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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 15

Berlin, 1-29-'07

Let's make it clear to ourselves what's really brought about by meditation. Streams of spiritual life are always flowing through the world. These streams can't flow into us when we're thinking about everyday things. But our meditation words are like portals that are to lead us into the spiritual world. They have the strength to open up our soul so that the thoughts of our great leaders, the masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings can stream into us. For this to happen the deepest quiet must reign in us. We must realize that meditation is a very intimate soul activity. So we should let the meditation words given to us by our teacher live in our soul right after we wake up and before other thoughts have gone through our soul. But we shouldn't look upon them as stuff to speculate on and philosophize about; we should think as little as possible about their meaning and significance. We have enough time for reflection the rest of the day. We should hold that off completely while meditating. We shouldn't repeat the words meaninglessly but should be clear that the words open our soul to the instreaming of divine beings, just as a flower opens and lets in sunlight. High spiritual beings whom we call masters stream down to us. We should realize that it's mainly they who guide us and are near to us in meditation. We should also know that they walk on earth incarnated in a physical body. Thus we should let the meditation words live in our soul without pondering about them; rather we should try to grasp the words' spiritual content with our feelings and to permeate ourselves completely with it. The power of these words doesn't just lie in the thoughts, but also in their rhythm and sound. We should listen to this, and if we shut out all sensorial things we can say that we should revel in the sound of the words. Then the spiritual world sounds into us. Since so much depends on the sound of the words one can't translate a meditation formula into a foreign language without further ado. The mediation formulas we received in the German language were brought down from the spiritual world directly for us. Every formula has the greatest effect in the original language. When an East Indian wants to give the highest expression to his reverence for the Godhead who reveals himself in three Logoi, he summarizes his feeling in three times three words that describe the activity of the three Logoi:

Primal-truth, primal-goodness, immeasurability, O Brahma
Primal-blissfulness, eternity, primal-beauty
Peace, blessing, undividedness
Aum, peace, peace, peace.

But the whole wealth of spiritual strength is only reproduced if the words are said in Sanskrit, the original language. Then one hears how even the air resonates:

Satyam jnanam anantam brahma
Anandarupam amritam bibharti
Shantam shivam avaitam
Om, Shantih, shantih, shantih.

The same applies to the Lord's Prayer. Spoken in German, practically the only thing that's effective is the underlying thought. The Latin Pater noster has a better effect, but the whole power and fullness only come to expression in the original Aramaic.

So we should hear our way entirely into the sound of the words. With the word schoepfen (create, also means to scoop, drink) we should have an idea that's as graphic as possible, as if one were dipping out of one vessel into another. All of our thoughts should be as pictorial and as full of content as possible. While meditating the meditation words should receive inner life, but we should exclude all spatial ideas and cling entirely to our senses. For there's spatial perception on the physical plane but not in the astral world. But the color, light, sound, aroma and so on that are connected with the senses are also present in the astral world. That's why in meditation we should try to awaken a sensory idea that's as clear and full of content as possible. Spiritual beings express their nature in colors, sounds, aromas and everything that the senses perceive, and they flow into us when we connect ourselves with sensations. The first Logos streams on as a directly perceptible aroma. A being of a higher or lower nature lives in every odor. Very high, god beings live in incense; they draw us up directly to God. The lowest kind of beings are incarnated in musk scent. People who know about such things use musk for sensual attraction. Spiritual beings also live in sounds and colors, “In pure rays of light ...” One should get a bright, luminous mental image, one should see and feel how luminous streams flow down to one. Every meditation formula is equipped with strength to awaken slumbering forces. But if one always longs for new exercises one destroys the exercise's force and doesn't get its fruit.

In some elementary esoteric schools a pupil is told to think nothing but glass, glass, glass for 15 minutes every day, for instance. If he succeeds in really keeping all other thoughts out of his soul during this time, then his soul becomes quite empty and pure, and the forces slumbering in it awaken, if other influences aren't too strong. But our meditation formulas contain great spiritual forces; they are portals to the spiritual world. The exercises get ever simpler the more a pupil progresses.

We should never let a feeling of regret arise when we let the pictures of the day pass by us in reverse order. We shouldn't wish that we had been better, we should want to get better. We should think: I couldn't do otherwise back then, but now I can do it better and I will do it better in future. With every experience we should ask: Did I do it right; couldn't I have done it better? We should look at ourselves as a stranger, as if we looked at and criticized ourselves from outside. It's very important to be able to remember little details in our daily life. A general who won a big battle has a picture of it before his eyes that evening. But he forgot how he put his boots on and took them off again. If we see ourselves walking down a street we should try to remember how the rows of house ran, which store windows we passed, the people we met, how they and we looked. Then we see ourself going into a store and we recall which sales lady came towards us, what she had on, how she spoke, moved, etc. We must make a big effort to recall such details, and this strengthens the soul's forces.

With practice one can get to the point where the whole day's life runs through the soul, clear as wall paintings with all details in five minutes. This exercise is useless for someone who runs through the day superficially and just registers the events colorlessly. If a man walks a stretch and wants to bring this back he can stand still and try to remember what's behind him. Or he can turn around and look at where he's gone. If a period of time has passed we can initially only recall this with our memory and can't look back at the period of time that has elapsed. But this looking back that we only know in connection with space is also possible in time, and we learn to do it by trying to let the last day pass before us as clearly as possible in perceptible pictures. No event of the past is entirely gone, they're all there in the Akashic record. This is the only way one learns to read it. Initially one only sees things that concern oneself from this, and gradually also other things. That's why the evening retrospect is such an important, indispensable exercise.

An esoteric will gradually notice that his memory is worsening, until it disappears, but it will be replaced by the ability to see the past directly.

The subsidiary exercises strengthen the pupil's soul character, bring it into the right form, and make the results of meditation good. If one chooses a match for the first exercise one has to make a real effort to think about this at least five times every day. It's this effort that awakens the soul's forces. What does a match look like? What kinds of matches exist? How are they made? For what are they used? Where are they stored? What harm can they do? etc. After awhile one will get a feeling of inner certainty and firmness after the exercise. One should pour this into one's head and spinal cord, as if it were water.

Initiative in actions is the second exercise. One chooses actions that one wouldn't have done otherwise and one does them every day at a particular time. Simple exercises that one has to force oneself to do are the most effective to start with. Here again one soon notices a feeling of firmness and the urge to be active. One should pour this feeling like water down from the head to the heart to incorporate it completely.

In the third period one begins to put an end to all fluctuations in one's soul life. All rejoicing up to heaven—saddened to death must disappear. No pain should depress one, no joy should bring one outside of oneself. Fear, excitement and lack of composure must disappear. Thereby a feeling of quiet equanimity becomes noticeable like an inner warmth. One concentrates this feeling in the heart and lets it radiate from there into hands and feet, and then towards the head. After the third period one develops what one calls positivity in one's soul. One also tries to see the good and beautiful in the worst, ugliest and most terrible things, as the Persian legend about Christ tells us. One day one will have a feeling of inner bliss. One concentrates this in the heart, lets it radiate to the head and then out through the eyes.

In the fifth period one practices never letting one's future be determined by the past. One must become entirely unbiased, take in everything, open one's soul. If someone says to one: The church steeple turned last night, one shouldn't laugh at him but should think: Maybe there's a law of nature that I don't know yet. Then one will soon get the feeling that something is streaming into one from the space outside. One sucks this in through eyes, ears and the whole skin, as it were. Then in the sixth period all five exercises should be done at once, to give a harmonious blend. One should also try not to take too much time in doing the morning meditation and the evening review.

One who wants to become a real esoteric should realize that he attains something now that all men will attain later. And he must be clearly aware that great tasks will be given him someday, that he'll be used for the further development of mankind in the future. This thought, this goal must live in him entirely, otherwise he's not an esoteric in the true sense. And if he develops himself into the future like this his eyes will also be opened about the past, and then the present becomes understandable out of the future and past. Thereby past, present and future become harmoniously united. The great masters put this into the sacred syllable AUM. That's one of many interpretations that can be given to this syllable. When we speak this syllable the great masters are here with us and the air resounds with the spiritual power of these sounds: AUM

From notes B: Mercury staff/snake of evil and of good that guides man in the overcoming of evil through his own power through knowledge (Mercury).

Asuras are spirits of the very greatest egoism who remained behind during Saturn evolution. They want to condense matter and compress it ever more so that it can't be spiritualized and brought back to its original condition. They're the dregs of the planetary evolution that goes form Saturn to Vulcan. The asuras inhabit the moon and from there they work on the men whom they want to drag down into the eighth sphere and thereby tear away from progressive evolution and its goal—the Christ. All those who strive towards the eighth sphere will eventually live on a moon.

AUM. One wards off bad influences when one says it in the right way; it connects man with the creating Godhead, the three Logoi. The evil beings who want to tear men away from the Godhead can't stand it. AUM must be spoken with the awareness:

Primal Self from which everything came
Primal Self to which everything returns:
Primal Self that lives in me
Towards you I strive.
Peace-peace-peace = AUM.

A is atma, U is buddhi, M is the wisdom that directs the higher self to AUM.