The I-experience, the experience of one's own I, i.e. the real self-perception or self-contemplation, gives us a prime example of how we can recognise the spiritual world at all. We can recognise the I-experience in mental representation of I, in the I-concept, which, however, differs considerably from all other ideas that we can form. For all other experiences that come from the outer world, even if they are of the most spiritual nature, we must have an organ for perception. We are never spiritually naked, so to speak, in the face of the things of the outer world that approach us, but are always dependent on what we have become. Only in one single case do we directly face the outer world here and now, and that is when we gain our I-perception. This self-perception can therefore neither be foreseen nor remembered, but must be made anew day after day and has nothing to do with the state of our everyday ego.
Real self-perception is not introspection in the usual sense. The latter can only be the first entry into the higher forms of cognition of imagination, inspiration and intuition. Approaches to this can already be found in the philosophy of German idealism, namely in Fichte (→ Tathandlung) and Schelling.
„The weaving in the soul's content acquired in this way can be called real self-perception. In this way, the human inner being comes to know itself, not merely through reflection on itself as the bearer of sense impressions and the mental processor of these sense impressions, but it comes to know the self as it is, without reference to a sensuous content; it experiences itself in itself as a supersensible reality. This experience is not like that of the ego when, in ordinary self-observation, attention is withdrawn from what is recognised in the environment and reflected on the recognising self. In this case, as it were, the content of consciousness shrinks more and more to the point of the "I". This is not the case with the real self-perception of the spiritual researcher. In the course of the exercises, the content of the soul becomes richer and richer. And it consists in a life in law-like connections, and the self does not feel itself outside the fabric of laws, as in the laws of nature, which are abstracted from the phenomena of the environment; but it feels itself within this fabric; it experiences itself as one with the same.“ (Lit.:GA 35, p. 124)
- Rudolf Steiner: Philosophie und Anthroposophie, GA 35 (1984), ISBN 3-7274-0350-0 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Exkurse in das Gebiet des Markus-Evangeliums, GA 124 (1995), ISBN 3-7274-1240-2 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.