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Rudolf Steiner Archive

Calendar of the Soul

Northern Hemisphere
Week 43

In winter's depths is kindled
True spirit life with glowing warmth;
It gives to world appearance,
Through forces of the heart, the power to be.
Grown strong, the human soul defies
With inner fire the coldness of the world.

Southern Hemisphere
Week 17

Thus speaks the cosmic Word
That I by grace through senses' portals
Have led into my innermost soul:
Imbue your spirit depths
With my wide world horizons
To find in future time myself in you.

—Translation by Ruth and Hans Pusch

See GA 40 for full calendar and German text.

Lectures to the First Class
Volume II
GA 270

Lesson X

25 April 1924, Dornach

For esoteric development — the true path to knowledge — the individual must find the way to understanding what it means to live in a world in which the senses, the whole physical organization, in not a facilitator; that is, to live with the psychic-spiritual, which is man's true identity, in a spiritual world. In order to do so there are many different more or less meditative exercises, mental exertions meant to affect the soul.

And to give a picture of what a human soul can pass through on the way from experiencing the physical sensory world to experiencing the spiritual world is what will be provided in these class lessons by means of the various considerations and the summarizing of such considerations in individual verses, which may then be meditated upon according to each member's possibilities and needs.

Once a certain time has passed the communications given in these class lessons, which, as I have often stressed, are real communications from the spiritual world, will coalesce in such a way that those who have participated — it is also karma for those who could be here — will have a complete picture of the first stage of esoteric development.

As a result of the various indications which are given here we can gradually rise above our earthly existence to an experience of the cosmos, we can develop the feelings which carry us out into those distant reaches of the universe from which the spiritual comes to meet us. But as long as we confine ourselves to using our senses and reason only in connection with the sense-perceptible world which surrounds us, it will be impossible for us to grasp what the spiritual world reveals as the truth accessible to man.

You see my dear friends, as I have often stressed, human common sense can understand everything offered by anthroposophy, if it exerts itself sufficiently and is free of prejudice. But it is just in reference to this common sense where a touchstone exists concerning whether or not someone is really destined by their karma nowadays to participate in anthroposophy.

There are two possibilities. One is that the person hears about anthroposophical truths, lets them work on him and considers them to be self-evident. It is obvious that everyone sitting here today belongs to that group. For if someone who does not belong to that group wishes to participate in a lesson as a member, it would not be honest of them. And honesty is the most important aspect of esoteric life — complete truthfulness penetrating the human soul and spirit.

There is another group of people who find what is presented by anthroposophy to be fantastic, somehow belonging only to visionaries. These people show by their behavior that they are not able, according to their karma, to sufficiently separate common sense from physicality and the senses to be able to grasp sense-free truth, sense-free knowledge.

It is therefore the extent to which common sense is bound to corporeality or not which determines such a great divergence between people. For if you honestly consider that you possess a common sense which understands anthroposophy, then at the moment it grasps anthroposophy honestly, it does so independently of corporeality. And this healthy common sense which grasps anthroposophy honestly is the beginning of esoteric striving. And we should treasure the fact that healthy common sense which understands anthroposophy is the beginning of esoteric striving. It should not be overlooked. For when one starts with this understanding through healthy common sense and then follows the indications given in the appropriate schools, one proceeds farther and farther along the esoteric path. You can use whichever of the verses provided here which you consider appropriate for you. But you should apply them together with the indications as to how they relate to the inner life of man.

Today I would like to again provide an indication of how you can leave the body — if only by means of so slight a jolt that you don't even realize it.

We should develop the ability to observe and study the minerals and plants in our environment to the extent that we feel them within — if only by means of thinking — and become truly aware of how this earthly environment is related to us, that due to our wearing a physical body we are directly related to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms around us. And then we ask the question in all honesty: Why? Why did I absorb the physical substances of the earth just by being born? Why do I drag myself through life from birth till death in order to end physical life once my organism is no longer able to process its physical elements? We must deeply feel our relationship to our physical environment starting from such a personal enigma. Then, however, we will also feel more and more what the starting point for esoteric life can be. Then we feel that in physical earthly life we are blindly groping in the dark.

And finally, my dear sisters and brothers, consider the people of today who have been placed in earthly life after birth and educated according to the usual methods and called to this or that work due to purely external circumstances. They do not understand the relationship of this work to the totality of human existence. Perhaps they do not know much more than that they work in order to eat. They do not realize that in the plants they eat cosmic forces from the distant boundaries of the universe are present which pass through the human organism and therefore in a certain sense undergo a cosmic evolution. Many people today cannot even begin to glimpse this process due to the materialism of the times. But to admit that by the mere consideration of earthly relationships one stands spiritually blind in life and lives in the dark — that is the starting point for true esoteric development.

And then change the direction of your gaze from what surrounds you on the earth to the star-studded heaven — either in thought, or if you really want to be affected by it, in reality. Behold the planets, behold the stars, fill yourselves with the infinite transcendence of what shines back to you from the universe, and say to yourself: as human beings we are related just as much to what radiates down from the universe as we are to what surrounds us in the physical environment.

Then by gazing up to the star-studded heaven, we really have the feeling that we do not live in darkness, but that we are freed from life in the darkness by rising with our soul-spiritual being to the stars, rise to what the stars represent as pictures in their constellations. And, you see, if we can really enter meditating into this vision of the star-filled sky it becomes a plenitude of imaginations. You know the old pictures in which not only the constellations have been painted, but in which they have been recapitulated symbolically as animals. Not only the star group that is in Aries, or in Taurus has been represented, but also the symbolic images of the ram and the bull are included.

Today people think: Well, it was arbitrary on the part of those ancient inhabitants of the earth that just because the constellations were so named that the corresponding pictures were added. But that was not the case at all. In reality in ancient times the shepherds in the fields did not merely gaze up at the star-studded sky with physical eyes, but also in dream-consciousness or sleep-consciousness out there with their flocks they turned their souls with closed eyes towards outer space. They did not see the constellations which physical eyes see. But they actually perceived those pictures, those imaginations which fill universal space — albeit somewhat differently from what was later painted.

We can no longer go back to what the simple shepherds experienced by instinctive clairvoyance. But we can do something else. With far greater thoughtfulness we can imagine ourselves into the star-filled sky. We can feel the depth and at the same time the awesome majesty of what radiates back to us. And gradually we can come to a sense of veneration for what is expanding out there in cosmic space. And the more ardent the veneration is the more clearly can the experience be that the outer sense-images of the stars disappear and the star-filled sky becomes an Imagination for us. But only then, when the star-filled sky becomes an Imagination for us, do we feel ourselves carried away by our soul's vision.

You see, still in Plato's time one felt something special about the physical eye when it is observing. Plato himself described seeing as follows: When I look at a person something leaves my eye and encompasses him. People in ancient times sensed that something streams out of the eye and encompasses the object. The etheric streams out. Just as when I stretch out my hand and grasp something I know that I am connected to my hand until reaching the grasped object, so in the times of instinctive clairvoyance people knew that something etheric goes out from the eye and encompasses the thing looked at. Today people think, well,the eye is here, the object seen is there. So the object sends out ether-waves which drum against the eye and the drumming is perceived by some kind of soul — about which even the materialist talks about here, but without having any idea of what it is. But that is not true. It is not a mere impact on the person emanating from the object, but really also an emanation of the person's inner etheric substance.

And we perceive our ether body as belonging to the universe when the star-filled sky becomes for us the grand open page of the universe on which the imaginative secrets of cosmic being are written — if we are able to read it.

And then the feeling comes to us: When you are here on earth you are in the robust sense-perceptible reality. But you are blind, you live in darkness. When you rise up with your sensibility then you live in what otherwise only shines down to you from the distant universe, and you live in the illusion of the distant universe. But at the same time you take your own etheric being out into the distant flooding stream of this illusionary world.

And the illusion ceases to be illusion. It cannot be a nothing if we immerse ourselves in it. When we have this feeling — I will draw it —.

Diagram 1

We live as blind people in the darkness of earthly existence, (white arc); then we journey out into the distant universe (yellow rays), at the end of which we can feel the cosmic Imaginations by means of reverence for the brilliance of the stars (red waves).

So now that we have journeyed out we are together with our etheric being within the imaginative cosmic web. If we can accomplish this, then we are no longer in the physical body. We have traveled through the etheric emptiness to experiencing the cosmic Imaginations.

You see, it's like when in the physical world someone writes something down and, because we have learned to read, we read it. By being out in the cosmos — the gods have written the cosmic imaginations for us in the cosmos — when we arrive we see the imaginations from the other side (arrows). At first we live here on the earth (inner circle). Then we draw ourselves up to the cosmic imaginations (outer wave-circle).

Yes, my dear friends, my sisters and brothers, the zodiac speaks a meaningful language when we do not observe it from the earth — Arias, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo — but rather when we encircle it from without. And it is a task of our consciousness to encircle it from without. Then we begin to read the cosmic secrets, which are the deeds of the spiritual beings. In a novel we read of the deeds of men. When we look at the zodiac from the other side and read what from the earth we see virtually from behind, as Moses was told that he always had to look at God from behind, that is, from the earth. Initiation consists of seeing from the other side — not a matter of gawking, but of reading. And what we read are the spiritual deeds of the spiritual beings who brought it all about.

And when we have silently read long enough, when our souls have concentrated deeply on this reading, then we begin to hear in a spiritual way. Then the gods speak with us. When the gods speak with us we are within the spiritual world.

Now you see, my dear sisters and brothers, the initiate can tell you: the soul can rise up to the cosmic heights, receive the cosmic imaginations, read them from the other side, the spiritual deeds, become capable of hearing in a spiritual way the language of the gods.

But if you really immerse yourself in what the initiate relates with your whole heart, your whole feeling, if you don't just listen to it greedily and say: Well, if I also could do that I'd like it, it would be interesting — but I'm not going to bother. But you receive it as something which you can revere, which you can love, which you can repeatedly meditate on, then it is the path to enter esoteric life yourself.

And you will find this path by meditating profoundly on the words: 1The first part of the verse is written on the blackboard.

1. I live in the dark domain of the earth,
2. I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
3. I read in the deeds of the spirits,
4. I hear in the speech of the gods.

When experienced with the necessary deeply meditative feeling this works wonders in the human soul, transforms the human soul. It must rhythmically flow through the soul again and again, for it leads the human being through his own interior cosmic being.

But it is necessary that such a thing be deeply interiorized. And even though it still speaks more to the head, the heart should also participate in the whole process of going out into the etheric universe, then into the spiritual universe, that is, on the other side of the universe. It is necessary in such a process that we take our hearts with us in the experience and that it stimulate in you the feelings which can come quite naturally by this excursion into the outer universe. But these feelings must be really stimulated. It is therefore good to look deeply into what the words say:

I live in the dark domain of the earth,
I wander in the brilliance of the stars
I read in the deeds of the spirits.
I hear in the speech of the gods.

Then you try to imagine that someone is speaking to you from a spiritual depth, as though you were not thinking it, but as though you were hearing it, as if another being were speaking. You really imagine that another being is speaking to you from an unknown depth. Then you try to develop the right feelings for what you have heard.

These feelings live in the second part of the verse: 2The second part is written on the blackboard.

5. The darkness of the earth creates longing in me,
6. The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me

When I am aware that I live blindly in the darkness of the earth, I long to get out. Then the brilliance of the stars becomes the comforter which expands my being:

The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me.

Now from the other side:

7. The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me,

— when I read them —

8. The speech of the gods is creating to me.

Only you must use it correctly. Imagine yourself vividly in this meditating which you are doing. As though someone were speaking to you from spiritual depths is how you hear the lines of the first verse. You bring the corresponding feeling to each verse, so that you experience in the meditation: first listen, then bring feeling; listen, then bring feeling; and so on.3An arc is drawn connecting lines 1 and 5; another connecting 2 and 6, another connecting 3 and 7, and another connecting lines 4 and 8

I live in the dark domain of the earth,
The darkness of the earth creates longing in me,

I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me.

I read in the deeds of the spirits,
The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me.

I hear in the speech of the gods,
The speech of the gods is creating for me.

It is a meditation in dialog in which you always objectify the first line, but the second you feel as though streaming out of your heart. Now you try again to visualize how one acts and weaves into the other, and then try to feel with your will what you can experience through the dialog. 4The third part of the verse is arranged in connection with the first and the second parts while lines 9, 10, 11 and 12 are written on the blackboard.

From depth of spirit resounds:

I live in the dark domain of the earth,

The heart replies:

The darkness of the earth creates longing in me.

The will senses the impulse in the dialog between lines 1 and 5:

9. The earth's darkness extinguishes me.

After this dialog has taken place we recall the connection of lines 2 and 6:

I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me.

10. The brilliance of the stars awakens me.

Afterward we recall what resounds from spiritual depths and the heart's reply:

I read in the deeds of the spirits,
The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me.

The will now senses:

11. The deeds of the spirits call to me.

into the spiritual world.

And now the most sublime, where we feel ourselves in dialog with the gods themselves, where the gods not only let us read, but speak:

I hear in the speech of the gods,
The speech of the gods is creating for me.

12. The speech of the gods engenders me.

— brings me forth, engenders me.

Now imagine the whole meditation. It runs as follows: dialog — line for line with a spiritual being present in the dim spiritual depths that always speaks the top line of the verse. And the heart always replies:

I live in the dark domain of the earth,
The darkness of the earth creates longing in me,

I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me,

I read in the deeds of the spirits,
The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me,

I hear in the speech of the gods,
The speech of the gods is creating for me.

Now I recall each one and add the outpouring of will as a remembrance of what had just gone before:

I live in the dark domain of the earth,
The darkness of the earth creates longing in me,
The earth's darkness extinguishes me.

I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me,
The brilliance of the stars awakens me.

I read in the deeds of the spirits,
The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me,
The deeds of the spirits call to me.

I hear in the speech of the gods,
The speech of the gods is creating for me,
The speech of the gods engenders me.

Conviction results from the dialog in meditation, from recalling the dialog and in strengthening the recollection by means of the will.

If, firstly, with inner devotional feeling, secondly with complete soul and interest we have done what I have just described, if we do it not as mechanical meditating but as a true experience of the soul, then this means of creating a relation to the spiritual world really does have an awakening effect on the soul.

Also in the case of the last verse, which in the way I have described should really be experienced as remembrance of speech and answering speech — speech of the spirit and answering speech of the heart, we must correctly feel how, firstly, consciousness, which we wish to achieve, is extinguished by the earth's darkness. We must sense how a moment of extinguishing sleep overcomes consciousness, and how upon awakening, at the second line, we hear the spirits calling us to them, how afterward we feel: the spirits have called us so that they can bring us forth, engender us in the spiritual world by their own cosmic word.

If these nuances of inner experience flow through the soul — and the representations of the spiritual being who speaks to us are included — and the heart reciprocates with its dedication to the spiritual being, then yes, then the stimulation exists in the soul which will gradually lead this soul onto the esoteric path. And we must be clear that as we experience these three verses in our souls in the way in which I have described as best we can, something powerful takes place in the subconscious mind. If we sincerely live in these three verses as I have described, then when the first line resounds, our soul unconsciously passes through the starting-point of earthly life when the etheric body was first formed.

If we can vividly imagine what from the spirit resounds:

I live in the dark domain of the earth,

then we approach — in the unconscious — with this hearing in spirit, the moment in which our etheric body was formed; and from pre-earthly existence, from life between death and a new birth, acts the force with which we sincerely reply from the heart:

The darkness of the earth creates longing in me;

because we have the longing for the spiritual as a heritage from pre-earthly existence.

And again we are transported to the beginning of earthly existence. And what acts from our hearts is inspired by the previous earthly existence.

I wander in the brilliance of the stars:

We are transported to the beginning of our earthly life. The real comfort the brilliance of the stars can give when we are transported back is in our heart's reply:

The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me.

And then:

I read in the deeds of the spirits:

We are transported back to the earth's beginning. Remember how we are taught by spiritual beings in pre-earthly existence.

The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me,

Among whom I lived and wandered before I descended to the earth.

I hear in the speech of the gods:

We heard them during the period between death and a new birth. We sense that what the gods say is not mere information as is what men say; we realize that the speech of the Gods is creative:

The speech of the gods is creating for me.

But then, if we can see it so, lines 9, 10, 11, 12 also acquire the correct meaning: 5Line 9 is written again, this time on the arc connecting lines 1 and 5.

I live in the dark domain of the earth,
The earth's darkness extinguishes me,
The darkness of the earth creates longing in me,

— deletes me from my present earth life for I am led back, through the region between death and a new birth, to my earlier incarnation. I divine this; therefor my consciousness is extinguished, for my consciousness was, until now, that of my current incarnation. In this moment of sleep I am transported back so I can divine: I am wandering in my previous incarnation. 6Line 10 is written again, this time at the arc connecting lines 2 and 6.

I wander in the brilliance of the stars,
The brilliance of the stars awakens me
The brilliance of the stars is comfort to me,

I am brought back to what I was in the previous incarnation as though awakened in it. My karma arises before me, the connection of destiny arises before me, it arises before me from the other side. 7Line 11 is written again, at the arc connecting lines 3 and 7.

I read in the deeds of the spirits,
The deeds of the spirits call to me
The deeds of the spirits are teaching to me,

to fulfill my karma with the forces which derive from my previous earth-life. 8Line 12 is written again, at the arc connecting lines 4 and 8.

I hear in the speech of the gods,
The speech of the gods engenders me.
The speech of the gods is creating for me,

Everything I am becomes clear to me when my earlier earthly existence penetrates the present one and shines through it and wanders through it and pulses through it. For here I am. My present I is in a process, it is a seed which will have meaning once I have passed through the gates of death. What shines and works in me from the previous earthly existence into the present one makes me into a human being, engenders me as an existing human being.

If we have the conviction that it is so, that — although we believe only to be in the ordinary world of physical existence — our soul really makes the journey back to the previous earth-life, then we will be aware of the gravity of what we are experiencing. And through this awareness a warmer, luminous current streams through our thinking, feeling and willing. And with that inner magical feeling, which is necessary for the meditation to work in the right way, our meditation will prevail. We may call it a magical feeling for it cannot be compared with any feeling we have on earth, because it is completely independent of all corporeality. If we cannot yet leave the physical body behind with our thinking, this magical thinking which we experience through the gravity of our soul's activity is present in the purely spiritual world.

According to the way we experience these things, our esoteric striving is fulfilled. And that is what I was obliged to lay before your souls today, my dear sisters and brothers.

In conclusion I would like to say one more thing. It should not happen that someone passes on the verses and the information given here without first asking permission. Only with permission may these things be passed on from one to another or to a group. It is especially frowned upon, my dear friends, that these verses or their interpretation be sent by post. They may not be sent by post, and I ask that this be strictly observed.

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