Spiritual-Scientific Approach to Research

The key characteristic of the spiritual-scientific approach which distinguishes it from other approaches is its inclusiveness of all existing evidence and all possible points of view when researching the impact of nutrition on the human being. The main polarity that exists between scientific and spiritual understanding of the world is only reflecting the existence of both, the physical and the spiritual realm. For that reason the spiritual scientist does not look at things from one or a few perspectives only, but (s)he gradually assimilates ideas and concepts from diverse sources and areas of existence with the aim to acquire a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of any topic or question of nutrition.

HOW TO BECOME A SPIRITUAL-SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHER

If you are interested about the basic preconditions for those who want to perform a spiritual-scientific investigation of nutrition, then you need to know that "one might easily presume that to be someone who can enter into the spiritual (behind the realities of existence) one must of necessity become a spiritual researcher. This is not necessary, although it is written a great deal in the book How to Know Higher Worlds (Knowledge of the Higher Worlds) about what the soul must do in order to enter there. Anyone can do this to some extent today, but not everyone needs to do so. What you develop in your soul is an entirely inner affair; but what it leads to is that the truths being researched can be formulated into concepts, so that you can clothe in thoughts and ideas what a spiritual researcher tells you. It is something that can be communicated. One of the laws of spiritual research is that it does not matter whether you have found these things out through your own research or whether you have been informed about them by a reliable source. It is not a matter of finding these things out yourself, for the important thing is that you have them and develop them within yourself.

It is, then, a misunderstanding to assume that everyone must become a spiritual researcher. But nowadays someone who is a spiritual researcher will have the need to give an account of the path he has followed for his research. This is not only because anyone today can to some extent tread the described path without coming to any harm but also because anyone has the right to ask: What did you do to arrive at these results?" [1]

Spiritual research demands development of new senses which enable us to see behind the veil of physical sense impressions. While "by clairvoyance the facts of spiritual science are investigated, man acquires a new sense when he enters with his whole thought and feeling into what has already been discovered by clairvoyant methods, and regulates his life accordingly. That is the essential point. What is of importance is to study the conclusions of spiritual science, not to satisfy curiosity for clairvoyance." [2]

This means that everyone who undertakes a serious study of spiritual-scientific literature is already a spiritual-scientific researcher. For "in reading about spiritual scientific knowledge, you are active in a different way than you are in reading accounts of sense-perceptible facts. If you read accounts of the sense-perceptible world, you read about them, but if you read accounts of supersensible facts in the right way, you immerse your­self in the stream of spiritual existence. By taking in the results of spiritual research, we also set out on our own inner path toward discovering these results for ourselves. People imagine entering the spiritual world to be much too similar to a sensory experience, and so they find their experiences in reading about this world much too thought-like. But if we are truly absorbing these things as thoughts, we are already in the midst of the spiritual world and must only realize that we are already experiencing – although we do not notice it – what we believed we were merely receiving in the form of thoughts communicated to us." [3]

When we really understand something we are not yet clairvoyant; nevertheless we are in the first phase of supersensible perception which can be called 'clair-cognizance' – that is, clear perception of the light of true knowledge.

Main Characteristics of Spiritual-Scientific Research

Here are given the main characteristics of the spiritual-scientific approach to the investigation of the questions of nutrition used in the preparation of this website. A whole chapter could easily be written about each of them, but initially short characterisations taken from spiritual-scientific literature should suffice. [4]

The Complexity of the Human Being

"In very truth the world is infinitely more complicated than is supposed. Our human nature is comprehensible only if we take account of its kinship with the macrocosm. There is truly nothing in the physically-perceptible world as complicated as the nature of the human being. It is more complicated than anything else in the world. In their form and structure, in the conditions of their life and indeed in every respect, human beings are a whole world, a microcosm as distinct from the macrocosm. All the laws and all the secrets of the world are to be found in them."

From Broad Views to Details

"Everything in the human organism works upon everything else. But we will get nowhere if we have only general abstract ideas of this interpenetration; we will reach a result only if we can evolve a concrete idea of our constitution and of how everything that is around us participates in our make-up. In spiritual science the procedure must differ from that adopted in other systems of thought. Spiritual science must first present a broad view of the facts and realities of life and then elaborate the details. The difficulty is that the field of spiritual science as a whole is so extensive that it is never possible to present more than a part of it."

Characterisations instead of Definitions

"In order to understand the things of the earth, definitions may be helpful; but when it is matter of understanding realities – above all supersensible realities – one cannot define, one must characterise; for then it is necessary to contemplate the facts from every possible vantage-point. Definitions are always one-sided and inadequate and all that can be done is to characterise. The word is handled in such a way that one really feels each word as something insufficient, every sentence as something insufficient, that one has the urge to characterise that which one wishes to place before humanity from the most varied aspects."

Observing from Different Perspectives

"What a thing is must be characterized from different points of view, such as a tree that is photographed from different perspectives. Similarly, truth cannot be gained from an understanding that seeks to encompass an object in a single glance, but only from putting together the true views resulting from different perspectives. To say something that is incorrect is not the worst thing that can happen, for the world itself will soon put one right about it; but it is really serious to regard a one-sided truth as an absolute truth and to persist in so regarding it. It is always essential to look at truths not only from the one side but also from the other."

Understanding instead of Rules

"One thing is characteristic of spiritual science, and this one thing is its attitude. Every thought is permeated by this attitude. Spiritual science wants to understand and follow everything in life and in the life of the spirit in an unbiased way. It does not want to apply the standards of sympathy or antipathy, but rather to understand everything in human life and in the spiritual world in an unprejudiced way. Spiritual science is concerned with understanding. Spiritual science does not give rules, but only wants to explain how things really are. It does not stand for this or that kind of diet – what it actually does is to enable people to understand any form of diet. Then each may arrange his life as he wills, according to these great laws of existence."

Proofs of Life instead of Belief

"It is important for the science of the spirit to be presented in such a way as to be based on the smallest possible extent on belief in authority." All explanations presented on this website can and should be tested by "your capacity for intelligent examination. Only the thought must be really accurate and comprehensive! It must be prepared to relate the phenomena of life to what spiritual science confirms. We must be ready to test, free from prejudice, the teachings of spiritual science by the experience of life. Spiritual-scientific truths are best recognised by their fruits. Those who apply the knowledge of spiritual science correctly will find that it proves itself in life by making life strong and healthy."

   NOTES

  1. Rudolf Steiner, St Gallen, 15.11.1917; Secret Brotherhoods, Rudolf Steiner Press
  2. Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, 01.05.1920; Mystery of the Universe, Rudolf Steiner Press
  3. Rudolf Steiner, An Outline of Esoteric Science, Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks)
  4. All quotations are taken from various published works of Rudolf Steiner.