If in my mind I live in conceptions which rest upon the sense-world, then, in my direct experience, I am in position to speak of the reality of what is experienced only so long as I confront with sense-observation a thing or an event. My sense assures me of the reality of what is observed so long as I observe it.
Not so when I unite myself through ideal-spiritual knowledge with beings or events of the spiritual world. Here there enters into the single perception the direct experience of the status of the thing of which I am aware continuing beyond the duration of observation. For instance, if one experiences the human ego as the inner being most fundamentally one's own, then one knows in the perceiving experience that this ego was before the life in the physical body and will be after this. What one experiences thus in the ego reveals this directly, just as the rose reveals its redness in the act of our becoming aware.
In such meditation, practised because of inner spiritual necessity, there was gradually evolved the consciousness of an “inner spiritual man” who, through a more complete release from the physical organism, can live, perceive, and move in the spiritual. This self-sufficing spiritual man entered into my experience under the influence of meditation. The experience of the spiritual thereby underwent an essential deepening. That sense-observation arises by means of the organism can be sufficiently proven by the sort of selfobservation possible in the case of this knowledge. But neither is the ideal-spiritual knowledge yet independent of the organism. Self-comprehension shows the following as to this: For sense-observation the single act of knowing is bound up with the organism. For the ideal-spiritual knowing the single act is entirely independent of the physicalorganism; but the possibility that such knowledge may be unfolded at all by man requires that in general the life within the organism shall be existent. In the case of the third form of knowing the situation is this: it can come into being in the spiritual man only when he can make himself as free from the physicalorganism as if this were not there at all.
Rudolf Steiner, The Story of My Life, GA 28, Chapter XXII.
Knowing without using the physical body by Mieke Mosmuller