“By virtue of the power of the spiritual world into which he has now found the way, and through continued application to his prescribed exercises, the student experiences an ever increasing extension and expansion of consciousness during sleep. The unconscious intervals during sleep-life grow ever smaller, while more and more experiences emerge from erstwhile unconsciousness. These experiences thus link themselves together increasingly of their own accord, without this true unity being disturbed by all manner of combinations and inferences, which in any case would only originate in an intellect accustomed to the physical world. Yet the less the habits of thought acquired in the physical world are allowed to lay into these higher experiences, the better it is.” ~Rudolf Steiner
Expanding Consciousness During Sleep
It does make perfect sense that most of our spiritual awakening and consciousness expanding takes place while we sleep. A gold fish doesn’t grow very big when kept in a small bowl. Consciousness can’t expand much when trapped in the cage of conscious beliefs and thoughts. The mind has to be stilled and open to new things for expanding consciousness to happen.
I was happy to read that Steiner says the student will experience expanding consciousness with the continued application of the spiritual exercises prescribed by his teacher. You get the impression from what is posted on social media that many people believe there are no exercises they have to do to grow spiritually. They just declare they are spiritual, buy a few crystals, meditate occasionally, and that is it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
No great inventor became great without a lot of work. The same for great composers. It is no different for the spiritual student. No spiritual adept became a great master without a great deal of work. No one awakens their spiritual facilities without trying. And while expanding consciousness may happen mostly while sleeping, it is the practice of the spiritual growth techniques that allow it to happen.
Sleep-Life Grows Smaller
I think Steiner means here that sleep-life grows “shorter,” not “smaller”. It is a fact that spiritual people generally don’t need as much sleep as their more materialistic friends. This doesn’t mean that insomnia indicates that you are becoming spiritual. If you get up and find yourself tired most of the day, you are not getting enough sleep. But the spiritual person who has achieved a significant amount of expanding consciousness will probably only sleep five or six hours a night, yet wake refreshed and ready to go. He can work long days and be very productive. He can be creative in his endeavors because of his expanded consciousness, yet he need less sleep. This may be partially because the expanding consciousness makes him less tense, less stressed.
The student may learn new things every time she travels into spiritual realms while experiencing expanding consciousness. Mr. Steiner is warning that the student shouldn’t string those images together and think she has now a complete idea of what the spiritual realms are like. To do so, he warns will only result in confusion and error. It is better to allow the visions over time to connect themselves together forming a true picture of the spiritual dimensions. Just relax and allow your expanding consciousness to continue to expand. Eventually all the pieces will fit together and you will be one with the All.