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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons II
GA 266

Lesson 1

Kassel, 2-6-'10

It sometimes happens that a man who begins an esoteric training is soon disappointed and says that he thought that the exercises would be much more energetic and that the exercises' effects would be much more incisive. One who says this should make it clear to himself that he's making a big mistake there which he should correct as soon as possible. It's the man who's not energetic enough—not the exercises. It's not that the exercises have no effect—the man just doesn't make them effective in himself. A pupil must become a completely different man through an esoteric life; he must acquire something new to add to the old.

In earlier times one was placed before the choice of esoteric training or death. One had to subject oneself to exercises and trials which put one on the esoteric path—if one was mature enough—or one fell by the wayside during these trials and died. The pupil told himself: If I can't pass these tests, I'm not mature enough for an esoteric life, and so further life in a physical body has no value for me. It's better for me to die physically and to prepare myself for a new incarnation in Devachan, which can then lead to an esoteric life.

Such trials aren't possible today; our whole organization is no longer up to it. But a pupil should get to the point where all physical happenings become indifferent to him. A man must become completely different, but anyone who says that he has already overcome the physical after doing a few exercises can easily be deceiving himself. A pupil must be honest with himself. Truthfulness is the first virtue that one who wants to tread an esoteric path must acquire; one must be extremely honest with oneself.

Another magic word for esoteric strivers is patience. Just look at the sun; imagine how the spirit of the sun makes the sun rise and set day after day, that he's already done that for a long time and will do it for a long time to lead the earth to its goal. One should think of this patience, and then shouldn't think that an exercise is ineffective just because it hasn't had any effect after three to five years.

The Lord's Prayer, this wonderful reflection of seven-membered world lawfulness, is a very significant meditation which some pupils do every day. I know a master of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings who said: I only take the Lord's Prayer as a meditation once a month; the rest of the time I try to make myself mature and worthy so that I might be permitted to immerse myself in even one line of this meditation. That's the attitude that one should have about a meditation—that one wants to make oneself worthy to be allowed to use it.

Theosophy is living practice and not just theoretical study.

We must feel the analogies in nature. There's something spiritual behind all physical things. If we do the meditations correctly and get further on the esoteric path, we'll soon feel something that corresponds to what we see in nature: germination and growth in spring and summer, and the melancholy of dying in the fall. Just as we go to sleep at night, so plants go into a plant night in autumn. Only the seeds remain. In them are the capacities that were acquired during summer life. These capacities become reactivated in spring, just as our forces and abilities from the preceding eve reawaken in the morn. We must go to sleep and wake up again repeatedly, use our capacities during the day and gather new forces at night. Behind physical plants are sublime spirit beings who must stride to new activities each spring, and who sink into a plant night in the fall when only plant seeds remain These beings are so far advanced that they only have to make this change once a year, whereas a man must go through the change of going to sleep and awakening every 24 hours. The higher beings don't have to do it as often.

Feeling oneself to be united with the pan-spirit should not remain a phrase. One must really feel and experience what lies hidden in the sequence of spring, summer, fall, in coming to life and dying.

Spiritual life flows into us during meditation. We must prepare ourselves in the right way so that we can receive this spiritual life properly. We do this through study. Just as the sun which sends out its rays and forces would only find an empty spot if the earth wasn't prepared to receive and use them, so our meditations would find no soil to work on; they would find a kind of an empty place if we didn't prepare ourselves through study, if we didn't make ourselves receptive for the spiritual life that flows into us through meditation. Thus we can see the macrocosm in the microcosm.

A pupil should devote himself to his meditations with complete devotion and concentration. He should put his everyday thoughts aside completely and only open himself to high spiritual forces. The meditator should look upon every meditation as a sacrifice, as a sacrificial smoke that rises to the Gods. Thereby we contribute to harmonization and progress, whereas low, egotistical thoughts are the basis for catastrophes; and no human protective devices can prevent catastrophes such as the many we've had recently and like the even more terrible ones that are yet to come; one can do whatever one wants to stop them—they'll happen anyway.

We must have the spiritual in view and in our feelings in all of our deeds and thoughts. We came down from the spirit, and enriched and perfected we'll reascend to the spiritual.

In the spirit lay the germ of my body.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
The eyes of sense,
That through them I may see
The lights of bodies.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
Reason and sensation
And feeling and will,
That through them I may perceive bodies
And act upon them.
In the spirit lay the germ of my body.
In my body lies the germ of the spirit.
And I will incorporate into my spirit
The super-sensible eyes
That through them I may behold the light of spirits.
And I will imprint in my spirit
Wisdom and power and love,
So that through me the spirits may act
And I become a self-conscious organ
Of their deeds.
In my body lies the germ of the spirit.