Rudolf Steiner, February 20, 1910:
This idea should never lead us to regard an external occupation as less important for cosmic life as a whole than some different kind of calling. We must realize that from a certain point of view the smallest and the greatest achievement of which we are capable are of equal importance for the whole. Life is a mosaic, composed of tiny pieces of stone. The man who places one little piece into the mosaic is not less important than the man who thought out the plan of the mosaic. As far as the Divine World Order is concerned, the smallest is just as significant as the greatest. Insight into this truth will avert any feelings of dissatisfaction which might otherwise so easily occur in life. This is the only attitude to our tasks in life that can give us a true understanding of the inner work that must be performed within our soul. It is the only true attitude to adopt to spiritual endeavor.
Such ideas should never remain mere theory. The theosophist does well to bring home to himself over and over again in inner contemplation how little in keeping it would be with the World Order if some position in life left him unsatisfied. World-evolution could not take its course if we did not carry out in the right way what seem to be most insignificant details in life. This attitude will give us the right feeling for the great revelations of existence and we shall understand the significance of the teaching that each one of us, over and above what we represent in the physical world, should make ourselves as worthy as possible, in line with the wisdom of worlds.
We must regard spiritual development in itself as absolutely essential. Many people say: What is the good of spiritual development if it does not make me useful in life? If we learn to recognize the beginnings of karma, our tasks in life will become clear to us. Not only is it our task to do this thing or that; it is our task to make ourselves as worthy, as valuable, as we possibly can. We must master the thought that we have within us countless forces, countless faculties which we dare not let run to seed in our soul. What the divine-spiritual World Order will do with what we have made of our soul must be left to the divine-spiritual World Order. If we work at our soul development and pay heed to the beckoning of karma, we shall realize what our duties are.
But there was a time when he was not dependent upon these impressions from outside, when he possessed a dim, dreamlike clairvoyance. Clairvoyant pictures welled up from within him, pictures which presented and gave expression to an outer reality, but not the same kind of reality as we have around us today. Everything around us today — plants, animals, air, water, clouds, mountains — none of this was seen with sharp outlines, but as it were through a mist. With his dreamlike consciousness man looked to the realm immediately above him, the realm of the Angeloi. With still higher consciousness he looked up to the realm of the Archangeloi. We today look at the mineral kingdom, but in those days man looked right up to the realm of the Spirits of Personality (Archai) and from there to the still higher Hierarchies. Just as today he knows that he is composed of mineral substances, so, in those olden times, he knew: My soul has come down from the realm of the Spirits of Personality and has been formed out of the substances of the realms of Archangeloi and Angeloi. He looked up to what was above him — and beheld there his spiritual home.
From thence he has descended to existence in the physical world and to perception of the physical outer world. First of all he lost his vision of the Archai, and beheld the animal kingdom. Then he lost vision of the Archangeloi and beheld the plant kingdom. Then he lost vision of the Angeloi and beheld the mineral kingdom. But for a long time still, men were able at certain times to look upwards., knowing of the reality of these higher beings. Only slowly and by degrees did their gaze come to be directed to the purely external world. The door to the spiritual world was closed.
But when people who were still able to some extent to see into the spiritual world experienced what is today called ‘illness’, illness and death had for them quite different meanings than they have for us today. There were intermediate states of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and when some illness befell a man it was possible for him to evoke a state of consciousness in which he had clairvoyant vision of the spiritual world. In such states he was permeated through and through by the spiritual, and this worked as a remedy, as a healing power. Today, when man has come down into the physical world, the physical body has become overpoweringly strong and the soul has become weak. Think of soft wax and wax that has hardened. It is difficult to make any impression upon hard wax, whereas soft wax is pliable. In olden times the physical body of man was pliable material which the soul was able to shape and mould. Then the soul connected itself with the spiritual, it was able to mould the physical. Intense devotion to the spiritual can help the spiritual to be a healing force. In olden times, man was able to permeate himself with the spiritual, not for the purpose of knowledge alone but for the purpose of healing.
In those olden times men lived in communion with higher spiritual beings. When they had descended to the physical plane but were still in connection with the spiritual worlds, they could not ward off the harmful spiritual beings. They could be permeated with evil spiritual powers, for example by elementary beings inhabiting the astral plane. A man could lend himself to the good spiritual influences, but he was also exposed to evil spiritual beings. Today he is less subject to these evil demonic beings, which in olden times worked with such strength in the more pliable material that men might be possessed by them.
The reason for all this was because it was man's destiny to descend to the physical plane and gain self-consciousness. His ego had long been working from outside upon his human nature. But it was only through the Christ Impulse that man could become fully conscious of the ego and its purpose. The Christ Impulse was revealed, first of all, in reflection, in the lightning in which Jehovah appeared to Moses, just as the light of the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. Jehovah is in very truth the reflection of Christ. The first revelation of Christ is in reflection. We cannot understand the Gospel of St. John until we realize that the Christ Impulse is the essential, all-important factor in the development of ego-consciousness.
A number of sick people were brought to Christ at the time of the day when Christ could work most strongly as a spiritual power. It was the spiritual light which was to work — not the physical sunlight (which is only the garment of the spiritual light). It was when the Sun had set that the sick were brought to Christ. We must picture to ourselves how the healing actually took place. The people who came to Christ had the firm faith and conviction that the impulse which can drive away the demons was working through Him. If the expulsion of the demons had been achieved through some external means, the Christ would not have been working through the ego. A man can only know Christ by developing inner strength. And Christ can work only when this strength comes to expression in the ego of man.