The Sun and the Heart ~ Rudolf Steiner

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The Sun and the Heart

Sun, thou bearer of rays,
Thy light’s power over matter
Magics life out of the earth’s
Limitless rich depths.

Heart, thou bearer of soul,
Thy light’s power over spirit
Magics life out of the human being’s
Limitless deep inwardness.

If I gaze upon the Sun
Her light speaks to me in radiance
Of the Spirit, filled with grace,
Wielding through the beings of worlds.

If I feel within my heart
The Spirit speaks its own true word
About the human being, loved by him
Through all time and eternity.

Looking upwards, I can see
In the Sun’s bright disc
The mighty heart of worlds.

Looking inwards, I can feel
In the heart’s warm beat
The human Sun ensouled.



Knowledge of the Higher Worlds II The Stages of Initiation ~ Rudolf Steiner Archives

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ART : Iona Miller


Knowledge of the Higher Worlds


The Stages of Initiation

The information given in the following chapters constitutes steps in an esoteric training, the name and character of which will be understood by all who apply this information in the right way. It refers to the three stages through which the training of the spiritual life leads to a certain degree of initiation. But only so much will here be explained as can be publicly imparted. These are merely indications extracted from a still deeper and more intimate doctrine. In esoteric training itself a quite definite course of instruction is followed. Certain exercises enable the soul to attain to a conscious intercourse with the spiritual world. These exercises bear about the same relation to what will be imparted in the following pages, as the instruction given in a higher strictly disciplined school bears to the incidental training. But impatient dabbling, devoid of earnest perseverance, can lead to nothing at all. The study of Spiritual Science can only be successful if the student retain what has already been indicated in the preceding chapter, and on the basis of this proceed further.

The three stages which the above-mentioned tradition specifies, are as follows: (1) preparation; (2) enlightenment; (3) initiation. It is not altogether necessary that the first of these three stages should be completed before the second can be begun, nor that the second, in turn, be completed before the third be started. In certain respects it is possible to partake of enlightenment, and even of initiation, and in other respects still be in the preparatory stage. Yet it will be necessary to spend a certain time in the stage of preparation before any enlightenment can begin; and, at least in some respects, enlightenment must be completed before it is even possible to enter upon the stage of initiation. But in describing them it is necessary, for the sake of clarity, that the three stages be made to follow in order.


Preparation consists in a strict and definite cultivation of the life of thought and feeling, through which the psycho-spiritual body becomes equipped with higher senses and organs of activity in the same way that natural forces have fitted the physical body with organs built out of indeterminate living matter.

To begin with, the attention of the soul is directed to certain events in the world that surrounds us. Such events are, on the one hand, life that is budding, growing, and flourishing, and on the other hand, all phenomena connected with fading, decaying, and withering. The student can observe these events simultaneously, wherever he turns his eyes and on every occasion they naturally evoke in him feelings and thoughts; but in ordinary circumstances he does not devote himself sufficiently to them. He hurries on too quickly from impression to impression. It is necessary, therefore, that he should fix his attention intently and consciously upon these phenomena. Wherever he observes a definite kind of blooming and flourishing, he must banish everything else from his soul, and entirely surrender himself, for a short time, to this one impression. He will soon convince himself that a feeling which heretofore in a similar case, would merely have flitted through his soul, now swells out and assumes a powerful and energetic form. He must now allow this feeling to reverberate quietly within himself while keeping inwardly quite still. He must cut himself off from the outer world, and simply and solely follow what his soul tells him of this blossoming and flourishing.

Yet it must not be thought that much progress can be made if the senses are blunted to the world. First look at the things as keenly and as intently as you possibly can; then only let the feeling which expands to life, and the thought which arises in the soul, take possession of you. The point is that the attention should be directed with perfect inner balance upon both phenomena. If the necessary tranquility be attained and you surrender yourself to the feeling which expands to life in the soul, then, in due time, the following experience will ensue. Thoughts and feelings of a new kind and unknown before will be noticed uprising in the soul. Indeed, the more often the attention be fixed alternately upon something growing, blossoming and flourishing, and upon something else that is fading and decaying, the more vivid will these feelings become. And just as the eyes and ears of the physical body are built by natural forces out of living matter, so will the organs of clairvoyance build themselves out of the feelings and thoughts thus evoked. A quite definite form of feeling is connected with growth and expansion, and another equally definite with all that is fading and decaying. But this is only the case if the effort be made to cultivate these feelings in the way indicated. It is possible to describe approximately what these feelings are like. A full conception of them is within the reach of all who undergo these inner experiences.

If the attention be frequently fixed on the phenomena of growing, blooming and flourishing, a feeling remotely allied to the sensation of a sunrise will ensue, while the phenomena of fading and decaying will produce an experience comparable, in the same way, to the slow rising of the moon on the horizon. Both these feelings are forces which, when duly cultivated and developed to ever increasing intensity, lead to the most significant spiritual results. A new world is opened to the student if he systematically and deliberately surrenders himself to such feelings. The soul-world, the so-called astral plane, begins to dawn upon him. Growth and decay are no longer facts which make indefinite impressions on him as of old, but rather they form themselves into spiritual lines and figures of which he had previously suspected nothing. And these lines and figures have, for the different phenomena, different forms. A blooming flower, an animal in the process of growth, a tree that is decaying, evoke in his soul different lines. The soul world (astral plane) broadens out slowly before him. These lines and figures are in no sense arbitrary. Two students who have reached the corresponding stage of development will always see the same lines and figures under the same conditions. Just as a round table will be seen as round by two normal persons, and not as round by one and square by the other, so too, at the sight of a flower, the same spiritual figure is presented to the soul. And just as the forms of animals and plants are described in ordinary natural history, so too, the spiritual scientist describes or draws the spiritual forms of the process of growth and decay, according to species and kind.

If the student has progressed so far that he can perceive the spiritual forms of those phenomena which are physically visible to his external sight, he is then not far from the stage where he will behold things which have no physical existence, and which therefore remain entirely hidden (occult) from those who have not received suitable instruction and training.

It should be emphasized that the student must never lose himself in speculations on the meaning of one thing or another. Such intellectualizing will only draw him away from the right road. He should look out on the world with keen, healthy senses and quickened power of observation, and then give himself up to the feeling that arises within him. He should not try to make out, through intellectual speculation, the meaning of things, but rather allow the things to disclose themselves. It should be remarked that artistic feeling, when coupled with a quiet introspective nature, forms the best preliminary condition for the development of spiritual faculties. This feeling pierces through the superficial aspect of things, and in so doing touches their secrets.

A further point of importance is what spiritual science calls orientation in the higher worlds. This is attained when the student is permeated, through and through, with the conscious realization that feelings and thoughts are just as much veritable realities as are tables and chairs in the world of the physical senses. In the soul and thought world, feelings and thoughts react upon each other just as do physical objects in the physical world. As long as the student is not vividly permeated with this consciousness, he will not believe that a wrong thought in his mind may have as devastating an effect upon other thoughts that spread life in the thought world as the effect wrought by a bullet fired at random upon the physical objects it hits. He will perhaps never allow himself to perform a physically visible action which he considers to be wrong, though he will not shrink from harboring wrong thoughts and feelings, for these appear harmless to the rest of the world. There can be no progress, however, on the path to higher knowledge unless we guard our thoughts and feelings in just the same way we guard out steps in the physical world. If we see a wall before us, we do not attempt to dash right through it, but turn aside. In other words, we guide ourselves by the laws of the physical world. There are such laws, too, for the soul and thought world, only they cannot impose themselves on us from without. They must flow out of the life of the soul itself. This can be attained if we forbid ourselves to harbor wrong thoughts and feelings. All arbitrary flitting to and fro in thought, all accidental ebbing and flowing of emotion must be forbidden in the same way. In so doing we do not become deficient in feeling. On the contrary, if we regulate our inner life in this way, we shall soon find ourselves becoming rich in feelings and creative with genuine imagination. In the place of petty emotionalism and capricious flights of thought, there appear significant emotions and thoughts that are fruitful. Feelings and thoughts of this kind lead the student to orientation in the spiritual world. He gains a right position in relation to the things of the spiritual world; a distinct and definite result comes into effect in his favor. Just as he, as a physical man, finds his way among physical things, so, too, his path now leads him between growth and decay, which he has already come to know in the way described above. On the one hand, he follows all processes of growing and flourishing and, on the other, of withering and decaying in a way that is necessary for his own and the world’s advancement.

The student has also to bestow a further care on the world of sound. He must discriminate between sounds that are produced by the so-called inert (lifeless) bodies, for instance, a bell, or a musical instrument, or a falling mass, and those which proceed from a living creature (an animal or a human being.) When a bell is struck, we hear the sound and connect a pleasant feeling with it; but when we hear the cry of an animal, we can, besides our own feeling, detect through it the manifestation of an inward experience of the animal, whether of pleasure or pain. It is with the latter kind of sound that the student sets to work. He must concentrate his whole attention on the fact that the sound tells him of something that lies outside his own soul. He must immerse himself in this foreign thing. He must closely unite his own feeling with the pleasure or pain of which the sound tells him. He must get beyond the point of caring whether, for him, the sound is pleasant or unpleasant, agreeable or disagreeable, and his soul must be filled with whatever is occurring in the being from which the sound proceeds. Through such exercises, if systematically and deliberately performed, the student will develop within himself the faculty of intermingling, as it were, with the being from which the sound proceeds. A person sensitive to music will find it easier than one who is unmusical to cultivate his inner life in this way; but no one should suppose that a mere sense for music can take the place of this inner activity. The student must learn to feel in this way in the face of the whole of nature. This implants a new faculty in his world of thought and feeling. Through her resounding tones, the whole of nature begins to whisper her secrets to the student. What was hitherto merely incomprehensible noise to his soul becomes by this means a coherent language of nature. And whereas hitherto he only heard sound from the so-called inanimate objects, he now is aware of a new language of the soul. Should he advance further in this inner culture, he will soon learn that he can hear what hitherto he did not even surmise. He begins to hear with the soul.

To this, one thing more must be added before the highest point in this region can be attained. Of very great importance for the development of the student is the way in which he listens to others when they speak. He must accustom himself to do this in such a way that, while listening, his inner self is absolutely silent. If someone expresses an opinion and another listens, assent or dissent will, generally speaking, stir in the inner self of the listener. Many people in such cases feel themselves impelled to an expression of their assent, or more especially, of their dissent. In the student, all such assent or dissent must be silenced. It is not imperative that he should suddenly alter his way of living by trying to attain at all times to this complete inner silence. He will have to begin by doing so in special cases, deliberately selected by himself. Then quite slowly and by degrees, this new way of listening will creep into his habits, as of itself. In spiritual research this is systematically practiced. The student feels it his duty to listen, by way of practice, at certain times to the most contradictory views and, at the same time, bring entirely to silence all assent, and more especially, all adverse criticism. The point is that in so doing, not only all purely intellectual judgment be silenced, but also all feelings of displeasure, denial, or even assent. The student must at all times be particularly watchful lest such feelings, even when not on the surface, should still lurk in the innermost recess of the soul. He must listen, for example, to the statements of people who are, in some respects, far beneath him, and yet while doing so suppress every feeling of greater knowledge or superiority. It is useful for everyone to listen in this way to children, for even the wisest can learn incalculably much from children. The student can thus train himself to listen to the words of others quite selflessly, completely shutting down his own person and his opinions and way of feeling. When he practices listening without criticism, even when a completely contradictory opinion is advanced, when the most hopeless mistake is committed before him, he then learns, little by little, to blend himself with the being of another and become identified with it. Then he hears through the words into the soul of the other. Through continued exercise of this kind, sound becomes the right medium for the perception of soul and spirit. Of course it implies the very strictest self-discipline, but the latter leads to a high goal. When these exercises are practiced in connection with the other already given, dealing with the sounds of nature, the soul develops a new sense of hearing. She is now able to perceive manifestations from the spiritual world which do not find their expression in sounds perceptible to the physical ear. The perception of the “inner word” awakens. Gradually truths reveal themselves to the student from the spiritual world. He hears speech uttered to him in a spiritual way. Only to those who, by selfless listening, train themselves to be really receptive from within, in stillness, unmoved by personal opinion or feeling only to such can the higher beings speak of whom spiritual science tells. As long as one hurls any personal opinion or feeling against the speaker to whom one must listen, the beings of the spiritual world remain silent.

All higher truths are attained through such inwardly instilled speech, and what we hear from the lips of a true spiritual teacher has been experienced by him in this manner. But this does not mean that it is unimportant for us to acquaint ourselves with the writings of spiritual science before we can ourselves hear such inwardly instilled speech. On the contrary, the reading of such writings and the listening to the teachings of spiritual science are themselves means of attaining personal knowledge. Every sentence of spiritual science we hear is of a nature to direct the mind to the point which must be reached before the soul can experience real progress. To the practice of all that has here been indicated must be added the ardent study of what the spiritual researchers impart to the world. In all esoteric training such study belongs to the preparatory period, and all other methods will prove ineffective if due receptivity for the teachings of the spiritual researcher is lacking. For since these instructions are culled from the living inner word, from the living inwardly instilled speech, they are themselves gifted with spiritual life. They are not mere words; they are living powers. And while you follow the words of one who knows, while you read a book that springs from real inner experience, powers are at work in your soul which make you clairvoyant, just as natural forces have created out of living matter your eyes and your ears.


Enlightenment proceeds from very simple processes. Here, too, it is a matter of developing certain feelings and thoughts which slumber in every human being and must be awakened. It is only when these simple processes are carried out with unfailing patience, continuously and conscientiously, that they can lead to the perception of the inner light-forms. The first step is taken by observing different natural objects in a particular way; for instance, a transparent and beautifully formed stone (a crystal), a plant, and an animal. The student should endeavor, at first, to direct his whole attention to a comparison of the stone with the animal in the following manner. The thoughts here mentioned should pass through his soul accompanied by vivid feelings, and no other thought, no other feeling, must mingle with them and disturb what should be an intensely attentive observation. The student says to himself: “The stone has a form; the animal also has a form. The stone remains motionless in its place. The animal changes its place. It is instinct (desire) which causes the animal to change its place. Instincts, too, are served by the form of the animal. Its organs and limbs are fashioned in accordance with these instincts. The form of the stone is not fashioned in accordance with desires, but in accordance with desireless force.” (The fact here mentioned, in its bearing on the contemplation of crystals, is in many ways distorted by those who have only heard of it in an outward, exoteric manner, and in this way such practices as crystal-gazing have their origin Such manipulations are based on a misunderstanding. They have been described in many books, but they never form the subject of genuine esoteric teaching.)

By sinking deeply into such thoughts, and while doing so, observing the stone and the animal with rapt attention, there arise in the soul two quite separate kinds of feelings. From the stone there flows into the soul the one kind of feeling, and from the animal the other kind. The attempt will probably not succeed at first, but little by little, with genuine and patient practice, these feelings ensue. Only, this exercise must be practiced over and over again. At first the feelings are only present as long as the observation lasts. Later on they continue, and then they grow to something which remains living in the soul. The student has then but to reflect, and both feelings will always arise, even without the contemplation of an external object. Out of these feelings and the thoughts that are bound up with them, the organs of clairvoyance are formed. If the plant should then be included in this observation, it will be noticed that the feeling flowing from it lies between the feelings derived from the stone and the animal, in both quality and degree. The organs thus formed are spiritual eyes. The students gradually learns, by their means, to see something like soul and spirit colors. The spiritual world with its lines and figures remains dark as long as he has only attained what has been described as preparation; through enlightenment this world becomes light. Here it must also be noted that the words “dark” and “light,” as well as the other expressions used, only approximately describe what is meant. This cannot be otherwise if ordinary language is used, for this language was created to suit physical conditions. Spiritual science describes that which, for clairvoyant organs, flows from the stone, as blue, or blue-red; and that which is felt as coming from the animal as red or red-yellow. In reality, colors of a spiritual kind are seen. The color proceeding the plant is green which little by little turns into a light ethereal pink. The plant is actually that product of nature which in higher worlds resembles, in certain respects, its constitution in the physical world. The same does not apply to the stone and the animal. It must now be clearly understood that the above-mentioned colors only represent the principal shades in the stone, plant and animal kingdom. In reality, all possible intermediate shades are present. Every stone, every plant, every animal has its own particular shade of color. In addition to these there are also the beings of the higher worlds who never incarnate physically, but who have their colors, often wonderful, often horrible. Indeed, the wealth of color in these higher worlds is immeasurably greater than in the physical world.

Once the faculty of seeing with spiritual eyes has been acquired, one then encounters sooner or later the beings here mentioned, some of them higher, some lower than man himself–beings that never enter physical reality.

If this point has been reached, the way to a great deal lies open. But it is inadvisable to proceed further without paying careful heed to what is said or otherwise imparted by the spiritual researcher. And for that, too, which has been described, attention paid to such experienced guidance is the very best thing. Moreover, if a man has the strength and the endurance to travel so far that he fulfills the elementary conditions of enlightenment, he will assuredly seek and find the right guidance.

But in any circumstances, one precaution is necessary, failing which it were better to leave untrodden all steps on the path to higher knowledge. It is necessary that the student should lose none of his qualities as a good and noble man, or his receptivity for all physical reality. Indeed, throughout his training he must continually increase his moral strength, his inner purity, and his power of observation. To give an example: during the elementary exercises on enlightenment, the student must take care always to enlarge his sympathy for the animal and the human worlds, and his sense for the beauty of nature. Failing this care, such exercises would continually blunt that feeling and that sense; the heart would become hardened, and the senses blunted, and that could only lead to perilous results.

How enlightenment proceeds if the student rises, in the sense of the foregoing exercises, from the stone, the plant, and the animal, up to man, and how, after enlightenment, under all circumstances the union of the soul with the spiritual world is effected, leading to initiation–with these things the following chapters will deal, in as far as they can and may do so.

In our time the path to spiritual science is sought by many. It is sought in many ways, and many dangerous and even despicable practices are attempted. It is for this reason that they who claim to know something of the truth in these matters place before others the possibility of learning something of esoteric training. Only so much is here imparted as accords with this possibility. It is necessary that something of the truth should become known, in order to prevent error causing great harm. No harm can come to anyone following the way here described, so long as he does not force matters. Only, one thing should be noted: no student should spend more time and strength upon these exercises than he can spare with due regard to his station in life and to his duties; nor should he change anything, for the time being, in the external conditions of his life through taking this path. Without patience no genuine results can be attained. After doing an exercise for a few minutes, the student must be able to stop and continue quietly his daily work, and no thought of these exercises should mingle with the day’s work. NO one is of use as an esoteric student or will ever attain results of real value who has not learned to wait in the highest and best sense of the word.

The Control of Thoughts and Feelings

When the student seeks the path leading to higher knowledge in the way described in the preceding chapter, he should not omit to fortify himself; throughout his work, with one ever present thought. He must never cease repeating to himself that he may have made quite considerable progress after a certain interval of time, though it may not be apparent to him in the way he perhaps expected; otherwise he can easily lose heart and abandon all attempts after a short time. The powers and faculties to be developed are of a most subtle kind, and differ entirely in their nature from the conceptions previously formed by the student. He had been accustomed to occupy himself exclusively with the physical world; the world of spirit and soul had been concealed from his vision and concepts. It is therefore not surprising if he does not immediately notice the powers of soul and spirit now developing in him. In this respect there is a possibility of discouragement for those setting out on the path to higher knowledge, if they ignore the experience gathered by responsible investigators. The teacher is aware of the progress made by his pupil long before the latter is conscious of it He knows how the delicate spiritual eyes begin to form themselves long before the pupil is aware of this, and a great part of what he has to say is couched in such terms as to prevent the pupil from losing patience and perseverance before he can himself gain knowledge of his own progress. The teacher, as we know, can confer upon the pupil no powers which are not already latent within him, and his sole function is to assist in the awakening of slumbering faculties. But what he imparts out of his own experience is a pillar of strength for the one wishing to penetrate through darkness to light. Many abandon the path to higher knowledge soon after having set foot upon it, because their progress is not immediately apparent to them. And even when the first experiences begin to dawn upon the pupil, he is apt to regard them as illusions, because he had formed quite different conceptions of what he was going to experience. He loses courage, either because he regards these first experiences as being of no value, or because they appear to him to be so insignificant that he cannot believe they will lead him to any appreciable results within a measurable time. Courage and self-confidence are two beacons which must never be extinguished on the path to higher knowledge. No one will ever travel far who cannot bring himself to repeat, over and over again, an exercise which has failed, apparently, for a countless number of times.

Long before any distinct perception of progress, there rises in the student, from the hidden depths of the soul, a feeling that he is on the right path. This feeling should be cherished and fostered, for it can develop into a trustworthy guide. Above all, it is imperative to extirpate the idea that any fantastic, mysterious practices are required for the attainment of higher knowledge. It must be clearly realized that a start has to be made with the thoughts and feelings with which we continually live, and that these feelings and thoughts must merely be given a new direction. Everyone must say to himself: “In my own world of thought and feeling the deepest mysteries lie hidden, only hitherto I have been unable to perceive them.” In the end it all resolves itself into the fact that man ordinarily carries body, soul and spirit about with him, and yet is conscious in a true sense only of his body, and not of his soul and spirit. The student becomes conscious of soul and spirit, just as the ordinary person is conscious of his body. Hence it is highly important to give the proper direction to thoughts and feelings, for then only can the perception be developed of all that is invisible in ordinary life. One of the ways by which this development may be carried out will now be indicated. Again, like almost everything else so far explained, it is quite a simple matter. Yet its results are of the greatest consequence, if the necessary devotion and sympathy be applied.

Let the student place before himself the small seed of a plant, and while contemplating this insignificant object, form with intensity the right kind of thoughts, and through these thoughts develop certain feelings. In the first place let him clearly grasp what he really sees with his eyes. Let him describe to himself the shape, color and all other qualities of the seed. Then let his mind dwell upon the following train of thought: “Out of the seed, if planted in the soil, a plant of complex structure will grow.” Let him build up this plant in his imagination, and reflect as follows: “What I am now picturing to myself in my imagination will later on be enticed from the seed by the forces of earth and light. If I had before me an artificial object which imitated the seed to such a deceptive degree that my eyes could not distinguish it from a real seed, no forces of earth or light could avail to produce from it a plant.” If the student thoroughly grasps this thought so that it becomes an inward experience, he will also be able to form the following thought and couple it with the right feeling: “All that will ultimately grow out of the seed is now secretly enfolded within it as the force of the whole plant. In the artificial imitation of the seed there is no such force present. And yet both appear alike to my eyes. The real seed, therefore, contains something invisible which is not present in the imitation.” It is on this invisible something that thought and feeling are to be concentrated. (Anyone objecting that a microscopical examination would reveal the difference between the real seed and the imitation would only show that he had failed to grasp the point. The intention is not to investigate the physical nature of the object, but to use it for the development of psycho-spiritual forces.)

Let the student fully realize that this invisible something will transmute itself later on into a visible plant, which he will have before him in its shape and color. Let him ponder on the thought: “The invisible will become visible. If I could not think, then that which will only become visible later on could not already make its presence felt to me.” Particular stress must be laid on the following point: what the student thinks he must also feel with intensity. In inner tranquility, the thought mentioned above must become a conscious inner experience, to the exclusion of all other thoughts and disturbances. And sufficient time must be taken to allow the thought and the feeling which is coupled with it to bore themselves into the soul, as it were. If this be accomplished in the right way, then after a time — possibly not until after numerous attempts — an inner force will make itself felt. This force will create new powers of perception. The grain of seed will appear as if enveloped in a small luminous cloud. In a sensible-supersensible way, it will be felt as a kind of flame. The center of this flame evokes the same feeling that one has when under the impression of the color lilac, and the edges as when under the impression of a bluish tone. What was formerly invisible now becomes visible, for it is created by the power of the thoughts and feelings we have stirred to life within ourselves. The plant itself will not become visible until later, so that the physically invisible now reveals itself in a spiritually visible way.

It is not surprising that all this appears to many as illusion. “What is the use of such visions,” they ask, “and such hallucinations?” And many will thus fall away and abandon the path. But this is precisely the important point: not to confuse spiritual reality with imagination at this difficult stage of human evolution, and further-more, to have the courage to press onward and not become timorous and faint-hearted. On the other hand, however, the necessity must be emphasized of maintaining unimpaired and of perpetually cultivating that healthy sound sense which distinguishes truth from illusion. Fully conscious self-control must never be lost during all these exercises, and they must be accompanied by the same sane, sound thinking which is applied to the details of every-day life. To lapse into reveries would be fatal. The intellectual clarity, not to say the sobriety of thought, must never for a moment be dulled. The greatest mistake would be made if the student’s mental balance were disturbed through such exercises, if he were hampered in judging the matters of his daily life as sanely and as soundly as before. He should examine himself again and again to find out if he has remained unaltered in relation to the circumstances among which he lives, or whether he may perhaps have become unbalanced. Above all, strict care must be taken not to drift at random into vague reveries, or to experiment with all kinds of exercises. The trains of thought here indicated have been tested and practiced in esoteric training since the earliest times, and only such are given in these pages. Anyone attempting to use others devised by himself, or of which he may have heard or read at one place or another, will inevitably go astray and find himself on the path of boundless chimera.

As a further exercise to succeed the one just described, the following may be taken: Let the student place before him a plant which has attained the stage of full development. Now let him fill his mind with the thought that the time will come when this plant will wither and die. “Nothing will be left of what I now see before me. But this plant will have developed seeds which, in their turn, will develop to new plants. I again become aware that in what I see, something lies hidden which I cannot see. I fill my mind entirely with the thought: this plant with its form and colors, will in time be no more. But the reflection that it produces seeds teaches me that it will not disappear into nothing. I cannot at present see with my eyes that which guards it from disappearance, any more than I previously could discern the plant in the grain of seed. Thus there is something in the plant which my eyes cannot see. If I let this thought live within me, and if the corresponding feeling be coupled with it, then, in due time, there will again develop in my soul a force which will ripen into a new perception.” Out of the plant there again grows a kind of spiritual flame-form, which is, of course, correspondingly larger than the one previously described. The flame can be felt as being greenish-blue in the center, and yellowish-red at the outer edge.

It must be explicitly emphasized that the colors here described are not seen as the physical eyes see colors, but that through spiritual perception the same feeling is experienced as in the case of a physical color-impression. To apprehend blue spiritually means to have a sensation similar to the one experienced when the physical eye rests on the color blue. This fact must be noted by all who intend to rise to spiritual perception. Otherwise they will expect a mere repetition of the physical in the spiritual. This could only lead to the bitterest deception.

Anyone having reached this point of spiritual vision is the richer by a great deal, for he can perceive things not only in their present state of being but also in their process of growth and decay. He begins to see in all things the spirit, of which physical eyes can know nothing. And therewith he has taken the first step toward the gradual solution, through personal vision, of the secret of birth and death. For the outer senses a being comes into existence through birth, and passes away through death. This, however, is only because these senses cannot perceive the concealed spirit of the being. For the spirit, birth and death are merely a transformation, just as the unfolding of the flower from the bud is a transformation enacted before our physical eyes. But if we desire to learn this through personal vision we must first awaken the requisite spiritual sense in the way here indicated.

In order to meet another objection, which may be raised by certain people who have some psychic experience, let it at once be admitted that there are shorter and simpler ways, and that there are persons who have acquired knowledge of the phenomena of birth and death through personal vision, without first going through all that has here been described. There are, in fact, people with considerable psychic gifts who need but a slight impulse in order to find themselves already developed. But they are the exceptions, and the methods described above are safer and apply equally to all. It is possible to acquire some knowledge of chemistry in an exceptional way, but if you wish to become a chemist you must follow the recognized and reliable course.

An error fraught with serious consequences would ensue if it were assumed that the desired result could be reached more easily if the grain of seed or the plant mentioned above were merely imagined, were merely pictured in the imagination. This might lead to results, but not so surely as the method here. The vision thus attained would, in most cases, be a mere fragment of the imagination, the transformation of which into genuine spiritual vision would still remain to be accomplished. It is not intended arbitrarily to create visions, but to allow reality to create them within oneself. The truth must well up from the depths of our own soul; it must not be conjured forth by our ordinary ego, but by the beings themselves whose spiritual truth we are to contemplate.

Once the student has found the beginnings of spiritual vision by means of such exercises, he may proceed to the contemplation of man himself. Simple phenomena of human life must first be chosen. But before making any attempt in this direction it is imperative for the student to strive for the absolute purity of his moral character. He must banish all through of ever using knowledge gained in this way for his own personal benefit. He must be convinced that he would never, under any circumstances, avail himself in an evil sense of any power he may gain over his fellow-creatures. For this reason, all who seek to discover through personal vision the secrets in human nature must follow the golden rule of true spiritual science. This golden rule is as follows: For every one step that you take in the pursuit of higher knowledge, take three steps in the perfection of your own character. If this rule is observed, such exercise as the following may be attempted:

Recall to mind some person whom you may have observed when he was filled with desire for some object. Direct your attention to this desire. It is best to recall to memory that moment when the desire was at its height, and it was still uncertain whether the object of the desire would be attained. And now fill your mind with this recollection, and reflect on what you can thus observe. Maintain the utmost inner tranquility. Make the greatest possible effort to be blind and deaf to everything that may be going on around you, and take special heed that through the conception thus evoked a feeling should awaken in your soul. Allow this feeling to rise in your soul like a cloud on the cloudless horizon. As a rule, of course, your reflection will be interrupted, because the person whom it concerns was not observed in this particular state of soul for a sufficient length of time. The attempt will most likely fail hundreds and hundreds of times. It is just a question of not losing patience. After many attempts you will succeed in experiencing a feeling In your soul corresponding to the state of soul of the person observed, and you will begin to notice that through this feeling a power grows in your soul that leads to spiritual insight into the state of soul of the other. A picture experienced as luminous appears in your field of vision. This spiritually luminous picture is the so-called astral embodiment of the desire observed in that soul. Again the impression of this picture may be described as flame-like, yellowish-red in the center, and reddish-blue or lilac at the edges. Much depends on treating such spiritual experiences with great delicacy. The best thing is not to speak to anyone about them except to your teacher, if you have one. Attempted descriptions of such experiences in inappropriate words usually only lead to gross self-deception. Ordinary terms are employed which are not intended for such things, and are therefore too gross and clumsy. The consequence is that in the attempt to clothe the experience in words we are misled into blending the actual experience with all kinds of fantastic delusions. Here again is another important rule for the student: know how to observe silence concerning your spiritual experiences. Yes, observe silence even toward yourself. Do not attempt to clothe in words what you contemplate in the spirit, or to pore over it with clumsy intellect. Lend yourself freely and without reservation to these spiritual impressions, and do not disturb them by reflecting and pondering over them too much. For you must remember that your reasoning faculties are, to begin with, by no means equal to your new experience. You have acquired these reasoning faculties in a life hitherto confined to the physical world of the senses; the faculties you are now acquiring transcend this world. Do not try, therefore, to apply to the new and higher perceptions the standard of the old. Only he who has gained some certainty and steadiness in the observation of inner experiences can speak about them, and thereby stimulate his fellow-men.

The exercise just described may be supplemented by the following: Direct your attention in the same way upon a person to whom the fulfillment of some wish, the gratification of some desire, has been granted. If the same rules and precautions be adopted as in the previous instance, spiritual insight will once more be attained. A spiritual insight will once more be attained. A spiritual flame-form will be distinguished, creating an impression of yellow in the center and green at the edges.

By such observation of his fellow-creatures, the student may easily lapse into a moral fault. He may become cold-hearted. Every conceivable effort must be made to prevent this. Such observation should only be practiced by one who has already risen to the level on which complete certainty is found that thoughts are real things. He will then no longer allow himself to think of his fellow-men in a way that is incompatible with the highest reverence for human dignity and human liberty. The thought that a human being could be merely an object of observation must never for a moment be entertained. Self-education must see to it that this insight into human nature should go hand in hand with an unlimited respect for the personal privilege of each individual, and with the recognition of the sacred and inviolable nature of that which dwells in each human being. A feeling of reverential awe must fill us, even in our recollections.

For the present, only these two examples can be given to show how enlightened insight into human nature may be achieved; they will at least serve to point out the way to be taken. By gaining the inner tranquility and repose indispensable for such observation, the student will have undergone a great inner transformation. He will then soon reach the point where this enrichment of his inner self will lend confidence and composure to his outward demeanor. And this transformation of his outward demeanor will again react favorably on his soul. Thus he will be able to help himself further along the road. He will find ways and means of penetrating more and more into the secrets of human nature which are hidden from our external senses, and he will then also become ripe for a deeper insight into the mysterious connections between human nature and all else that exists in the universe. By following this path the student approaches closer and closer to the moment when he can effectively take the first steps of initiation. But before these can be taken, one thing more is necessary, though at first its need will be least of all apparent; later on, however, the student will be convinced of it.

The would-be initiate must bring with him a certain measure of courage and fearlessness. He must positively go out of his way to find opportunities for developing these virtues. His training should provide for their systematic cultivation. In this respect, life itself is a good school — possibly the best school. The student must learn to look danger calmly in the face and try to overcome difficulties unswervingly. For instance, when in the presence of some peril, he must swiftly come to the conviction that fear is of no possible use; I must not feel afraid; I must only think of what is to be done. And he must improve to the extent of feeling, upon occasions which formerly inspired him with fear, that to be frightened, to be disheartened, are things that are out of the question as far as his own inmost self is concerned. By self-discipline in this direction, quite definite qualities are develop which are necessary for initiation into the higher mysteries. Just as man requires nervous force in his physical being in order to use his physical sense, so also he requires in his soul nature the force which is only developed in the courageous and the fearless. For in penetrating to the higher mysteries he will see things which are concealed from ordinary humanity by the illusion of the senses. If the physical senses do not allow us to perceive the higher truth, they are for this very reason our benefactors. Things are thereby hidden from us which, if realized without due preparation, would throw us into unutterable consternation, and the sight of which would be unendurable. The student must be fit to endure this sight. He loses certain supports in the outer world which he owes to the very illusion surrounding him. It is truly and literally as if the attention of someone were called to a danger which had threatened him for a long time, but of which he knew nothing. Hitherto he felt no fear, but now that he knows, he is overcome by fear, though the danger has not been rendered greater by his knowing it.

The forces at work in the world are both destructive and constructive; the destiny of manifested beings is birth and death. The seer is to behold the working of these forces and the march of destiny. The veil enshrouding the spiritual eyes in ordinary life is to be removed. But man is interwoven with these forces and with this destiny. His own nature harbors destructive and constructive forces. His own soul reveals itself to the seer as undisguised as the other objects. He must not lose strength in the face of this self-knowledge; but strength will fail him unless he brings a surplus on which to draw. For this purpose he must learn to maintain inner calm and steadiness in the face of difficult circumstances; he must cultivate a strong trust in the beneficent powers of existence. He must be prepared to find that many motives which had actuated him hitherto will do so no longer. He will have to recognize that previously he thought and acted in a certain way only because he was still in the throes of ignorance. Reasons that influenced him formerly will now disappear. He often acted out of vanity; he will now see how utterly futile all vanity is for the seer. He often acted out of greed; he will now become aware how destructive all greed is. He will have to develop quite new motives for his thoughts and actions, and it is just for this purpose that courage and fearlessness are required.

It is pre-eminently a question of cultivating this courage and this fearlessness in the inmost depths of thought-life. The student must learn never to despair over failure. He must be equal to the thought: I shall forget that I have failed in this matter, and I shall try once more as though this had not happened. Thus he will struggle through to the firm conviction that the fountain-head of strength from which he may draw is inexhaustible. He struggles ever onward to the spirit which will uplift him and support him, however weak and impotent his earthly self may have proved. He must be capable of pressing on to the future undismayed by any experiences of the past. If the student has acquired these faculties up to a certain point, he is then ripe to hear the real names of things, which are the key to higher knowledge. For initiation consists in this very act of learning to call the things of the world by those names which they bear in the spirit of their divine authors. In these, their names, lies the mystery of things. It is for this reason that the initiates speak a different language from the uninitiated, for the former know the names by which the beings themselves are called into existence.

In as far as initiation itself can be discussed, this will be done in the following chapter.


Initiation is the highest stage in an esoteric training concerning which it is possible to give some indications in a book intended for the genuine public. Whatever lives beyond forms a subject difficult to understand, yet the way to it can be found by all who have passed through preparation, enlightenment, and initiation as far as the lesser mysteries.

The knowledge and proficiency conferred by initiation cannot be obtained in any other manner, except in some far distant future, after many incarnations, by quite different means and in quite a different form. The initiate of today undergoes experiences which would otherwise come to him much later, under quite different circumstances.

The secrets of existence are only accessible to an extent corresponding to man’s own degree of maturity. For this reason alone the path to the higher stages of knowledge and power is beset with obstacles. A firearm should not be used until sufficient experience has been gained to avoid disaster, caused by its use. A person initiated today without further ado would lack the experience which he will gain during his future incarnations before he can attain to higher knowledge in the normal course of his development. At the portal of initiation, therefore, this experience must be supplied in some other way. Thus the first instructions given to the candidate for initiation serve as a substitute for these future experiences. These are the so-called trials, which he has to undergo, and which constitute a normal course of inner development resulting from due application to such exercises as are described in the preceding chapters.

These trials are often discussed in books, but it is only natural that such discussions should as a rule give quite false impressions of their nature; for without passing through preparation and enlightenment no one can know anything of these tests and appropriately describe them.

The would-be initiate must come into contact with certain things and facts belonging to the higher worlds, but he can only see and hear them if his feeling is ripe for the perception of the spiritual forms, colors and tones described in the chapters on Preparation and Enlightenment.

The first trial consists in obtaining a truer vision than the average man has of the corporeal attributes of lifeless things, and later of plants, animals and human beings. This does not mean what at present is called scientific knowledge, for it is a question not of science but of vision. As a rule, the would-be initiate proceeds to learn how the objects of nature and the beings gifted with life manifest themselves to the spiritual ear and the spiritual eye. In a certain way these things then lie stripped — naked — before the beholder. The qualities which can then be seen and heard are hidden from the physical eyes and ears. For physical perception they are concealed as if by a veil, and the falling away of this veil for the would-be initiate consists in a process designated as the process of Purification by Fire. The first trial is therefore known as the Fire-Trial.

For many people, ordinary life is itself a more or less unconscious process of initiation through the Fire-Trial. Such people have passed through a wealth of experience, so that their self-confidence, courage and fortitude have been greatly strengthened in a normal manner while learning to bear sorrow, disappointment and failure in their undertakings with greatness of soul, and especially with equanimity and unbroken strength. Thus they are often initiates without knowing it, and it then needs but little to unseal their spiritual hearing and sight so that they become clairvoyant. For it must be noted that a genuine fire-trial is not intended to satisfy the curiosity of the candidate. It is true that he learns many uncommon things of which others can have no inkling, but this acquisition of knowledge is not the end, but the means to the end; the end consists in the attainment, thanks to this knowledge of the higher worlds, of greater and truer self-confidence, a higher degree of courage, and a magnanimity and perseverance such as cannot, as a rule, be acquired in the lower world.

The candidate may always turn back after the fire-trial. He will then resume his life, strengthened in body and soul, and wait for a future incarnation to continue his initiation. In his present incarnation he will prove himself a more useful member of society and of humanity than he was before. In whatever position he may find himself, his firmness, prudence, resoluteness, and his beneficent influence over his fellows will have greatly increased.

But if, after completing the fire-trial, he should wish to continue the path, a certain writing-system generally adopted in esoteric training must now be revealed to him. The actual teachings manifest themselves in this writing, because the hidden (occult) qualities of things cannot be directly expressed in the words of ordinary writing. The pupils of the initiates translate the teachings into ordinary language as best they can. The occult script reveals itself to the soul when the latter has attained spiritual perception, for it is traced in the spiritual world and remains there for all time. It cannot be learned as an artificial writing is learned and read. The candidate grows into clairvoyant knowledge in an appropriate way, and during this growth a new strength is developed in his soul, as a new faculty, through which he feels himself impelled to decipher the occurrences and the beings of the spiritual world like the characters of a writing. This strength, with the experience it brings of the corresponding trial, might possibly awaken in the soul as though of its own accord, as the soul continually develops, but it will be found safer to follow the instructions of those who are spiritually experienced, and who have some proficiency in deciphering the occult script.

The signs of the occult script are not arbitrarily invented; they correspond to the forces actively engaged in the world. They teach us the language of things. It becomes immediately apparent to the candidate that the signs he is now learning correspond to the forms, colors, and tones which he learned to perceive during his preparation and enlightenment. He realizes that all he learned previously was only like learning to spell, and that he is only now beginning to read in the higher worlds. All the isolated figures, tones, and colors reveal themselves to him now in one great connected whole. Now for the first time he attains complete certainty in observing the higher worlds. Hitherto he could never know positively whether the things he saw were rightly seen. A regular understanding, too, is now at last possible between the candidate and the initiate in the spheres of higher knowledge. For whatever form the intercourse between an initiate and another person may take in ordinary life, the higher knowledge in its immediate form can only be imparted by the initiate in the above-mentioned sign-language.

Thanks to this language the student also learns certain rules of conduct and certain duties of which he formerly knew nothing. Having learned these he is able to perform actions endowed with a significance and a meaning such as the actions of one not initiated can never possess. He acts out of the higher worlds. Instructions concerning such action can only be read and understood in the writing in question.

Yet it must be emphasized that there are people unconsciously gifted with the ability and faculty of performing such actions, though they have never undergone an esoteric training. Such helpers of the world and of humanity pass through life bestowing blessings and performing good deeds. For reasons here not to be discussed, gifts have been bestowed on them which appear supernatural. What distinguishes them from the candidate for initiation is only that the latter acts consciously and with full insight into the entire situation. He acquires by training the gifts bestowed on others by higher powers for the good of humanity. We can sincerely revere these favored of God; but we should not for this reason regard the work of esoteric training as superfluous.

Once the student has learned the sign-language there awaits him yet another trial, to prove whether he can move with freedom and assurance in the higher worlds. In ordinary life he is impelled to action by exterior motives. He works at one occupation or another because one duty or another is imposed on him by outward circumstances. It need hardly be mentioned that the student must in no way neglect any of his duties in ordinary life because he is living and working in higher worlds. There is no duty in a higher world that can force a person to neglect any single one of his duties in the ordinary world. The father will remain just as good a father to his family, the mother just as good a mother, and neither the official nor the soldier, nor anyone else will be diverted from his work by becoming an esoteric student. On the contrary, all the qualities which make a human being capable and efficient are enhanced in the student to a degree incomprehensible to the uninitiated. If, in the eyes of the uninitiated, this does not always appear to be the case, it is simply because he often lacks the ability to judge the initiate correctly. The deeds of the latter are not always intelligible to the former. But this only happens in special cases.

At this stage of initiation there are duties to be performed for which no outward stimulus is given. The candidate will not be moved to action by external pressure, but only through adherence to the rules of conduct revealed to him in the occult script. He must now show in this second trial that, led by such rules, he can act with the same firmness and precision with which, for instance, an official performs the duties that belong to him. For this purpose, and in the course of his further training, he will find himself faced by a certain definite task. He must perform some action in consequence of observations made on the basis of what he has learned during preparation and enlightenment. The nature of this action can be understood by means of the occult script with which he is now familiar. If he recognizes his duty and acts rightly, his trial has been successful. The success can be recognized in the alteration produced by his action in the figures, colors, and tones apprehended by his spiritual eyes and ears. Exact indications are given, as the training progresses, showing how these figures appear and are experienced after the action has been performed, and the candidate must know how to produce this change. This trial is known as the Water-Trial, because in his activity in these higher worlds the candidate is deprived of the support derived from outward circumstances, as a swimmer is without support when swimming in water that is beyond his depth. This activity must be repeated until the candidate attains absolute poise and assurance.

The importance of this trial lies again in the acquisition of a quality. Through his experiences in the higher worlds, the candidate develops this quality in a short time to such a high degree that he would otherwise have to go through many incarnations, in the ordinary course of his development, before he could acquire it to the same extent. It all centers around the fact that he must be guided only by the results of his higher perception and reading of the occult script, in order to produce the changes in question in these higher regions of existence. Should he, in the course of his activity, introduce any of his own opinions and desires, or should he diverge for one moment from the laws which he has recognized to be right, in order to follow his own willful inclination, then the result produced would differ entirely from what was intended. He would lose sight of the goal to which his action tended, and confusion would result. Hence ample opportunity is given him in the course of this trial to develop self-control. This is the object in view. Here again, this trial can be more easily passed by those whose life, before initiation, has led them to acquire self-control. Anyone having acquired the faculty of following high principles and ideals, while putting into the background all personal predilection; anyone capable of always performing his duty, even though inclinations and sympathies would like to seduce him from this duty — such a person is unconsciously an initiate in the midst of ordinary life. He will need but little to succeed in this particular trial. Indeed, a certain measure of initiation thus unconsciously acquired in life will, as a rule, be indispensable for success in this second trial. For even as it is difficult for those who have not learned to spell correctly in their childhood to make good this deficiency when fully grown up, so too it is difficult to develop the necessary degree of self-control at the moment of looking into the higher worlds, if this ability has not been acquired to a certain degree in ordinary life. The objects of the physical world do not alter, whatever the nature of our wishes, desires, and inclinations. In the higher worlds, however, our wishes, desires, and inclinations are causes that produce effects. If we wish to produce a particular effect in these worlds, we must strictly follow the right rules and subdue every arbitrary impulse.

One human quality is of very special importance at this stage of initiation, namely, an unquestionably sound judgment. Attention should be paid to the training of this faculty during all the previous stages; for it now remains to be proved whether the candidate is shaping in a way that shows him to be fit for the truth path of knowledge. Further progress is now only possible if he is able to distinguish illusion, superstition, and everything fantastic, from true reality. This is, at first, more difficult to accomplish in the higher stages of existence than in the lower. Every prejudice, every cherished opinion with regard to the things in question, must vanish; truth alone must guide. There must be perfect readiness to abandon at once any idea, opinion, or inclination when logical thought demands it. Certainty in higher worlds is only likely to be attained when personal opinion is never considered.

People whose mode of thought tends to fancifulness and superstition can never make progress on the path to higher knowledge. It is indeed a precious treasure that the student is to acquire. All doubt regarding the higher worlds is removed from him. With all their laws they reveal themselves to his gaze. But he cannot acquire this treasure so long as he is the prey of fancies and illusions. It would indeed be fatal if his imagination and his prejudices ran away with his intellect. Dreamers and fantastical people are as unfit for the path to higher knowledge as superstitious people. This cannot be over-emphasized. For the most dangerous enemies on the way to knowledge of the higher worlds lurk in such fantastical reveries and superstitions. Yet no one need to believe that the student loses all sense of poetry in life, all power of enthusiasm because the words: You must be rid of all prejudice, are written over the portal leading to the second trial of initiation, and because over the portal at the entrance to the first trial he read: Without normal common sense all thine efforts are in vain.

If the candidate is in this way sufficiently advanced, a third trial awaits him. He finds here no definite goal to be reached. All is left in his own hands. He finds himself in a situation where nothing impels him to act. He must find his way all alone and out of himself. Things or people to stimulate him to action are non-existent. Nothing and nobody can give him the strength he needs but he himself alone. Failure to find this inner strength will leave him standing where he was. Few of those, however, who have successfully passed the previous trials will fail to find the necessary strength at this point. Either they will have turned back already or they succeed at this point also. All that the candidate requires is the ability to come quickly to terms with himself, for he must here find his higher self in the truest sense of the word. He must rapidly decide in all things to listen to the inspiration of the spirit. There is no time for doubt or hesitation. Every moment of hesitation would prove that he was still unfit. Whatever prevents him from listening to the voice of the spirit must be courageously overcome. It is a question of showing presence of mind in this situation, and the training at this stage is concerned with the perfect development of this quality. All the accustomed inducements to act or even to think now cease. In order not to remain inactive he must not lose himself, for only within himself can he find the one central point of vantage where he can gain a firm hold. No one on reading this, without further acquaintance with these matters, should feel an antipathy for this principle of being thrown back on oneself, for success in this trial brings with it a moment of supreme happiness.

At this stage, no less than at the others, ordinary life is itself an esoteric training for many. For anyone having reached the point of being able, when suddenly confronted with some task or problem in life, to come to a swift decision without hesitation or delay, for him life itself has been a training in this sense. Such situations are here meant in which success is instantly lost if action is not rapid. A person who is quick to act when a misfortune is imminent, whereas a few moments of hesitation would have seen the misfortune an accomplished fact, and who has turned this ability into a permanent personal quality, has unconsciously acquired the degree of maturity necessary for the third trial. For at this stage everything centers round the development of absolute presence of mind. This trial is known as the Air-Trial, because while undergoing it the candidate can support himself neither upon the firm basis of external incentive nor upon the figures, tones, and colors which he has learned at the stages of preparation and enlightenment, but exclusively upon himself.

Upon successfully passing this trial the student is permitted to enter the temple of higher wisdom. All that is here said on this subject can only be the slenderest allusion. The task now to be performed is often expressed in the statement that the student must take an oath never to betray anything he has learned. These expressions, however, “oath” and “betray”, are inappropriate and actually misleading. There is no question of an oath in the ordinary sense of the word, but rather of an experience that comes at this stage of development. The candidate learns how to apply the higher knowledge, how to place it at the service of humanity. He then begins really and truly to understand the world. It is not so much a question of withholding the higher truths, but far more of serving them in the right way and with the necessary tact. The silence he is to keep refers to something quite different. He acquires this fine quality with regard to things he had previously spoken, and especially with regard to the manner in which they were spoken. He would be a poor initiate who did not place all the higher knowledge he had acquired at the service of humanity, as well and as far as this is possible. The only obstacle to giving information in these matters is the lack of understanding on the part of the recipients. It is true, of course, that the higher knowledge does not lend itself to promiscuous talk; but no one having reached the stage of development described above is actually forbidden to say anything. No other person, no being exacts an oath from him with this intent. Everything is left to his own responsibility, and he learns in every situation to discover within himself what he has to do, and an oath means nothing more than that he has been found qualified to be entrusted with such a responsibility.

If the candidate is found fit for the foregoing experiences, he is then given what is called symbolically the draught of forgetfulness. This means that he is initiated into the secret knowledge that enables him to act without being continually disturbed by the lower memory. This is necessary for the initiate, for he must have full faith in the immediate present. He must be able to destroy the veil of memory which envelops man every moment of his life. If we judge something that happens to us today according to the experience of yesterday, we are exposed to a multitude of errors. Of course this does not mean that experience gained in life should be renounced. It should always be kept in mind as clearly as possible. But the initiate must have the ability to judge every new experience wholly according to what is inherent in it, and let it react upon him, unobscurred by the past. We must be prepared at every moment that every object and every being can bring to us some new revelation. If we judge the new by the standard of the old we are liable to error. The memory of past experiences will be of greatest use for the very reason that it enables us to perceive the new. Had we not gone through a definite experience we should perhaps be blind to the qualities of the object or being that comes before us. Thus experience should serve the purpose of perceiving the new and not of judging it by the standard of the old. In this respect the initiate acquires certain definite qualities, and thereby many things are revealed to him which remain concealed from the uninitiated.

The second draught presented to the initiate is the draught of remembrance. Through its agency he acquires the faculty of retaining the knowledge of the higher truths ever present in his soul. Ordinary memory would be unequal to this task. We must unite ourselves and become as one with the higher truths. We must not only know them, but be able, quite as a matter of course, to manifest and administer them in living actions, even as we ordinarily eat and drink. They must become our practice, our habit, our inclination. There must be no need to keep thinking about them in the ordinary sense; they must come to living expression through man himself; they must flow through him as the functions of life through his organism. Thus doth man ever raise himself, in a spiritual sense, to that same stature to which nature raised him in a physical sense.

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Lecture by Dr. RUDOLF STEINER,
delivered on the 7th of March, 1907.

From stenographic notes unrevised by the lecturer.

The spiritual-scientific movement has arisen in our time not because of the arbitrary act of this or of that individual, of this or of that society, but because it is connected with the whole evolution of humanity and, as such, it should be considered as one of the most important of cultural impulses. If we would penetrate into the mission of the spiritual-scientific movement, we must transfer ourselves into the past and future of mankind.

Just as the individual human beings have evolved, from the moment when they first descended as individual souls from the bosom of the Godhead, so mankind as a whole has also evolved. Consider the differences, the changes and the development which may be observed upon the surface of the earth in the course of thousands of years! Consider how entirely things have changed during that time! Generally speaking, this is difficult to realise and to grasp quite clearly.

We should first explain that what we are accustomed to name “mankind” is only the product of the so-called fifth root-race. This was preceded by another human race, the fourth root-race, which lived on a continent that should be thought of as lying between present-day Europe and America. This continent was Atlantis. Here our ancestors had quite a different form and an entirely different civilisation. The ancient Atlantean did not possess a developed intellect and mind, but he was equipped with fine somnambulistic-clairvoyant forces. Logical power, a combining intellect, science and art, such as they exist now, did not exist in ancient Atlantis, for man’s faculties of thought and feeling were quite different. At that time, he could not have combined thoughts, nor could he have reckoned, counted, or read; as men do now; yet certain somnambulistic-clairvoyant spiritual forces lived in him. He could understand the language of Nature and could hear God speak to him in the murmuring waves; he could understand the rolling thunder, the rustling forest, the delicate aromas of the flowers; he could understand this language of Nature and was in the whole of Nature. At that time, no law or jurisprudence were needed to come to an understanding with one’s neighbour; the Atlantean just went out and listened to the sounds of the trees and of the wind and these told him what he had to do.

Folk-lore, which never contains anything haphazard or thought-out, has preserved the memory of ancient Atlantis in a beautiful way, when it speaks of “Nibelheim”, for instance, in the Nibelung Poem. In a delightful way it speaks of the Rhine and all these rivers as waters which have remained behind from the mists of ancient Atlantis. And the wisdom of Atlantis is referred to in the treasure which lies buried below their waves, On this continent, which was situated between America and Europe, we must seek the seminary of the ancient adepts, Those who were suited to be the pupils of the great individualities whom we call the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony-Feelings, were trained in these schools.

The seminary which flourished during the fourth Atlantean sub-race, this first school of adepts, would now be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There, the pupils were taught in quite a different way from now. At that time, a powerful, influence could pass from man to man, through the force which still lay in the spoken word.

Simple folks of to-day still possess a fine feeling for the inner, spiritual and occult power of words. But it is impossible to compare the present power of words with that of the past. For in the past, this was something tremendous, and the word alone awakened forces in the soul of the pupil. A mantram of to-day has no longer the force of earlier times, when words were not so permeated by thoughts, as is the case to-day. The influence which went out from these words awakened the soul-forces of the pupil; one might call this a human initiation through the powerful effect of the language of Nature. … A clear language was also spoken there by the smoke from substances such as incense, etc.

There was then a far more direct connection between the souls of teacher and pupil. The written signs in the Adept-School of ancient Atlantis were imitations of the phenomena of Nature, written by the hand in the air, these signs had their effect and also influenced the spirit of the population, arousing forces in the soul.

Thus every race has its task in the evolution of humanity. The task of our race, the fifth root-race, consists in adding Manas to the four members of the human being. That is to say, the understanding must be awakened through concepts and ideas. Every race has its own task: the Atlantean race had the task of developing the Ego. Our race, the fifth root-race, or the post-Atlantean era, must develop Manas, the Spirit-Self.

But the achievements of Atlantis did not die, when Atlantis was submerged, for the essence of everything that existed in the Atlantean School of Adepts was rescued by a small group of men. Under the guidance of the Manu, this small group journeyed into a region now known as the Desert of Gobi. And this small number of men then prepared copies of the former culture and teachings, but in a more intellectual form; the earlier spiritual forces were transformed into thoughts and signs. The various streams of culture then journeyed out from this centre like rays, or beams. First came the pre-Vedic Indian culture, which transformed for the first time the in-streaming wisdom into thoughts.

The second culture which went out from this ancient School of Adepts was the old Persian culture; the third one, the Chaldean-Babylonian culture with its wonderful star-wisdom, its lofty sacerdotal wisdom. The fourth culture to flourish was the Graeco-Latin one, with its personal colouring, and finally the fifth culture, which is our present one. The sixth and seventh lie in the future.

I have now characterised our task in the evolution of humanity: What once existed in the form of cosmic wisdom, must be transformed into thoughts and brought down to the physical plane.

When the old Atlantean listened, between the tones sounding round him, he could hear the NAME of what he recognised as divine: “TAO”, In the Egyptian Mysteries this sound was transformed into thoughts, script and signs — the Tao-sign, the Tao-books. Everything in the form of knowledge, writing and thought first came into the world during the post-Atlantean age. Before that time, nothing could have been written down, for the understanding for it would not have been there.

Now we are living in the middle of the Manas-development. It is the task of our race to develop intellectual culture, and at the same time to develop egoism in its extremest form. Though it sounds grotesque, we may say that never before was there so much intellectual power in the world, and yet so little capacity of inner vision as at the present time. Thought is at the greatest distance from the inner essence of things; it is far away from inner spiritual vision.

When the Atlantean priest wrote a sign in the air, its chief effect was on the pupil’s inner soul-experience.

The personal element came more to the fore during the fourth, the Graeco-Latin epoch. In Greece, the personal element developed in art, and in Rome we find it in the structure of the government, etc. In our time, we experience egoism, the dry personal, intellectual element. But our task to-day is to grasp the occult truths in Manas, in the purest element of thought. The comprehension of the spiritual in this finest distillation of the brain is the true mission of our age. To render thought so forceful that it acquires something of an occult power is the task which has been given us. This task must be fulfilled, so that we may be able to take our place in the future.

Mighty flames of fire destroyed ancient Lemuria, and mighty floods ancient Atlantis. Our civilisation will also perish, through the war of all against all. This is what we must face. Our fifth root-race will perish, because egoism will reach its highest pitch. But at the same time, a small group of men will develop the power of Budhi, of the Life-Spirit, through the force of thought, in order to carry over Budhi into the new civilisation. Everything that is productive in the striving human being will grow stronger and stronger, until his personality reaches the summit of freedom. At present, every individual must discover in himself a kind of guiding spirit in the soul’s inner depths: — This is Budhi, the power of the Life spirit. Were we to approach the future by taking up the cultural impulses as in earlier epochs, we should face the disintegration of humanity.

What do we see now at the present time?

Everyone wants to be his own master: Egoism, selfishness have been pushed to the extreme. A time will come when no other authority will be recognised except one which men recognise freely, whose power is based upon free confidence. The Mysteries which were founded upon the power of the spirit, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE SPIRIT; the Mysteries of the future, which will have trust as their foundation, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER. These will mark the end of our civilisation. The new impulse of the power of confidence must come, otherwise we approach human disintegration, a universal cult of the Ego and of egoism.

In the times of the Mysteries of the Spirit, which were founded upon the rightful power, authority and might of the Spirit, there were certain wise men who possessed wisdom, and only the soul who passed through difficult probations could be initiated by them. In future, we approach the Mysteries of the Father, and we must strive more and more that each single human being should attain wisdom.

Will this counter-act egoism and the threatening disintegration? Yes! For only when we reach the highest wisdom, in which there are no differences, no personal opinion and no personal standpoint, but ONE VIEW only, will men agree. If they were to remain as they are at present, following their different standpoints, they would become more and more disunited. The highest wisdom always produces a unanimous view among all men. Real wisdom is ONE, and it unites men again, whilst leaving them as free as possible, without any coercive authority. Just as the members of the great WHITE Brotherhood are always in harmony with one another and with humanity, so all men will one day be one, through this wisdom. Only this wisdom can establish the true idea of brotherhood. Spiritual science therefore has only one task: to bring this idea to men, by developing now the Spirit-Self and later on the Life-Spirit. The great goal of the spiritual-scientific movement is to make it possible for man to attain freedom and true wisdom; its mission is to let this truth and wisdom flow into men.

The modern movement of spiritual science began with the most elementary teachings. Many important things have been revealed in the years which have passed since the founding of this movement, and much that is even more important will be revealed. The work of the spiritual-scientific movement, is therefore to allow a gradual flowing out of wisdom of the great white brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis. Such work has always been prepared for through long periods of time. The whole activity of the great founders of religions was a preparation for the ONE great event, for the appearance of Christ-Jesus.

Spiritual science seeks to be the testamentary executor of Christianity. And so it will be. When the Mysteries of the Father have been fulfilled, that is, when the development of Budhi is accomplished in every individual human being, then each one will discover within himself his own deepest being — ATMAN, the Spirit-Man.

The coming of Christ-Jesus was prepared for by the sequence of the founders of religions, by Zarathustra, Hermes, Moses, Orpheus, Pythagoras. All their teachings pursue the same aim: To let wisdom flow into humanity, but in every case, in the form most suited to each people respectively. The essentially new element is not found in what Christ said; the new element in the appearance and teaching of Christ-Jesus is the force that lay in Him to awaken into LIFE all that, formerly was only teaching.

Christianity has brought men the power to be united in free-willed recognition of the authority of Christ-Jesus, whilst maintaining the greatest possible individualisation, so that they are able to join together in brotherly union through faith in Him, in His manifestation and in His divinity.

Between the Mysteries of the SPIRIT and those of the FATHER, stand the MYSTERIES OF THE SON. Their seminary was the School of St. Paul, who had appointed Dionysios as its leader. This school flourished under him, for Dionysios taught these Mysteries in a very special way, whereas St. Paul propagated the teaching exoterically.

Let us now seek an explanation from another side, so as to understand the meaning of the words: The MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER will come. In the old Atlantean schools for adepts the teachers were not men, but beings higher than man, They had completed their development upon earlier planets, and these beings, who had come down to the earth from other planetary developments, instructed a group of chosen men in the MYSTERIES OF THE SPIRIT. In the MYSTERIES OF THE SON, Christ Himself appeared as a teacher in the most solemn celebrations and was therefore also a teacher who was not a man, but God. But in the MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER, those who will become teachers will be men, These men, who develop more quickly than the others, will be the true Masters of Wisdom and of Harmony; they are called “The Fathers”, in the Mysteries of the Father, the guidance of mankind passes from beings who have descended from other worlds into the hands of men themselves. This is significant.

It is the task of spiritual science to prepare men to form a centre for this end, to prepare them for a universal wisdom, for an authority built only on trust and confidence, and to develop an understanding for this, to begin with, in a small nucleus of humanity.

The development of the materialistic civilisation reached its climax in the nineteenth century, and that is why the impulse of spiritual science entered the world at that time. Through spiritual science, something was called into life — and now exists — which counter-acts materialism: It is the counter-movement in the direction of spirituality. Spiritual science is nothing new, and even the spiritual-scientific movement is not new; it is only the continuation of what has already existed.

Materialism and egoism bring disintegration to humanity, for the individual human being only regards his own interests. Wisdom must therefore reunite the human beings who have thus become separated. Wisdom brings them together in fullest freedom and exercises no coercion whatever. This is the task of the spiritual-scientific movement in our time.

We must realise that wisdom must be acquired quite concretely. We all know the example of the stove which was given the task of heating a room. If we explain this to the stove in words as moving as possible, and entreat it to warm the root, it will not obey us unless we heat it; only then will it be able to fulfil its task. Similarly, all talk of brotherhood and of brotherly love is useless; only through KNOWLEDGE we draw nigh to the goal. Individual human beings, and mankind as a whole, can only reach the path of wisdom and of brotherhood through knowledge.

We have now followed this path by considering three kinds of Mysteries. Spiritual science must be able to awaken an understanding for such things in a small nucleus of humanity, so that when the sixth race appears this understanding can be awakened in all men. This is the task which spiritual science must fulfil.

A small part of the fifth root-race will forestall the course of evolution, it will spiritualise Manas and unfold the Spirit-Self. The majority, however, will reach the summit of selfishness. Only this nucleus of humanity, that develops the Spirit-Self, will become the seed of the sixth root-race, and the most advanced of these, the Masters, as we call them, who have grown out of mankind, will then be the leaders of humanity. The movement for spiritual knowledge strives towards this goal.


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The Story of My Life Chapter VI ~ Rudolf Steiner @ Rudolf Steiner Archives

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The Story of My Life

Chapter VI


IN the field of pedagogy Fate gave me an unusual task. I was employed as tutor in a family where there were four boys. To three I had to give only the preparatory instruction for the Volkschule(1) and then assistance in the work of the Mittelschule. The fourth, who was almost ten years old, was at first entrusted to me for all his education. He was the child of sorrow to his parents, especially to his mother. When I went to live in the home, he had scarcely learned the most rudimentary elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic. He was considered so subnormal in his physical and mental development that the family had doubts as to his capacity for being educated. His thinking was slow and dull. Even the slightest mental exertion caused a headache, lowering of vital functions, pallor, and alarming mental symptoms. After I had come to know the child, I formed the opinion that the sort of education required by such a bodily and mental organism must be one that would awaken the sleeping faculties, and I proposed to the parents that they should leave the child’s training to me. The mother had enough confidence to accept this proposal, and I was thus able to set myself this unusual educational task.

I had to find access to a soul which was, as it were, in a sleeping state, and which must gradually be enabled to gain the mastery over the bodily manifestations. In a certain sense one had first to draw the soul within the body. I was thoroughly convinced that the boy really had great mental capacities, though they were then buried. This made my task a profoundly satisfying one. I was soon able to bring the child into a loving dependence upon me. This condition caused the mere intercourse between us to awaken his sleeping faculties of soul. For his instruction I had to feel my way to special methods. Every fifteen minutes beyond a certain time allotted to instruction caused injury to his health. To many subjects of instruction the boy had great difficulty in relating himself.

This educational task became to me the source from which I myself learned very much. Through the method of instruction which I had to apply there was laid open to my view the association between the spiritual-mental and the bodily in man. Then I went through my real course of study in physiology and psychology. I became aware that teaching and instructing must become an art having its foundation in a genuine understanding of man. I had to follow out with great care an economic principle. I frequently had to spend two hours in preparing for half an hour of instruction in order to get the material for instruction in such a form that in the least time, and with the least strain upon the mental and physical powers of the child, I might reach his highest capacity for achievement. The order of the subjects of instruction had to be carefully considered; the division of the entire day into periods had to be properly determined. I had the satisfaction of seeing the child in the course of two years accomplish the work of the Volkschule, and successfully pass the examination for entrance to the Gymnasium (2). Moreover, his physical condition had materially improved. The hydrocephalic condition was markedly diminishing. I was able to advise the parents to send the child to a public school. It seemed to me necessary that he should find his vital development in company with other children. I continued to be a tutor for several years in the family, and gave special attention to this boy, who was always guided to make his way through the school in such a way that his home activities should be carried through in the spirit in which they were begun. I then had the inducement, in the way I have already mentioned, to increase my knowledge of Latin and Greek, for I was responsible for the tutoring of this boy and another in this family for the Gymnasium lessons.

I must needs feel grateful to Fate for having brought me into such a life relationship. For through this means I developed in vital fashion a knowledge of the being of man which I do not believe could have been developed by me so vitally in any other way. Moreover, I was taken into the family in an extraordinarily affectionate way; we came to live a beautiful life in common. The father of these boys was a sales-agent for Indian and American cotton. I was thus able to get a glimpse of the working of business, and of much that is connected with this. Moreover, through this I learned a great deal. I had an inside view of the conduct of a branch of an unusually interesting import business, and could observe the intercourse between business friends and the interlinking of many commercial and industrial activities.

My young charge was successfully guided through the Gymnasium; I continued with him even to the Unter-Prima(3). By that time he had made such progress that he no longer needed me. After completing the Gymnasium he entered the school of medicine, became a physician, and in this capacity he was later a victim of the World War. The mother, who had become a true friend of mine because of what I had done for her boy, and who clung to this child of sorrow with the most devoted love, soon followed him in death. The father had already gone from this world.

A good portion of my youthful life was bound up with the task which had grown so close to me. For a number of years I went during the summer with the family of the children whom I had to tutor to the Attersee in the Salzkammergut, and there became familiar with the noble Alpine nature of Upper Austria. I was gradually able to eliminate the private lessons I had continued to give to others even after beginning this tutoring, and thus I had time left for prosecuting my own studies.

In the life I led before coming into this family I had little opportunity for sharing in the play of children. In this way it came about that my “play-time” came after my twentieth year. I had then to learn also how to play, for I had to direct the play, and this I did with great enjoyment. To be sure, I think I have not played any less in my life than other men. Only in my case what is usually done in this direction before the tenth year I repeated from the twenty-third to the twenty-eighth year.

It was during this period that I was occupied with the philosophy of Eduard von Hartmann. As I studied his theory of knowledge, continual opposition was aroused within me. The opinion that the genuinely real lies as the unconscious beyond conscious experience, and that the latter is nothing more than an unreal pictorial reflection from the real – this was to me utterly repugnant. In opposition to this I postulated that the conscious experience can, through the strengthening of mental life, dip down within the real. I was clear in my own mind that the divine-spiritual reveals itself in man if man makes this revelation possible through his own inner life.

The pessimism of Eduard von Hartmann appeared to me as an utterly false questioning of human life. I had to conceive man as striving toward the goal of drawing up from within himself that with which life fills him for his satisfaction. I said to myself: “If through the ordering of the world a ‘best life’ were simply imparted to man, how could he bring this inner spring to a flowing stream?” The external world order has come to a stage in evolution in which it has ignored the good and the bad in things and in facts. Then first the human being awakes to self-consciousness and guides the evolution farther, but in such way that this evolution takes its direction toward freedom, not from things and facts, but only from the fountain head of man’s being. The mere introduction of the question of pessimism or optimism seemed to me to be running counter to the free being of man. I frequently said to myself: “How could man be the free creator of his highest happiness if a measure of happiness were imparted to him through the ordering of the external world?”

On the other hand, Hartmann’s work Phänomenologie des Sittlichen Bewusstsein(4) attracted me. There, I found, the moral evolution of man was traced according to the clue of what is empirically observable. It does not become – as in the case of Hartmann’s theory of knowledge – speculative thought linked to unknown being which lies beyond consciousness; but rather it is that which can be experienced as morality, and grasped in its manifestations. And it was clear to me that no philosophical speculation must think beyond the phenomena if it desires to reach the genuinely real. The phenomena of the world reveal of themselves this genuinely real as soon as the conscious soul prepares itself to receive the revelation. Whoever takes into consciousness only what is perceptible to the senses may seek for real being in a beyond-consciousness; whoever grasps the spiritual in his perception speaks of this as being on this side, not of a beyond in the sense characteristic of a theory of cognition. Hartmann’s consideration of the moral world seemed to me congenial because in this his beyond standpoint withdraws wholly into the background, and he confines himself to that which can be observed. Through a deeper penetration into phenomena, even to the point where these disclose their spiritual being – it was in this way that I desired to know that knowledge of real being is brought to pass, not through inferential reasoning as to what is “behind” phenomena.

Since I was always striving to sense a human capacity on its positive side, Eduard von Hartmann’s philosophy became useful to me, in spite of the fact that its fundamental tendency and its conception of life were repugnant; for it cast a penetrating light upon many phenomena. And even in those writings of the “philosopher of the unconscious” from which in principle I dissented I yet found much that was immensely stimulating. So it was also with the popular writings of Eduard von Hartmann, which dealt with cultural historical, pedagogical, and political problems. I found in this pessimist “sound” conceptions of life such as I could not discover in many optimists. It was just in connection with him that I experienced that which I needed,-to be able to understand even though I had to oppose.

It was thus that I sat till late many a night – when I could leave my boys to themselves, and after I had admired the starry heavens from the balcony of the house – in studying the Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness and the Religiöses Bewusstsein der Menscheit in der Stufenfolge seiner Entwickelung(5), and while I was reading these writings I attained to an ever increasing assurance concerning my own standpoint in regard to the theory of knowledge.

Upon the suggestion of Schröer, Joseph Kürschner invited me in 1884 to edit Goethe’s scientific writings with an introduction and accompanying interpretive notes as a part of the edition of Deutsche National-Literatur planned by him. Schröer, who had taken responsibility for Goethe’s dramas within the great collective work, was to preface the first volume assigned to me with an introductory foreword. In this he analysed the manner in which Goethe as poet and as thinker was related to the contemporary spiritual life. In the philosophy introduced by the age of natural science which followed after Goethe, he saw a falling away from the spiritual height upon which Goethe had been standing. The task which had been assigned to me in the editing of Goethe’s scientific writings was characterized in a general way in this preface.

For me the task included an exposition in which natural science should be on one side and Goethe’s whole philosophy on the other. Now that I had to come before the public with such an exposition, it was necessary for me to bring to a certain issue all that I had thus far won for myself in the way of a world-conception.

Until that time I had occupied myself as a writer with nothing more than brief articles for the press. It was not easy for me to write down what was a vital inner experience in such manner that I could consider my work worthy of publication. I always had the feeling that what had been elaborated within appeared in a very paltry form when I had to present it in a finished shape. So all literary endeavours became to me the source of continual inner unhappiness.

The form of thought by which natural science has been dominated since the beginning of its great influence upon the civilization of the nineteenth century seemed to me ill-adapted to reach an understanding of that which Goethe strove to attain for natural science, and actually did in large measure attain.

I beheld in Goethe a personality who, by reason of the unusual spiritual relationship in which he had placed man with reference to nature, was also in a position to place the knowledge of nature in the right form in the totality of human achievement. The form of thought of the period in which I had grown up appeared to me fit only for shaping ideas regarding lifeless nature. I considered it powerless to enter with capacity for knowledge into the realm of living nature. I said to myself: “In order to attain to ideas which can mediate a knowledge of the organic, it is necessary that one should first endue with life the concepts adapted for an understanding of inorganic nature.” For these seemed to me dead, and therefore fit only for grasping that which is dead.

How the ideas became endued with life in Goethe’s spirit, how they became ideal forms, this is what I sought to set forth in order to clarify Goethe’s conception of nature.

What Goethe thought and elaborated in detail regarding this or that field of the knowledge of nature appeared to me of less importance than the central discovery which I was forced to attribute to him. This I saw in the fact that he had discovered how one must think in regard to the organic in order to come at it understandingly.

I found that mechanics completely satisfy the need for knowledge in that they generate conceptions in a rational manner in the human mind which then prove to be real when applied in the sense-perception of that which is lifeless. Goethe was to me the founder of a law of organics, which in like manner applies to that which has life. When I looked back to Galileo in the history of modern spiritual life, I was forced to remark how he, by the shaping of ideas from the inorganic, had given to the new natural science its present form. What he had introduced for the inorganic Goethe had striven to attain for the organic. Goethe became for me the Galileo of the organic.

For the first volume of Goethe’s natural-scientific writings I had first to elaborate his ideas on metamorphosis. It was difficult for me to express the relation between the living ideal forms through which the organic can be understood and the formless ideas suited to enable one to grasp the inorganic. But it seemed to me that my whole task depended upon making this point in true fashion intelligible. In understanding the inorganic, concept is added in series to concept, in order to survey the correlation of forces which bring about an effect in nature. In reference to the organic it is necessary so to allow one concept to grow out of another that in the progressive living metamorphosis of concepts there come to light images of that which appears in nature as a being possessing form. This Goethe strove to do in that he sought to hold fast in his mind an ideal image of a leaf which was not a fixed lifeless concept but such a one as might present itself in the most varied forms. If one permits these forms in the mind to proceed one out of another, one thus constructs the whole plant. One re-creates in the mind in ideal fashion the process whereby nature in actual fashion shapes the plant.

If one seeks in this way to conceive the plant world, one thus stands much nearer in spirit to the world of nature than in conceiving the inorganic by means of formless concepts. For the inorganic one conceives only a spiritual fantasm of that which is present in nature in a manner void of spirit. But in the coming into existence of a plant there lives some thing which has a remote resemblance to that which arises in the human mind as an image of the plant. One becomes aware of how nature, while bringing forth the organic, is really bringing into action something spiritually similar within her own being.

I desired to show, in the introduction to Goethe’s botanical writings, how in his theory of metamorphosis he took the direction of thinking about the workings of organic nature in the manner in which one thinks of spirit. Still more spiritual in form appeared to me Goethe’s way of thinking in the realm of the animal and in the lower natural stages of the human being.

In relation to the animal-human, Goethe began by seeing through an error which he noticed among his contemporaries. These sought to ascribe a special position in nature to the organic bases of the human being by finding individual distinctions between man and the animal. They found such a distinction in the intermaxillary bones which the animals possess, in which their upper incisor teeth are bedded. In man, they said, such a special intermediary bone in the upper jaw is lacking; his upper jaw consists of a single piece.

This seemed to Goethe an error. For him the human form was a metamorphosis of the animal to a higher stage. Everything which appears in the forming of the animal must be present also in the human, only in a higher form so that the human organism might become the bearer of the self-conscious spirit.

In the elevation of the whole united form of man Goethe saw the distinction from the animal, not in details.

Step by step does one perceive the organic creative forces become more like spirit as one rises from consideration of the plant-beings to the varied forms of the animals. In the organic form of man creative forces are active which bring to pass the highest metamorphosis of the animal shape. These forces are present in the process of becoming of the human organism; and they finally live there as the human spirit after they have formed in the natural basic parts a vessel which can receive them in their form of existence free from nature.

In this conception of the human organism it seemed to me that Goethe had anticipated everything true which was later affirmed, on the ground of Darwinism, concerning the kinship of the human with the animal. But it also seemed to me that all which was untrue was omitted. The materialistic understanding of that which Darwin discovered leads to the adoption of conceptions based upon the kinship between man and the animals which deny the spirit where it appears in its highest form in an earthly existence – in man. Goethe’s conception leads to the perception of a spiritual creation in the animal form which has simply not yet arrived at the stage at which the spirit as such can live. That which lives in man as spirit creates in the animal form at a preliminary stage; and it metamorphoses this form in the case of man in such a way that it can then appear, not only as creative, but also in its own living presence.

Viewed in this way, Goethe’s consideration of nature becomes one which, while tracing the natural process of becoming from the inorganic to the organic, also leads natural science over into spiritual science. To bring out this fact was to me of more importance than anything else in working up the first volume of Goethe’s natural-scientific writings. For this reason I allowed my introduction to narrow down to an explanation of the way in which Darwinism establishes a one-sided view, coloured by materialism, which must be restored to wholeness by Goethe’s way of thinking.

How one must think in order to penetrate into the phenomena of life – this is what I wished to show in discussing Goethe’s view of the organic. I soon came to feel that this discussion required a basis upon which to rest. The nature of cognition was then conceived by my contemporaries in a way which could never arrive at Goethe’s view. The theorists of cognition had in mind natural science as it then existed. What they said in regard to the nature of cognition held good only for a conception of inorganic nature. There could be no agreement between what I must say in regard to Goethe’s kind of cognition and the theories of cognition ordinarily held at that time.

Therefore, whatever I had established upon the basis of Goethe’s theory of the organic sent me afresh to the theory of cognition. I had before my mind theories such as that of Otto Liebmann, which expressed in the most varied forms the dogma that human consciousness can never get outside itself; that it must therefore be content to live in that which reality sends into the human soul, and which presents itself within in spiritual form. If one views the thing in this way, one cannot say that one perceives a spiritual relationship in organic nature after the manner of Goethe. One must seek for the spirit within the human soul, and consider a spiritual contemplation of nature inadmissible.

I discovered that there was no theory of cognition fitting Goethe’s kind of cognition. This induced me to undertake to sketch such a theory. I wrote my Erkenntnistheorie der Goethe’schen Weltanschauung(6) out of an inner need before I proceeded to prepare the other volumes of Goethe’s natural scientific writings. This little book was finished in 1886.


  1. The Volkschule course usually extends from the sixth to the tenth year; the Mittelschule covers the three following years, though the term is not always so definite.
  2. That is, the boy completed in two years what children usually do in the years from the sixth to the tenth year of age.
  3. The next to the last year in the Gymnasium
  4. Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness.
  5. Religious Consciousness in Man in the Stages of its Evolution.
  6. Theory of Cognition in Goethe’s World Conception

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Rudolf Steiner – The Story of My Life Chapter I @ Rudolf Steiner Archives

030 Nicholas Roerich Book of Life 1938

ART : Nicholas Roerich – Book of Life 1938


The Story of My Life

Chapter I


IN public discussions of the anthroposophy for which I stand there have been mingled for some time past statements and judgments about the course which my life has taken. From what has been said in this connection conclusions have been drawn with regard to the origin of the variations so called which some persons believe they have discovered in the course of my spiritual evolution. In view of these facts, friends have felt that it would be well if I myself should write something about my own life.

This does not accord, I must confess, with my own inclinations. For it has always been my endeavour so to order what I might have to say and what I might think well to do according as the thing itself might require, and not from personal considerations. To be sure, it has always been my conviction that in many provinces of life the personal element gives to human action a colouring of the utmost value; only it seems to me that this personal element should reveal itself through the manner in which one speaks and acts, and not through conscious attention to one’s own personality. Whatever may come about as a result of such attention is something a man has to settle with himself.

And so it has been possible for me to resolve upon the following narration only because it is necessary to set in a true light by means of an objective written statement many a false judgment in reference to the consistency between my life and the thing that I have fostered, and because those who through friendly interest have urged this upon me seem to me justified in view of such false judgments.

The home of my parents was in Lower Austria. My father was born at Geras, a very small place in the Lower Austrian forest region; my mother at Horn, a city of the same district.

My father passed his childhood and youth in the most intimate association with the seminary of the Premonstratensian Order at Geras. He always looked back with the greatest affection upon this time in his life. He liked to tell how he served in the college, and how the monks instructed him. Later on, he was a huntsman in the service of Count Hoyos. This family had a place at Horn. It was there that my father became acquainted with my mother. Then he gave up the work of huntsman and became a telegraphist on the Southern Austrian Railway. He was sent at first to a little station in southern Styria. Then he was transferred to Kraljevec on the border between Hungary and Croatia. It was during this period that he married my mother. Her maiden name was Blie. She was descended from an old family of Horn. I was born at Kraljevec on February 27, 1861. It thus happened that the place of my birth was far removed from that part of the world from which my family came.

My father, and my mother as well, were true children of the South Austrian forest country, north of the Danube. It is a region into which the railway was late in coming. Even to this day it has left Geras untouched. My parents loved the life they had lived in their native region. When they spoke of this, one realized instinctively how in their souls they had never parted from that birthplace in spite of the fate that forced them to pass the greater part of their lives far away from it. And so, when my father retired, after a life filled with work, they returned at once there-to Horn.

My father was a man of the utmost good will, but of a temper – especially while he was still young – which could be passionately aroused. The work of a railway employee was to him a matter of duty; he had no love for it. While I was still a boy, he would sometimes have to remain on duty for three days and three nights continuously. Then he would be relieved for twenty-four hours. Under such conditions life for him wore no bright colours; all was dull grey. Some pleasure he found in keeping up with political developments. In these he took the liveliest interest. My mother, since our worldly goods were none too plentiful, was forced to devote herself to household duties. Her days were filled with loving care of her children and of the little home.

When I was a year and a half old; my father was transferred to Mödling, near Vienna. There my parents remained a half-year. Then my father was put in charge of the little station on the Southern Railway at Pottschach in Lower Austria, near the Styrian border. There I lived from my second to my eighth year. A wonderful landscape formed the environment of my childhood. The view stretched as far as the mountains that separate Lower Austria from Styria: “Snow Mountain,” Wechsel, the Rax Alps, the Semmering. Snow Mountain caught the sun’s earliest rays on its bare summit, and the kindling reflection of these from the mountain down to the little village was the first greeting of dawn in the beautiful summer days. The grey back of the Wechsel put one by contrast in a sober mood. It was as if the mountains rose up out of the all-surrounding green of the friendly landscape. On the distant boundaries of the circle one had the majesty of the peaks, and close around the tenderness of nature.

But around the little station all interest was centered on the business of the railway. At that time the trains passed in that region only at long intervals; but, when they came, many of the men of the village who could spare the time were generally gathered at the station, seeking thus to bring some change into their lives, which they found otherwise very monotonous. The schoolmaster, the priest, the book-keeper of the manor, and often the burgomaster as well, would be there.

It seems to me that passing my childhood in such an environment had a certain significance for my life. For I felt a very deep interest in everything about me of a mechanical character; and I know how this interest tended constantly to overshadow in my childish soul the affections which went out to that tender and yet mighty nature into which the railway train, in spite of being in subjection to this mechanism, must always disappear in the far distance.

In the midst of all this there was present the influence of a certain personality of marked originality, the priest of St. Valentin, a place that one could reach on foot from Pottschach in about three-quarters of an hour. This priest liked to come to the home of my parents. Almost every day he took a walk to our home, and he nearly always stayed for a long time. He belonged to the liberal type of Catholic cleric, tolerant and genial; a robust, broad-shouldered man. He was quite witty, too; had many jokes to tell, and was pleased when he drew a laugh from the persons about him. And they would laugh even more loudly over what he had said long after he was gone. He was a man of a practical way of life, and liked to give good practical advice. Such a piece of practical counsel produced its effects in my family for a long time. There was a row of acacia trees (Robinien) on each side of the railway at Pottschach. Once we were walking along the little footpath under these trees, when he remarked: “Ah, what beautiful acacia blossoms these are!” He seized one of the branches at once and broke off a mass of the blossoms. Spreading out his huge red pocket-handkerchief – he was extremely fond of snuff – he carefully wrapped the twigs in this, and put the “Binkerl” under his arm. Then he said: “How lucky you are to have so many acacia blossoms! “My father was astonished, and answered: “Why, what can we do with them?” “Wh-a-a-t?” said the priest. “Don’t you know that you can bake the acacia blossoms just like elder flowers, and that they taste much better then because they have a far more delicate aroma?” From that time on we often had in our family, as opportunity offered from time to time, “baked acacia blossoms.”

In Pottschach a daughter and another son were born to my parents. There was never any further addition to the family.

As a very young child I showed a marked individuality. From the time that I could feed myself, I had to be carefully watched. For I had formed the conviction that a soup-bowl or a coffee cup was meant to be used only once; and so, every time that I was not watched, as soon as I had finished eating something I would throw the bowl or the cup under the table and smash it to pieces. Then, when my mother appeared, I would call out to her : “Mother, I’ve finished!”

This could not have been a mere propensity for destroying things, since I handled my toys with the greatest care, and kept them in good condition for a long time. Among these toys those that had the strongest attraction for me were the kind which even now I consider especially good. These were picture-books with figures that could be made to move by pulling strings attached to them at the bottom. One associated little stories with these figures, to whom one gave a part of their life by pulling the strings. Many a time have I sat by the hour poring over the picture-books with my sister. Besides, I learned from them by myself the first steps in reading.

My father was concerned that I should learn early to read and write. When I reached the required age, I was sent to the village school. The schoolmaster was an old man to whom the work of “teaching school” was a burdensome business. Equally burdensome to me was the business of being taught by him. I had no faith whatever that I could ever learn anything from him. For he often came to our house with his wife and his little son, and this son, according to my notions at that time, was a scamp. So I had this idea firmly fixed in my head: “Whoever has such a scamp for a son, nobody can learn anything from him.” Besides, something else happened, “quite dreadful.” This scamp, who also was in the school, played the prank one day of dipping a chip into all the ink-wells of the school and making circles around them with dabs of ink. His father noticed these. Most of the pupils had already gone. The teacher’s son, two other boys, and I were still there. The schoolmaster was beside himself; he talked in a frightful manner. I felt sure that he would actually roar but for the fact that his voice was always husky. In spite of his rage, he got an inkling from our behaviour as to who the culprit was. But things then took a different turn. The teacher’s home was next-door to the school-room. The “lady head mistress” heard the commotion and came into the school-room with wild eyes, waving her arms in the air. To her it was perfectly clear that her little son could not have done this thing. She put the blame on me. I ran away. My father was furious when I reported this matter at home. Then, the next time the teacher’s family came to our house, he told them with the utmost bluntness that the friendship between us was ended, and added baldly: “My boy shall never set foot in your school again,” Now my father himself took over the task of teaching me; and so I would sit beside him in his little office by the hour, and had to read and write between whiles whenever he was busy with his duties.

Neither with him could I feel any real interest in what had to come to me by way of direct instruction. What interested me was the things that my father himself was writing. I would imitate what he did. In this way I learned a great deal. As to the things I was taught by him, I could see no reason why I should do these just for my own improvement. On the other hand, I became rooted, in a child’s way, in everything that formed a part of the practical work of life. The routine of a railway office, everything connected with it, – this caught my attention. It was, however, more especially the laws of nature that had already taken me as their little errand boy. When I wrote, it was because I had to write, and I wrote as fast as I could so that I should soon have a page filled. For then I could strew the sort of dust my father used over this writing. Then I would be absorbed in watching how quickly the dust dried up the ink, and what sort of mixture they made together. I would try the letters over and over with my fingers to discover which were already dry, which not. My curiosity about this was very great, and it was in this way chiefly that I quickly learned the alphabet. Thus my writing lessons took on a character that did not please my father, but he was good-natured and reproved me only by frequently calling me an incorrigible little “rascal.” This, however, was not the only thing that evolved in me by means of the writing lessons. What interested me more than the shapes of the letters was the body of the writing quill itself. I could take my father’s ruler and force the point of this into the slit in the point of the quill, and in this manner carry on researches in physics, concerning the elasticity of a feather. Afterwards, of course, I bent the feather back into shape; but the beauty of my handwriting distinctly suffered in this process.

This was also the time when, with my inclination toward the understanding of natural phenomena, I occupied a position midway between seeing through a combination of things, on the one hand, and “the limits of understanding” on the other. About three minutes from the home of my parents there was a mill. The owners of the mill were the god-parents of my brother and sister. We were always welcome at this mill. I often disappeared within it. Then I studied with all my heart the work of a miller. I forced a way for myself into the “interior of nature.” Still nearer us, however, there was a yarn factory. The raw material for this came to the railway station; the finished product went away from the station. I participated thus in everything which disappeared within the factory and everything which reappeared. We were strictly forbidden to take one peep at the “inside” of this factory. This we never succeeded in doing. There were the “limits of understanding” And how I wished to step across the boundaries! For almost every day the manager of the factory came to see my father on some matter of business. For me as a boy this manager was a problem, casting a miraculous veil, as it were, over the “inside” of those works. He was spotted here and there with white tufts; his eyes had taken on a certain set look from working at machinery. He spoke hoarsely, as if with a mechanical speech. “What is the connection between this man and everything that is surrounded by those walls?” – this was an insoluble problem facing my mind. But I never questioned anyone regarding the mystery. For it was my childish conviction that it does no good to ask questions about a problem which is concealed from one’s eyes. Thus I lived between the friendly mill and the unfriendly factory.

Once something happened at the station that was very “dreadful.” A freight train rumbled up. My father stood looking at it. One of the rear cars was on fire. The crew had not noticed this at all. All that followed as a result of this made a deep impression on me. Fire had started in a car by reason of some highly inflammable material. For a long time I was absorbed in the question how such a thing could happen. What my surroundings said to me in this case was, as in many other matters, not to my satisfaction. I was filled with questions, and I had to carry these about with me unanswered. It was thus that I reached my eighth year.

During my eighth year the family moved to Neudörfl, a little Hungarian village. This village is just at the border over against Lower Austria. The boundary here was formed by the Laytha River. The station that my father had in charge was at one end of the village. Half an hour’s walk further on was the boundary stream. Still another half-hour brought one to Wiener-Neustadt.

The range of the Alps that I had seen close by at Pottschach was now visible only at a distance. Yet the mountains still stood there in the background to awaken our memories when we looked at lower mountains that could be reached in a short time from our family’s new home. Massive heights covered with beautiful forests bounded the view in one direction; in the other, the eye could range over a level region, decked out in fields and woodland, all the way to Hungary. Of all the mountains, I gave my unbounded love to one that could be climbed in three-quarters of an hour. On its crest there stood a chapel containing a painting of Saint Rosalie. This chapel came to be the objective of a walk which I often took at first with my parents and my sister and brother, and later loved to take alone. Such walks were filled with a special happiness because of the fact that at that time of year we could bring back with us rich gifts of nature. For in these woods there were blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. One could often find an inner satisfaction in an hour and a half of berrying for the purpose of adding a delicious contribution to the family supper, which otherwise consisted merely of a piece of buttered bread or bread and cheese for each of us.

Still another pleasant thing came from rambling about in these forests, which were the common property of all. There the villagers got their supplies of wood. The poor gathered it for themselves; the well-to-do had servants to do this. One could become acquainted with all of these most-friendly persons. They always had time for a chat when Steiner Rudolf met them. “So thou goest again for a bit of a walk, Steiner Rudolf” – thus they would begin, and then they would talk about everything imaginable. The people did not think of the fact that they had a mere child before them. For at the bottom of their souls they also were only children, even when they could number sixty years. And so I really learned from the stories they told me almost everything that happened in the houses of the village.

Half an hour’s walk from Neudörfl is Sauerbrunn, where there is a spring containing iron and carbonic acid. The road to this lies along the railway, and part of the way through beautiful woods. During vacation time I went there every day early in the morning, carrying with me a “Blutzer.” This is a water vessel made of clay. The smallest of these hold three or four litres. One could fill this without charge at the spring. Then at midday the family could enjoy the delicious sparkling water.

Toward Wiener-Neustadt and farther on toward Styria, the mountains fall away to a level country. Through this level country the Laytha River winds its way. On the slope of the mountains there was a cloister of the Order of the Most Holy Redeemer. I often met the monks on my walks. I still remember how glad I should have been if they had spoken to me. They never did. And so I carried away from these meetings an undefined but solemn feeling which remained constantly with me for a long time. It was in my ninth year that the idea became fixed in me that there must be weighty matters in connection with the duties of these monks which I ought to learn to understand. There again I was filled with questions which I had to carry around unanswered. Indeed, these questions about all possible sorts of things made me as a boy very lonely.

On the foothills of the Alps two castles were visible: Pitten and Frohsdorf. In the second there lived at that time Count Chambord, who, at the beginning of the year 1870, claimed the throne of France as Henry V. Very deep were the impressions that I received from that fragment of life bound up with the castle Frohsdorf. The Count with his retinue frequently took the train for a journey from the station at Neudörfl.

Everything drew my attention to these men. Especially deep was the impression made by one man in the Count’s retinue. He had but one ear. The other had been slashed off clean. The hair lying over this he had braided. At the sight of this I perceived for the first time what a duel is. For it was in this manner that the man had lost one ear.

Then, too, a fragment of social life unveiled itself to me in connection with Frohsdorf. The assistant teacher at Neudörfl, whom I was often permitted to see at work in his little chamber, prepared innumerable petitions to Count Chambord for the poor of the village and the country around. In response to every such appeal there always came back a donation of one gulden, and from this the teacher was always allowed to keep six kreuzer for his services. This income he had need of, for the annual salary yielded him by his profession was fifty-eight gulden. In addition, he had his morning coffee and his lunch with the “schoolmaster.” Then, too, he gave special lessons to about ten children, of whom I was one. For such lessons the charge was one gulden a month.

To this assistant teacher I owe a great deal. Not that I was greatly benefited by his lessons at the school. In that respect I had about the same experience as at Pottschach. As soon as we moved to Neudörfl, I was sent to school there This school consisted of one room in which five classes of both boys and girls all had their lessons. While the boy who sat on my bench were at their task of copying out the story of King Arpad, the very little fellows stood at a black board on which i and u had been written with chalk for them. It was simply impossible to do anything save to let the mind fall into a dull reverie while the hands almost mechanically took care of the copying. Almost all the teaching had to be done by the assistant teacher alone. The “schoolmaster” appeared in the school only very rarely. He was also the village notary, and it was said that in this occupation he had so much to take up his time that he could never keep school.

In spite of all this I learned earlier than usual to read well. Because of this fact the assistant teacher was able to take hold of something within me which has influenced the whole course of my life. Soon after my entrance into the Neudörfl school, I found a book on geometry in his room. I was on such good terms with the teacher that I was permitted at once to borrow the book for my own use. I plunged into it with enthusiasm. For weeks at a time my mind it was filled with coincidences, similarities between triangles, squares, polygons; I racked my brains over the question: Where do parallel lines actually meet? The theorem of Pythagoras fascinated me. That one can live within the mind in the shaping of forms perceived only within oneself, entirely without impression upon the external senses – this gave me the deepest satisfaction. I found in this a solace for the unhappiness which my unanswered questions had caused me. To be able to lay hold upon something in the spirit alone brought to me an inner joy. I am sure that I learned first in geometry to experience this joy.

In my relation to geometry I must now perceive the first budding forth of a conception which has since gradually evolved in me. This lived within me more or less unconsciously during my childhood, and about my twentieth year took a definite and fully conscious form.

I said to myself: “The objects and occurrences which the senses perceive are in space. But, just as this space is outside of man, so there exists also within man a sort of soul-space which is the arena of spiritual realities and occurrences.” In my thoughts I could not see anything in the nature of mental images such as man forms within him from actual things, but I saw a spiritual world in this soul-arena. Geometry seemed to me to be a knowledge which man appeared to have produced but which had, nevertheless, a significance quite independent of man. Naturally I did not, as a child, say all this to myself distinctly, but I felt that one must carry the knowledge of the spiritual world within oneself after the fashion of geometry.

For the reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical. I felt the need, however, for a sort of justification for this assumption. I wished to be able to say to myself that the experience of the spiritual world is just as little an illusion as is that of the physical world. With regard to geometry I said to myself: “Here one is permitted to know something which the mind alone, through its own power, experiences.” In this feeling I found the justification for the spiritual world that I experienced, even as, so to speak, for the physical. And in this way I talked about this. I had two conceptions which were naturally undefined, but which played a great role in my mental life even before my eighth year. I distinguished things as those “which are seen” and those “which are not seen.”

I am relating these matters quite frankly, in spite of the fact that those persons who are seeking for evidence to prove that anthroposophy is fantastic will, perhaps, draw the conclusion from this that even as a child I was marked by a gift for the fantastic: no wonder, then, that a fantastic philosophy should also have evolved within me.

But it is just because I know how little I have followed my own inclinations in forming conceptions of a spiritual world – having on the contrary followed only the inner necessity of things – that I myself can look back quite objectively upon the childlike unaided manner in which I confirmed for myself by means of geometry the feeling that I must speak of a world “which is not seen.”

Only I must also say that I loved to live in that world For I should have been forced to feel the physical world as a sort of spiritual darkness around me had it not received light from that side.

The assistant teacher of Neudörfl had provided me, in the geometry text-book, with that which I then needed – justification for the spiritual world.

In other ways also I owe much to him. He brought to me the element of art. He played the piano and the violin and he drew a great deal. These things attracted me powerfully to him. Just as much as I possibly could be, was I with him. Of drawing he was especially fond, and even in my ninth year he interested me in drawing with crayons. I had in this way to copy pictures under his direction. Long did I sit, for instance, copying a portrait of Count Szedgenyi.

Very seldom at Neudörfl, but frequently in the neighbouring town of Sauerbrunn, could I listen to the impressive music of the Hungarian gipsies.

All this played its part in a childhood which was passed in the immediate neighbourhood of the church and the churchyard. The station at Neudörfl was but a few steps from the church, and between these lay the churchyard. If one went along by the churchyard and then a short stretch further, one came into the village itself. This consisted of two rows of houses. One row began with the school and the other with the home of the priest. Between those two rows of houses flowed a little brook, along the banks of which grew stately nut trees. In connection with these nut trees an order of precedence grew up among the children of the school. When the nuts began to get ripe, the boys and girls assailed the trees with stones, and in this way laid in a winter’s supply of nuts. In autumn almost the only thing anyone talked about was the size of his harvest of nuts. Whoever had gathered most of all was the most looked up to, and then step by step was the descent all the way down – to me, the last, who as an “outsider in the village” had no right to share in this order of precedence.

Near the railway station, the row of most important houses, in which the “big farmers” lived, was met at right angles by a row of some twenty houses owned by the “middle class” villagers. Then, beginning from the gardens which belonged to the station, came a group of thatched houses belonging to the “small cottagers.” These constituted the immediate neighbourhood of my family. The roads leading out from the village went past fields and vineyards that were owned by the villagers. Every year I took part with the “small cottagers” in the vintage, and once also in a village wedding.

Next to the assistant teacher, the person whom I loved most among those who had to do with the direction of the school was the priest. He came regularly twice a week to give instruction in religion and often besides for inspection of the school. The image of the man was deeply impressed upon my mind, and he has come back into my memory again and again throughout my life. Among the persons whom I came to know up to my tenth or eleventh year, he was by far the most significant. He was a vigorous Hungarian patriot. He took active part in the process of Magyarizing the Hungarian territory which was then going forward. From this point of view he wrote articles in the Hungarian language, which I thus learned through the fact that the assistant teacher had to make clear copies of these and he always discussed their contents with me in spite of my youthfulness. But the priest was also an energetic worker for the Church. This once impressed itself deeply upon my mind through one of his sermons.

At Neudörfl there was a lodge of Freemasons. To the villagers this was shrouded in mystery, and they wove about it the most amazing legends. The leading role in this lodge belonged to the manager of a match-factory which stood at the end of the village. Next to him in prominence among the persons immediately interested in the matter were the manager of another factory and a clothing merchant. Otherwise the only significance attaching to the lodge arose from the fact that from time to time strangers from “remote parts” were visitors there, and these seemed to the villagers in the highest degree unwelcome. The clothing merchant was a noteworthy person. He always walked with his head bowed over as if in deep thought. People called him “the make-believe,” and his isolation rendered it neither possible nor necessary that anyone should approach him. The building in which the lodge met belonged to his home.

I could establish no sort of relationship to this lodge. For the entire behaviour of the persons about me in regard to this matter was such that here again I had to refrain from asking questions; besides, the utterly absurd way in which the manager of the match-factory talked about the church made a shocking impression on me.

Then one Sunday the priest delivered a sermon in his energetic fashion in which he set forth in due order the true principles of morality for human life and spoke of the enemy of the truth in figures of speech framed to fit the lodge. As a climax, he delivered his advice: “Beloved Christians, beware of him who is an enemy of the truth: for example, a Mason or a Jew.” In the eyes of the people, the factory owner and the clothing merchant were thus authoritatively exposed. The vigour with which this had been uttered made a specially deep impression upon me. I owe to the priest also, because of a certain profound impression made upon me, a very great deal in the later orientation of my spiritual life. One day he came into the school, gathered round him in the teacher’s little room the “riper” children, among whom he included me, unfolded a drawing he had made, and with the help of this explained to us the Copernican system of astronomy. He spoke about this very vividly – the revolution of the earth around the sun, its rotation on its axis, the inclination of the axis in summer and winter, and also the zones of the earth. In all of it I was absorbed; I made drawings of a similar kind for days together, and then received from the priest further special instruction concerning eclipses of the sun and the moon; and thence-forward I directed all my search for knowledge toward this subject. I was then about ten years old, and I could not yet write without mistakes in spelling and grammar.

Of the deepest significance for my life as a boy was the nearness of the church and the churchyard beside it. Everything that happened in the village school was affected in its course by its relationship to these. This was not by reason of certain dominant social and political relationships existing in every community; it was due to the fact that the priest was an impressive personality. The assistant teacher was at the same time organist of the church and custodian of the vestments used at Mass and of the other church furnishings. He performed all the services of an assistant to the priest in his religious ministrations. We schoolboys had to carry out the duties of ministrants and choristers during Mass, rites for the dead, and funerals. The solemnity of the Latin language and of the liturgy was a thing in which my boyish soul found a Vital happiness. Because of the fact that up to my tenth year I took such an earnest part in the services of the church, I was often in the company of the priest whom I so revered. In the home of my parents I received no encouragement in this matter of my relationship to the church. My father took no part in this. He was then a “freethinker.” He never entered the church to which I had become so deeply attached; and yet he also, as a boy and as a young man, had been equally devoted and active. In his case this all changed once more only when he went back, as an old man on a pension, to Horn, his native region. There he became again “a pious man.” But by that time I had long ceased to have any association with my parents’ home.

From the time of my boyhood at Neudörfl, I have always had the strongest impression of the manner in which the contemplation of the church services in close connection with the solemnity of liturgical music causes the riddle of existence to rise in powerful suggestive fashion before the mind. The instruction in the Bible and the catechism imparted by the priest had far less effect upon my mental world than what he accomplished by means of liturgy in mediating between the sensible and the supersensible. From the first this was to me no mere form, but a profound experience. It was all the more so because of the fact that in this I was a stranger in the home of my parents. Even in the atmosphere I had to breathe in my home, my spirit did not lose that vital experience which it had acquired from the liturgy. I passed my life amid this home environment without sharing in it, perceived it; but my real thoughts, feelings, and experience were continually in that other world. I can assert emphatically however, in this connection that I was no dreamer, but quite self-sufficient in all practical affairs.

A complete counterpart to this world of mine was my father’s political affairs. He and another employee took turns on duty. This man lived at another railway station, for which he was partly responsible. He came to Neudörfl only every two or three days. During the free hours of the evening he and my father would talk politics. This would take place at a table which stood near the station under two huge and wonderful lime trees. There our whole family and the other employee would assemble. My mother knitted or crocheted; my brother and sister busied themselves about us; I would often sit at the table and listen to the unheard of political arguments of the two men. My participation, however, never had anything to do with the sense of what they were saying, but only with the form which the conversation took. They were always on opposite sides; if one said “Yes,” the other always contradicted him with “No.” All this, however, was marked, not only by a certain intensity – indeed, violence – but also by the good humour which was a basic element in my father’s nature.

In the little circle often gathered there, to which were frequently added some of the “notabilities” of the village, there appeared at times a doctor from Wiener-Neustadt. He had many patients in this place, where at that time there was no physician. He came from Wiener-Neustadt to Neudörfl on foot, and would come to the station after visiting his patients to wait for the train on which he went back. This man passed with my parents, and with most persons who knew him, as an odd character. He did not like to talk about his profession as a doctor, but all the more gladly did he talk about German literature. It was from him that I first heard of Lessing, Goethe, Schiller. At my home there was never any such conversation. Nothing was known of such things. Nor in the village school was there any mention of such matters. There the emphasis was all on Hungarian history. Priest and assistant teacher had no interest in the masters of German literature. And so it happened that with the Wiener-Neustadt doctor a whole new world came within my range of vision. He took an interest in me; often drew me aside after he had rested for a while under the lime trees, walked up and down with me by the station, and talked – not like a lecturer, but enthusiastically – about German literature. In these talks he set forth all sorts of ideas as to what is beautiful and what is ugly.

This also has remained as a picture with me, giving me many happy hours in memory throughout my life: the tall, slender doctor, with his quick, long stride, always with his umbrella in his right hand held invariably in such a way that it dangled by his side, and I, a boy of ten years, on the other side, quite absorbed in what the man was saying.

Along with all these things I was tremendously concerned with everything pertaining to the railroad. I first learned the principles of electricity in connection with the station telegraph. I learned also as a boy to telegraph.

As to language, I grew up in the dialect of German that is spoken in Eastern Lower Austria. This was really the same as that then used in those parts of Hungary bordering on Lower Austria. My relationship to reading and that to writing were entirely different. In my boyhood I passed rapidly over the words in reading; my mind went immediately to the perceptions, the concepts, the ideas, so that I got no feeling from reading either for spelling or for writing grammatically. On the other hand, in writing I had a tendency to fix the word-forms in my mind by their sounds as I generally heard them spoken in the dialect. For this reason it was only after the most arduous effort that I gained facility in writing the literary language; whereas reading was easy for me from the first.

Under such influences I grew up to the age at which my father had to decide whether to send me to the Gymnasium (1) or to the Realschule (1) at Wiener-Neustadt. From that time on I heard much talk with other persons – in between the political discussions – as to my own future. My father was given this and that advice; I already knew: “He likes to listen to what others say, but he acts according to his own fixed and definite determination.”


  1. The Gymnasium and the Realschule are secondary schools, the curriculum of the former giving more prominence to the classics and that of the later to science and modern languages.

– See more at:

030 Nicholas Roerich Book of Life 1938



art serenade by shijun munns

 ART : Serenade ~ by Shijun Munns

At the Gates of Spiritual Science

Schmidt Number: S-1376

On-line since: 15th June, 2008



Yesterday we described the various stages by which pupils of the Eastern and the Christian occult schools came to higher knowledge. Today I will try to describe, in a similar way, the stages of Rosicrucian training.

You must not imagine that the Rosicrucian training contradicts the other two. It has existed since the fourteenth century, and it had to be introduced because mankind then needed a different form of training. Among the Initiates it was foreseen that a time would come when because of the gradual increase of knowledge men would be confused in matters of religious faith. Therefore a form of instruction had to be created for those who felt within themselves the discord between faith and knowledge. In the Middle Ages the most learned men were also those of the greatest faith and piety; and for a long time afterwards those who had made headway in scientific knowledge could not conceive of any contradictions between knowledge and faith. We are usually told that faith was shaken by the ideas of Copernicus, but that is quite wrong: after all, Copernicus dedicated his book to the Pope! It is only in quite recent times that this conflict has gradually developed. The Masters of Wisdom saw that this was bound to happen and that a new path would have to be found for those whose faith had been destroyed. For persons much occupied with science, the necessary path towards Initiation is the Rosicrucian, for the Rosicrucian method shows that the highest knowledge of mundane things is thoroughly compatible with the highest knowledge of spiritual truths. It is precisely through the Rosicrucian path that those who have been led away from Christian belief by what they take to be science can learn to understand Christianity truly for the first time. By this method anyone can come to a deeper grasp of the truth of Christianity. Truth is one, but it can be reached along different paths, just as at the foot of a mountain there are various paths, but they all meet at the summit.

The essence of Rosicrucian training may be described in two words: true self-knowledge. The Rosicrucian pupil has to distinguish two things, not merely theoretically but practically, so that they become part of his everyday life. There are two forms of self-knowledge — the lower form, called by the Rosicrucian pupil “self-mirroring”, which should serve to overcome the lower self, and the higher form of self-knowledge which is born out of self-renunciation.

What is the lower form of self-knowledge? It consists in the recognition of our everyday self, of what we are and of what we bear within us: in other words, an examination of our own soul-life. But we must make it quite clear to ourselves that by this means we cannot reach the higher self. When we look into ourselves we see only what we are, and that is just what we have to grow out of in order to surmount the ordinary self. But how is this to be done? Most people are convinced that their characteristics are the best, and anyone who lacks these characteristics is uncongenial to them. Once a person has outgrown this idea, not only in theory but in feeling, he will be on the way to true self-knowledge.

You can get out of the habit of self-admiration by a particular method which can be practised whenever you have five minutes for it. You must start from the principle that all characteristics are one-sided; you must learn to recognise in what respects yours are one-sided and then try to balance them. This principle may not amount to much in theory, but in practice it is highly effective. If you are industrious, you must ask yourself whether your activity may not be wrongly applied. Quickness, too, is one-sided; it needs to be supplemented by careful deliberation. Every quality has its polar opposite; you should cultivate its opposite and then try to harmonise the two extremes. For example, make haste slowly; be quick and yet deliberate; deliberate and yet not slow. Then the pupil will begin to grow beyond himself. All this is not part of meditation, but must be acquired alongside it.

It is by attention to small details that this harmony can be achieved. If your tendency is not to let anyone finish what he is saying, you must keep a watch on yourself and make up your mind that for six weeks you will keep silent, as far as possible, when someone else is talking. Then you must accustom yourself to speak neither too loudly nor too softly. Things such as this, which are generally not thought of, contribute essentially to inner self-development, and the more attention you pay to quite insignificant characteristics, the better it will be. If you try not only to acquire certain moral, intellectual or emotional qualities, but to get rid of some external habit, this will be particularly effective. It is a question not so much of investigating your inner self as of endeavouring to perfect the qualities which you have not yet fully developed, and to complement those you already have by cultivating their polar counterparts. Self-knowledge is one of the hardest things to acquire, and it is precisely those who think they know themselves best who are most likely to be deceived: they think too much about themselves. You should get out of the habit of fixing your attention on yourself and constantly using the word “I” — “I think, I believe, I consider this right”. Above all you must get rid of the notion that your opinion is worth more than that of other people. Suppose, for instance, that someone is very clever. If he displays his cleverness in the company of people who are not so clever, his behaviour will be very ill-timed; he will be doing it only to please his own egoism. He ought to adapt his response to the needs and capacities of others. Agitators are particularly apt to offend against this rule.

In addition to all this you must cultivate patience, in the occult sense of the word. Most people who want to achieve something cannot wait; they imagine they are already fit to receive anything. This patience derives from strict self-training, and it, too, is related to the lower form of self-knowledge.

Higher self-knowledge begins only when we can say that our higher self is not in our ordinary “I”. It is in the whole great world outside, in the sun and the moon, in a stone or an animal: everywhere can be found the same essential being that is in us. If a man says: “I wish to cultivate my higher self and to withdraw from the world; I want to know nothing about anything material,” he entirely fails to understand that the higher self is everywhere outside, and that his own higher self is only a small part of the Great Self outside. Certain methods of so-called “spiritual” healers make this mistake, which can be very serious. They instil into patients the idea that matter has no real existence and so there can be no illnesses. This notion is based on a false self-knowledge, and, as I have said, it can be very dangerous. This healing method calls itself Christian, but in fact it is anti-Christian.

Christianity is an outlook which sees in everything a revelation of the Divine. Everything material becomes an illusion unless we look on it as an expression of the Divine. If we disown the external world, we are disowning the Divine; if we reject the material realm, in which God has revealed himself, we are rejecting the Divine. The important thing is not to gaze into ourselves, but to seek to know the Great Self which shines down into us. The lower self says: “Standing here I am cold.” The higher Self says: “I am also the cold, for as part of the one Self I live in the cold and make myself cold.” Again the lower self says: “I am here in the eye which beholds the sun.” The higher Self says: “I am in the sun and in the sun’s rays I look into your eyes.”

Really to go out of yourself is to renounce yourself. Hence the Rosicrucian training aims at drawing the lower self out of man. In the early days of Theosophy the gravest mistake was made when people were told to look away from the external world and to gaze into themselves. That is a great illusion, for then we find only the lower self, the fourth principle, which imagines itself to be divine but is not so at all. We must come out of ourselves if we are to know the Divine. “Know thyself” means also “Overcome thyself”.

The Rosicrucian training leads its pupils through the following stages, and these go hand in hand with the six exercises already mentioned: control of thought; initiative in action; tranquillity; lack of prejudice, or positiveness; faith; and inner balance. The training itself consists of the following:

1. Study. Without study, a modern European cannot get to know himself. He must try, first of all, to reproduce in himself the thoughts of the whole of humanity. He must learn to think in harmony with the world-order. He must say to himself: “If others have thought this, it must be a possible human thought; I will test whether one can live with it.” He need not swear to it as a dogma, but by studying it he must get to know what it is. The pupil must learn about the evolution of sun and planets, of the earth and humanity. Thoughts of this kind, given to us for study, purify the spirit. By following the strict lines of these thoughts, we come to form strictly logical thoughts ourselves. This kind of study, again, purifies our thoughts, and so we learn to think with strict logic. If, for instance, we are reading a difficult book, the most important thing is not to comprehend its whole content, but to enter into the author’s line of thought and learn to think with him. Hence the pupil should find no book too difficult; if he does, it means only that he is too easy-going to think.

The best books are those we have to take up again and again, books we cannot understand immediately but have to study sentence by sentence. It does not matter so much what we study as how we study. If we study the great truths, for instance the planetary laws, we develop an important line of thought, and this is what really matters. If we say that we want more moral teaching and nothing about planetary systems, we show great egoism. True wisdom engenders a moral life.

2. Imagination or Imaginative Knowledge is the second thing we have to attain. What is it and how do we achieve it? As we go through the world we must observe it in the light of Goethe’s saying: “Everything transitory is but a symbol.” Goethe was a Rosicrucian and he can lead us into the life of the soul. Everything must become for us a symbol in manifold respects. Suppose, for instance, we are walking past a meadow saffron: in form and colour it is a symbol of mourning. Another flower, the convolvulus, is a symbol of helplessness; another flower, with its splash of red, is a sign of gaiety, and so on. A bird with bright colours may be a symbol of coquetry. The symbols may actually be expressed in the names: weeping willow, forget-me-not, and so on. The more we reflect in this way, so that external things become symbolic pictures of moral qualities, the more easily shall we attain to Imaginative Knowledge. We can see similar likenesses in human beings. For instance, we can study people’s temperament from their gait — look at the slow, heavy step of the melancholic, the light, springy step of the sanguine type.

After some time spent on these exercises we can pass to exercises of real Imagination. Take, for example, a living plant, look at it carefully, sink yourself into it, then draw forth the inner feeling of your soul and lay it as it were in the plant, as is described in the book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. All this stimulates the Imagination, and by this means the pupil acquires astral vision. After a time he will notice a little flame proceeding from the plant: that is the astral counterpart of its growth. Again, the pupil takes a seed and visualises the whole plant, as it will later on be in reality. These are exercises of the Imagination; by their means one comes to see things surrounded by their astral element.

3. The third stage is called learning the occult script. There is in fact such a script, through which one can penetrate more deeply into things. An example will show you more exactly what I mean. With the close of the old Indian civilisation a new civilisation began. The symbol for such an evolutionary stage is the vortex. These vortices exist everywhere in the world. They occur in the nebulae — the Orion nebula, for instance. There, too, an old world is dying and a new one being born. When the Indian civilisation was coming into being, the Sun was in the sign of Cancer; during the Persian civilisation in Gemini; during the Egyptian civilisation in Taurus; during the Graeco-Roman civilisation in Aries. Since the astronomical sign for Cancer is , this was the sign for the rise of the Indian civilisation.

Another example is the letter M. Every letter of the alphabet can be traced back to an occult origin. Thus M is the symbol of wisdom; it derives from the shape of the upper lip. It is also the sign for the waves of the seas ; hence wisdom may be symbolised by water. These signs indicate sounds which correspond with real things, and in the Rosicrucian training such studies are cultivated.

4. A rhythmical element is brought into breathing. It plays a less important part than it does in Eastern training, but it belongs to the Rosicrucian training and a Rosicrucian knows that through meditation the air he breathes out is purified.

5. The correspondence between Microcosm and Macrocosm is emphasised. This means the connection between the great world and the small, or between man and the world outside him.

Man has emerged by gradual stages and his various members have been formed in the course of evolution. Now it is impossible for certain organs to arise in a being which has, for example, no astral body, and therefore they could not come into existence on the Sun, even in a preliminary form. The liver is an instance of this: it cannot exist without the etheric body, but it is actually created by the astral body. Similarly, no being can have warm blood unless it first appeared at a time when the Ego was at least in course of preparation. True, the higher animals are warm-blooded, but they split off from man when the development of his Ego was already on the way. Hence we can say that the liver is closely related to the astral body, and warm blood to the Ego. In fact every one of man’s organs, even the smallest, has its specific relationship to one member of his being. If the pupil concentrates his attention on himself objectively, as though on something outside himself — if for instance he concentrates on the point at the root of the nose and connects with it a particular saying given by his occult teacher, he will be guided to that which corresponds to this point and he will come to know it. If he concentrates on this point under definite guidance, he will come to know the nature of the Ego. Another, much later exercise is directed towards the inner part of the eye; through this one learns to know the inner nature of light and of the sun. The nature of the astral can be learnt by concentrating on the liver, with the aid of certain specific words.

This is true self-development, when the pupil is taken out of himself by means of each organ on which he concentrates his attention. This method has become specially important in recent times because humanity has become deeply involved in matter. In this way one penetrates through the material to its creative cause.

6. Dwelling in, or sinking oneself into, the Macrocosm. This is the same form of spiritual contemplation that we described as Dhyanam. The pupil sinks himself into the organ he is contemplating — for example, the inner part of the eye. After concentrating on it for a while, he drops the mental picture of the external organ and thinks only of that to which the eye leads him — the light. In this way he comes to the creator of the organ and so out into the Macrocosm. He then feels his body increasingly growing larger and larger until it is as large as the Earth; indeed even bigger than the Earth, until all things are in it. And then he lives in all things.

7. The seventh stage corresponds to the Eastern Samadhi. It is called divine blessedness, because now the pupil ceases to think of this last concept, but he retains the power to think. The content of his thought falls away, but the activity of thought remains. And thus he comes to rest in the divine-spiritual world.

These stages of Rosicrucian training are more inward, and call for a subtle cultivation of the higher life of the soul. The widespread superficiality of our material epoch is a powerful obstacle to the necessary deepening of the whole inner life; it must be overcome. This form of training is particularly well suited to Europeans. Anyone who is in earnest can carry it out. But Goethe’s saying, “It is indeed easy, but even the easy is hard”, applies here.

We have gone into the various methods of training, and I will end these lectures by showing you something of the relationship between man and the whole Earth, so that you will see how man is related to everything that happens on Earth.

I have described the evolution of man and shown you how he can acquire a true inner being of his own. In the course of evolution the whole of humanity will attain to everything that the individual can achieve through occult training. But what will be happening to the Earth while mankind is developing in this way? There is a great difference between the Earth seen by the occultist and the Earth known to the ordinary geologist or scientist. He looks on it as merely a sort of great lifeless ball, with an interior not very unlike its exterior, except that at most the interior substances are fluid. But it is not easy to understand how such a lifeless ball could have produced all the different kinds of beings on it.

We know that on this Earth of ours various phenomena occur which deeply affect the fate of many people; but present-day science looks on this as a purely external relationship. Thus the fate of hundreds and thousands may be affected by an earthquake or a volcano. Does the human will have any influence on this, or is it all a matter of chance? Are there dead laws which act with blind fury, or is there some connection between these events and the will of man? What is really happening when a man is killed by an earthquake? What does the occultist say about the interior of the Earth?

The occult science of all epochs says the following about the interior of the Earth. We must think of the Earth as consisting of a series of layers, not completely separated from one another like the skins of an onion, but merging into one another gradually.

1. The topmost layer, the mineral mass, is related to the interior as an eggshell is to the egg. This topmost layer is called the Mineral Earth.

2. Under it is a second layer, called the Fluid Earth; it consists of a substance to which there is nothing comparable on Earth. It is not really like any of the fluids we know, for these all have a mineral quality. This layer has specific characteristics: its substance begins to display certain spiritual qualities, which consist in the fact that as soon as it is brought into contact with something living, it strives to expel and destroy this life. The occultist is able to investigate this layer by pure concentration.

3. The “Air-Earth”. This is a substance which annuls feelings: for instance, if it is brought into contact with any pain, the pain is converted into pleasure, and vice versa. The original form of a feeling is, so to speak extinguished, rather as the second layer extinguishes life.

4. The “Water-Earth”, or the “Form-Earth”. It produces in the material realm the effects that occur spiritually in Devachan. There, we have the negative pictures of physical things. In the “Form-Earth” a cube of salt, for example, would be destroyed, but its negative would arise. The form is as it were changed into its opposite; all its qualities pass out into its surroundings. The actual space occupied by the object is left empty.

5. The “Fruit-Earth”. This substance is full of exuberant energy. Every little part of it grows out at once like sponge; it gets larger and larger and is held in place only by the upper layers. It is the underlying life which serves the forms of the layers above it.

6. The “Fire-Earth”. Its substance is essentially feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if it were trodden on. It consists, as it were, entirely of passions.

7. The “Earth-mirror” or “Earth-reflector”. This layer gets its name from the fact that its substance, if one concentrates on it, changes all the characteristics of the Earth into their opposites. If the seer disregards everything lying above it and gazes down directly into this layer, and if then, for example, he places something green before him, the green appears as red; every colour appears as its complementary opposite. A polaric reflection arises, a reversal of the original. Sorrow would be changed by this substance into joy.

8. The “Divisive” layer. If with developed power one concentrates on it, something very remarkable appears. For example, a plant held in the midst of this layer appears to be multiplied, and so with everything else. But the essential thing is that this layer disrupts the moral qualities also. Through the power it radiates to the Earth’s surface, it is responsible for the fact that strife and disharmony exist there. In order to overcome this disruptive force, men must work together in harmony.

That is precisely why this layer was laid down in the Earth — so that men should be enabled to develop harmony for themselves. The substance of everything evil is prepared and organised there. Quarrelsome people are so constituted that this layer has a particular influence on them. This has been known to everyone who has written out of a true knowledge of occultism. Dante in his Divine Comedy calls this layer the Cain-layer. It was here that the strife between the brothers Cain and Abel had its source. The substance of this layer is responsible for evil having come into the world.

9. The “Earth-core”. This is the substance through whose influence black magic arises in the world. The power of spiritual evil comes from this source.

You will see that man is related to all the layers, for they are continually radiating out their forces. Humanity lives under the influence of these layers and has to overcome their powers. When human beings have learnt to radiate life on Earth and have trained their breathing so that it promotes life, they will overcome the “Fire-Earth”. When spiritually they overcome pain through serenity, they overcome the “Air-Earth”. When concord reigns, the “Divisive” layer is conquered. When white magic triumphs, no evil remains on Earth. Human evolution thus implies a transformation of the Earth’s interior. In the beginning the nature of the Earth’s body was such as to hold subsequent developments in check. In the end, when human powers have transformed the Earth, it will be a spiritualised Earth. In this way man imparts his own being to the Earth.

Now there are occasions when the very substance of the passions of the Fire-Earth begins to rebel. Aroused by men’s passions, it penetrates through the Fruit-Earth, forces its way through the channels in the upper layers and even flows up into and violently shakes the solid Earth: the result is an earthquake. If this passion from the Fire-Earth thrusts up some of the Earth’s substance, a volcano erupts. All this is closely connected with man. In Lemurian times, the upper layer was still very soft and the Fire-layer was near the surface. Human passions and the “passion-substance” of this layer are related; when men give rein to evil passions they strengthen its passions, and that is what happened at the end of Lemurian times. Through their passions the Lemurians made the Fire-Earth rebellious, and in this way they brought the whole Lemurian continent to destruction. No other cause for this destruction could be found except in what they had themselves drawn forth from the Earth. Today the layers are thicker and firmer, but there is still this connection between human passions and the passion-layer in the interior of the Earth; and it is still an accumulation of evil passions and forces that gives rise to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

How man’s destiny and will are related to happenings in the Earth can be seen from two examples which have been occultly investigated. It has been found that persons who have been killed in an earthquake appear in their next incarnation as men of high spiritual quality and faith. They had progressed far enough to be convinced by that final stroke of the transitoriness of earthly things. The effect of this in Devachan was that they learnt a lesson for their next lives: that matter is perishable but spirit prevails. They did not all come to realise that, but many of them are now living as people who belong to some spiritual-theosophical movement.

In the other example, the births which occurred during a time of frequent earthquakes were investigated. It was found that all those born at about the time of an earthquake, though not exactly in its area, were, surprisingly enough, men of a very materialistic cast of mind. The earthquakes were not the cause of this; rather it was these strongly materialistic souls, ripe for birth, who worked their way down into the physical world by means of their astral will and let loose the forces of the Fire-Earth layer, which proceeded to shake the Earth at the time of their birth.

Man transforms his dwelling-place and himself at the same time, and when he spiritualises himself, he spiritualises the Earth also. One day, at a later planetary stage, he will have ennobled the Earth by his own creative power. Every moment when we think and feel, we are working on the great structure of the Earth. The Leaders of mankind have insight into such relationships and seek to impart to men the forces which will work in the true direction of evolution. One of the latest of these impulses is the Theosophical Movement. Its purpose is to develop harmony and balance in the very depths of the human soul. Anyone who puts the assertion of his own opinion higher than love and peace has not thoroughly understood the idea of Theosophy. The spirit of love must penetrate even into the opinions a man holds. In the course of occult development he must unavoidably learn this, or he will get no further. He must renounce entirely his own opinions and must wish to be solely an instrument of the objective truth which comes from the spiritual world and flows through the world as the one great Truth. The more a man renounces himself and sets his own opinions aside, becoming instead a channel for the great Truth, the more does he manifest the true spirit of Theosophy.

All this is extraordinarily difficult today. But theosophical teaching is itself a promoter of peace. When we come together so that we may live within this teaching, it gives rise to peace. But if we introduce something from outside, we bring dissension in, and that should really be an impossibility. So the theosophical conception of the world must pass over into feeling — into something I would call a spiritual atmosphere — in which Theosophy lives. You must have a will to understand; then Theosophy will hover like a unifying spirit over our gatherings, and from there will spread its influence out through the world.


art serenade by shijun munns



The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature @ Rudolf Steiner Archive


art light pink fairy in tree by stephen mackey

ART : Light Pink Fairy in Tree ~ by Stephen Mackey

 The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature

Lecture 1: Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature


April 3, 1912


WHEN our friends here gave me a warm invitation to come to them, they requested me to speak about the spiritual beings we find in the realms of nature and in the heavenly bodies.

Our theme will compel us to touch upon a realm that is very far removed from all the knowledge given to man today by the external world, the intellectual world. From the very beginning we shall have to allude to a domain, the reality of which is denied by the external world of today. I shall only take for granted one thing, namely, that as a result of the studies you have hitherto made in spiritual science, you meet me with a feeling and perception for the spiritual world; in respect to the manner in which we shall name things, we shall come to a mutual understanding in the course of the lectures. All the rest will, in certain respects, come of itself when, as time goes on, we acquire an understanding born of feeling and of perception for the fact that behind our sense world, behind the world which we as men experience, there lies a world of spirit — a spiritual world; and that just as we penetrate into the physical world through regarding it not only as a great unity, but as specified into individual plants, animals, minerals, peoples, persons — so can we specify the spiritual world into different classes of individual spiritual beings. So that in spiritual science we do not merely speak of a spiritual world, but of quite definite beings and forces standing behind our physical world.

What then do we include in the physical world? First let us be clear about that. As belonging to the physical world we reckon all that we can perceive with our senses, see with our eyes, hear with our ears, all that our hands can grasp. Further, we reckon as belonging to the physical world all that we can encompass with our thoughts in so far as these thoughts refer to external perception, to that which the physical world can say to us. In the physical world we must also include all that we, as human beings, do within it. It might easily make us pause and reflect when it is said that all that we, as human beings do in the physical world forms part of that world, for we must admit that when we act in the physical world, we bring down the spiritual into that world. People do not act merely according to the suggestions of physical impulses and passions, but also according to moral principles; our conduct, our actions, are influenced by morals. Certainly when we act morally, spiritual impulses play a part in our actions; but the field of action in which we act morally is, nevertheless, the physical world. Just as in our moral actions there is an interplay of spiritual impulses, even so do spiritual impulses permeate us through colors, sounds, warmth, and cold and through all sense impressions. The spiritual is in a sense always hidden from external perception, from that which external man knows and can do. It is the characteristic of the spiritual, that man can only recognize it when he takes the trouble, at least to a small extent, to become other than he has been hitherto.

We work together in our groups and gatherings; not only do we hear there certain truths which tell us that there are various worlds — that man consists of various principles or bodies, or whatever we like to call them, but by allowing all this to influence us, although we may not always notice it, our soul will gradually change to something different, even without our going through an esoteric development. What we learn through spiritual science makes our soul different from what it was before. Compare your feelings after you have taken part in the spiritual life of a working group for a few years, the way in which you feel and think, with the thoughts and feelings you had before, or with the way in which people think and feel who are not interested in spiritual science. Spiritual science does not merely signify the acquisition of knowledge; it signifies most pre-eminently an education, a self-education of our souls. We make ourselves different; we have other interests. When a man imbues himself with spiritual science, the habits of attention for this or for that subject which he developed during previous years, alter. What interested him before, interests him no longer; that which had no interest for him previously, now begins to interest him in the highest degree. One ought not simply to say that only a person who has gone through esoteric development can attain to a connection with the spiritual world; esotericism does not begin with occult development. The moment we make any link with spiritual science with our whole heart, esotericism has already begun; our souls begin at once to be transformed. There then begins in us something resembling what would arise, let us say, in a being who had previously only been able to see light and darkness, and who then through a special and different organisation of the eyes, begins to see colors. The whole world would appear different to such a being. We need only observe it, we need only realise it, and we shall soon see that the whole world begins to have a different aspect when we have for a time gone through the self-education we can get in a spiritual science circle. This self-education to a quite definite feeling with regard to the spiritual world, this self-education to a perception of what lies behind the physical facts is a fruit of the spiritual scientific movement in the world, and is the most important part of spiritual understanding. We should not believe that we can acquire a spiritual understanding by mere sentimentality, by simply repeating continually that we wish to permeate all our feelings with love. Other people, if they are good, wish to do that too; this would only be giving way to a sort of pride. Rather should we make it clear to ourselves how we can educate our feelings by letting the knowledge of the facts of a higher world influence us, and transforming our souls by means of this knowledge. This special manner of training the soul to a feeling for a higher world is what makes the spiritual scientist. Above all we need this understanding if we intend to speak about the things which are to be spoken about in this course of lectures.

He who, with trained occult sight, is able to see behind the physical facts, finds at once behind all that is spread out as color, sound, as warmth, cold, all that is embodied in the laws of nature — beings, which are not revealed to the external senses, to the external intellect, but which lie behind the physical world. Then, as he penetrates further and further, he discovers, so to say, worlds with beings of an ever higher order. If we wish to acquire an understanding of all that lies behind our sense-world, then, in accordance with the special task that has been ascribed to me here, we must take as our real starting-point what we encounter first of all behind our sense-world, as soon as we raise the very first veil which our sense perception spreads over spiritual happenings. As a matter of fact, the world which reveals itself to the trained occult vision as the one lying next to us, presents the greatest surprise to the present-day understanding, to the present power of comprehension. I am speaking to those who have to some extent accepted spiritual science, consequently I may take it for granted that you know that behind that which meets us externally as the human being, behind what we see with our eyes, touch with our hands, and grasp with our understanding in ordinary anatomy or physiology concerning man — behind what we call the physical human body, we recognize a super-sensible human principle coming immediately next to it. This first super-sensible principle of man we call the etheric, or life-body.

We will not today speak of still higher principles of human nature, but will only be clear that occult sight is able to look behind the physical body and to find there the etheric or life-body. Now occult sight can do something similar with regard to Nature around us. Just as we can investigate man occultly to see if there is not something more than his physical body, and then find the etheric body — so we can look with occult vision at external nature in her colors, forms, sounds, and kingdoms — in the mineral, the plant, the animal and the human kingdoms, in so far as they meet us physically. We then find that just as behind the physical body of man there is a life-body, so we can also find a sort of etheric or life-body behind the whole of physical nature. Only there is an immense difference between the etheric body of all physical nature and that of man. When occult vision is directed to the etheric or life-body of man, it is seen as unity, as a connected structure, as one connected form or figure. When the occult vision penetrates all that external nature presents as color, form, mineral, plant, or animal structures, it is discovered that in physical nature the etheric body is a plurality — something infinitely multiform. That is the great difference; there is a single unitary being as etheric or life-body in man — while there are many varied and differentiated beings behind physical nature.

Now I must show you in what way we arrive at such an assumption as that just made, namely that there is an etheric or life-body — strictly speaking an etheric or life-world — a plurality, a multiplicity of differentiated beings, behind our physical nature. To express how we can arrive at this, I can clothe it in simple words:, we are more and more able to recognize the etheric or life-world behind physical nature when we begin to have a moral perception of the world lying around us. What is meant by perceiving the whole world morally? What does this imply? First of all, looking away from the earth, if we direct our gaze into the ranges of cosmic space, we are met by the blue sky. Suppose we do this on a day in which no cloud, not even the faintest silver-white cloudlet breaks the azure space of heaven. We look upwards into this blue heaven spread out above us — whether we recognize it in the physical sense as something real or not, does not signify; the point is the impression that this wide stretch of the blue heavens makes upon us. Suppose that we can yield ourselves up to this blue of the sky, and that we do this with intensity and for a long, long time; that we can so do it that we forget all else that we know in life and all that is around us in life. Suppose that we are able for one moment to forget all the external impressions, all our memories, all the cares and troubles of life, and can yield ourselves completely to the single impression of the blue heavens. What I am now saying to you, can be experienced by every human soul if only it will fulfil these necessary conditions; what I am telling you can be a common human experience. Suppose a human soul gazes in this way at nothing but the blue of the sky. A certain moment then comes, a moment in which the blue sky ceases to be blue — in which we no longer see anything which can in human language be called blue. If at that moment when the blue to us ceases to be blue, we turn our attention to our own soul, we shall notice quite a special mood in it. The blue disappears, and as it were, an infinity arises before us, and in this infinity a quite definite mood in our soul; a quite definite feeling, a quite definite perception pours itself into the emptiness which arises where the blue had been before. If we would give a name to this soul perception, to that which would soar out there into infinite distances, there is only one word for it; it is a devout feeling in our soul, a feeling of pious devotion to infinity. All the religious feelings in the evolution of humanity have fundamentally a nuance which contains within it what I have here called a pious devotion; the impression of the blue vault of the heavens which stretches above us has called up a religious feeling, a moral perception. When within our souls the blue has disappeared, a moral perception of the external world springs to life.

Let us now reflect upon another feeling by means of which we can in another way attune ourselves in moral harmony with external nature. When the trees are bursting into leaf and the meadows are filled with green, let us fix our gaze upon the green which in the most varied manner covers the earth or meets us in the trees; and again we will do this in such a way as to forget all the external impressions which can affect our souls, and simply devote ourselves to that which in external nature meets us as green. If once more we are so circumstanced that we can yield ourselves to that which springs forth as the reality of green, we can carry this so far that the green disappears for us, in the same way as previously the blue as blue disappeared. Here again we cannot say, “a color is spread out before our sight,” but (and I remark expressly that I am telling you of things that everyone can experience for himself if he fulfils the requisite conditions) the soul has instead a peculiar feeling, which can be thus expressed: “I now understand what I experience when I think creatively, when a thought springs up in me, when an idea strikes me: I understand this now for the first time, I can only learn this from the bursting forth of the green all around me. I begin to understand the inmost parts of my soul through external nature when the outer natural impression has disappeared and in its place a moral impression is left. The green of the plant tells me how I ought to feel within myself, when my soul is blessed with the power to think thoughts, to cherish ideas.” Here again an external impression of nature is transmuted into a moral feeling.

Or again we may look at a wide stretch of white snow. In the same way as in the description just given of the blue of the sky and the green of earth’s robe of vegetation, so this too can set free within us a moral feeling for all that we call the phenomenon of matter in the world. And if, in contemplation of the white snow mantle, we can forget everything else, and experience the whiteness, and then allow it to disappear, we obtain an understanding of that which fills the earth as substance, as matter. We then feel matter living and weaving in the world. And just as one can transform all external sight-impressions into moral perceptions, so too can one transform impressions of sound into moral perceptions. Suppose we listen to a tone and then to its octave, and so attune our souls to this dual sound of a tonic note and its octave that we forget all the rest, eliminate all the rest and completely yield ourselves to these tones, it comes about at last that, instead of hearing these dual tones, our attention is directed from these and we no longer hear them. Then again we find that in our soul a moral feeling is set free. We begin then to have a spiritual understanding of what we experience when a wish lives within us that tries to lead us to something, and then our reason influences our wish. The concord of wish and reason, of thought and desire, as they live in the human soul, is perceived in the tone and its octave.

In like manner we might let the most varied sense perceptions work upon us; we could in this way let all that we perceive in nature through our senses disappear, as it were, so that this sense-veil is removed; then moral perceptions of sympathy and antipathy would arise everywhere. If we accustom ourselves in this way to eliminate all that we see with our eyes, or hear with our ears, or that our hands grasp, or that our understanding (which is connected with the brain) comprehends — if we eliminate all that, and accustom ourselves, nevertheless, to stand before the world, then there works within us something deeper than the power of vision of our eyes, or the power of hearing with our ears, or the intellectual power of our brain-thinking; we then confront a deeper being of the external world. Then the immensity of Infinity so works upon us that we become imbued with a religious mood. Then does the green mantle of plants so work upon us that we feel and perceive in our inner being something spiritually bursting forth into bloom. Then does the white robe of snow so work upon us that by it we gain an understanding of what matter, of what substance is in the world; we grasp the world through something deeper within us than we had hitherto brought into play. And therefore in this way we come into touch with something deeper in the world itself. Then, as it were, the external veil of nature is drawn aside, and we enter a world which lies behind this external veil. Just as when we look behind the physical body of man we come to the etheric or life-body, so in this way we come into a region in which, gradually, manifold beings disclose themselves — those beings which live and work behind the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the animal kingdom. The etheric world gradually appears before us, differentiated in its details.

In Occult Science, that which thus gradually appears before man in the way described, has always been called the Elemental World; and those spiritual beings which we meet with there, and of which we have spoken, are the Elemental Spirits that lie hidden behind all that constitutes the physical-sense-perceptible. I have already said that whereas the etheric body of man is a unity, that which we perceive as the etheric world of nature is a plurality, a multiplicity. How then can we, since what we perceive is something quite new, find it possible to describe something of what gradually impresses itself upon us from behind external nature? Well, we can do so, if by way of comparison, we make a connecting link with what is known. In the whole multiplicity that lies behind the physical world, we first find beings which present self-enclosed pictures to occult vision. In order to characterize what we first of all find there I must refer to something already known. We perceive self-enclosed pictures, beings with definite outline, of which we can say that they can be described according to their form or shape. These beings are one class of those which we first of all find behind the physical-sense world. A second class of beings which we find there, we can only describe if we look away from that which shows itself in set form, with a set figure, and employ the word metamorphosis — transformation. That is the second phenomenon that presents itself to occult vision. Beings that have definite forms belong to the one class; beings which actually change their shape every moment, which, as soon as we meet them and think we have grasped them, immediately change into something else, so that we can only follow them if we make our souls mobile and receptive — belong to this second class. Occult vision actually only finds the first class of beings, which have quite a definite form, when (starting from such conditions as have already been described), it penetrates into the depths of the earth.

I have said that we must allow all that works on us in the external world to arouse a moral effect, such as has been described. We have brought forward by way of example, how one can raise the blue of the heavens, the green of the plants, the whiteness of the snow., into moral impressions. Let us now suppose that we penetrate into the inner part of the earth. When, let us say, we associate with miners, we reach the inner portion of the earth, at any rate we enter regions in which we cannot at first so school our eyes that our vision is transformed into a moral impression. But in our feeling we notice warmth, differentiated degrees of warmth. We must first feel this — that must be the physical impression of nature when we plunge into the realms of the earthly. If we keep in view these differences of warmth, these alternations of temperature, and all that otherwise works on our senses because we are underground, if we allow all this to work upon us, then thus through penetrating into the inner part of the earth, and feeling ourselves united with what is active there, we go through a definite experience. If we then leave out of count everything that produces an impression, if we exert ourselves while down there to feel nothing, not even the differences of warmth which were only for us a preparatory stage, if we try to see nothing, to hear nothing, but to let the impression so affect us that something moral issues from our soul — then there arises before our occult vision that class of creative nature-beings which, for the occultist, are really active in everything belonging to the earth, especially in everything of the nature of metal, and which now present themselves to his imagination, to his imaginative knowledge, in sharply defined forms of the most varied kind. If, having had an occult training, and having at the same time a certain love of such things — it is especially important to have this here — a man makes acquaintance with miners and goes down into the mines, and below there, can forget all external impressions, he will then feel rising up before his imagination, the first class, as it were, of beings which create and weave behind all that is earthy, and especially in all that pertains to metals. I have not yet spoken to-day of how popular fairy tales and folk-legends have made use of all that, in a sense, is actually in existence; I should like first to give you the dry facts which offer themselves to occult vision. For according to the task set me, I must first go to work empirically — that is, I must give an account, first of all, of what we find in the various kingdoms of nature. This is how I understand the subject which was put before me.

Just as with occult vision we perceive in our imagination clearly outlined nature-beings, and in this way can have before us beings with settled form, for which we see outlines that we could sketch, so it is also possible for occult vision to have an impression of other beings standing immediately behind the veil of nature. If, let us say, on a day when the weather conditions are constantly changing, when, for instance., clouds form and rain falls, and when perhaps a mist rises from the surface of the earth; if on such a day we yield to such phenomena in the way already described, so that we allow a moral feeling to take the place of a physical one — we may again have quite a distinct experience. Especially is this the case if we devote ourselves to the peculiar play of a body of water tossing in a waterfall and giving out clouds of spray; if we yield ourselves to the forming and dissolving mist and to the watery vapor filling the air and rising like smoke, or when we see the fine rain coming down, or feel a slight drizzle in the air. If we feel all this morally there appears a second class of beings, to which we can apply the word metamorphosis, transformation. This second class of beings we cannot draw, just as little as we can really paint lightning. We can only note a shape present for a moment, and the moment after everything is again changed. Thus there appear to us as the second class of beings, those which are ever changing form, for which we can find a symbol for the imagination in the changing formations of the cloud.

But as occultists we become acquainted in yet another way with these beings. When we observe the plants as they come forth from the earth in spring-time, just when they put forth the first green shoots — not later, when they are getting ready to bear fruit — the occultist perceives that those same beings which he discovered in the pulverizing, drifting, gathering vapors, are surrounding and bathing the beings of the budding plants. So that we can say that when we see the plants springing forth from the earth, we see them everywhere bathed by such ever-changing beings as these. Then occult vision feels that that which weaves and hovers unseen over the buds of the plants is in some way concerned with what makes the plants push up out of the ground, draw forth from the ground. You see, ordinary physical science recognizes only the growth of the plants, only knows that the plants have an impelling power which forces them up from below. The occultist, however, recognizes more than this in the case of the blossom. He recognizes around the young sprouting plant, changing, transforming beings which have, as it were, been released from the surrounding space and penetrate downwards; they do not, like the physical principle of growth, merely pass from below upwards, but come from above downwards, and draw forth the plants from the ground. So, in spring, when the earth is robing herself in green, to the occultist it is as though nature-forces, descending from the universe, draw forth that which is within the earth, so that the inner part of the earth may become visible to the outer surrounding world, to the heavens. Something which is in unceasing motion hovers over the plant and what is characteristic is, that occult vision acquires a feeling that that which floats round the plants is the same as is present in the rarefied water, tossing itself into vapor and rain. That, let us say, is the second class of nature-forces and nature-beings. In the next lecture we shall pass on to the description of the third and fourth classes, which are much more interesting; and all this will become clearer. When we set about making observations such as these, which lie so far from the present consciousness of man, we must keep well in mind that “All that meets us is physical, but permeated by the spiritual.”

As we have to think of the individual man as permeated by what appears to occult sight as the etheric body, so must we think of all that is living and weaving in the world as permeated by a multiplicity of spiritual living forces and beings. The course to be followed in our considerations shall be such that we shall first describe simply the facts that an occultly-trained vision can experience in the external world; facts which are evident to us when we look into the depths of the earth or the atmosphere, into that which happens in the different realms of nature, and in the heavenly spaces filled by the fixed stars. And only at the end shall we gather the whole together in a kind of theoretical knowledge, able to enlighten us as to that which lies, as spirit, at the foundations of our physical universe and its different realms and kingdoms.


art light pink fairy in tree by stephen mackey


Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse: Part 1: Lecture Three @ Rudolf Steiner Archive


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Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse: Part 1: Lecture Three


MUNICH — May 8, 1907

A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE SUCH as we have today [See Note 1] means much to those who belong to the theosophical movement, who feel that they belong to a spiritual movement. It means something entirely different from a day of remembrance for others, for those departed human beings who were firmly anchored in our materialistic culture. Such a day for us is also a day of gathering together; for what would the teachings of Theosophy be if they did not enter into every fiber of our hearts and there enrich our innermost life of feeling? If a soul has been separated from its physical body, that means only that a person’s inner being has entered into a different relationship to us. It is just such a relationship to the founder of the theosophical movement that we would like to especially enliven on this day. We want to be filled with a feeling for our connectedness with the founder of our movement. We want to become fully conscious that thoughts and feelings are invisible powers in our soul, that they are facts. Feelings are living forces. If we today unite all our thoughts with what is included in the name “Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,” if we are united with the spirit who left her earthly sheaths behind on May 8, 1891, then our feelings and thoughts are real forces and create a real, spiritual bridge to another form of existence. Another world finds access to our souls across this bridge. For human beings who see, such thoughts and feelings are really living rays, rays of spiritual light that shoot forth from a human being, and are then united in a point that meets with the spiritual being. Such a festive moment is a reality. When our soul, dwelling in our body, wants to work on the physical plane, then it must form a body for itself: it must build and form matter and forces in such a way that it can express itself through them. If the matter and forces did not fit together then this soul could no longer live its life on the physical plane. Just as it is here on the physical plane, so it is also on the higher planes for spiritual beings. If we want to understand correctly Helena Petrovna Blavatsky then we must realize that all of her efforts are bound up with the proper progress of the theosophical movement. And so it has been since her soul freed itself from her physical body. Even now she is working as a living being within the Theosophical Society. If she is to be able to work then matter and forces must be at her disposal. From where could they be better taken than from the souls of those who understand her being within the theosophical movement. As our souls take hold of matter and forces on the physical plane, so also does such a being take hold of the matter and forces in human souls in order to work through them. If those people who are members of the theosophical movement were not willing to place themselves at the disposal of this being, then she could not find expression on the physical plane. We ourselves must create a place in our souls for reverence, love, and devotion, thus creating the forces through which Helena Petrovna Blavatsky can work, just as our soul works trough our bodies of flesh. We must become aware that we are truly creating something when, in this moment, we are loving and receptive. It is true that all the love and devotion that today streams up to the soul of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky are powerful forces that are called upon to connect with her.

We must correctly understand what this personality signifies within our cultural life. The nineteenth century will one day be described as the materialistic century in the history of humankind. The people of the twentieth century cannot really imagine how deeply the nineteenth century was entangled in materialism. Only later when people have again become spiritual will that be possible. Everything, even the religious life, was permeated by materialism. Anyone who can look upon human evolution from higher planes knows that in the forties of the nineteenth century there was an extreme low point in the spiritual life. Science, philosophy, and religion were in the grip of materialism. It was incumbent upon the leaders of humankind gradually to allow a stream of spiritual life to flow into humanity. It is most telling that, within the widest circumference of spiritual life in Occidental culture, no one was found as suitable as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky to guide the stream of spiritual life into the world, the stream that should refresh humankind and begin to pull it out of materialism. In the light of this one fact, the impact of all the attacks against her swirling around in the world today fade away. For, among many other things, the Theosophical Society must teach us the feeling of positivity. We must acquire an attitude that seeks, above all, to see what speaks of greatness in a human being. Then, in comparison to this greatness, all the little faults that incite criticism must fade away. Just as with other great personalities many things that were seen by their contemporaries with critical eyes have disappeared, so too will all these things fall away from her. But the great things she has accomplished will remain.

Let us learn to regard the mistakes of human beings as their own affair and the accomplishments of human beings as something that concerns all of humankind. People’s errors belong to their karma; their deeds concern humanity. Let us learn not to be troubled by people’s mistakes; they themselves must atone for them. Let us rather be thankful for their accomplishments, for the entire evolution of humanity lives from them.

This year’s White Lotus Day, a day of remembrance for souls who have struggled free from the body and lift their experiences in another form up into the heights like a lotus flower, is the first day of this kind that we are not celebrating in community with Henry Steel Olcott, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s associate. He, too, has left the physical plane, he who stood there as the great organizer, as the form-giving power. [Here follows an indecipherable sentence.] To him we direct our grateful, revering, and love-filled thoughts; these thoughts will flow into the spiritual world and we ourselves will thereby be strengthened. We should continue the celebration on the other days of the year as we send out our thoughts as rays of light, as we apply the strength we have received to the work that we call the theosophical movement. We will only work as they would if we are devoted to the spiritual life in an entirely undogmatic, nonsectarian way. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky did not ask for blind faith. What can be asked of her followers is that they let themselves be stimulated by her spirituality. There is a spring of spiritual power in what Helena Petrovna Blavatsky left to the physical plane, a spring that will be a blessing to us if we let it influence us in a living way. The letters on the page can stimulate us, but the spirit must become alive within. One thing that can be said of the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky is this: Only someone who does not understand them can underestimate them. But someone who finds the key to what is great in these works will come to admire her more and more. That is what is significant about these works — the more one penetrates them the more one admires them. It is not the case that there are no mistakes to be found in them. But those who really take hold of life know, if they strive to evermore penetrate these works, that what is therein expressed could only have come from the great spiritual beings who are now guiding world evolution. This is how we must read Isis Unveiled, [See Note 2] a book containing truths which, although sometimes caricatured like a beautiful face seen in a distorting mirror, are truly great.

A person who would merely like to speak out of a critical spirit might perhaps say: It would have been better not to give any such distortion. But anyone seeing matters in the proper light will say: If someone places their weak spiritual forces at the disposal of spiritual powers who wish to reveal themselves, and knows that these forces will produce only a distorted picture but that there is no one else who could do it any better, then that person, through their devotion, is making a great sacrifice for the world. All renderings of the great truths are distortions. If someone wanted to wait until the whole truth could be manifested, then they would have a long wait. Selfless are those who devote themselves to the spiritual world saying: It doesn’t matter if people tear me apart, I must present the truth as I can. This sacrifice is much greater than a moral sacrifice, this noble sacrifice of the intellect — an expression so often misused by a wrong-headed conception of religion — it signifies the yielding up of the intellect for instreaming, spiritual truth. If we are unwilling to offer up our intellect then we cannot serve the truth. When we look toward Helena Petrovna Blavatsky with gratitude, we do so above all because she is a martyr in the sense just described, a martyr among the great martyrs for the truth. This is how we consider her when we gladly and willingly regard her as a model in the Theosophical Society. Therefore, when I speak about regions of the spirit inaccessible to her it will not profane this day.

I will speak about spiritual streams in the world that Helena Petrovna Blavatsky least understood on the physical plane. We serve her best by placing ourselves in the service of that to which she could find no access. She would much prefer to have followers rather than worshipers. Although much of what I say may sound opposed to her, nevertheless we know that we are acting according to her wishes; by taking this liberty we esteem her the most.

Our transition now to the Apocalypse is not sought after, not forced. For if we wish to understand more deeply the world mission of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, then we must imagine evolution as consisting of two streams. Eighteen forty-one was the low point of humanity’s spiritual life. The opponents of spiritual life had, in 1841, the strongest point of attack in the evolution of humankind. [See Note 3] They did the groundwork necessary to prepare for many of the things described in the Apocalypse as prophetic visions of the future. What is represented by the beast with the horns of the ram and the number 666, the beast with the seven heads and so forth — that is prepared by the powers who, in 1841, found their moment for attacking the evolution of humankind. Those elemental beings who, at that time, found suitable soil, those powers have taken possession of a large part of humanity and, from that position, are exerting their influence. Otherwise, the adversarial powers that find expression in the two beasts would not reside in humanity pulling it down. Against this downward pull there is another movement drawing us upward. What is accomplished today for this upward movement is a preparation for all those who are to be sealed, who enter the stream of spiritual evolution. This stream found an instrument precisely in Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. We do not understand our present age if we do not recognize the deep necessity for this spiritual stream. We stand now in the fifth subrace of the fifth root race and are living toward the sixth and seventh subrace, then the sixth ground-race. What does it mean to say that we are living toward these races? [See Note 4] It means that an understanding of Christ is contained in the sixth epoch — be it in the sixth epoch of the sixth subrace prophetically announced, or the sixth root race — for the human being who wants it.

At that time there will be human beings who are Christ filled, who have been sealed; in the ages of future spirituality the opening up, the breaking of the seals of human souls will take place. That the five wise virgins have oil burning in their lamps, that the bridegroom finds illuminated souls, signifies that a portion of humanity will have revealed to it the mystery that is still today closed to humankind. The book with the seven seals will be deciphered for a portion of humankind. The writer of the Apocalypse, John, wants through signs to point to this time, wants to proclaim prophetically this age. In one sentence we read: “And a great sign appeared in heaven …” (Rev. 12:1) That means we are dealing in the Apocalypse with signs representing the great phases of the evolution of humanity. We must then decipher these signs. We remember that our present fifth root race was preceded by the Atlantean race, which was destroyed by a flood. What will destroy the fifth race? The fifth race has a special task: the development of egotism. This egotism will, at the same time, create what causes the downfall of the fifth root race. A small part of humankind will live toward the sixth main race; a larger part will not yet have found the light within. Because egotism is the fundamental power in the soul, the war of all against all will rage within this larger part of humanity. As the Lemurian race found its end through the power of fire, the Atlantean through water, so will the fifth race find its destruction in conflict between selfish, egoistic powers in the war of all against all. This line of evolution will descend deeper and deeper; when it arrives at the bottom everyone will rage against everyone else. A small part of humankind will escape this, just as a small part escaped during the destruction of the Atlantean race. It is up to every individual to find a connection to the spiritual life in order to be one of those to go over into the sixth root race. Mighty revolutions stand before humankind; they are described in the Apocalypse.

First, seven letters to seven communities are placed before us. If human beings are to find the path to that great point in time, they must have something to hang on to, something that enables them to ennoble the seven sheaths of their human constitution, so that they are prepared when the time comes. There are places on the earth where, through religious exercises, the main emphasis is on the development of the physical body. In other places the emphasis is on the development of the etheric body. In other locations the emphasis is on the development of the astral body, or the I. There will also be more and more places where special attention will be given to the development of manas, or budhi, or atma. [See Note 5] We would not believe in reincarnation in the proper sense unless we would say: If a person has once been born in a location where the primary emphasis is on the physical body, then, another time, he or she would be born in a place where more attention was paid to the other bodies, and so forth.

Seven letters are directed to seven separate geographical regions where particular emphasis is placed on one of the seven parts of the human being. The first letter is directed to the Ephesians. They put great stock in the development of the physical body. The Phrygians in Smyrna emphasized the etheric body; in Pergamon people worked especially on the astral body.

We want to consider why seven geographical regions signify special kinds of development for humankind in relation to the seven members of the human being. Let us assume that someone lives in a region where the physical body is especially developed; if that person then neglects the physical body, it then becomes a caricature of what it might have become. If what is supposed to be brought to a certain perfection is not developed, then something arises inwardly that makes such a person receptive to the evil manifestations in the evolution of humankind.

The first letter is directed to the community in Ephesus, the place consecrated to Diana. [See Note 6] It emphasizes the beautiful formation of the human body. Where does the development of the physical body lead? We can become increasingly clear about this if we realize that the physical body must be evermore purified, and must become more and more an expression of the etheric body. The etheric body must itself become an expression of the astral body, which in turn should become an expression of the I.

Numbers played a large role in the ancient Pythagorean schools. Let us remember that in the world of devachan, everything is ordered according to measure and number. Of course, this is the case with everything. What would it mean to seek the laws of nature, if they did not already exist? We weigh and measure the bodies of the world as we do substances on a smaller scale. We must put this fact together with another. We can think of this space as filled with the “sound forms” of a sublime musical composition, for example, the sounds of the “Good Friday Spell” from Wagner’s opera Parzifal. That is the higher, soul form for what a physicist would express in numbers for the frequency of the sound vibrations. The spirit of these vibrations of the music flows through our souls. If we think of the numbers being heard by the ear of the spirit, then we have the music of the spheres. If a physicist would record in numbers the vibrations in the air he or she would record the magic of “Good Friday” just as little as a mathematician describes Pythagorian ideas in measure and number. The numbers express only the harmonies. When Pythagoreans wanted to express the four members of the human being, they expressed the harmony in the ratio: 1:3:7:12. That signifies the sound wherein the four numbers harmonize in the same way as do the four parts of the human being. The three sounds: I, the sound of the sun; II, — the sound of the moon; III, the sound of the earth — resound into the astral body.

Physical body : 12 Ephesus
Etheric body : 7 Smyrna
Astral body : 3 Pergamon
I : 1
Spirit self
Life spirit
Spiritualized human being

What comes forth from the earth, sun, and moon sound together in our astral body. But what comes forth from the planets sounds in our etheric body. There is a sevenfold influence from the planets on the etheric body, as there is from the seven musical intervals: the unison interval, major second, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, major sixth, major seventh — Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus. These seven planets resound into our etheric body. There are twelve influences from the signs of the zodiac that resound into our physical body. The seer experiences twelve fundamental tones on the devachanic plane. They influence our physical body. Everything in the I, astral body, etheric body, and in the physical body resounds in tones. One tone resounds in the I, three tones in the astral body, seven tones in the etheric body and twelve tones in the physical body. Altogether this results in harmony or disharmony.

There is an expression in occultism: the twelve goes into the seven, which means that the physical body is constantly becoming more like the etheric body. If the physical body sounds right then we can hear the seven tones of the stars through the twelve tones. “Become such that the twelve becomes the seven, that the seven stars appear” is said to the Ephesians, because with them the physical body is especially developed. They should turn to look at the seven stars. We know that the development of Christianity means a transition from the old forms of community based on blood ties to spiritual love, that the spiritual will take over from the flesh. Those who tell us that we should endeavor, above all, to insure that the sensual, the elemental gets its due — those people were called the Nicolaitans: They wanted to remain rooted in the material forces of the blood; hence, the warning concerning the Nicolaitans. [See Note 7] They are the ones who will bring about the downfall.

Opposing them are those who want to overcome material evolution, who want spiritual life. The letter closes with the symbol of the tree of life: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna …” (Rev. 2:17)

The second letter is directed to the community that is supposed to be most concerned with the cultivation of the etheric body. The etheric body must gradually be developed into life spirit. The human being now goes through birth and death, but later this etheric body will become life spirit. Then it will have overcome death. In the Sermon on the Mount we read: “Blessed are those who pray for spirit, for they find through themselves the Kingdom of Heaven” (compare: Matt. 5:3) Those who pray for spirit are blessed; that means that soul permeates their life. Just as the physical body is developed by the Ephesians, so, too, in the second community, is the etheric body developed into a body of soul. When they strive for this blessing they are called “beggars for spirit”; they pray for a blessing through the enlivening of the etheric body. This is indicated by the words: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” With these words the development of the etheric body is clearly expressed.

The Apocalypse is one of the greatest spiritual documents. There are hardly any great spiritual truths whose significance is not to be found there. The study of the Apocalypse is not without its connections to theosophical evolution.

By understanding such a work we allow ourselves to be stimulated by the spirit who spoke through Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. What the Theosophical Society seeks to achieve must strike us like a trumpet proclamation sent to humankind. The more we understand the Apocalypse the more we understand the task of our movement.



Note 1. Day of remembrance of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (born 1831) who died on May 8, 1891. In 1875 with Henry Steel Olcott (1832 – 1907) she founded the Theosophical Society.

Note 2. Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, 2 vols. (New York: J.W. Bouton, 1877).

Note 3. Compare Rudolf Steiner’s lecture of October 14, 1917 in The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness (GA 177) (Forthcoming from Rudolf Steiner Press).

Note 4. Steiner uses the old theosophical term “root race” to designate the seven epochs of earth evolution: the Polarian, the Hyperborean, the Lemurian, the Atlantean, Post-Atlantean and the last two, the sixth and seventh epochs. Each of these epochs consists of seven “subraces” It should be noted that Steiner used the word “race” only in the early, the theosophical, period of his work. Furthermore, his use of the word has little in common with the word’s use today. On June 20, 1908 he said, “… we speak of ages of civilization, in contradistinction to races. All that is connected with this idea of race is still the remains of the epoch preceding our own, namely, the Atlantean. We are now living in the age of cultural epochs. Atlantis was the age in which seven great races developed one after another. Of course, the fruits of this race development extend into our epoch, and for this reason races are still spoken of today, but they are really mixtures and are quite unlike those distinct races of the Atlantean epoch. Today the idea of civilization has already superseded the idea of race” (The Apocalypse of St. John, London: The Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958, 61).

Note 5. Characterized by Rudolf Steiner in his book Theosophy. as Spirit-self, Life-spirit, and Spirit-Man.

Note 6. Ancient Roman goddess of the forest, protector of wilderness and women. She was identified with the Greek goddess Artemis.

Note 7. The Nicolaitans mentioned in chapter 2 of the Book of Revelation are pagan Christians from Pergamon. They disregarded the Old Testament proscriptions concerning the consumption of food sacrificed to idols and certain marital unions characterized as sexually immoral.


sam carlo 5.11 b


The Christ Impulse and the Development of the Ego-Consciousness ~ Lecture 1: The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas @ Rudolf Steiner Archive

sam carlo ART Juli Cady Ryan

ART Juli Cady Ryan

The Christ Impulse and the Development of the Ego-Consciousness

Lecture 1: The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas


Berlin, 25th October, 1909.


Today, on the occasion of our General Meeting, I feel it incumbent upon me to speak upon a very sublime subject with which man is concerned. You must allow me to begin by mentioning once again that it is necessary for us to grow accustomed to speak in such a way on these subjects, that we must not rest satisfied with a one-sided rendering of the particulars connected with the higher world, as regards the general idea of the Bodhisattvas and their mission. We must accustom ourselves here to penetrate from the abstract into the concrete and to try, with the help of the ideas and sentiments which we have acquired from our sincere and loving study of life, to press through even to the sublime subjects pertaining to the Bodhisattvas. In doing this we must not merely accept the facts communicated to us, but try to a certain extent to understand them. For this reason I intend in this lecture to-day to begin by giving some description of the idea men had of the Bodhisattvas and of how that idea moved through the world.

We cannot really understand what a Bodhisattva is, without going somewhat deeply into the progressive course of man’s evolution, and calling to mind some of the things we have heard in the last few years. Let us consider the nature of this progress. After the great Atlantean catastrophe humanity went through the period of the Old Indian civilisation, during which the great Rishis were the teachers of man. Then followed the period of the Old Persian civilisation; then that of the Egypto-Chaldean civilisation, then the Graeco-Latin period — up to our own, which is the fifth period of civilisation of the Post-Atlantean age. The purpose of these periods is the progressive development of humanity from one form of life to another. Progress is not made only in what is generally described in external history; for if we take great periods of time, we find that all the sentiments and feelings, all the conceptions and ideas of men, alter and are renewed in the course of the development of humanity. What would be the use of advocating the idea of re-embodiment or reincarnation, if we did not know this? What use would it be for our soul to come back over and over again into an earthly body, unless it were to learn something new each time — and not only to have new experiences, but to learn to feel differently? Even the capacities of man, the intimacies of his soul-life, are each time renewed and altered. This makes it possible for the soul to do more than merely ascend stage by stage as though up a series of steps, for each time it meets with new opportunities, through the altered conditions of life, of acquiring something new on earth. The soul is not merely guided from one incarnation to another by its sins and errors; but as our earth alters in every one of its conditions of life, so our souls can each time add something new from without. Therefore the soul progresses from incarnation to incarnation, but also from one period of civilisation to another. It would not, however, be able to progress and develop, were it not that those Beings who had already reached a high development, and were in some way or other above the ordinary humanity, had taken care that something new might always flow into earthly civilisation. In other words, we could not have advanced if there had not been great Teachers at work who, on account of their higher development, were able to receive the experiences from the higher worlds and carry them down to the scene of action of the life of earthly culture. There have always been such Beings in the development of our earth. (I am only speaking to-day of the Post-Atlantean development) and these Beings were in certain respects the Teachers of the rest. We can only understand the nature of these Teachers of humanity if we are clear as to the way humanity itself progresses.

You will have heard the two Lectures just given by Dr. Unger, on the Ego in its relation to the Non-Ego in its comprehension of itself considered according to the theory of Knowledge. Now do you suppose that what you then heard rendered by human lips and human thinking, could have been heard in this form 2,500 years ago? It would have been impossible in any part of the earth to speak about the Ego in this form of pure thought. Suppose some individuality 2,500 years ago had desired to incarnate into our earth-life, having made up its mind beforehand to speak of the Ego in that special way, well, it could not have done so! Anyone who supposes that anything of the kind could have been uttered by human lips, 2,500 years ago, entirely fails to recognise the actual progress and alteration in the development of civilisation since that time. For this to be possible it would not only be necessary for an individuality to resolve to incarnate in a human body, but it would also have been necessary that our earth in her evolution should have produced a human body with a particular sort of brain, so that the truths, which in the higher worlds are quite of a different nature, could in that particular brain take the form which we call ‘pure thought.’ For the way in which Dr. Unger spoke of the Ego we call the form of pure thought. 2,500 years ago there would have been no human brain capable of being an instrument for translating these truths into such thoughts. The Beings who wish to descend to our earth must make use of the bodies which this earth-cycle itself produces. Our earth, however, throughout the different periods of civilisation has always brought forth bodies with ever different organisations; only in our fifth Post-Atlantean epoch of civilisation, has it become possible to speak in the form of pure thought — the human race having produced the necessary bodies. Even in the Graeco-Latin age it would not yet have been possible to speak like that along the lines of the theory of knowledge, for there would have been no instrument there to translate such thoughts into human language. That precisely is the task of our fifth Post-Atlantean period; it must gradually form the physical organisation of man into an instrument through which those truths, which in other ages were grasped in quite other forms, can flow in ever purer and purer thought. We will take another example. When a man considers the question of good and evil at the present day, hesitating as to whether he should or should not do a certain thing, he says that a kind of inner voice speaks, telling him: ‘You ought not to do this. You ought to do that!’ and that this has nothing to do with any outer law. If we listen to this inner voice, we distinguish in it a certain impulse, an incitement to act in a certain way in a given case. We call this inner voice conscience. If a man is of the opinion that the different periods of man’s development were all exactly alike, he might easily believe that as long as man has inhabited the earth, conscience has always existed. That would not be correct. We can, so to speak, prove historically that there was a beginning to the time when men began to speak of conscience. When this was, is clearly evident. It lay between the periods of two tragic poets: Æschylos, who was born in the sixth century before our era, and Euripides, who was born in the fifth century. You will find no mention of conscience previous to this. Even in Æschylos you will not as yet find what could be called the inner voice; what he writes of, still took the form of an astral, pictorial apparition; the Furies or Erinyes, vengeful beings, appeared to men. The time came, however, when the astral perception of the Furies was replaced by the inner voice of conscience, Even in the Graeco-Latin period, in which a dim astral perception was still present, a man who had committed a wrong could perceive that every wrong act created astral forms in his environment, whose presence filled him with anxiety and fear as to what he had done. Those forms were man’s educators at that time; they gave him his impulses. When he lost the last remains of his astral clairvoyance, this perception was replaced by the invisible voice of conscience; that means, that what was at first outside, then entered into the soul and became one of the forces now within it. The alteration that has taken place in mankind in the course of development comes from the fact that the external instrument of man, in which he seeks embodiment, has changed. Five thousand years ago, when a human soul did something wrong, the Furies were perceived; it could not then have heard the Voice of Conscience. In this way it learnt to establish an inner relation to good and evil. This same soul was born again and again, and at last it was born into a body possessing an organisation in which the quality of conscience could approach it. In a future cycle of human development other forms and other capacities will be experienced in the soul.

I have repeatedly laid stress on the fact that no one who really understands Anthroposophy will take up the dogmatic attitude of asserting that the form in which this is given out to-day will be permanent and will suffice for the humanity of all future time. Such is not the case. In 2,500 years’ time the same truths will not be revealed in this form, but in a different form, according to the instruments then existing. If you bear this in mind, it will be clear to you that humanity must be spoken to in a different manner in each successive age and that the attitude of the great Teachers towards the capacities and qualities of man must likewise differ. This signifies that the great Teachers themselves undergo development from one cycle to another, from one age to another. In the ages through which humanity progresses, we find going on above man, as it were, a progressive evolution of the great Teachers of humanity. Just as man passes through certain stages and then reaches a certain turning-point, so likewise do the Great Teachers.

We are now living in the fifth period of our Post-Atlantean epoch of civilisation. This is in a certain sense, a recapitulation of the third, of the Egypto-Chaldean period. The sixth will, in like manner, recapitulate the Old Persian, and the seventh will recapitulate the Old Indian. Thus do the various cycles overlap each other. The fourth period will not be recapitulated; it stands in the middle — sufficient unto itself, as we might say. What does this mean? It means that what men experienced in the Graeco-Latin period they only need go through once in an epoch of civilisation; not that they were only once incarnated in it, but that they only experience that period in one form. What was experienced in the Egypto-Chaldean period is being recapitulated now; it will thus be experienced in a two-fold form. There are certain stages of development which betoken a sort of crisis; while other periods are in certain respects like one another, the one recapitulating the other, not in the same way, but in a different form. The manner of man’s development in the Post-Atlantean age is this: he went through a certain number of incarnations in the Old Indian period — and will go through a certain number in the seventh period, and these latter will resemble the former. A like resemblance will exist between the second and the sixth — and between the third and the fifth periods. Between these — in the fourth period — there are a number of incarnations, which resemble no other, and which therefore do not signify a transition. Man goes through a descending and an ascending development. The great Teachers of humanity also go through a period of descent and one of ascent, and differ absolutely at the different periods.

Now as man in the first Post-Atlantean period had quite different capacities from those he acquired later, he had to be instructed in quite a different way. To what do we owe the fact that in our time wisdom can be clothed in the concise forms of pure thought? We owe this to the circumstance that in our period of development the chief and average quality that is being developed is the consciousness soul (Since 1923 called by Dr. Steiner “The Spiritual Soul.”). In the Graeco-Latin period the intellectual soul or mind was being developed, in the Egypto-Chaldean the sentient soul, in the Old Persian the sentient body, and in the Old Indian the etheric body; — as the chief factor in their culture, of course. What the consciousness-soul is to us, that the etheric body was to the inhabitants of Old India. They had therefore quite a different mode of grasping and understanding. If you had spoken to the Old Indian in forms of pure thought, he would not have had the faintest idea what you meant. To him such words would have been mere sounds, without meaning. The great Teachers could not have taught the Old Indians by communicating wisdom to them in the form of pure thought, nor could they have explained it by word of mouth. To the Old Indians the Great Teachers said very little; for at the stage which the etheric body had then reached people were not receptive to the word which enclosed the thought. It is very difficult for people of our day to imagine how teaching could have taken place under those conditions. Very little indeed was spoken; rather did the listening soul recognise in the nuances of the sound, in the way a word was uttered, what flowed down from the spiritual world. That, however, was not the chief thing. The word was, so to speak, only the call to attention, the signal, that a relationship must now be established between the teacher and the hearer. In the earliest times of the Old Indian period the word was hardly more than when we ring a bell as a sign that something is about to begin. It was a crystallising point around which were woven the indescribable, spiritual currents which passed from the teacher to his pupil. What was of greatest importance was what the teacher saw, in his inner personality. It did not matter what he said; the qualities of his soul were of the greatest importance; for a sort of inspiration passed over from him to the pupil. The latter, having in particular developed the etheric body, the teacher had to address himself specially to that; and it was much easier to understand what the teacher himself was, than anything spoken. Before they could understand the spoken word, men had to pass through the subsequent periods of civilisation. It was therefore not necessary for any one of the great Teachers of the Old Indians to have a particularly developed intellectual or consciousness soul, for such would have been at that time an instrument of which he could make no use.

One thing, however, was necessary in these great Teachers: their own etheric bodies had to be at a more advanced stage of development than were those of the people. If a great teacher had stood at the same stage of development as they, he could not have had much effect upon them; he could not have communicated messages from a higher world, nor given an impulse for progress. In a certain sense what man was to grow to in the future, had first to be brought to him. The Indian teacher had to anticipate, as it were, what the others would only be able to acquire in the subsequent period of civilisation, that of the Old Persians. What the ordinary man in the Old Persian period would take in through the sentient body, that the Great Teacher of the Indians had to communicate through the etheric body. That means that the etheric body of such a teacher must not work like those of other men, it had to work as the sentient body was to do in the Persian civilisation. If a seer, in the present sense of the word, had come in contact with one of the great Indian teachers, he would have said: “What sort of etheric body is that?” For such an etheric body would have looked like an astral body of the Old Persian period.

It was, however, no such simple matter for such an etheric body to have worked as an astral body of a later period. It could not have been brought about at that time by any advanced stage of development. It could only be made possible by the descent of a Being who had already reached a further stage than the others, and who incarnated in a human body which was really neither suited to nor well adapted to him, but which he was obliged to enter to make himself understood by the others. Outwardly he looked like other men, but inwardly he was quite different. To judge of such an individual by his outer aspect would mean to deceive oneself utterly; for while the outer appearance of ordinary persons harmonises with their inner being, in the case of these Teachers it was in complete contradiction. Here we have an individuality, who, as far as he himself was concerned, had no longer any need to come down to earth at all, but who descended to a certain stage and took his place among the Old Indian people, to teach them. He descended willingly, and incarnated in human form, though he was a different Being altogether. He was an individual of such a nature that the destiny to which a normal man — as man — is subject, did not affect him. A Teacher of this kind would live in a body having an external destiny, yet he would have no part in that destiny; he lived in that body as in a house. When that body died, death for him was a very different experience from what it is for other men. Birth, too, and the experiences between birth and death were quite different for him. Hence also such a Being worked in quite a different way in this human instrument. Let us picture to ourselves in what way such an individuality used the brain, for instance. For even if he was able to perceive through the astral body, yet the brain which indeed was otherwise organised, still had to be used as an instrument to observe the pictures through which perceptions were received. There were, therefore, two human types; the one, who used his brain as an ordinary human being, and the Teacher type, who did not use his brain at all in the ordinary way, but in a certain sense left it unused, A great Teacher did not need to use the brain in all its details; he knew things that other people could only learn through the instrument of the brain. It was not a real, earthly incarnation as such; it was not a real incarnation of a human being in the ordinary sense. It represented a sort of double nature; a spiritual being lived in this organisation. There were such Beings also in the later Persian and in the Egyptian periods. It was always the case that in their individuality they towered far above the stature of their human organisation. They were not wholly contained within it. For that reason they were able to work upon the rest of the people in those olden times. This state of things continued down to the time when, in the Graeco-Latin period, an important crisis occurred in the development of mankind.

Now in the Graeco-Latin age the intellectual soul or mind (Mind in the sense of ‘I have a mind to do’ a thing.) began gradually to form inner faculties. Whereas in the time preceding this the chief things flowed in from outside, so to speak — as we saw in the example of the Furies, when men had avenging beings around them but not within them — in the Graeco-Latin period something began to flow from within, towards the great Teachers. In this way quite new conditions were established. Formerly, Beings from the Higher Worlds descended and found a state of things which enabled them to say: “It is not necessary for us completely to enter the human organisation; for we can do our work by carrying down to men what they cannot otherwise obtain, and causing that to flow into them from the Higher Worlds.” At that time it was not yet necessary for man to contribute anything, there was no need for him to bring anything to meet the great Teachers. But if the great Teachers had gone on with this policy, it might have occurred — from the fourth Period onwards — that one of these great Individualities would have descended into some part of the earth and found there something which did not exist above. As long as the Furies, the avenging spirits, were visible, men could turn their attention away from what was to be found on earth. Now, however, came something quite new — conscience. That was unknown to the spirits above; there was no possibility up there of observing it. It came as something quite new to them. In other words, in the fourth period of Post-Atlantean civilisation the necessity arose for these great Teachers actually to descend to the stage of man, therein to learn what it was that was coming up to meet them out of the human souls. Now began the time when it would not do for them not to share to some extent in the qualities inherent in man. Let us now observe that significant Being, whom in his earthly incarnation we know as Gautama Buddha.

Gautama Buddha was a Being who had always been able to incarnate in the earthly bodies of the various periods of civilisation, without having had to use everything in this human organisation. It had not been necessary for this Being to go through real human incarnations. Now, however, came an important turning-point for the Bodhisattva; it now became necessary for him to make himself acquainted with all the destinies of the human organisation within an earthly body which he was to enter. He was to experience something which could only be experienced in an earthly body; and because he was such a high Individuality, this one incarnation was sufficient for him to see all that a human body can develop. Other people have to evolve the inner capacities gradually, throughout the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh periods; but Buddha could experience in this one incarnation all that it was possible to evolve. In his incarnation as Gautama Buddha he saw, in advance, the first germ of what was to arise in man as conscience, which will become greater and greater as time goes on. He was therefore able to re-ascend into the spiritual world directly after that incarnation; there was no need for him to go through another. What man will, in a certain sphere evolve out of himself during future cycles, Buddha was able to give in this one incarnation, as a great directing force. This came about through the event which has been described as the “sitting under the Bodhi-tree.” He then gave forth — in accordance with his special mission — the teaching of compassion and love contained in the eightfold path. This great Ethic of humanity which men will acquire as their own during the civilisations yet to come, was laid down as a basic force in the mind of the Buddha who descended at that time, and from Bodhisattva became Buddha, which means that he really rose a stage higher, for he learnt through his descent.

That, in different words, describes that great event in Eastern civilisation known as “the Bodhisattva becoming Buddha.” When this Bodhisattva, who had never really incarnated, was 29 years of age, his individuality fully entered the son of Suddhodana; not having fully had possession of him. He then experienced the great human teaching of compassion and love. Why did this Bodhisattva, who then became Buddha, incarnate in this people? Why not in the Graeco-Latin people?

If this Bodhisattva was really to become the Buddha of the fourth Post-Atlantean period of civilisation, he had to bring in something new for the future. When the consciousness-or spiritual-soul has been fully developed, man will, by its means, gradually become sufficiently ripe to recognise of himself the great impetus given by Buddha. At a time when man had only developed the intellectual soul, it was necessary that Buddha should already have developed the spiritual soul. He had so to use the physical instrument of the brain that he was complete master of it; and this in quite a different fashion than could have been done by one who might have progressed in advance as far as the Graeco-Latin period of civilisation. The Graeco-Latin brain would have been too hard for him to use. It would only have enabled him to develop the intellectual or mind (Mind in the sense of ‘I have a mind to do a thing.’) soul, whereas he had to develop the spiritual soul. For that he required a brain that had remained softer. He made use of the soul that was only to develop later, in an instrument that had been used by man in earlier times and had been retained by the Indian people. Here again we have a recapitulation: Buddha repeated a human organisation belonging to earlier times, together with a soul-capacity belonging to times yet to come. The events that take place in the evolution of humanity are to this extent, of the nature of a necessity. In the 5th to the 6th century before our era, Buddha had the task of introducing the spiritual-soul into the organisation of man. He, as a single individual, could not, however, take over the whole task of doing all that was necessary in order that the spiritual-soul might prepare itself in the right way from the 5th century onward. His own particular mission only comprised one part of that task: that of bringing to man the doctrine of Compassion and Love. Other teachers of humanity would have other tasks. This part of the Ethics of Humanity, the ethic of Love and Compassion, was first introduced by Buddha, and its vibrations still endure; but humanity must in future develop a number of other qualities besides these, as, for instance, that of thinking in forms of pure thought, in crystal-clear thoughts. It was no part of Buddha’s mission to build up thoughts, to add one clear thought to another. His task was to form and establish that which leads man of his own accord to find the eight-fold path.

So there had to be another Teacher of humanity having quite different faculties, one who carried down a different stream of spiritual life from the higher spiritual worlds into this world. To this other individuality was given the task of carrying down what is gradually showing itself, in mankind to-day, as the faculty of logical thought. A Teacher had to be found, able to carry down what makes it possible for man to express himself in forms of pure thought; for logical thought itself only developed as time went on. What Buddha accomplished had to be carried into the intellectual- or mind-soul. This soul, through its position between the sentient soul and the consciousness- or spiritual-soul, possesses the peculiar attribute of not having to recapitulate anything. The Old Indian epoch will be repeated in the seventh, the Old Persian in the sixth, the Egyptian in our own; but just as the fourth epoch stands alone, apart from the others, so does the intellectual- or mind-soul. The forces necessary for our intellectual faculties which only appear in the spiritual-soul, could not be developed in the intellectual soul; although these were only to appear later, they had to be laid down in germ and stimulated at an earlier period.

In other words: the impulse for logical thinking had to be given before the Buddha gave the impulse for Conscience. Conscience was to be organised into man in the fourth epoch; conscious, pure thinking was to develop in the consciousness- or spiritual-soul in the fifth epoch, but had to be laid down in the third epoch of civilisation, as the germ for what we are evolving now. That is why that other Great Teacher had the task of instilling into the sentient soul the forces which now appear as pure thought. It is therefore easy to see that the difference between this Teacher and the normal man was even greater than it was in Buddha. Something had to be aroused in the sentient soul which did not as yet exist in any living man. Ideas or conceptions would not have helped to develop this; therefore although this Individuality had the task of laying the germ of certain faculties, he could not himself make any use of them. That would have been impossible. He had to employ other, quite different, forces.

I explained this morning (in the second lecture on “Anthroposophy”) that certain forces working through the power of vision on the sentient soul, will at a higher stage become conscious forces, and will then appear in the form of thought. If that great Teacher-Individuality was able so to stimulate the sentient-soul that the forces of thought could penetrate it, in somewhat the same way as life subconsciously penetrated it through the act of vision — without the least realising it, that Teacher could then achieve something. This could only be done in one way. To stimulate the sentient soul and instill into it, so to speak, the power of thought, this Individuality had to work in a very special way. He had to give his instruction, not in conceptions — but through music! Music engenders forces which set free in the sentient soul something, which, when it rises into the consciousness and has been worked upon by the spiritual soul, becomes logical thinking. This music came forth from a mighty Being, who taught through music. You will think this strange, and may perhaps not believe it possible, yet such was the case. Before the Graeco-Latin age, in certain parts of Europe, there existed an ancient culture among those peoples who had remained behind as regards the qualities strongly developed in the East. In those parts of Europe the people were not able to think much, for their development had been of quite a different nature; they had but little of the forces of the intellectual soul. Their sentient soul, however, was very receptive to what proceeded from the impulses of a special kind of music, which was not the same as our music to-day. We thus go back to a time in Europe when there was what we might call an ancient “musical culture” — a time when not only the “Bards” were the teachers, as they were later, when these things had already fallen into decadence, but when a music full of enchantment passed through all those parts of Europe. In the third epoch of civilisation (i.e., the Egyptian) there was a profound musical culture in Europe, and the minds of those peoples who were waiting quietly for what they were destined to carry out later, were receptive in a particular way to the effects of music. These effects worked upon the sentient soul in a similar way to that in which the thought-substance works upon it through the eyes. Thus did music work on the physical plane; but the sentient soul had the subconscious feeling: “This comes from the same regions as the Light.” Music — the song from the realms of Light!

Once upon a time there was a primeval Teacher in the civilised parts of Europe — a primeval Teacher who in this sense was a primeval Bard, the pioneer of all the ancient Bards and minstrels. He taught on the physical plane by means of music, and he taught in such a way that something was thereby communicated to the sentient-soul, which was like the rising and shining of a sun. What tradition has retained concerning this great Teacher was later on gathered together by the Greeks — who were still influenced by him from the West as they were influenced in a different way from the East. This was embodied in their conception of Apollo, who was a Sun-God and at the same time the God of music. This figure of Apollo dates back, however, to that great Teacher of primeval times, who put into the human soul the faculty which appears to-day as the power of clear thinking.

The Greeks also tell of a pupil of this Great Teacher of humanity — of one who became a pupil in a very special way. How could anyone become the “pupil” of this Being?

In those bygone times, when this Being was to work in the manner just described, he was not, of course, encompassed in the physical organisation; he transcended that which walks the earth as physical man. A man with an ordinary sentient-soul might have been receptive to the effects of the music, but he could not have aroused them in others. A higher Individuality had come down and was like the radiance of what lived in the cosmos outside. It became necessary, however, that in the fourth Post-Atlantean epoch of civilisation, in the Graeco-Latin period, he should descend again — that he should descend to the human stage and make use of all the faculties that are in man. Yet, although he made use, so to speak, of all the human faculties, he could not quite descend. For, in order to bring about what I have described, he required faculties transcending those possessed by a human organisation in the fourth post-Atlantean period. The effects of this music even then included what was to be found in the spiritual soul; and it could not at that time have lived in an individuality organised only for the intellectual soul. Hence, although incarnated in such a form, he still had to hold something back. His incarnation in the fourth epoch was such, that although he completely filled the whole human form, yet he as man, dwelling within that form, had, as it were, something within him that extended far beyond it; he knew something of a spiritual world, but he could not make use of this knowledge. He had a soul which extended beyond his body. Humanly speaking, there was something tragic in the fact that the Individuality who had acted as a great Teacher in the third epoch of civilisation, should have had to incarnate again in a form in which his soul was to a great extent outside it — and yet that he could not make any use of this superior and unusual faculty of soul. This kind of incarnation was called a “Son of Apollo”, because that, which had dwelt on earth before, was reincarnated in a very complicated and not in a direct way. A Son of Apollo bore within him as soul what Mysticism designates by the symbol of the ‘feminine’ element; he could not bear all of it within him, because it was in another world. His own feminine soul element was itself in another world to which he had no access but for which he longed, because a part of himself was there. This marvellous inner tragedy of the reincarnated Teacher of former times has been wonderfully preserved in Greek Mythology under the name of ‘Orpheus’ — the name given to the reincarnated Apollo, or “Son of Apollo.”

This tragedy of the soul is represented in a marvellous way in the figures of ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’. Eurydice was soon torn from Orpheus. She dwelt in another world; but Orpheus still had the power, through his music, of teaching the beings of the nether world. He obtained permission from them to take Eurydice back with him. But he must not look around him; for that would mean inner death; — at all events it would bring about a loss of what he formerly was and which he cannot now take into himself.

Thus in this incarnation of Apollo as Orpheus, we have again a sort of descent of a Bodhisattva — if we may use this Eastern term — to Buddha-hood. We might quote a number of such Beings who stand out from age to age as the great Teachers of humanity and who always had a very special experience at the time of their deepest descent. The Buddha experiences the bliss of inspiring the whole of humanity. That Bodhisattva, whose memory is preserved externally under the name of ‘Apollo,’ had an individual experience: he was to prepare the individuality, the quality of the Ego. He experiences the tragedy of the Ego; he experiences the fact that this ego is, in the present state of man as regards this attribute of his, not entirely with him. Man is struggling up to the higher ego. That was foreshadowed for the Greeks by the Buddha or Bodhisattva in Orpheus.

These particulars furnish us with a characterisation of the great Teachers of humanity and we are then able to form a picture in our minds. If you summarise what I have said, you will find that I have all along been speaking of those Beings who formed the sentient-soul and the spiritual-soul in a particular way as inner faculties — faculties which must draw into man from within. As we are now surveying this one period we can only for the moment consider two of these Beings, those who formed the sentient soul. But there are many such, for the inner nature of man evolved gradually, stage by stage.

Let us now compare yet another Being with that which affects the inner nature of man, so to speak. For indeed we cannot but say to ourselves: If there is a constant succession of Teachers who supply the progressing and developing inner faculties of man with spiritual food from the higher regions, there must be other Individualities who accomplish other work and above all take part in the changes in the earth itself and in what evolves from one age to another. When the Buddha influenced the intellectual soul from within, so to speak, through the consciousness or spiritual soul in the fourth period of civilisation, it must also be influenced from without. Something had to approach the intellectual soul from without. This Being had to approach from another aide and to work in quite a different way. A Teacher such as those we have been describing, had, when he appeared among men, to pour into their inner being what he had to bring down from higher regions. He was a Teacher. What had the other Being to do, who was to bring the earth forward, so that it developed further from one generation to another? He was not only to influence the inner being of man to develop this or that faculty within him, but He Himself, as Being, had to descend to the earth. He who was to descend, was not merely to teach, the intellectual soul, but to form it. One had to appear who was to form that soul and who was Himself to be its direct expression in the fourth period, that eminent period that stands alone in the middle. This Being had to come from quite a different side. He had to draw into human nature itself, to incarnate within it. The Bodhisattvas transformed the inner nature of man; this Being transformed his whole nature. He made it possible for the Teachers to find a suitable soil on which to work in the future. He transformed the whole human being. We must recollect how the different souls in man build themselves into the different bodies: the sentient soul into the sentient body, the intellectual into the etheric body and the spiritual soul into the physical body. The field of action of the Bodhisattva is there where the spiritual soul builds itself into the physical body. That is where they lay hold of man from the one side. There the intellectual- or mind-soul works into the etheric body, another Being, in the fourth period, influenced man from another side. When did he do this? It was accomplished at the time when the etheric body in man could be directly affected, — when that Being whom we have described more closely as Jesus of Nazareth, forsook the physical body at the moment of the Baptism in Jordan. When that whole body was immersed, whereby occurred what we have described as a ‘shock,’ the Christ-Being sank down into that etheric body. That is the Individuality Who comes from quite a different side and is of quite a different nature. Whereas in the case of the other great Leaders of humanity we have, in a sense, to do with more highly evolved human beings, men who have at least once been subject to all the fate of a man, — of Christ that cannot be said. What is the lowest principle of the Christ-Being? Counting from below, it is the etheric body. That means that when some day man, through Spirit-Self, shall have transformed his whole astral body and will set to work on his etheric body, he will then be working in an element in which the Christ once worked in the same way. Christ gives an impulse of the most powerful kind, which will continue to work on into the future, and which man will only reach when he begins to work at the transmutation of his etheric body in a conscious way.

In his journey through life, man starts from birth, or even from conception, and travels on till death; from death to his next birth is another journey. On his way from death to a new birth he first passes through the astral world then through what we call the lower part of the Devachanic world, and after that through the higher Devachanic world. Or, using the European terms, we call the physical world the little world or the world of mental powers, of intelligence; the astral world is called the elemental world; the lower Devachan the heavenly world, and the Higher world is the world of reason, of discernment, of discretion. The European mind is only gradually evolving to the point where the true expressions may be found in its language. Therefore, what lie beyond the Devachanic world has been given a religious colouring and is called the ‘World of Providence’ — which is the same as the Buddhi-plane. What is beyond that again could indeed be seen by the old clairvoyant vision, an ancient tradition tells of it; in the European languages no name could be formed for it. — Only in our present day can the seer once more work his way up to that world which is above and beyond the World of Providence. European languages cannot truly give a name to this world. This world does indeed exist; but thought is not yet far enough advanced to be able to describe it. For to that which Eastern Theosophy calls Nirvana and which lies above the ‘World of Providence,’ one cannot just give any name one pleases.

As I was saying, between death and rebirth, man ascends to the higher Devachan or world of Reason. When there he looks into higher worlds, worlds he cannot himself enter, and there he sees the Higher Beings at work. Whereas man spends his life in worlds extending between the physical plane and Devachan, it is normal for the Bodhisattvas to extend to the Buddhi-plane, or what we in Europe call the World of Providence. That is a good name, for it is precisely the task of the Bodhisattvas to guide the world as a good ‘providence’ from age to age. Now what took place when the Bodhisattva went through the embodiment of Gautama Buddha? — When he reaches a certain stage, he can ascend to the next higher plane — to the Nirvana-Plane. That is his next sphere. It is characteristic of the Bodhisattvas that when they become Buddhas they ascend to the Plane of Nirvana. Everything that works on the inner being of man dwells in a sphere extending to that Plane. A Being such as the Christ works into the nature of man from the other side. He also works, from the other side, into those worlds to which the Bodhisattvas ascend when they leave the region of man; in order themselves to learn, in order that they may become Teachers of humanity. There they meet, — coming down to them from above, from the other side — a Being such as the Christ. They then become pupils of Christ. A Being such as He, is surrounded by twelve Bodhisattvas; we cannot indeed speak of more than twelve; for when the twelve Bodhisattvas have accomplished their mission we shall have completed the period of earth-existence.

Christ was once on earth; He has descended to earth, has dwelt on the earth, has ascended from it. He comes from the other side; He is the Being who is in the midst of the twelve Bodhisattvas, and they receive from Him what they have to carry down to earth. — Thus, between two incarnations the Bodhisattva-Beings ascend to the Buddhi-Plane; there they meet the Being of Christ as Teacher, and they are fully conscious of Him. He in this Being, extends to that Plane. The meeting between the Bodhisattvas and the Christ takes place on the Buddhi-Plane. When men progress further and shall have developed the qualities instilled into them by the Bodhisattvas, they will become more and more worthy themselves to penetrate that sphere. In the meantime it is necessary that they should learn that the Christ-Being was incarnated in human form in Jesus of Nazareth, and that in order to reach the true Being of the Individuality of Christ, one must first permeate the human form with understanding.

Thus twelve Bodhisattvas belong to Christ, and they prepare and further develop what He brought as the greatest impulse in the evolution of human civilisation. We see the twelve, and — in their midst — the thirteenth. We have now ascended to the sphere of the Bodhisattvas, and entered a circle of twelve stars; in their midst is the Sun, illuminating, warming them; from this Sun they draw that source of life which they afterwards have to carry down to earth. How is the image of what takes place above, represented on earth? It is projected into the earth in such wise that we may render it in the following words: Christ, Who once lived on the earth, brought to this earth evolution an impulse for which the Bodhisattvas had to prepare humanity and they then had to develop further what He gave to the earth-evolution. Thus the picture on earth, is something like this: Christ in the middle of the earth-evolution; the Bodhisattvas as His advance-messengers and His followers, who have to bring His work closer to the minds and hearts of men.

A number of Bodhisattvas had thus to prepare mankind, to make men ripe to receive the Christ. Now, although men were ripe enough to have Christ among them, it will be a long time before they mature sufficiently to recognise, to feel, and to will, all that Christ is. The same number of Bodhisattvas will be required to develop to maturity in man what was poured into him through Christ, as was necessary to prepare men for His coming. For there is so much in Him, that the forces and faculties of men must go on ever increasing, before they are able to understand Him. With the existing faculties of man, Christ can only be understood to a minute extent. Higher faculties will arise in man, and each new faculty will enable him to see Christ in a new light. Only when the last Bodhisattva belonging to Christ shall have completed his work, will humanity realise what Christ really is; man will then be filled with a will in which the Christ Himself will live. He will draw into man through his Thinking, Feeling, and Willing, and man will then really be the external expression of Christ on the earth.


sam carlo ART Juli Cady Ryan

No one can live on money – The Challenge of the Times – Lecture II @ Rudolf Steiner Archive


ART : Josephine Wall

No one can live on money

How many people there are today who have an abstract and confused conception of their own personal lives! If they ask themselves, for example, “What do I live on?” — for the most part, they do not do this, but if they did it once, they would say to themselves, “Why, on my money.” Among those who say to themselves, “I live on my money,” there are many who have inherited this money from their parents. They suppose they live on their money, inherited from their fathers, but we cannot live on money. Money is not something on which we can live. Here it is necessary at last to begin to reflect.

This question is intimately connected with the real interest that one individual has in another. Anyone who thinks he lives on the money he has inherited, for example, or has acquired in any way whatever except by receiving money for work, as is the custom today — whoever lives in this way and supposes that he can live on money has no interest in his fellow men because no one can live on money. We must eat, and what we eat has been produced by a human being. We must have clothing. What we wear must be made through the labor of people. In order that I may put on a coat or a pair of trousers, human beings must expend their strength in labor for hours. They work for me. It is on this labor that I live, not on my money. My money has no value other than that of giving me the power to make use of the labor of others. Under the social conditions of the present time, we do not begin to have an interest in our fellow men until we answer that question in the proper way, until we hold the picture in our minds of a certain number of persons working for a certain number of hours in order that I may live within the social structure. It is of no importance to give ourselves a comfortable feeling by saying, “I love people.” No one loves people if he supposes that he is living on his money and does not in the least conceive how people work for him in order to produce even the minimum necessary for his life.

But the thought that a certain number of persons labor in order that we may possess the minimum necessities of life is inseparable from another. It is the thought that we must recompense society, not with money but with work in exchange for the work that has been done for us. We feel an interest in our fellow men only when we are led to feel obligated to recompense in some form of labor the amount of labor that has been performed for us. To give our money to our fellow men only signifies that we are able to hold our fellow men on a leash as bound slaves and that we can compel them to labor for us.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 186 – The Challenge of the Times – Lecture II – Dornach, 30th November 1918

Previously posted on 12th October 2013


Jeshu ben Pandira ~ Rudolf Steiner @ Rudolf Steiner Archive

 To Touch a Star - FINE ART by Heather Theurer - new angel
ART : To Touch a Star – FINE ART by Heather Theurer

Jeshu ben Pandira

Jeshu ben Pandira: Lecture I


My dear Friends:

When we discuss, in connection with spiritual-science, other spiritual worlds besides our physical world, and declare that the human being sustains a relationship, not only to this physical world, but also to super-sensible realms, the question may arise as to what is to be found within the human soul — before one achieves any sort of clairvoyant capacity — which is super-sensible, which gives an indication that the human being is connected with super-sensible worlds. In other words, can even the ordinary person, possessed of no clairvoyant capacity, observe something in the soul, experience something, which bears a relationship to the higher realms? In essence, both today’s lecture and that of tomorrow will be devoted to the answering of this question.

When we observe the life of the human soul, it manifests three parts in a certain way independent of one another and yet, on the other hand, closely bound together.

The first thing that confronts us when we direct attention to ourselves as souls is our conceptual life, which includes also in a certain way our thinking, our memory. Memory and thought are not something physical. They belong to the invisible, super-sensible world: in man’s thought-life he has something which points to the higher worlds. What this conceptual world is may be grasped by each person in the following way. We bring before him an object, which he observes. Then he turns away. He has not immediately forgotten the object, but preserves within himself a living picture of it. Thus do we have concepts of the world surrounding us, and we may speak of the conceptual life as a part of our soul life.

A second part of our soul life we can observe if we inquire whether we do not possess within us something else related to objects and beings besides our concepts. We do, indeed, have something else. It is what we call feelings of love and hate, what we designate in our thinking by the terms sympathy, antipathy. We consider one thing beautiful, another ugly; perhaps, we love one thing and hate another; one we feel to be good, the other evil. If we wish to summarize what thus appears in our inner life, we may call it emotions of the heart. The life of the heart is something quite different from the conceptual life. In the life of the heart we have a far more intimate indication of the invisible than in the life of concepts. It is a second component of our soul-organism, this life of emotions. Thus we have already two soul-components, our life of thought and of emotion.

Of a third we become aware when we say to ourselves, not only that we consider a thing beautiful or ugly, good or evil, but that we feel impelled to do this or that, when we have the impulse to act. When we undertake anything, perform a relatively important act or even merely take hold of an object, there must always be an impulse within us which induces us to do this. These impulses, moreover, are gradually transformed into habits, and we do not always need to bring our impulses to bear in connection with everything that we do. When we go out, for instance, intending to go to the railway station, we do not then purpose to take the first, second, and third steps; we simply go to the station. Back of all this lies the third member of our soul life, our will impulses, as something ranging wholly beyond the visible.

If we now connect with these three impulses characteristic of the human being our initial question, whether the ordinary man possesses any clue to the existence of higher worlds, we must take cognizance of dream life, how this is related to the three soul elements: the thought impulse, the emotions, the impulse of will.

These three components of our soul life we can clearly differentiate: our thought life, our emotions, and our will impulses. If we reflect somewhat about our soul life, we can differentiate among these three single components of the life of the soul in our external existence. Let us first take the life of concepts. The thought life follows its course throughout the day — if we are not actually void of thought. Throughout the day we have concepts; and, when we grow tired in the evening, these concepts first become hazy. It is as if they became transmuted into a sort of fog. This life becomes feebler and feebler, finally vanishing altogether, and we can then go to sleep. Thus this conceptual life, as we possess it on the physical plane, persists from our waking till our falling asleep, and disappears the moment we fall asleep. No one will suppose that, when he is really sleeping — that is, if he is not clairvoyant during sleep — his thought life can nevertheless continue just as while he is awake. The life of thought — or the conceptual life — which occupies us fully from our waking till our falling asleep, must be extinguished, and only then can we go to sleep.

But the human being must recognize that the concepts he has, which have so overwhelmingly taken possession of him during the day, and which he always has unless he merely drowses along, are no hindrance to his falling to sleep. That this is so is best seen when we surrender ourselves to particularly vigorous concepts before falling asleep — for instance, by reading in a very difficult book. When we have been thinking really intensely, we most easily fall asleep; and so if we cannot go to sleep, it is good to take up a book, or occupy ourselves with something which requires concentrated thinking — study a mathematical book, for instance. This will help us to fall asleep; but not something, on the other hand, in which we are deeply interested, such as a novel containing much that captivates our interest. Here our emotions become aroused, and the life of the emotions is something that hinders us from falling asleep. When we go to bed with our feelings vividly stirred, when we know that we have burdened our soul with something or when there is a special joy in our heart which has not yet subsided, it frequently happens that we turn and toss in bed and are unable to fall asleep. In other words, whereas concepts unaccompanied by emotions weary us, so that we easily fall asleep, precisely that which strongly affects our feelings prevents us from falling asleep. It is impossible then to bring about the separation within ourselves which is necessary if we are to enter into the state of sleep. We can thus see that the life of emotions in us has a different relationship to our whole existence from that of our life of thought.

If we wish, however, to make the distinction quite correctly, we must take cognizance of something else: that is, our dreams. It might be supposed at first that, when the variegated life of dreams works upon us, this consists of concepts continuing their existence into the state of sleep. But, if we test the matter quite accurately, we shall observe that our conceptual life is not continued in our dreams. That which by its very nature wearies us does not continue during our dreams. This occurs only when our concepts. are associated with intense emotions.

It is the emotions that appear in dream pictures. But to realize this it is necessary, of course, to test these things adequately. Take an example: — Someone dreams that he is young again and has one experience or another. Immediately thereafter the dream is transformed and something occurs which he may not have experienced at all. Some sort of occurrence becomes manifest to him which is alien to his memory, because he has not experienced this on the physical plane. But persons known to him appear. How often it occurs that one finds oneself during dreams involved in actions in connection with which one is in the company of friends or acquaintances whom one has not seen for a long time. But, if we examine the thing adequately, we shall be forced to the conclusion that emotions are back of what emerges in dreams. Perhaps, we still cling to the friend of that time, are not yet quite severed from him; there must still be some sort of emotion in us which is connected with him. Nothing occurs in dreams that is not connected with emotions. Accordingly, we must draw a certain conclusion here — that is, that when the concepts which our waking life of day impart to us do not appear in dreams, this proves that they do not accompany us into sleep. When emotions keep us from sleeping, this proves that they do not release us, that they must be present in order to be able to appear in dream pictures. It is the emotions which bring us the dream concepts. This is due to the fact that the emotions are far more intimately connected with man’s real being than is the life of thought. The emotions we carry over even into sleep. In other words, they are a soul element that remains united with us even during sleep. In contrast with ordinary concepts, the emotions are something that accompanies us into sleep, something far more closely, more intensely, connected with the human individuality than is ordinary thinking not pervaded by emotion.

How is it with the third soul component, with the impulses of will? There also we can present a sort of example. Of course, this can be observed only by persons who pay attention to the moment of falling asleep in a rather subtle way. If a person has acquired through training a certain capacity to observe this moment, this observation is extremely interesting. At first, our concepts appear to us to be enveloped in mist; the external world vanishes, and we feel as if our soul being were extended beyond our bodily nature, as if we were no longer compressed within the limits of our skin but were flowing out into the elements of the cosmos. A profound feeling of satisfaction may be associated with falling asleep. Then comes a moment when a certain memory arises. Most likely, extremely few persons have this experience, but we can perceive this moment if we are sufficiently attentive. There appear before our vision the good and also the evil impulses of will that we have experienced; and the strange thing is that, in the presence of the good impulses, One has the feeling: “This is something connected with all wholesome will forces, something that invigorates you.” If the good will impulses present themselves to the soul before the person falls asleep, he feels so much the fresher and more filled with life-forces, and the feeling often arises: “If only this moment could last forever! If only this moment could endure for eternity!” Then one feels, in addition, how the bodily nature is deserted by the soul element. Finally there comes a jerk, and he falls asleep. One does not need to be a clairvoyant in order to experience this, but only to observe the life of the soul.

We must infer from this something extremely important. Our will impulses work before we fall asleep, and we feel that they fructify us. We sense an extraordinary invigoration. As regards the mere emotions, we had to say that these are more closely connected with our individuality than is our ordinary thinking, our ordinary act of conceiving. So we must now say of that which constitutes our will impulses: “This is not merely something that remains with us during sleep, but something which becomes a strengthening, an empowering, of the life within us.” Still more intimately by far are the will impulses in us connected with our life than are our emotions; and whoever frequently observes the moment of falling asleep feels in this moment that, if he cannot look back upon any good will impulses during the day, the effect of this is as if there had been killed within him something of that which enters into the state of sleep. In other words, the will impulses are connected with health and disease, with the life force in us.

Thoughts cannot be seen. We see the rose bush at first by means used in ordinary physical perception; but, when the beholder turns aside or goes away, the image of the object remains in him. He does not see the object but he can form a mental image of it. That is, our thought life is something super-sensible. Completely super-sensible are our emotions; and our will impulses, although they are transmuted into actions, are none the less something super-sensible. But we know at once likewise, when we take into consideration everything which has now been said, that our thought life not permeated by will impulses is least closely connected with us.

Now, it might be supposed that what has just been said is refuted by the fact that, on the following day our concepts of the preceding day confront us again; that we can recollect them. Indeed, we are obliged to recollect. We must, in a super-sensible way, call our concepts back into memory.

With our emotions, the situation is different; they are most intimately united with us. If we have gone to bed in a mood of remorse, we shall sense upon awaking the next morning that we have waked with a feeling of dullness — or something of the sort. If we experienced remorse, we sense this the next day in our body as weakness, lethargy, numbness; joy we sense as strength and elevation of spirits. In this case we do not need first to remember the remorse or the joy, to reflect about them; we feel them in our body. We do not need to recollect what has been there: it is there, it has passed into sleep with us and has lived with us. Our emotions are more intensely, more closely, bound up with the eternal part of us than are our thoughts.

But any one who is able to observe his will impulses feels that they are simply present again; they are always present. It may be that, at the moment of waking, we note that we experience again in its immediacy, in a certain sense, what we experienced as joy in life on the preceding day through our good moral impulses. In reality nothing so refreshes us as that which we cause to flow through our souls on the preceding day in the form of good moral impulses. We may say, therefore, that what we call our will impulses is most intimately of all bound up with our existence.

Thus the three soul components are different from one another, and we shall understand, if we clearly grasp these distinctions, that occult knowledge justifies the assertion that our thoughts, which are super-sensible, bring us into relationship with the super-sensible world, our emotions with another super-sensible world, and our will impulses with still another, even more intimately bound up with our own real being. For this reason we make the following assertion. When we perceive with the external senses, we can thereby perceive everything that is in the physical world. When we conceive, our life of concepts, our thought life, is in relationship with the astral world. Our emotions bring us into connection with what we call the Heavenly World or Lower Devachan. And our moral impulses brings us into connection with the Higher Devachan, or the World of Reason. Man thus stands in relationship with three worlds through the impulses of thought, emotion, and will. To the extent that he belongs to the astral world, he can carry his thoughts into the astral world; he can carry his emotions into the world of Devachan; he can carry into the higher Heavenly World all that he possesses in his soul of the nature of will impulses. [See also — Rudolf Steiner: Macrocosm and Microcosm.]

When we consider the matter in this way, we shall see how justified occult science is in speaking of the three worlds. And, when we take this into consideration, we shall view the realm of the moral in an entirely different way; for the realm of good will impulses gives us a relationship to the highest of the three worlds into which the being of man extends.

Our ordinary thought life reaches only up to the astral world. No matter how brilliant our thoughts may be, thoughts that are not sustained by feelings go no further than into the astral world; they have no significance for other worlds. You will certainly understand in this connection what is said in regard to external science, dry, matter-of-fact external science. No man can by means of thoughts not permeated by emotion affirm anything regarding other worlds than the astral realm. Under ordinary circumstances, the thinking of the scientist, of the chemist, the mathematician, runs its course without any sort of feeling. This goes no further than just under the surface. Indeed, scientific research even demands that it shall proceed in this way, and for this reason it penetrates only into the astral world.

Only when delight or repugnance are associated with the thoughts of the research scientist is there added to these thoughts the element needed in order to penetrate the world of Devachan. Only when emotions enter into thoughts, into concepts, when we feel one thing to be good and another evil, do we combine with thoughts that which carries them into the Heavenly World. Only then can we get a glimpse into deeper foundations of existence. If we wish to grasp something belonging to the world of Devachan, no theories help us in the least. The only thing that helps us is to unite feelings with our thoughts. Thinking carries us only into the astral world.

When the geometrician, for example, grasps the relationships pertaining to the triangle, this helps him only into the astral element. But, when he grasps the triangle as a symbol, and derives from it what lies therein as to the participation of the human being in the three worlds, something regarding his threefoldness, this helps him to a higher level. One who feels in symbols the expression for the soul force, one who inscribes this in his heart, one who feels in connection with everything that people generally merely know, brings his thoughts into connection with Devachan. For this reason, in meditating we must feel our way through what is given us, for only thus do we bring ourselves into connection with the world of Devachan. Ordinary science, therefore, void of any feeling of the heart, can never bring the human being, no matter how keen it may be, into connection with anything except the astral world.

Art, music, painting and the like, on the other hand, lead man into the lower Devachan world. To this statement the objection might be raised that, if it is true that the emotions really lead one into the lower Devachan world, passions, appetites, instincts, would also do this. Indeed, they do. But this is only an evidence of the fact that we are more intimately bound up with our feelings than with our thoughts. Our sympathies may be associated with our lower nature also; an emotional life is brought about by appetites and instincts also, and this leads into lower Devachan. Whereas we absolve in Kamaloka whatever false thoughts we have, we carry with us into the world of Devachan all that we have developed up to the stage of emotions; and this imprints itself upon us even into the next incarnation, so that it comes to expression in our Karma. Through our life of feeling, so far as this can have these two aspects, we either raise ourselves into the world of Devachan, or we outrage it.

Through our will impulses, on the contrary, which are either moral or immoral, we either have a good relationship with the higher world or we injure it, and have to compensate for this in our Karma. If a person is so evil and degenerate that he establishes such a connection with the higher world through his evil impulses as actually to injure this, he is cast out. But the impulse must, nevertheless, have originated in the higher world. The significance of the moral life becomes clear to us in all its greatness when we view the matter in this way.

Out of the worlds with which the human being is in such a close relationship through his threefold soul nature and also through his physical nature — out of these realms proceed those forces which can lead man through the world. That is, when we observe an object belonging to the physical world, this can occur only through the fact that we have eyes to see it with: it is thus that the human being is in relationship with the physical world. Through the fact that he develops his life of thought, he is in relationship with the astral world; through the development of his life of feeling, he is connected with the world of Devachan; and through his moral life with the world of upper Devachan.

Four Worlds

Upper Devachan

Lower Devachan

Astral world


Participation of the Human Being

Will: moral impulses

Feelings: aesthetic ideals

Thought: etheric nature

Corporeality: physical-material nature

The human being has four relationships with four worlds. But this signifies nothing else than that he has a relationship with the Beings of these worlds. From this point of view it is interesting to reflect upon man’s evolution, to look into the past, the present, and the immediate future.

From the worlds we have mentioned there proceed those forces which penetrate into our lives. Here we have to point out that, in the epoch which lies behind us, human beings were primarily dependent upon influences from the physical world, primarily capacitated to receive impulses out of the physical world. This lies behind us as the Graeco-Latin epoch. During this epoch Christ worked on earth in a physical body. Since the human being was then capacitated primarily to receive the influences of the forces existing in the physical world, Christ had to appear on the physical plane.

At present we live in an epoch in which thinking is primarily developed, in which man receives his impulses out of the world of thought, the astral world. Even external history demonstrates this. We can scarcely refer to philosophers of the pre-Christian era; at most, to a preparatory stage of thinking. Hence the history of philosophy begins with Thales. Only after the Graeco-Latin epoch does scientific thinking appear. Intellectual thinking comes for the first time about the sixteenth century. This explains the great progress in the sciences, which exclude all emotion from the activity of thought. And science is so specially beloved in our day because in it thought is not permeated with emotions. Our science is void of feeling, and seeks its well-being in the utter absence of sentiments. Alas for one who should experience any feeling in connection with a laboratory experiment! This is characteristic of our epoch, which brings the human being into contact primarily with the astral plane.

The next age, following our own, will already be more spiritual. There the sentiments will play a role even in connection with science. If any one shall then wish to stand an examination for admission to some scientific study, it will be necessary for him to be able to sense the light that exists behind everything, the spiritual world which brings everything into existence. The value of scientific work in any test will then consist in the fact that one shall observe whether a person can develop in the test sufficient emotion; otherwise he will fail in the examination. Even though the candidate may have any amount of knowledge, he will not be able to pass the examination if he does not have the right sentiments. This certainly sounds very queer but it will be true, none the less, that the laboratory table will be raised to the level of an altar, at which the test of a person will consist in the fact that, in the electrolysis of water into oxygen and hydrogen, feelings will be developed in him corresponding with what the Gods feel when this occurs. The human being will then receive his impulses from an intimate connection with the lower Devachan.

And then will come the age that is to be the last before the next great earth catastrophe. This will be the age when man shall be related with the higher world in his will impulses, when that which is moral will be dominant on the earth. Then neither external ability nor the intellect nor the feelings will hold the first rank, but the impulses of will. Not man’s skill but his moral quality will be determinative. Thus will humanity, upon arriving at this point of time, have reached the epoch of morality, during which man will be in a special relationship with the world of higher Devachan.

It is a truth that, in the course of evolution, there awaken in the human being ever greater powers of love, out of which he may draw his knowledge, his impulses, and his activities.

Whereas at an earlier period, when Christ came down to the earth in a physical body, human beings could not have perceived Him otherwise than in a physical body, there are actually awaking in our age the forces through which they shall see the Christ, not in His physical body, but in a form which will exist on the astral plane as an etheric form. Even in our century, from the 1930’s on, and ever increasingly to the middle of the century, a great number of human beings will behold the Christ as an etheric form. This will constitute the great advance beyond the earlier epoch, when human beings were not yet ripe for beholding Him thus. This is what is meant by the saying that Christ will appear in the clouds; for this means that He will appear as an etheric form on the astral plane.

But it must be emphasized that He can be seen in this epoch only in the etheric body. Any one who should believe that Christ will appear again in a physical body loses sight of the progress made by human powers. It is a blunder to suppose that such an event as the appearance of Christ can recur in the same manner as that in which it has already taken place.

The next event, then, is that human beings will see Christ on the astral plane in etheric form, and those who are then living on the physical plane, and who have taken in the teachings of spiritual-science, will see Him. Those, however, who are then no longer living, but who have prepared themselves through spiritual-scientific work will see Him, none the less, in etheric raiment between their death and rebirth. But there will be human beings also who will not be able to see Him in the etheric body. Those who shall have scorned spiritual-science will not be able to see Him, but will have to wait till the next incarnation, during which they may then devote themselves to the knowledge of the spirit and be able to prepare themselves in order that they may be able to understand what then occurs. It will not depend then upon whether a person has actually studied spiritual-science or not while living on the physical plane, except that the appearance of the Christ will be a rebuke and a torment to these, whereas those who strove to attain a knowledge of the spirit in the preceding incarnation will know what they behold.

Then will come an epoch when still higher powers will awake in human beings. This will be the epoch when the Christ will manifest Himself in still loftier manner; in an astral form in the lower world of Devachan. And the final epoch, that of the moral impulse will be that in which the human beings who shall have passed through the other stages will behold the Christ in His glory, as the form of the greatest “Ego,” as the spiritualized Ego-Self, as the great Teacher of human evolution in the higher Devachan.

Thus the succession is as follows: In the Graeco-Latin epoch Christ appeared on the physical plane; in our epoch He will appear as an etheric form on the astral plane; in the next epoch as an astral form on the plane of lower Devachan; and in the epoch of morality as the very essence and embodiment of the Ego.

We may now ask ourselves for what purpose spiritual-science exists. It is in order that there may be a sufficient number of human beings who shall be prepared when these events take place. And even now spiritual-science is working to the end that human beings may enter in the right way into connection with the higher worlds, to the end that they may enter rightly into the etheric-astral, into the aesthetic-Devachanic, into the moral-Devachanic. In our epoch it is the spiritual-scientific movement that aims, in a special way at the goal of having the human being capable in his moral impulses of entering into a right relationship with the Christ.

The next three millennia will be devoted to making the appearance of the Christ in the etheric visible. Only to those whose feelings are wholly materialistic will this be unattainable. A person may think materialistically when he admits the validity of matter alone and denies the existence of everything spiritual, or through the fact that he draws the spiritual down into the material. A person is materialistic also in admitting the existence of the spiritual only in material embodiment. There are also Theosophists who are materialists. These are those who believe that humanity is doomed to the necessity of beholding Christ again in a physical body. One does not escape from being a materialist through being a Theosophist, but through comprehending that the higher worlds exist even when we cannot se them in a sensible manifestation but must evolve up to them in order to behold them.

If we cause all this to pass before our minds, we may say that Christ is the true moral impulse which permeates humanity with moral power. The Christ impulse is power and life, the moral power which permeates the human being. But this moral power must be understood. Precisely as regards our own epoch it is necessary that Christ shall be proclaimed. For this reason Anthroposophy has the mission also of proclaiming the Christ in etheric form.

Before Christ appeared on earth through the Mystery of Golgotha, the teaching about Him was prepared in advance. At that time, likewise, the physical Christ was proclaimed. It was primarily Jeshu ben Pandira who was the forerunner and herald, a hundred years before Christ. He also had the name Jesus, and, in contrast to Christ Jesus, he was called Jesus ben Pandira, son of Pandira. This man lived about a hundred years before our era. One does not need to be a clairvoyant in order to know this, for it is to be found in Rabbinical writings, and this fact has often been the occasion for confusing him with Christ Jesus. Jeshu ben Pandira was at first stoned and then hanged upon the beam of the cross. Jesus of Nazareth was actually crucified.

Who was this Jeshu ben Pandira? He is a great individuality who, since the time of Buddha — that is, about 600 B.C. — has been incarnated once in nearly every century in order to bring humanity forward. To understand him, we must go back to the nature of the Buddha.

We know, of course, that Buddha lived as a prince in the Sakya family five centuries and a half before the beginning of our era. The individuality who became the Buddha at that time had not already been a Buddha. Buddha, that prince who gave to humanity the doctrine of compassion, had not been born in that age as Buddha. For Buddha does not signify an individuality; Buddha is a rank of honor, This Buddha was born as a Bodhisattva and was elevated to the Buddha in the twenty-ninth year of his life, while he sat absorbed in meditation under the Bodhi tree and brought down from the spiritual heights into the physical world the doctrine of compassion. A Bodhisattva he had previously been — that is, in his previous incarnations also — and then he became a Buddha. But the situation is such that the position of a Bodhisattva — that is of a teacher of humanity in physical form — became thereby vacant for a certain period of time, and had to be filled again. As the Bodhisattva who had incarnated at that time ascended in the twenty-ninth year of his life to the Buddha, the rank of the Bodhisattva was at once transferred to another individuality. Thus we must speak of a successor of the Bodhisattva who had now risen to the rank of Buddha. The successor to the Gautama-Buddha-Bodhisattva was that individuality who incarnated a hundred years before Christ as Jeshu ben Pandira, as a herald of the. Christ in the physical body.

He is now to be the Bodhisattva of humanity until he shall in his turn advance to the rank of Buddha after 3,000 years, reckoned from the present time. In other words, he will require exactly 5,000 years to rise from a Bodhisattva to a Buddha. He who has been incarnated nearly every century since that time, is now also already incarnated, and will be the real herald of the Christ in etheric raiment, just as he proclaimed the Christ at that time in advance as the physical Christ. And even many of us will ourselves experience the fact that, during the 1930’s, there will be persons — and more and more later in the century — who will behold the Christ in etheric raiment.

It is in order to prepare for this that spiritual-science exists, and every one who’ works at the task of spiritual-science shares in making this preparation.

The manner in which humanity is taught by its Leaders, but especially by a Bodhisattva who is to become the Maitreya Buddha, changes greatly from epoch to epoch.

Spiritual-science could not have been taught in the Graeco-Latin epoch in the manner in which it is taught today; this would not have been understood by any one at that time. In that period, the Christ Being had to make manifest in physically visible form the goal of evolution, and only thus could He then work. Spiritual research spreads this teaching ever increasingly among human beings, and they will come to understand more and more the Christ Impulse until the Christ Himself shall have entered into them.

Today it is possible by means of the physically uttered word, in concepts and ‘ideas, by means of thinking, to make the goal understandable and to influence men’s souls in a good way, in order to fire them with enthusiasm for aesthetic and moral ideals. But the speech of today will be replaced in later periods of time by forces capable of a mightier stimulation than that which is possible at present by means of speech alone. Then will speech, the word, bring it about that there shall dwell in the word itself powers which shall convey feelings of the heart from soul to soul, from master to pupil, from the Bodhisattva to all those who do not turn away from him. It will then be possible for speech to be the bearer of aesthetic feelings of the heart. But the dawn of a new epoch is needed for this. In our time it would not be possible even for the Bodhisattva himself to exert such influences through the larynx as will then be possible.

And during the final period of time, before the great war of all against all, the situation will be such that, as speech is at present the bearer of thoughts and conceptions and as it will later be the bearer of the feelings of the heart, so will it then carry the moral element, the moral impulses, transmitting these from soul to soul. At present the word cannot have a moral influence. Such words can by no means be produced by our larynx as it is today. But such a power of spirit will one day exist. Words will be spoken through which the human being will receive moral power. Three thousand years after our present time will the Bodhisattva we have mentioned become the Buddha, and his teaching will then cause impulses to stream directly into humanity. He will be the One whom the ancients foresaw: the Buddha Maitreya, a Bringer of Good.

He has the mission of preparing humanity in advance so that it may understand the true Christ Impulse: He has the mission of directing men’s eyes more and more to that which men can love, to bring it about that what men can spread abroad as a theory shall flow into a moral channel so that at length all that men can possess in the form of thoughts shall stream into the moral life. And, whereas it is still entirely possible today that a person may be very keen intellectually but immoral, we are approaching a time when it will be impossible for any one to be at the same time intellectually shrewd and immoral. It will be impossible for mental shrewdness and immorality to go hand in hand.

This is to be understood in the following way. Those who have kept themselves apart, and have opposed the course of evolution, will be the ones who will then battle together, all against all. Even those who develop today the highest intelligence, if they do not develop further during the succeeding epochs in the heart and in the moral life, will gain nothing from their shrewdness. The highest intelligence is, indeed, developed in our epoch. We have reached a climax in this. But one who has developed intelligence today and who shall neglect the succeeding possibilities of evolution, will destroy himself by his own intelligence. This will then be like an inner fire consuming him, devouring him, making him so small and feeble that he will become stupid and be able to achieve nothinga fire that will annihilate him in the epoch wherein the moral impulses will have reached their climax. Whereas a person can be very dangerous today by means of his immoral shrewdness, he will then be without power to harm. In place of this power, however, the soul will then possess in ever increasing measure moral powers — indeed, moral powers such as a person of the present cannot in the least conceive. The highest power and morality are needed to receive the Christ Impulse into ourselves so that it becomes power and life in us.

Thus we see that spiritual-science has the mission of planting in the present stage of the evolution of humanity the seeds for its future evolution. Of course, we must consider in connection with spiritual-science also that which must be considered in connection with the account of the whole creation of the world: that is, that errors may occur. But even one who cannot as yet enter into the higher worlds can make adequate tests and see whether here and there the truth is proclaimed: here the details must be mutually consistent. Test what is proclaimed, all the individual data which are brought together regarding the evolution of the human being, the single phases in the appearing of the Christ, and the like, and you will see that things mutually confirm one another. This is the evidence of truth which is available even to the person who does not yet see into the higher worlds. One can be quite assured: for those who are willing to test things, the doctrine of the Christ reappearing in the spirit will alone prove to be true.


To Touch a Star - FINE ART by Heather Theurer - new angel

The pupil can sometimes be more brilliant than the teacher ~ Rudolf Steiner

indian elephants at Sascalia Etsy
ART : ‘Indian Elephants’ ~ @ Sascalia/Etsy


The pupil can sometimes be more brilliant than the teacher

As a teacher, one has a variety of individualities before one, and one should not stand in front of the class with the feeling: The way I am, is the way these pupils should all become through my teaching and education. This is how one should absolutely not feel. Why not? Now there could be, if we are lucky, among the students that we have in our class, apart from those who are not very clever, two or three who may be exceptionally talented. And you will have to admit that it is not possible to have only geniuses for teachers and that in fact it will not infrequently occur that the teacher does not have the capacities that those they are teaching and educating will perhaps develop in the future. But the teacher does not only need to teach those who have the same capacities as he has himself, he must also educate and teach those who are far more talented and would surpass him in time. However, he will only be able to do this if he does not try to educate the pupils as if they should become similar to what he is himself.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 306 – Pädagogische Praxis – Dornach, April 20, 1923 (p. 130-131)

Translated by Nesta Carsten
indian elephants at Sascalia Etsy


The Temple Legend ~ Lecture I: Whitsuntide. Festival of The Liberation of the Human Spirit @ Rudolf Steiner Archive

18 july

The Temple Legend

On-line since: 15th January, 2013

Lecture 1:


Berlin, Whit Monday, 23rd May 1904

[See the Notes for this Lecture]


It was to be expected (Note 1) that only a small company would gather here today. I have nevertheless decided to hold our meeting this evening to talk to those of you who are present about something connected with Whitsuntide.

Before I start I would like to report to you one result of my latest visit to London, which is that in all likelihood Mrs. Besant will be visiting us here (Note 2) in the autumn. We shall have the opportunity then of hearing again one of the personalities belonging to the most powerful spiritual influences of our time. The next two public lectures (Note 3) will be held in the Architektenhaus — on spiritualism a week hence, and on somnambulism and hypnotism, the following week. Then the usual Monday arrangements will take place again regularly. On the coming Thursdays (Note 4) I shall speak about theosophical cosmology, about theosophical ideas concerning the creation of the universe. Those of you who are interested in such things may hear much which is not already known from the usual theosophical literature. I wish to hold over till a later date the lectures on the rudiments of theosophy. (Note 5). What I wish to talk about today comes from an old occult tradition. The subject cannot, of course, be dealt with exhaustively today. Some of it may appear incredible.

I would request, therefore, that today’s lecture be treated as an episode in which nothing is to be proved, but only things related.

People celebrate their festivals today without having an inkling of what is signified by them. In the newspapers, which constitute the main source of the education and enlightenment of most of our contemporaries, one can read many and various articles dealing with such festivals, the writers of which have not the slightest idea of the meaning of such a festival. But for theosophists it is necessary to look again at their inner meaning. And so I want today to direct your attention to the origin of such an age-old festival: the source of the Whitsuntide Festival.

Whitsuntide is one of the most important festivals and one of the most difficult to understand. For Christian consciousness it commemorates the coming of the Holy Ghost. This event is described as a miracle: the Holy Spirit was poured out over the Apostles so that they started to speak in all manner of tongues. This means that they could enter into every heart and speak according to each one’s understanding. That is one of the interpretations of Whitsuntide. If we wish to reach a more fundamental understanding of it, we must go still deeper into the matter. Whitsuntide — as symbolical festival — is connected with the most profound mysteries, with the holiest spiritual qualities of humanity — that is why it is so difficult to talk about it. Today I should like at least to touch on just a few things.

What the Whitsuntide Festival symbolises, the underlying principle from which it receives its deep inner meaning, is preserved in a single manuscript copy (Note 6) which is to be found in the Vatican Library, where it is guarded with the greatest care. To be sure, no mention is made of Whitsuntide in this manuscript, but it certainly tells of that for which Whitsuntide is only the outer symbol. Hardly anyone has seen this manuscript, unless he has been initiated into the deepest secrets of the Catholic Church, or has been able to read it in the Astral Light. (Note 7) One copy is possessed by a personality who has been very much misunderstood in the world, but who is beginning to interest today’s historians. I could equally well have said ‘was possessed’ instead of ‘is possessed’, but it would thereby cause a lack of clarity. Therefore I say again: a copy is in the possession of the Count of St. Germain, (Note 8) who is the only existing source of information about it.

I should like to give a few hints about this from a theosophical point of view. We shall be led thereby to something intimately connected with the evolution of mankind during the fifth Root Race. Man assumed his present-day form during the third Root Race, the time of ancient Lemuria, developed it further during the fourth Root Race, the time of ancient Atlantis, and then progressed to the fifth Root Race with what he had thus acquired. Whoever heard my Atlantis lectures (Note 9) will remember that a vivid memory of those times still existed among the Greeks.

To find our bearings, (Note 10) we must get a little insight into two currents belonging to our fifth Root Race, which are active as hidden powers in the souls of men and are often in conflict with one another. The one current is most clearly and best represented by what we call the Egyptian, Indian and South European outlook on life. Everything belonging later to Judaism and even to Christianity contains a little of that. But in our European culture, on the other hand, this has been intermingled with that other current which is to be found in ancient Persia and — if we disregard what the anthropologists and etymologists say and go deeper into the matter — we find it again stretching westwards from Persia to the regions of the Teutons.

Of these two currents (Note 11) I would maintain that two mighty and important spiritual intuitions underlie them. The one was best understood by the ancient Rishis. To them was revealed the intuition of beings of a higher order, the so-called Devas. (Note 12) He who has undergone occult training and can carry out investigations into these matters will know what Devas are. These purely spiritual beings, of the Astral or Mental Plane, have a twofold inner nature, whereas man’s nature is threefold. For man consists of body, soul and spirit, but the Deva nature — as far as can be investigated — consists only of soul and spirit. It may possess other members, but we are unable to find them, even by occult means. The Deva is an ensouled spirit. The impulses, emotions, desires and wishes which live invisibly within man, but are seen as light effects by the seer, these soul powers, this soul body, which constitutes man’s inner being, supported by the physical body, is the lowest body which the Devas possess. We can regard it as their body. The intuitive faculty of the Indian was concerned mainly with the worshipping of these Devas. The man of India sees these Devas all around. He sees them as creating powers when he penetrates the veil of outward appearance. This intuition is fundamental to the outlook on life of the peoples of the Southern Zone! (Note 11) It is expressed most powerfully in the Egyptians’ conception of the world.

The other intuition was the basis upon which the ancient Persian mysticism was founded, and this led to the veneration of beings who were also only twofold in their nature: the Asuras. They, too, possessed what we call soul, but the soul organ was enclosed within a physical body developed in sublime and titanic fashion. The Indian view of the world, which clung to the Deva worship, looked upon the Asuras as something inferior; whereas those who inclined to the viewpoint of the Northern peoples (Note 11) adhered to the Asuras, (Note 13) to physical nature. Thus there developed in the Northern Zone more especially the impulse towards controlling the things of the sense world in a material way, towards an ordering of the world of realities by means of the highest technical advancement, through physical arts and so on. Nowadays there is nobody who still persists in Asura worship, but there are many among us who still have something of this within them. Thence comes the tendency towards the materialistic side of life and that is the basic tendency of the Northern peoples. (Note 11) Whoever acknowledges purely materialistic principles can be sure that he has something of the Asuras in his nature.

Among the Asura adherents there then developed a strange undertone of feeling. It first made its appearance in the spiritual life of Persia. The Persians developed a kind of fear of the Deva nature. They experienced fear, apprehension and dread in face of what was of a purely soul-spirit nature. That was the reason for the great contrast which we now observe between the Persian and the Indian attitude. In the Persian attitude those things were often venerated which to the Indians were bad and inferior, and just those things were avoided by the Persians which the Indians held in veneration. The Persian experience of the world was steeped in a mood of soul which feared and avoided a being of the nature of a Deva. In short, it was the picture of Satan which arose in this view of the world. Lucifer, the being of Spirit and Soul, became an object of fear and dread. That is where we have to look for the origin of the belief in the Devil. This mood of soul has also been absorbed into the modern view of the world; Lucifer became a much feared and avoided figure in the Middle Ages. Lucifer was definitely shunned.

We learn particulars about it (Note 14) in the manuscript already mentioned. If we follow in it the course of earth evolution we shall find that in the middle of the third Root Race, the Lemurian Epoch, mankind was clothed in physical matter. It is a wrong conception when theosophists believe that reincarnation had no beginning and will have no ending. Reincarnation started in the Lemurian Age and will cease again at the beginning of the sixth Root Race or Age. It is only a certain period of time in earth evolution during which mankind reincarnates. It was preceded by a most spiritual condition which precluded any necessity for reincarnation and there will follow again a spiritual state which will likewise obviate the necessity for reincarnation.

Simultaneously with its first incarnation in the Lemurian Age the untarnished human spirit, consisting of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, sought its primal physical incarnation. The physical development of the earth with its animal-like creatures had not evolved so far at that time, the whole, of this animal-human organism was not so far advanced then that it could have incorporated the human spirit. But a part of it, a certain group of animal-like beings had evolved so far that the seed of the human spirit could descend into it to give form to the human body.

Some of the individualities who incarnated at that time formed the small nucleus of those who later spread over the whole earth as the so-called Adepts. They were the original Adepts, not those whom we call initiated today. Those whom we call initiates today did not go through incarnation at that time . Not all incarnated at that time who would have been able to find human-animal bodies, only some of them. Some others were opposed to the process of incarnation for a particular reason. They delayed that until the time of the Fourth Age. The Bible hints at that in a concealed and profound way: ‘The Sons of God saw the daughters of men (Note 15) that they were fair and they took them wives of all which they chose.’

That is to say, the incarnation of those who had waited began at a later time. We call this group the ‘Sons of Wisdom’, and it almost appears as if there were a kind of arrogance, a sort of pride about them. We shall make an exception of the small group of Adepts. Had these other ones also incarnated at the earlier period, mankind would never have been able to acquire the clarity of consciousness which he possesses today. He would have been held fast in a dull trance-like state of consciousness. He would have developed that kind of consciousness which is to be found in people who have been hypnotised, sleepwalkers and the like. In short, man would have remained in a kind of dreamlike state. But one thing would have been lacking then — one thing of great importance, if not of the utmost importance — he would have lacked a feeling of freedom, a capacity to exercise his individual discrimination with regard to good and evil by means of his own consciousness, his own human ego.

This postponement of incarnation — in the form it assumed in consequence of that feeling of dread of the Devas which I characterised — this is called in the Book of Genesis ‘the Fall of Man’. The Devas delayed their incarnation and only descended to the earth to take possession of physical bodies when humanity had reached a further Stage in its development. Through this they were able to evolve a more mature form of consciousness than would have been the case earlier.

Thus, you see, the cost of man’s freedom was the deterioration of his nature, by waiting for his incarnation till he could descend into denser physical conditions. A deep understanding of this has been preserved in Greek mythology. Had man descended earlier into incarnation — so says the Greek myth — then that would have happened which Zeus wanted when man was still living in Paradise. He wished to make man happy — but as an unconscious being. Clear consciousness would have been possessed solely by the gods and man would have been without a feeling of freedom. The rebellion of the Lucifer Spirit, the Deva Spirit within humanity, who wished to descend in order to rise up again out of his own freedom, is symbolised by the saga of Prometheus! (Note 16) But Prometheus had to suffer for his endeavours by having an eagle — symbol of inordinate desire — gnawing at his liver and causing him the most deadly pain.

Man had thus descended more deeply and now had to achieve through his own free conscious activity what he would have attained by magical arts and powers. But because he had descended deeper he must suffer pains and torment. This is also indicated in the Bible with the words: ‘In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. (Note 17) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’, etc. That is no less than to say: mankind must raise itself again with the help of culture.

Through the figure of Prometheus, Greek mythology has symbolised free humanity struggling towards culture. He is the representative of suffering mankind, but at the same time the giver of freedom. The one who sets Prometheus free is Heracles, of whom it is said that he underwent initiation in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Whoever descended to the underworld was an initiate, for the descent into the underworld is a technical term denoting initiation. This journey to the underworld is attributed to Heracles, Odysseus and to all who are initiates who wish to lead man of his epoch to the source of primeval wisdom, to a life of the spirit.

Had mankind retained the attitude of Lemurian times we would have been dreamers today. Through his Deva nature, mankind fructified his lower nature. Out of his self-awareness, out of his awareness of freedom, man now has to reawaken that spark of awareness which he brought down from heaven in justified presumption; he has to reawaken that spiritual knowledge which he had received without his own striving when he was still unfree. There lies in human nature itself that satanic rebelliousness which, however, in the form of luciferic aspiration is the only safeguard of our freedom. And out of this freedom we shall again wrest spiritual life. It will be reawakened in the man of the fifth Root Race, our present epoch. This form of consciousness will again be conveyed through initiates. It will not be a dreamy, but a clear consciousness. It is the Heraclean spirits, the initiated ones, who will help mankind forward and reveal to him his Deva nature, his knowledge of the spirit., That was also the endeavour of all the great founders of religion, that they should restore to mankind the knowledge of the spirit which had been lost in physiological existence. The fifth epoch still contains much of the material life within it. This materialistic culture of the present time shows us how far man has become embedded in purely physical-physiological nature, as Prometheus was enmeshed in his chains. But it is equally certain that the vulture, the symbol of lust and craving, gnawing at our liver, will be thrust aside by spiritual men. That is the goal to which the initiates would lead mankind through consciousness of self, by means of such movements as the theosophical movement, so that it can raise itself up in full freedom.

The moment which we have to regard as the one in which spiritual life poured into the self-conscious human being is indicated precisely in the New Testament. It is alluded to in the profoundest of the Gospels the one which is misunderstood by today’s theologians, the St. John’s Gospel, when it speaks of the Feast of the Tabernacles which was attended by Jesus. The founder of Christianity there speaks of the outpouring of spiritual life with which humanity was to be endowed. It is a remarkable passage. For the Feast of the Tabernacles, the people had to visit a spring from which water flowed. There followed a festival which intimated to man that he should call to mind again his spiritual nature, his Deva and spiritual strivings. The water which flowed there was to remind him of the soul and spirit world. After repeated refusals Jesus finally went up to the feast. The following happened on the last day of the feast (John 7, 37): ‘In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.’ Those who drank celebrated a feast in which the spiritual life was brought to recollection. But Jesus connected something else with it, as can be seen in the following words of St. John’s Gospel: ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)’.

Here the Whitsuntide mystery is indicated. It is intimated that man has to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the moment arrives in which man is able to kindle the spark of spiritual life within him, when the physiological nature of man is able to attempt the ascent by means of its own forces, then will the Holy Spirit descend upon him and the time of spiritual awakening will be at hand.

Man descended as far as the physical body and so, in contrast to the nature of the Devas, he is built up out of three principles: Spirit, Soul and Body. The Devas are at a higher stage than man, but they do not have to surmount physical nature as man does. This physical nature has to be transfigured so that it can absorb the life of the spirit. Man’s consciousness in the body, his physiological consciousness of today, will itself be able to enkindle the spark of spiritual existence in freedom.

Christ’s sacrifice is an example which shows that man will be able to unfold a higher form of consciousness out of his life in the physical plane. His lower individuality lives in the physical body, but it must be enkindled so that the higher personality can develop. Only then can the ‘rivers of living water’ flow from man’s ‘belly’. Then can the Holy Spirit appear and be poured forth upon humanity. Man, as an ego being, must be as though dead to physiological existence.

Herein lies what is truly Christian, and it also embodies the deeper mystery contained in the Whitsuntide Festival. Man lives primarily in his lower organism, in his consciousness imbued with desires. It is right that this is so, because it is only this consciousness which can provide him with awareness of his true goal, to attain freedom. He should not remain there, however, but must raise his ego to the nature of a Deva. He must develop the Deva within him, bring it to birth so that it becomes a spirit of healing — a Holy Spirit. To that end he must consciously sacrifice his earthly body, he must experience that ‘dying and becoming’ so that he does not remain a ‘gloomy guest’ (Note 18) on this dark earth.

Thus the Easter mystery is only revealed in its fullness when taken together with the Whitsuntide mystery. We see the human ego, exemplified in its Divine Representative, divesting itself of the lower ego and dying in order to be completely transfigured in its physical nature and offered up again to the Godhead. Ascension is the symbol of this. When man has become transfigured in the physical body. has offered it up again to the Spirit, he will be ripe to receive the outpouring of spiritual life, to experience what is called the ‘coming of the Holy Spirit’ according to the explanation of One, who is mankind’s greatest Representative. Therefore it is also said: ‘And there are three that bear witness in earth, (Note 19) the Spirit, the water and the blood.’ Whitsuntide is the outpouring of the Spirit into man.

The highest goal of humanity is symbolically expressed by means of the Whitsuntide festival; that is, that mankind must progress once more from an intellectual to a spiritual life just as Prometheus was set free from his suffering by Heracles, so will mankind be set free by the power of the Spirit. By descending into matter, mankind has attained self-consciousness. Through the fact that he ascends again. he will become a self-aware Deva. Those who worshipped the Asuras and regarded the Devas as beings of a satanic nature, who did not wish to descend into the innermost depths, regarded this descent as something devilish.

That, too, is referred to in Greek mythology. The one whose state of consciousness is not free — the contemplator — the one who does not wish to win redemption in complete freedom and therefore is the opponent of Prometheus — is Epimetheus. Zeus gives him Pandora’s box, the contents of which — sufferings and plagues — fall on mankind when it is opened. The only gift which is left behind is hope; the hope that one day, in a future state he will also progress to this higher, clear consciousness. He is left with the hope that he will be set free. Prometheus advises him against accepting this doubtful gift from the god Zeus. Epimetheus does not listen to his brother, but accepts the gift. The gift which Epimetheus receives is not worth as much as the one belonging to his brother Prometheus.

Thus we see that there are two ways of life open to men. Some of them cling to a feeling of freedom and — although it is dangerous to develop spirituality — they search for it in freedom nevertheless. The others are the ones who find their satisfaction in the dull round of life and in blind faith, and who suspect danger in the luciferic endeavours of their fellow men. The founders of the Church’s outward doctrine have distorted the deeper meaning of luciferic striving. The ancient teachings on the subject are contained in hidden manuscripts (Note 20) in undisclosed places, where they have hardly been seen by anyone. They are available to a few people who are able to see them in the Astral Light, and otherwise only to a few initiates. The path is fraught with danger, but it is the only one which leads to the sublime goal of spiritual freedom.

The spirit of man should be free and not dull. That is also the aim of Christianity. Health and healing are connected with holy. A spirit which is holy is able to heal, it sets men free from sufferings and torments. Healthy and free is the human being who is released from the bondage of his physiological state. For only the free spirit is the healthy one, whose body is no longer gnawed by an eagle.

Thus Whitsuntide can be looked upon as the symbol of the freeing of the human spirit, as the great symbol of mankind’s struggle for freedom, for consciousness of his own freedom.

If the Easter Festival is the festival of resurrection in nature, then the Whitsuntide Festival is the symbol of the becoming conscious of the human spirit, the festival of those who know and understand and — penetrated through and through by this — go in search of freedom.

Those spiritual movements of modern times which lead to a perception of the spiritual world in clear day consciousness — not in trance or under hypnosis — are the ones which lead to an understanding of such important symbols as this. The dear consciousness, which only the spirit can set free, is what unites us in the Theosophical Society. Not the word alone, but the spirit gives it its meaning. The spirit which emanates from the great Masters, which flows through a few people only who are able to say: ‘I know they are there, the great Adepts, who are the founders of our spiritual movement — not our society’ (Note 21) — this spirit flows into our present civilisation and bestows on it the impulse for the future.

Let a spark of understanding of this Holy Spirit flow again into the misunderstood Whitsuntide Festival, then it will be revivified and gain meaning once more. We want to live in a world that makes sense. Whoever celebrates festivals without sparing them a thought is a follower of Epimetheus. Man must see what binds him to his surroundings and also to what is invisible in nature. We have to know where we stand. For we humans are not confined to a dull, dreamy, semi-existence, we are destined to develop a free, fully conscious unfolding of our whole being.



18 july