A soul who sees the things that our outer movement is going through and that tend to make one criticize can ask: How is this criticism compatible with the development of the positivity that we're supposed to develop as a basic exercise?
In earlier times they didn't have as many pupils cultivating the esoteric life as we do now. Various forces are combating our kind of esoteric life. Pupils must take esoteric life seriously and worthily. We should realize how tremendously important the step from the exoteric life into the esoteric one is. An esoteric must gradually see exoteric life in an entirely different light.
For example, we can all remember that we played as kids and that we took this play seriously. Let's ask ourselves: If we adults wanted to play with kids how would we do it? Of course we could play with kids and maybe even better than they, because we can use our intellect for this. But we would have to put ourselves in a different soul state to really be in the playing activity.
An esoteric has a relation to outer life that's quite similar to the one that an adult has to the play of children. When he returns to outer exoteric life from esoteric exercises he'll gradually look upon the former as if he wanted to play with children as an adult. And just as an adult must put himself in another soul state, so an esoteric feels that he's put into another soul state when he goes over to exoteric life. An esoteric won't be less capable in everyday life, but will stand in it in a more capable and vigorous way than he did before he got into esotericism. Thus the transition from exoteric to esoteric life is a unique incision into human life, and esoteric life can't be taken seriously and worthily enough.
Let's take a closer look at esoteric life. We know that various changes take place in our soul life through the exercises we received. For instance, the passions that a man had before get stronger. Old inclinations, drives and passions one thought one had overcome and put aside reemerge from the dark shafts of soul life and assert themselves vehemently. Or an esoteric often thoughtlessly does something which he would have been ashamed of before the start of his esoteric training or wouldn't have done at all. His antipathies and sympathies for people become stronger than before; his whole soul life becomes stirred up. In short, a man gets to know what he's really like in his soul depths so that he has real self-knowledge. Therefore strict and strong self-control is indispensable for an esoteric pupil.
If the exercises are continued energetically and patiently the changes in an esoteric's soul life can be about as follows. At first he may be that nothing special results from the exercises in concentration and meditation. But one should realize that the first experiences can be so fine and subtle that they can only be noticed by the use of a certain attentiveness. For instance, it could be that an esoteric in the midst of his everyday life suddenly has a thought that seems to spring out of his other thought life, that obviously doesn't belong to this everyday life — a thought that's about his own being. Such a thought flits by unnoticed if there isn't enough attentiveness there. The important and necessary thing is to become attentive enough to notice thoughts that seem to fall out of one's ordinary thought life, and that we become aware that possibly grotesque thoughts rise in our soul without our ordinary waking ego-consciousness being involved. Thereby we become aware that something lives behind our ordinary ego that we hadn't known previously, that something is active behind this ego which weaves thoughts. If we direct more and more attentiveness towards these thoughts that fall out of everyday life, they'll appear with increasing frequency, and eventually we'll be able to experience them at will. Then a pupil sees as through a door that this weaving on what one what one is used to calling the thought body, is going on continuously. Every pupil will someday experience this is he works on patiently and energetically. But he won't arrive at such experiences if he stops doing exercises. Hindrances of the outer and inner life may induce a pupil to stop doing his exercises. Difficulties that oppose esoteric life can arise outwardly, and resistance to it can also arise from weakness and laziness. If a pupil succumbs to these and doesn't continue on the path, the fruit of his previous esoteric striving remain for him, but he can't get any further. Such weakness can't develop if esoteric life is cultivated rightly, for firmness and perseverance are enveloped therein which prevent one from giving up on one's original resolve.
So if a pupil does the exercises that were given him energetically and patiently and then creates the quiet in which his consciousness is quite empty, this will eventually lead to experiences from the spiritual world. The attitude of soul with which a pupil receives revelations is also quite important. He should be thankful to the divine, spiritual hierarchies for every thought and experience form the super-sensible realm. He should develop such thankful feelings ever more intensely; an honest cultivation of them may give him more revelations and it brings him forward. A pupil must put himself into a prayerful mood that prepares him to receive revelations rightly. If an experience presents itself from the spiritual world he should realize that something was given through grace.
In the last ten years the masters' grace has brought a great many spiritual truths into exoteric and esoteric theosophical life. An enormous spiritual treasure has been entrusted to us during this time, so that for instance, it may be hard for some souls to assimilate everything that's been said about the four Gospels. Some souls even have a negative attitude to this treasure, and they express their dislike for it. Such an attitude is understandable, for one has to admit that it's hard to master the given teachings. But after all, it's our task to work our way through to an ever more comprehensive understanding of Christ and to penetrate ever deeper into the Mystery of Golgotha. All statement of Krishna or Elijah and all wisdom of past times flowed into this. Therefore we shouldn't slacken but should pull ourselves together, work willingly, learn and learn again. We must master page after page of a lecture cycle and we should never let up.
However, the earth is a battlefield for Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers who can take over human beings. What do these powers tell each other? They say: There are lazy souls who don't want to go along with what flowed down from spiritual worlds. We can work on them and capture them.
And so these beings take possession of such souls and draw them away from the path by leading them into illusions and errors and making them into agents for their adversarial work. Whereas, if we work hard and steadily, our path is the straight line from Krishna — if we don't want to go further back — to Buddha, Elijah, John and Christ. If we strive seriously and apply thought power, effort and time to understand everything that was and is being said about Christ and the Mystery of Golgotha, we'll be equal to the attacks of the adversarial forces that are trying to stop esoterics' development. But all those who slacken and don't want to keep up succumb to the attacks of the adversarial powers. They're the ones who become opponents of our movement and who create the increasing number of hindrances that we've noted over the years.
Another thing that esoterics should especially cultivate is a feeling for truth. Nothing should ever hinder us from saying the truth freely and openly. Every attempt to deviate from the truth must be paid for at some point … But there's one thing we can do, and this shall be the answer to the question we asked at the beginning: Even if we must condemn a man's deeds, we shouldn't criticize the man himself, but love him. Whether or not we really love him will become evident in the moments of our meditation. Take none of the sympathies and antipathies and the little worries and so on into the spiritual worlds — this will open them for us and let us get into them in the right way.