In the face of the angel

Wolf-Ulrich Klünker

There is a constantly close boundary where the angel and I are in contact. But I can also not notice him. Then he does not notice me either, then he is not really in a position to act on me. The root of our relationship has passed to me – that was not always so. In earlier ages of humanity the point of origin and activity lay with the angel.

Boundary I: consciousness and constitution

The point of contact lies in me: where my consciousness, consisting of my self-awareness and my consciousness of the world, comes into contact with my less conscious I, my body and constitution. I am an individual I in both spheres: in my soul and spiritual consciousness and in what I am physically and constitutionally. Both sides of this boundary of contact are individual, distinctive.

In my biographical development I become removed from my constitutional origins, I emancipate myself towards self-awareness and an independent consciousness of the world. But my physical and constitutional connection and integration remains.

The way I develop in my consciousness can enable me as an adult or older person better to understand my constitutional origins: to understand why I am physically the way I am; in what respect I belong to the family from which I come and which I apparently did not choose for myself; what the consequences and meaning are that I grew up under these “genetic” conditions. I can then perhaps understand why I had to endure suffering as the result of my constitutional makeup; why the relationship with my parents and my childhood situation might have been so difficult; the positive and gratifying developmental impulses which these prerequisites of my life provided.

I can then maybe even sense that in later life my conscious I can have a correcting and healing influence on my constitutional I.

Illnesses today can often have their cause in that the physical organism and the constitution we have brought with us have not received the impulses of renewal out of the consciously experienced I and our own soul and spiritual development which they actually needed – forces of renewal and life which in earlier times were provided by the angel. Today I encounter an unrecognised angel at my individual boundary of consciousness and life process, at the point of contact between my soul and spiritual development on the one hand and my constitutional origins through birth and my life’s environment on the other.

The awareness of this inner contact was previously experienced as the “guardian angel”. Today we can tentatively develop a sense that in my experience of this inner contact a far-reaching force is at work. This force is very close to me; it appears as my higher self.

Boundary II: sentience and nature

I see a cloud in the sky and feel the wind which moves it. I see the flower and experience its colour, perhaps the red of the rose. My thinking and in part also my experience tell me with a certain conventional matter of factness: the cloud moves across the sky at a great distance from me, the wind blows outside me; the rose stands before me, also outside myself, and its colour is part of it; I merely perceive the colour.

But there is also a layer of sensibility in which I can feel the movement of the cloud in me in that I feel something of a puff of air in me. And also the red of the rose exists not just outside me but forms a reality within me. In a certain respect I can even feel that the cloud and the wind only tell me something because I also know their reality within myself; that the red of the rose only appeals to me in my soul because it encounters an equally real experience within myself.

My perception of nature and the world would remain without sentience if my sentient resonance were not triggered by a corresponding inner reality. Here there is a delicate connection between inner and outer. The point at which both sides touch is subjective and objective at the same time. The inner has outer reality. I recognise my inner experience of the movement and the vitality of the air in the movement of the cloud and the wind outside; my inner relationship to the colour and form of the rose appears externally to me in the rose which I am observing at that particular moment.

I would not notice the rose and the cloud if they did not come up against my inner experience. Through my experience they obtain consciousness. And their “outer” existence enables me to notice, uncover and develop the corresponding inner layers of experience. A deepening takes place at this inner boundary of contact. My inner experiential space becomes more intense and the more sensitively I become aware of nature and the world around me, the clearer it will come to appearance. The cloud and the rose would not have any reality if they were not noticed.

At the boundary of inner and outer, of what we might call subjective nature in me and objective inwardness in nature outside, there is a higher force which unites inner and outer, myself and nature. There is an inner living relationship between what is subjective in me and objective outside – if this connection did not exist, then there would be no awareness of and feeling for nature and I myself would only have the subjectivity of feeling which possesses no reality.

We thus reciprocally give one another reality. Becoming aware of this can lead me to become conscious of the force which unites inner and outer in me. When I have a sense of this reality-forming force in me, a consciousness radiates out from me which in the background illuminates the face of the angel so that it can radiate back to me: a quiet and very personal experience of the power in my relationship with the world. I might, but do not have to, describe it as the touch of the angel.

Boundary III: observation and future

When I am more closely involved with a child, I gradually develop a sense of their individuality, even if the child is perhaps still quite young and has not yet developed many of their “characteristics”. On the basis of my sense of the individuality of the child I can notice something. As an adult I can observe and at the same time form a context which opens up the future for the child. If I did not form such a context, the future would be closed for the child. Because what I observe does not relate to what already exists but to what does not yet exist. And what does not yet exist must be connected with the child in an individual way, otherwise it would not be able to open up their future.

I can then get an inkling that it is not only important what has come from the past to make the child what they are, but that what becomes of their present situation in the future will grow in importance. I can even observe beyond this that in certain areas causal thinking almost has to be turned on its head; that the reason why something which has become what it is from out of the past recedes into the background. On the contrary, it is more important for an understanding of the situation and its further development to observe from a future perspective, as it were, what the goal is.

The experiences of human beings and of educational thinking from the perspective of the causative goal will play an ever more important role particularly in the development of the child because the child is comprehensively open to the future. In my observation of what is important for the child’s future, this developmental space opens up for them.

There is a turning point in human development from which the importance of the past wanes and the importance of the future as the causative principle increases. Thus I am constantly called upon to observe what perhaps only I can observer – not only in the child. I am called upon to create contexts which only I can create; I am therefore responsible for intervening in the process of forming the future, to be involved in shaping it.

If I develop such an awareness with sensitivity, I can begin to sense a force which turns my intention with regard to the future into effective reality; a force which is waiting to receive impulses for the future through me, which can gradually realise them. A force which is also, for example, connected with the individuality of the child – which is ready at all times to integrate into the development of the child what the adult in the surroundings of the child opens up as a step towards the future out of their sense and knowledge of their relationship.

It does not mean setting up future concepts or firm “developmental targets” – indeed, they tend to be harmful as a rule. But noticing in a sensitive way what as a next small step opens up a further connection in the life of the child. This also applies to the way I interact with adults, indeed, even to my relationship with the world as a whole.

The angel and higher spiritual beings are “waiting”, we might say, to receive impulses for the future through me which they can receive and reinforce in shaping reality. In developing a sense for the spiritual expectation of the angel, who mostly no longer appears as “angel” here either, it can become evident that the relationship with spiritual reality can no longer be egoistical today.

The question is less what the angel can do for me; on the contrary, the question is growing in importance: what sensitive connections can I create for the future so that the angel can become active? The interesting thing here is that this question is actually no longer directly aimed at the angel but at the needs and developmental opportunities of the other person and the world. Here, too, it is as if the countenance of the angel disappears behind the force which can now be mobilised by the human I. The angel waits invisibly at the boundary to the future to radiate as a force into the future and to reinforce what I prescribe at the beginning.

Boundary IV: thinking and feeling

The way I think about my relationship with the “angel” determines my feeling; such a sensibility can lead me to become aware of him. It is a sensibility which has its origin in my thinking consciousness, a subtle feeling which lives in me not as something that is simply “there” but which I was able to produce out of spiritual self-activation. This makes new perceptions possible – not “supersensory” in an earlier way but as an intensification and deepening of the sphere of the feelings.

Perception is then no longer just an image of given reality; feeling becomes an organ of truth; thinking becomes something that forms feeling. It becomes noticeable that reality, also the one that includes sensory perception, is increasingly dependent on being accompanied by an alert and sensitive sentient consciousness in the I.

Thus the angle is close to me and we can illuminate and make one another visible reciprocally – if I develop the feeling that I increasingly live out of my soul and spiritual self-activation: out of my new thinking about myself and the world. This experience can be existentially deepened as a new sense of self. Then I begin to feel that I provide forces for my life out of my sense of the truth which it increasingly requires in the organism as well; therein I am connected with the angel.

About the author: Wolf-Ulrich Klünker is director of the Delos Research Centre for Psychology in Berlin und professor of anthroposophy at Alanus University, Alfter.