Speaking exoterically, theosophy is a knowledge. What we esoterics learn in exoteric lectures we should take into our feeling, willing and thinking in such a way that we can then pour it out again into exoteric life. That's esoteric work. And what happens through the same? How can we carry a quite simple theosophical truth directly into life, for instance, the one about going to sleep and waking up, where the physical and etheric bodies remain behind on going to sleep, while the ego and astral body go into the spiritual worlds?
A primitive man used to receive prayers that he said in the evening before going to sleep, and in the morning after waking up, and that was good, for he strengthened his soul with spiritual forces as he prepared his soul for higher worlds, and after he left them, he again permeated his soul with higher forces, and as it were, sucked out soul forces from spiritual worlds.
The mineral, plant and animal kingdoms below man are permeated with spiritual forces that always become renewed; the same is true of the four elements fire, water, air, and earth. Things are different with men. If a man doesn't connect himself with these spiritual forces, he doesn't' receive them. If he goes to sleep without preparation he doesn't get any forces in the worlds he enters then. No matter how learned, scientific and high-ranking a materialist is, if he goes into spiritual worlds unprepared in the evening, he stands far below a simple primitive man who has already connected himself with them through his prayer. Man has increasingly forgotten prayer in our materialistic age with its very admirable scientific achievements. He goes to sleep and wakes up with his everyday thoughts. But what does he do thereby? Something happens through this omission. He kills some of the spiritual life and forces on the physical plane each time.
A man goes into spiritual worlds unconsciously. For instance, if he went to sleep at 11 p.m. unprepared and awakened at 12 in spiritual worlds, he wouldn't know his way around; he'd have the feeling that he was spread out over endless spaces and that he had lost his center. He would be in ecstasy or “beside himself” in the real sense of the word. In ancient Druidic mysteries this ecstasy was artificially induced to let a pupil experience higher worlds consciously. But 12 helpers had to stand at his side so that the pupil didn't lose his ego; they poured the whole power of their pure egos into him. That's how much power was necessary to prevent this dissolution.
This Druidic initiation was the outer way, whereas the inner one was followed in ancient Egyptian mysteries. There the candidate for initiation had to look for the path through the lower astral world for three to five days, that is, to climb into his own interior, and 12 pure priests had to stand beside him, to prevent his lower drives, desires and passions from overpowering him — that slumbered deep in his nature and would otherwise have worked themselves out in the course of his incarnations.
Unheard of vices would have been awakened in him if the 12 priests hadn't protected him from this through their purity. These two paths wouldn't be possible today, for a modern would rebel against such interventions in his ego and against being treated like a child with respect to his drives, desires and passions.
The Rosicrucian school combines both paths in it and also leaves a man completely free. Through the meditations he's given he must himself acquire the forces that helpers used to give him. An esoteric increases the spiritual forces that are necessary for mankind through this work on himself. He combats the desolation that will arise through the terrible materialism in which men have simply forgotten their connection with spiritual worlds and have forgotten how they can get forces out of them for themselves. When souls become ever more desolate, empty and despairing it'll be the task of esoterics to let their spiritual forces work in a living way. They'll maintain their soul's cheerful equilibrium in spite of all blows of destiny and thereby let happiness stream into the rest of mankind to ease their soul pains as torture, as a result of the attainments of materialistic science. Moderns have found many means to anesthetize physical pains to make them disappear. But they haven't really disappeared that way. Exoteric science tells us that no force is lost, and the force of pain doesn't get lost either — it just has an effect in other regions. The pains come back as soul agony. Men will have to go through strong soul pains, and esoterics will then use the spiritual forces that they bring down from the heights to ease these sufferings. Be it ever so unconsciously, each of us resolved to ease mankind's sufferings when we set out on an esoteric path.