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Developing Supersensible Perception

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

Foreword by Robert McDermott
Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A detailed guide to awakening your powers of supersensory perception

• Details methods and techniques for the acquisition of supersensory powers distilled from Rudolf Steiner’s 400 published volumes and from Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra

• Explores acquisition of these powers at birth (genetic) and through entheogens, mantra and prayer, effort and exercise, and nondual meditation

• Includes a map of consciousness based on the work of neuroscientist Karl Pribram and physicist David Bohm

According to philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), there exists within every human being the potential for developing supersensory powers and, with these powers activated, the ability to awaken the higher self and attain knowledge of non-physical higher worlds. Steiner himself worked diligently throughout his life to develop his faculties of “supersensible perception” and, scattered throughout his many works, he describes methods by which to activate and operate these supersensory-cognitive systems.

Distilling techniques from Steiner’s more than 400 published volumes, Shelli Renée Joye, Ph.D., presents a practical, modern approach to acquiring, cultivating, and maintaining supersensible perception and developing higher consciousness. The five approaches she studies include acquisition by birth (genetic), entheogens, mantra and prayer, effort and exercise, and Samadhi--equated by many with nondual awareness. Adding another dimension to Steiner’s methods, the author shows how these steps are powerfully aligned with 4th-century South Indian sage Patañjali’s teachings in the Yoga Sutra.

The author explores how to develop what you have acquired through imaginative, active, or intuitive thinking, as well as how to learn through inner guidance and how to transform knowledge gained from books into spiritual advancement. She also shares her own extraordinary experiences of supersensory networks of consciousness.

Connecting Steiner’s ideas to modern advances in quantum physics, psychedelic science, and consciousness studies, Dr. Joye shows how each of us is capable of developing supersensible perception and expanding our awareness to connect with cosmic consciousness.



One of the most well-known psychonauts of the early twentieth century was the Austrian philosopher and noetic scientist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose research contributed a vast record 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.

Steiner’s Supersensible Perception

In 1904 Steiner began his Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment with a sentence that well encapsulates the basic premise of his entire perception and teaching: “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.”

Steiner himself worked diligently throughout most of his adult life to develop and improve his own faculties of “supersensible perception.” He used this new-found faculty to explore widely a new and fascinating dimension of reality that became increasingly apparent and significant to him in his daily life, but one which is beyond normal human sensory capabilities. This becomes a recurrent theme in his work. In his many lectures and books, we find described methods and means by which a human being can work to discover the ways to nourish, activate, and operate these latent systems of supersensory perception.

According to Steiner, this potential for supersensory perception is found in every human being at various stages of development, and he goes on to say that when the internal organs of supersensory perception have developed to the point at which they begin to open to this new awareness, one experiences it as an awakening to a “higher self”.

Chapter 1. Five Approaches to Supersensible Perception

It is Steiner’s conviction that humanity is now ready for a widespread acquisition of supersensible perception whereas in centuries past, the blossoming of supersensible perception was limited to a rare handful of mystics, philosophers, and gnostics, from whose writings and handed-down teachings we still might learn. In fact, the process required to develop higher faculties of perception has been well documented as far back as the fourth century CE, where we find in Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra, IV.1., a description of five primary ways in which an individual finds his/her way to these powers of supersensible perception.

In this important śloka that opens the fourth and final chapter in the Yoga Sūtra, the five ways of acquiring siddhis (“supersensible perception”) are, in order of efficacy, as follows:

1. By birth (“genetic”)

2. By drugs (“entheogens”)

3. By mantra (“prayer”)

4. By psychophysical exercises (“focus”)

5. By contemplative meditation (samādhi)

Acquisition by Birth (Genetic)

In his Yoga Sutra, Patañjali mentions acquisition by birth as a first and primary attribute for initial success in seeking to awaken the organs of supersensible perception. At birth, each newborn human possesses innumerable traits, characteristics, and potentials inherited from a broad and diverse stream of personalities through the unique genetic material contributed by father and mother. These genetic data recordings have been forged and accumulated during millenia of ancestral experience. The inherited traces remain superpositioned within the physical genome as information available as needed for the survival, growth, and development of the individual human being.

Rudolf Steiner was likely among the relatively small number of human beings to have been born with the genetic disposition optimized for early blossoming of the power of supersensory perception. However, for those without such specific genetic advantages at birth, there are the additional four approaches (drugs, mantra, heat, contemplation) listed by Patañjali in YS IV.1.

Acquisition by Drugs (Entheogens)

In 1885, the first annotated translation of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra was published by a Fellow of the Theosophical Society. Steiner himself had first become interested in the Theosophical Society as a first-year student in Vienna, and by 1885 the twenty-four year old enthusiastically attended most lectures and conferences offered by the Society. It is quite likely that he was familiar with this new translation of the Yoga Sutra, which was widely circulated within the Society that year.

According to Patañjali, many seekers discover that their initial experience of supersensory perception is attained most readily by ingestion of drugs (called oṣadhi in the Sanskrit of the Yoga Sutra). Many of these traditional entheogens, perceptual-changing organic compounds created within certain plants and mushrooms, were discovered and widely used in the ancient world. The preparation and use of a psychedelic drink called soma is well documented in the Rig Veda, which is thought to have been composed in northern India over 3,500 years ago.

It seems reasonable to wonder whether Steiner himself may have experimented with such substances in his search for entry into other dimensions of perception. Many plant-derived drugs which are illegal now were perfectly legal during Steiner’s lifetime. From approximately 1880 to 1920, for example, the Viennese medical community documented the acceptable use of cannabis, opium, hashish, laudanum, cocaine, and other mind-altering substances derived from plant material. In modern terms such drugs are known as entheogens or psychedelics.

The early mind-expanding use of such substances as soma (currently thought to be psychedelic mushrooms or cannabis) has been described in ancient Vedic hymns (circa 2400 BCE). Adding to this, the hallucinatory rye ergot compound is known to have been used in Delphic oracle ceremonies by the ancient Greeks. Explorers of the psyche have discovered a wide range of these compounds which are classified as entheogens, psychotropic substances used for spiritual development.

About The Author

Shelli Renée Joye, Ph.D., attended Rice University on a physics scholarship and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, she worked with John Lilly on interspecies communication and pursued contemplative practice with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She completed her doctorate in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The author of several books, including Tuning the Mind, she lives in Italy.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (August 6, 2019)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620558768

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Raves and Reviews

“. . . a clearly written comparison of Western (Steiner) and Eastern (Patañjali) approaches to developing ‘supersensory powers,’ an ability said to allow one to perceive domains far beyond the ordinary, including the esoteric realms called the astral and the etheric. Shelli Joye shows that surprisingly these two mystics were describing the same underlying methods. But what is unique about this book is the appendix in which Joye applies modern scientific concepts to help explain what ‘supersensory’ might mean. An intriguing work, well worth reading.”

– Dean Radin, Ph.D., chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and author of Real Mag

“If we are indeed nonlocal beings with dormant unrealized potentials, then we all have the ability to be extraordinary. Read Developing Supersensible Perception to learn more.”

– Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment and coauthor of You Are the Universe

“Joye gives us the gift of a rare and remarkably clear explanation of Rudolf Steiner’s thoughts on higher worlds of consciousness. To this she brings her own experience as both a physicist and philosopher to yield a thoroughly contemporary understanding of Steiner’s insights.”

– Allan Combs, Ph.D., director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the California Institute of

“. . . a remarkable account of consciousness as developed by two great beings, Steiner (representing Western ideas) and Patañjali (representing Eastern ideas). Joye’s writing, approach, and the depth of presentation leave the reader with a sense of connection that one would not have guessed existed. It is indeed possible, as Joye has demonstrated, to approach the supersensory--in fact the entire human mystical experience--in an expanded scientific way.”

– Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., coauthor of You Are the Universe and The Conscious Universe

“Shelli Joye inspires us to awaken into deepest truth, where we can travel beyond everyday states of awareness to explore and develop supersensory perception. As ‘psychonauts’ we can learn to think actively, touching the very foundation of reality and ultimately giving birth to our highest, noblest selves. Highly recommend!”

– Cynthia Sue Larson, MBA, D.D., founder of RealityShifters and author of Quantum Jumps

“. . . a tour through the realms of consciousness that few could present. This book shows both detailed science and a refined humanities examination in service of painting the most precise and detailed picture of the deeper realms of reality.”

– James D. Ryan, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Asian philosophies and cultures at the California Instit

“What do you get when you mix degrees in electronics and mathematical engineering and a Ph.D. focused on philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness with Rudolf Steiner’s theosophy, Patañjali’s yoga, and psychedelic drugs? Hold on to your holographic hats, psychonauts, Shelli Joye will be your captain to the bubbling multiverse at the Planck length of space-time. Just be sure to bring your Fourier transform along so you can rematerialize in the explicate order when the trip is done.”

– Timothy Desmond, Ph.D., author of Psyche and Singularity

“This is not a book for the closed-minded! Shelli Joye’s creative weaving of Steiner’s insights--with threads drawn from yoga philosophy, quantum physics, electrical engineering, psychedelics, and alien encounters--is an invitation to walk, or dance, on the wild side of psychospiritual speculation.”

– Sean Kelly, Ph.D., author of Coming Home: The Birth and Transformation of the Planetary Era

“Shelli Joye takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of consciousness as described by Steiner, right to the frontier of sense-free thinking. She guides us with love, insight, and consummate intelligence into the heart of the mystery. An extraordinary book that achieves the seemingly impossible by articulating that which lies beyond the thinking mind.”

– Stephen Julich, Ph.D., program manager of the East-West Psychology Department at the California Inst

“. . . a wonderful synthesis of science and spirituality. The ideas in this book are challenging and elusive. The math is daunting. But it’s burgeoning with understanding and insight. If you want to grapple with the “hard problem,” here’s a great place to start. And it might even help you develop a bit of perception beyond the ordinary. It’s inspired me to pursue Rudolf Steiner’s recommendations.”

– Toby Johnson, Ph.D., author of Finding Your Own True Myth

“Shelli Joye has done something important in bringing the early twentieth-century theosophy of Rudolf Steiner together with early twenty-first-century science. The reader will find in the first half of the book an insightful review of the theosophy of the past century illuminated both by the author’s careful research and by her personal experience with the supersensible. In the second half, the author explains the challenging new neurophysics, which offers the scientific grounding that theosophy has up to now lacked. For readers not only in circles that are attuned to theosophy but also with those who sense a disassociation of doctrine and reality in their traditions.”

– Rev. Michael J. Tan Creti, author of The Great Crowd

“Joye’s vivid, storied prose jaunts through the hinterlands of consciousness, offering a lucid interweaving of Steiner and Patañjali’s technologies for navigating states of consciousness, traversing the subtle and manifest realms and their associated temporalities. Joye pays particular attention to physical and mathematical correlates of consciousness, including the role of the Fourier transform in translating between the temporal and atemporal--Bohm’s explicate and implicate orders. Her keen intuition for seeing and explaining how things fit together reveals exactly the type of mind we need to lead us into the now burgeoning integral era.”

– Kerri Welch, Ph.D., philosopher of time, mind, and physics

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