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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 25

München, 12-5-'07

The mood of one's soul before and after an esoteric class must be quite different. It's not at all important whether a soul always remembers what it experienced in an esoteric class, but it must have the feeling that it took something with it. Just as one knows one's name, so one must bear what one received in an esoteric class in one's soul. One knows one's name when one is asked for it, even if one doesn't always repeat it to oneself. Likewise the stream of esoteric life must always rest in one's soul. Then esoteric life will deepen our soul ever more, and that's necessary for the coming time.

Our whole civilization has its origin in the spiritual world. That's where plans are made that govern our life on the physical plane. Down here we only see how one event after another takes place according to physical laws, but the great spiritual causes are hidden from us. It's events on higher planes of our existence that bring about physical events. Let's make this quite clear through an example.

An especially important event took place on the astral plane in November 1879. Since then esoteric life has taken on a quite different direction. The esoteric stream that lived in mankind since the 14th century was replaced by a new one. Previously all occult life took place very quietly and hidden from the outer world under the direction of the archangel Gabriel (“annunciation”).

Something quite similar to a birth took place on the astral plane in 1879. What had slowly ripened since the 14th century could now be carried into the world in a freer way, even though only for a few people. For Gabriel's rule was followed by that of the archangel Michael. He's the radiant sun that lets esoteric wisdom shine out into a small host of people. Materialism is included in the divine plan of creation and it has a purpose in the whole world. But the time has now come for the esoteric sun to shine brightly under Michael's radiant direction. For materialism's dark forces are increasing.

Michael's radiant rule will be followed by a dark, terrible age that starts about 2300. Together with Michael, a dark God has begun his rule—the God Mammon. For occultism Mammon isn't just the God of money. He's the leader of all base, black forces. And his hosts attack men's bodies and souls to corrode and ruin them. There's a lot of talk about bacteria today, and they influence a lot of things. In future they'll increase in a terrifying way, and many human bodies will waste away from terrible diseases and plagues. The brand of sin will be stamped on men's bodies for all to see. Another archangel—Oriphiel—will rule then. He must come to shake men up to their true vocation through terrible tortures. So that this can happen in the right way a small group of people must be prepared today to spread esoteric life in the black age 400–600 years from now.

One under Michael's rule who feels the urge to participate in spiritual life is called upon to serve archangel Michael and to learn under him so that someday he'll be mature enough to also serve the terrible Oriphiel in the right way. A sacrifice is demanded from those who want to dedicate themselves to a higher life. One should only want to receive spiritual life and experience an awakening if one later wants to use this to put oneself, one's will and everything one has in the service of mankind only.

In four to six centuries the small group of men who are being prepared today will serve the God Oriphiel so that mankind can be saved. If in that age men wanted to be spiritual leaders who hadn't been prepared to stand fast in all storms and to resist Mammon's hosts, they wouldn't be able to serve the God Oriphiel in the right way, and mankind would not be lifted out of their misery. So in order to do it we must work very earnestly now to fulfill our tasks then.

But when dark powers rage most terribly, the brightest light also shines. Oriphiel has ruled before. That was the time when Christ appeared on earth. Bad powers of degeneration and decadence were ruling everywhere on earth then. And the human race could only be shaken higher by terrible means. Oriphiel is called the archangel of wrath, who purifies mankind with a strong hand.

The story in the Bible where Christ swings a scourge to chase the money changers out of the temple has a deep meaning. Back when things were darkest on earth, Christ appeared as the savior of mankind. Oriphiel's reign ended 109 years after Christ's appearance, and he was replaced by Anael. Then came Zachariel, then Raphael; Samael ruled during the Renaissance and Gabriel from the 16th century until 1879. Then Michael began to rule, and circa 2300 Oriphiel, the terrible archangel of wrath, will be ruling things. And as once before, spiritual light will shine into darkness brightly and radiantly. Christ will appear again on earth, although in a different form than before. We're called upon to receive him and to serve him.

When you, my sisters and brothers, let the spiritual life that streams into your soul live in you so that it reverberates in your meditations, you then have the right fruit. You should let what's received echo in your meditations. While you do that the spiritual powers of the world stream into you. The world is always flowed through by spiritual streams that proceed from the great masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings. The masters continuously pour streams of love and wisdom over humanity, but men's souls aren't always ready and open to receive them. But meditation words are magic words that open soul portals so that divine life can move in. That's why one shouldn't speculate with one's intellect about meditation words, but should open the soul for forces that are higher than merely intellectual ones. If one speculates about them with one's intellect then only forces that are already in one become active. But higher forces are supposed to awaken. One shouldn't want to solve riddles in one's meditation words, one should let them solve riddles, for they're much wiser than the intellect can ever be. That's why one should let them work on one and take in what they permit to flow into one's soul, let them live completely in one's soul.

Meditation words were born from the laws of the spiritual world and didn't arise through speculation. Something special lives in every vowel. Each of the vowels has a different sound value. And just as the soul feels the effect of sounds, so it should devote itself to the pictures that the words mediate to it. In meditation one should try to think as concretely as possible, and to be as far away as possible from abstract ideation.

Let's take a meditation formula that most of you know. In the first line:

In pure rays of light,

one can imagine something like palely gleaming moonlight that represents the soft light of the Godhead that flows through creation. This mental image should live quite clearly and intimately in the soul at the words:

In pure rays of light
Gleams the Godhead of the world.

Then come the lines:

In pure love to all beings
Radiates the godliness of my soul.

Now one tries to permeate soft moonlight completely with one's love, to pour it into oneself, so that the mild light begins to radiate through the warmth of one's love, and in the flood of rays one feels the Godhead glowing in one's soul. In the following words:

I rest in the Godhead of the world,

one tries to imagine that divine-spirit is flowing all around one. One can feel as if one were in a lukewarm bath, entirely embedded in divine substance that envelops one's whole being like a mild bath.

I will find myself
In the Godhead of the world

With these words one can think of a distant light tower that radiates over to one, and can permeate oneself with the feeling that one will find one's own self in divine things.

But it's not only the pictures that live in the soul during meditation that draw us towards the divine and open the soul's portals. A deep wisdom and a high divine life has also been placed into the vowels. It makes a difference whether this or that vowel resounds in the soul. Let's take the vowel i. This always expresses a centralizing, a striving toward the center. The a means something quite different. It's an expression of an inner worship of the divine. The i strives towards the center of the universe, whereas the a(h) remains distant and bows before the Holiest in devotion. So if we look at our formula:

In den reinen Strahlen des Lichtes

in the first i the soul strives towards the divine center, in a it retreats devotedly, and in the second i it hurries towards the divine again. In the second line we have the ae:

Erglaenzt die Gottheit der Welt.

The ae represents a weakened ah. The worshipful devotion of the ah changes in ae to shy reverence. In holy, shy reverence a man doesn't dare to approach God. But in the following o the soul hurries to embrace the divine completely with sacred love and intimacy. The o always expresses an embracing that is full of love. The following line:

In der reinen Liebe zu allen Wesen,

the i again leads the soul directly into the divine center. Then in ah of

Erstrahlt die Goettlichkeit meiner Seele,

the soul again becomes devotion completely. And just as the shy reverence of ae in the second line changed into an intimate embracing of the divine, so in the fourth line the full, warm worshipping of the ah weakens into a shy wanting to embrace that hardly dares to touch the Godhead in oe. In the fifth line,

Ich ruhe in der Gottheit der Welt

the u predominates. This always expresses a resting, a being embedded. Now the soul has been fused with the divine in blessed quiet. In the last two lines,

Ich werde mich selbst finden
In der Gottheit der Welt

the soul is led (i) ever deeper into the center of the world.

This is just one way of understanding the formula, and one small part of the deep wisdom that rests in it. It would be confusing if I wanted to tell you all the deep secrets that are hidden in it. There's no letter and no sign in it that doesn't have a deep, deep meaning. That's the way the divine word of creation resounded when it once let the universe arise. You once heard it sounding, but your souls weren't aware of it yet. At that time you descended from the spirit, and you'll go back there in full consciousness. Born out of the spirit, living in an earthly body, you'll return to the divine spirit of the world through the power of the spirit.