Why is it that an esoteric still hasn't arrived at vision in higher worlds even though he's done his concentration and meditation exercises for years? To answer this question clearly we'll now imagine what meditating really is. When we want to meditate we want to turn away from outer things, we don't want them to have any influence on our thoughts any more, they're not supposed to disturb us in our devotion to spiritual things. But, outer events and thoughts about them constantly push in front of our meditating soul; they want to divert us from our meditation, they defend themselves against our devotion, so that we have to fight this with all of our willpower. Now if we want to find out who is defending himself against our better will the following example can perhaps clarify things. Let's imagine that a stranger approaches us and says: You are a fickle person. In 99 out of 100 cases we would be very disturbed about this, because until now we thought that we were a very good esoteric, who had seriously examined his inner life as far as his defects are concerned, and now a stranger comes and says the opposite.
Just as the stranger steps before us, so in all the thoughts that push in between our meditation something is placing itself before us which we think that we don't know, and yet it's our own self that reveals itself in all these thoughts and shows us how fickle we really are and how little we can free ourselves from our daily worries and desires. For what always presses into us during our meditation, when we have the wish to separate ourselves from outer things and to unite ourselves with spiritual things, is our streaming desire life. It constantly streams into our thinking in pictures of our daily life and it defends itself when we want to connect ourselves with the spiritual realm.
It can be good for us that this is so, since we get to know ourselves in our continually inflowing desire life, in all of these pictures and thoughts; it must bring us to self-knowledge — that we've exercised very cursorily till now. But mostly we'll still look for all kinds of excuses, because we don't want to accuse ourselves, and that's why we still can't look into the spiritual world. Our desire-ego pulls a veil in front of it. If we would turn our attention away from the events and experiences of our desire life, if we would turn our ego towards the spiritual and direct our whole devotion towards it, we would then have been successful a long time ago. If we would only direct as much attention to our meditation as one uses for all kinds of conversations that one has in social life or for news about one's dear fellow men, we would then make rapid progress in our knowledge of higher worlds, we would then push back our ego that's defending itself.
Our thoughts are nothing but memories of previous events, and these events are nothing but the desires that we've felt. If they hadn't become pleasure for us we wouldn't have preserved them in our memory. If one examines one's memory one will find that everything that gave one the most pleasure is engraved in it. Everything that we remained indifferent to, that we didn't enjoy has disappeared from our memory, just as a child no longer remembers the little details of what he learned in school later on, because he wasn't interested in them, and so they don't become very deeply imprinted in his memory.
What we must also apply in our esoteric development is devotion. The method that we use in meditation isn't that important, and we shouldn't want to meditate a lot so that we can have a lot of experiences in the spiritual world, for thereby we would only see our own wishes, and Lucifer would gain control over us. It's not easy to get away from this world of Lucifer and Ahriman. If we think that we've exercised thorough self-knowledge, but are still looking for excuses, then it's Ahriman who's standing beside us. When we look for excuses if someone tells us: You did this or that badly, — then that's Ahriman just as much. We love Lucifer and Ahriman too much, they accompany us our whole life long just because we love them so. And why do we like them so much? An example may clarify this. With what does a mother quiet her crying child? She caresses him and produces a pleasant awareness of his body in him. Likewise Ahriman and Lucifer bring us in contact with the world's things around us that give us so much pleasure. We feel a pleasant stimulation through the light rays that they let fall on objects and that then radiate back from the things and touch us, just as the crying child feels his mother's caresses. Lucifer and Ahriman caress us by magically weaving light rays over the world's things, and our eyes become aware of things by touching the rays.
These powers also assert themselves in modern science and philosophy, as for instance in a conversation of one of Schopenhauer's pupils with Nietzsche. Deussen says that denial of the will conditions life, whereas Nietzsche said that ennoblement of the will leads to life. Now if one would look at the first statement exactly and think about it one would have to say that denial of the will doesn't lead to life but to death, for a drinker or tramp who lives out denial of the will in his desires and doesn't keep them under control, who affirms every pleasure that's offered to him in life — he will not attain life, but will come to an early death, whereas one who strives for ennoblement of the will, who rays out the forces of a healing germ with which his rays unite, — he'll be healthy and in tune with life. Scholars thought that they were looking through good glasses in Deussen's statement, whereas they were really looking through wooden glasses. Here again we see how Ahriman places himself before men, for they love him so much that they don't let go of him. Men go to church and pray to the beings they love. We often have Christ's name on our lips when we mean Ahriman. We have to make all of this clear to ourselves, for we must see Lucifer and Ahriman in all of our deeds and omissions and namely there where these two powers want to place themselves before our meditation to keep us from looking into the spiritual world. For the moment has come when we must try to form spiritual organs of clairvoyance in us and develop ourselves for spiritual knowledge, so that these organs don't dry up and waste away. We must slowly and gradually grow into the spirit out of which we're born: Ex Deo nascimur.
At life's beginning that originates in the Godhead we were still permeated by divine-spiritual forces that work up to the change of teeth at age seven. That's the way everything is renewed in man, the old is pushed out by the new, new hairs push out the old ones, the nails are cut and they grow again. The spiritual forces that worked at the up-building and growth of the child have come to an end with the milk teeth, and now other forces or beings begin to work at an up-building for the present incarnation, but with this the deterioration and dying of organs begins immediately. They gradually die, and also every thought that a man thinks causes destruction in brain cells, so that matter is dedicated to slow dying: In Christo morimur. We grow towards the spirit slowly. Our hair becomes white, all our organs pass over into the spirit slowly, our whole body strives towards spiritualization and it'll arise again in the spirit: Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus.