Sunday, February 28, 2016
Yoga: Well-balanced living
Rudolf Steiner: "Although in the outside world the very height of materialistic views and opinions prevail, we are nevertheless just entering on an epoch of the de-materialising of thought and of the world of ideas, which, in the course of time, must lead to a spiritualising and permeating of the earth-life as such, by the spirit. That which is to lay hold of and affect the external life on the physical plane must first be grasped by a few and then by an ever-increasing number of persons, grasped and understood Spiritually. Spiritual Science is in this respect to be a beginning, a means whereby men can uplift their souls to that which is today accessible to those who desire to raise themselves to it, and of which the external physical life is not as yet a reflection, though that is what it must become if the earth is not, in a sense, to be swamped in the downfall of materialistic development. The situation of present-day man can be described as follows. His soul is generally speaking really very near to the Spiritual world; but the ideas and especially the feelings produced by a materialistic conception of the world and by a materialistic attitude towards it, have woven a veil before that which is in reality very close to the human soul today. The connection between the physical Earth-existence, in which man with his whole being is involved notwithstanding many assertions to the contrary made in other quarters — the connection between this materialistic earth existence and the Spiritual world can be found by man, if he will endeavour to develop the inner courageous forces necessary for understanding, not only what nature paints to his external senses, but also that which remains invisible. We can unite ourselves with this invisible essence and experience it, if we stir up the inner force of the soul sufficiently to become aware that in this force the soul shares in something super-human and Spiritual. This connection must not be sought just as human connections and relationships are sought, in the rude external sense-existence; for the connection between the human soul and the Spiritual world is to be found in the intimate forces which the human soul develops when it evolves an inner, silent and quiet attention. Man must now train himself to this, for he has become accustomed, in this materialistic age, to pay attention only to what presses on him from without, and which in a sense calls out to his capacities of perception. The spirit that must be experienced within does not call out, we have to wait for it, and we can only approach it by preparing ourselves for its approach. Concerning the things belonging to the external world which present themselves to our senses and press in upon our outer perception, we can say that they come to us, that they speak to us; but we cannot say anything of the kind as regards the way in which the spirit, the spiritual world, draws near to us. The language of modern times — as I have often said — is more or less coined for the use of the external world, and it is therefore difficult to find words conveying a real impression of that part of the spiritual world which stands before the soul. But an attempt can be made to show approximately the difference between that and the physical. We might say that the Spiritual is experienced in the feeling of gratitude which comes whenever one experiences the Spiritual; one feels: I am grateful to it. Take special note of this: we owe gratitude to the spiritual world. In observing the physical world we say: we see spread out before our senses the mineral world, from which proceed the plant world, the animal world, and our own, — the world of man. In the latter we feel ourselves in a sense at the top of an ascending sequence of external kingdoms; but as far as the Spiritual kingdoms are concerned, we feel ourselves at the bottom, while above and beyond us stretch out the kingdoms of the Angels, Archangels, Archai, and so on. We feel the whole time that we are being supported from these kingdoms, continually called to life by them. We owe gratitude to them. We look up to them and say: our lives and the whole content of our souls flows down to us from the will-impregnated thoughts of the Beings belonging to those worlds, and by them we are constantly being formed. This feeling of personal gratitude to the higher kingdoms should become just as alive in us as the feeling — let us say — of the impressions received through physical perception. When these two feelings are equally alive in our souls-one, that: ‘The external sense things react upon us,’ and the other, that: ‘We owe what lives in the very centre of our being to the Higher Hierarchies,’ — the soul is then in that state of balance in which it can continually perceive aright the co-operative working of the Spiritual and the physical, which indeed goes on unceasingly, but which cannot be perceived unless the two feelings described above are properly balanced."