Introduction to Developing Supersensible Perception

Knowledge of the Higher Worlds through Entheogens, Prayer, and Nondual Awareness

by Shelli Renée Joye PhD

There slumber in every human being faculties by means of which he can acquire for himself a knowledge of higher worlds. . . . There remains only one question—how to set to work to develop such faculties for this purpose.

Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds


Our twenty-first century is popularly called the information age. Girding the planet, information technologies have wired the world into a web-like mesh of information links. Physically all that can be seen of these links is metallic wire, fiber-optic cable, and orbiting satellites. But what do these webs carry that is so invisible to our ordinary senses? What might we see if we acquired supersensory vision? If we had such vision, we would see human-encoded clouds of streaming electrons and photons buzzing through the wires and the cables, auroric clouds of glowing plasma swirling between our satellites. From out of this vortex of radiance our digital devices ceaselessly unpack and convert these vibrating energy spectra into sound, images, and text so that we may hear, see, and communicate with friends and strangers, far and near. Thus harnessed with our technical ingenuity, this radiant electro-magnetic frequency web emerges as the information network of our epoch.

But many believe and have testified to the existence of a vast range of additional networks,webs linking worlds and dimensions far beyond those which our daily senses reveal. These rare psychonauts[1] claim to have developed the ability to access new sensory modes of awareness. Their experiences assure us that with sincere effort and sufficient practice, we too will soon possess the ability to “see” for ourselves.

One of these psychonauts of the early twentieth century was the Austrian philosopher and noetic scientist Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), whose research contributed a vast record[2] of personal knowledge from his own direct experience of supersensory networks of consciousness. This book details Steiner’s techniques for activating these new sensory-cognitive systems with which to join the universe.

Those brave few who are willing to try these techniques will, according to Steiner, soon open their inner “eye” to new dimensions. Empowered with this new mode of viewing the universe, we can enter into networks and communities of communication far beyond those currently possible with twentieth-century hardware systems of fiber optics, copper cables, and orbiting communication satellites.

It is amusing to note that while Rudolf Steiner’s father, Johann, was a telegraph operator for the Southern Austrian Railway, communicating with invisible people over metallic wires using telegraph keys, his son, Rudolf, grew up to be a sort of supersensible telegraph operator, communicating with invisible entities over hidden networks using supersensible sense organs.[3]

In exploring the numerous descriptions of these supersensory realms, which are quite abstract, and invisible to those who cannot yet see them directly, we must deal with a Babel of words. Unfortunately, each account of supersensible perception is passed on to us from a unique perspective, one which cannot escape being a product of far-off cultures and intervening centuries. I will attempt to clarify Steiner’s terminology regarding acquisition of supersensible knowledge by offering the reader additional perspectives on these supersensory realms. Surprisingly, this support will be found in the areas of physics, radio engineering, and Indian philosophy.

In addition to practical techniques offered by Steiner, key instructions are also included from other sources to support and extend Steiner’s own approach to the development of supersensible perception. One of the sources discussed is the Yoga Sutra by the fourth-century sage Patañjali, whose aphorisms map and codify one of the most important stages of contemplation leading to supersensible perception, termed samādhi[4] in the Sanskrit language. Here we will describe Patañjali’s observation of the five primary ways by which a human being can acquire supersensible perception according to the experiences of generations of contemplative yoga practitioners.

Our book continues with a summary of the central techniques for the acquisition of supersensible perception, an amazing capability that, according to Steiner and Patañjali, is certainly achievable by the modern individual blessed with a sincere desire to succeed and able to invest a reasonable effort in actual practice.

The second section of the book provide a technical discussion of a map of consciousness based upon the work of  the brain scientist Karl Pribram and the physicist David Bohm that supports and extends Steiner’s approach to understanding consciousness at the most fundamental level.


[1] Greek ψυχή psychē [“soul”, “spirit” or “mind”] and ναύτης naútēs [“sailor” or “navigator”]—“sailor of the soul.”

[2] Rudolf Steiner produced over 400 volumes of written material, which include his books and writings (about forty volumes), and over 6,000 published transcriptions from his lectures.

[3] Lachman, Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work, 6.

[4] samādhi is best translated as a state of “complete nondual awareness,” “purṇa advaita,” or “integral nondualism,” but is often translated as “meditation.”