The Christian Mystery
XXII. Christian Initiation and Rosicrucian Training
22 February 1907, Vienna,
Yesterday our theme was more connected with the external, exoteric aspect of spiritual science. 174Public lecture on spiritual research and its mission given in Vienna on 21 February 1907. Rudolf Steiner spoke on the same subject in Berlin on 11 October 1906 (see Supersensible Knowledge (GA 55); tr. R. Stebbing. Hudson & London: Anthroposophic Press & Rudolf Steiner Press 1987. Today we will have some comments on the inner, esoteric aspect of spiritual science.
When one speaks to a large or also a smaller audience about the discoveries made in spiritual research, which is our mission today, people will soon ask where such knowledge comes from. How can one also come to learn something about the higher worlds oneself? The question is very much to the point. One has to understand, however, that one cannot make one's own observations at a very early stage, and certainly not before one is familiar with the important ideas in the science of the spirit. It is necessary first to make the acquaintance, in a way, of the general ideas and thoughts that are part of the anthroposophical approach. One must have made the effort to gain some idea, and it is possible for everyone to do so, that there is truth in anthroposophy. Finally one must have tried, using human logic, to grasp the inner connections in what is taught in the science of the spirit.
In principle there can be no objection today to someone wanting to ascend through the stages of higher knowledge himself. Yes, people talk a great deal of the dangers and obstacles one meets in occult development—which is the term used for our inner development. There is much talk of hatha-yoga and raja-yoga, 175Hatha-Yoga uses mainly external methods such as holding one's breath and special body positions. Raja-Yoga is the 6th to 8th stages on the way to salvation in Sankhya philosophy—concentration, meditation, complete absorption. but this is really just theory. If the thing is done the right way, if the individual who guides such inner development is also entitled to do so, there is really no danger. It is important to do things the right way, that is what matters. A lecture like the one I am giving today is not designed to give instructions—please let me stress this—for these must always be from person to person. Giving such instructions is a tremendous responsibility, and receiving them one must understand that the chosen individual really deserves one's trust. This trust is absolutely essential.
Occult or inner human development will thus gradually take the individual through the stages of higher knowledge. Let me give you an outline of the essential aspects of this, for information, as I said, not in form of instructions.
When someone has reached the summit of understanding, when someone is up on the mountain top, he has an open view in all directions. That is how it is in physical existence and also in the process of gaining insight. One does not have that open view when one has not yet reached the top but is on the way up. As one climbs higher, one is able to perceive more and more, but a great deal continues to be hidden by the mountain. This image of a mountain is a good one for inner development. Everyone who seeks to ascend to levels of higher insight must start from a point that is right for him. This means, people are different on this earth, also in their physical, etheric and astral constitutions. The outer natures of a Hindu, a person from the Near East, a European or American differ, much more so than someone who does not have occult knowledge may think. Exercises suitable for the inner development of anyone who has the Hindu nature cannot be used in that way for a Western person. It was wrong, therefore, to transfer the Oriental yoga teaching to Europe. This has done much harm. A Hindu's much softer body can be developed in a very different way than a European organism which has grown much harder due to Western civilization. Human natures thus differ much more than you may think. An anatomist cannot tell you anything about this, but someone who is clairvoyant and looks inside knows how tremendously natures differ.
We can divide present-day humanity into three types. There are still those for whom the Oriental yoga initiation is essentially right, others for whom the gnostic Christian way is open, and finally those—and they are by far the greatest in number—for whom the way known as the Rosicrucian way from the 14th century is the right one. Please note, these ways do not lead to different insights, for once you are up on the summit all things are the same. But the ways that lead to the summit are and must be different.
Many things can be achieved by taking the gnostic Christian way, and it is possible to gain the most sublime insights. But the Rosicrucian way is suitable for modern people because they may find themselves in situations where doubts arise and trouble looms because of our present-day way of life, and these must be removed for the sake of the individuals concerned and for their work in the world. This is only possible if one goes through inner training based on the Rosicrucian method, which is the right one for the Western world.
Let me present some aspects of gnostic Christian initiation, so that you may see it as a field about which much can still be learned today. I am then going to go straight on to Rosicrucian training. We'll leave the Oriental yoga way aside for today.
The Christian way is laid down in a text that is little understood outside occult circles. The gospel of John gives a complete outline of the right way of Christian initiation.
John's gospel is one of the most profound texts in the world, but one has to be able to read it in the right way, that is, one should not think that just reading it is enough and the right thing to do. It is a book for life. Above all you have to understand that even the first words are not written just for people to read or for philosophical speculation. They are written for meditation. We have to have them the proper way, however, not in the usual translation. The first verses of John's gospel must be created out of the substance of the language so that one has not only the meaning of the sentences but also their sound quality. The sound quality or value still matters for genuine occult life.
To meditate, we enter deeply into particular formulas, sentences or even words. But meditation as an important means of inner development is not a matter of entering into something we are given by our occult teacher in a philosophical or intellectual way. It is a matter of entering into the actual sound qualities. If you were to think about a sentence your teacher has given you, you could only develop thoughts about it that you already have. You are, however, to have something new. That is the important point. Sentences given for meditation open up the gates to the world of the spirit for you. They are based on experience gained over hundreds of years. Every letter, every turn of phrase is known to have an effect on the soul. You therefore need to meditate those first sentences to the letter. Correctly translated they are:
In the origin was the word, and the word was with god, and a god was the word.
This was in the origin with god.
All things have come into being through it, and except by this, nothing of what has arisen has come into being.
In it was life, and the life was the light of humanity. And the light shone into the darkness, but the darkness did not grasp it.
There came to be a human being, sent by god, his name John.
He came to bear witness that he might bear witness to the light and that through him all might believe.
He was not the light but a witness of the light.
For the true light that enlightens all human beings was to enter into the world.
It was in the world, and the world came into being through it, but the world did not recognize it.
Into individual human beings (all the way to the I-human beings) it came, but the individual human beings (the I-human beings) did not receive it.
Those however who did receive it were able to reveal themselves through it to be god's children.
Those who put their trust in its name have come into being not out of the blood, not out of the will of the flesh, not out of the will of man, but out of god.
And the word came to be flesh and dwelt among us and we have heard its teaching, the teaching of the one son of the father, full of loving devotion and truth.
If we had more time together I could tell you many things about these first sentences. Hundreds and hundreds of people have gone through the things I am now telling you about this Christian initiation. It has become practical experience for thousands. Let me just briefly indicate some stages of Christian initiation.
The pupils would first of all be told: For weeks, months, years you must set some time aside every morning when you let these first lines of John's gospel come alive in your soul. Turn your attention away from everything that is going on around you during this time. You must turn blind and deaf to everything around you, and these words should arise in your soul as though you were hearing them, day by day, over and over again.
This exercise will first of all have a particular effect on the soul. Its magic brings it about that such a person suddenly finds his dreams becoming regular, assuming regular forms. And then a moment will come when the individual knows that he is not in a dream world. Instead he'll know that he has a new reality around him—imaginative astral reality. Just as in ordinary conscious awareness we see tree and shrub around us, so we now see the things experienced in yonder world. Initially like dream images, and then more and more in a living vision seen in the waking state, the pupil will see the first twelve chapters of John's gospel before him.
After this experience the teacher of Christian initiation will say to his pupil: ‘You must now prepare for the experience of the 13th chapter. Imagine a plant. This grows out of the mineral world. If it were able to think and have inner responses it would have to say to the mineral world: “I grow out of you. You may be a lower world than I am, but I could not possibly live without you.” And it would have to bend down to the mineral world in gratitude and say: “I thank you, stone! I owe to you my whole existence.”’ An animal would have to speak in the same way to the plant. And man would have to bend down to the lower worlds of nature and have the same inner response. And everyone who has advanced more on the social scale should bend down before those who are below him and say: ‘Without you I could not have life.’
The pupil has to practice giving himself up to this completely and do so for weeks and months. Then two symptoms will arise, which are the same for everyone. He will first of all experience both the external and the inner symptom as a particular fact. He will see himself as the thirteenth, who washes the feet of the twelve. In washing their feet, Christ Jesus sought to make this great truth apparent to the twelve. This wondrous inner experience comes to the human being in the process of initiation. It also goes as far as external symptoms. He will experience something that feels as if he was dipping his feet in water. Nobody needs to be afraid of this; it will soon pass.
When the pupil has gone this far, the teacher will come and say: ‘Now you must enter into another sphere of inner responsiveness. In life pain and suffering come to us from all directions. You must enter into a condition where you meet all the suffering and all the pain that are coming from all directions in this world as an upright human being, so that they cannot harm you. You must stay with these things for weeks and months.’ Then a time comes when an astral symptom shows itself. He'll see himself in a vision of the scourging, with a sensation rather like it felt all over the body, which will pass; but the result will be that the pupil lets this feeling enter into the whole of his body. With this he has reached a level of maturity where he is able to land upright as life plies its scourge.
For the third stage he is given the instruction: ‘You must now enter into an inner feeling of how things would be with you if you not only had to bear pain and suffering but had scorn and derision poured over all that is most sacred to you. You must be able to stand up, using the powers of your inmost soul, and have a centre in you that enables you to stand erect.’ A new vision will then come, where the pupil sees himself wearing the crown of thorns. The external symptom of this is a kind of headache. This indicates, right down into the limbs, that this great experience has come.
Then comes the fourth station. The earthly body must become an outside thing for the pupil. Most people feel it is their I. The body has to be like a piece of wood, something external. The pupil must learn to say not ‘I am walking through this door’, but ‘I carry the body through this door.’ His body must be very much an object to him. Having lived into this for weeks and months, the pupil will have a vision, an astral experience where he sees himself crucified. That is the fourth station. Stigmata will appear for a brief period during meditation as an external symptom on the hands, feet and in the right side—not the left, as is generally thought. They indicate that this degree of development has also entered into the flesh.
The stages that follow cannot be discussed, for we do not have words for them. The fifth stage is the mystic death, where the pupil will first truly have the experience of a black curtain between him and reality. He will feel lost in a way, utterly isolated, as it were, until insight is gained. It is as if the world of the flesh has vanished, and something like an impenetrable black curtain lies before the eye of the soul. This is a moment everyone must go through on this way to initiation. You encounter all the truly great suffering and pain that may rest deep down in the soul, and all the evil there is in the world. This is the descent into hell. Then it seems to the pupil as if the veil tears apart and he looks into the other world.
There follows the entombment, an experience where one feels at one with the planets, and the seventh level, of which we cannot speak, for the individual has to separate his thinking from his brain to have even an inkling of it. This is ascension into heaven.
My aim in giving you this description of Christian initiation was to help you understand what it is about. It is a way full of renunciation. It may be followed quietly, attracting no notice, and there are people among you who have gone through all this. It happens between the lines in life, as it were, and the more serious it is the less will it be visible on the outside.
People must go through the Rosicrucian initiation to be armed against anything that may come from the outside. Many of the things you read about this in books are apt to make you think that the Rosicrucians are really charlatans, for that is how learned people often describe them.
True Rosicrucians have recognized one another by a secret sign since the 14th century. They must never speak of the true nature of Rosicrucianism to an outsider. But from a particular point in time that came in the 19th century it has indeed become necessary to tell people the elementary aspects of Rosicrucian initiation. Human beings are very gradually growing up and developing the maturity they will need if they are to learn something about these things. We'll not be able to go into the question today as to why it has to be like this and why the more sublime secrets must still remain hidden.
Rosicrucian initiation is also in seven stages. These are 1) study, Rosicrucian study; 2) gaining imaginative perception; 3) learning the occult script; 4) finding the philosopher's stone; 5) living experience of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm; 6) entering wholly into the macrocosm, and 7) godliness.
Let me say once again that I can only give an outline, and no more.
Study is not the kind of learning we generally know. Instead one has to discover that there is a way of thinking that is still fluid and real, keeping out all sensory perceptions of the world around us. Western philosophers deny the existence of such a way of thinking. 176Rudolf Steiner was probably thinking mainly of E. von Hartmann. See note 166. They say it is only possible to think if the thought still has a residue of sensory perception in it. Those gentlemen do not know that other people have been able to do this, and they do not wish to believe it because they themselves are unable to think in this way. Man must learn to forget everything, to leave everything aside that influences the senses from the outside, yet without being an empty vessel. This is possible if one enters wholly into a pure thought content that has no sensual connection, as given by the spiritual scientist, and reflects on the thoughts that evolve. I have shown this way in my books, writing them in such a way that one element arises from another, as in a living being, so that one thought follows organically from another. You give yourself selflessly to the thought, and an inner separation results. Anyone who wishes to move to a higher level must read things written out of the science of the spirit in this way. Anyone who does not wish to reach a higher level may read them like an ordinary book. The former is the case because higher perception takes the human being into other worlds. You are now living on the physical plan—plan, not plane, for like the plan of a house it has nothing to do with being level. You thus come to different plans, into different worlds. At first you live here in the physical world, then you enter into the astral, imaginative world. It is a world we may describe as follows. Imagine a plant, green, with a red flower. You do special exercises that enable you not only to see what the senses see but to perceive how a cold flame form arises from the plant, is it were. You perceive floating colours. You thus perceive spiritual entities that you cannot perceive with the ordinary senses. Everything evaporates from the surface of things and becomes the expression of purely astral events. This world is much more real than our sense-perceptible world, for the world of the senses has been created out of that world of the spirit. This physical world has condensed out of the astral world. Matter is condensed spirit to the true occultist, and we can dissolve it again. The whole of our sense-perceptible world is condensed astral reality.
Behind this astral world is yet another world which may best be described by showing you how human beings come to gain living experience of it. When someone does the exercises I have described in my books, his dreams will first of all become regular. Try and enter into the nature of dreams. What is a dream? Let me give you some examples. They are taken from life, for I do not speak of other things.
Someone has dreamt he has caught a tree frog and then finds he has taken hold of a corner of his bed covers. The dream symbolized the occurrence. Another example is someone dreaming that he's in a dark, musty hole of a cellar full of spiders' webs. He wakes up with a headache. Some dreams may involve high drama. A student is standing at the door of the lecture theatre. Another one comes in jostles him, and a duel is fought with pistols. The shot rings out—and the chair next to the bed has fallen over. This minor incident has come to symbolic expression in the whole dramatic story of the dream. A farmer's wife dreams she's going to town and entering a church where the priest's sermon is of sublime things. Just when it gets really sublime, the priest begins to change. It looks as if he is growing wings and then he suddenly begins to crow. At that moment the farmer's wife wakes up and the cock is crowing outside. The cock's crow has been transformed and taken symbolic form in the dream.
Dreams are thus highly creative. Everything is chaotic in them. But life is given to this world and everything becomes harmonious and regular if you gain the certainty, up to a point, that this represents a reality. This is how it first shows itself, and later one takes things perceived in the world of dreams across into everyday life. Something develops which we may call ‘continuity of conscious awareness’.
Human beings also have dreamless sleep. The Rosicrucian pupil next learns to perceive entities and events around himself in a sleep state. The revelations of the spirit world sound forth from the darkness of dreamless sleep. In the Pythagorean schools this was called the world of the music of the spheres. The world of the spirit sounds forth. If you really want to hear something about the devachan, this must be such that it is described to you as a world of sound. Goethe, who had this degree of Rosicrucian initiation, knew of this: ‘The sun proclaims its old devotion in rival song with brother spheres.’ That is either nonsense or a higher truth. The physical sun does not resound, but the spirit of the sun is a real, resounding entity. And Goethe stayed with the metaphor; in part 2 of Faust, he wrote: ‘Resounding now for ears of spirit the new day is already being born.’ He wrote like that because the music of the spheres of which the Pythagoreans spoke was a reality to him. I can only refer to these things briefly. All things will speak to us, a new revelation will come forth.
Those are the stages the Rosicrucian pupil can reach by means of exercises. The worlds are always completely different, and someone who only knows the physical world can have no idea of the things one can learn in other worlds. One thing is the same for all worlds, however, and that is logical thinking. Our perceptions are entirely different in the astral, in the devachanic world, but the laws of thinking are the same in all three worlds. A Rosicrucian pupil must therefore first learn this way of thinking, so that he may keep to the proper path and not lose his way.
The 2nd stage consists in gaining imaginative perception. I can only tell you a few things that should explain what is meant by this. When you see a tear rolling down a cheek, you conclude that the soul is filled with sadness. When you see a cheerful face you conclude that the soul is cheerful. You draw these conclusions in relation to people. When you want to ascend to imaginative perception you must do this in relation to the whole world. The life of plants, animals and stones should express the physiognomy of the world soul for you. Some things must be like our cheerfulness, other things like tears wept by the earth spirit. This must become very real to the person. And much can be experienced in this way. The secret of the holy grail, the ideal of medieval Rosicrucian pupils, is connected with this.
Let us take an example. The Rosicrucian pupil would meet his teacher who would give him an exercise to do. I am going to put this in the form of a dialogue, though it has never been spoken dialogue. But what it conveys was practised and became living experience. It is entirely true and absolutely correct in every detail. The pupil would come to his teacher who would say to him: ‘Look at the plant. It extends its root into the soil, it grows upwards, opening its calyx at the top, and in there are its organs of fertilization and reproduction. Chastely and nobly and in purity it lets the sun's ray kiss it; the light, the sacred lance of love, which penetrates the calyx as a sunbeam and calls forth the potential that lies in the plant's organs of fertilization. You would have the wrong idea if in comparing the plant with a human being you were to think that the root is the head and the flower the lower part. Man is an inverted plant.’
The occultist thus sees the inverted plant in man and the inverted human being in the plant, with the animal between the two. ‘Look at the plant. It is the arm of the cross that goes down, the animal is the horizontal arm, and man the vertical arm.’ 177Rudolf Steiner often referred to this, e.g. in a lecture he gave in Basel on 22 Nov. 1907 (in GA 100); Typescript notes EN 50 at Rudolf Steiner House Library, London. There he said: ‘You draw the plant vertically, pointing to the earth, the human being also vertically, but pointing away from the earth, and the animal horizontally.’ Also in Berlin on 29 May 1905, in The Temple Legend GA 93); tr. J. Wood. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1985. This is in contrast to the drawing for the lecture given in Leipzig on 16 February 1907 (in this volume); see note 168. That is the original significance of the cross. It is the symbol for plant, animal and man as three realms of nature. Plato therefore wrote that the world's soul was crucified on the world's body. And the teacher would go on to say to the pupil: ‘Look at the human being, the human being in the flesh. What is this human flesh? Compare it with the matter contained in a plant. Plant matter is chaste and pure. Human flesh is full of passion and desire. Man is higher up on the evolutional scale, but this also means that he has taken in passion and desire.’ And the occult pupil would begin to intuit a future human being whose flesh would be pure and chaste again, like the chaste calyx of a flower which holds out its organs of fertilization to the sunbeam's sacred lance of love. Then his productive powers would reach out to the spirit just as today the plant reaches out to the lance of love, to the light. Those who sought to achieve this went through a transformation of the flesh. And so the pupil was presented with the great ideal of the human being who one day will be as pure and chaste as the plant. This ideal is called the holy grail. It is one of the images that speak to the heart and the whole soul. The pupil was able to rise higher not through thoughts but through images that influence the whole soul, captivating heart, mind and soul. Only then can imaginative perception be achieved.
The 3rd level involves learning the occult script. Something exists in this world which in occult life is called the vortex. It is to be found everywhere in nature and in the world of the spirit. Imagine you are looking up to the Orion nebula, which is a distinctive spiral. If you were a seer you would see that a vortex emerges like a figure 6, with a second vortex that is darker. The two intertwine. This also occurs in the world of the spirit.
We live in the age that follows the great Atlantean flood. Before that, our earliest ancestors were human beings of a very different kind. People imagine today that in those times human beings were just as they are now. But the physical conditions were completely different then. Atlantis was always in darkness, enveloped in masses of dense fog. It is important for you to know this. Old German mythology holds memories of Niflheim [land of mist] and Nibelungs [creatures of the mist]. Under those conditions the human constitution was very different. The Atlanteans also had a completely different culture. You might get an idea of this if I were to give you details of the way people heard articulated sounds in all things at that time. There were no moral laws. If someone wanted to know how to relate to a neighbour, he could not appeal to some authority or other; he would listen to the waves and then he would know.
It was a culture of which no trace seems to remain. It perished. When did this happen? We can see that in the heavens. About 8 centuries before the Christ was born the sun rose in the Ram. It takes about 2160 years to move through a sign of the zodiac. The sun moved into the sign of the Ram, or the Lamb, about 800 years before Christ. People felt the new constellation had brought them the new fruitfulness of spring, something new and good. We see from this that they felt the Lamb or the Ram to be important. Many things point to this, among them the legend of the Argonauts, in which the golden fleece plays such a role. The Christ himself is called the Lamb of God. The lamb was the symbol for offering veneration. Before that, the sun had been in the sign of the Bull, hence the veneration of the bull in Egyptian and Persian culture. Even earlier the sun passed through the sign of the Twins. In accord with this, duality played a great role in the Persian teachings of Ormazd and Ahriman. Traces of this still persisted in ancient Germanic culture. Before that, the sun was passing through Cancer. This was the period that followed the Atlantean flood. A vortex had occurred in the realm of the spirit.
This constellation with the occult sign of Cancer can still be seen in the calendar today. Many such signs are known to man. In reality this is nothing but a recreation of primal forces of nature. If you train your heart and mind to understand the occult signs you will steel your will with this occult script. You get to know the ways of the spirits that are behind nature. A faint echo remains in symbolic signs such as the pentagram and hexagram. One occult sign you often read about is the swastika. 178The next public lecture Rudolf Steiner gave was the one on 29 April 1906 (in this volume). There followed the fundamental course of lectures he gave on 22 August–4 September 1906 in Stuttgart (At the Gates of Spiritual Science; GA 95). The strange explanations given for it are quite unbelievable. In reality it is nothing but the sign for the astral sense organs, the wheels or lotus flowers, several of which are potentially present in the astral body—in the heart, the larynx, between the eyebrows. Astral vision begins when the last named of these wheels begins to turn. The swastika is the sign for this astral organ of perception.
The 4th level is called preparing the philosopher's stone. This is a reality. At the end of the 18th century someone who had got hold of something, but not exactly the right idea, put quite a good description of the philosopher's stone in a journal. He actually did not know himself how good it was. At that time a number of things from the occult school were wrongly made public, and so someone also described the philosopher's stone. This is actually something familiar to everyone, and many people handle it daily without having an idea. To help you see what this is about, follow me in a brief line of thought. Consider human breathing. We inhale oxygen, which changes our blue blood to red, and we exhale carbon dioxide, which means we are all the time exhaling poisonous matter. Plants on the other hand take up the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and animals and retain the carbon to build up their bodies. They release the oxygen, so that humans can inhale it again. This is a cycle. Occultists attached great importance to this process. If you dig up a plant form that has become coal today you can see that the plant built up its body of carbon. Humans take in oxygen, changing blue blood into red; plants take in carbon dioxide and return the oxygen which humans then take in again.
Let us try and see what happens when the breathing process is regulated in a particular way in Rosicrucian training. The way in which it is done can only be passed on from person to person, but it is possible to speak of the effect. ‘A steady drip will hollow the stone’, as the saying goes. And that applies with the process I am now describing. The occult pupil is instructed by his teacher on doing his breathing exercises out of the spirit. It is an instruction, therefore, to regulate his breathing process in a particular way and this makes it possible for the human mind to expand a little as time goes on. It is something of which human beings normally know nothing and has to do with something that happens in the plant. The plant now becomes at one with him. Normally human beings exhale carbon dioxide and take in oxygen. The pupil must bring this to mind consciously. In his breathing he consciously experiences the change from carbon to oxygen, blue blood to red blood. He learns to do something in himself that is normally left to the plant. He will then be able to build up his own body. He learns to do so by means of regular breathing. This, then, is a real process in which the human being learns to purify his flesh also at the physical level. The alchemy of the human body lies in this. The human being is transformed into the vehicle for a pure, chaste incarnation that may be compared to a plant. The pupil is aware of something sublime, light and bright. He knows he only had to go through the flesh. That is the transformation of coal into diamond. You'll now understand the significance of bringing rhythm into the breathing in Rosicrucian training and know what was meant by the philosopher's stone. The regulated breathing process is the way to the philosopher's stone.
I am only touching on things lightly, but you'll understand that something profound lies behind the search for the philosopher's stone, something connected with the transformation of the whole of mankind, so that human beings will be different from the way they are today—they and the whole earth. That is how great and strong and firm, morally great, the powers of soul must be if man is to make the flesh, too, part of the process of redemption. We also have to redeem everything that exists around us, all creation.
The 5th level is to enter deeply into the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm. A great occultist of medieval times, someone we must first learn to read, used a beautiful image to show the relationship between macrocosm and microcosm. Paracelsus said: You see there the individual letters. Man is the word made up of the letters. And so we have to see man spread out in the whole of nature, and man himself as a compendium of nature. Paracelsus referred to a cholera patient as Arsenicus, for example, for the powers active in him are the same as those active in arsenic.
But there is more. When someone concentrates really hard on a particular part inside him, the point between the eyebrows—this, of course, is only a reference point—he will have a particular experience in which he is taken into the inner events of the great world. These correspond to the part which in the human microcosm lies between the eyes. And so the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm has to be experienced bit by bit. Entering deeply into his inner life, the pupil must get to know the outside world.
At the 6th and 7th levels the Rosicrucian pupil comes to be at one with the whole world. He gains true knowledge of the outside world. And his feelings and his whole soul become one with the outside world to the same degree. This is the condition known as godliness. The earth's body is then his body. And the pupil achieves the stage known as being at one with the universe. It is a long road along one particular path. Those who have gone through it become messengers of the spiritual world, speaking from real experience.
It is a road anyone can follow today—certainly in principle. It will take a long time for some, and a shorter time for others. One of the best theosophists, the late Subba Row, said about the time needed, which people ask about so often: ‘It is true that one person needed 70 incarnations, another 7 incarnations, someone else again 70 years or perhaps 7 years; there have been people who achieved it in 7 months, and some in just 7 days, depending on their karma from former lives on earth.’ Setting out on the road one must be patient and persevere, knowing that one will be exposed to great dangers unless one has first gone through character training.
Let me give you an analogy. Take a green liquid produced by mixing blue and yellow. You can separate the blue from the yellow by using a chemical agent. Before that, the individual properties of the two solutions were not apparent. Now they show those properties. And that is how it is with the human being. High and low qualities are mixed. The lower ones are prevented from taking full effect because the higher ones have been added. If you now separate the two by doing the exercises you may find that someone who until now was more or less bearable grows malicious and cunning and also shows a whole lot of other bad characteristics. This is something you have to understand. The danger can definitely be prevented by doing specific preliminary exercises that establish a particular inner morality full of character.
The pupil must first learn to keep strict control of his thoughts. He must practise making one thought the focus of his inner life for a long period, the more intensely so the better. He must stick with it and let all thoughts follow from it. This exercise must be done for at least five minutes every day. The more the better, but one should not overdo it.
2) It is necessary to be able to take initiative in one's actions. This is done by the pupil doing one particular thing on his own initiative every day. It may be something quite small and insignificant, for instance watering one's flowers. After a time one takes up another initiative.
3) One has to gain mastery over pleasure and pain. There must be no more of being on top of the world one moment and down in the dumps the next. This mastery will make you more subtly receptive, but you yourself must be the master, not your inner responses.
4)There is need to be positive. A Persian legend about Christ Jesus will show you what is meant. The Christ was walking with some of his disciples. A dead, partly decomposed dog was lying by the roadside. The disciples turned away and said: ‘How horrible that creature is!’ The Christ stopped, however, and said: ‘Look how beautiful the animal's teeth are!’ You can look for and find something beautiful in the ugliest things, something great in the smallest of things. One must always look for the positive side.
5) One has to learn to be completely unbiased towards anything new. Absence of bias to the highest degree. People tend to say: ‘I've never heard of this before, seen this before; I don't believe it!’ We have to learn in the widest possible sense never to say something is impossible. There should be a place in our hearts where one allows it to be possible, say, that the church tower is at an angle if someone says it is at an angle. We should at least consider it to be possible if we hear such a thing.
The 6th level consists in bringing the 5 qualities into harmony.
The pupil will then have developed such inner strength that he will be protected from anything occult training might otherwise do to him. It would be wrong to set limits to occult training and say: ‘All I want is the ethical value.’ Anyone wishing to enter into the higher worlds must follow the indicated route. The road to the most sublime insights is also the way of greatest compassion. We must gain such compassion from insight, not with phrases. When someone has broken a leg all the people standing around full of compassion will be of no use, only the one individual who knows what to do and does it properly. Merely to preach theosophy is like standing in front of the stove and saying: ‘It is your duty to get the room warm.’ And it is the same if you tell people to practise brotherly love. Just as you have to put wood in the stove and put a match to it, so you have to give people what they need if their souls are to unite in one great brotherhood, and that is insight. True insight is the fuel for the great brotherly union among human beings. Today we have the age of materialism, and because of this people have gone their separate ways.