otherworld?
All-consciousness – world soul – living space
J.K.: Consciousness is a basic quality of the world in general. Everything is ultimately also consciousness. According to my conviction, we live in a world of consciousness. The existence of consciousness is the basic prerequisite when we speak, when we think, when we feel, when we are. Our existence is condensed consciousness. We can say we are an active principle of the world soul, in it is our common root ground. Consciousness derives from that and that is why we can understand each other.
L.: Can we say that the Otherworld is all-consciousness?
J.K.: Yes, in a certain way it is all-consciousness, in a certain way it is also the world-soul, space, living space, in which the separation through distances is abolished, that is: here is also there and there is also here. It is another kind of spatiality that transcends the physical-sensual, the perspective perception. Distance can be proximity there.
L.: Can we say that the concept of space in the Otherworld means a connectedness through consciousness?
J.K.: Yes, I would agree with that. One could then differentiate it even further.
L.: With us, the sense of space is separation, separateness of the one from the other.
J.K.: In the higher reality, we as individuals are also separated from each other in a certain way. We are not only swimming in the sea of universal consciousness, but as individuals we are special existences. Through the I – I emphasise this again and again – through the I as such, we also have access to the Otherworld. The I is a high good.
The little I and the great I
L.: The mystics and gnostics speak of the overcoming of the ego. It has always been said that the I of this world cannot enter the divine world.
J.K.: I differentiate between the “little” I and the “great” I. There is the normal I, the ego. Two I’s meet, stand opposite each other, so to speak, and possibly come into conflict. But the I in the deepest sense, understood as the great I, is the actual essence of the individual. It is that which makes reincarnations possible. Reincarnation does not mean that the human being, as it presents itself here as an I, simply goes on, through death. No, the consciousness that we know here is dissolved. What goes on is something else, something bigger, stronger, something that is more flooded with the world soul, and that is the great I. And it is also this I that remembers.
L.: That could also be called the true self of the human being.
J.K.: That is correct. In my work Die Anderswelt I have tried to use a language that is not the usual spiritual or even esoteric language. I have deliberately used different terms for some things. That is why I have not used the word “higher self” or “true self”. Instead, I speak of the cosmic anthropos. By cosmic I mean spiritual-cosmic. This is a term that ultimately also means the higher self. I wanted to break up the entrenched terminology. The little I has no access to the Otherworld. The human individuality has, so to speak, a transient part and an imperishable part. The imperishable part has access to the divine.
L.: How do I, as an I of this world, gain access to the cosmic anthropos that “I” am in the other world? How does this access to myself come about?
Access to myself
J.K.: Yes, it is a path of consciousness. We are consciousness beings, we go through different incarnations and in the process we mature. There is probably an original impulse in which everything is already somehow present. I have used the word archeteleological in my works. Arche means origin and telos means goal. The word is meant to say that the origin and the goal of the immortal human being are united from the outset. This also makes it possible for us to remember our origin. In a certain sense, it is always present with us. This does not mean that our life proceeds in a predetermined way. But the true self or the cosmic anthropos is our primordial essence, it is that which we truly are, that in which we are rooted, that is, what ultimately constitutes our dignity.
One can also betray this cosmic anthropos. We can disregard it through insane deeds and attitudes. This then triggers a karmic boomerang.
So: what is the approach? We are on a long path, over many incarnations, which is not easy. The access is then a remembering of one’s own essence. One remembers oneself. Plato called this anamnesis.
L.: The Gnostics spoke of the great forgetting-
J.K.: As a rule we have forgotten our origin, it is buried. Many people have no access to it. And they may not have anyone to help them or give them clues. So it is difficult. It is a path that does not just fall from the sky. You can have individual experiences, there can be sudden openings, a door can open for moments, but that’s not enough. It requires a path and support.
(to be continued in part 2)