Reading inspired verse
In an essay titled ‘How to read’, novelist Virginia Woolf wrote ‘Words are not in dictionaries, words are in the mind.’ Through this contrasting image she begins to draw up a first picture of how the reader creates meaning from  written word. Not from a process of gathering facts, a bit like dipping into a dictionary and then arranging the facts to create meaning, but by stepping into the freedom of an imaginary space in the mind, and out of this participating with the words in order for meaning to arise. To Woolf, the mind is imaginatively active in the making of meaning whilst reading.

For a person who chooses to read inspired verse as part of a spiritual path of development this distinction between a reading, which out of the thought life either gathers and arranges facts, or is imaginatively active, seems important to note if a person is to understand how to guide themselves constructively whilst reading. To this topic spiritual teacher Heinz Grill has written in an exercise titled ‘Reading and the building of ether forces’ (2007), he writes:

 ‘For all those who strive for realisation in their soul, right reading is an important task. Reading should, therefore, become the lively discipline of a contemplative, attentive, meditative and ultimately creative, thought-generating art.’ (Six Soul Exercises, 2007) 

To him reading is an artistic activity, a more creative imaginative process with the mind, which produces ‘thought’ and leads into soul-spiritual development, into ‘realisation in their soul’.

Imagine then, a person picks up a book, finds a quiet place to read, their eyes glance over the written words, and through the capacity of their soul life thoughts radiate back onto the reader. How does the thought being created whilst reading, radiate back onto the reader? How does reading enable spiritual-soul development?

Inspired verse has been given from a personality who through the capacities of their soul life has perceived a thought, a spiritual thought written in the cosmos, which they choose to express to others through the medium of the written word. To this thought the reader enters into relationship, their soul life finds an orientation to the words and something gets created, the thought radiates back.

Inspired verse is different from other forms of writing, and when a reader first approaches words of this kind often an inner understanding isn’t easily given, and so the reader needs to find a way of approaching in which understanding becomes clear. So on the one hand there is the cosmic thought being described by the author, and on the other hand a thought radiates back as a result of the activity of the reader. Does the thought radiating onto the reader express the original thought or does it express something else? Why is it important to express the original thought? How can the reader make the original thought effective as it radiates back onto the reader?

Thoughts, Heinz Grill describes, in reality are  ‘a high creative existence’, and in their origin give ‘jyoti, a light of the soul’ which ‘…shines in space and streams out its being…’. However, in it’s everyday position the soul life does not perceive the reality of the true nature of thought in the present moment, and so it does not knowingly nor consciously express the true nature of thought. The soul ordinarily stands in an orientation founded on what’s stored within from the past, rather than awakening into the present moment consciously. This situation can be found in the reading process, where the consciousness is like a sleepy cloudy sky rather than giving space to the sun-like thought of the writer, which is waiting to shine its light and warmth into the inner life.

How the spirit seeking soul of a reader approaches the thoughts of an inspired writer, therefore, has to be addressed if the reader wants to create a soul life, which knowingly connects to the true, meaning-filled thoughts of the writer, and to expresses these into life. This task of reading for soul-spiritual development is better understood with a picture of the human being as seen metaphysically by spiritual teachers Rudolf Steiner and Heinz Grill. Back in 1910 Steiner described (in the book now titled ‘Theosophy’) the whole of picture of the human being has four aspects, an ‘I’- the higher ego of man, an astral body – the place of conscious awareness, an etheric body - a life giving body, and a physical body - the tangible, earthly form. Steiner further describes in a persons everyday standpoint the ‘I’ isn’t yet fully coming into the conscious awareness, and therefore isn’t creating ether, which subsequently enlivens the physical body. This capacity to bring the higher part of oneself (the I) into life has to be educated. Educating these 4 aspects into a new orientation Heinz Grill has further related into the process of reading, providing a rationale as to how reading meets spiritual-soul development of a person today. To this he writes:  

The objectively ascertained thought, which results from really seeing and then concentrating a text’s thought content, initially remains outside, in other words, outside the emotional mind or outside the grasping will. As the thought remains outside in a free consciousness it possesses, according to spiritual law, the strongest power to radiate in onto the ‘I’ as this ‘I’ centres within the person. ‘

 So, by keeping the thought being read, as though to the outside – like viewing a painting hung up on an external wall- the old preconceived subjective ideas of the past become less, they aren’t projected onto the words but they settle down, and the true objective meaning of the thought could radiate in onto the viewer as a result of the ‘free consciousness’.  This endeavour to knowingly connect to the true, meaningful thoughts of an inspired writer relates to the  ‘I’, to the higher ego of the human being. If the meaning of the thought is consciously recognised then the higher part of the human being becomes active into life. It can ‘shine in space and stream out it’s being’, this action of the thought streaming towards the reader, brings warmth to the centre of the human being, it’s an action carried by the etheric entities of warmth. If the meaning within the thought is actively shining into the soul, then the soul life is in a development, which creates warmth, and forms the higher inner ‘I’ as it centres in the whole human being. 

But to get to this point the soul life needs to move out of its cloudy atmosphere and open into a lighter clearer space, this position Grill describes as an:

 ‘Openness for the thoughts, which however is not passive but an active, chosen attentiveness to the words is necessary, and it leads to that expanding sense of thought and subtle feeling which, like a light rising up in free space, brightens the inner life.’

So this new standpoint can be found by cultivating certain capacities within the soul, namely the capacity for ‘openness’, being able to open into the here and now (relating to the 5th cakra of the soul), coupled with a ‘chosen attentiveness’ and a purposeful aim (relating to the 3rd cakra of the soul). Openness to receive a thought in the present moment whilst reading requires slow, attentive, contemplative, repeated reading, rather than a superficial glance which consumes the text with old preconceived idea. A purposeful aim, like bringing in a question that guides the reading, a person can give more attentive, concentrated looking, which doesn’t wander off into a wide, freely roaming space.

For example, a person could choose the question: what is the main thought being described by the author? This question is as though placed above the reader, and it begins to draw the reader out of an old sitting place, slowly the thinking becomes freer and active in its search for an answer. By developing these capacities the astral body (the consciousness or the awareness) is placed into a new structure, a structure between the world of thought and the physical earthly body. Metaphysically seen from Heinz Grill’s insight, this structuring results in an arch form.

As the arch comes into form it describes a movement of lifting up, like a rising up towards the arch form, this action he assigns to the movement of the light ether, to the action of the etheric entities of light. You can get a feeling for this movement if you place the hands in-front of you, with the fingers together and forming contact with the thumb, then raise the fingers upwards to form an arch. With this there is a subtle feeling of lightly rising upwards into a growing free space that is held in a tension between above and below.

Reading in this way creates a structure with a tension, in which etheric entities are invited to participate into the thought building process. What radiates back then the via the thoughts, is a life giving substance full of warmth and light, a light which lifts up the human being, freeing it from an old inner form, an old light, and forms a warming inner centring. So rather than taking life out of the body, new life is given into the body. Reading inspired verse in this way frees the inner life from the past and creates space for a new inner forming activity, and therefore, it brings a soul-spiritual development step.

The astral body in its everyday state, Heinz Grill describes, has within it the small guardian of the threshold, which is a composition of light, a light that expresses both dark and bright aspects, and describes character traits of sympathy and antipathy that a person has developed from previous lives. In its everyday state the inner life, therefore, expresses a light that relates to our past. This light from the past, with its darker shades, is asking to be overcome, to be transformed into a brighter light. This transformation can occur through reading in a way that generates ether forces of light and warmth.

Inspired verse, therefore, gives the possibility for transformation, for spiritual growth. The author of an inspired verse has perceived a higher thought, has seen a higher truth filled thought, which through the written word gives expression to. Through reading a person can cultivate an interested openness coupled with a purposeful aim, whereby they too imaginatively create the thought perceived by the inspired author. In creating through the world of thought the soul life comes into a new order, it frees itself from an old order, an old preconceived inner view, and steps into a freer space, that which lives in the thought can now germinate. The spiritual beings within the thought can spiritualise life with a new light. Germinating a thought whilst reading brings spiritual growth filled with light and warmth.