Thinking from the heart and pure thinking

In ordinary life, people have the feeling that they think with their heads. Of course, this is only a figurative expression, one thinks with the spiritual organs that underlie the brain; but everyone understands what it means to think with the head. One has quite a different feeling towards that thinking which occurs when one has progressed a little further on the path of development which we have characterized. One really has the feeling as if what is otherwise localized in the head is now localized in the heart. It is not the physical heart, however, which thinks, but that organ which forms as a spiritual organ near the heart, the so-called twelve-petaled lotus flower. It becomes a kind of thinking organ; and the thinking that occurs there is very different from ordinary thinking. In ordinary thinking, everyone knows that he has to use reasoning to arrive at a truth. One has to go from concept to concept. One starts from one point, then logically goes on to other points, and what one comes to in the course of time by making logical considerations is called truth, cognition.

heart and brain illustration

This is a cognition attained by ordinary thinking. It is different when one wants to recognize the truth in relation to what has been described as real, as real symbols. One has these real images in front of oneself like external objects, but the thinking about these images cannot be confused with the ordinary thinking in the head. For whether something is true or false, whether one has to say this or that about a thing or a fact of the higher worlds, for this no considerations are necessary as with ordinary thinking, but this results directly. As soon as you have the pictures before you, you know what you have to say about them to yourself and to others. This immediacy, that is the characteristic of heart-thinking.” (Lit.:GA 119, p. 218f)

Active and passive thinking

Ordinary head thinking is passive; to be able to think with the heart, one must become active and permeate thinking with the will in what I call anthroposophical spiritual science, already in my preface to the “Philosophy of Freedom,” something confronts you which you cannot grasp if you only give yourself over to that passive thinking which is especially loved today, that God-forsaken thinking to which most people give themselves over to, and which was already God-forsaken in the previous life; but you can grasp it only if you develop in freedom the inner impulse to bring activity into thinking. You will not be able to keep up with that which lives in spiritual science unless that spark, that lightning, strikes in, through which thinking becomes full of activity. Through this activity we must again conquer the divinity of thinking.

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There is anthroposophical literature that makes the claim that one should think actively. Most people can only think passively and think that active thinking is not possible. It is neither possible to sleep nor to dream intellectually. One must go along, one must set thinking in motion; the moment one does that, one comes along. Then what I would like to call modern clairvoyance ceases to be something miraculous. That it still seems to be something particularly wonderful is due to the fact that people do not yet want to develop the energy to bring activity into thinking […].

Active thinking, as opposed to passive thinking, comes from the heart

Many of you have learned to despise thinking because it has come to you only as passive thinking. But this is only true of thinking in the head, where the heart of man is not involved. But try it once with an active thinking, and then you will see how the heart is engaged. Man of our epoch enters the spiritual world intensively when he succeeds in developing active thinking. For it is through active thinking that we come to have, in turn, heart forces in the thoughts.

If you do not seek the spirit on the path of thought, which must be walked bravely, although this is difficult, if you do not seek on this path the spiritual life which has flowed through humanity from the very beginning, you are like the infant who believes that he can nourish himself out of himself and not out of his mother’s breast. Only then you come to a substantial moment, if you find the secret to develop such an activity in your inner being that it lets you suck from the world’s existence again real spiritual food, real spiritual drink. But this is first of all a problem of will, a problem of will to be experienced emotionally. An immense amount depends today on the good will, on the energetic will, and no theory will solve that which we seek today, but only the courageous will, the strong will, will bring the solution.” (Lit.:GA 217, p. 125ff)

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“When I speak of pure thinking in my “Philosophy of Freedom”, this designation was already out of place for the cultural conditions of that time; for Eduard von Hartmann once said to me: “That does not exist at all; one can only think by means of external contemplation!” I could only answer him: “You have to try it; then you will learn it and in the end you will really be able to do it.

Assume, then, that you could have thoughts in the pure flow of thought. Then begins for you the moment when you have led thinking to a point where it no longer needs to be called thinking at all. It has become in the twinkling of an eye – let us say in the twinkling of a thought – something else. For this thinking, rightly called “pure thinking”, has become pure will; it is willing through and through. If you have come so far in the soul that you have freed thinking from the external view, then it has at the same time become pure will. You float, if I may say so, with your soul in the pure course of thought.

This pure course of thought is a course of will. With this, however, pure thinking, and even the effort after its exercise, begins to be not only an exercise of thought, but an exercise of will, and such an exercise that intervenes right into the center of the human being. For you will make the curious observation: Only now can you speak of thinking, as one has it in ordinary life, being a head activity. You have no right to speak of thinking being a head activity, because you know this only externally from physiology, anatomy and so on. But now you feel inwardly that you are no longer thinking so highly, but that you are beginning to think with your chest.

You are actually interweaving your thinking with the breathing process. You are thus stimulating what the yoga exercises have artificially aimed at. You notice, as thinking becomes more and more an activity of will, that it wrests itself first from the human breast and then from the whole human body. It is as if you would pull out this thinking from the last cell fiber of your big toe.

And if you study something like this with an inner share, which has entered the world with all its imperfections – I do not want to defend my “philosophy of freedom” – if you let something like this take effect on you and feel what this pure thinking is, then you feel that a new inner man is born in you, who can bring will development out of the spirit.” (Lit.:GA 217, p. 148f)