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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 27

Berlin, 2-26-'08

You'll remember the esoteric saying that stood on one of our columns at the Munchen congress:

In pure thoughts you find the self
That can maintain itself.

The truth in this verse makes up a large part of esoteric life. One can divide everything that a man thinks and feels today into two areas. By far the most of what men think and feel is stimulated by outer perceptions. Thoughts and feelings are ignited by things. In principle it makes no difference whether you see a streetcar and let your thoughts be stimulated by this or if an astronomer looks through a telescope and calculates a planet's path on the basis of these observations with the help of the arc of a circle. All thoughts that are stimulated from outside hinder the astral body's development. The astral body is active all night long. All the thoughts that a man thought during the day come to it. And since these are mostly thoughts that arose through stimulation from outside, they burden it. Only the part of the astral body that preserved its harmony through the fact that it's born out of higher worlds works on the restoration of the worn out physical and etheric bodies. Only thoughts that aren't stimulated from outside work as forces in the astral body to promote and purify it.

Where do these thoughts come from? They come from divine creator beings. It's very important for an occult pupil to know about the thoughts of these spiritually creative beings. These beings had the present world in them as thoughts before they created it. The very first thing that was in them was will; the will to act was there first. This stimulated them to have feelings. And from feelings arose the thought by which they solidified and created things. Thus the world was built according to thoughts.

Today the carrying out of a human deed occurs in the reverse order. The thought is there first—stimulated by an outer object; this arouses a feeling, and only then does a man's will principle step in to bring about a deed.

All real esoteric life can only develop by taking in the thoughts of these divine creator spirits, the thoughts before the creation of things. Most people devote themselves entirely to exoteric life and try to suppress all esoteric life. Thereby they're holding up human progress. They're enemies of further development and they rigidify men. Only esoteric truths promote human evolution.

Now it's a law of occultism that every esoteric truth is used up after awhile. And mankind's leaders must see to it that a new one is proclaimed. So what do we need a new truth for, some say. They want to stop all esoteric progress. It's the task of all true occultists to see to it that thinking is kept alive and in flux. This is attained by taking in the thoughts of divine creator beings. These thoughts work at night in the astral body and work into the etheric body. And when the work of these thoughts in the astral body becomes ever stronger and more active with respect to the etheric body, then that moment approaches that must come sooner or later for every pupil where he becomes aware of spiritual worlds, where thoughts become impressed in the etheric body like a seal in wax.

One of these thoughts is in the Rosicrucian verse that we spoke of last time. Today we'll look at this verse from a somewhat different viewpoint. We know that Saturn existed first. Its matter wasn't even gaseous, it was a warmth matter. A man with present-day senses would not have seen Saturn; he would only have felt warmth if he was at the place where Saturn stood. A Saturn man consisted of warmth mater. The atmosphere of Saturn was fiery-bloody. Man didn't have any blood yet, but the first germ of his later blood lay in the atmosphere around him. Man's physical parts were only germinally present.

If one looks at how after a pralaya old Saturn changed into old Sun with the spiritual gaze that moves over the planets one notices that Saturn's warmth atmosphere condenses into air. Man gets an etheric body on the Sun. He is a shining being. Spiritual beings work through the Sun's astral atmosphere upon the etheric body, ignite it and thereby make it shine. One calls this the sulfuric process. Something quite similar arises today in thinking. When our fiery blood runs into nerve masses there's a combustion process and things light up.

When the Sun passes over to the Moon, air condenses to water. The Moon's body is a water body. We notice something very strange about this water body. Single water drops change their position in an extremely lively manner and race around with inner mobility. In some respects one can compare this property of the water drops with mercury. That's why one calls this principle that's added on the Moon the mercurial principle. The parts are put together into forms by sounds, somewhat like Chladni's sound figures. First two came together, then two pairs made four, etc., just as one still finds in new plant, animal and human forms. That's the female principle. The male principle only arose later from pure earth forces.

When the moon passed over to the earth, water condensed to earth. The precipitating salt process took place on the earth for the first time through the interaction of fire and water. Man arose from female and male and began to dissolve things again through thinking so that evolution could continue. Man received the erring I on earth.

Now if we look at this evolutionary series we see the four elements fire, air, water, earth as in the third line of the verse (2–12):

... see the three
salt, mercury and sulfur,
two arise from sun and moon (male and female)
From this grows the Son of Man
The crown of creation.

Understood like this, the Rosicrucian verse gains meaning.