The Downward Gaze

The Downward Gaze

When I was ten years old, I had a map of the ocean floor hung on the wall of my room. I was always fascinated with things hidden beneath the surface. My mind has always gravitated toward the depths of things. Little did I know how significant this would later be in my life. I have always sought out the secret things the rational mind cannot explain. I was mesmerized by Jules Verne’s book, Journey to the Center of the Earth. To this day, it electrifies my imagination. 

As a child, I devoured all the books I could find on unexplained phenomena. Of course, I now know why these things interested me so much. Soul was leading me downward. Little did I know that Imagination had attached itself to me in such a way that I was forever an explorer, rather a spelunker, of the caverns and grottoes of Soul.

In so far as we penetrate beyond Imagination we come to the sphere of the hidden things of existence. The gateway lies deep in our own soul and only after going through it do we find the spiritual and supersensible depths of existence which, imperceptible to normal consciousness, form the basis of perceptible things. Through imagination — provided that it does not give way to fancy but that man lives with things so that a comprehensive picture replaces his perception — he realizes how he forms part of the things. He knows that Imagination will not disclose the essential being, but Imagination is the pathway leading to what lies deeper than anything reason and ordinary science can grasp. Because of this a philosopher, Frohschammer, in a one-sided way calls the world’s basis its creative element, “the creative imagination in things”. So according to this philosophical statement, when from his normal consciousness man plunges into subconscious regions — and who will deny that imagination belongs there — he will become more closely related to the essence of things where imagination is more creative in the things than reason can render possible. In spite of the fact that this outlook is extremely one-sided, it is yet in closer agreement with what the world conceals, than a purely intellectual point of view — when man passes from his intellectual activity into the world of imagination — world of a thousand possibilities compared to the hundred his intellect offers — he feels himself leaving his every day world and entering the manifold possibilities provided by the subconscious. In comparison all surface experience seems merely a small extract. Or may it not be that life itself offers millions of possibilities, whereas barely a thousand are realized on the surface of existence, and these we perceive? One need look only at the spawn produced by fish in the sea, the countless seeds brought forth in life, and compare this with what later appears in life — with what becomes reality. This shows how in its depths life holds far greater riches than appear on the surface. The same thing applies when man descends from what his reason can grasp to the realm of Imagination. Just as when we descend from the realm of outer realities to that of manifold possibilities, do we plunge from the world of reason into the magic land of Imagination (The Hidden Depths of Soul Life, by Rudolf Steiner).

The depth of Soul is truly a magic land. Imagination is the magic elixir that will reveal all you need to know in this life. The Plant of Truth does not grow on the surface of the Earth. You have heard it said, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. I say to you, “Gaze downward into the depths of your very being and know yourself. Your help is within you.”


One thought on “The Downward Gaze

  1. Oh, yes–I was initiated through a huge dream that had me led through water into a cave. The idea of a whole lost world or civilization in the depths of the Earth has always had a hold on my imagination, too.
    I'm happy that you are willing to insist on including the darkness. My Shining Ones shine blackly sometimes.

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