Extracted from: Attain Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition by Discovering Your Three Egos, Douglas Gabriel, January 7, 2017, Our Spirit
Stage One: Imagination [Astral-Upside Down]
This stage of initiation is called Imagination and it involves the Consciousness Soul merging with the Spirit Self to embody the reincarnating human being. During this stage we feel our ego outside of our physical body in the world, as if it is coming at us. The ego that we generally experience we will call the everyday ego, or earthly ego, in contradistinction to the higher ego or the world (true) ego. The earthly ego is a mirror image of the higher ego. This higher ego was donated to us before “creation” began. The creation of new egos throughout the evolution of a solar system is the original intent of creation, a certain type of “creation out of nothingness.” Christ has donated all three egos and is intimately connected to the progress and evolution of them.
During the Ancient Moon incarnation of the Earth, objective perception of thought as a living being appeared in the astral body through pictures, signs, and symbols. Human beings were not confused into believing that their thoughts were their own property or that they had created the thoughts out of their own capacities of thinking. Only in our times, by necessity, are our thoughts considered to “belong” to the thinker. This illusion of thinking as “personal” and the “product of human effort” has led to the development of false egohood, pride, and evil in the realm of thinking.
Sense perception is observation of things that are essentially made from thoughts. Things are thoughts slowed down as the illusion of solid so that humans could have a realm of isolation in which to be born as “new thinkers.” Transforming sense perception into foods for the gods is the intent of the spiritual world acted out through human evolution. Through enlivened thinking called “Imagination”, higher thinking can be borne by finding eternal truths that are objective, even in the outside world of seeming illusion. These thoughts can arise into the realm of Imagination, called the Manasic realm or the realm of Spirit Self. These eternal truths are objective and have a basis of reality in both the physical and spiritual worlds.
The personal, everyday ego can be found in the interaction between the seeming center of consciousness inside the human being and the picture of that human being coming to him from the outside world. For example, it takes another to reflect to us who we are. Our actions in the world and the response of the world to those actions tell us much about our ego. We see ourselves through others and find our ego coming to us as our destiny and karma. This “self knowing” is the first step in knowing the higher ego, the “Christ in us.”
Imagination is the first step of initiation that begins with transforming “thinking about thinking” into a force of self knowing. Studying the same processes of thinking that have produced the outer world’s laws of nature tunes us into the true nature of the ego inside of us and outside of us.”
Stage Two: Inspiration [Etheric-Backward]
“The second stage of initiation is called Inspiration. This stage happens when the Spirit Self (Manas) merges with the Life Spirit (Buddhi). The realm of Life Spirit is where Christ reigns through creating an atmosphere of redeemed etheric life force that nourishes the Spirit Self through providing the archetypal higher ego for the Spirit Self to wed. This is often depicted as the Virgin Sophia being a bride who is wedding the Lamb of God, Christ the bridegroom. This heavenly marriage is found in many religions and spiritual practices. It is accomplished by emptying our being so that spirit can flow into the prepared sacred space made for the ‘Christ in me.’
On the path to the second, transcendental ego, we again find the higher ego outside of the physical body which brings the experience of Inspiration, which is like hearing the Music of the Spheres in perfect harmony. To reach this level of initiation, the initiate must extinguish the pictures that were so abundant in the first stage of Imagination. One must push past the images to the experience of the inner activity behind thought processes, the beings who create thought to begin with. No sense perception is allowed into this realm, only sense-free thinking or spiritual sound. New supersensible organs of perception must be developed to perceive and communicate in these realms. It is there that the earthly ego living in the Spirit Self can unite with the higher ego of the initiate living in the Life Spirit. This creates the spiritual anointing of the earthly ego that unites with the higher ego that was donated by Christ. The initial etheric drops of blood donated by Christ to create the earthly ego now send energy to the head which enters New Jerusalem or the Temple of Wisdom, the Grail Castle.
In the second stage of initiation, Inspiration, the initiate’s earthly ego becomes the “Christ in me” and takes on the Life Spirit as the human etheric body is spiritualized. This is called the etherization of the blood and is a type of spiritual communion which nourishes the spiritual world and the initiate. This is contact with the higher ego, or higher self, as it is commonly referred. The experience of the higher ego comes from the outside world and is experienced in the outside world, in a sense looking from the outside toward the inside. Your higher ego is developed by your spiritual practice but the substance of the higher ego is taken from the common substance provided by Christ to all higher egos ready to put on the resurrection body of Christ. Your earthly ego is realized through the outside world coming at you, whereas your higher ego is witnessed from the outside world looking towards you. The perspective changes from a dynamic of outward raying in, to one of outward witnessing. One is a type of “being beheld” whereas the other is one of “beholding.” There is a distinct sense of “selflessness” that comes with the higher ego that is quite different from the earthly ego.”
Stage Three: Intuition [Physical-Inside-out]
“The third stage of initiation is called Intuition wherein the higher ego from the realm of Life Spirit becomes one with all other Christened beings in the world ego of Christ which manifests in the realm of Spirit Human (Atman). This world ego of Christ is the third, the true ego. Again, this true ego is found outside of the human body and is found only when, through personal effort, the earthly ego and the higher ego are extinguished. All of the effort to develop the ego and become selfless and Christ-like must then be voluntarily surrendered and annihilated until nothing of the self remains. This embodiment of the true ego (world ego of Christ) fills the hollow sacred space surrendered for the reception of this being. The awareness of this “presence” fills the prepared space, a spherical temple called a “zodiac.”
When we can empty ourselves and go beyond sense perception, beyond perception of thoughts as beings, beyond the extinguishing of our earthly ego and our higher ego, we are then ready to be filled by the world ego of Christ and become a sphere of stars (zodiac) that can become co-creative with the Trinity (through Christ) to give birth to a new zodiac of ego beings who will, in time, come to their birth and development as Christened beings.
This stage of Intuition is one wherein the will of the initiate becomes one with the will of the world ego of Christ. There is nothing of the physical world in this realm. It was from this realm of Spirit Human (Atman) that the earthly ego was born and thus returns, but now as a creator equal to his own creator over the course of evolution. This mirroring of the true ego (world ego of Christ) in the earthly ego is the basis of consciousness in the physical realm becoming self-consciousness, higher consciousness, and consciousness aligned with the cosmic Christ Ego.
There is no time or space as we know it in the spiritual world; so therefore, the earthly ego and the true ego are one and the same, simply divided by time and space.
This type of hyper-connectivity through time and space constitutes the path of human self-development from birth through ascension back into heaven. Christ is the perfect example, model, and archetype of what the ego must go through in its entire evolution from the descent from heaven to Earth, and then, the ascent from Earth to heaven – the story of the prodigal son.
There is much confusion in spiritual circles about the higher ego and the true ego, the comprehensive divine ego. The true ego is the cosmic ego which we are all on a path to gain or recover through grace and mercy. The path to supersensible knowledge proceeds from earthly ego to higher ego to true ego. Christ is the living, eternal archetype of the human ego whose only “true” name is “I am.” The human being is developing upward from below while Christ is inclining from above offering the true “I am.” Christ is the model and the goal as we make the journey to our own ego which is fraught with challenges. We need unlimited trust in Christ and the spiritual world to bridge the chasms between these worlds. We need the loving arms of Christ to catch us when we fall into the abyss. Only certain trust in Christ can see us beyond the abyss. Or, as Steiner says in Theosophy, “In order to approach the abyss as nothing, it is necessary that one trusts that the true ego will be brought to one out of the spiritual world.”
To know that the true ego will be brought to us from beyond the abyss is the greatest of comforts and only arises through the grace and mercy of the spiritual world. Then, once one meets Christ, the world ego, man ascends to his true ego and no longer experiences Christ outside of oneself but within. This is the culmination of the stage of Intuition. “Not I, but the Christ in me.”
The true ego remains in the spiritual world and can only be found there and cannot fully come into the physical world except through spiritual Intuitions. The earthly ego works through sense perception to find itself in the outer world. The higher ego is the gift of Christ from the outer world alighting in us. The true ego is a gift of Christ from heaven at the edge of the abyss. The true ego can have perception of the supersensible worlds through Intuition and the sense of moral technique that joins with the efforts of Christ, the Lord of Karma.
It is often the case that Western esotericists tend towards a greater focus on the development of the earthly ego, whereas Eastern esotericists often focus on the true ego, the heavenly ego that is not tied in any way to material things. A balanced path would use a synthesis of both the sensible and supersensible to develop all three egos.”
The Gospel of St. John, Rudolf Steiner, Lecture V, Basle, November 20, 1907, GA 100
“An over-developed ego-feeling in the physical world works against morality. An ego-feeling too feebly developed causes the soul, around which the storms of elemental sympathies and antipathies are actually playing, to be lacking in inner firmness and stability. These qualities can only exist when a sufficiently strong ego-feeling is working out of the experiences of the physical world upon the etheric body, which of course remains unknown in ordinary life. But in order to develop a really moral temper of mind it is necessary that the ego-feeling, though it must exist, should be moderated by feelings of good-fellowship, sympathy, and love.
The following considerations will help towards the understanding of the inner process of initiation. The individual “I”-consciousness of man is in the physical world; men walk the Earth with their Ego. But the egos of the animals are on the astral plane; each group of animals there possesses an ego-consciousness in common. There is, however, in the astral world, not only the ego of the animal, but also the ego of the body which man has in common with the animals, the ego of the human astral body. In the Lower Spirit World we find the ego of the plants and also the ego of the body man possesses in common with the plants, the ego of the etheric body. If we rise still higher, into the Higher Spirit World, we there find the ego of the minerals and the ego of that part which man has in common with the minerals – the ego of the physical body. Thus through our physical body we are connected with the Higher Spiritual World. We are here in the physical world with our individual Ego only.
When, in the case of an initiate, the ego of the astral body is permeated by his Individual ego, the consequence is that he becomes conscious in the astral world; he can then perceive the beings around him there and become active in that-world. He then meets Beings who are incarnated in astral bodies; he also meets the group-souls of the animals, and the higher Beings who in Christianity are called angels. On being initiated still more deeply, the ego of the etheric body is also permeated by the individual ego. The consciousness of the human being then extends into the Lower Spiritual World. There he encounters the egos of the plants and the Spirit of the Planet. A still deeper initiation takes place when the individual ego permeates the ego of the physical body, man then rises to personal consciousness in the higher Spiritual world. There he meets the egos of the minerals and still higher Spirits. Thus continued initiation raises a man to higher and higher worlds, in which he meets with higher and higher Beings.
When the individual Ego has gained full control over the three bodies, it has brought about inner harmony. Christ possessed this harmony to the fullest extent; he appeared on the Earth in order that men might develop this power of inner harmony. In this Son of Man we see represented the full development of humanity, up to the highest spiritual stage. Formerly this inner harmony did not exist, outer laws worked in its place; this inner harmony is the new impulse which humanity received through Christ. Man is to acquire the “Christ capacity,” that is to say, he is to develop the inner Christ. Goethe said: “The eye is built by light for light;” in the same way this inner harmony, this inner Christ is only kindled through the presence of the outer, historical Christ; before His appearance it was not possible for man to reach this stage of spiritual development. Those human beings who lived before the appearance of Christ on Earth are not excluded from the blessings He brought to humanity; for it should not be forgotten that, according to the law of reincarnation, they will come again to the earth and will therefore have the opportunity to develop the inner Christ. It is only when people forget the law of reincarnation that they can speak of injustice. St. John’s Gospel shows the way to the historical Christ, to that Sun which enkindles the inner light in man, just as the physical Sun has enkindled the light of the eyes. The ego of the etheric body may be compared to the engineer who builds a motor-car; the ego of the astral body may be compared to the one who drives it; and the ego of the individual to the one who owns it.
As the Consciousness (Spiritual) Soul is the principle in which the Spirit Self develops, this principle is called the “mother of Christ,” or, in the occult schools, the “Virgin Sophia.” Through the fertilization of the Virgin Sophia, the Christ could be born in Jesus of Nazareth. In the occult school of Dionysius, the Intellectual Soul was called Mary, and the Sentient Soul Mary Magdalene.”
Wisdom of Man, of the Soul, and of the Spirit, The Wisdom of the Spirit, Rudolf Steiner, December 12, 1911, Berlin, Part 3, GA 115, (Pneumatosophy)
“Not until the two unite, until intuition streams into imagination and visualizations are set free by imagination so that we feel imagination as coming to us from beings, not until then does the essence of the beings stream into us as an event, and what the imaginations have provided flows into intuition. We perceive in the event a content comparable to that of visualizations. These thoughts, for the perception of which imagination has prepared us, we then perceive by means of the event provided by intuition.
How does imagination first of all penetrate consciousness? Well, we found it first on the side of the emotions, but there, though it enters consciousness, enters the soul, it does so primarily on the side of the emotions, not on the side of visualization. It is the same in the case of intuition. Intuition can enter the soul life without providing the possibility of being visualized. Imagination, too, can occur without our being aware of it, in which case we have ‘imagination’ directly affecting the world of visualizations. Intuition, however, is to be found on the side of the emotions.”
“If we then endeavored to proceed through intuition, which sways the soul, we would not get very far; instead, we must proceed more from the other side, must try to develop imagination, to focus our attention on the imaginative world, in order not merely to wallow in emotions but to arrive at concrete images. If we do that, a sort of contact enters our life between intuition, which is not yet understood but rather felt, and imagination, which still floats in unreality and consists only of images. This contact finally enables us to ascend to the plane we can describe by saying that we have arrived among the beings who bring about spiritual events. Approaching these beings is what we call inspiration, and in a sense we have here the reverse of the processes confronting us in the outer corporeal world.”
“Within intuition, then, we are dealing with the governing will. When this has been intensified to the point of its full potentiality in life, this transition reveals what we can call the human conscience. All stirrings of conscience occur at the transition from the emotions to intuition. If we seek the location of conscience, we find it at this transition. The soul is really open laterally on the side of imagination and on that of intuition, but it is closed on the side where we encounter the impact, as it were, of outer corporeality through perception. It achieves a certain fulfillment in the realm of imagination, and another when it enters the realm of intuition – in the latter case through an event.
In imagination we have primarily a fulfilled image of the spiritual world, in intuition, an event that impinges out of the spiritual world. An event we encounter in the ordinary physical world is something that leaves us no peace, so to speak. We try to understand it, then we seek the essence underlying it. It is the same in the case of an event in the spiritual world that is to penetrate our consciousness. Let us consider this more closely. How does imagination first of all penetrate consciousness? Well, we found it first on the side of the emotions, but there, though it enters consciousness, enters the soul, it does so primarily on the side of the emotions, not on the side of visualization. It is the same in the case of intuition. Intuition can enter the soul life without providing the possibility of being visualized. Imagination, too, can occur without our being aware of it, in which case we have ‘imagination’ directly affecting the world of visualizations. Intuition, however, is to be found on the side of the emotions.
If we then endeavored to proceed through intuition, which sways the soul, we would not get very far; instead, we must proceed more from the other side, must try to develop imagination, to focus our attention on the imaginative world, in order not merely to wallow in emotions but to arrive at concrete images. If we do that, a sort of contact enters our life between intuition, which is not yet understood but rather felt, and imagination, which still floats in unreality and consists only of images. This contact finally enables us to ascend to the plane we can describe by saying that we have arrived among the beings who bring about spiritual events. Approaching these beings is what we call inspiration, and in a sense we have here the reverse of the processes confronting us in the outer corporeal world.
In confronting the outer corporeal world we have, so to speak, the thoughts we frame about objects. The objects are given, and we think about them. Here it is the event, the “object,” that appears in intuition primarily as emotion, so that imagination as such would remain in suspension.”