Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Notes from a member of the audience written down after the lesson.
An Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Hanover, December 31, 1911:
Today we'll ask ourselves what we learned through our exoteric study of theosophy. At least theoretically the answer will be that we've become aware that the whole world and our physical body is maya or illusion. At least we assume this theoretically, and it more or less remains a hypothesis for us. But when we begin an esoteric training this acceptance of a mere hypothesis should increasingly become a truth. We should become deeply aware that we don't really have a firm ground in which we can take root, that we only live on the surface of the foaming sea of life, that we never dive down into the real sea of reality, and that therefore we're always a plaything for illusions. Those who want to tread an esoteric path should and must arrive at this insight A certain feeling of despair, fear, and being abandoned will arise in most of us. The fear will be like that of someone standing at the edge of an abyss. Despair and forlornness will envelop a budding esotericist, because all the supports he thought he had in life will fall away from him like maya or illusion. His God seems to be torn away from him, because he only sees the false and delusive things in creation; this knowledge can make an atheist out of him.
And why must we tread this path, why must we look deep into the world of illusion, why have the Gods placed us in this unreal world? For they could have given us true reality instead of this play of life's wave on the surface. We'll see later that it's wise and good that the world is maya, illusion. If everything was true reality, we wouldn't look for truth and perfection any more. We couldn't develop any capacities, and since there wouldn't be anything wrong, no vices could exist. So we couldn't acquire virtues, we couldn't develop freely at all. Since we would always be living in the active, ruling Godhead, we'd never have an opportunity to freely dive down into the depths of reality, or to look for real knowledge. We would stop looking for God. “Looking for God” has a deep biblical meaning that one can only understand esoterically. After creating for six days, God rested on the seventh day. God had been active during the recapitulations of Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolution, and he rested on the seventh day, after the world had been created. Then God couldn't be found anymore out to the horizon of our earth evolution. He was invisible, and this is deeply significant.
What's really divine is hidden behind visible creation — that's the great truth that we must look for behind sensory illusion. And since the world is illusion, it gives us an opportunity to develop our I through all false maya so that we shall find reality and the Gods. And what path does estoteric training point out to us, what means does it give us so that we can arrive at a knowledge of higher worlds faster than a man in everyday life? It gives us certain concentration and meditation exercises through which the soul forces in us can be awakened and that would otherwise remain slumbering in us for a long time yet. I want to emphasize that a pupil shouldn't go on this path out of blind confidence in his teacher or out of a blind reverence for him, because that would be the completely wrong way. He should use his own intellect in everything he does, and he shouldn't let other people think for him. He should test everything, including what's connected with his exercises and meditation. When he's immersed in meditation, he shouldn't think that it has a suggestive effect, for that would be an entirely wrong assumption. They can't have a suggestive effect because they're put together in such a way that anyone can arrive at the imagination to which the exercises only point. Let's look at the meditation: In pure rays of light … What could have a suggestive effect here, since the content indicates something unreal? For anybody who says this knows that the Godhead can't be found in light rays. The exercise is like a symbol that stimulates us to create an imaginative picture while we try to immerse our soul in the Godhead of the world. We should let our own intellect speak and not act out of blind faith. It's better to remain in doubt until we arrive at a knowledge of the truth through our own efforts. Someday we'll get to that point.
And what's the other unavoidable experience one has by faithfully doing the exercises? It's a splitting of the personality.
A man will begin to feel as if something was accompanying him, something that thinks and hears with him and even speaks with him if he's inwardly weak. It's a second ego that emerges, a doppelganger that one has placed outside one. The more seriously someone treads the esoteric path, the more of his old man he places outside him, that is, he sheds one skin after another like a snake. These skins become like a second body, a doppelganger who never leaves one again for the rest of one's life. In the old Egyptian mysteries someone who had placed his double outside him was called a kha man. The double is chained to the kha man to constantly remind him what he was or still is. That's not always a pleasant feeling. But the awareness that he always has his double with him will remind him of his defects and that he should improve himself. He should constantly feel this presence, otherwise things would get dangerous, and because of his many high ideals and intentions, he would forget what his inner life and defects are. Under certain circumstances it could even endanger a high initiate's life if in spite of his high striving he would forget this double for even a moment. He could actually lose his physical body through death, somewhat like one who's concentrating on a sublime problem and forgets to pay attention to traffic and gets run over. The more the double appears the better it is for our development, for otherwise, we would be living under great delusions about ourself. For we can't see the progress we've made; only our teacher can. Let's recall the place in the story of creation where the Elohim had ascended to the Sun after they created man. It was only there that they could judge their work: “And the Elohim saw everything that they had made, and behold it was very good.” They had attained perfection and that's why they could judge their work.