Saturday, August 27, 2011

Establishing the right relation to the cosmos

From an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Karlsruhe, October 14, 1911:
Last time we said that everything in the outer world is maya and that practically everything must be thought of in reverse. We emphasized that an esotericist must learn to always look at everything around him in the way mentioned. If he sees a flower, he should think of it upside down; if he hears a sound coming from the right, he should consider that the sound is really coming from the left. He can go even further and consider the same thing in other cases. Where it's dark, he should tell himself that it's really bright, and where it's light, it's really dark. If we anchor this feeling of the inversion of outer maya in us, if all of our thinking is guided by this, then we'll experience great transformations in us that lead us to the truth. But if we want to make all of this clear to ourselves through mere reflection, we're led into great dangers. An esotericist knows that all symbols and esoteric teachings can be a little dangerous if they're wrongly understood and applied, but we esotericists aren't little children. One who has tried to apply what was said here the last time will have gotten the feeling as if the ground were being pulled out from under his feet. And when one tries to understand these things intellectually, it's as if two mirrors were set up facing each other, so that a reflection repeating itself endlessly arises. Then the danger is that the intellect would dance along with this endless repetition as if in a whirling dance. The healthy human intellect then says to itself: My understanding stands still on me here. Only an unhealthy soul life lets itself be pulled into the whirling dance.
But we can also go further with the inversion and include human beings. Let's imagine a human face that has lighter or darker colors, with lighter or darker hair, and now let's imagine a bright face as dark, dark hair as light, and so on. Also we should imagine hollows where the face protrudes and bulges where it recedes. The skin's color also changes; think dark green where it's rosy and light green where it's dark red. If we could feel this, we'd be able to know the inner nature of this man. For instance, a light green color would show us that we have to do with someone who stands strongly in the life that works in the three lower kingdoms of nature. When the color appears to be dark green, he would be more inclined toward spiritual things. And where one sees blue, the highest spiritual qualities would become manifest in this human being. But if we would first imagine the color and then transfer it in thought to the face that's before us, we'd go far astray.
Another thing that we must imagine is that something that looks ugly is really beautiful. That's why in old paintings Christ on the cross wasn't made beautiful but often ugly and distorted.
An esotericist who's always talking about his difficulties and physical pains, who makes a daily account of all the great and small pains that he must endure, is a weak esotericist. One who wants to get ahead must develop the strength in himself to not want to be constantly cured of all his ailments through medicines and baths; he must realize that all of this belongs to esoteric training, in which man's whole being undergoes a change. If someone goes over a meadow and sees an autumn crocus it would be an example of a rather sick soul life if he thinks that it wants to devour him. But in an esotericist who isn't sick, it can happen that he has the feeling that he's being grabbed from behind by higher beings and being sucked up, as it were. One sometimes finds a man who's afraid of an upper-story window because he gets a desire to jump out of it. Or there's the fear of open places, where a man doesn't dare to go through one. This feeling stops if there's someone with him. Official medicine gives causes for these phenomena, but the real reason is that such a person lacks justified solitude. All men need to be alone to a certain extent, and this is not just egoism. Someone who always wants to help others will at some point feel that he can't help anymore if he doesn't get the forces for this out of solitude. One who always wants to talk will someday sense that his words are empty if he doesn't let spiritual forces come to him in solitude. We must be alone for prayer and meditation; communal prayer can only bring men to a certain groupsouledness. One who thinks that it's egotistical to go into solitude simply feels the need to be with other people, not to help them. A supposedly selfless wish to help can really come from egoism, where one simply seeks sociability. For instance, the magnetic healing that's used to lessen others' pain could just come from the need to have a pleasant feeling from stroking someone's body. Although love and egoism are opposite poles, it's nevertheless true that in certain boundary cases they come very close to each other and it's difficult to tell them apart.
We're given strength through our  ego-consciousness so that we're not sucked up by higher beings entirely, so that we don't become puppets, but higher development gets us to make ourselves independent in our feelings; otherwise we would lose our self-consciousness completely. We're supposed to consciously develop ourselves up to the higher hierarchies.
One who through his study of theosophy has grasped the great truths about world and man in such a way that they ensoul him and go warmly through him will learn to feel himself in the midst of spiritual beings in such a way that he's in no danger of losing his independent existence. In everything that may happen to us we learn to say from within: That comes from God. In suffering, we learn to say: God is sending us this suffering as a loving reminder of our past mistakes. And we'll happily say: That's a blessing that God is sending us — and it makes us thankful and not conceited. We then learn to see the working of divine powers in all events, and we'll gradually feel that we have the right relation to the cosmos.

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