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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons I
GA 266

Number 39

Stuttgart, 8-13-'08

Although one can't eat one's way into the spiritual world, eating the wrong things can make spiritual development difficult or impossible.

Alcohol only arose after the Atlantean epoch to help men to become individualized. It closes man off from his higher capacities and encloses him in himself. That's why alcohol was used in the Dionysian mysteries. But now all civilized people have reached that stage so that alcohol is an unnecessary evil today. Through its use one loses the ability to get along with others and to understand them. Alcohol is especially harmful for esoterics since its use changes all developed higher forces into forces of the personal ego, repeatedly locks it into itself, and tears the astral body apart through the opposing streams of the higher and lower I forces. The principle through which everyone can consciously attain his individualization was brought through the coming of Christ to the earth. That's why Christ Jesus says: I am the true vine.

By consuming alcohol one prepares a fertile soil for hosts of spiritual beings, just as a dirty room gets filled with flies.

The meat (but not milk and eggs) that we eat is permeated by the animal's astral body, and so our astral body has to work to digest it. This takes it away from its real task of creating pictures. Also at night it's held fast by the etheric body so that it can't leave it properly. This hinders it from its nightly task of restoring vital forces. Vegetarian food that consists of physical and etheric things support the creation of large, comprehensive pictures and so gives a greater insight that lets one oversee things better without much deliberation. The greater force doesn't exhaust us, but summons spiritual forces.

Vegetarian food is excellent for doctors and lawyers who will find it easier to see through their patients or their clients' affairs, but it's not the right thing for bankers, industrialists, salesmen and others who have a lot of calculating, for one loses the ability to make physical combinations. People who inherited a body that can't stand vegetarianism should not undertake an esoteric training.

The jogging, exercising and bathing that are often recommended are wrong for an esoteric; they pull him down into his physical body. He should try to move his limbs as little as possible.

A budding esoteric doesn't need faith, but only confidence in his teacher, as is true for any kind of instruction, and he needs his healthy human intellect. This will lead him to the conviction that masters of wisdom must exist since it would be illogical to assume that evolution stopped with us, although this in itself wouldn't tell him who or what these masters are. But his teacher knows who they are. A pupil can assume that basic truths like karma and reincarnation are true on a trial basis. Then he can find out for himself whether they're true. When something happens to him he'll tell himself that he must have caused it, and he'll act accordingly. That's why Jesus says that if someone strikes you on one cheek you should offer him the other one also, because if he hits you there too he's making bad karma good. A meditant should do six subsidiary exercises:

  1. Think about a simple object for at least five minutes. Hold it fast in thoughts without going over to other things. One can prepare for this by familiarizing oneself with the object first. After a few days one can choose another object. This exercise arouses a feeling of firmness in the pupil as it activates the chakram between his eyebrows. One should send this feeling through the brain and down the backbone.

  2. Do an unimportant thing every day at a certain time. This exercise also gives firmness.

  3. Develop equanimity, that is, one shouldn't fluctuate between rejoicing to heaven and despairing to death. A joke can be enjoyed just as much if one doesn't laugh boisterously at; one can bear a pain better if one doesn't wallow in it too much. This gives one a feeling of quiet calm that one lets stream from the heart to the arms, and out through the hands.

  4. See the beautiful and true elements in all things. Christ Jesus admired the beautiful teeth in a rotting dog, where his disciples only saw ugliness. One can discover at least a small kernel of truth and something beautiful in everything. If one does this exercise for some time it gives one a feeling of great joy.

  5. Always be open to new things. One should never say: I never heard of that, that can't be, or I don't believe that. One should always leave the possibility open that one can learn something from everything that people say. Thereby one can learn from children, animals and everything else. This gives one the feeling that one could also perceive things while one is partly outside one's body.

  6. This exercise is a combination of the preceding ones, so that one can combine two and two or any way one wants. By doing this, one gets the feeling that one has grown beyond the limits of one's skin.