Sacrifice of intellect

From AnthroWiki

The sacrifice of intellect (Latinsacrificium intellectus) consists in the conscious renunciation of self-thinking in order to become free for the direct inspiration through the spiritual world. This in no way demands an uncritical attitude, as one might think, for the inspirations received in this way can and must very well be grasped awake and consciously with active thinking in a second step in order to be considered true spiritual-scientific insights. However, in order to be able to investigate cosmic evolution spiritually at all, i.e. to be able to read the so-called Akasha Chronicle, an essential precondition is first required:

„In order to be able to read the Akasha Chronicle, it is necessary to place one's own thoughts at the disposal of this principle, this power and these beings whom we call in theosophical language the Masters. For ultimately the Master must give us the necessary instructions to be able to read the Akasha Chronicle. It is written in symbols and signs, not in words of a language that now exists or of one that has existed. As long as you only use the power that man usually uses in thinking - and every man who has not explicitly learned to do so uses this power - you cannot read the Akasha Chronicle.

If you ask yourself, "Who thinks?" you will have to say to yourself, "I think". You connect object and predicate with each other when you form a sentence. As long as it is you yourself who connects the individual terms, you are not able to read the Akasha Chronicle. You are not able to read because you connect your thoughts with your own ego. But you have to switch off your ego. You have to renounce any sense of your own. You only have to put down the ideas in order to let the connection of the individual ideas be established by forces outside of you, by the spirit.

So renunciation - not of thinking, but of connecting the individual thoughts of your own accord - is necessary in order to read the Akasha Chronicle. Then the Master can come and teach you to let the spirit from outside join your thoughts to what the universal world spirit is able to show you about what has taken place in history. Then you will no longer judge the facts, but then the universal world spirit itself will speak to you. And you place your thought material at its disposal.

Now I must say something that may arouse some prejudice. I must tell you what is necessary today to prepare for the elimination of the ego in order to be able to read the Akasha Chronicle. You know that what the monks practised in the Middle Ages is something that is despised today. They cultivated the "sacrifice of the intellect". The monk did not think the way today's researcher thinks. The monk had a certain sacred science, sacred theology. One did not have to decide on the content. That is why it was said that the theologian in the Middle Ages had to use his mind to explain and defend the given revelations. This was, as one might think today, a strict training in the sacrifice of the intellect to a given content. Whether this is something excellent or something reprehensible in modern terms, we will leave aside.

This sacrifice of the intellect, which the monk of the Middle Ages made, led to the elimination of the judgement emanating from the personal ego, it led him to learn how to place the intellect in the service of a higher being. In the re-embodiment, what was then brought forth through this sacrifice comes to fruition and makes him a genius of seeing. If higher seeing is then added, he can apply the faculty to the facts which are to be read in the Akasha Chronicle.“ (Lit.:GA 92, p. 22ff)

Similarly, in a lecture Rudolf Steiner gave only a short time later, it says:

„... The further one advances on the path of knowledge, the more one will have to acquire devotion; one will become more and more devotional. From this devotion then flows the power to the highest knowledge. He who can bring himself to refrain from connecting his thoughts will arrive at reading the scriptures in the Akasha Chronicle. One thing is necessary, however: to have eliminated the personal ego to such an extent that it has no claim to connect the thoughts itself.

It is not at all easy to understand this, for man claims to connect the predicate with the subject. But so long as he does this, it is impossible for him to study really occult history. When he lets thoughts rise in selflessness, but also in consciousness and clarity, then an event occurs which, from a certain point of view, every occultist knows, namely, the event that the conceptions, the thoughts, which he formerly formed into propositions, into insights, according to his personal standpoint, now form themselves through the spiritual world, so that it is not he who judges, but in him that is judged. It is then that he has sacrificed himself so that a higher self may speak spiritually through his ideas.

This is - occultly understood - what in the Middle Ages was called the "sacrifice of the intellect". It means the giving up of my own opinion, my own conviction. So long as I myself bind my thoughts, and do not place my thoughts at the disposal of higher powers who then write, as it were, on the tablet of the intellect, so long I cannot study occult history.“ (Lit.:GA 265, p. 29)

This "sacrifice of intellect" is clearly expressed in artistic form in the vow of Maria in the 3rd picture of Rudolf Steiner's third mystery drama "The Guardian of the Threshold", which she makes in the presence of her spiritual teacher Benedictus before Lucifer:

But know full well that in Maria's heart,
With which she now opposeth thy designs,
The spirit-pupilship hath planted powers
To keep far off, for ever, all self-love
From Knowledge. Never from this hour will I
Allow myself to be possessed by joy
Such as men feel when thoughts grow ripe within.
I'll steel my heart to serve as sacrifice
So that my mind can always only think
In such a way that through my thoughts I may
Offer the fruits of Knowledge to the gods.

(Lit.:GA 14, p. 330f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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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.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - 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.