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A READER'S JOURNAL
Guidance in Esoteric Training
Talks & writings 1903-1913, GA#245
Foreword to Second Edition by Virginia Sease
Prefatory Note by Owen Barfield
Translated by C. Davey and Owen Barfield, etal
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/NY in 2001
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2011
Chapter: Spiritual Science
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This book marks the 195th book by Rudolf Steiner that I have read and reviewed. My goal is to read, study, and report on my study in all of the books by him available in English translation. How I first began reading Rudolf Steiner's works is written up in several places such as Rudolf Steiner Comes Into my Life by Friedrich Rittlemeyer. It was a process that began with small books of his lectures which I found on the bottom shelf of Golden Leaves Bookstore operated by Donna France in Metairie, Louisiana in 1977. I was seeking books on metaphysics and she had the widest collections of books I knew about. Each time someone did a course on some author, Donna would buy extra books for the course, and put the leftover ones up for sale in her book store. Over the next 10 years, I had bought about 10 books and read one or two and wrote short reviews of them, but I still didn't know why I kept buying these books by an obscure Austrian mystic and philosopher. When the Internet became operational about 1995, what seems like a century ago, the first question I asked was, "Who is Rudolf Steiner?" and the second question was, "What books of his should I read first?" Soon I was reading his basic books and the more I learned about these basics of Occult Science, Theosophy, and the Philosophy of Freedom, the more I realized that he was revealing the key information I was seeking to help me understand the two big enigmas of life.
What enigmas? Someone, perhaps it was I, once wrote that "life is like a puzzle with an enigma on both ends." Those are the two enigmas I sought answers to: what happens before life and what happens after life, meaning life in a body on Earth. With those answers came an avalanche of information about how the human being and the cosmos in which we find ourselves developed together, and how what we do in our lifetime can have dramatic effects on the future generations of this world. This understanding came to me long before I read this next passage in the Foreword to the Second Edition of this book by Virginia Sease.
[page 1, Foreword] Since the year 1972 when this book was first available in English, the demand for esoteric training has increased to an overwhelming degree. Just at the time of the first printing, a whole generation of younger people world-wide had begun to experience that the mechanistic, utilitarian, materialistic attitude and relationship to life no longer could provide a basis for their own entrance into twentieth-century civilization. They began to search in a far more intensive — sometimes even frantic — way for means towards self-discovery than had been the case for their parents or grandparents, who were absorbed and burdened through war and the immense technological challenges which accompany war and its aftermath. Now, in retrospect, at the end of the century it is apparent that the last third of this century bears witness to countless human beings who know with inner certainty that their own development in the skills of modern life, in social relationships and in spiritual dimensions is not limited in effect to them only but simultaneously affects the earth, the universe and humanity in general. Thus they have become earnest seekers imbued with the will to find various means for self-development.
My reading of subsidiary or derivative works of Rudolf Steiner I have limited to those authors who wrote about his life such as Rittelmeyer (above) and those who have expanded on some particular aspect of his works, such as Edward Reaugh Smith in his Burning Bush etal series of books. With a few exceptions I have stayed away from those writers trying to popularize Steiner, because their broad brush and interpretive approach would distract me from my focus on what Steiner wrote directly. Each book I read of Steiner's introduces me to new and mind-boggling concepts — this remains true after 195 books! Naturally there are repetitions of themes from time to time in Steiner's lectures, but each I re-read a familiar theme, it is a new me reading it, and Steiner handles the material from a new perspective to fit the particular audience in the lecture hall. Rudolf Steiner explains about how he creates the various points of view.
[page 2, 3, Foreword, from Munich, August, 1913] "I try to present spiritual facts again and again from fresh points of view, in spite of my having described them fro other points of view in other works. Such accounts are complementary to each other, like photographs of a person or an event taken from various points. In every such description, made from a certain standpoint, there is an opportunity for communicating knowledge which is not attainable from the other points of view."
The topic of Occult Science had nothing to do with Black Magic, but was a way of understanding the spiritual underpinnings of the physical world, especially the two enigmas of life before birth and after death. Theosophy was not a religion but rather a way of understanding all religions (Page 7), and thus a true theosophy is a spiritual science itself, which is why Steiner abandoned the term theosophy early in his teaching, changing it to the more descriptive term, anthroposophy, which breaks down into anthropos the full human being of body, soul, and spirit -- and sophy a knowledge of. In the first lecture of this book, he likens theosophy to mathematics.
[page 7] A man can understand mathematics through his own spiritual faculties and comprehend the laws of space without having to refer to any such early text. But if he has really absorbed the truths of geometry, he will value all the more highly the original texts through which these laws were first presented. So it is with theosophy. Its sources are not in ancient documents, nor do they rest upon tradition; they lie in the reality of the spiritual worlds. It is there that they must be found and grasped by the development of man's own spiritual powers, just as he grasps mathematics by endeavoring to develop the faculties of his intellect.
Just as we require organs to perceive the physical world, so do we require organs to perceive the spiritual world. The difference is our sensory organs were operated on by the forces of Sun and sound and thus came fully developed and ready to use during this epoch in human evolution, whereas our spiritual organs are in a quiescent condition and must be exercised to bring them into operation(1).
[page 7, 8] Our intellect, by means of which we are enabled to comprehend the laws of the world of sense, is supported by an organ, the brain. Similarly, in order to grasp the laws of spiritual worlds, we need appropriate organs.
How have our physical organs developed? Because forces from outside have worked upon them: the forces of the sun, the forces of sound. Thus did eyes and ears come into being out of neutral, sluggish organs into which, at first, the sense-world could not penetrate, and which opened only by degrees. If our spiritual organs are worked upon by the right forces, they too will open.
In ancient times, we possessed spiritual sight. One can confirm this by reading the earliest writings of humankind, in which reports of gods, spirits, and elemental beings of many kinds were described. These writings, such as Beowulf, Gilgamesh, the Iliad and Odyssey, were written versions of oral traditions going back centuries before writing. Likely the oral tradition was made possible by spiritual viewing of the events of these epics and did not require a written document nor rote memorization as scholars suppose today. Instead, with the loss of spiritual sight, writing was necessitated! Writing replaced the direct perception, which explains these amazing statements about the invention of writing by Plato(2) who lived in the early centuries after its invention.
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of truth, not truth, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.
One cannot read these immortal words of Plato without being reminded of the politicians and news anchors on television who are reading from their teleprompters and giving the appearance of being wise.
What happened to our spiritual sight? It had to be sacrificed in order for our "I" to be awakened. As our human body gradually gained solidity, the spiritual sight became replaced by sensory perceptions of the physical light reflected from the surface of objects. Man's ability for spiritual sight was gradually relegated to his night consciousness as his day consciousness and physical sight took over.
[page 8, 9] But the forces working upon him were no longer plastic, weaving forces akin to the nature of his own being; they were forces that fed upon him, destroyed him, in order to awaken the 'I'-consciousness. Only in the night, when he sank down into the rhythmic spiritual world homogeneous with him, did he acquire new strength and become able once more to feed forces into his physical and etheric bodies. Out of this conflict of impressions, out of the deadening of the astral organs formerly working unconsciously in man, the life of the individual 'I', the 'I' -consciousness, arose. Out of life — death, out of death — life. The ring of the serpent was complete. And now from the wakened 'I' -consciousness there had to arise forces that would kindle life again in the defunct vestiges of earlier astral organs, shaping and moulding them.
To modern humans, who are accustomed to instant solutions to everything, the thought surely arises, "Why did we have to wait so long for our spiritual sight to arise once more?" The answer is similar to what Plato said, "We would not have freedom, but would only appear to have freedom." There is no shortcut on the road to freedom. An education in freedom requires the development of the Will, whose initiation must come freely from within the individual; it cannot be imposed from without.
[page 9] The great Initiates could have made the task easier, for themselves and for man, if they had worked upon his astral body during the night, when it is free, in such a way as to impress the astral organs into it from outside. But such an act would have operated in man's dream-consciousness; it would have trespassed on his sphere of freedom. The highest principle in man, the will, would never have unfolded.
But on one day, a salient day in the history of the Earth, rightly understood, one great Spirit united in the body of a man shed His life's blood into Earth which thenceforth took on a golden glow as seen from outer space. What He did was to bring the Initiation Mysteries into the light of day and make them available to every human being as His legacy. John 12, 14: "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" and "to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God".
[page 10] Then initiation came forth from the darkness enshrouding the Mysteries into the clearest light of day. In a great and mighty Personality, the Bearer of the highest unifying Principle, of the Word-of Him who is the expression and manifestation of the hidden Father, and who taking on human form became the Son of Man and thereby the Representative of all Mankind, the bond uniting all 'I' s — in Christos, the Life-Spirit, the Eternal Unifier, the initiation of mankind as a whole was accomplished as historical fact and at the same time as symbol, on the plane of feeling. So potent was this Event that in every individual who modeled his life on it its power could continue to work right into the physical, expressing itself even in the appearance of the stigmata and in the most piercing pains. Feelings were shaken to their innermost depths. An intensity of emotion, the like of which has never surged through the world before or since, arose in mighty waves. In the initiation on the Cross of Divine Love, the sacrifice of the 'I' for All had taken place. The blood, the physical expression of the 'I', had flowed in love for mankind, and the effect was such that thousands pressed forward to this initiation, to this Death, letting their blood flow in love and devotion for mankind. That blood untold was poured out in this way has never been sufficiently emphasized; the thought no longer enters the consciousness of people, not even in theosophical circles. Yet the waves of ardor which in this streaming blood flowed down, and then ascended, have fulfilled their task. They have become the wellsprings of powerful impulses. They have made mankind ripe for the initiation of the will.
And this is the legacy of Christ.
This the legacy we have received from what Steiner calls the Mystery of Golgotha, the Deed which we commonly refer to as the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross.
The remainder of this book consists of General Requirements, Exercises, Mantras, and Explanations for students developing their organs of spiritual sight, most of these were given around the period of 1905 to 1907.
Steiner gives six goals which every aspirant for occult development strives to achieve. Each of these activities should be focused on for a complete month before proceeding to the next activity.
1. Cultivation of absolutely clear thinking. [page 13]
During a period of 5 minutes a day, one must become the ruler of one's own thought independent of one's outer circumstances, occupation, social network, and various circadian activities. One must empty all these thoughts and focus on one single thought at the center of one's soul.
2. Begin a New Daily Action [page 14]
Pick some activity that in the ordinary course of life you have not performed. Then make it a duty to perform this action every day. As time goes on, add other activities.
3. Development of equanimity towards fluctuations of Joy and Sorrow. [page 15]
Replace height of jubilation and depths of despair by an equable mood(3). "Care is taken that no pleasure shall carry us away, no sorrow plunge us into the depths, no experience lead to immoderate anger or vexation, no expectation give rise to anxiety or fear, no situation disconcert us, and so on. . . . Once every day, at least, this inner tranquillity should be called up before the soul and then the exercise of pouring it out from the heart should proceed."
4. Positive Attitude which Always Looks for the Best in Everything [page 16]
"It consists in seeking always for the good, the praiseworthy, the beautiful and the like, in all beings, all experiences, all things. This quality is best characterized by a Persian legend concerning Christ Jesus. One day, as He was walking with His disciples, they saw a dead dog lying by the roadside in a state of decomposition. All the disciples turned away from the disgusting sight; Christ Jesus alone did not move but looked thoughtfully at the corpse and said, "What beautiful teeth the animal has!"
5. Confronting all Experiences with Complete Open-Mindedness [page 17]
To accomplish this, one must be willing to drop all the in-grained maps in one's mind, and be wiling for each new experience to operate completely out of those maps. One avoids ever saying such things as, "I knew that" or "I know how that will be" or "Isn't that always the case." These are merely examples of the pervasive way one can encounter reality out of one's own expectations and suppositions about the way the world is. "At every moment [the esoteric student] must be ready to encounter and accept absolutely new experiences." And this is regardless of what he deems as natural law or what is possible. One must become ready for anything to happen.
6. Repeat All Five Activities Systematically and in Regular Alternation [page 18]
"In the sixth month, endeavors should be made to repeat all the five exercises again, systematically and in regular alternation. In this way a beautiful equilibrium of soul will gradually develop. It will be noticed, especially, that previous dissatisfactions with certain phenomena and beings in the world completely disappear. A mood reconciling all experiences takes possession of the soul, a mood that is by no means one of indifference but, on the contrary, enables one for the first time to work in the world for its genuine progress and improvement. One comes to a tranquil understanding of things that were formerly quite closed to the soul."
Through the attention one gives to these exercises, one becomes an agent for good, which means advancing the evolution of humanity. The alternative is to continue with everyday morality, doing good in order that others will think of one as good, which is a path easily filled with evil, and evil hinders the evolution of humanity towards the good.
[page 19] . . . two things must be stressed. First, the six exercises described paralyze the harmful influence other occult exercises can have, so that only what is beneficial remains. Secondly, these exercises alone ensure that efforts in meditation and concentration will have a positive result. The esotericist must not rest content with fulfilling, however conscientiously, the demands of conventional morality, for that kind of morality can be extremely egotistical, if a man says: I will be good in order that I may be thought good. The esotericist does not do what is good because he wants to be thought good, but because little by little he recognizes that the good alone brings evolution forward, and that evil, stupidity and ugliness place hindrances along its path.
In an Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP) Conference at Berkeley about 1979, I sat next to a young woman who began talking about words and how if you reversed a word, you found a word with its opposite meaning. It was she who first brought to my attention that EVIL is LIVE written backwards. One can see in the above paragraph that EVIL hinders Evolution, while to LIVE according to the six exercises above brings Evolution forward. Thinking on these matters, I wrote the following poem, "No I Tu Love."
No I Tu Love
What would life be like
If we had no I tu love?
Could we live if we had no evil?
If we had no I tu love?
Madam, I'm Adam is a palindrome,
Which reads and means the same
From back to front to back.
What shall we call a word, a phrase
Which reveals its outer meaning
Front to Back
And reveals its inner meaning
Back to Front?
"Take evolution . . . Please," Henny Youngman might have said,
If he wished to monkey with the human race
As Charlie Darwin did.
"Please pass me a banana" — no monkey has ever spoken that line,
Having no concept of I, or me, or Thou.
What Charlie did was turn the idea of humanity
into a game of chance, naturally,
with selection happenstance,
Treating I am God
As antiquated Dogma, I think,
Reminding us what would life be like
If we had no I tu love.
Steiner adds three additional rules to the general requirements for one on the esoteric path. These rules are laid down to allow one to avoid the confusion which might otherwise lead one into calamity as one advances on the path. The first rule is: "No idea which has not first been examined shall be allowed to enter my consciousness." This examination should lead to an independence and strength of soul which will reveal itself as follows:
[page 21] The strength of one's own soul will then shed light upon all one's thoughts and conduct; one's consciousness will grow correspondingly broader and one will be able, above all, to form the habit of allowing the spiritual laws which reveal themselves in the soul to express themselves, thus emancipating oneself from a blind obedience to the surrounding world.
The second rules states: "My soul should be vividly aware of the obligation to increase constantly the sum of my concepts and ideas." One should constantly increase one's conceptual life and expand one's expectations or one might encounter higher experiences on the esoteric path without realizing it.
[page 22] Nothing is worse for the esoteric pupil than staying fixed with a certain number of concepts and trying to understand everything by means of them. It is infinitely important to be constantly appropriating one new idea after another. If this should not happen, the pupil would be ill-prepared to meet any sense-free perceptions he might develop, and would be overpowered by them either to his disadvantage or at least to his dissatisfaction. To his dissatisfaction, because under, such circumstances he could well be having higher experiences already without even noticing it. There are many pupils for whom this is the case, who do not recognize higher experiences because of incorrect expectations due to a paucity of concepts. Many people are not in the least indolent in their outward lives, but are nevertheless quite reluctant to enrich their conceptual life with new ways of understanding.
The third rule states: I will only gain knowledge about those things to which I am not attached in sympathy or antipathy. Here the importance of developing equanimity in all things, so that one does not zoom from the depths of despair to the heights of exultant from one moment to the next, but maintains a steady demeanor whether things are going good or bad. One must remove all wishes or have these inner wishes lead to self-deception.
[page 2, 23] An old initiate repeatedly drove home this point to his pupils by saying: 'You will only learn something about the soul's immortality when you are as equable about the possibility of its annihilation after death as about the possibility of eternal life. As long as you wish to live eternally you can learn nothing about life after death.' It is the same with all truths. As long as the human being still harbors the slightest wish that things might be one way or another, the pure bright light of truth will not shine for him. Whoever, for example, retains even the most hidden wish that his good qualities might outweigh his bad will not be able to achieve real self-knowledge, for this wish will pull the wool over his inner eyes and deceive him.
The fourth rule is easier to state than to achieve: I am obliged to overcome my reservations towards what seems 'abstract'. If one discounts abstract ideas, saying they are not real, one will have great difficulty developing sense-free concepts. The perfect triangle cannot exist as a chalk marking on a blackboard, but only in the mind of the person making or viewing the triangle. Our centuries of experience of finding an abstract mathematical concept which later proves to be useful in the sensory world has happened many times and should prove to us the reality of abstract ideas. At the same time, one can only understand truth in the higher worlds if one frees oneself from the sensory-based concepts so prevalent in our time.
[page 23] As long as an esoteric pupil clings on to ideas whose substance is derived from the sense-world, he cannot attain to any truth about higher worlds. He must strive to develop sense-free concepts. This is the hardest rule of all four, particularly in the circumstances of our day and age. Materialistic thinking has to a large extent deprived human beings of the capacity to think in sense-free concepts. One must do one of two things: either strive to think concepts that are never perfectly, but only approximately, present in sensory reality — for example, the concept of a circle. A perfect circle can be nowhere found, but only conceived of; such a conceived circle is the underlying law out of which all circular formations arise. Alternatively, one can think of a high moral ideal; this also cannot be wholly realized by any human being, but it is nevertheless the foundation or law underlying many human deeds. No one can make any progress in their esoteric development if they do not recognize the fundamental importance for life of such so-called abstractions, and enrich their soul with the relevant concepts.
In the lecture "Main Exercise" the pupil is required to abstain from breathing while immersing oneself in one of the following images, in successive exercises: IT THINKS, SHE FEELS, and HE WILLS. The reasons for these exercises are tied up with the evolution of the Cosmos which proceeded from Old Saturn, to Old Sun, to Old Moon conditions during which the human being evolved in parallel with the Cosmos. Thus each condition led the human being through another stage of transformation until we arrived at the current Earth stage of evolution, during which these three earlier conditions returned at a higher level.
[page 42] Thus the Saturn, Sun and Moon conditions were recapitulated during the Earth-evolution, and in such a way that the Saturn repetition corresponds to the creative work of the 'He wills' on the outer sheath of the human being. The Sun recapitulation corresponds to the creative work of the 'She feels' on the arms and hands, and the Moon recapitulation to the creative work of the 'It thinks' on the organs of speech. The idea of the human body as a mere product of the sense-world is abandoned, and the esotericist finds his way to vision of those higher worlds whence come the forces that work creatively upon man. So, too, the bare concepts which have been acquired of such matters as Saturn, Sun and Moon become actual perceptions and experiences. And so indeed it must be if the way is to be found more and more from the exoteric to the esoteric.
How are these three images related to the higher world?
[page 42 IT THINKS ] 'It' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Thinking, that is, for those Beings in the higher world to whom creative thinking belongs in just the same measure as sense-perception belongs to the human beings below them.
[page 42, 43 SHE FEELS ] 'She' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Soul which originates the Feeling that streams out from it, whereas human feeling streams in, being stimulated from outside. This Feeling of the World Soul is the Creative Cosmic Love, which brings all things into existence.
[page 43 HE WILLS ] 'He' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Will, the Cosmic Spirit whose will acts from out of Himself, whereas the human will is brought into action through the outer world. This 'He' is the creative, archetypal Power of the World.
If we go back to the Great Epoch (Fourth Root Race) preceding the our current Atlantean Epoch (Fifth Root Race), we are in the Lemurian Epoch during which human beings were prepared to enter their first physical incarnation as hard Man or Adam-Man. The preparation was performed etheric streams which first closed Man off from his environment by a boundary layer we call skin, then Man began to stand upright, along with the upright posture came operational breathing apparatuses we call lungs and their associated larynx which together made speech possible, and finally Man primitive feeling of self was replaced by a clear consciousness of self, an I am.
[page 95, 96] At that time an important event took place in the process of human evolution — man developed a skin and thereby shut himself off from the rest of the world as an independent being. Until then he had not been separate from his environment; the streaming currents of the whole world penetrated into him. Now he shut himself off behind his skin. The process of separation from the environment was brought about by a particular ether-stream.
After a certain time there was a further significant event. Man assumed the upright posture, thereby giving a definite direction to his whole striving and development. Before that time the position of his body was like that of the animal today. Only now could he develop his forelimbs into arms and hands as they now are, i.e. fit for work in the real sense. Only now did he begin to work as an independent being; only now was it possible for him to develop individual karma. No animal can do this. Only a being who walks and stands upright creates individual karma. A second, definite ether-stream brought about this transformation.
A third ether-stream resulted in a third important transformation. Only when man had assumed an upright posture could lungs develop in the form to be found only in man, and in connection with them the larynx formed itself out of delicate etheric substances. The gradual development of human speech was now possible.
Through a fourth ether-stream the organ lying between the eyebrows at the root of the nose was formed, and thereby man awoke for the first time to self-consciousness — to consciousness of self. Before then he had only a feeling of self.
Everyone has seen Leonardo da Vinci great drawing of Man with his arms and legs spread out. What few understand is the spiritual realities which underlie this drawing. Consider the drawing's arms spread horizontally and the legs spread out. If you draw a line from the tip of the head to the Man's right foot, then a line to the left hand, then to the right hand, then to the left foot and finally back to the tip of the head, you will have drawn a pentacle or five-pointed star, also called a pentagram. There is a stream of ether which flows into the human body taking this exact path.
[page 97] Streams of ether are always circulating out of the cosmos through the human body. One such stream enters through the head, passes from there into the right foot, then into the left hand, then into the right hand, then into the left foot, and from there back to the head. If we think of a man standing in the position just described, with outstretched arms, then the streaming has the form of a pentagram.
These streams of ether must come into the body from the head. If one were to take the pentagram and invert, one will see a drawing which one finds often associated with Black Magic, often seen drawn upon the head of man with goat-like horns and features. The inverted pentagram goes from the chin to the each horn and ear in succession. This association of the inverted pentagram with evil reveals the negative effects that would enter Man if the etheric forces entered from his feet.
[page 97] It would be bad for man if the stream did not enter into him through the head but through the feet. All evil influences enter the human body through the feet. The black magicians make use of this.
This may sound far-fetched and one might wonder how this could be proven to be true, but I encountered exactly such a case of evil spirits entering and leaving through a man's foot. A long time friend of the family, call him Hank, was on his death bed when a priest was called to administer Last Rites, the Sacrament of Christian Healing as it is called today. Some background on Hank: after his wife of many years died, he continued to live in the small family home and met a gal at a nearby bar who moved in with him. Soon she invited her boy friend to join her in the house and relatives received reports that they were stealing from Hank and even beating him up. Eventually the relatives moved Hank to a nursing home in a nearby state where he never really seemed to get better. He was abusive to everyone around him, never had a nice word to say, and was a mere shadow of the loving father and friend he used to be when his wife had been alive. Hank utterly refused to have the Last Rites performed on him, but his daughter insisted that the priest perform them and attendants were called in to hold Hank down. He screamed as the Rites were performed and after the Holy Sacrament was over, he quieted down and went to sleep. From reports of the violent scene, it sounded to me like an exorcism, and that impression might have remained a hunch, but for what happened the next morning after the Rites. His daughter had been changing his garments and bed linen for several weeks, and when she came to do so the next morning, she noticed a prominent burnt spot on the sole of he left foot which she was positive was not there the previous morning! She was also convinced that an evil spirit that possessed her father had left during the Rites the night before. Even this physical evidence could be called into question by skeptics, but for the dramatic changes in Hank's personality which appeared immediately the next morning and lasted until his death a couple of weeks later.
Hank was polite and caring to everyone who came to see him, often talking for a long time about favorite times he had with visitors. He got to spend the last few weeks of his life reminiscing with his friends and relatives, all thanks to the insistence of his daughter that the Last Rites be administered. No one could doubt that Hank had been possessed by evil spirits and that these had left during the sacred ceremony performed by the Catholic priest on that fateful night.
Hanks experiences certainly confirmed for me that evil spirits enter and leave from the feet of the human being as Steiner indicates above. We are woven out of spirit and if we deny that as a reality, we will be confronted with proof to the contrary at some time in our lives.
[page 97, 98] These streams circulate all the time in man and bring him into connection with the entire cosmos.
The being of man is woven out of the spirit, we are born from out of the spirit, we have descended into matter, and flow back again to the spirit. The streams which were active in us during our descent into matter should now become conscious to us. We go back along the same path by which we have come, but consciously. There is no other true evolution. What we now kindle in ourselves through these exercises will be developed by humanity at large only in the Sixth Root Race. In spiritual science, a Root Race is called a Day of Creation. We are at the point where the Sixth Day of Creation is being prepared; we are in the dawn of the Sixth Day of Creation. The descent from the spirit, the life in matter and the return to the spirit are presented in three letters:
AUM . . .
The next lecture gives us six subsidiary exercises, some of which we have encountered before:
1. Control of one's thoughts
2. Initiative in one's actions.
3. Mastering joy and sorrow.
5. Lack of prejudice.
Let's look in detail at No. 5 and what lack of prejudice might mean.
[page 103] 5. Lack of prejudice. We should remain flexible, always capable of taking in new information. If someone relates something to us which we think sounds improbable, we must nevertheless always keep a tiny corner of our heart open, in which we say: 'He could be right after all.' This does not need to make us completely uncritical, for we can always examine and test such statements. When we practice this, a feeling comes over us as if something was streaming into us from outside. We draw this in through the eyes, ears and the whole skin.
Are you really ready to say to someone, "I do believe you are right." even in the face of what you believe to be evidence to the contrary? Few people would and yet this is exactly one of the things Steiner is asking us to practice in these exercises. There is a wonderful Sufi story which illustrates this deep spiritual reality. The story relates how Nasruddin was made judge for a day. He sat in his prestigious robes and looked down on the courtroom as an accused man brought before him to be judged. The Prosecutor told the court of the many crimes that the defendant was accused of committing. As soon as he was finished his pleading for a conviction, Nasruddin looked at the Prosecutor and said earnestly, "I do believe you are right!" The Bailiff quickly came over and whispered into Nasruddin's ear, "Your Honor, the Defense had not been heard from." So Nasruddin called for the Defense Attorney to come forward. The Defense plead his case for his client's innocence. He explained what an exemplary life his client had lived, how he was somewhere else at the time of the crime, and possessed an air-tight alibi. When he finished presenting the case for his client's innocence, Nasruddin looked at the Defense Attorney and said, "I do believe you are right!" The Bailiff rushed over to whisper in Nasruddin's ear, "But Judge, they can't both be right!" Nasruddin looked at the Bailiff and said, "I do believe you are right!" Can you bring yourself to this level of lack of prejudice?
There is another important exercise that everyone can avail themselves of, whether on an esoteric path of training or not, and that is the Rückschau, Back-Look of the day's activities each night before going to sleep. This exercise is similar to the process one goes through upon entering the life between death and a new birth called Kamaloca during which all the events of one's lifetime on Earth just ended are reviewed in backward order.
[page 105] The evening review of the day is also important. It must be undertaken backwards, from the end of the day to the beginning, since we ought to accustom ourselves to the mode of perception of the astral plane. During this review one should visualize everything as vividly as possible. To begin with, of course, if one has 80 important experiences to review, one cannot visualize each one of them vividly. One must then choose a considered selection, until the whole day unfurls before one like a tableau. Once again, it is the little insignificant occurrences which matter, for what awakens the powers of the soul is the effort which one makes.
There can be no EVIL without the letter I in it, and there can be no evil in the world unless performed by someone with an I — an animal has no "I" and as such is incapable of evil. This analysis leads me to think that perhaps why so many people love animals is because they are assured of the time they spend with animals will be free from evil, but cannot be sure of the same amount time spent with human beings. In the one prayer which Christ Jesus gave to us, the last line refers to our "I" thus: "And deliver us from evil." The Our Father proceeds through the various bodies of the human being from the physical (daily bread), to etheric (trespasses), to astral (temptation), to I (evil). Without evil, we have harmony in the world, but let the I get involved and the possibility for dIsharmony (sic) appears — there's the I, the Ego again, and the possibility for evil.
[page 110] Whoever has supersensible hearing hears the universe resounding in a mighty harmony; when he compares this with the tones reaching him from individual human beings, he hears a discord — greater in some cases, less in others, but still a discord. It is your task to resolve and dissolve this discord into harmony through your continued evolution. This discord has arisen through the 'I'; yet it came about through the wisdom of the spiritual powers which rule and guide the universe. If human beings had remained in harmony, they would never have come to independence. Discord was introduced so that the human being could freely regain harmony out of his own strength. For this reason it was necessary that the 'I' -feeling, conscious of itself, should develop at the cost of inner harmony.
How does this inner disharmony show itself in our time? In increasing fear and anxiety. One need only turn on any news channel to bombarded with the latest disharmony inducing news items. For every harmony-inducing item, about 37 disharmony-inducing items will be broadcast over the airwaves and cyberspace. Our development of our "I" will culminate when we reach the Jupiter condition of consciousness. This will allow humans for the first time to be an independent "I" and remain in harmony with the universe. (Page 111)
What is evil? Steiner said on several occasions that "evil is a good out of its time". Can you think of an example of a "good out of its time"? Forcing a plant to flower prematurely in a greenhouse is one. What is the evil which attends such an endeavor?
[page 111] A flower which should bloom in August can be 'forced' in a hothouse so that it flowers already in May. In August, the time of its proper flowering, no further blossom can unfold; its strength is exhausted and it can no longer find its right place within the conditions to which it belongs. In May, also, it will die the moment it is taken out of the hothouse, since it does not belong in the context of that season.
Okay, how does that apply to human beings like us, you ask. Consider what happens inside us when we experience anxiety. Steiner stately clearly that anxiety is optional today, but the way of overcoming will only come in the future. "It is the same with feelings of anxiety. They have no place today, and will have one still less in the future." So what exactly is anxiety?
[page 111] What occurs when we feel anxious? The blood is driven back into the center of the human being, into the heart, in order to form a firm central point and make the human being strong in opposition to the outer world. It is the inmost power of the 'I' which does this. This power of the 'I', which affects the blood, must become ever stronger and more conscious; on Jupiter(4) the human being will then be able to direct the blood to his central point quite consciously, so as to make himself strong. What is harmful and unnatural today, however, is the feeling of fear which is connected with this flow of the blood.
With the advent of the science of doyletics, removing anxiety and fear is a simple trace away. A one-minute Speed Trace can quickly remove the throbbing doylic memory which when it arises, we call it fear! Or the vague antsy feeling we call anxiety. A doylic memory trace is a quick and easy way to "set your inner strength against this outer world that presses upon you." Similarly one can remove anxiety "which is especially necessary for anyone who proceeds with an esoteric training." (Page 111, 112) What if one thinks, "I am not interested in esoteric training, so why bother to remove my anxiety and fears?" Is that a valid objection? Perhaps for this lifetime, but eventually each of us will face the onset of Jupiter-consciousness and its powerful accouterments.
[page 112] What would happen if the human being should still have feelings of fear and anxiety at the onset of Jupiter-consciousness? The outer world at that stage will be far, far more antagonistic and terrible for the human being than is so today. Anyone who does not rid himself here of the habit of anxiety will there fall into one dreadful terror after another.
If one learns to cope with terror and anxiety in this lifetime, one will be well-prepared for Jupiter-consciousness. We are currently in the reign of the Archangel Michael which will be succeeded by the reign of Archangel Oriphiel around 2229 A. D. This next age will bring horrific challenges to humans who have not already prepared themselves to cope with terror and anxiety. Ask yourself if you can imagine the cybernetic machines we are already building today arising in the future to oppose the evolution of humankind. Artificial Intelligence will never replace nor achieve human intelligence, but it will sure give it a yeoman try(5). What is a robot or an android, but a computerized machine which tries to assume life and then oppose its creator as Dr. Frankenstein's monster did in Mary Shelley's prophetic horror story.
[page 112, italics added] This condition is already now preparing itself in the outer world. That will show itself still clearer to the human being during the terrible epoch which will come upon us during Oriphiel's rulership, which I spoke to you about last time. When that time comes the human being will need to have learnt to stand firm! Our contemporary culture is itself creating those horrifying monsters which will threaten the human being on Jupiter. You need only look at the huge machines which human technology is today constructing so ingeniously. The human being is creating demons for himself which in the future will rage against him. Everything that he builds today in the way of technical appliances and machines will assume life in the future and oppose him in terrible enmity. Everything that is created for mere utility, to satisfy individual or collective egoism, will be the human being's enemy in the future. We are today far too concerned with gaining useful advantage from what we do. If we really wish to help advance evolution, we should not be concerned with the usefulness of something but with whether it is beautiful and noble.
What can we begin to do about this situation today? Place our children in schools, such as Waldorf Schools, in which children are exposed to beauty and artworks and create such works to surround themselves with. Too long we have experimented with mechanical and material utility in our schools. One can read the inspiration for Waldorf Schools fermenting in Steiner's mind a full decade before the idea came to fruition at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Stuttgart, Germany.
[page 113] Our actions should not be guided only by utility but by our pure delight in what is beautiful. Everything created by the human being to satisfy his artistic needs, in pure love of beauty, will also assume life in the future and contribute to his higher evolution. It is terrible to see today how many thousands of human beings are forced, from earliest childhood on, to engage only in activities founded upon material utility; they are cut off all their lives from everything that is beautiful and artistic. In the poorest primary school there should hang the finest works of art; that would be an endless blessing for human evolution. The human being is today building his future. One can gain an idea of how things will be on Jupiter if one is clear that today there is no absolute good or absolute evil. In every human being is mixed both good and bad. Whoever is good must recognize that he only has a little more good than bad in himself and is certainly not wholly good. But on Jupiter, good and bad will no longer be combined. Human beings will divide into those who are wholly good and those who are wholly bad. Everything beautiful and noble that we cultivate today leads to a strengthening of the good on Jupiter; everything that occurs as a result of egoism and utility leads to a strengthening of the bad.
Clearly we will have more complicated computerized machinery, including robots and androids in coming decades and centuries, so what we can do about them? Take the Luddite approach and destroy them with sledgehammers and computer hackers? Or find a way to create beauty and morality with them? The time is now — the choice is ours. We can not help but choosing by commission or omission — the mission is ours.
[page 115] Everything that serves only to advance the principle of utility will one day come into its own as such awful powers. This process can be paralyzed if we transform instruments of utility into those which, besides their usefulness, above all also communicate beauty and godliness. It is very good for us to know this. Otherwise such powers would one day tear the earth asunder. We can also see how enormously important it is in education to surround the child with artistic creations and impressions. Art frees one. Even the locomotive must one day be transformed into a beautiful machine. Our feelings of fear and anxiety nourish other evil beings. We must not allow ourselves to fall prey to such thoughts. On Jupiter such beings will surround us in far greater numbers than they do now. But there is no need for anyone to be alarmed who maintains a clear aura, so that no flies can swarm around the dirt.
In an essay written in 1903, Rudolf Steiner offers his exegesis of the opening sentences of Light on the Path by Mabel Collins, a Theosophist. Here are the sentences:
Before the eyes can see they must be incapable of tears.
Before the ear can hear it must have lost its sensitiveness.
Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters,
it must have lost the power to wound.
Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters,
its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart.
These words were not written for those who are steeped in "scientific truth." What is scientific truth? It is being, i.e., what "has become" — what already exists, what has being currently and as such can be examined scientifically. Science makes maps of what exists, and these maps can represent all the territory of what exists, but undaunted, scientists so believe in their maps that they call their maps reality! This leap of faith by the very scientists who would scowl others' faith is glossed over and rarely mentioned(6). But Steiner points out that there is something equally important as being and that is becoming. Being is a finite truth which must be given life by a truth that is becoming.
[page 131] Every object in our surroundings is at once product (i.e. become, manifested) and seed (unmanifested, becoming). And only when one thinks of an object as both 'become' and 'becoming' does one realize that it is a member of the one life, the life where time is not outside, but within it. Thus finite truth is only something that has become; it must be called to life by a truth that is becoming. The former one grasps, the latter one 'heeds'. All merely scientific truth belongs to the former kind. Light on the Path has not been written for those who seek only this kind of truth. It is written for those who seek the truth which today is seed, in order tomorrow to be product, and who do not grasp the 'become' but heed the 'becoming'.
THE EYES: When one cries over a situation, it is always the situation of being. Turn one's focus to becoming and notice how dramatically the situation can change. One begins to think of ways in which one can help and the tears are pressed into service to water the seeds of change for the better.
[page 132] Anyone who still abhors the criminal in the customary sense, and still idolizes the saint in that sense, has not rendered his eyes incapable of tears. Consume all thy tears in the will to help. Do not weep over someone stricken with poverty; get to know his situation and help him! Do not grumble about what is bad; understand it and change it into good. Thy tears only dim the pure clarity of the light.
THE EARS: Being sensitive means to allow our feelings to merge with and modify our perception of sound. Steiner points out that more delicate sensations can only be perceived if our feelings do not interfere with our hearing(7).
[page 133] Thy sensations are all the more delicate, the less sensitive thou art. Sound becomes clear to the ear if its clarity is not disturbed by encountering rapture or sympathetic feeling as it enters the ear. . . . Put it another way, this means: let the heartbeats of the other resound in you, and do not disturb them with the beating of your own heart. Open your ear and not your nerve-endings. For these will tell you whether the tone is agreeable or not, while your open ear will tell you the tone's true nature. When you go to someone who is ill, let every fibre of his body speak to you, and deaden the impression he makes on you. . . .
Bestow your words on dumb(8) things so that they may speak through you. For they are not a summons to your pleasure, these dumb things, but a summons to your activity. It is not what they have become without you that is there for you, but what they are to become through you.
THE VOICE: A phonograph needle rests in a groove laid down when the recording was made, and the variations in that groove as the needle moves along re-creates the sound present when the needle of the recording machine engraved the groove in the record. Our lower self (9) is like the needle of the recording machine in that it wishes to engrave itself upon the record of the world. But, as Steiner says on page 133, "As long as it wants to do that, no Master will wish to hear its voice."
[page 134] As long as the sharp needles of the 'I will' project from man's words, so long are his words the emissaries of his lower self. If these needles are removed and the voice becomes soft and pliant, so that it lays itself round the mysteries of all things as a veiling garment, then it weaves itself into Spirit-raiment, and the Master's delicate tone takes it as vesture. With every thought which in the true sense of the word a man dedicates to the inner truth of things, he weaves a thread of the garment in which the Master who appears to him may wrap himself.
THE FEET: Our feet must carry us to where there is work to be done, if we are to become an emissary to the world, that is, "an organ through whom the depths of the world-riddle speaks". The Master will not stand in our presence when we, in our lower self, are enjoying pleasant things, only when our feet have taken us to where our work is to be done will the Master be present. (Page 134)
[page 134] He who remains in himself cannot find the Master; he who would find him must let the strength of his soul — his heart's blood — flow into all he does, into his active feet.
This book is full of guidance in esoteric training, but one would be ill-advised to expect that merely doing the exercises suggested will be enough. This book is not like the Betty Crocker Cake Mix box which proclaimed, "Be Creative!" and "Here's how to do it!" If one follows instructions, one can mix the ingredients and bake, but one will have been compliant and not creative. One likewise cannot excel in esoteric training by merely adding these exercises to their daily routine. One must strive to incorporate every aspect of one's current life, one's being, into the becoming which will result as one mixes the ingredients together and bakes over time.
[page 166, 167] It is possible so to regard the esoteric life that one looks on the exercises which one receives as an adjunct to one's ordinary life. One would find then, however, that the progress made was not very considerable. The aim of the esoteric pupil should far rather consist in resolving to bring into connection with his esoteric life all that meets him in everyday existence. In this way he creates a center in himself from which he directs the whole conduct of his life.
The words of the exercises only form the garment which we wear as an antenna, ever ready to receive the beams from the spiritual world when our "thought is filled with the power of the Christ". (Page 179)
Close the book now and let the blood of your heart wash the soles of your feet as they carry you into the world where the needle of your lower self becomes dedicated only to reading being and not to engraving becoming, where your ears will hear your voice with such sensitivity that your voice will flow as a garment over those who hear it, warming their hearts and attracting the beams of the spiritual world to them, where the tears in your eyes will dissolve and add brilliance to the rays which streams into them. Let your current being serve as a launching pad into the becoming which is approaching you even now.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. Rudolf Steiner was born with organs of spiritual sight and thus possessed a native clairvoyance from an early age. Likely this capability was due to the unique path of incarnations which brought Steiner to the present time. See: Rudolf Steiner's Mission and Ita Wegman by Margarete & Erich Kirchner-Bockholt.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Written by Plato (274-275BC) in his Phaedrus.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. "On Jupiter" means, "in the future state of Jupiter-consciousness"Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5. Was Rudolf Steiner a prophet? The answer can be found in this next passage when he talks about technical appliances and machines in 1908, almost half-a-century before the first electronic computer was built.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6. One courageous scientist deconstructed this "leap of faith" in his famous text, Science and Sanity, showing how mistaking of the map for the territory can lead to all sorts of semantic reactions which become the seeds of insanity. This book was the foundation of the science of General Semantics.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Footnote 7. I have told people who tried to tell me their problem, "Quiet. If I allow myself to become as convinced as you are that your situation is hopeless, I will be unable to help you." If they knew what was really wrong with them, they would not need me. While they talk, I cannot hear their body speak to me.
Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
Footnote 9. The term lower self is the ego as described by Freud, also called the lower "I" to distinguish it from the Ego, the higher "I" or "I am."Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
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