4 September 1906, Stuttgart
Yesterday we described the various stages by which pupils of the Eastern and the Christian occult schools came to higher knowledge. Today I will try to describe, in a similar way, the stages of Rosicrucian training.
You must not imagine that the Rosicrucian training contradicts the other two. It has existed since the fourteenth century, and it had to be introduced because mankind then needed a different form of training. Among the Initiates it was foreseen that a time would come when because of the gradual increase of knowledge men would be confused in matters of religious faith. Therefore a form of instruction had to be created for those who felt within themselves the discord between faith and knowledge. In the Middle Ages the most learned men were also those of the greatest faith and piety; and for a long time afterwards those who had made headway in scientific knowledge could not conceive of any contradictions between knowledge and faith. We are usually told that faith was shaken by the ideas of Copernicus, but that is quite wrong: after all, Copernicus dedicated his book to the Pope! It is only in quite recent times that this conflict has gradually developed. The Masters of Wisdom saw that this was bound to happen and that a new path would have to be found for those whose faith had been destroyed. For persons much occupied with science, the necessary path towards Initiation is the Rosicrucian, for the Rosicrucian method shows that the highest knowledge of mundane things is thoroughly compatible with the highest knowledge of spiritual truths. It is precisely through the Rosicrucian path that those who have been led away from Christian belief by what they take to be science can learn to understand Christianity truly for the first time. By this method anyone can come to a deeper grasp of the truth of Christianity. Truth is one, but it can be reached along different paths, just as at the foot of a mountain there are various paths, but they all meet at the summit.
The essence of Rosicrucian training may be described in two words: true self-knowledge. The Rosicrucian pupil has to distinguish two things, not merely theoretically but practically, so that they become part of his everyday life. There are two forms of self-knowledge — the lower form, called by the Rosicrucian pupil “self-mirroring”, which should serve to overcome the lower self, and the higher form of self-knowledge which is born out of self-renunciation.
What is the lower form of self-knowledge? It consists in the recognition of our everyday self, of what we are and of what we bear within us: in other words, an examination of our own soul-life. But we must make it quite clear to ourselves that by this means we cannot reach the higher self. When we look into ourselves we see only what we are, and that is just what we have to grow out of in order to surmount the ordinary self. But how is this to be done? Most people are convinced that their characteristics are the best, and anyone who lacks these characteristics is uncongenial to them. Once a person has outgrown this idea, not only in theory but in feeling, he will be on the way to true self-knowledge.
You can get out of the habit of self-admiration by a particular method which can be practised whenever you have five minutes for it. You must start from the principle that all characteristics are one-sided; you must learn to recognise in what respects yours are one-sided and then try to balance them. This principle may not amount to much in theory, but in practice it is highly effective. If you are industrious, you must ask yourself whether your activity may not be wrongly applied. Quickness, too, is one-sided; it needs to be supplemented by careful deliberation. Every quality has its polar opposite; you should cultivate its opposite and then try to harmonise the two extremes. For example, make haste slowly; be quick and yet deliberate; deliberate and yet not slow. Then the pupil will begin to grow beyond himself. All this is not part of meditation, but must be acquired alongside it.
It is by attention to small details that this harmony can be achieved. If your tendency is not to let anyone finish what he is saying, you must keep a watch on yourself and make up your mind that for six weeks you will keep silent, as far as possible, when someone else is talking. Then you must accustom yourself to speak neither too loudly nor too softly. Things such as this, which are generally not thought of, contribute essentially to inner self-development, and the more attention you pay to quite insignificant characteristics, the better it will be. If you try not only to acquire certain moral, intellectual or emotional qualities, but to get rid of some external habit, this will be particularly effective. It is a question not so much of investigating your inner self as of endeavouring to perfect the qualities which you have not yet fully developed, and to complement those you already have by cultivating their polar counterparts. Self-knowledge is one of the hardest things to acquire, and it is precisely those who think they know themselves best who are most likely to be deceived: they think too much about themselves. You should get out of the habit of fixing your attention on yourself and constantly using the word “I” — “I think, I believe, I consider this right”. Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people. Suppose, for instance, that someone is very clever. If he displays his cleverness in the company of people who are not so clever, his behaviour will be very ill-timed; he will be doing it only to please his own egoism. He ought to adapt his response to the needs and capacities of others. Agitators are particularly apt to offend against this rule.
In addition to all this you must cultivate patience, in the occult sense of the word. Most people who want to achieve something cannot wait; they imagine they are already fit to receive anything. This patience derives from strict self-training, and it, too, is related to the lower form of self-knowledge.
Higher self-knowledge begins only when we can say that our higher self is not in our ordinary “I”. It is in the whole great world outside, in the sun and the moon, in a stone or an animal: everywhere can be found the same essential being that is in us. If a man says: “I wish to cultivate my higher self and to withdraw from the world; I want to know nothing about anything material,” he entirely fails to understand that the higher self is everywhere outside, and that his own higher self is only a small part of the Great Self outside. Certain methods of so-called “spiritual” healers make this mistake, which can be very serious. They instil into patients the idea that matter has no real existence and so there can be no illnesses. This notion is based on a false self-knowledge, and, as I have said, it can be very dangerous. This healing method calls itself Christian, but in fact it is anti-Christian.
Christianity is an outlook which sees in everything a revelation of the Divine. Everything material becomes an illusion unless we look on it as an expression of the Divine. If we disown the external world, we are disowning the Divine; if we reject the material realm, in which God has revealed himself, we are rejecting the Divine. The important thing is not to gaze into ourselves, but to seek to know the Great Self which shines down into us. The lower self says: “Standing here I am cold.” The higher Self says: “I am also the cold, for as part of the one Self I live in the cold and make myself cold.” Again the lower self says: “I am here in the eye which beholds the sun.” The higher Self says: “I am in the sun and in the sun's rays I look into your eyes.”
Really to go out of yourself is to renounce yourself. Hence the Rosicrucian training aims at drawing the lower self out of man. In the early days of Theosophy the gravest mistake was made when people were told to look away from the external world and to gaze into themselves. That is a great illusion, for then we find only the lower self, the fourth principle, which imagines itself to be divine but is not so at all. We must come out of ourselves if we are to know the Divine. “Know thyself” means also “Overcome thyself”.
The Rosicrucian training leads its pupils through the following stages, and these go hand in hand with the six exercises already mentioned: 44See Lecture Twelve. control of thought; initiative in action; tranquillity; lack of prejudice, or positiveness; faith; and inner balance. The training itself consists of the following:
1. Study. Without study, a modern European cannot get to know himself. He must try, first of all, to reproduce in himself the thoughts of the whole of humanity. He must learn to think in harmony with the world-order. He must say to himself: “If others have thought this, it must be a possible human thought; I will test whether one can live with it.” He need not swear to it as a dogma, but by studying it he must get to know what it is. The pupil must learn about the evolution of sun and planets, of the earth and humanity. Thoughts of this kind, given to us for study, purify the spirit. By following the strict lines of these thoughts, we come to form strictly logical thoughts ourselves. This kind of study, again, purifies our thoughts, and so we learn to think with strict logic. If, for instance, we are reading a difficult book, the most important thing is not to comprehend its whole content, but to enter into the author's line of thought and learn to think with him. Hence the pupil should find no book too difficult; if he does, it means only that he is too easy-going to think.
The best books are those we have to take up again and again, books we cannot understand immediately but have to study sentence by sentence. It does not matter so much what we study as how we study. If we study the great truths, for instance the planetary laws, we develop an important line of thought, and this is what really matters. If we say that we want more moral teaching and nothing about planetary systems, we show great egoism. True wisdom engenders a moral life.
2. Imagination or Imaginative Knowledge is the second thing we have to attain. What is it and how do we achieve it? As we go through the world we must observe it in the light of Goethe's saying: “Everything transitory is but a symbol.” 45Goethe's Faust, Part II, Act V, Chorus Mysticus. Goethe was a Rosicrucian and he can lead us into the life of the soul. Everything must become for us a symbol in manifold respects. Suppose, for instance, we are walking past a meadow saffron: in form and colour it is a symbol of mourning. Another flower, the convolvulus, is a symbol of helplessness; another flower, with its splash of red, is a sign of gaiety, and so on. A bird with bright colours may be a symbol of coquetry. The symbols may actually be expressed in the names: weeping willow, forget-me-not, and so on. The more we reflect in this way, so that external things become symbolic pictures of moral qualities, the more easily shall we attain to Imaginative Knowledge. We can see similar likenesses in human beings. For instance, we can study people's temperament from their gait — look at the slow, heavy step of the melancholic, the light, springy step of the sanguine type.
After some time spent on these exercises we can pass to exercises of real Imagination. Take, for example, a living plant, look at it carefully, sink yourself into it, then draw forth the inner feeling of your soul and lay it as it were in the plant, as is described in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. 46Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it achieved? Appeared as articles in Lucifer-Gnosis, June 1904 to September 1905; first published in book form,. 1909. Collected Edition, Dornach, 1961. Sixth English edition, 1969. Revised by C.D. and D.S.O. All this stimulates the Imagination, and by this means the pupil acquires astral vision. After a time he will notice a little flame proceeding from the plant: that is the astral counterpart of its growth. Again, the pupil takes a seed and visualises the whole plant, as it will later on be in reality. These are exercises of the Imagination; by their means one comes to see things surrounded by their astral element.
3. The third stage is called learning the occult script. There is in fact such a script, through which one can penetrate more deeply into things. An example will show you more exactly what I mean. With the close of the old Indian civilisation a new civilisation began. The symbol for such an evolutionary stage is the vortex. These vortices exist everywhere in the world. They occur in the nebulae — the Orion nebula, for instance. There, too, an old world is dying and a new one being born. When the Indian civilisation was coming into being, the Sun was in the sign of Cancer; during the Persian civilisation in Gemini; during the Egyptian civilisation in Taurus; during the Graeco-Roman civilisation in Aries. Since the astronomical sign for Cancer is ♋, this was the sign for the rise of the Indian civilisation.
Another example is the letter M. Every letter of the alphabet can be traced back to an occult origin. Thus M is the symbol of wisdom; it derives from the shape of the upper lip. It is also the sign for the waves of the seas; hence wisdom may be symbolised by water. These signs indicate sounds which correspond with real things, and in the Rosicrucian training such studies are cultivated.
4. A rhythmical element is brought into breathing. It plays a less important part than it does in Eastern training, but it belongs to the Rosicrucian training and a Rosicrucian knows that through meditation the air he breathes out is purified.
5. The correspondence between Microcosm and Macrocosm is emphasised. This means the connection between the great world and the small, or between man and the world outside him.
Man has emerged by gradual stages and his various members have been formed in the course of evolution. Now it is impossible for certain organs to arise in a being which has, for example, no astral body, and therefore they could not come into existence on the Sun, even in a preliminary form. The liver is an instance of this: it cannot exist without the etheric body, but it is actually created by the astral body. Similarly, no being can have warm blood unless it first appeared at a time when the Ego was at least in course of preparation. True, the higher animals are warm-blooded, but they split off from man when the development of his Ego was already on the way. Hence we can say that the liver is closely related to the astral body, and warm blood to the Ego. In fact every one of man's organs, even the smallest, has its specific relationship to one member of his being. If the pupil concentrates his attention on himself objectively, as though on something outside himself — if for instance he concentrates on the point at the root of the nose and connects with it a particular saying given by his occult teacher, he will be guided to that which corresponds to this point and he will come to know it. If he concentrates on this point under definite guidance, he will come to know the nature of the Ego. Another, much later exercise is directed towards the inner part of the eye; through this one learns to know the inner nature of light and of the sun. The nature of the astral can be learnt by concentrating on the liver, with the aid of certain specific words.
This is true self-development, when the pupil is taken out of himself by means of each organ on which he concentrates his attention. This method has become specially important in recent times because humanity has become deeply involved in matter. In this way one penetrates through the material to its creative cause.
6. Dwelling in, or sinking oneself into, the Macrocosm. This is the same form of spiritual contemplation that we described as Dhyanam. The pupil sinks himself into the organ he is contemplating — for example, the inner part of the eye. After concentrating on it for a while, he drops the mental picture of the external organ and thinks only of that to which the eye leads him — the light. In this way he comes to the creator of the organ and so out into the Macrocosm. He then feels his body increasingly growing larger and larger until it is as large as the Earth; indeed even bigger than the Earth, until all things are in it. And then he lives in all things.
7. The seventh stage corresponds to the Eastern Samadhi. It is called divine blessedness, because now the pupil ceases to think of this last concept, but he retains the power to think. The content of his thought falls away, but the activity of thought remains. And thus he comes to rest in the divine-spiritual world.
These stages of Rosicrucian training are more inward, and call for a subtle cultivation of the higher life of the soul. The widespread superficiality of our material epoch is a powerful obstacle to the necessary deepening of the whole inner life; it must be overcome. This form of training is particularly well suited to Europeans. Anyone who is in earnest can carry it out. But Goethe's saying, “It is indeed easy, but even the easy is hard”, 47Spoken by Mephistopheles in Faust, Part II, Act I, The Emperor's Palace. applies here.
We have gone into the various methods of training, and I will end these lectures by showing you something of the relationship between man and the whole Earth, so that you will see how man is related to everything that happens on Earth.
I have described the evolution of man and shown you how he can acquire a true inner being of his own. In the course of evolution the whole of humanity will attain to everything that the individual can achieve through occult training. But what will be happening to the Earth while mankind is developing in this way? There is a great difference between the Earth seen by the occultist and the Earth known to the ordinary geologist or scientist. He looks on it as merely a sort of great lifeless ball, with an interior not very unlike its exterior, except that at most the interior substances are fluid. But it is not easy to understand how such a lifeless ball could have produced all the different kinds of beings on it.
We know that on this Earth of ours various phenomena occur which deeply affect the fate of many people; but present-day science looks on this as a purely external relationship. Thus the fate of hundreds and thousands may be affected by an earthquake or a volcano. Does the human will have any influence on this, or is it all a matter of chance? Are there dead laws which act with blind fury, or is there some connection between these events and the will of man? What is really happening when a man is killed by an earthquake? What does the occultist say about the interior of the Earth?
The occult science of all epochs says the following about the interior of the Earth. We must think of the Earth as consisting of a series of layers, not completely separated from one another like the skins of an onion, but merging into one another gradually.
1. The topmost layer, the mineral mass, is related to the interior as an eggshell is to the egg. This topmost layer is called the Mineral Earth.
2. Under it is a second layer, called the Fluid Earth; it consists of a substance to which there is nothing comparable on Earth. It is not really like any of the fluids we know, for these all have a mineral quality. This layer has specific characteristics: its substance begins to display certain spiritual qualities, which consist in the fact that as soon as it is brought into contact with something living, it strives to expel and destroy this life. The occultist is able to investigate this layer by pure concentration.
3. The “Air-Earth”. This is a substance which annuls feelings: for instance, if it is brought into contact with any pain, the pain is converted into pleasure, and vice versa. The original form of a feeling is, so to speak extinguished, rather as the second layer extinguishes life.
4. The “Water-Earth”, or the “Form-Earth”. It produces in the material realm the effects that occur spiritually in Devachan. There, we have the negative pictures of physical things. In the “Form-Earth” a cube of salt, for example, would be destroyed, but its negative would arise. The form is as it were changed into its opposite; all its qualities pass out into its surroundings. The actual space occupied by the object is left empty.
5. The “Fruit-Earth”. This substance is full of exuberant energy. Every little part of it grows out at once like sponge; it gets larger and larger and is held in place only by the upper layers. It is the underlying life which serves the forms of the layers above it.
6. The “Fire-Earth”. Its substance is essentially feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if it were trodden on. It consists, as it were, entirely of passions.
7. The “Earth-mirror” or “Earth-reflector”. This layer gets its name from the fact that its substance, if one concentrates on it, changes all the characteristics of the Earth into their opposites. If the seer disregards everything lying above it and gazes down directly into this layer, and if then, for example, he places something green before him, the green appears as red; every colour appears as its complementary opposite. A polaric reflection arises, a reversal of the original. Sorrow would be changed by this substance into joy.
8. The “Divisive” layer. If with developed power one concentrates on it, something very remarkable appears. For example, a plant held in the midst of this layer appears to be multiplied, and so with everything else. But the essential thing is that this layer disrupts the moral qualities also. Through the power it radiates to the Earth's surface, it is responsible for the fact that strife and disharmony exist there. In order to overcome this disruptive force, men must work together in harmony.
That is precisely why this layer was laid down in the Earth — so that men should be enabled to develop harmony for themselves. The substance of everything evil is prepared and organised there. Quarrelsome people are so constituted that this layer has a particular influence on them. This has been known to everyone who has written out of a true knowledge of occultism. Dante 48Dante Alighieri, 1265–1321. The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 32. in his Divine Comedy calls this layer the Cain-layer. It was here that the strife between the brothers Cain and Abel had its source. The substance of this layer is responsible for evil having come into the world.
9. The “Earth-core”. This is the substance through whose influence black magic arises in the world. The power of spiritual evil comes from this source.
You will see that man is related to all the layers, for they are continually radiating out their forces. Humanity lives under the influence of these layers and has to overcome their powers. When human beings have learnt to radiate life on Earth and have trained their breathing so that it promotes life, they will overcome the “Fire-Earth”. When spiritually they overcome pain through serenity, they overcome the “Air-Earth”. When concord reigns, the “Divisive” layer is conquered. When white magic triumphs, no evil remains on Earth. Human evolution thus implies a transformation of the Earth's interior. In the beginning the nature of the Earth's body was such as to hold subsequent developments in check. In the end, when human powers have transformed the Earth, it will be a spiritualised Earth. In this way man imparts his own being to the Earth.
Now there are occasions when the very substance of the passions of the Fire-Earth begins to rebel. Aroused by men's passions, it penetrates through the Fruit-Earth, forces its way through the channels in the upper layers and even flows up into and violently shakes the solid Earth: the result is an earthquake. If this passion from the Fire-Earth thrusts up some of the Earth's substance, a volcano erupts. All this is closely connected with man. In Lemurian times, the upper layer was still very soft and the Fire-layer was near the surface. Human passions and the “passion-substance” of this layer are related; when men give rein to evil passions they strengthen its passions, and that is what happened at the end of Lemurian times. Through their passions the Lemurians made the Fire-Earth rebellious, and in this way they brought the whole Lemurian continent to destruction. No other cause for this destruction could be found except in what they had themselves drawn forth from the Earth. Today the layers are thicker and firmer, but there is still this connection between human passions and the passion-layer in the interior of the Earth; and it is still an accumulation of evil passions and forces that gives rise to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
How man's destiny and will are related to happenings in the Earth can be seen from two examples which have been occultly investigated. It has been found that persons who have been killed in an earthquake appear in their next incarnation as men of high spiritual quality and faith. They had progressed far enough to be convinced by that final stroke of the transitoriness of earthly things. The effect of this in Devachan was that they learnt a lesson for their next lives: that matter is perishable but spirit prevails. They did not all come to realise that, but many of them are now living as people who belong to some spiritual-theosophical movement.
In the other example, the births which occurred during a time of frequent earthquakes were investigated. It was found that all those born at about the time of an earthquake, though not exactly in its area, were, surprisingly enough, men of a very materialistic cast of mind. The earthquakes were not the cause of this; rather it was these strongly materialistic souls, ripe for birth, who worked their way down into the physical world by means of their astral will and let loose the forces of the Fire-Earth layer, which proceeded to shake the Earth at the time of their birth.
Man transforms his dwelling-place and himself at the same time, and when he spiritualises himself, he spiritualises the Earth also. One day, at a later planetary stage, he will have ennobled the Earth by his own creative power. Every moment when we think and feel, we are working on the great structure of the Earth. The Leaders of mankind have insight into such relationships and seek to impart to men the forces which will work in the true direction of evolution. One of the latest of these impulses is the Theosophical Movement. Its purpose is to develop harmony and balance in the very depths of the human soul. Anyone who puts the assertion of his own opinion higher than love and peace has not thoroughly understood the idea of Theosophy. The spirit of love must penetrate even into the opinions a man holds. In the course of occult development he must unavoidably learn this, or he will get no further. He must renounce entirely his own opinions and must wish to be solely an instrument of the objective truth which comes from the spiritual world and flows through the world as the one great Truth. The more a man renounces himself and sets his own opinions aside, becoming instead a channel for the great Truth, the more does he manifest the true spirit of Theosophy.
All this is extraordinarily difficult today. But theosophical teaching is itself a promoter of peace. When we come together so that we may live within this teaching, it gives rise to peace. But if we introduce something from outside, we bring dissension in, and that should really be an impossibility. So the theosophical conception of the world must pass over into feeling — into something I would call a spiritual atmosphere — in which Theosophy lives. You must have a will to understand; then Theosophy will hover like a unifying spirit over our gatherings, and from there will spread its influence out through the world.