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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 32

Hamburg, 5-22-'08

Self-knowledge is the thirst and main thing in esoteric training. The teacher says: Imagine that you saw your own mirror image. You'll see a distorted image if the mirror is poor, and a correct one if it's good. If you want to see yourself the way you are, you must make the mirror nice and clear.

One who lets himself be torn back and forth by his desires and wishes, who can't make his own decisions, who follows that other people tell him, is like a boat in a sea that's being driven up and down by waves and winds. But a man who controls his wishes and desires, who doesn't let himself be influenced by other people is like a man who gets a strong and sure grip on the rudder and guides the boat to the goal through wind and weather.

People who drink alcohol have a different effect on us than men who drink milk. We're exposed to all kinds of streams that go through space. We're not free if we let these streams influence us. Let's make this clear through four people. A is one you call a sensitive man who quickly understands everything around him. But he himself is weak; nothing original comes from his soul. He's connected with B who has dispositions for a certain form of insanity, although it doesn't break out because of his robust peasant nature. C is a strong spiritual person, a genius. D is like A, sensitive and receptive. The kind of insanity that's concealed in B breaks out in the sensitive A; it's not his insanity, but B's. Sensitive D doesn't take in B's insanity, but C's geniality. D seems to be a clever, genial man, but he's just a reflection of C's cleverness; he can speak brilliantly about everything, but he can't make a single correct judgment by himself. A strong, independent personality might not seem to be very brilliant and might only make a few, hesitant judgments, but he makes them by himself, out of inner deliberation and strength. Such a man would certainly seem to be more valuable than D. An esoteric pupil should free himself from all outer influences, not by fleeing the world, but by making the true man, the spiritual or higher I, independent. We really have not just four but five members, namely, physical, etheric and astral bodies, a sheath ego and behind that the real I, the true man. We pour all influences from the outer world into this sheath ego; they tear and pull us back and forth. All influences that go from man to man in the way just indicated hit the sheath ego. We must try to strengthen the true, real I that far surpasses the other one. Then we're immune to outer influences.

How do we do that? In good Rosicrucian schools pupils were given a symbol like this. And the teacher says: Graphic 3
You won't be able to apply the method that you get through this sign for everything that happens to you during the day, especially in these hectic times, but you should do it once in a thousand cases. For that time conjure up this form before your spiritual eye so that you stand before it when you're supposed to make a decision. Think that “order me” stands written along the one line. Then let everything that can be said in favor of the deed in question run through your soul. Everything must be well and consequently thought out. A fact that follows from the preceding one must be thought through factually until the goal of your resolve stands clearly before your soul at the end of the line. Then think of the other line. What's written on this is: “forbid me.” Here you must line up all the facts that speak against the decision. This must happen just as clearly and matter-of-factly as before, without sympathy or antipathy. Then let your gaze move along the upright that's not written on. Imagine that your real I, not the sheath I, is standing there. Then wait quietly and compare the facts that are there on the lines “order me” and “forbid me” by looking from one to the other. And then the right decision will arise in you and this will have been given to you by your real I.

You must do something similar when you have to make a judgment. The “right” is written on one line and “wrong” on the other. Your higher I stands at the uninscribed line. It's unmoved by the streams that go through space, whether they come from other people or other spiritual beings. This true, independent inner I, uninfluenced by the sheath's ego, then tells you the right judgment, if you listen silently and in complete inner quiet and seclusion to what it tells you.

Such forms and lines come from the spiritual realm The masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings gave them to us because they know that they work in the spiritual element in us. A form like this awakens the true I in a man and lifts it out of consciousness into consciousness. The Gods once created man out of forms, numbers and lines—or measure, number and weight, as one says in occultism. Numbers, lines and forms influence men. This is known by black magicians. They use them to make men dependent. They know how to use forms, numbers and lines to make men slaves of their will impulses. White magic makes a man independent. Its goal is to raise the higher man, the inner ruler, into a man's consciousness and to thereby make a man into a free, strong, independent being.