In order to get ahead in our esoteric life we must become more attentive to things that usually escape our everyday consciousness. We must also revise our ideas about what we'll experience. For instance we complain that thoughts storm into our meditation that bother and disturb us. If we would think about it we would see that it's progress that we've become more sensitive, because we notice that these thoughts are stronger than we are. They induce us to use more strength in our meditation, for it's luciferic beings who bring up our own thoughts in us. Luciferic beings are always in us, but they're drowned out by the surging of everyday life. When we walk through a quiet woods at night we'll hear the leaves falling, animals flitting by and distant footsteps, but in a city's bustle such quiet noises will be imperceptible.
That's how things are with our meditation also. The quiet that we create let's us notice what submerges in the everyday hubbub. All kinds of things can enter our consciousness, such as physical pains that we don't feel otherwise. We can concentrate on our body — although this is only a good idea in special cases — and look for all of its pains. One begins somewhat over the head, excludes all other thoughts and concentrates on this one point. Then one goes further down, focuses on one part of the brain, and so on. Here one will notice that one can have pains in various parts of the body. The more egotistical a man is the more distinctly he'll feel pains here and there. But we shouldn't get hypochondriacal or scared about this — we should stay cool. We also have to do this with other things, for strange and surprising things can happen to us, but we have to get to the bottom of them. The relation between members of our being changes through meditation. Even when we do it ever so badly and awkwardly we nevertheless pull the ego, astral body and part of the etheric body out of the physical body, and so we can have strange experiences in our etheric body in the moments after meditation. This body is a faithful preserver of everything we encountered in life, consciously or not. For instance as a child we may have experienced that a dog was run over by a train. Over the years we have overcome the horrible scene. But the etheric body preserved it and through our development 30 or 40 years later we can suddenly perceive the yelping and whimpering out of us, or it can even be the case that the person concerned can make yelping sounds himself and then of course is rather scared about this. This happens when the etheric body is loosened in development, appears suddenly with especially strong force and works on the physical body.
Another example: An esoteric can have pains from an inflammation of the middle ear that lead to visions of a gruesome scene, and he can't explain its origin. This comes about as follows. Pains are seated in the astral body and not in the physical body. We know that the astral body can experience great pain in kamaloca. These pains in the astral body are reflected in the etheric body. The esoteric experiences the vibrations that are generated in the etheric body thereby, but also vibrations of a similar kind that were generated in it during childhood through soul pains, when he experienced the horrible scene. He had forgotten the latter long ago, but the experience emerges from the etheric body through his esoteric training and the outer earache.
Something even stranger is possible. Say we live on the other side of a house's wall with a family that liked to read and tell tall tales. Our physical ear didn't hear them, but our etheric body took them in. And in spiritual development it can happen that we experience them in our etheric body. Such things can scare us if we don't understand them. Say that someone goes to sleep in a public lecture through lack of interest. His ego and astral body are nevertheless there. Then when he wakes up it may happen that the physical body does not want to adapt itself to what the ego and astral body took in. Thereby the person is dissatisfied with himself, reproaches himself severely or even feels pain from his physical body. Or it may happen that someone takes in esoteric teachings with great attentiveness and does his exercises well, but he has to be among people who reject theosophy and esotericism either silently or openly. This has an effect on the esoteric, and it can happen after meditation that voices within him say: “That's all nonsense” or much more terrible things that give him great pain. It's the thoughts of his environment that he may not have heard with physical ears but with which he's obsessed. When we lift out the ego we take all of our good qualities with us and refine them more and more; the bad qualities we push down and they acquire a kind of independent life. Then it may happen that we begin to scold and to use expressions that we're too well trained to use in ordinary life. This then fills us with amazement and horror, and we may tell ourselves: I'm not like that at all, I'm too decent a person for that. But we should, admit that we are like that, for such things only disappear when we finally put them aside. And yet all of these experiences are steps forward, and it's just a matter of knowing their significance. It's especially important to realize that it's our own fault that it's so hard for us to press into spiritual worlds. But when we get up there we meet the one who took our sins upon him through the Mystery of Golgotha. He took our weaknesses upon him; that's a true word in the Bible, as everything in the Bible is true. And one who refuses to have his sins expiated by the Christ hasn't pressed to the depth of this truth, just as little as one who believes in it as a “good Christian” but who thinks that the matter is very simple. World evolution is very complicated and hides riddles in every little thing, and every little thing can become a whole world. The example of otitis media can teach us this. What is experienced there in the etheric body arose like a world out of a small thing.
Inspirations for the material world can also come from higher worlds. A thing that's noted too little, that many people read over when they read the life of Darwin's friend Wallace is that a thought that led to one of the most important discoveries in connection with physical heredity came to him in a feverish dream. That this thought came to him in a condition in which his physical brain was unsuited for thinking should give the materialists who consider thinking to be a function of the brain much to think about. Darwin also travelled a lot in the tropics and it's quite possible that he made some discoveries about physical conditions in a fever.
One will only notice such things when things are found in such abnormal states, as if through inspiration that can be used materialistically, when for instance someone discovers something that can make him rich. Up till then one will consider all such things to be figments of a sick fantasy. Let's continue our meditation with industry, perseverance and energy, for the help of the one who brought his impulse into earth evolution will always come to meet us. This help is always there.