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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Instructions
GA 270

Fifth Lesson

14 March 1924, Dornach

My dear friends! We have seen what sorts of transformation a person goes through when he becomes acquainted with the being of the Guardian of the Threshold. And the perception of the Guardian of the Threshold certainly hinges on whether the person approaches the spiritual world in a certain manner, and whether he is able to develop an appreciation of the spiritual world. We have seen that what in human inner nature normally consists of thinking, feeling, and willing, in the domains of the Guardian of the Threshold undergoes an intrinsic alteration. And here in the last class hour, it was made especially clear to us that thinking, feeling, and willing take essentially different paths on entry into the spiritual world, that they work in a way very different than they do customarily in people's earth-consciousness.

We have seen how a person is strongly drawn by his willing into earthly inter-connectedness. In the blink of an eye, on a person’s entering the spiritual world, thinking, feeling, and willing simply disconnect in the soul from a definite relationship. And willing, which then lives in the soul a great deal more autonomously than previously, willing proves itself for a person in the highest degree to be related to those forces that drag a person down to earth. Feeling proves itself to be related to those forces that hold a person in the periphery of the earth, in that periphery of the earth, so to speak, within which light dwells, emerging on one side in the morning, brilliant all day long, and fading on the other side for the gaze of man in the evening. Thinking, however, is the force that directs a person upward towards the heavenly heights. And so, in the very same blink of an eye in which a person arrives before the Guardian of the Threshold, this Guardian makes him take note of his belonging to the entire world. He belongs through his willing to the earth, through his feeling to the periphery, and through his thinking to the higher powers.

But my friends, this is indeed just what must become clear to a person on entering spiritual life. A growing together with the whole world enters through the life of the spirit. For customary awareness we stand there in the world just so, so that there outside, external to us, powers are ruling, are active in plant-realms, in animal-realms, in mineral-realms, in physical human-realms, the powers have dominion which we have access to through our senses and which actually show no relationship to human beings initially. And so we stand there apart as humans, gazing within ourselves, becoming aware of our thinking, feeling, and willing, becoming aware that our thinking, feeling, and willing are to some extent dissociated from external nature, are to some extent standing on their own. And we feel a deep rift between our humanity and the natural world spread out around.

However, this rift must be bridged. For this rift, which for the most part we become aware of only in its external aspects in the course of customary awareness, this rift is precisely the Threshold. And becoming aware of the Threshold really rests on this: that we simply stop accepting whatever unconsciously turns us away from ourselves when we look simultaneously into our inner being and out upon an external natural world foreign to humans. When we direct our gaze externally the rift simply needs to become visible for us, then it emerges in its whole immensity and significance, not only for human life, but also for the life of the world.

Now please take note, that the moment someone enters the esoteric, a bridge must be constructed over this rift, over this abyss. To some extent we must grow together with nature. We must cease saying to ourselves: that out there is nature, where moral life certainly does not take place. We must cease saying that we don’t share with minerals the search for morality, for which in soul we have the highest interest, and that we don’t share in the search with plants, that we don’t share in search with animals. And we have even ceased in sharing our search with other people in this materialistic era, because a person enters into relationship with another only with his physical being.

And on the other hand, when one looks within a person, one finds in customary awareness merely passive thinking, by means of which the person misrepresents the world as an imagination, an enervated imagination. A thought living in us is merely our momentary property, through which we become acquainted with things of the world. It has, as a thought, initially no power. Our life of feeling is our innermost life. But remaining within it we are somehow separated, sundered from the world. And although we direct our will onto things outside of us, directly in this manner, in imparting our will onto external things, the external things take on the aspect of being foreign to us.

Something grand must confront a person, when he becomes aware of the abyss between nature and himself, when he comes into proximity with the Guardian of the Threshold, something grand. And this grandeur is just that, already inscribed in words in ancient times, words moreover, which must be understood in new ways in each and every era, and these words are, that nature must appear divine, and a human must be able to persevere, must be able to exist in this enchantment. What does it mean, that nature must be able to appear divine?

Nature must be able to appear divine. This means that as we initially acquire a sense of it, comprehend it with understanding, it most certainly is not godlike. One might say that godliness, that divinity conceals itself in nature. Nature appears in its externality. At first, seeing nature in a sort of relationship to the inner life of a man may occur only in dreams. We may be aware that an irregularity in our breathing indicates a dream full of joy and excitement, or quite the opposite a dream laden with fear and anger. We may become aware of how a clean room suffused by warmth comes to the forefront in certain dreams that have a sort of soulful moral quality. The dream carries such things on its back, nature laden with the psyche.

We ourselves know that consciousness is submerged in our dreams, and so the spirit cannot impart things to us directly in dreams. We must begin to see much more, as inspiration comes to us, much more than what nature displays in the awareness of sleep.

Well then, in the natural world we have at first, my friends, a relationship of our human physical body with what is fixed in nature, with all that carries the essential nature of earth. And we have a relationship of the human etheric body with all that carries within itself an essential nature that is watery. The relationship of the human physical body with the earth lies submerged, in solitude. And the relationship of the human etheric body with all that freely flows and fluxes with watery formative force, this also lies deeply in solitude under whatever man initially experiences.

Something that is first and foremost quite close to a person is his process of breathing, his ruler-ship over the shaping of air. And so one may start from the breathing process, and then continue upward. On approaching the spiritual in this specific region, one may begin to feel one’s relationship to nature.

In considering the breathing process, we have the shaping of formative forces of air, in which we live and move,

air [The word was written on the board.]

We then have, over the shaping of air, the containing or embracing nature of warmth,

warmth [This second word was written over "air."],

and over the containing nature of warmth, the embrace of the beings of light. So, warmth-ether, light-ether.

light [Over "warmth" this third word was written.]

If we rise up higher, we reach the region about which we must speak later, for initially it does not lie overly close to a person.

That a person lives and moves in the element of air, this much can certainly be obvious for totally external observation. For a person needs merely to reflect on dreams, on how constrained they are in certain self-contained processes of irregularity, certain abnormalities of the breathing processes. When the breathing process plays out in waking life, we do not pay much attention to it, because as a rule we do not pay attention to processes that just occur in normal life as if by themselves.

What the element of warmth signifies, life understood more or less through warmth, can be clarified in turn through a superficial observation. When we come into contact with a cold object, colder than our own body, when, for instance, we are startled by the chill of two cold metal rods, such as knitting needles, we may be aware of the disconnectedness of the cold rods, even if they are held fairly close to one another, for we are very susceptible to the cold. When we come into contact with some object or substance that is warmer than our own body, however, we don't notice the difference so starkly. If we were to hold two cold knitting needles close together, we would still notice which is the colder of the two. If we were to hold two knitting needles that had become warm, however, the close contact would flow together in a flash, and we would have to separate them quite a bit in order to form any distinct impression of their being separate. We are just much more sensitive to cold than to warmth. And why is this? We bear warmth with more ease, for we are warm-blooded creatures. The warmth is of our own nature, for we live and move in the warmth. As the cold is alien to us, we are extraordinarily and starkly sensitive to it.

Please take note, it is more difficult to deal with light in customary awareness. Now we will certainly delve into these things more fully, with the esoteric in tow, but just now it may be enough to have taken into consideration from the viewpoint of customary awareness the formative forces of air and the behavior of warmth. Even so, in customary experience, a person feels that even the air is something external, is something belonging to nature. He feels that warmth is something that touches him from outside in some sort of way, and he feels that light is something that comes to him from outside.

The very moment a person makes the jump of his life, bringing himself into proximity with the Guardian of the Threshold, in that very moment he becomes aware of just how inwardly and intimately he is related to all that he previously confronted as external to himself.

I have certainly often drawn attention to how at every moment of our lives, even for customary awareness, we may become aware on a basic level of the relationship we have with the world, directly through our relationship with air. There outside is the air. This selfsame air, that is just now out there, somewhat later I will draw into myself. Still later the air in me, this same air, will again be outside. We simply do not become aware of it, for our muscles and bones constantly support us, and their arrival and passing becomes known only in embryonic life and in death. But as beings of air we constantly carry air in us and then again release it to the outside, once again to be taken up by the world external to us, so that we become one with the whole movement, life, and being of air, and all that pertains to air, in that we are men of earth.

The moment we enter the spiritual realm it no longer remains the same. At this moment we feel that we are inexorably drawn along with every outward breath, with every outward movement of breath. We are carried on the wings of the out-breathing air out into the far-off spaces of existence, into which the out-breathed air is dispersed. And then on breathing in, we take in spiritual beings, the spirits that live in the circling currents of air. We take them back into us. The spiritual world flows into us as we breathe in, and our own being is carried on the tide of our breathing out.

Of course, it is not this way merely with all that pertains to air. It is the same, but to a still higher degree, with all that pertains to warmth. As we exist within the encircling air, in turn encircled by the earth [This was illustrated on the board with two white circles.], a creature transformed thereby into a man of air, it is also just so, but to a still higher degree, with the essence of warmth that encircles and pervades the earth, [Red was added.] with which we are one.

And when, as we approach the spiritual world, we have the specific experience of spirituality flowing into us with the in-breath, and of our own essence dispersing out into the breadth of the world with the out-breath, thereby engaging in spiritual motion with in-breathing and out-breathing, we have just such an experience with the being of warmth, although felt much more intensively. For as we step up into the warmth, insofar as we ourselves are in the warmth element, we become more human. If we fall away from the warmth, we become less human. Whatever else drops out of the warmth, becoming something merely bounded by nature, we perceive it to be in such a place, as we say to ourselves, discerning it with inner soul filled with warmth, with the effective working spirit of warmth, we perceive it as inwardly related to our humanity. Then we feel that the climb up into the warmth is accompanied by a working spirit emplaced in the element of warmth, who addresses us so: “Through the element of warmth I give you your humanity. Through the element of cold I take away from you your humanity."

And now let us bravely progress on to light, for we also move and live in light. We don't normally take note of it, because in customary awareness we have no idea that the inner movement of light is contained in our own thoughts, that each thought is collected light, collected light both for those physically able to see, and also collected light for those who are physically blind. The light is objective. The light is taken up not only by those physically able to see. The light is also taken up by those who are physically blind, when they think. The thought held fast within, the thought to which we are inwardly attached, is ever-present light within.

And so, we may say, as we approach the Guardian of the Threshold, forewarned just so by the Guardian of the Threshold himself: "Human being, in your thinking, your existence is not in you, it is in the light; human being, in your feeling, your existence is not in you, it is in the warmth; human being, in your willing, your existence is not in you, it is in the air.” Think about it, that your thinking is none other than your experience of light welling up and interconnecting with the world. Think also, that your feeling is none other than the coming-into-effect of the warmth-element of all that is interwoven and is alive. And think finally, that your willing is none other than the coming into effect in the air-element of all that is interwoven and is alive.

All this must be taken seriously in full awareness, that before the Guardian of the Threshold one's world elements will be split apart, that one will no longer be able to self-assuredly hold one's essence together, as one holds it together, dark and chaotic, in customary awareness. And this is the great experience, and leads to the introductory insight, the insight that you may cease your serious holding of the idea that you are encased in your head. Certainly, it is merely an indication of what we are as human beings. But it is most certainly an illusion, in the light of spiritual awareness, that all seems to be concentrated inside the head, for a human being is as large as the entire surrounding world. One's thoughts are as wide as the light; one's feelings are as wide as the warmth; one's willing is as wide as the air.

And if a highly developed being, highly developed in the area of awareness, were to descend from some other celestial body, it would speak to a person in quite a different way than people on the earth remaining in customary awareness speak with one another. Such a being would say that the light interwoven about the earth is differentiated. [Around the air and warmth circles, an envelope of light was drawn in gold.] Many individual differentiated beings at the summit of inter-connectivity dwell there within the light. One must picture it in such a way, that within the light of the earth, surrounding the earth, interwoven and vibrant upon the earth, all in a space, many such interconnected beings have their existence, as many as there are people upon the earth. They are all arrayed in the realm of the light of earth. And for such a being, all thoughts that come down to earth into the lonely heads of earth, all the thoughts of mankind, are in this envelope of light, they dwell within the interwoven light of the earth. And all feelings dwell within the envelope of warmth, and all willing dwells within the atmosphere, in the envelope of air.

Then such a being would say: that just there, purely, qualitatively, I have sorted out a being. That it is there, is shown to me through a body, “body A," and another, again within the entire surrounding envelope, is shown to me through another body, “body B," and so forth. [In the gold were drawn two compact inclusions "A" and "B."] These are the outward markings, indicating that something is there. The human reality is to put it all together, an intertwining encirclement of the earth in light, warmth, and air.

Layers of Man

For those who really come before the Guardian of the Threshold, this is not speculation, but experience. And therein lies spiritual progression, in a person's being awake in uniting with the encircling world. A person needs to do it and not just talk about it theoretically. It is certainly not some sort of deep mystical speculation, speaking about becoming one with the world. A person may have his eye only on the thought, and not begin to actually become inwardly aware of the experience, but in actuality when he thinks, he literally lives in the entire light of the earth, he becomes one with the entire light of the earth, and he thereby, in becoming one with the entire light of the earth, rises as a human being into a godlike-spiritual existence. He effectively reaches out through all the pores of his skin to become one with the being of earth itself, and in like manner with other parts of his corporeal body. This is certainly, of all that will really lead to a relationship with the spiritual world, this is certainly what must be grasped in a completely sincere manner.

Now please take note, at first the light must work with moral effect. And a person must become aware of his situation concerning the light, for the light becomes related to him in esoterically experiencing the world. But then stepping forth quite clearly for a person, in the blink of the eye the moment a person steps up to the Threshold, is the awareness that light is locked into the nature of being, and also that it has to engage in a pitched battle with the dark powers. Light and darkness there will be real. And something makes its appearance there, confronting a person, by means of which he says to himself, "When I go out with my thinking fully into the light, then I am lost in the light.” For the moment that I go out into the light with my thinking, the beings of light gather me up, and say to me: "Human being, we will no longer let you go, we will hold you within our midst." This applies to the will of these beings of light. Through a person's thinking, the beings of light wish to draw the person into themselves, to make the person one with the light, to tear him away from all the powers of earth, and to interweave him into the light. Around us there are most certainly beings of light, which in their own way wish to carry a person off and away from the earth, and wish to interweave him with the sunlight welling up around the earth. They are living there, these beings of light, in the circumference of the earth, and are saying: "Human, you should not remain with your soul in your body. In the morning with the first rays of the sun you should shine out radiant with the light of the earth. With the evening's glow you should also set, and so as light you should encircle the earth!"

Ever and again, we feel the allurement of these beings of light. The moment one approaches the Threshold, he will be aware there of the allurement of these beings of light and of their wish to draw him out and away from the earth. It will be clear to him that it is not worthy of a person to remain within the fetters of earth, through heaviness to be fettered to the earth. They wish to take him up into the brilliance of the sun. For customary awareness, the sun certainly shines overhead, and we stand down here as men and women and allow the sun to shine upon us. For developed awareness, the sun stands in the heavens as the great allurer, which wishes us always to become one with its light, which wishes to rip us loose from the earth, and which forever whispers in our ear, "O Man, you need not remain upon the earth, you yourself are able to have your being in the radiance of light. Then you will shine upon and be able to bring joy to the earth. Then you will no longer need the earth to shine upon you and bring you joy."

Such is the nature of being, entered upon by our encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold, that the natural world, previously resting outside us, and in customary awareness making no demands on us, this natural world achieves the ability to speak to us in tones of morality. The natural world bursts upon the scene, and even as the sun, bursts upon us as an allurer. What was just now peaceful shining sunlight, well, it becomes alluring speech, becomes ensnarement, becomes temptation. And this first characterization, as we become aware of sunlight, of the spirituality that is woven into and living in sunlight, this first characterization is that within the light of the sun appear to us the allurers, the temptation-beings, who wish to carry us out and away from the earth. And these legions of beings are in continual battle with the others, with those constituted within the earth, within darkness.

And when we are caught up in the extreme of the moment, as without doubt we will be, for experiences before the Guardian of the Threshold are without doubt absolutely serious, deeply penetrating, and soul-gripping, when we are caught up in this and become aware of how alluring the sunlight is through its beings of light, then we will draw back from it, that is if we remember that we should still be human beings. And we cannot afford to lose this memory. If we lose it, then as we continue to live out our physical life upon the earth, in a certain way, we will be partially lame in our souls. When we become aware of the allurement of the sunlight, however, and correspondingly turn to the other side, in turning away from this allurement we will find peace in the darkness, the darkness with which the light forever fights. And were we to swing out of the light into the darkness, then we would fall into the opposite extreme. This self of darkness threatens us, would carry us down and out of the bright shining sunlight on the one side of existence-awareness. This self of darkness threatens to make us solitary, severed from all the rest of existence. As human beings, we can live only in equilibrium between the light and the darkness.

That is the great experience before the Guardian of the Threshold, that we are confronted on one side by the allurement of light, and on the other side by the power of darkness to induce in a person a loss of self. Light and darkness become moral powers, and have moral authority over us. And we humans must say to ourselves, that it is perilous to look upon the pure light, and also perilous to look upon the pure darkness. And we reach an inner state of calmness at the Threshold, we see how the instrumental gods, the good gods, the gods of normal progression, reveal the light in brilliant yellows and brilliant reds, and then we know that we can no longer be lost to the earth. We will become aware of the light, we will not be lured into blindness, but rather we will become aware of spirit-colors in the revealed light.

It is just as perilous giving in to pure darkness. And we will become inwardly free if we do not merely confront the pure black darkness in the land of spirits, but rather if we confront the illuminated darkness in shades of violet and blue. Shades of yellow and gold say to us in the land of spirits: "Through allurement the light will not be able to lift your soul away from the earth.” Shades of violet and blue say to us: "The darkness will not be able to overwhelm your soul. You will be able to hold yourself firm against the effects of the heaviness of earth."These are the experiences as nature and morality grow together as one, when light and darkness become bound into the nature of being. And without light and darkness becoming bound into the nature of being, we would not become aware of the true nature of thinking. That is what we should hear in the words that the Guardian of the Threshold speaks, as we encounter him with our thinking that has become independent and separate in our soul-life.

There battles light with powers dark
In that realm, where your thinking
In spirit-presence 1Geistesdasein refers to a realm in which spirit has existence-awareness, or presence, and so spirit-existence or spirit-being just do not seem to be enough, but “spirit-presence” will do. would like to be. 2dringen in the third line means “to seek, to insist, to badly be in need of,” and should not be translated as “to penetrate,” which is the translation of either drängen (to rush into) or durchdringen (to infuse into, to prevail). If translated “like to be” it is complementary with the other two stanzas.
You’ll find, 3findest in all three stanzas may be indicative or subjunctive in German, but the context clearly leans toward the subjunctive, so should be translated into English in the subjunctive “You’ll find.” striving toward the light,
Your self by spirit being taken from you;
You can, if darkness lures you,
In matter lose the self.

In this we become aware of the duality, within which one is placed and amidst which one must find the balance, the harmony, in thinking. [This stanza was now written on the blackboard.]

There battles light with powers dark
In that realm, where your thinking
In spirit-presence would like to be.
You’ll find, striving toward the light,
Your self by spirit being taken from you;
You can, if darkness lures you,
In matter lose the self.

One must with vigor take up the sort of impulse which can emerge from such words. With vigorous thinking, a person must learn from the surrounding light, must take to heart the surrounding darkness. The light will most certainly be arrayed, suffused with colors. A person must seek a balanced unity in spiritual beholding, as thinking shifts in this fight between light and darkness, for when it comes to the light, it will effectively be taken outward, will be taken up, will be interwoven within the light, and when it comes to the darkness, it will disappear.

And in order to experience such a thing, my friends, have courage, inner courage. If a person does not yet say to himself that he needs courage, and so denies his need for courage, then without doubt he does not know what it entails. For he thinks he would need courage to allow his finger to be cut off, but he needs no courage to allow his disconnected thinking to stream about, within the maelstrom with which he is gripped, when it is stretched out in the fight between light and darkness. And in this arena, it will always be so. Only in this way is knowledge gained, of that which always is, and that a person can become aware of.

In every waking moment a person’s thinking is certainly in danger, due to certain spiritual beings surrounding our corporeality. It has been known in each era, in each century, that for humanity it is possible for light to prevail over darkness, or for darkness to prevail over light.

Yes, my friends, for human beings in customary awareness, life appears as danger-free as for the sleepwalker, whose time has not yet been called, and so never falls down. The person who really observes life, however, is aware of the struggle, and he really can't say in all certainty, whether light or darkness will have prevailed in victory in a hundred years, or whether future generations of men and women upon the earth will even consciously exist in a human-worthy existence-awareness. And he may come to know why such catastrophes in the prior development of mankind on earth have not come to completion.

I can utilize yet another analogy. If you see a tightrope walker on a rope, then you are aware that at any moment he may fall down to the right or to the left. That you walk on such a rope in your soul, and that everyone can crash down to the left or to the right in soul, of this there is no awareness in customary life, because one does not see the abyss to the right and to the left. But it is there.

That is the good granted to people by the Guardian of the Threshold, that he does not allow this abyss to be visible, until by means of his own admonitions various people are ready for it. Moreover, this was always the secret of all mystery schools of all times, that someone would be made aware of this abyss, and would thereby become enabled to acquire the initial forces that are necessary for knowledge of the real world.

As it is with light in respect to thinking, so is it with warmth in respect to feeling. Whoever comes before the Guardian of the Threshold with respect to feeling, that person will become aware that he enters into a battle between warmth and cold, that the warmth continually is an allurement to our feelings, for it would like to soak these feelings up into itself. As the beings of light, the Luciferic beings, in a certain sense would have us fly away from the earth to the light, so will the Luciferic beings of warmth soak up our feelings in the general universal warmth. All the feelings of mankind would drop away from mankind and become soaked up in the general universal warmth.

And it is alluring on the basis of being right at hand, which the recipient of this introductory knowledge becomes aware of when he arrives with his feelings at the Threshold, and as the beings of warmth appear, and in overabundance of exuberance would give to a person what is certainly his element, in which he lives, namely warmth. Insofar as one becomes aware of it, however, as he steps bravely up to the Threshold, and these beings of warmth appear, he becomes warm, warm, warm, he becomes fully the warmth himself, he flies up into the warmth, he rises into the throes of lust, and that is the allurement. All this gushes forth through a person, without end. A person must know all about this. For without a person knowing that the warmth-lust allurement is there, it is unlikely that he will attain a clear view of the land of spirits.

And the enemies of these Luciferic beings of warmth are the Ahrimanic beings of cold. These Ahrimanic beings of cold, they draw a person on, until an awareness has been acquired of how dangerous it is to float within the limbo of lust-warmth. The person would like to dive into the healing of the cold ones, and so he is propelled into the other extreme, where the cold ones harden him. And then arises, when the cold ones bring a person into this situation, into this condition, then arises unending pain, which is at the same time physical pain. The physical and the psychic, the material and the spiritual become a unity. The human experiences the cold taking claim to his whole being, as if being torn to pieces in immeasurable pain.

That this stands behind a person, that a person certainly lives continuing on within this struggle between warmth and cold, that is what a person should in turn make clear to himself by means of the admonition of the Guardian, in regard to his feelings.

[The second stanza was written on the blackboard at this time.]

There battles warmth with cold
In that realm, where your feelings
In spirit- weave would like to live.
You’ll find, loving the warmth,
Your self in spirit-bliss blowing away;
You can, if coldness hardens you,
In sorrow waste the self.

Concerning the will, a person plunges into a world that seems to lie right near to us. It really is near. It is the world of the air, the world that supports our process of breathing. A person does not suspect how inwardly changed the human will is with this air, for our willing depends on our breathing. And within the air, my friends, lies life and death, lies enlivened oxygen, and lies death-embracing nitrogen. There we have it, I would like to say, fast in hand. And the chemist says, in dreadfully untruthful abstraction, that the air consists of oxygen and nitrogen. And yes, so long as a person abides in customary awareness, he may say just oxygen and nitrogen. Should a person step before the Guardian of the Threshold, however, one thing will be clear to him, that oxygen is the offering of spiritual beings of clarion calling, the very spiritual beings who have given life to mankind. Nitrogen, moreover, is also the external offering of spiritual beings of clarion calling, of the spiritual beings who have given mankind death, the death, also, which, at every waking moment of our lives when we are thinking, when we are developing our lives of soul, is partially held at bay, and is overcome in us.

In the air a battle rages. The Luciferic oxygen-spirits battle there with the Ahrimanic nitrogen-spirits. If the Threshold is approached abstractly, as abstractly as a chemist, then the air is a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. But as one approaches the Threshold in reality, it is composed of Ahriman and Lucifer, for the oxygen is the external face of Lucifer, and the nitrogen is the external face of Ahriman. And a battle is being fought in the air. This battle is concealed from customary illusory awareness. One comes to it as one approaches the Threshold.

And just there, at all times, when one ought to join that which lives in the oxygen-spirits, that which lives in the life-elements, when one should bind his will to the creativity of gods, when one should be moved by the oxygen-spirits to valor, just then the danger appears, for a person may be taken away, taken away with his whole creativity from the creativity of the gods, so that a person might cease to be human, and that what one has as force of will from the spiritual world will be taken into the service of the Luciferic world.

And if a person now turns to the contralateral side, then the enticement of the nitrogenous Ahrimanic powers appears. Then what rules as death in airy elemental forces allures a person. Positioned there is not merely the death that a person confronts purely in the physical, bearing no real relationship to a person, but if a person were to come into a relationship with this death, he would begin by holding onto this death as something to be observed, then as something to be in union with, and then as something never again to be parted from. Whenever with elementary force of life the spirits wish to descend upon someone, so that their deeds are carried over as the deeds of the person, one will be thrown, in accordance with the contralateral side, the side of the Ahrimanic nitrogenous spirits, one will be thrown into the nothingness of life. One is cramped, and instead of being able to act, one is cramped within oneself.

Ever again a person is positioned between these two opposites, which he must become aware of in regard to his will. [The third stanza was now written on the blackboard.]

There battles life with death
In that realm, where your willing
In spirit-work would like to rule.
You’ll find, holding on to life,
Your self in spirit-power to vanish;
You can, if death-power binds you,
In nothingness confine the self.

My friends, if a person would now say, "I would certainly rather avoid this awareness altogether! Why should I take this on, this standing before the Guardian of the Threshold, when such things are paraded before me, such things that encase a person in a way that hardly seems beneficial. Can it be fruitful for a person to become aware of these frightful truths?" It is obvious that a person raises this objection in complacency, specifically when he asks, "Why should someone get caught up in such truths?" If a person says this in this way, he is certainly saying just what he would rather not want to know about.

But my dear friends, the challenge of the present time is this, that a person should penetrate to true reality, that a person should not cower in fright before true reality, that he should penetrate to true reality, so that he can thereby come into union with those who in certainty have accounted for his being. For although we could, so long as we travel in this short life upon the earth, hold our heads in the sand and know nothing of these truths, we really may no longer do this, as we would have done in another era of time, in which a person would flourish after death, even if in life on earth he were not to acquire any awareness of what he will experience after death.

And how will it be after death? When a person walks through the portal of death, with his awareness still intact, looks back, and the retrospection begins to come into his awareness, various high spiritual beings whisper gently within this retrospection, as if there in muted overtones. One looks back, in the couple of days past one's death, during the etheric body's dispersal out into the general etheric realm; as one looks back, looking upon the pictures of the life spent on earth, certain spirits whisper there within.

There battles life with death
In that realm, where your willing
In spirit-work would like to rule.
You’ll find, holding on to life,
Your self in spirit-power to vanish;
You can, if death-power binds you,
In nothingness confine the self.

And just then a person knows, that this is a reality, that one thing or another can happen, if one does not find a course through the middle, but instead finds a course to the right or to the left.

And always, having completed the time of sleep after death, which does not linger very long, when a person enters into the region of awareness wherein he wanders for a time equal to a third of his life on earth, wandering through the life he has just lived on earth, as has been described in general anthroposophical dissertations, then approaching a person, there where the awareness of this life-retrospection begins, is this actual experience. But always, ever and ever again, as I may say, in walking past the milestones of this experience, the admonishing spirits loom and speak to us.

There battles warmth with cold
In that realm, where your feelings
In spirit-weave would like to live.
You’ll find, loving the warmth,
Your self in spirit-bliss blowing away;
You can, if coldness hardens you,
In sorrow waste the self.

This has been referred to quite often, what is asked here, in regard to the deceased who have stood near you, as to the attitude you should have in thoughts of the deceased, which for instance might convey the sense of, "I send my love to you, it will warm your chill, and ease your heat," because throughout the backward viewing of the linked events of life, warmth and cold play just this role. But it is also being pointed out to us, that this selfsame role continually directs the time there. These things are absolute complete realities.

And when we pass beyond this experience of backward-looking, into the experience of being free in the land of spirits, preparing for the next earthly life, then ever and again along the milestones of this experience the admonishing spirits appear and call out to us without end.

There battles light with powers dark
In that realm, where your thinking
In spirit-presence would like to be.
You’ll find, striving toward the light,

There the striving is an obvious reality, one can veer right, or left.

Your self by spirit being taken from you;
You can, if darkness lures you,
In matter lose the self.

My dear friends, when the human being still possessed an instinctive clairvoyance, then it was true, that when he passed through the portal of death, then straightaway, through this instinctive clairvoyance, he could also understand the words so spoken to him in the three partitions of his life after death. During the era of time through which he has had to pass in order to gain freedom for himself, it became less and less possible for him to understand the things that were being addressed to him there. And now we live in an era in which human beings, if they have not been made aware of the sense of these words during earthly life, will come upon these words addressed to them in the language of the spirits, and will not understand them.

This is how it is, this may happen to a person, when he is engaged in living the future, and is going through the world he must traverse, where these words will be addressed to him, and he cannot understand them, and must live through the agony of this lack of understanding. And all the agonies of this lack of understanding, what do they indicate? They indicate the ever-growing undercurrent of fear within one's soul that the connection to the spiritual powers of creation will be lost, and at the end of one's days the powers will not be there to which one owes his existence, but rather among unknown powers the wellsprings of his humanity will be lost.

Delineated and flowing through and through the esoteric, my friends, is not mere instruction, not mere theory, but as delineated herein one comes to confront and deal with the really serious concerns of life. And whoever immerses himself in the esoteric immerses not in lessons, not in theory, but immerses in life. Becoming aware of the meaning of life is only the external revelation, for behind every hour of study is the spiritual world. We do not penetrate so far when we chafe within what lies within such words themselves. As we become deeply engrossed in such words in meditation however, then our thinking, feeling, and willing will grow strong, then our thinking, feeling, and willing will be in position to seize the spirit, which we must undertake as human beings, to really seize the spirit.

Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard Text for the Fifth Lesson

Es kämpft das Licht mit finstren Mächten
In jenem Reiche, wo dein Denken
In Geistesdasein dringen möchte.
Du findest, lichtwärts strebend,
Dein Selbst vom Geiste dir genommen;
Du kannst, wenn Finstres dich verlockt,
Im Stoff das Selbst verlieren.

Es kämpft das Warme mit dem Kalten
In jenem Reiche, wo dein Fühlen
Im Geistesweben leben möchte.
Du findest, Wärme liebend,
Dein Selbst in Geisteslust verwehend;
Du kannst, wenn Kälte dich verhärtet,
Im Leid das Selbst verstäuben.

Es kämpft das Leben mit dem Tode
In jenem Reiche, wo dein Wollen
Im Geistesschaffen walten möchte.
Du findest, Leben fassend,
Dein Selbst in Geistesmacht verschwinden;
Du kannst, wenn Todesmacht dich bändigt,
Im Nichts das Selbst verkrampfen.

There battles light with powers dark
In that realm, where your thinking
In spirit-presence would like to be.
You’ll find, striving toward the light,
Your self by spirit-being taken from you;
You can, if darkness lures you,
In matter lose the self.

There battles warmth with cold
In that realm, where your feeling
In spirit-weave would like to live.
You’ll find, loving the warmth,
Your self in spirit-bliss blowing away;
You can, if coldness hardens you,
In sorrow waste the self.

There battles life with death
In that realm, where your willing
In spirit-work would like to rule.
You’ll find, holding on to life,
Your self in spirit-power to vanish;
You can, if death-power binds you,
In nothingness confine the self.