Thursday, February 29, 2024

Death and Karma and Reincarnation; Wisdom, Beauty, Strength

Diagram IX

Foundations of Esotericism. Lecture 22

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, October 24, 1905:

As a continuation of the lecture on Karma and Reincarnation, let us select for special consideration the problem of death in its connection with the whole subject.
The question: Why does man die? continually claims the attention of mankind. But it is not quite easy to answer, for what we today call dying is directly connected with the fact that we stand at a quite definite stage of our development. We know that we live in three worlds — in the physical, astral, and mental worlds — and that our existence changes between these three worlds. We have within us an inner kernel of being which we call the Monad. We retain this kernel throughout the three worlds. It lives within us in the physical world, but also in the astral and devachanic worlds. This inner kernel, however, is always clad in a different garment. In the physical, astral, and devachanic worlds the garment of our kernel-of-being is different.
Now we will first look away from death and picture the human being in the physical world clothed with a particular kind of matter. He then enters the astral and devachanic worlds, always with a different garment. Let us now assume that the human being were conscious in all three worlds, so that he could perceive the things around him. Without senses and perception he would be unable to live consciously even in the physical world. If man today were equally conscious in all three worlds there would be no death, there would only be transformation. Then he would pass over consciously from one world into the other. This passing over would be no death for him, and for those left behind at most something like a journey. At present things are so that man only gradually gains continuity of consciousness in these three worlds. At first he experiences it to be a darkening of his consciousness when he enters the other worlds from the physical world. The beings who retain consciousness do not know death. Let us now come to an understanding of the way in which man has reached the stage of having his present-day physical consciousness and of how he will attain another consciousness.
We must learn to know man as a duality: as the Monad, and as what clothes the Monad. We ask: How has the one and how has the other arisen? Where did the astral man live before he became what he is today, and where did the Monad live? Both have gone through different stages of development, both have gradually reached the point of being able to unite.
In considering the physical-astral human being we are taken back into very distant times, when he was only present as an astral archetype, as an astral form. The astral man who was originally present was a formation unlike the present astral body; he was a much more comprehensive being. We can picture the astral body of those times by thinking of the Earth as a great astral ball made up of astral human beings. All the Nature forces and beings which surround us today were at that time still within man, who lived dissolved in astral existence. All plants, animals, and so on, the animal instincts and passions, were still within him. What the lion, and all the mammals, have within them today was at that time completely intermingled with the human astral body, which then contained within it all the beings at present spread over the Earth. The astral Earth consisted of human astral bodies joined together like a great blackberry and enclosed by a spiritual atmosphere in which there lived devachanic beings.
This atmosphere — astral air, one might call it — which at that time surrounded the astral Earth was composed of a somewhat thinner substance than the astral bodies of human beings. In this astral air lived spiritual beings — both lower and higher — among others the human Monads also, completely separated from the human astral bodies. This was the condition of the Earth at that time. The Monads, which were already present in the astral air, could not unite with the astral bodies, for these were still too wild. The instincts and passions had first to be ejected. Thus through the throwing off of certain substances and forces possessed by the astral body, the latter gradually developed in a purer form. What had been thrown off, however, remained as separated astral forms, beings with a much denser astral body, with wilder instincts, impulses, and passions.
Thus there now existed two astral bodies: a less wild human astral body, and an astral body that was very wild and opaque. Let us keep these strictly apart, the human astral body and what lived around it. The human astral body becomes ever finer and nobler, always throwing off those parts of itself it needed to expel, and these became ever denser and denser. In this way, when they eventually reached physical density, the other kingdoms arose: the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms. Certain instincts and forces expelled in this way appeared as the different animal species.
So a continual purification of the astral body took place, and this brought about on Earth a necessary result. For through the fact that in consequence of this purification what man once had within him he now had outside him, he entered into relationship with these beings, and what formerly he had had within him now worked into him from outside. That is an eternal process which holds good also for the separation of the sexes, which from that time on affect each other from outside. To begin with, the whole world was interwoven with us; only later did it work upon us from outside. The original symbol for this coming back into oneself from the other side is the snake biting its tail.
In the purified astral body, pictures arise now of the world surrounding it. Let us assume that a human being had perhaps separated off ten different forms, which are now around him. Previously they were within him, and later he is surrounded by them. Now mirrored pictures arise in the purified astral body of the forms existing in the outer world. These mirrored pictures become a new force within him, they are active within him, transforming the nobler, purified astral body. For instance, it has rejected from itself the wilder instincts; these are now outside it as pictures and work upon it as formative force. The astral body is built up by means of the pictures of the world it has thrown off and which were earlier within it. They build up in it a new body. Formerly man had had the macrocosm within him, he then separated it off and now this formed within him the microcosm, a portion torn off from himself.
Thus at a certain stage we find the human being in a form which is given him by his surroundings. The mirrored pictures work on his astral body in such a way that they bring about in it differentiation and division. Through the mirrored pictures his astral body divided itself and he re-assembled it again out of the parts, so that he is now a membered organism. The undifferentiated astral mass has become differentiated into the different organs, the heart and so on. To begin with everything was astral, and this was then enclosed by the physical human body. Thereby the human forms became more and more adapted to densification and to becoming a more complicated and comprehensive organism, which is an image of the entire environment.
What has become densest of all is the physical body; the etheric body is less dense, and the astral body is the finest. They are in reality mirrored images of the outer world, microcosm in the macrocosm. Meanwhile the astral body has become ever finer and finer, so that at a certain point of Earth evolution the human being has a developed astral body. Through the fact that the astral body has become increasingly finer, it has attracted to itself the finer astral substance around it.
Meanwhile in the upper region the opposite evolutionary processes have taken place. The Monad has descended from the highest regions of Devachan into the astral region and in the course of this descent has become denser. Now the two parts approach each other. From the one side man ascends as far as the astral body, from the other side it is met by the Monad on its descent into the astral world. This was in the Lemurian Age. Thus they could mutually fructify each other. The Monad had clothed itself with devachanic substance, then again with astral airy substance. From below upwards we have the physical substance, then the etheric substance, then again astral substance. So both astral substances fructify one another and, as it were, melt into one another. What comes from above has the Monad within it. As though into a bed, it sinks itself into the astral substance.
This is how the descent of the soul takes place. But in order that it can happen, the Monad must develop a thirst to know the lower regions. This thirst must be taken for granted. As Monad, one can only learn to know the lower regions by incarnating in the human body and by its means looking out into the surrounding world. Man now consists of four members: firstly he has a physical body, secondly an etheric body, thirdly an astral body, and within this as fourth member the ego, the Monad. After the fourfold organism has come into being the Monad can look through it into the environment and a relationship is established between the Monad and everything that is in the surroundings. Through this the thirst of the Monad is partially assuaged.
We have seen that the entire human body is put together, has been put together, out of parts which arose through the fact that the originally undifferentiated mass divided itself into organs, after the original astral body had thrown off various portions of itself which were then reflected back, causing images to arise within it. These reflected images became forces within the astral body and these built up the etheric body, that is to say, through these manifold images the etheric body developed separate members. This etheric body now consisted of different parts and, as a further process, each of these parts densified within itself and so the differentiated physical body developed. Every such physical kernel, out of which the organs later develop, forms at the same time a kind of central point in the ether.
Diagram IX
The intervening spaces between the centers are filled with the main etheric mass. We must think of the body as put together out of ten parts. These ten parts (shown in the diagram) hold the body together through their relationship; they are images of the whole of the rest of Nature, and everything depends on how strongly they are connected. Different degrees of relationship exist between the separate parts. As long as these are retained the body is held together; when the various relationships cease, the parts fall away; the body disintegrates. Because during Earth evolution we have manifold forms, the parts in the etheric body only hold together to a certain degree. Human nature is an image of the beings which have been thrown off. Insofar as these beings lead a separate existence, the parts of the physical body also lead a separate existence. When the relationship of forces has become so slight as to be non-existent, our life comes to an end. The length of our life is conditioned by the way in which the beings around us get on with each other.
The development of the higher man proceeds in such a way that, to begin with, man works upon his astral body. He works ideals into it, enthusiasm and so on. He fights against his instincts. As soon as he replaces passions with ideals, instincts with duties, and develops enthusiasm in the place of desires, he creates harmony between the parts of his astral body. This peace-making work begins with the entrance of the Monad, and the astral body gradually approaches immortality. From that time on, the astral body no longer dies but retains continuity to the degree in which it has induced peace in itself and established peace in the face of the destructive forces. From the time when the Monad enters, it brings about peace, to begin with in the astral body. Now the instincts begin to come into mutual relationship. Harmony comes about in the former chaos and an astral form arises which survives, remains living. In the physical and etheric bodies peace is as yet not established, and only partly so in the astral body. The latter retains its form for a short time only, but the more peace is established, so much the longer is the time in Devachan.
When someone has become a Chela he begins to establish peace in the etheric body. Then the etheric body too survives. The Masters also establish peace in the physical body; thus in their case the physical body also survives. The important thing is to bring into harmony the different bodies, which consist of separate warring parts, and transmute them into bodies having immortality.
Man has formed his physical body by putting out from himself the kingdoms of Nature, which then reflected themselves back into him. Through this, the single parts came into existence within him. Now he performs actions; through these he again has intercourse with his surroundings. What he now puts out are the effects of his deeds. He projects his actions into the surrounding world and gradually becomes a reflection of these actions. The Monad has been drawn into the human body; man begins to perform actions. These actions are incorporated into the surrounding world and are reflected back. To the same degree in which the Monad begins to establish peace, it also begins to take up the reflected images of its own actions.
Here we have come to a point where we continually create a new kingdom around us — the effects of our own actions. This again builds up something within us. As previously we fashioned the undifferentiated etheric body into separate members, we build into the monadic existence the effects of our actions. We call this the creation of our karma. Thereby we can give permanence to everything in the Monad. Earlier the astral body had purified itself by casting off everything that was in it. Now man created for himself a new kingdom of deeds, as it were out of nothing, in regard to relationships, a ‘creation out of nothing’. That which previously had no existence, the new relationship, reflects itself in the Monad as something new, something having a pictorial character, and a new inner kernel of being is formed in the Monad, arising out of the reflected image of deeds, the reflection of karma. As the work of the Monad progresses, the kernel of being becomes more and more enlarged. Let us observe the Monad after a period of time. On the one hand it will have established harmony out of the warring forces, and on the other hand out of the effects of deeds. Both unite and a unified formation arises.
Let us suppose that someone's earthly garment has been laid aside and the Monad remains. It retains the results of its deeds. The question is, how the results of the deeds are brought about. If these results have been so brought about that in the worlds in which the Monad now finds itself they can continue to be fruitful, then the human being can sojourn there for a long time; if not, for a short time only. In this case they must fall back again into the thirst of the Monad (for the physical plane) and once again inhabit a physical body.
Human life is a continual process of being enveloped in what surrounds us: Involution — Evolution. We take up image forms and according to these, shape our own body. What the Monad has brought about is again taken up by man as his karma. Man will always be the result of his karma. Vedanta teaches that the different parts of the human being are dissolved and cast to the winds; what still remains of him, that is his karma. This is the eternal which man has created out of himself, something which he himself had first to take up as image out of his environment. Man is immortal; he only needs to exert his will, he only needs to form his actions in such a way that they have a lasting existence. That part of us is immortal which we gain for ourselves from the outside world. We have come into being through the world and are beginning, through fructification with the Monad, to build up in ourselves the mirror of a new world. The Monad has quickened the mirrored images in us. Now these images can work outwards, and the effects of these images reflect themselves anew. A new inner life arises. With our actions we are continually changing our environment. Through this, new reflected images come about; these now become karma. This is a new life which springs up from within. The result of this is that in order to develop further, from a definite point of time we must go out of ourselves and work selflessly in our surroundings. We must make possible this going out from ourselves in order selflessly to bring about harmonious relationships in our surroundings. This necessitates a harmonizing of the reflected images in ourselves. It is our task to make the world around us a harmonious one. If we are a destructive element in the world, what is reflected into us is devastation: if we bring about harmony in the world, harmonies are reflected into us.
The highest degree of perfection which we have put out from ourselves, which we have established around us, this we shall take with us. Therefore the Rosicrucians said: Form the world in such a way that it contains within itself Wisdom, Beauty, and Strength; then Wisdom, Beauty, and Strength will be reflected into us. Wisdom is the reflection of Manas; Beauty, Piety, Goodness are the reflection of Buddhi; Strength is the reflection of Atman.
To begin with we develop around us a domain of Wisdom through ourselves fostering Wisdom. Then we develop a domain of Beauty in all regions. Then Wisdom becomes visible and reflects itself in us: Buddhi. Finally we bestow on the whole physical existence, Wisdom within, Beauty without.
If our will enables us to carry this through, then we have strength: Atman, the power to transpose all this into reality. Thus we establish the three kingdoms within us: Manas, Buddhi, Atman.
Not through laborious research does man progress further on the Earth, but by embodying into the Earth Wisdom, Beauty, and Strength. Through the work of our higher ego we transform the transient body given us by the Gods and create for ourselves immortal bodies. The Chela, who ennobles his etheric body (so that it remains in existence), gradually renounces the Maharajas. The Master, whose physical body also remains in existence, can renounce the Lipikas. He stands above karma. This we must describe as the progress of man in his inner life. What is higher, outside ourselves, we must seek to approach. Therefore our Higher Self is not to be sought within us, but in the individualities who have ascended into loftier regions.


What the world needs now is anthroposophy


  Rudolf Steiner:  "Unless we move toward spiritual perception of the cosmos, all medicine, all psychology, and all therapy remain nothing more than the result of blind experimentation."

Rudolf Steiner:  "It does not suffice simply to train doctors to know that a certain remedy is good for a certain illness. One must rather seek to make the totality of life healthier, and for that, one must first discover all that is related to a healthy life."

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First-Class Lesson #3. Given 100 years ago today


Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland

February 29, 1924

Let us begin, my dear friends, with the words well known to us that effectively indicate the path into the spiritual, the words which are spoken by the Guardian, as the person comes upon him, that characterize what a person can perceive on the threshold to the spiritual world.

From the wide expanse of the beings of space
Who in the light experience existence,
From the onward tread of the course of time
Which in creating finds itself expressed,
From the depths of the feeling heart,
Where in one's self the world is born anew:

There sounds in speech filled with soul,
There shines in thoughts filled with spirit,
The from godly healing forces
In world shaping powers
Welling working word of existence-awareness:
O Man, know yourself!

At first it is a matter of a person bringing to light in his thoughts the paths to be taken if entrance into the spiritual world is sought. If someone or other brings his thoughts to bear upon what the initiate goes through in reality on entry into the spiritual world, no one can say that a person who meditates, if he lives in his thoughts in sincerity and in earnest, does not experience, even if only in idealistic reflections, that he does not experience the very thing that is ultimately revealed for the soul of a person on real entry into the spiritual world.

Now, one should not say, let us leave entry to the spiritual world to those seeking initiation, to those seeking the ability to stay with their souls in spiritual reality, as a normal person stays with the senses in physical reality. One should say something quite different. Note that a person engrossed in thought, living in thoughts, can actually approach what is denoted here as the way into, the entrance into the spiritual world, can approach the actuality of confronting the spiritual world, but of course not while mired in superficial thoughts, but while fully feeling it, and being engaged in it. So really one should say, that such a person has more than an intellectual understanding of it. Such a person can have some of what rules when he does emerge from the world of appearance, from the world of the senses, and actually enters the spiritual world.

So, what I will be speaking about with you today, my dear friends, is not something merely brought forth good-heartedly, to be used in seeking the personal transformation that leads into the spiritual world, but rather it is something that is brought forth that allows an initial experience of this transformation in one's thoughts. And you all basically desire this, or else you would not be sitting here.

And so, the following must be said. Whenever a person makes observations in the sensory world, and life is made of such observations, whenever a person takes whatever he bumps up against in the sensory world as the cause for engaging his will, whenever he moves on from observation to action, allowing it to work on his heart and mind, in feelings composed of action and observational thoughts together, then a person stands, simply due to his being presently planted as a physical being of earth, a person then stands on a safe and effective foundation. Whoever does not have such a safe foundation will certainly seek it. He seeks everywhere, finding himself believing something or other, for actual facts taught about his belief. He examines experiences that substantiate it somehow. He does not normally take up anything with a will if it has not been substantiated by external experience of some sort. So, a person stands firmly on a foundation, so he says to himself, on the things that are true, that he has seen, on the things that are real, that he has grasped hold of. It is certainly through the world itself, through the orderliness of the world, that certainty is gained in human life. And as these things are certain, so argues the person, as they are actually necessary for normal life between birth and death, they may be used to distinguish truth from illusion, truth from appearance, truth from dreams. In this manner of proofreading life, if such a person cannot verify something, then it is rated as illusion. And in normal life only that which he can rate as truth, as reality rather than illusion, will lead him with certainty through his life.

Now just imagine, my dear friends, going through sensory life in the normal way, making your rounds between birth and death, so that you nearly never can know with certainty whether something or other that you come upon is truth or illusion. You cannot check whether a person that you meet, who speaks to you, is actually a real person or whether he is some sort of semblance, some sort of simulacrum. You cannot distinguish whether any specific incident or happenstance is something you have simply dreamed up, or in interconnected detail is actually in the world. Now just think about what uncertainty, what terrible uncertainty, can come into life.

However, you may get a certain feeling that you are correct in evaluating life at every turn, correct about whether you are dreaming or whether you are actually confronting reality. It is just so when a student initially stands at the portal, at the threshold of the spiritual world; the most significant experience at the threshold of the spiritual world is noticing at once that this threshold is in actuality the spiritual world.

We have seen that at first merely darkness streams out from the spiritual world. But the very thing that wells up here and there, glowing and beaming out on first experiencing it, within which the guardian of the threshold allows his words to sound, as we heard at the last lesson, on first experiencing it can initially in no way be distinguished from all that has been experienced in the physical world of sensory knowledge, through intellectual insight. One cannot distinguish whether the present experience is that of a real spiritual being, a real spiritual actuality, or merely a simulacrum.

That is the very first experience that a person has in regarding the spiritual world, that appearance and reality are intermixed. Distinguishing between appearance and reality is at first quite problematic. Exactly this should most definitely be considered, not in the regular scholarly manner, but rather by means of elemental forces emerging in such things as convulsive events and sicknesses in various ways. Exactly by experiencing such elemental forces as an impression of one sort or another from the spiritual world, exactly this should be well considered, but not judged at the outset as being the actual spiritual world, for it might very well be something presenting as a flash out of the spiritual world that is really a mere illusion. Therefore, the first thing a person must learn, above all, in order to enter the spiritual world in the proper manner, is that what a person experiences in the physical world is quite removed from the real ability to distinguish truth from error, reality from illusion. A person must acquire a totally new way of distinguishing truth from illusion.

In our times, people certainly no longer care very much for the illumination flooding in from the spiritual world. This has been forsaken by people in the common civilization completely and emphatically, in favor of whatever can be grasped in one's hands and what can be seen with one's physical eyes. In these times, in which people wish to remain completely and emphatically within external certainty, as presented in the life between birth and death, in these times it is extremely wearying to attempt to distinguish truth from error, reality from appearance, as one becomes properly attuned to the spiritual world. So, in this undertaking, the very most serious effort is needed.

Now how has this come to be? Try to see what is happening. As a physical person bumping up against the external world, a person formulates thoughts about the external world. With such thoughts in hand, one simultaneously comes upon new impressions of the external world. These impressions of the external world run virtually under and through the thoughts and carry them. You don't need to do much at all in this regard, in order to live in reality. For reality carries you along, insofar as the reality is physical.

In the spiritual world it is very different. In the spiritual world you must first grow into it. In confronting the spiritual world, you first need to acquire a proper sense of true inherent reality. Then by and by you can come to the possibility of distinguishing truth from error, reality from appearance.

If you sit on a stool, exactly at the moment that you fail to fall to the floor, but rather sit solidly on the stool, then you know that the stool is in the physical world as a real stool, and not merely as an imaginary stool. The stool itself arranges that you come to this realization of its reality.

But that is not so in the spiritual world. Now just why is it this way in the physical world? In the physical world, basically, it is so because here in the physical world your thinking, your feeling, and your willing are carried by the physical material body as a unity. You are a three-limbed person in being a thinking person, a feeling person, and a willing person. All these, however, are joined together by the physical body.

In the blink of an eye as a person enters the spiritual world, he immediately becomes a three-parted being. His thinking goes its own way; his feeling goes its own way; his willing goes its own way. This division, this cleavage into three, he undergoes as soon as he gains entry into the spiritual world. And in the spiritual world you can think, can have thoughts, that simply have nothing to do with your will, but then these thoughts are illusions. You can have feelings having nothing to do with your will, but then these feelings are something that contributes to your destruction, not to your advancement.

Such is one's state of being at the instant of approaching the threshold of the spiritual world. It actually happens there, that as your thinking flies off into the depths of space, your feeling is directed back into its memories. Pay attention to what was just said. Try to understand that memory is actually something that presents rigorously on the threshold to the spiritual world. Just think about what you experienced ten years ago. It springs back in memory. The experience stands there. You are content, rightly content within the physical world, if you come upon a right lively memory. Whoever enters the spiritual world, however, for him it is really so, as though he were piercing through memory, as though he were going further than memory reaches. This is most important, that he goes beyond the limits of his memories in the physical world. He goes back beyond birth.

And when someone gains entry into the spiritual world, he feels at once that feeling simply does not stay with him. Thinking at least still goes out into the presented world. It takes off effectively into the world around. Feelings go out into the world, yet one must say to himself, if he wants to traverse with feeling, "Well, just where are you now?" When in life you have become 50 years old, in this manner you have certainly traveled back more than 50 years in time; you have traveled back 70 years, 90 years, 100 years, 150 years. Feeling carries you completely out of the time that you have witnessed from early childhood on.

And willing, if you fasten onto it in earnest, carries you still further back, into previous lives on earth. This is something that occurs, my friends, as soon as you really step in upon the threshold of the spiritual world. The cohesion of physical life ceases. In the abyss you no longer feel encased by your skin, but rather you feel split apart.

A person senses, when his thinking radiates out, thinking previously held together within awareness, when one’s thinking radiates out into the wide reaches and thoughts of the world, a person senses, immediately on entering the spiritual world, a person senses himself going back with his feelings to the time he had undergone between the last death and the present return to life on earth. And a person senses himself in previous earth-lives with his willing.

Directly this fissuring of the human being, which I have written about in my book, How to Know Higher Worlds, directly this fissuring of the human being creates difficulties on entry into the spiritual world, for thoughts spread themselves out. Thoughts that previously were held together now fly all over the world. But at the same time, they no longer can be taken at face value. And so one must acquire the ability to properly discern these thoughts that have so widely outrun themselves.

Feelings are now no longer intermingled with thoughts, since thoughts have departed from them to a certain extent. Your feelings must simply turn in a demeanor of reverence, devotion, and prayer to those beings accompanying a person during the life between death and birth. And if a person has marshaled such venerable feelings toward the spiritual world during his life, that is just what happens.

But in the blink of an eye when a person abandons himself to his willing, and so is carried back to previous earth-lives, then he settles into a great difficulty, for an immense force of attraction to all that is ignoble in his being develops. And working most strongly here, as I have previously said, is that it is difficult to distinguish between appearance and reality. A person develops a real inclination to abandon himself to appearance. I will clarify this.

If and when someone begins to meditate, when with inner devotion he really engages with and practices his meditation, he wants this meditation to proceed in the most care-free manner possible; he does not want to allow the meditation to tear him away from the comforts of life. Now such an effort, to be as quiescent as possible, as far as possible to remain within and not to be torn out of the comforts of life, this effort is a robust carrier of illusion, a robust carrier of mere appearance. For if someone devotes himself with complete honesty to the meditation, then out of the depths of the soul there inevitably emerges the conviction that there is some sort of evil complex within. One will simply not be able, during meditation, during immersion within oneself, a person will simply not be able to avoid really feeling, deeply feeling, that the potential is there to do anything and everything, to perpetrate in actuality whatever he or she is capable of doing. The stark intensity of the effort, just in admitting this to yourself, is such that instead you settle into the illusion, the illusion that in all certainty you are a good and righteous person in your inner complexities.

The correct experience coming out of meditation is quite different. It shows someone how he, as an individual, can be engulfed by all manner of conceit, how he can be engulfed by all manner of self-over-evaluation of his own intrinsic worth and under-evaluation of the intrinsic worth of others, how he can be thoroughly beset by this, by the conviction that people just don't have anything to offer, and that rather than experiencing them as having something to say, he really wants to just bask in other people's esteem. But that is the least of it. Whoever really and truly meditates, will see what sort of impulses are actually living in his soul, in regard to all that he certainly might be capable of. And so, the lower nature of man steps forth starkly before the inner gaze of the soul. And this honesty must be present in meditation. And when this honesty is present there, then reflected back is certainly what is in everyone’s impulses of will, just as it is also certainly reflected back in the words that have already come before our souls. Something is reflected back, chiseled into the words:

Behold the first beast, the crooked back,
The bone-locked head, the withered body,
Dull blunt blue is its skin.
Your fear of spirit-creator-being
Produced this monster in your willing.

And because this is so, because a person through an addiction, so to speak, in surrendering to this sort of illusion, gobbles down this inevitable striking impression in meditation, thence arises the inward impetus, the intention toward mockery of the spiritual world. But only by dealing with this as a counterforce can honest continuance in the spiritual world proceed. And so, the second beast now makes its appearance at the threshold:

Behold the second beast, it bares its teeth,
Contorts its face, and lies in scornful mockery,
Yellow with grayish cast is its body;
Your hatred of spirit-revelation
Produced this weakling in your feeling.

That is the way it is. That is the way it is, if we cannot emerge to pursue world-thoughts, if we remain powerless in rendering the thoughts that we held fast to otherwise in our heads during life on earth. That is the way it is for us, out of powerlessness in soaring with our human thoughts into world thoughts, that the third beast appears:

Behold the third beast, with long-split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this specter, this ghost in your thinking.

The less we withdraw into an illusion about this trinity, produced by our own being, the more we may enter the state of actually finding within us the nature of a true human being, a true human being who can receive the light coming from the spiritual world, who can henceforth perceive the enigma and comprehend as much as possible on earth of what is given to us in the words, "O Man, know yourself!" For from this self-awareness springs a true awareness of the world, through which you can direct your life in the proper manner. And so this disruption into three, which one experiences as thinking going its way, feeling going its way, and willing going its way, which were all held together through outer existence, is allowed to be referred to by the words which the Guardian of the Threshold speaks, to seekers drawing near:

The third beast’s glassy eye
Is the bad contrary-type
Of thinking, that denies itself
In you and chooses death,
Forsaking spirit powers
That held it before its earth-life
Living in spirit in spirit fields.

The second beast, the mocking face,
It is the bad contrary-force
Of feeling, that hollows-out suitable soul
And in it fashions living emptiness
Instead of spiritual worth, which was
Illuminating it before its earth-existence
By means of spirit’s sunny might.

The first beast, the bony mind,
It is the bad creative-might
Of willing, that estranges suitable body
From your soul's domain
And devotes it to adverse powers,
Who would rob world-existence
Of gods-existence in times to come.

These are the words, the words which will be spoken in admonition by the Guardian, so that we know just how entry into the spiritual world should not be gained. On entry into the spiritual world, we must choose quite another manner, feel in another manner, commit to becoming accustomed to another manner, other than what ruled us in the physical world. And for this it is required that we grapple with this trinity in us, that we turn our gaze strongly within, in order to take note of how thinking presently is, how feeling presently is, how willing presently is, and how they must become so that we can step over the threshold into the spiritual world, even if this happens only within our thoughts. It is so, that the gods in the serenity of absolute knowledge have established this obstacle and demand that it be surmounted.

We may immediately infer from having these daunting, perhaps chill-inducing words coming down from the Guardian, of which I have spoken to you today in recapitulation, that henceforth the Guardian will be adding others, which will tell us what we should do. Right now, the concern is that our first lessons in this class become simple practical means handed down to us, that can be applied in our thoughts and feelings and force of will, so that we may gain entry into the spiritual world in the right manner.

And the clarion call should in turn be three-membered, and as such should stream into us, so that we can live with it. For as we live with it, we launch ourselves along on the way into the spiritual world. So, as we eat and drink, so as we show and share, so should something in us gain dominion through all this, which the guardian of the threshold, who stands before the spiritual world, intones to us in his austere countenance. And he says at once in the first verse:

Look upon your web of thoughts:
World of semblance 1 you experience,
Self-awareness 2 hides from you;
Plunge beneath appearance:
Ether being whirls in you;
Self-awareness, it should honor 3
Your own spirit’s guiding beings.

Let us elucidate this clarion call. A person, living in the sensory world, in the life between birth and death, feels himself to be in his physical body. He knows that his legs carry him through the world. He knows that his circulating blood gives him life. He knows that his breathing awakens him to life. He entrusts himself, in his breath, in his circulating blood, in the movement of the bulk of his limbs, to what carries him through the world. He entrusts and gives himself over to these things. By doing this, by giving himself over to these things, he is a physical being taking part in earth existence. Just so, just as a person entrusts himself to the physical stuff in the physical world that made life on the earth possible in limb movements, in blood circulation, and in breathing, just so a person must entrust himself to, must give himself over in soul to the guiding powers of the spiritual world, if the person would take part in the spiritual world, if he would gain entrance there with awareness.

Just as I had to say for one's health in physical existence, that one’s blood must circulate just so, one’s breath must come with regularity, just so must I advise someone who similarly seeks to remain in health in the spiritual world, that his soul must align with, must be infused with, must be led by his spirit's guiding beings. [The first stanza, "Look upon your web of thoughts" was now written on the blackboard backwards, beginning with the last word of the stanza.]

Your own spirit’s guiding beings

However, my dear friends, you are attached to your blood through the grip of nature, you are attached to the movements of your musculoskeletal system through the grip of nature, and just so for your breathing. You cannot be beholden in this way to your guiding essence in the spiritual world. You must approach it there with inner activity. You do not get hold of it in the way you get hold of breath through the movement of your lungs, you get hold of it insofar as you honor it in reverence, [Over “guiding beings” was now written, "honor", so that what now stood on the blackboard was:]


Your own spirit’s guiding beings

honoring it in reverence with the most profound part that is rooted in you, with the core of your selfhood, your self-aware-presence, your self-awareness. [Before honor was written, "Self-awareness," so that what now stood on the blackboard was:]

Self-awareness honor

Your own spirit's guiding beings

Self-awareness, it should honor
Your own spirit’s guiding beings.

[With the speaking of these two lines the missing words "should" and "your" etc. were added, so that the last two lines now stood complete on the blackboard.] And so we have the facts of the case, the means by which you must stand within the spiritual world, as given in words, in the words spoken by the guardian.

And how do you stand within? You don't stand within in the same manner as when you stand with your legs on the physical surface of the earth. You don't stand within in the same manner as when you infuse the physical warmth of life in your blood. You don't stand within in the same manner as when you draw in your breath. You stand within by feeling the half spiritual ether being, the ether essence that whirls and wafts through you. [The third line from last was now written down.]

Ether being whirls in you;

That is the inner feeling, to stay within the spirit, as if one were oneself a small cloud, wind-blown all over and around by spiritual wind, as if one were taken around and about by this windy blowing back and forth, as when selfhood's core, namely your own true I, reveres, honors the guiding essence of your soul that approaches in this windy whirling wafting from all around. In submersion into this, we will be led. But what happens initially? So long as we simply remain within our meditation in all that I have just highlighted, we live in appearance; we must dive, dive beneath this semblance in full consciousness, diving into the whirling wafting wind with reverence, into the spirit's guiding being that appears as semblance. [The fourth line from last was now written down.]

Plunge beneath appearance:

Why should we do all this? Well, it is true, that in earthly life we initially have an unremarkable feeling in regard to our ego. Self-hood-existence, self-awareness, which we indicate with the word "I", is however an unremarkable, darkened presence, a feeling, that hides itself from us. [The fifth line from the last was written down.]

Self-awareness hides from you;

Of this one knows but little. And the little that one does know, that a person in thoughts, that a person becomes aware of and takes the measure of, is certainly not real world-existence, but is world-semblance. [The sixth line from the bottom was written.]

World of semblance you experience,

All this becomes for us, as we come upon the clarion call of the Guardian of the Threshold, [the seventh and accordingly first line was written down.]

Look upon your web of thoughts:

all this becomes for us our own moving thinking weaving, our thoughts weaving.

At this point we have the first mantric declamation, which should give us strength to approach the clarion call to self-awareness in our thoughts, which at first is spread out before our souls merely as words.

Look upon your web of thoughts:
World of semblance you experience,
Self-awareness hides from you;
Plunge beneath appearance:
Ether-being whirls in you;
Self-awareness, it should honor
Your own spirit’s guiding beings.

There it is, a challenging clarion call to us concerning the retrospection of our own thoughts. If you retire from the outer world and look back upon how thoughts are flowing within yourself, and then you meet the challenge that lies in these seven lines, then you have fulfilled the first of the requirements placed upon us by the Guardian of the Threshold. At this point, we have arrived at what the Guardian has to say about your feelings.

Embrace your stream of feelings:
Where semblance and substance mingle,
Aware-self leans toward semblance;
So plunge beneath appearance:
And world soul forces are in you;
Aware-self should consider well
Inherent in soul the powers of life.

And exactly as we arise in thinking through the first mantric declamation, so we arise through the second into the inner world of feelings. [Now the second stanza was written on the blackboard.]

Embrace your stream of feelings:

Refrain from thoughts and seek within, wending your way back into your own feelings. In thinking, all is mere appearance. If we get down into our feelings, just there is mixed, is mingled appearance and reality. We should realize this at once.

Where semblance and substance mingle,

By itself our "I", the true self, will not go willingly into the reality. It is used to the outward appearance of the senses; it will not go willingly into reality. It is drawn to what seems apparent in the brilliance, it yearns yet for the commotion of the sensory world,

Aware-self leans toward semblance;
So plunge beneath appearance:

into what is present in feelings, present fundamentally in one's life of feelings. It is the apparently real, a brilliant mixture of appearance and reality.

To plunge beneath appearance is the way, the way along which we will feel, if we really give ourselves over to the overall sense of these four lines, the way along which we will feel seriously and solemnly as we plunge into existence,

And world soul forces are in you;

Previously you yourself sought to honor in sinking into your thinking; now the aware-self seeks to consider well. The thought should be carried down under into feeling. We will come upon the following, affirmed for us by existence:

Aware-self should consider well
Inherent in soul the powers of life.

No longer semblance, now there are powers of life. The gods bestow upon us, even though our own essential nature, our "I" would like to lean toward semblance, the gods bestow upon us in the depths of feeling this rock of existence.

Now, if you really want the declamations to become mantras, it is good to keep in mind certain corresponding passages. [Words previously delineated and inscribed were now underlined on the blackboard.] First there is honor, and then consider, and we will see in the third stanza, how this is augmented. First you experience just semblance, then semblance and substance mingle. In the first there are guiding beings, and intrinsic powers of life in the second. In the first there are beings who lead us through the ether, and in the second that are powers of life leading us backward into pre-earthly existence-awareness. In this way we approach the meaning, the feeling. If we wish to make it into a real mantra, however, you must incorporate still something else.

So let us look at the first verse, "Look upon your web of thoughts.” I would like you to appreciate that it is clearly constructed in trochaic rhythm, in the trochaic voice. The emphasis is strong, then weak, and the feeling is emphatic, then retiring. When this proper etheric flow is present in your soul, in which to properly allow the enshrinement of higher beings, then you may be carried over into the spiritual world. [Macron and breve markings to indicate the trochaic rhythm were placed on the blackboard over the beginning of each of the seven lines.]

Lōok ŭpon your web of thoughts:
Wōrld ŏf semblance you experience,
Sēlf-ăwareness hides from you;
Plūnge bĕneath appearance:
Ēthĕr being whirls in you;
Sēlf-ăwareness, it should honor
Yōur ŏwn spirit’s guiding beings.

It is quite different in the second verse, "Embrace your stream of feelings." [Breve then macron markings indicating the iambic rhythm were placed on the blackboard at the beginning the seven next lines, along with the speaking of the corresponding emphasis.]

Ĕmbrāce your stream of feelings:
Whĕre sēmblance and substance mingle,
Ăwāre-self leans toward semblance;
Sŏ plūnge beneath appearance:
Ănd wōrld soul-forces are in you;
Ăwāre-self should consider well
Ĭnhērent in soul the powers of life.

The manner in which these words are taken in by your soul, whether trochaic or iambic, as here [first stanza], where there is a definite trochaic signature, and here [second stanza], where there is a definite iambic signature, the manner in which these words are taken in, gives the soul the proper stride.

Of course, the idea is not to simply achieve some sort of intellectual meaning in the soul, as if the soul could tread the path into the spiritual world merely in thought, but rather the idea is to approach universal existence with the right respiratory pattern and in the right rhythm. If you take up a rhythm that is iambic in your striving for admittance to universal thinking, you have misunderstood the Guardian of the Threshold. If you take up a ceremonious cadence that is trochaic and not iambic for entry into the wider world of feelings, you have again misunderstood the Guardian of the Threshold.

The third into which we must immerse, is the will. And for willing, the Guardian of the Threshold has again given us a ceremonial cadence. And after the first two have passed before our souls, we will be able to understand the last fairly well. [The third stanza was now written on the blackboard.]

Let reign in you the thrust of will:
It climbs from all apparent being,

It is not an article here, but relates to what emerges, to what climbs out when letting willing’s thrusting rule in you.

With autonomous existence 4 well-equipped; 5

Out of the will it burgeons out, manifesting, presiding, fashioning, creating, rising to that, which to its autonomous inherent existence gives substance, meaning.

Turn to this throughout your life:
Filled it is with world-spirit-might;
Your autonomous existence, it should grasp
World-maker-might into spirit-I.

Again, feel the progression. [The appropriate words of the third stanza previously written down were now subsequently underlined.]

consider well

First one is distant, one looks on, one reveres from outside. Then one comes near with thoughts, and is already walking in. Finally, one grasps. This is the climax; one walks in and takes it. One honors, then considers well, and then grasps:

first Guiding beings
then powers of life, and finally

which finally appears as such, in the line's beginning words, corresponding to the reality, the un-ambiguously effective manner of the force of will.

You will have a perception of the three as mantric speech, if you attend to the trochaic here [in the first stanza], the iambic here, [in the second stanza], although here [in the third stanza] you have two equally emphasized syllables. Here you have the spondaic. [Over the beginning of the lines on the blackboard the spondaic rhythmic markings of two macrons were inscribed along the with corresponding spoken intonation.]

Lēt reīgn in you the thrust of will:
Īt clīmbs from all apparent being
Wīth aūtonomous existence well-equipped;
Tūrn tō this throughout your life:
Fīlled īt īs with world-spirit-might;
Yoūr aūtonomous existence, it should grasp
Wōrld-māker-might into spirit-I.

All this is what one should attend to. You must tear yourself away from merely intelligible material, and attend to the trochaic, iambic, and spondaic cadences. In the blink of an eye, as we emerge from a sense of understanding into surrendering to the rhythm, in this blink of an eye we have the possibility of leaving the physical world and really entering the spiritual, for the spiritual does not open up if we turn to a mundane delineated sense of the words, but rather if we grasp the possibility of carrying the rhythm of these meaningfully delineated words out into the full warp and weft of universal life.

In this way the three-faceted rhythmic introspection of thinking, feeling, and willing will be enabled to work on the soul. This will certainly affect the soul in the right way, if the soul experiences this as it experiences eating and drinking in life, as it experiences the circulation of the blood, the breathing, as it experiences here just what can move you within, in the rhythm of the words.

Lōok ŭpon your thinking weaving:
Wōrld ŏf appearance you experience,
Sēlf-ăwareness hides from you;
Plūnge bĕneath appearance:
Ēthĕr being whirls in you;
Sēlf-ăwareness, it should honor
Yōur ŏwn spirit’s guiding beings.

Ĕmbrāce your feelings streaming:
Ĭt mīngles semblance and substance for you,
Ăwāre-self leans toward semblance;
Sŏ plūnge beneath appearance:
Ănd wōrld soul forces are in you;
Ăwāre-self, it should consider well
Ĭnhērent in soul the powers of life.

Lēt reīgn in you the thrust of will:
Īt clīmbs from all apparent being
Wīth aūtonomous existence well-equipped;
Tūrn tō this throughout your life:
Fīlled īt īs with world-spirit-might;
Yoūr aūtonomous existence, it should grasp
Wōrld-māker-might into spirit-I.

At first your blood is just passive in the words. Then as words appear in the corresponding rhythm, your blood is in motion. Seek the sense of the rhythms, let them dwell and live in your souls, and you will see, that you will then be able to approach ever more closely to the initial admonition the Guardian has brought to us, that I conveyed to your souls, my friends, at the first of these lessons.

Where on grounds of earth, color upon color,
Life developing reveals itself,
Where out of stuff of earth, form on form,
All without life takes shape,
Where feeling creatures, strong in will,
Delight in the warm glow of their existence,
Where you yourself, O Man, derive
Bodily life from earth and air and light:

There you enter your own being’s
Deep, night-bedecked, cold inner darkness;
You’d ask within the dark expanse
Never, who you are, and were, and will become.
For your true existence the day dims
To the night of the soul, to darkness of spirit.
And you turn yourself, soul-searching,
Unto the light, that from darknesses strengthens,

And if we will wend our way to the light, that from darknesses appears, we will find it, if we seek it by means of this three-faceted cadence, enthused with this holy blood of life in our souls, which will be present along the way to true knowledge of spirit and of God.

Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard Text for the Third Lesson

Siēh ĭn dir Gedankenweben:
Wēltĕnschein erlebest du,
Sēlbsthĕitsein verbirgt sich dir;
Tāuchĕ unter in den Schein:
Ät̄hĕrwesen weht in dir;
Sēlbstheĭtsein, es soll verehren
Dēinĕs Geistes Führerwesen.

Vĕrnīmm in dir Gefühle-Strömen:
Ĕs mēngen Schein und Sein sich dir,
Dĭe Sēlbstheit neigt dem Scheine sich;
Sŏ tāuche unter in scheinendes Sein:
Ŭnd Wēlten-Seelenkräfte sind in dir;
Dĭe Sēlbstheit, sie soll bedenken
Dĕr ēignen Seele Lebensmächte.

Lāß wālten in dir den Willens-Stoß:
Dēr stēigt aus allem Scheineswesen
Mīt Ēigensein erschaffend auf;
Īhm wēnde zu all dein Leben:
Dēr īst erfüllt von Welten-Geistesmacht;
Dēin Ēigensein, es soll ergreifen
Wēltschȫpfermacht im Geistes-Ich.

Lōok ŭpon your thinking weaving:
Wōrld ŏf appearance you experience,
Sēlf-ăwareness hides from you;
Plūnge bĕneath appearance:
Ēthĕr being whirls in you;
Sēlf-ăwareness, it should honor
Yōur ŏwn spirit’s guiding beings.

Ĕmbrāce your feelings streaming:
Ĭt mīngles semblance and substance for you,
Ăwāre-self leans toward semblance;
Sŏ plūnge beneath appearance:
Ănd wōrld soul forces are in you;
Ăwāre-self should consider well
Ĭnhērent in soul the powers of life.

Lēt reīgn in you the thrust of will:
Īt clīmbs from all apparent being
Wīth aūtonomous existence well-equipped;
Tūrn tō this throughout your life:
Fīlled īt īs with world-spirit-might;
Yoūr aūtonomous existence, it should grasp
Wōrld-māker-might into spirit-I.

Source: February 29, 1924