The Higher Capability of Appreciation

   In this essay we are examining the higher capability of appreciation. I use the word "capability" rather than "ability" because appreciation is not an intrinsic adeptness but a competence we must develop through conscious effort and discernment.
Appreciate: view as valuable, hold dear, accord respect to, ascribe importance to,
be grateful or thankful for, delight in, be obliged, feast on, hold in esteem, comprehend, absorb, to be fully aware of, realize fully
   We're examining the essence of appreciation so that we can learn how to attain this higher capability. Appreciation is a "higher" capability in that the one who has attained it gains personal power in the terrestrial realm and gains power that operates in the supersensible domain as well.

   We can appreciate all elements (persons, teachings, processes, events, objects, concepts) in both the terrestrial and supersensible domains.

Degree of Discernment
Non-Comprehension Understanding Deep Comprehension
Through Appreciation
Appreciation As Awareness of Obligation
Ignorance, Indifference Grasp of Meaning Personal Gratitude and Awareness of Importance and Significance Awareness of a Personal Obligation For What Has Been Bestowed
The person is ignorant of and indifferent to Perennialist Material. The person works to grasp some of the meaning of Perennialist Material. Most persons attain no higher discernment than this. The person gains personal gratitude and awareness of the importance and significance of Perennialist Material The person recognizes a deep personal obligation and need to reciprocate (repay) and works to become capable of contributing to the
Work. 1

The Essence of Appreciation

  We'll examine four major constituents of appreciation:
  • Appreciation as finalizing creation

  • Appreciation as gratitude

  • Appreciation as deep comprehension

  • Appreciation as awareness of obligation and need to
    reciprocate by contributing

Appreciation As Finalizing Creation

"Appreciation is as definite a contribution to whole creation as any of the other qualities which seem to us the peculiar property of genius. Appreciation too works in the substance of thought, and therefore joins hands as co-worker with the original creative impulse."

Stewart Edward White, The Job of Living

  To understand how the higher capability of appreciation operates to complete the creation of elements, we'll examine how Perennialist teachers create specially designed arcane 2  material, which they receive through inspiration, in assisting initiates and novices work toward the achievement of higher awareness. Below are some of the features of this Perennialist material.

  1. What transformative material can be used for now is what it was originally designed for and intended to be used for. This means that the transformative material was created by savants who had the higher knowledge of how to use esoteric material to help to transmute persons into higher beings. It also means that the original purpose and power of the material, created centuries ago, is still operative now: a miraculous phenomenon. For example, this story was created recently (from a much older tale) to reveal that there is a certain kind of magic in mathematical numbers, and that specific savants, in all ages, comprehend this magic and can use it to bring about transformative effects in humans.

  2. If you can understand--and appreciate--transformative material at a higher level--not merely at the narrative, humorous, or dramatic level--the material provides unmistakable evidence of the historical perpetuation of an integrated teaching--the Perennial Tradition.

  3. Transformative material is only realized--made real, completed, and brought to fruition--by appreciative, discerning recipients. Those recipients can include the teacher herself and students of her material. Transformative teaching material such as Boethius' The Emboldenment of Philosophy, for example, is only actualized and consummated by its being appreciated, understood, and applied by a discerning reader.

  A reader who merely passes over the words of such a book, without appreciative comprehension, leaves the teaching in an unfinished state in regards to his own experience and to the actualization of the material. If the reader, out of egotism or scholastic puffery, injects spurious, extraneous meanings into the content, he creates a perversion of his own design totally unrelated to the real teaching which Boethius created. The essential teaching, containing multiple meanings, cascading associations, and profound metaphysical dimensions, is available to the appreciative, discerning reader who has prepared himself to discover what Boethius deposited in and transmitted through his inspired work.

"All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives its final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists."

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist

Appreciation As Gratitude and Deep Comprehension

   A person working to attain the higher capability of appreciation must be at a certain level of understanding to even experience--hear, see, etc.--the higher level of meaning and excellence in any Perennialist transformative material. Appreciation goes beyond understanding to a higher capability of gratitude for the material, which allows for a higher form of comprehension of the transformative material.

"It is not easy, at first, to believe that feelings like reverence and respect have anything to do with cognition. This is due to the fact that we are inclined to set cognition aside as a faculty by itself--one that stands in no relation to what otherwise occurs in the soul. In so thinking we do not bear in mind that it is the soul which exercises the faculty of cognition; and feelings are for the soul what food is for the body. If we give the body stones in place of bread, its activity will cease. It is the same with the soul. Veneration, homage, devotion are like nutriment making it healthy and strong, especially strong for the activity of cognition. Disrespect, antipathy, underestimation of what deserves recognition, all exert a paralyzing and withering effect on this faculty of cognition. . . Thereby the cognitional faculty is ripened; it receives intelligence of facts in its environment of which it had hitherto no idea. Reverence awakens in the soul a sympathetic power through which we attract qualities in the beings around us, which would otherwise remain concealed."

Rudolf Steiner, Christianity As Mystical Fact, 1947

   Appreciation allows the person not only to understand the meaning of the transformative material, but to discern the IMPORTANCE AND SIGNIFICANCE of the material. The person can then gain the higher discernment that he is truly blest by being allowed to study such Higher Knowledge. He has only gained full comprehension of the material when he realizes, through appreciation, that he is being given a supernal opportunity for which he quite naturally should feel profound gratitude and humility.

   Only an appreciative student has a genuine interest in advanced teachings and can therefore discern their value; to the merely curious, self-satisfied, or the indifferent, advanced teachings seem commonplace and lackluster--nothing special.

   Until the person achieves the higher capability of appreciation, he may understand the meaning of transformative material, but he has not yet grasped its importance and significance and the supernal nature of his opportunity to study the material and to study with a Perennialist Teacher (living or post-terrestrial) who can create such material. Such a person would not wait for the Perennialist Teacher to approach him or encourage him, but find every opportunity to entreat the Teacher to allow him the opportunity to study with her.

   The reason some persons never achieve the higher capability of appreciation is that they do not work to overcome their obsession with themselves. They feel excited when they come in contact with Perennialist transformative teachings. They gain ego-satisfaction if a Perennialist teacher allows them to study with her. They find that their study is actually enhancing their own capabilities, in their personal lives and in their work. But their own overwhelming feelings of self-satisfaction and desire for comfort disallow their working to achieve the Higher capability of appreciation. Some persons assume that teachings concerning appreciation only apply to others, not themselves.

"A divinity may approach you: it is either everything or nothing. Nothing, if you meet it in the frame of mind with which you confront everyday matters; everything, if you are prepared and attuned to the meeting. What the divinity is in itself is a matter that does not affect you; the important point for you is whether it leaves you as it found you or makes a different man of you. But this depends entirely on yourself. What is brought to you depends upon the reception you prepare for it. You must have been prepared by the education and development of the most intimate forces of your personality so that what the divine is able to evoke may be kindled and released in you. Everything depends upon the way in which you receive what is offered you."

Rudolf Steiner, Christianity As Mystical Fact, 1947

Appreciation As Awareness of Personal Obligation and
Need to Reciprocate by Contributing to the Work

   Once the person gains the capability of appreciating the significance and importance of Perennialist transformative teachings, he must, finally, attain the awareness of his personal obligation to the Perennialist Tradition, the teacher, and the teachings and make all effort to become capable of reciprocating by contributing to the Work.

   One of the "testing points" within the Perennialist teaching process is to allow a person to have access to transformative material (a huge step), assist him to achieve understanding as he grasps the meaning of the material, and then wait to see if the person works to gain appreciation of the material and awareness of obligation to reciprocate through contributing to the Work. The last two aspects of appreciation can only really be achieved by the person on his own initiative. The Perennialist teacher can make available material on the necessity of appreciation in achieving complete discernment of Perennialist teaching material, but the person must work assiduously on his own to achieve the final two constituents of appreciation.

   Until all aspects of appreciation have been achieved by the person, his "involvement" in the Work is primarily of the nature of passive mental conception and comprehension, mere acknowledgement and recognition. The final two aspects of appreciation require that the person "do" something other than think or recognize--instead of doing nothing. Some persons merely "pretend" to be involved, and total appreciation requires that they break through the pretense to actually "perform" some reciprocal action that makes a genuine contribution to the Work.

    Some features of the necessity of appreciation in gaining discernment of and involvement in the Perennial Tradition may appear, to the undiscerning, to be an unelevated kind of quid-pro-quo. An early Perennialist teacher explained why this is not the case.

  Hamadani explains that the essence of Perennialist knowledge is that it cannot be withheld from those who deserve it, AND it also cannot be given to those who do not deserve it. A Perennialist Teacher simply cannot give Perennialist knowledge to those persons who have not worked to deserve it, which includes gaining the ability to comprehend the significance and importance of appreciation, which includes contributing to the Work.

"The deliberate, conscious . . . appreciation of all by which you are surrounded and of all that life encounters, is more than a pleasurable functioning; it is an opportunity of contribution. . . He who in passing notes with sympathetic and pleasured eye the sheen of light upon the wayside flower, has not merely pleased his own aesthetic sense, but has made a small but definite contribution to whatever intention has brought it about."

Betty White, The Gaelic Manuscripts, circa 1935

  A person who has worked to gain the capability of an appreciator--beyond mere reader, listener, viewer, experiencer--must then attain a new level of comprehension to even experience--hear, see, understand--the higher level of meaning and excellence in any entity or field. For example,we must work to gain the capability of appreciating a rendition of a musical composition, an artist performing on a specific instrument, or a specific, special performance of a musical composition.

"The appreciation of beauty, in the sense of a surrender to its influence rather than a critical analysis, is another example . . . of a simple spiritual contact."

Betty White, The Betty Book, 1937

Gazing At Gazanias

By Michelle Mairesse

    The garden is flexing, swelling, aflame

    In sunlight, scalloped, spiked, stippled, striped.

    Imprinted with patterns of their own devise,

    Gazanias surprise with blended brush strokes,

    And plushy golden centers ringed with dots,

    Proffering pollen in a basin of light,

    Yet folding quickly when absent the sun.

    Flowers spent, gazanias mount feathered seeds

    Upon the wind, knowing they are not yet dead.

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