Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Light on the Meditative Path

Notes of a person in attendance at an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Munich on August 23, 1911:

My dear brothers and sisters! As we know, it's our duty at the beginning of each esoteric lesson to address the Spirit of the day, the regent of the day, who helps to direct the earth in world evolution. (Verse for Wednesday) Today we'll go into what one can look upon as the only right and true beginning of clairvoyance. The most important thing in all esoteric activity and inner development is to create calm, inner quiet, and to keep it after the actual meditation. After we've meditated on the verses or have done the other things that the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings have given us for our training, we should remain absolutely quiet for a while. Nothing from everyday life, no memory of it, and not even a feeling of our body should press in there. We must feel bodiless and as if empty; we must eliminate thoughts about our own existence and should only accept the fact of our existence. But one shouldn't fall asleep or get into a dream state.
Then one has a condition in which clairvoyance can begin. What arises before our inner gaze in such moments comes from the spiritual world. There are ways of telling whether the images that emerge there are purely spiritual or whether they're illusory.
What would happen if the etheric body would leave the physical body for even a moment? The physical body would contract, shrivel and become wrinkled; it tends to contract into a very small space and then to eventually dissolve into nothing. The etheric body tends to spread out into the widths of space; then it feels connected with all forces out in space. It fills the physical body and spreads it out to the size it has.
Old people get wrinkles through this tendency of the physical body to shrink. The physical body shrinks because the etheric body doesn't work in there anymore like it did when the man was young.
Something similar happens to our etheric body during meditation. The etheric body streams and spreads out in space and feels its way into everything. The same is true at the moment of death, when the physical body releases the etheric body; this can also last for days.
It's a blissful sensation when the etheric body feels as if it's dissolved in space. And things would remain like this until rebirth if the astral body wasn't there to pull the etheric body back together again through its desires, drives, and passions; thereby a man enters kamaloca.
During meditation one should try — and this can be done after years of effort — to get to the point where one's interior feels illuminated. A man becomes a light that illumines the objects in the spirit world that approach him. The things we perceive in such moments when the soul is very calm aren't like the ones in physical life where we see them from outside, like we see the Sun rising on the horizon in the morning. Rather, to stick with the Sun example, we feel as if we were in the Sun that rises there on the horizon of our clairvoyant consciousness. We feel as if we were divided up in space. But illusory figures arise before us, then, if we bring personal feelings of sympathy and especially of antipathy, improper fondness for certain people, etc. into our meditation. In someone who lies and is dishonest in daily life, the lies stream into space with his etheric body. The dishonestly is rayed back by the things that a pupil sees there, just as a mirror reflects an image of our face and an echo throws back our voice. Then dissembling shapes such as beautiful angel figures appear there, caused by the dishonesty that streams out with the etheric body. Through the relation of these figures to our own dishonesty the latter is increasingly consolidated, and eventually we can't distinguish between truth and lies anymore.
Now, some of you may think that there must be ways to protect oneself against these delusive images. But as truly as I'm speaking here and am advocating the esotericism behind which stand the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings, so true it is that there's no way to immediately dispel these illusory images and to prevent them from appearing. Only through very patient, steady work on oneself, through the overcoming of dishonesty in oneself, can one gradually get to the point where these illusory things don't appear anymore and lies don't become reflected, because they aren't there anymore.
Someone who is proud, who begins esoteric training with false ambition, who feel a wild desire to experience all truths of the spiritual world as fast as possible, produces errors in himself, thereby. He becomes receptive for all gossip out in the world. He likes to stick his nose into men's everyday affairs as he listens eagerly to all sensational comments and phenomena. Then he cannot distinguish between true and false things anymore.
That's how ambition and error are connected. Each of us must combat unhealthy cravings for the highest truths, pride, lies and dishonesty in himself. We must raise ourselves to the highest morality in daily life if we want to arrive at the right clairvoyance, which can only emerge from meditations that are done properly.
To do these correctly, one must not bring feelings and thoughts about everyday life into them; otherwise one would pollute the etheric substance that should radiate out there.
The longer and more intensively the meditations are done, the more intensive their effect is; but one must be a little cautious here. One who notices that he doesn't feel well, gets dizzy or the like, shouldn't meditate too long, and he should think seriously about what he did wrong. One should feel the same after a meditation as before it. We should think about our esoteric life very often. We should know our defects and make it quite clear to ourselves how bad we are. But this knowledge of our badness shouldn't depress us. That would be crass egotism, for through this depression we would show that we thought we were better than we really are, whereas we do have the defects that we acquired ourselves through our previous life and that thereby became our karma. See the defects quite clearly and then start to get rid of them.
We must learn to think objectively. Those who say that they're already thinking objectively are  often making a big mistake, for this assumption is only subjective, it's a delusion.
Pride or ambition leads to error and superstition; we must not succumb to this. We should confront everything that comes to meet us, from whatever side, with an alert, open intellect, clear thinking, and sharp logic. We shouldn't swear by what seems right to us at first; investigate it critically, don't give in blindly to something. That's also the way it should be in our esoteric life; no belief in authority is demanded.
And my dear sisters and brothers, the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings let me tell you that you should always maintain and use all of your intellectual powers with respect to the wisdom that's given by them, with respect to what I'm justified in advocating here, and also with respect to me. One should approach what's said and advocated here with healthy human understanding, with sensibleness and with an open-minded thinking, if it is only opened far enough. You shouldn't swear by this or that but should judge for yourself.
And so we'll summarize everything that this class — which like all esoteric classes should be a sacred one for us — has brought us with the words:

In the spirit lay the germ of my body.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
The eyes of sense,
That through them I may see
The lights of bodies.
And the spirit has imprinted in my body
Reason and sensation
And feeling and will,
That through them I may perceive bodies
And act upon them.
In the spirit lay the germ of my body.

In my body lies the germ of the spirit.
And I will incorporate into my spirit
The supersensible eyes
That through them I may behold the light of spirits.
And I will imprint in my spirit
Wisdom and power and love,
So that through me the spirits may act
And I become a self-conscious organ
Of their deeds.
In my body lies the germ of the spirit.