Berlin, 19th April 1906
Today, I would like to speak again to you about inner development. Those who occasionally visit these talks remember that I have already given various statements about this object. Hence, I only touch what has already been discussed earlier and add what exceeds this.
I have talked repeatedly about the phenomena of the higher worlds, and the question immediately suggests itself, how do we come to such knowledge? — The way to this knowledge is not so easy that it can be described in one or two hours even in quite superficial way. Nevertheless, I have to drop a hint now and again how one has to imagine this development. You all know that we talk here not only about the usual physical world, but also about the worlds of soul and spirit that we got to know as astral world and devachan. The human being lives in these worlds. He does not belong to one, but to three worlds. He still belongs to much more worlds, but the knowledge of still higher worlds exceeds the usual cognitive capacities of the human being so much that one can talk about these worlds only with difficulty.
The question that we must put to ourselves is, how does the human being penetrate up to the astral and spiritual worlds? — These are the worlds in which he lives here, indeed, about which he knows, however, nothing, at first, in which he lives if he does no longer have a sensuous body. Everything that lives as sensuous world round us can carry no weight for us. However, then the other worlds that are attained by higher knowledge have a higher significance to us. One often asks, to which end does the human being need, actually, the knowledge of other worlds than that in which he lives? If he gives his fellow man a treat, to what end does he need to look for higher worlds? — This is an objection that must be recognised very soon as invalid. Those forces, facts, and beings that the human being meets in the higher worlds are not only efficient in these worlds but also in our physical world. For the things are not made by themselves, they have come about by the forces of the spiritual world. We also recognise ourselves only cursorily if we recognise ourselves only by the senses. We perceive with the senses only what happens between birth and death. With the birth of the human being, a whole sum of dispositions and abilities enter the world. Only a superficial judgement can say that the human being should begin with his whole world of dispositions only at the moment of birth or of the embryonic development.
In occultism, which deals with the worlds unknown to the senses, one speaks of the fact that the usual human being lacks the ability to discriminate the most significant facts. He does not observe intensely enough how clumsily the human being enters the world, how he learns more and more to use his only as rudiments existing organs of the spiritual life. There we see the one who is very little able to use the organs of his mind, whereas the other controls not only his whole limbs in a quite special way, but also learns to use his cerebral tools quite specially. Just the materialistic thinker would have to say, I believe in the significance of the human organs; however, why do these organs answer to the feelings and sensations of the one human being, and to the feelings and sensations of the other one?
Everybody admits that a hammer, which the human being uses for any reasonable performance, must have come about by a reasonable work of thought at first. Everybody believes that concerning the hammer. The materialistic thinker does not believe that concerning the body, the living beings generally. Hence, someone who studies the miraculous constructions of the human brain or heart can never believe that all these things could come about by chance, by any spiritless events. However, these things present themselves with every person in another way than it can be found with the animals. All animals are copies of a general pattern, the particular differences come less into consideration. The word “individuality” makes this difference clear to us at once. Because every human being is an individuality, he comes much more into consideration. Every human being, every individuality prepares his body in his way.
For this body has to fit the special predisposition of every human being. When he enters his existence with birth, he existed already spiritually, and he himself has prepared the organs for his individual use, not completely, because he is also an animal creature, but the higher he develops, the more he also controls the construction of his own organs. One could at most believe that a human being — completely existing on the lowest level — has begun at his birth, However, no reasonable thinker can suppose that a thinking being was not yet there before his birth. Everybody can carry out the performances with the hammer; however, nobody is able to do the performances of the brain of the fellow man. Hence, the human being is not understandable without assuming that he exceeds birth and death, but only if one recognises the forces that have prepared the organs of the human thinking already before.
The rise to the astral and the spiritual worlds is connected for the single human being with certain difficulties, with renunciations to which he has to submit himself, and with certain dangers. He is accustomed to the world of the senses, but to the other worlds, he is not so accustomed. Above all, we have to realise that the causes of many matters that remain invisible in the world become clear to us in the higher worlds. The human being is thereby surprised, upset. The exercises by which he wants to advance strain him in certain ways too. Because there are dangers, some people say that one can also come to the highest knowledge of the divine world forces if one knows nothing about these spiritual and astral forces concealed behind the sensuous world. Today, one almost argues that the human being can also rise to the divine knowledge without passing the worlds first, which separate him from the highest of all.
Only someone can argue in such a way who has no real idea of the higher worlds. A kind of higher knowledge that is also often called theosophical is nothing else than a quite usual knowledge of the human lower self, and if he declares his lower self as his divine ever so much, he finds nothing but his lower self. Only outside himself, the human being finds his higher self, because we are born out of the external world.
Some spiritual movements want to divert the human being from the external world; one should look for the higher self only in oneself. This point of view can never lead to a real knowledge; it is unchristian and antichristian at the same time. Only in the orientation to the world, which surrounds us, we find our higher self. We must seek for the god in the invisible worlds and in all external creatures, facts, and processes. If anybody says to us, deny the external world, this external matter does not exist, he denies the divine world; and there is for a big perspective no worse knowledge than turning away from the outside world. Just the deepening in the outside world leads to higher knowledge. Everything physical dries out, if it is raised a little above the earth, everything mental dries out, if it is raised a little above the spiritual world.
The human being has to live in the world with the attitude that he belongs to it as the hand to the body. This attitude really leads to higher development. Ask your own inside where the sense of a human being is located. Just as little the human being can turn away from the outside world, just as little the sense of the human being is enclosed in the skin. He belongs to the higher self of the world. While we investigate the higher self of the world, we investigate our own higher selves. It is not possible to agitate for occultism. Only someone who really wants to fulfil the conditions of the higher development must also pledge himself to explain what occultism prescribes for such high development. Hence, the real occult direction of theosophy should not be confused with that which one often calls theosophy externally. It concerns methods proved for centuries. It is left to the free will of every human being when he wants to reach the goal; hence, one cannot object that he is an outsider.
The higher development to which every human being can reach takes place slowly and gradually. He lives always in the visible world. You all live not only in the sensuous world, but mental and spiritual forces and events surround you here. These spiritual and mental worlds are there for someone whose spiritual and mental eye is opened. The methods are available to open the spiritual and mental eye of the human being generally. Then he lives only for these worlds; for it is something different to live in these worlds and to perceive in these worlds. The human being lives also in these worlds at night, but he does not perceive them because he still lacks the organs. The higher development lies in the fact that the soul gets organs and thereby learns to perceive.
At first, any higher recognising arises at night. While for the only sensually perceiving human being darkness spreads at night, the darkness is illuminated for the mentally perceiving one. There is a light, which can illuminate the world, even if no sun is there, which does not make the table discernible, however, the mental facts. This is the astral light. If you have soul organs, your soul is not blind, and then the human soul can see the astral light where the eyes saw the figure before.
The astral light illuminates the soul as the sunlight illuminates the body during the day. Everything that should be developed in the human being exists as a rudiment in him, as well as the human embryo has rudiments of eyes and ears, the rudiments of clairvoyance are in the soul. However, as the human embryo cannot yet see the physical world, the spiritual and mental rudiments must also be developed in the human being. He is an embryo in the mental world now, actually. What does not see the mental and spiritual will see it later. There the consideration begins, what does this soul do during sleep? — The soul is not passive there, even if it does not see. The forces of the physical human being wear themselves out in the course of the day, but the human soul works during sleep on the recovery of the physical forces. Because the soul is occupied with itself, it has no free strength at its disposal to develop organs anew. However, these forces must pay to form something new; thereby something is taken away from the human body. The human spirit has built up his physical body gradually; the soul forms the tools gradually, which the human being uses. The soul works in the same way if the physical body is worn out. During sleep, it fixes everything again.
If you use the forces of sleep different, you must compensate it. The harmony of the forces can substitute everything that gets lost in the struggle of the forces. Because the human being feels, thinks, and wills erratically today, where he works perpetually, where he follows any intention, in the job, with every sensation, his forces wear out due to this struggle. If then he intends to take away certain soul forces from his body, he must atone for them with certain performances taking place harmoniously. Hence, the inner development provides particular virtues to start with, so that the strength that is taken away from the body is replaced by rhythm. These virtues are: control of thoughts and actions, impartiality, endurance, equanimity, trust in the whole surroundings.
Today, the human being is given away to any idea; however, he must be someone who controls his thoughts. Then he gets rhythm in himself. To accomplish actions from own initiative, to decide to act in such a way that the action is his very own, this produces such a calmness in him that is necessary for the soul. Endurance, standing firmly and certainly, enduring pain, grief, and joy. Further, on, the human being must acquire the biggest impartiality. He is worn out by nothing more than, if he approaches the negative aspects of the things. This causes disharmony and at the same time, he is exhausted. A Persian legend is authoritative that reports to us how Christ Jesus and his disciples once saw a rotting dead dog lying by the wayside. The disciples asked the master not to waste his time with the dog, the animal were too ugly. However, Christ looked at the dog and said which nice teeth the animal has. He looked here for the beautiful in the ugly thing. Any affirmation animates, any negation exhausts and kills. Not only because a moral strength belongs to it to turn to the positive side of a thing, but also because any affirmation animates and makes forces of the soul free and certain.
In such an age like ours, nervousness also prevails. Nervousness and negative criticism belong together. The provided virtues are there to release higher forces for the human being. Such virtues, which should make the lower life rhythmical, give the soul forces, so that it can dedicate itself to the higher development. This inner development proceeds completely quietly.
I would like to tell some of the matters, which still belong to it. These matters were once the secret of the occult schools, but now they are informed because of certain reasons. If a human being has prepared his soul by such exercises, he is referred to any teacher whom he will find when he should find him. Then he goes through different stages of learning and must use the forces that he has released for the higher soul life.
The first thing is that a single opinion is worth nothing at all. The human being as an advanced pupil has thoroughly to overcome his personal opinion, the expression: I believe this or that about that.
However, the advanced pupil must understand not only the foolishness of the materialist, but also go through the good reasons in himself, which the materialist can have for himself to understand how somebody could get around to becoming a materialist. He will find that all human beings where they say yes to the things, that is where they recognise the positive side, are mostly right; where they say no, that begins which the advanced pupil must learn to overcome. He must have got to know the reasons and the content of any worldview not only logically, but he must also have lived with it. He must put himself in the soul of any sceptic. The higher forces do not awake unless the pupil does know what can be argued against anything. Who has gone through this also rouses forces in his soul, which come definitely.
He must then overcome any superstition; not only the superstition of the African fetishist, but also that of the sophisticated European. Everybody knows the effects of hypnosis. Our European professors, for example, Wundt (Wilhelm W., 1832-1920, physician, physiologist, and philosopher), explained hypnotism saying that certain cerebral parts were not well supplied with blood. However, this is nothing else than the superstition of the African. In this way, you could disprove all materialistic theories that speak of certain cerebral parts only. Even if Haeckel is a great naturalist, it must be clear to everybody that that which this naturalist asserts about these matters is the purest superstition. The pupil must overcome all forms of superstition.
The third is the knowledge of the illusion of the personal self, while the human being persuades himself that he can find the higher life in himself. If he has reached this, he is ripe for the second stage. He has to go through the illusion of the personal self; he must recognise its authorisation to get rid of it in so doing. The next is that everything must become a symbol to him, “All that is transitory is only a symbol” (Faust II). One has to regard anything as a metaphor, a simile of that which it expresses. The single flower, even the single human being must become a metaphor for him; then he feels forces roused in his soul. — If he has learnt for a while to regard the things as metaphors, then he has to learn that the human being is a small world that nothing is in him that does not correspond to the world outdoors. A deep sense is in the Germanic mythology where we are told that from the giant Ymir the whole world is formed.
He must get to know how every organ is connected with the world, and then he is able to proportion his own organism. Walking through the world, he is not aware how his organs are connected with the world. He has to learn this. The Eastern occultist even teaches a quite special sitting posture, so that the pupil is also externally in a right relation to the world.
Further, on, he has then to learn — this may only be mentioned here — to regulate something consciously that nature regulates, otherwise, in him without his aware assistance. This is the respiratory system at first. If the human being wants to develop higher, his breathing has to become adequate to the big developmental processes. In a strictly prescribed way, he has to inhale, to hold his breath, and to exhale. If the human being regulates his breathing from the spirit, he spiritualises his breath, his life air. With it, he rises from hatha yoga to raja yoga, the royal yoga.
Then the highest comes, the exercises of meditation and contemplation, the life of the human being within himself. If he has prepared himself and has practiced in such a way, if he has made his life rhythmic, he is completely ripe for leading an inner life. There are three stages of meditation. It can be organically integrated in the rhythmic respiratory process. At first, he has to start from the sensory world, so that he can distract himself from the external world and from its various external impressions. Taking in hand his whole attention independently helps him in the higher development. If he is able to master his attention in such a way, he must be able to become engrossed completely in the object of his attention, to add nothing else; only one thought must live in him. It is the best if his teacher gives him particular tasks according to his individuality. If he has reached that, he is not distracted if a gun fires a bullet beside him. Then he has to leave the object of his reflection, but to maintain the activity. This brings him in the highest worlds.
If he accomplishes this, he attains that condition, which occultism calls dhyana, after he has thought through the object, however, has then dropped it, and lives then in the activity only. He can leave this condition immediately; then his inner eye awakes.
He learns to practice the forces of his thinking using external objects. However, he does not come fairly far; he reaches a world, which looks like a kind of skeleton of the higher world. Now, he has to develop a feeling of particular intensity from the object, again excluding all others. Thus, he must be able to feel something quite certain if he has a crystal in his hand; he must feel something if he has an octahedron in his hand. He gets a feeling that one can have towards the lifeless world. We compare the lifeless rock to the living, blood-filled being and say to ourselves, this has sensuousness; however, the water-clear rock is without desire.
If I am able to feel how the stone left its desire, how it has become pure and chaste, and
If I know how to become engrossed in this feeling, so that the world dies around me and
If I let only this feeling live in me — may it be the feeling from the crystal, from the animal, or the human being, and
If I can then leave the object, and go back in the same way as just now and come into the state of dhyana,
Then I notice that the feeling is not only a feeling, but that it starts becoming light, that feeling starts becoming a light phenomenon. In such a way, that appears which one perceives as a form of thought that one should better call a form of feeling.
These are single concepts I wanted to give you today. There have always been teachers who gave the single individuality instructions, tasks suitable for him. Any human being has his own name in the spiritual world; he is even more individual in it than in the physical world, and this own individuality must be taken into consideration carefully, especially in the higher stages concerning higher development. Hence, only a teacher can give what is necessary.
I have today given the first steps of that which one calls recognising the self. If the human being learns to feel the objects round himself, and the objects take on colours, which become pictures, then he sees his world of feelings round himself. He must face himself objectively, and then he crosses the threshold where he perceives himself with all that which he is and not yet is. The first guardian of the threshold stands there before us who shows us, thou art that!
Anybody must learn to recognise himself, because he gets world knowledge by self-knowledge. However, nobody is allowed to take self-knowledge for knowledge of god. Hence, one could read at the gate of the Delphic temple, recognise yourself (gnothi seauton)! If one has attained self-knowledge, one enters the innermost sanctum of the world where the divine forces prevail and spiritual knowledge is given. If the own inside feels connected with the world inside where one can only speak of inner development, if the human being approaches this knowledge worthily and not in frivolous way or with base motives, then he attains it. He gets what can develop his humanity more and more and makes him a worthier member in the development of humanity. However, nobody has to strive for higher knowledge only on his own. The human being shall develop, increase his forces, and collect knowledge only to become a servant of the whole universe.
Thus we become servants within the world as a whole, and only in this sense, one should advance to higher knowledge.