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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Lessons II
GA 266

Lesson 24

Munich, 2-12-'11

It's important for a modern to be aware of what he's doing and what changes in him when he takes up an esoteric life.

We've often heard that two paths take us into spiritual worlds; one of them is when a man descends deep within him to find a connection with God; the other is when he tries to go out into the macrocosm. We have the forces in us that we seek, that created us; we look for them because we don't recognize them and not because we don't have them. In theosophy we learn about both paths that are supposed to balance each other, for a modern is no longer suited to go on one path alone Each path has its dangers, that we'll discuss later, and they're both very difficult. We treat the inner path in our meditations in inspiration, and the outer one through a thorough study of theosophical teachings about world evolution in imagination. This study develops our intellect and also influences our feelings, and after years of thorough study of these ideas, we'll notice that we've become different human beings. Theosophy works on men whether they bring a receptivity for it with them or not. Moderns are divided into two groups—those who seek theosophy because it gives them what they were striving for and those who don't know what to do with it and are opposed to it. Since November, 1879, a few men have become mature enough to take in theosophical teachings, but it's only a small host, whereas other moderns are till unable to acquire the teachings, consider them to be fantastic ideas and dreams or even get angry about them.

When people who prove to be receptive for theosophical teachings let the latter work upon them, their etheric body begins to oscillate slightly. Whereas someone who loses himself in external things gets an expanded and rarified etheric body. When such a person hears some spiritual teachings it's as if the wind were blowing through a cleft in the etheric body, which announced itself in him as fear, but appears outwardly as doubt. Such a man only notices the doubts, but they're the expression of fear and anxiety that have moved into his rarified etheric body as into a vacuum and have become noticeable there as doubt. We can't help a man who behaves in a rejective manner. It's better not to bother him with theosophy But wherever an opportunity rises we should quietly let theosophical ideas flow in according to the principle “steady dripping hollows the tone.” For we only have another 400 years or so to give these teachings in a theosophical form to all men. So that everyone will have an opportunity those who resisted them now will be born again in the next four centuries. A suitable number of men must be present then who represent theosophy in the right way.

Men could only tread the inner path for a long time before the event of Golgotha. Men who went out into the macrocosm in ancient India would have become lost in it as in darkness and emptiness, because their inner members had a different relationship to each other then. This kind of union with God existed until medieval times, because man changes but slowly. Mystics like Eckhart, Tauler and Molinos teach us the inner path an describe it exactly. Miguel de Molinos speaks of five stages of immersion He says that we must turn away from all creatures that corresponds to the forces of our etheric body, from our talents that correspond to the astral body, and from our ego that coincides with our fourth part and that we must merge with God.

But it gradually became necessary for men to tread the inner and outer paths simultaneously, and that's why the Rosicrucian, esoteric schools that taught both ways rose in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The writer of the Apocalypse points to the outer path for the first time. He shows us that we must become entirely separated from our personality to treat it. In a modest way he says that he was caught up by the spirit on Patmos Island. This has a particular meaning. In order to tread this outer path or to find the union with the divine in the macrocosm one must choose a firm point from which one concentrates oneself. So John the theologian calculated the stars' position on September 30, 395 A.D. and he had his visions from this point. On that day the sun stood before the Virgo sign and the moon was under her feet. We showed this picture on one of the seven seals. One can also calculate this time exoterically. Scholars have done this and have concluded that John Chrysostum wrote the Apocalypse around this time. But in reality we're touching upon a great secret here, for of course the Apocalypse arose much earlier, and its writer only moved himself ahead into the year 395.

Both paths have dangers for which an esoteric must watch. One who takes in theosophical teachings is attacked by many doubts; that's only natural and better than accepting things on faith. Of course he must eliminate these doubts and this will make him stronger.

A second danger into which an esoteric can get on this outer path is instability. One who has studied world evolution seriously will have felt that intense interests that he had previously disappear and that he doesn't have a firm hold on anything earthy. The danger here is that one's instability is disguised in the form of a high ideal that one is striving towards or a mission that one has to fulfill. But if we see through this and recognize it as a disguised instability we'll make rapid progress on the right path.

In descents into our interior two dangers threaten us. We can have a certain sensual pleasure, a comfortable feeling from the divine through the immersion in us and can thereby fall prey to a fine egotism, so that we turn away from everything that surrounds us and that should still interest.

The second danger is that a man can take what approaches him on immersion into himself to be spiritual revelations, when they may just be his own feelings.

Medieval mystics didn't have theosophical teachings yet. We don't find the latter anywhere in them. Their union with the divine is like a Neo-Buddhism. They didn't need the outer path yet.

Mystics also use the saying In Christo morimur in the form: In Christ we live.