Rudolf Steiner. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and How to Attain It
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"I ask you to write this deeply into your souls . . . the materialistic culture . . . is now on the way to its close." - Rudolf Steiner, in Earthly and Cosmic Man ch. 7.
Rudolf Steiner (1875-1925), was a pioneer in the science of the Spirit. The words below are for most part taken from the English rendering of Steiner's book Wie erlangt man Erkenntnisse der höheren Welten? For, as Steiner himself says, "Something is to be offered those people who feel drawn to the results of spiritual research." Further, "Much in the book . . . can be of service to the inner life, such as maxims, suggestions that throw light on various puzzling problems, and so on."
He endeavoured to "enhance the clarity and lucidity of the presentation". I have arranged many Steiner maxims and quotations to such an end, having maxims for clarity - in view. The excerpts are leading thoughts in Anthroposophy, or derived from such thoughts.
Rudolf Steiner notes in three prefaces to his book,
"The ability to enter the supersensible worlds is indispensable; but once they have been discovered and communicated, even one who does not perceive them himself can be adequately convinced of their truth. A large proportion of them can be tested offhand, simply by applying ordinary common sense in a genuinely unprejudiced way."
Rudolf Steiner teaches that in order to develop yourself, remain open to the idea that there is a Spirit better than yourself. Supplement this idea with enjoying things and contacts with your whole heart to become the right sort of student. And that is an earnest and worthy endeavour, and a sign of the right sort of humility: Good luck.
Learn to heart-enjoy a lot
WHAT WE experience within ourselves unlocks for us the beauties of the outer world.
The outer world, with all its phenomena, is filled with divine splendour, but we must have experienced the divine within ourselves before we can hope to discover it in our environment.
It can be difficult for those involved in the external civilization of our time to advance to the knowledge of the higher worlds.◊
There is, in truth, no difference between esoteric knowledge and all the rest of man's knowledge and proficiency. This esoteric knowledge is no more of a secret for the average human being, than writing is a secret.
Man has it in his power to perfect himself somewhat, particularly in his innermost self and in his thought-life.◊
The aspirant must begin with a certain fundamental attitude called the path of veneration, of devotion for truth and knowledge. Without this attitude none can become a student.◊
A student of deeper knowledge may eventually devote his learning to the service of the world.
Often it feels good to fill our consciousness in in-between moments with thoughts evoking in us admiration, respect and veneration for the world and for life. In this way the spiritual eyes of man are opened too (there are other ways and means also).◊
Seek enjoyment, for through enjoyment can the outer world reach you.◊
The faculty of cognition can be nurtured and cultivated, if the enjoyment once experienced is allowed to reveal its message.◊
In this we do not wish to say anything against our civilization. . . . To this critical faculty, this self-conscious human judgment, this 'prove all things and hold fast what is best', we owe the greatness of our civilization. Man could never have attained to the science, the industry, the commerce, the legal advantages of our time, had he not applied to all things the standard of his critical judgment.
You may enjoy in the fullest sense the heart, the love of an Initiate, yet he will only confide his knowledge to you when you are ripe for it. [First you have to be ready or] competent to receive it into your soul in the right way.
True devotion harboured in the soul, develops a power which may, sooner or later, lead further on the path of knowledge.
An idea which does not become your ideal, ruins a possibility in yourself, at least. (2)
Everyone may be certain that Initiation will find him under all circumstances, if he gives proof of an earnest and worthy endeavour.
The student of higher knowledge considers enjoyment as a means of ennobling himself. ◊
Tempters would harden the aspirant's Ego and imprison it . . . He should rather open it wide for all the world.◊
Devotion can work as nutriment, making the soul healthy and strong, and a soul which harbours feelings of reverence and devotion, produces a change in its aura.◊
All the heights of the spirit can only be climbed by passing through the portals of [right] humility.◊
The venerative disposition shown in childhood - From the ranks of such children are recruited many students of higher knowledge.◊
The student must continually be intent upon following this advice Every flower, every animal, every action will unveil to him in certain silent moments, secrets undreamed of.◊
The student must not blunt himself to the outer world, but while lending himself to its impressions, he should be directed by his rich inner life.
To develop knowledge, vivify yourself also
THE LISTENER may very easily be misled into the belief . . .
Higher knowledge is not concerned with the veneration of persons, but the veneration of truth and knowledge.
We must learn to remain in touch with our own feelings and ideas if we wish to develop any intimate relationship with the outer world.
The student is told to set apart moments in his daily life, in which to withdraw into himself, quietly and alone.. . . He should . . . let his experiences and the messages from the outer world, re-echo within his own completely silent self.
There slumber in every human being, faculties by means of which he can acquire for himself a knowledge of higher worlds.
Whoever strives earnestly after higher knowledge needs to shun many other exertions. (Opp.)
It is not enough that I show respect only in my outward bearing; I must have this respect in my thoughts.
Quite unnoticed by the outer world is the treading of the Path of Knowledge. No change need be noticed in the student.◊ (4)
Proper reverence in the student may vivify soul feelings in him.◊
At every moment the listener may say to himself: 'That, of which mystics speak, I too can learn, if I develop within myself certain powers which today still slumber within me. There remains only one question - how to set to work to develop such faculties.'
In an epoch of criticism, ideals are lowered; other feelings take the place of such as respect, prayer and wonder. But whoever seeks higher knowledge, must create it for himself, instil it into his soul through life. It cannot be done by theoretical study.◊
It is good to develop within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves.◊
Knowledge pursued for growth to ripeness within the process of human ennoblement and cosmic development, should bring you forward.◊
Only within his own soul can a man find the means to unseal the lips of an Initiate and then the highest treasures of the spirit can become his own.
The desire to enjoy impression after impression merely blunts the faculty of cognition.
They can best hold their heads erect, who have learnt to venerate where veneration is due; and veneration is always due when it flows from the depths of the heart.
Instead of working inwardly [in contempation], it is very easy to fall into the opposite habit of trying to exploit the enjoyment. But unforeseen sources of error here confront the student. He must pass through a host of tempters of his soul.◊
There are laws in the spiritual life, as in the physical life.
The secret of Initiation can only be understood by those who have to a certain degree experienced this Initiation.
What was once a childish veneration for persons, becomes, later, a veneration for truth and knowledge.
When passing through a beautiful mountain district, the traveller with depth of soul and wealth of feeling has different experiences from one who is poor in feeling.
Through the powers of enjoyment a measure of sympathy is made
FOR THE attainment of knowledge and proficiency in the higher worlds, there is no obstacle for those who earnestly seek them.
All who seek the right way (can) become esoteric students, and even teachers.
No word of esoteric knowledge shall be imparted to anyone not qualified to receive it.
Reverence awakens a sympathetic power.
The [next-levelled] student undertakes, by rigorous self-education, to create within himself this inner life of devotion. . . . Our civilisation tends more towards critical judgment, and condemnation, than towards devotion But every criticism, every adverse judgment passed, disperses the powers of the soul . . . in the same measure that all veneration and reverence develops them.
The student learns to give himself up less and less to impressions of the outer world, and to develop instead a vivid inner life.
If he blunts himself to enjoyment, he becomes as a plant . . . if he stops short at the enjoyment, he shuts himself up within himself. He will only be something to himself.◊
You may live in intimate friendship with an initiate, and yet a gap severs you from his essential self, so long as you have not become an initiate yourself.
Heart-enjoy with ease to develop budding knowledge, and the power of sympathy
is added to it in time, says Rudolf Steiner.
For the student in spiritual training in the sense of modern spiritual conditions much more emphasis should be laid on the complete and immediate connection with the objective spiritual world than any relation to the person of a teacher. - Rudolf Steiner.
Very simple observation of this is naturally good for maturing:◊
Bear in mind that the higher man within man is in constant development. The state of calm and serenity renders an orderly development possible.◊
Space to the inner man can only be supplied by the inner calm which man himself gives to his soul.
This higher man may in time grow to direct the circumstances of the outer man well.◊
As long as the outer man has the upper hand and control, the inner man cannot unfold his powers full well.◊
Great calm and serenity react on the whole being. They assist the growth of the inner man, and those faculties which lead to higher knowledge.◊
Provide for yourself moments of inner tranquillity, and learn, in these moments, to distinguish between the essential and the non-essential.
No teacher of the spiritual life wishes to establish a mastery over other persons by means of . . . rules. He would not tamper with any person's independence.
Adapt each one of your actions, and frame each one of your words in such a way that you infringe upon no man's free-will.
Set aside a small part of his daily life for contemplation. These secluded moments may give him strength to perform daily tasks better and more wisely.◊
Should anyone really have no more time at his disposal, five to ten minutes a day could suffice. Much depends on how these five minutes are spent.◊
At these periods, various joys, sorrows, cares, experiences and actions may pass in review before his soul; and he is to regard all his sundry experiences from a rather distanced point of view.◊
Every human being bears within himself, besides what we may call the work-a-day man [Aramaic: barnasha], a higher man. Each individual can only himself awaken this higher being within him. As long as this higher being is not made to stir, higher, latent faculties leading to supersensible knowledge, will remain concealed.◊
In a New Testament [Net xxiv] it is explained that Barnasha, "the son of man" in Aramaic, has several meanings. The "bundle of habits", is the "son of man" that stands in need of development into a god or something - has to be "lifted". It is gospel teachings we are into, and Dr. Steiner has his views on how to lift up "the son of man" - TK
Observation: If a heavy misfortune befalls us, how different would be our attitude towards a similar misfortune, had it befallen our neighbour!
The student must seek the power of confronting his own self, at certain times, as a stranger. When this is attained, our own experiences present themselves in a new light.◊
The student must resolve to persevere - To all who thus persevere, the day will come when spiritual help will envelop them . . . And no change need take place in the outward life in consequence of this new rule. He performs his duties, and, at first, feels the same joys, sorrows and experiences as before. In no way can it estrange him from life; he can rather devote himself the more thoroughly to this life, having gained a higher life in the moments set apart.◊
Little by little this higher life will make its influence felt on his ordinary life. The tranquillity of the moments set apart will affect also everyday existence - he will grow calmer, he will attain firm assurance in all his actions, . . . he will gradually become more and more his own guide . . . He will soon discover how great a source of strength is available to him.
Through the calm inner survey, the essential is severed from the non-essential. The value of such inner tranquil self-contemplation depends much on our finding within ourselves the power which such inner tranquillity develops.◊
He acquires a new outlook on life and says to himself: 'I will summon up all my strength to do my work as well as I possibly can.' Thus thought after thought, each fraught with advantage to his whole life, can begin flow into the student's life, and he begins to steer his own ship.◊
I can develop the faculty of letting the impressions of the outer world approach me only in the way in which I myself determine; Many who did not despair, in time achieved such 'inner victory'. Great effort is needed -◊
In good contemplation he also confronts his dominant experiences more and better as a stranger. At a certain stage he will have to disengage himself and pass on to the contemplation of those things which would concern him. Through this he at times feels and realizes, as an inner experience, that he belongs to higher worlds or a better fare.◊
By steps he shifts the focus to the inner part of his nature. He listens to the voices within him in his moments of tranquillity; as an intercourse with the spiritual world, while all around him there is deep silence. Calm inward contemplation and converse with the purely spiritual world fill his soul. He must develop a living feeling for this silent thought-activity and cease to feel that this thought-world is less real than the everyday things around him.◊
Getting good at meditation or contemplation helps you to develop mind-aspects. Modern science tells it too. And so do those who are tuned in to Great Being and ascertain through It. Such Being Installation may come in stages. To some it comes suddenly, to others barely noticeably. One should be aware of that.
There are thoughts to contemplate on
THIS LIFE of the soul in thought, which gradually widens into a life in spiritual being, is contemplative reflection (or meditation), and a means to supersensible knowledge.
In contemplative moments his thoughts must be clear, sharp and definite. He may be helped in this if he does not cling blindly to the thou1 ghts that rise within him. He can take as his starting point writings which themselves have their origin in revelation during meditation - to meditate on too. [This is a slow way].
Meditation is the way which also leads man to the greatness of his eternal, indestructible, essential being.◊ (2)
Inward-making gives development
THE STUDENT may begin to form quite new conceptions of reality. Many things acquire a fresh value for him. And the most insignificant experience which offers itself to him, stand in connection with cosmic beings and cosmic events. His labour and his suffering are given and endured for the sake of a great, spiritual, cosmic whole.
By means of meditation, man rises to be united with the spirit. The existence of this eternal being can only be doubted by those who have not themselves experienced it.
Right means must be chosen. Only a being with ears and eyes can apprehend sounds and colours, and Spiritual Science gives the means of developing spiritual ears and eyes, in these stages:
In for better, precise work
THROUGH contemplation, mere uncertain groping in the dark tends to give way to better or more precise work.
An old and generally suitable way of meditating on words is called mantra yoga in India. The fostered inward-making helps both thinking and works - some of the ways are not secret either.
THE BRITISH writer and critic Walter Pater (1839-94) taught at Oxford, where he was also a university proctor. He once asked a student, a certain Mr. Sanctuary, to see him after the lecture. The young man, wondering what misdemeanor he had committed, approached Pater's desk with some trepidation. Pater, however, appeared equally ill at ease and seemed not to know what to say.
"You asked me to stay behind, sir?" prompted Sanctuary.
"Oh, yes, Mr. Sanctuary," stammered Pater. "I . . . I wanted to say to you . . .
what a very beautiful name you have got."
An offering [read: contemplation session], consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental (recitation of sacred texts) a thousand times. [Manu Samhita 2.85]
In essence, this shows an old way of delving (diving, contemplating, going inside)
by some sound sets called mantras by Hindus.
The two Pater anecdotes serves to indicate
that nice words take you aside or into the Sanctuary of your inner sides (aspects), and that
you should go all the way and talk mentally only, eventually to make a difference -
First the attention of the soul is directed to certain events in the world that surrounds us.
MANY AN aspirant hurries on too quickly from impression to impression.
You should fix your attention intently and seek to surrender yourself, for a short time, to the one preferred impression. Through it, a soul feeling now swells, and you must now allow this feeling to reverberate quietly. Simply and solely follow what your soul tells you of this blossoming and flourishing.◊
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, envelop you. The attention should be directed on both phenomena. Then, in due time, new and different thoughts and feelings will emerge from deep inside.◊
The more the attention be fixed in this way on something growing, blossoming and flourishing, and on something else that is fading and decaying, the more vivid will these feelings become.
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.
Lines and Figures
GROWTH and decay now form into spiritual lines and figures, and these lines and figures have different forms for the different phenomena.◊
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.
The spiritual scientist describes or draws the spiritual forms of the processes of growth and decay, according to species and kind.
The student must never lose himself in speculations on the meaning of one thing or another. It may bring him or her away from the right road.◊
LOOK OUT on the world with keen, healthy senses, and quickened power of observation, and not try to make out, through intellectual speculation, what the things mean, but rather allow the things themselves to tell you. That artistic feeling, when coupled with a quiet introspective nature, helps in developing spiritual faculties. This feeling pierces shallowness and touches inward secrets.◊
'Orientation' is the realization that feelings and thoughts are veritable realities. In the soul- and thought-world, feelings and thoughts react on each other.
A wrong thought may have as devastating an effect on other thoughts in the thought-world. One should shrink from harbouring wrong thoughts and feelings.
We are to guard our thoughts and feelings and even forbid ourselves to harbour wrong thoughts and feelings. If we regulate our inner life in this way, we shall soon find ourselves becoming rich in feelings and creative with genuine imagination.◊
One can go for significant emotions and thoughts and tact that are fruitful.◊
ONE IS to bestow a further care on the world of sound. It should help to discriminate between sounds that are produced by the so-called inert (lifeless) bodies, and those from a living creature.◊
When we hear the cry of an animal, we can detect through it, besides our own feeling, the manifestation of an inward experience of the animal, whether of pleasure or of pain. Concentrate your whole attention on the fact that the sound tells you of something that lies outside your own will.
Closely unite your own feeling with the pleasure or pain of which the sound tells you. Get beyond the point of caring whether the sound is pleasant or unpleasant for yourself, or agreeable or disagreeable; your soul must be filled with whatever is transpiring in the being from which the sound proceeds. When this exercise is systematically and deliberately performed, you will develop the faculty of intermingling, as it were, with the being from which the sound proceeds.
A person sensitive to music will find it easier to cultivate his inner life in this way. You must learn to feel in this way in the face of the whole of nature. Thereby a new faculty of sensing is implanted. Through resounding tones, nature begins to inform secrets to you, by what in time looks like a quite coherent language of nature - the language of the soul.◊
Should you advance further you begin to hear with the soul. Note and observe how you listen to others. Accustom yourself to do this so that your inner self is altogether silent.◊
Don't judge as you tune in
Even the wisest can learn incalculably much from children. - Rudolf Steiner
SURFACE assent or dissent must be silenced. Deliberately select to do it by yourself.
Then quite slowly and by degrees, this new way of listening will creep into your habits, as of itself. This is systematically practised:
At certain times try to listen to the most contradictory views while silencing all assent and adverse criticism inside you. All purely intellectual judgment is to be silenced, and all feelings of displeasure, denial or dissent. Also, 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.
When you practise listening and observing without criticism into the soul of others,
sound becomes a vehicle or medium for a perception of soul and spirit.◊
IN TIME, dealing with the sounds of nature, the soul develops a new sense of hearing and is able to perceive manifestations from the spiritual world, so that the perception of the 'inner word' awakens. Gradually truths reveal themselves from the spiritual world. You hear speech uttered to you in a spiritual way.
Only to those who, by selfless listening, train themselves to be really recipient in stillness, unmoved by personal opinion or feeling, only to such can the higher beings speak
Higher truths are attained through such 'inwardly instilled speech'. What we hear from the lips of a true spiritual teacher, has been experienced by him in this manner.
Reading and Listening
YOU SHOULD read good literature and guard yourself.◊
While reading or listening, one is to direct the mind to the point which must be attained for real progress. It is the heart.◊
Let the Animal Form and the Crystal Form both Speak
Learn to observe different natural objects in a particular way; for example, a transparent and beautifully formed stone (a crystal), a plant and an animal. You should endeavour, at first, to direct your whole attention to comparing the stone with the animal in the following manner. The thoughts mentioned here are to pass through your 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. You say to yourself: 'The stone has a form; the animal also has a form. The stone remains motionless in its place. The animal changes its place. Its organs and limbs are fashioned . . . The form of the stone is not fashioned in accordance with desires, but in accordance with desireless force.' 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 . . . these feelings ensue in time if this is practised over and over again.◊
At first the feelings are only present as long as the observation lasts. Later on they continue and grow to something which remains living in the soul. You have then only to reflect, and both the feelings will always arise . . . 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, it will be noticed that the feeling flowing from it lies between the feelings derived from the stone and the animal, both in quality and degree. The organs thus formed are spiritual eyes. You gradually learn, by their means, to see something like psychic and spiritual colours. The spiritual world, with its lines and figures, remains dark . . . It must be noted that the words 'dark' and 'light', as well as the other expressions used, do but approximately describe what is meant. This cannot be otherwise. ◊
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 colours of a spiritual kind are seen. The colour proceeding from the plant is green, which little by little, resolves itself 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.
The above-mentioned colours only represent the principal shades in the stone, plant and animal kingdoms. In reality all possible intermediate shades are present. Every stone, every plant, every animal has its own particular shade of colour.
Receptivity is Called For
In addition to these, there are also the beings of the higher worlds, which never incarnate physically, but which have their colours, often wonderful, often horrible. . . . The wealth of colour in these higher worlds is immeasurably greater than in the physical world.
Seeing with spiritual eyes, sooner or later one encounters beings - some of them higher, some lower than man himself - and the way to a great deal lies open. But see to it that you fulfil the elementary conditions. One precaution is necessary: you should lose none of your qualities as a good and noble man, or your receptivity for all physical reality. Throughout your training, you must continually increase your moral strength, your inner purity and your power of observation.◊
Have a care to be enlarging your sympathy for the animal and the human worlds and your sense for the beauty of nature. Failing this care, the heart would become hardened, and the senses blunted ◊
You rise, in the sense of the foregoing exercises, from the stone, the plant and the animal, up to man, and under all circumstances, the union of the soul with the spiritual world is effected. Otherwise many dangerous and even objectionable practices are tried. ◊
It is necessary that something of the truth should become known, so as to prevent error causing great harm. No harm can come to anyone following the way here, but no one should spend more time and strength on these exercises than he or she can spare, with due regard to his station of life and his duties, nor should he change anything, for the time being, in the external conditions of his life, through taking this path. Have patience.◊
After doing an exercise for a few minutes, you must be able to stop, and continue quietly your daily work, and no thought of these exercises should mingle with the day's work. ◊
One is to learn to wait in the highest and best sense of the word.
You should not omit to fortify yourself, throughout your work. Never cease repeating to yourself that you could have made quite considerable progress, after a certain interval, though it may not be apparent to you in the way you perhaps expected; otherwise you 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 . . . it is therefore not surprising if you do not immediately notice the powers of soul and spirit now developing in you. ◊
The teacher is aware of the progress made by his pupil long before the latter is conscious of it. The able teacher knows how the delicate spiritual eyes begin to form themselves.◊
The teacher can confer on the pupil no powers which are not already latent within his pupil already. ◊
Do not abandon the path to higher knowledge only if your progress is not immediately apparent to yourself. Further know: The first experiences may be thought to be as illusions, or you regards these first experiences as being of no value, or they appear to you to be so unlikely that you cannot believe they will lead you to any appreciable results within a measurable time.◊
Have courage and self-confidence, they must never be extinguished. (You will need them for this training.*)
You can bring yourself to repeat, over and over again, an exercise which has failed, apparently, for a countless number of times. ◊
A long time before any distinct perception of progress, there can rise in you a feeling from the hidden depths of the soul, that you are on the right path. Cherish and foster that feeling, for it can develop into a trustworthy guide. ◊
Extirpate the idea that any fantastic, mysterious practices are required for attaining higher knowledge. ◊
A good start has to be made with the thoughts and feelings with which we at present have, and these feelings and thoughts are given a new direction.
In the end it all resolves itself into the fact that man ordinarily carries body, soul and spirit about with him. You become conscious of soul and spirit, so it is highly important to give the proper direction to thoughts and feelings, for then can the perception of the invisibles be developed - and it is quite a simple matter.◊
The Seed Training
Place before yourself the small seed of a plant, and while contemplating this insignificant object, construct with intensity the right kind of thoughts, and through these thoughts develop certain feelings. In the first place, clearly grasp what you really see with your eyes. Describe to yourself the shape, colour and all other qualities of the seed. Then let your mind dwell on the following train of thought: 'Out of the seed, if planted in the soil, a plant of complex structure will grow.' Build up this plant in your imagination, and reflect as follows: 'What I am now picturing to myself in my imagination, will, later on, be drawn out of the seed by the forces of the earth and of light' - Grasp this thought: The seed contains something invisible that makes it grow and prosper in time: Concentrate on this invisible something. This invisible something will transmute itself later on into a visible plant with its patterned shape and colours. What you think, also feel it with some focus. ◊
In inner tranquillity the thought mentioned are to become a conscious inner experience. Enough time must be taken to allow the thought and the feeling which is coupled to it, to develop inside. If this be accomplished in the right way, an inner force will make itself felt and go for new filials of perception. Then the grain of seed will appear as if enveloped in a small luminous cloud that will be felt as a kind of flame. The centre of this flame evokes the same feeling as when one is under the impression of the colour lilac, and the edges as when under the impression of a bluish tone. What was formerly invisible now becomes visible by the power of the thoughts and the feelings we have stirred within. The plant itself will not become visible until later. ◊
All this appears to many as illusion. Many will fall away and abandon the path. Hope they won't block it. ◊
It is important not to confuse spiritual reality with imagination.
One is to have the courage to press onward and not become timorous and faint-hearted.
It is also necessary to keep unimpaired and ever cultivate that healthy sound sense which distinguishes truth from illusion. Fully conscious self-control must never be lost during the exercises, and they must be accompanied by the same sane, sound thinking which is applied to the details of everyday life.
Do not lapse into reveries. The intellectual clarity, not to say the sobriety of thought, must never for a moment be dulled. Do not be hampered from judging the matters of your daily life as sanely and as soundly as before. Examine yourself again and again to find out if you have remained unaltered in relation to the circumstances among which you live. ◊
Care must be taken not to drift at random into vague reveries.
The Plant Exercise
Here is a further exercise to succeed the one just described: place before you a plant which has reached the stage of full development. Fill your mind with the thought that the time will come when this plant will wither and die. Think: 'Something lies hidden - this plant, with its form and colours, will in time be no more. But it produces seeds, so that the species will not disappear. Thus there is something my eyes cannot see. I reflect on this, and in due time a prowess will develop in my soul, a prowess that gives rise to a new, deep perception. 'Out of the plant there again grows a kind of spiritual flame-form, larger than the one previously described. The flame can be felt as being greenish-blue in the centre, and yellowish-red at the outer edge. ◊
These colours are not seen as the physical eyes see colours, but the same feeling is experienced as in the case of a physical colour-impression.
From here you can perceive things not only in their present states, but also in their process of growth and decay. You begin to see in all things the spirit, and with that you have taken the first step of the secret of birth and death: A being comes into existence through birth, and passes away through death. And the ordinary 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 before our physical eyes. ◊
There are shorter and simpler ways, and there are persons who have gained knowledge of the phenomena of birth and death through personal vision without first going through all that has here been described. And there are people with considerable psychic gifts, who need but a slight impulse in order to find themselves already developed. But they are the exceptions; the methods described above should be safer. ◊
This helps: Not to create visions through imagining things, but to allow reality to create them within oneself. ◊
The truth must well up from inside.
After this, you may go on to contemplate man himself. But also strive for purity of your moral character. Banish all thought of ever using knowledge gained in this way for dumb personal benefit, as you may gain a trifle power over your fellow-creatures. A rule: For every one step that you take in the pursuit of higher knowledge, take three steps in the perfection of your own character. ◊
Fill your mind with a poignant recollection of someone that you know and that has some very marked desire, and reflect on what you can observe. Maintain inner tranquillity to your ability. Make the greatest possible effort, and a feeling should awaken in your soul in time. Allow this feeling to rise like a cloud on the cloudless horizon. However, you may very well fail hundreds and hundreds of times. It will also be a question of not losing patience.◊
Have patience, the right sort of patience.*
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. A half-luminous picture appears - the embodied desire of that soul - the picture is flame-like, yellowish-red in the centre, and reddish-blue or lilac at the edges. One is to treat such spiritual experiences with great delicacy, and not to speak to anyone about them, except to your teacher. Ordinary terms are gross and clumsy. ◊
Know how to observe silence concerning your spiritual experiences: observe silence even towards yourself. Do not try to clothe in words what you contemplate in the spirit, Lend yourself freely and without reservation to these spiritual impressions, and remember that your reasoning faculties confined to the physical world of the senses, are to begin with hardly equal to your new experience. The faculties you are now acquiring transcend this world.
However, you who have gained some certainty and steadiness in the observation of inner experiences can speak about them and thereby stimulate your fellow-men.
Direct your attention in the same way on a person to whom the fulfilment of some wish, the gratification of some desire has been granted, and in due course spiritual insight will once more be attained. A spiritual flame-form will be distinguished, creating an impression of yellow in the centre and green at the edges. ◊
By such observation of your fellow-creatures you may easily lapse into a moral fault. You may become uncharitable. Every conceivable effort must be made to prevent this.
Certainly, thoughts are real.
Self-education should go hand in hand with enough respect for the personal sides (aspects) of each individual.◊
By gaining the inner tranquillity and repose needed for these observational exercises, you will have undergone a great inner transformation. And enriching your inner self will lend confidence and composure to your outward demeanour. And this transformation of your outward demeanour will again react favourably on your soul. Thus you will be able to help yourself further. ◊
You see ways and means of penetrating more and more into the secrets of human nature, and perhaps become ripe for a deeper insight into the mysterious connections between human nature and all else. ◊
You must bring with you a certain measure of courage and fearlessness. Find opportunities for developing these virtues as is best. Here life itself is a good school . . . to look danger calmly in the face. (Use your wife, for example.*)◊
You require, in your soul-nature, the force which is only developed in the courageous and the fearless. For in penetrating to the higher mysteries you will see things which are hidden from ordinary humanity. You must be fit to endure this sight (So keep looking into the face of your partner if you have one . . .*).◊
If the physical senses do not allow us to perceive the higher truth, they are also for this reason our benefactors.
The forces at work in the world are both destructive and constructive, and the visionary is to behold the working of these forces and the march of destinies. ◊
Man is interwoven with these forces. Learn to maintain inner calm and steadiness in the face of difficult circumstances; and cultivate a strong trust in the beneficent powers. ◊
Press on to the future undismayed by any experiences of the past.◊
The path to the higher stages of knowledge and power is beset with obstacles. [Rudolf Steiner]
Learn how the objects of nature and the beings gifted with life manifest themselves to the spiritual ear and the spiritual eye - and lie naked - before the beholder. The qualities which can then be seen and heard are concealed from the physical eyes and ears. For physical perception they are enwrapped as in a veil.◊
Good and Firm Qualities Called For
Your firmness, prudence, resoluteness and your beneficent influence over your fellows tell of your moral development. ◊
Who have some proficiency, may win complete certainty in observing the higher worlds. ◊
Higher knowledge in its immediate form can be imparted. ◊
Learn in time to act from out of the higher worlds. ◊
Honour and respect those favoured of God.
In ordinary life you are impelled to action. And you must in no way neglect any of your duties in ordinary life because you are living and working in higher worlds. All the qualities which make a human being capable and efficient, may be enhanced in you who contemplates neatly. ◊
The deeds of the initiate are not always intelligible to the outsider.
There are duties to be performed. Recognize your duty and act rightly. ◊
Attain very good poise and self-assurance.
Be guided solely by the results of your higher perception, and do not deviate too much from that. By losing sight of the goal your action tended to, confusion would result. ◊
Go for enough self-control. ◊
It can be difficult to develop into the higher worlds, but a measure of self-development matters too. ◊
In the higher worlds our wishes, desires and inclinations produce effects. One is to drop the wayward impulses.◊
Get an unquestionably sound judgment. Get able to distinguish illusion, superstition and all manner of fancifulness, from true reality. 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, and never to spare personal opinion or inclination when logical thought demands.◊
Drop fancies and illusions and superstition to gain progress on the path - Dreamers and fantastical people are as unfit for the path to higher knowledge as superstitious people. ◊
You should not lose all sense of poetry in life, all power of enthusiasm because of words like: 'All prejudice must quit you,' and 'Without normal common sense, the efforts may be in vain.'◊
Be quick enough. Come quickly to terms with yourself, and draw on your Sself inside and listen to the inspiration of the Great Spirit. ◊
One is to develop great presence of mind. Show great presence of mind. Contemplation helps in developing it to some. ◊
Inducements to act or even to think as you have been accustomed, now cease. You must not lose yourself, for only within yourself can you find the one central vantage point where you can gain a firm hold. ◊
Ordinary life is itself an esoteric training for many.
Stick to Dear Things You Have Learnt and Look Ahead
To understand the world, it is not good to 'betray' anything you have learnt. So learn to apply the higher knowledge to your ability.◊
The higher knowledge does not lend itself to promiscuous talk; but you are free to say anything for quite a long time.◊
Act without being continually disturbed by the lower memory: Have full faith in the immediate present as your development continues.◊
All experience gained in life should hardly be renounced. But also judge every new experience wholly according to what is inherent in it, and of letting it react on you, unobscured by the past.
It is fine to be mentally prepared at every moment that every object and every being shall bring to you some new revelation.
If we judge the new by the standard of the old, we are liable to error. The memory of past experiences enables us to perceive the new.◊
Thus experience should serve the purpose of perceiving the new and not of judging it by the standard of the old.
Retain the knowledge of higher truths ever present in your soul by becoming with
the higher truths - Be able, quite as a matter of course, to manifest and administer
them in living actions, Let it become your practice, your habit, your inclination.◊
Many practical aspects of the higher education of soul and spirit can be put into practice by well-nigh anyone.◊
The clairvoyant perceives soul and spirit as interlacing, rotating, cloud-like spirals, dully glimmering with reddish, reddish-brown, or also, reddish-yellow tones. After this training they begin to assume a brilliant yellowish-green, or greenish-blue colour, and show a regular structure. This inner regularity can lead to higher knowledge.◊
Deep contentment should more and more take possession of the soul: master gross impatience.◊
Mantra yoga: Delve into a certain definite thought, making it absolutely your own. But here Steiner's thought is as follows: Wait patiently, and patience can grow into an actual feature of your character, and soon sets its mark on your exterior.◊
Suppose someone affronts us. Before our training a wave of anger would have surged up within us. Now, however, such an affront makes no difference to your intrinsic worth. Then do whatever must be done to meet the affront with calm and composure, not in a spirit of anger - but acting with the same calm composure when dealing with an affront against our own person, as we would if the affront were directed against another person in whose favour we had the right to intervene.◊
However precious some knowledge is accounted, do not crave for it or anticipate the time of its coming. It pays to be honest with yourself in your innermost soul. Look at your own faults, weaknesses and unfitness full in the face. The moment you try to excuse to yourself any one of your weaknesses, you have placed a stone before you on the path which is to lead you upward. Such obstacles can only be removed by self-enlightenment. Get rid of faults and failings by a just recognition of them.◊
A person can improve his intellect and reason, if he quietly and calmly makes it clear to himself why he is weak in this respect. Such self-knowledge is, of course, difficult. [Rudolf Steiner]◊
By making a habit of being truthful with yourself, you lay open the portal that can lead to a deeper insight.◊
Gross, unprofitable curiosity must fall away from you.◊
Learn to ask when knowledge can serve to perfect your own being in the service of evolution.◊
If we are to attain something we are allowed to desire it.◊
Desire will tend to fulfilment if backed by a force that is derived from a right knowledge. Do not desire at all until you know what is right for you to cherish or hold on to - That is one of the golden rules "upstairs and downstairs". (in the higher realms and on earth).◊
Do not follow your conscience or better judgment, and repent at leisure.*
Let your desires become powers that realize themselves.◊
Many people would like to learn something about their life before birth. An ennobled and purified desire should enable you to do so.◊
Cultivate a feeling of joy and devotion for what you learn.◊
Learn to cherish and foster a particular desire so that it brings with it its own fulfilment.◊
We must not suppose that when we are free from anger, we shall immediately have a psychic (astral) vision.◊
Rash anger is not the only failing to be combated - Many grow impatient or sceptical.◊
Anger and vexation have to be combated, and timidity, superstition, prejudice, vanity and ambition, vain curiosity, the mania of imparting information, and the making of distinctions in human beings according to the outward characteristics of rank, sex, race and so forth. Much more depends on such matters than on the increase of intelligence and the employment of artificial exercises.◊
Fear of some phenomenon prevents us from estimating it rightly; a racial prejudice prevents some from seeing into a man's soul in all its delicacy and subtlety.◊
If anything be said to which we must reply, we must be careful to consider the speaker's opinion, feeling and even his prejudice, rather than what we have to say at the moment on the subject under discussion. In this example a refined quality of tact is required. Devote your care to cultivating that sort of great tact.◊
Learn to weigh: Listen to the speaker as carefully and as attentively as you possibly can, and let your reply derive its form from what you have just heard.◊
The most important is perhaps not the difference of opinions but the other's discovering what is right if you contribute something valid towards it.◊
Right tact can be permeated with a quality of gentleness. Harshness often scares away; whereas gentleness clears the obstacles away and unseals the inner organs.◊
This helps: Quietly paying attention to all the subtleties in the soul-life of your environment, while reducing to absolute silence any sound within yourself. The soul-life of your environment will impress itself on you in such a way that your own soul will grow, and as it grows, become regular in its structure, as a plant expanding in the sunlight. Rudolf Steiner Knowledge, Attain Higher Worlds
Khw: Steiner, Rudolf. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. GA 10.
Translation by George Metaxa, Herndon, VA: Anthroposophic Press, 1947.
Net: Lamsa, George. trans. The New Testament. Philadelphia: Holman Bible Publishers, 1968.
NOTE. The book reference above is to a later edition than the one I have made use of here, which is: Steiner, Rudolf. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. Translated by George Metaxa. 3rd ed. GA 10. London: Rudolf Steiner Publishing, 1937.
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