What Darkness Does For Us.
In 1924 Rudolf Steiner gave some verses to medical students, which contained the lines
“I will make strongest
The being of my soul
With all hardening salt
Wereby the Earth with loving care
nurtures the root.”
This, as mentioned in the verse, speaks of Salt. Not just your table salt: the alchemical process known as salt, which in my terminology (following that of Goethe) is termed Blue. Blue is, after all, darkness lightened, and as such stands as a metaphor for consciousness. I have spoken at length about the nature of consciousness and how one can advance one’s abilities in this realm; but today I want to look the other way, as it were. To look at what ‘salt’ is. That is to say, not to look at blue as darkness lightened, but to look towards blue and that which blue emanates from: darkness itself.
Whilst this will seem trivial to many, the people who want to hear about the interpretation of today’s events, the kind that do not find their way into the newspapers, this post looks the other way. Not at the events, which are discussed at length across the internet – but why so few of them are searching for such answers when they are so readily available. Indeed it is such an understanding of one’s own comfort zone that will allow one to interpret such information for oneself.
The Comfort Zone.
The key to such understandings lie in the above verse, and it is something we all experience. In modern parlance, it is called the ‘comfort zone’ and it is where most people spend their entire lives. Indeed, in my last post (see below) I spoke of dementia, a condition where those who are unaware will find their comfort zone shrinking – and eventually disappearing altogether.
Because this is the danger here: comfort is something that will shrink and harden. This is spoken of in the verse too, for hardening, shrinking and suction are all processes that are an expression of darkness. Darkness in the light of Goethe’s Farbenlehre (Colour Teachings) is far more than the conceptually limp ‘absence of light’ that Newton speaks of.
What Is Darkness?
But then, if Newton could not appreciate the concept of darkness as a process, he would get nowhere with his studies in alchemy. Given that three quarters of his notes and writings focus on this, he was barking up the wrong tree for a very long time. Not only that, but those who believe his scientific writings will do so too. Given how many of them there are, that’s a lot of people – and a lot of trees.
Darkness is something that is extremely powerful; indeed, it is a mercy for our modern world that scientists do not understand it. They have torn matter into shreds in an attempt to discover the ultimate particle and thereby the material structure of the universe – but all this has led to is a science that is literally poisonous. Furthermore, it has led to many abuses that are truly immoral – and scientists are nothing if not immoral. They’d not believe in Newton’s ideas if they held their own moral stance, because any decision based on facts or evidence is immoral.
(If you think this is me being nasty, I suggest you leave now: reality isn’t for you. I don’t mean this in some pathetic reverse-psychological manner: if you’re genuinely upset by this, you need to practice Rudolf Steiner’s activities for the days of the week.)
Because this post is all about the nature of our comfort zone, and in holding it as a concept, will show you how to step beyond it. For it is in the nature of salt to be nurturing, that is to say, comforting. Just as the forces that act beneath the earth are suctional, it is this very suction that draws the root to the bosom of humus and the life that exists beneath earth’s surface. It is the same with our comfort zone: it is the area of our life that nurtures us, and allows us to grow outside it, in the way a plant cannot live without soil for its roots. It is easily proven by those self-same scientists that a plant in rich soil will taste better than a plant that is in poor soil. But then we have a different problem because those scientists want their food to taste of the sauce they pour over their food, rather than the food itself. That I will deal with when we return to discuss my friend Hendrik’s dining habits (1).
In short, our comfort zone is a place we ought use as a place to retreat to, a breathing in during the conversation of our life. In our modern age, the problem is that too few people see it this way; it is all there is to life. Comfortable, warm homes, comfortable, warm vehicles and comfortable, warm offices to work in. Everything around us is aimed at out comfort. Much of what people do is aimed at their comfort: Hendrik marks his exams by lulling himself into a conscious dream state, and achieves very little as a result. Only with machinery a person can achieve a very great deal whilst dreaming their days away.
But then, without such a dream state, their life would be agonizingly boring. Having to do the same work, day in, day out, hour by searing hour. Only this is the result of business practices that are all based on the comfort zone: the division of labour that Rudolf Steiner speaks of in his lecture series “World Economy” is all an expression of the comfort zone. In a like manner, the concept of “purchase money” is an expression of the comfort zone, because everything that leaves the immediacy of the businessman’s life is wasted – unless that is, he gets something tangible in return. The upshot of this is that he’ll buy machinery rather than invest in people. To such a person, investment is a waste – and the result is the economic crisis we are witnessing. The suctional forces of the comfort zone are affecting the world economy in the same way they affect a person with dementia. Quite as importantly, the business leaders are as unaware of the realities as a person is aware of their own growing dementia.
The Positive Side.
For the individual there is a positive side to all this. The comfort zone is, as mentioned, a place we can call home. It’s ours, and we can find rest for ourselves in its open arms. However, we cannot find our true selves if we do not reach out to others, and it is here that the true value of the comfort zone comes into its own. It is in meeting other people, who have comfort zones of a slightly different quality, that allow us to actively work with our own comfort zone. In other words, expand it.
There is a natural limit to this expansion, and anybody who has approached this limit will know what clarity feels like: because whilst every person one meets has something to teach one (even if they don’t learn anything themselves) means that one can add a little volume to one’s comfort zone. In becoming bigger, it becomes the more comfortable still, but this is and can only be a fully conscious process. The resulting confidence one has as a result is the very thing that allows one to reach out to the other humans one meets in one’s daily life.
(1) Now published as “Leeks For Dinner“.
This post is an edited version of the original that is on my private blog. I am willing to share a copy of the text as a pdf document. Please note that this is not intended for further distribution – save that you do so using your own words.