In our esoteric classes we've often spoken of the paths that an esoteric in the old mystery schools had to tread. At that time a man, as it were, inverted his soul and spiritual qualities more rapidly through certain methods, for he was physically and psychically more robust then. He had a stronger soul, and since this is the architect of the physical body, the latter was also stronger. These were pre-historical times. Men were less complicated and more uniform at that time. Humanity sprang out of the lap of the Gods, and after they had gradually lost their old clairvoyance on their path through matter it's a man's task to raise himself to spirituality again by taking in the Christ impulse, and filled by this, to unite himself with the Godhead.
Men have become ever weaker in body, soul and spirit through increasing materialism, and one can no longer subject the present more delicate constitutions to the trials that pupils in the ancient mysteries underwent. Back then, a candidate for initiation mainly worked at quickly getting to know how untenable egoism and fear are and at putting them aside. One can't judge what egoism really is without ordinary concepts connected with the physical plane.
The candidate for initiation was put into a sleep and his soul was then shown what it had elaborated in the spiritual world until then. His ego was then as it were, sucked up by the macrocosm, and it saw that it was a nothing. Of course this standing before nothingness as before a dark abyss aroused feelings of fear, and he had to get over this. After going through these trials he was either unfit for outer life since he realized that all perishable things were nothing, or he remained strong and decided to use this incarnation to develop as much as possible so that he could some day get to know higher worlds.
A modern shouldn't be grabbed so robustly. If an ordinary modern says that the ground is shaking under his feet, he's already saying a lot. He will always try to stand fast. He doesn't want to jump over the abyss. He must let the ground slip out from under him. For if he wants to press into spiritual worlds the concepts he formed here on the physical plane don't help him at all. He's not allowed to take any of them with him. The only things he may keep are the capacity to make concepts, a sense for truth, and logic. The capacity to form new concepts and a sense for the new truths that he'll get to know.
The masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings send us an analogy to elucidate this matter. It's as if we saw all the objects in our room in a mirror and we would then go behind the mirror to find their reality there. We would see that there's nothing behind it. Here we must let concepts about higher worlds flow into us from higher beings and we must work at ourselves so that we form such concepts. But after we've acquired some through serious and honest work, we must step before the mirror again, make a bold decision, and destroy it. Then darkness and nothingness will yawn towards us. But if we endure steadfastly, light will shine up out of the darkness and reveal an entirely new world to us.
Our esoteric work consists in gradually raising our astral and etheric bodies to spiritual heights. But the lower parts of both bodies remain behind in the physical body. The ego lays a peculiar role between these two parts that have, as it were, been torn apart. Through the fact that we've become so firmly attached to material things, it's as if it were chained to the lower parts and is their slave. Thereby peculiar phenomena arise. The astral body that's left to itself may have had certain vices that we could easily control when its better part was still connected with it, but now such qualities grow enormously and a man often feels like a sensualist. If the ego was united with the higher parts, it would control the lower ones from there and therewith all drives, desires and passions. Then the higher parts would also not be unconscious, as they are when the ego is in the lower ones. Because the higher bodies leave the lower ones the latter often become weak. The physical body then tends to get diseases. But this is a temporary condition. For when the higher parts have taken enough forces out of higher worlds, they'll work in a harmonizing and healing way on the lower ones again With respect to these irregular phenomena in his lower bodies an esoteric must tell himself: I will stand fast; I will go on my way to the spiritual world come hell or high water.
If he sets up a center against his error, he will also master them. Art is supposed to help us in these battles. All true art was given to us for this. An art that doesn't elevate us can't subsist; it's no true art. When artists will know art's mission, when art is permeated by theosophy, it'll become what it should be for us.
When the Gods created man, they gave him defects so that he could test his strength on them. We should thank the Gods for our defects, for combating them makes us strong and free. But we shouldn't love the defects for even a moment. We couldn't thank Gods who made us pure and without defects, because they would have made us into weaklings. We should tell ourselves: And even the world was full of devils we still come from God, Ex Deo nascimur. If we fight seriously and constantly try to get into spiritual worlds, we'll feel that the lower, defective part of us dies. In Christo morimur. And then we'll awaken consciously in higher worlds: Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus.
There's an exoteric and an esoteric version of this verse. Used esoterically, the naming of the most sacred name, if it happens unworthily, can unleash earthquakes, storms, lightning and other tremendous events in nature, for if they're wrong even our most hidden thoughts have a destructive effect in spiritual worlds. That's what's meant in the first mystery drama where it says that “Spirits must break worlds if your temporal creating is not to bring destruction and death to the eternities” that is, to repair the damage that men have done with their thoughts. Therefore the esoteric version of this verse is: Ex Deo nascimur, In … morimur, Per Spiritum Sanctum revisiscimus.