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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 18

Stuttgart, 9-15-'07

It's very important for moderns to get a strong dose of esoteric life. Plagues, epidemics and wars would rage among men in a terrible way if the wise masters hadn't decided to give mankind a deepening in the spiritual realm.

There have always been three kinds of esoterics who were developed in initiation schools: initiates, clairvoyants and adepts. In ancient times it often happened that initiates had a full understanding of spiritual truths and laws, although they weren't clairvoyant. Others in the same brotherhood were clairvoyant but couldn't understand what they saw, so the initiates explained it to them. Today there's less of a separation between clairvoyance and initiation. Whereas adepts were able to put what the clairvoyant saw and initiates explained to practical use. Adeptship must retreat almost entirely today. Our egotistical age can't make proper use of such high capacities. The highest adepts often only work into peoples' fates twice in two hundred years. Their strength is saved for special occasions. For men aren't yet mature enough for certain things. It would only have a harmful effect if one wanted to give them out. Even you, my brothers and sisters, couldn't receive some of the highest truths. If I would tell you such a truth this room would be empty in a few minutes. Even people who have reached a certain stage in esoteric training can't stand certain truths. And yet these are the very highest truths, and your training will eventually enable to you to receive them. But one who receives them too soon loses all support in life. Imagine that a narrow plank is laid over a deep abyss. How many of you would be able to walk over it without getting dizzy? Certainly not all. But if someone painted a path as wide as this plank on the floor of a room it would be easy to walk along the strip without going off to the left or right. And yet he's doing the same thing he'd have to do to walk the plank or strip on the ground. The strip's continuation is the physical world, the world of the senses. It gives men certainty, since it continually corrects wrong thoughts, feelings, etc. Now imagine that the physical world's barriers had fallen so that a man really floats in air without outer support. This is an experience that everyone must go through at some point.

You all know that the heart is just at the beginning of its development and that it will later be a very important organ One doesn't have to accept this on faith for simple observation and reflection lets one see this. It's the greatest riddle for modern scientists that the involuntary heart muscle is transversely striped just like the voluntary muscles this tells us that the heart will be a voluntary muscle in the future.

We speak of reincarnation and the law of karma. One can tell oneself: I don't believe in reincarnation, but I can assume that it exists. I'll act as if my assumption is true and wait to see what comes of it. A man who thinks and acts like this will make amazing discoveries. In everything that happens to him he'll think: I caused this in a past life and now bear the consequences of my own deeds. If such a man unconsciously did something foolish and he's punished for it, he'll think: I'll make myself aware of this foolishness, so that I can see that I was the one who brought on these ugly consequences. This is the real meaning of: Whoever hits you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him also.

Anyone who succeeds in looking for the cause of everything that hits him in himself has accomplished a great deal. One who does this will soon notice that it brings him forward, that he begins to loosen karmic chains and increasingly gets control of his life. Such a man treads his life's path freely and surely. One can verify all theosophical teachings in the same way. So let's all try to bring ever more spirituality into life and make the light and life that the great masters stream into us alive. You should all realize that the battles theosophy and especially esotericism will have to fight with the outer world will get ever bigger. There it's a matter of standing fast and being silent, my sisters and brothers, and stand fast, as you look at your goal and at the great masters who stand by us.