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Esoteric Lessons II
GA 266

Lesson 22

Berlin, 1-17-'11

The techniques of esoteric life is, as it were, given in our meditation. Here one lets thoughts work upon one that awaken feelings and sensations that aren't derived from the physical plane. There are two kinds of thoughts: the ones that are awakened in us through the perception of the physical world, and thoughts such as theosophy gives us. Everything in that physical world is maya, including our physical body. Through what, is this really there? Through what do the animals, plants and stones around us exist? Through the fact that higher beings took a thought many millions of years ago and thought it over and over again. In these things it's as the proverb says; steady dripping hollows the stone. The same thoughts cover each other and eventually form physical objects. The harder a stone is, the longer beings thought it. Our physical body is nothing else than the thought of many higher beings.

If we only think the ordinary thoughts of the physical plane, then this is really no thought, but the mirror image, the illusion of a thought. For everything that's from the physical world was already thought a long time ago, and all we do is to repeat these thoughts, but in the wrong way. For instance, if someone hears a bell ringing, then the sounds is nothing real, but it's like this: millions of years ago what became the bell and also what became our brain was thought, and the knocking together of these two gives the sound that we hear. All physical thoughts are unproductive and eventually have a destructive effect. They bring our astral body into a certain oscillation, but this was already put into it by higher beings. So one who never thinks supersensibly never brings new formations into the astral body. What happens in the astral body works back upon the etheric body, but the etheric body is inclined to take new forms and thoughts into itself. Old forms have a destructive effect on it and from there into the physical strands of our nervous system. All of this must be restored again in sleep. The astral body is inserted into the higher hierarchies for awhile and thereby gets forces; the etheric body is separated from the astral body and becomes regenerated thereby. One couldn't live long without sleep.

However, nonsensorial thoughts have a productive and upbuilding effect They enable a man to fit himself into the hierarchies. New forms, the lotus flowers, are created in his astral body. That's why it's necessary to repeat a meditation hundreds of time.

The ideas we form about theosophical teachings — for our thinking about them is also meditation — will at first not be entirely sense-free. For instance, if one says that Saturn is a warmth sphere, and that the harmony of the spheres resounds in Devachan, one will imagine this in sensory pictures at first — as the heat in our blood, a beautiful symphony, and the like. But if the thought is repeated, the sensory element that is still attached to it falls away by itself and the super-sensible part remains.

Out in the world mathematical thoughts are the most sense-free ones; but when a modern thinks a triangle, he thinks it with color and a certain thickness, that is, not abstractly enough. But one gets closer to super-sensible thoughts when one notes relations. Remembering a sound is a memory of a sensory things, but remembering a melody is something that consists in relations of sounds that don't as such belong to the sense world. And imagine two scoundrels or two good people, where in the first instance one is worse than the other, or one man does more good deeds than the other — then there's something in this relation that's not from the physical sense world, something that leads us up into the spiritual world. If a man thinks of a scoundrel or sees one, it'll give him an unpleasant feeling; but if he sees two scoundrels next to each other in a play, the worst scoundrel will always please him more than the lesser one, because greatness is always attractive. For instance, this is what the effect of various Shakespeare plays is based on. So it's important to see and to study relations in the outer world, for this leads us away from sensory things.

Another way to develop sense-free thinking is to let processes run in the reverse direction, for instance, by saying the Lord's Prayer backwards or by looking backwards through our meditation. That's the only way that a man can improve his memory. Man's memory has gotten much worse in the last four to five centuries, and this will be the case even more if they don't avail themselves of the opportunities that are now being offered. The time for these opportunities is particularly favorable now, and later on they'll simply not be there anymore. Memory will no longer be a mere waiting to see whether things want to emerge from a dark ground. It'll be like a groping towards the past or like a sending out of feelers that'll grasp for the past like towards some thing that's real. Our time is particularly favorable for this development and for esoteric development in general.

Thus, we see that our body is an illusion; it's thoughts of beings who are also thoughts. Thought thinks thoughts — that's a meditational statement that's very important. It's not our brain or etheric body or astral body that thinks — thoughts think thoughts. That's something that also emerges clearly from our verse:

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.