In books for the training of supernatural knowledge, Rudolf Steiner describes two fundamentally different approaches. One is the meditative path that starts in the mind, beginning with concentration exercises and meditation sayings. For natural scientists, however, he suggests beginning with phenomena of the sensory world: to marvel at them and to experience their effects. Examples of such observations are the comparison of sunrise with moonrise or of young, fresh plants with old, mature plants. It is not from thinking but from sensory perception that the path of training is taken to the first layer of the supersensible world, the imaginative world.
Using the example of the scent of plants, I would like to briefly introduce the method I have developed over the last 30 years. The leaf of a fragrant plant is smelled. In doing so, one tries to remain inwardly silent and to not form words. To help make this possible, the scent is transformed into pictures. Through this will activity, one notices qualities arising within oneself. Movements, power experiences, balance experiences, etc. arise as if from an inner source and form something like a variety of flame forms. Thereby a certain feeling arises, which I would now like to describe.
Through imaginative recognition one creates fundamentally different kinds of knowledge content than through objective recognition, and when they arise, they feel different. As a first approximation one can compare it with mathematical cognition, i.e. with the deep sense of evidence that one feels when a task is accomplished or a proof is given. A comparable feeling arises during imaginative recognition in a natural context. Imaginative recognition is a pictorial recognition of forces and transformations. The observer is not passively devoted to the world, as is the case with sensory perception, but is himself present with his activity in the creation of the picture. In 1990 I was a student of Jochen Bockemühl and got to know imaginations of leaf metamorphoses and landscape comparisons. At first I could only grasp the result of the imagination in my mind, so to speak, and that alone inspired me. For example, leaves in shade form differently than leaves in light. But it took much longer to get from the senses to the imagination and to "see" the effect of light. The more experiences I have, the more the experience of a supersensory substance enters my field of perception during imaginative perception. I experience more consciously the field of the imagination, the area in which they take place. This is the etheric body.
I would like to describe a special aspect of this work.
It is my experience that every imagination, regardless of which field of sense it refers to, creates the same basic mood. You can tell from this mood that you are no longer in the sensory world. That is why one speaks of a different state of consciousness. And one can say that this feeling is the supersensory organ. It is a strong feeling of highest vitality, a feeling of vitality finely differentiated by the object of perception.
The intense basic feeling of the imagination has more power in its imagery than the sensory impressions, and at the same time more "substance" than the incomparably finer inspirational experiences.
What "pure thinking" is for the field of thought and the physical world, the mood of the imagination is for the field of imagination and the ethereal world: both are pure activity without specific content.
I create plant experiments which are suitable for enabling people to perceive and to gain scientific knowledge of an imaginative kind when carrying them out. In this way they can get to know the principle and then do their own research in the future.