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Spiritual Soul Instructions and Observation of the World

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Course III - Lecture III

Theosophical Teachings of the Soul.
Part III: Soul and Mind

GA 52

March 30th, 1904

Let me begin this third lecture with an image Plato used to express what he had to say about the eternity of the human mind.

Socrates facing death stands before his pupils. During the next hours the end of the great teacher must happen. Facing his death, Socrates speaks about the eternity of the spiritual core in the human being. What he has to say about the indestructibility of that which lives in the human being makes a deep impression. In few hours, life will no longer be in the body which stands before his disciples. In few hours, Socrates whom one can see with eyes will no longer be. In this situation, Socrates makes it clear to his disciples that he who will no longer stand before them in few hours whom they will no longer have is not that who is so valuable for them; that this Socrates who yet stands before them cannot be that who transmitted the great teaching of the human soul and the human mind to them. He makes it clear to his disciples that the true sage has made himself independent of the whole sensuous world. Everything disappears that the sensory impressions, that the carnal desires and wishes can supply to him just by means of a really wise world view. That is only valuable to the sage which the senses can never give. If only that disappears which stands before the senses, then this remains unchanged to which no senses can get. Proofs — they may be the sharpest, the most brilliant ones — would hardly have a stronger effect than the conviction which expresses itself in the immediate sensation, which comes from the heart of the sage at the moment when the external sensuous situation seems to be completely contradictory to his words. This is a conviction which is expressed with the consecration of death, a conviction which simply testifies because it is expressed in this situation how powerful this view has become in the sage, so that he defeats the event which befalls him in few hours.

Which effect has this conversation exerted on the disciples? Phaedo, the disciple, says that he was at this moment in a situation in which normally those not are who experience such an event. Neither pain nor joy penetrated his heart. He was above any grief and desire. With peaceful rest and equanimity Phaidon took up the teachings which were handed over to him in view of death.

If we put this picture before our souls, we think of two things. Plato, the great sage of Greece, tries to support his conviction of the eternity of the human mind not only using logical proofs or philosophical arguments, but while he let a high developed human being express it in view of death. This conviction expresses itself as something that lives immediately in the human soul. Plato wanted to suggest this way that the question of the eternity of the human soul cannot be answered in every situation. We can answer it only if we have developed to the height of mind like Socrates who dedicated his whole life to the internal consideration of the soul; a wise man who possessed knowledge of that which reveals itself if the human being directs his look to his inside. He shows us the strength of the immediate conviction that something lives in him about which he knows that it is imperishable because he has recognised it. It depends on that. Every reasonable human being in this field will never say that a proof of the immortality of the human soul can be given in any situation, but the conviction of the eternity of the human mind must be acquired; the human being must have got to know the life of the soul. If he knows this life, if he has become engrossed in its qualities, he knows as exactly as one knows of another object if one knows its qualities, he knows about the human mind, and the strength of conviction speaks in his inside. Not only this, but in an important, essential moment Plato lets Socrates express this conviction: at a moment when any sensory impression seems to be contradictory to the expressed truth.

Why do the disciples understand this great teaching, why does it make sense to them? It makes sense to them because they are lifted over desire and harm by the power of Socrates’ speech; over that which ties the human being to the immediately transient, to the sensuous, to the everyday life. Thus it should be expressed that the human being does not know about the qualities of the spirit in any situation, but only if he rises above that which ties him to the everyday life if he removed desire and harm coming from the impressions of the everyday life, if he can look up to a solemn moment when the everyday life does no longer speak when the events which cause harm or joy otherwise do no longer cause harm or joy. The human being is more receptive for the topmost truth at such moments.

This gives us the sense to understand how theosophy thinks about the eternity of the soul. It does not speak in this sense of immortality that it tries to prove this immortality like another matter. No, it gives instructions how the human being can transport himself gradually into that position and condition of the spirit in which he experiences the mind in his own inside really, gets to know it according to its qualities, while he tries to transport himself into the life of the spirit. Then it realises that from the view of the spirit immediately the conviction of the eternity of this spirit comes to the fore. As well as we do not recognise an object which is before our sensory eye by a proof, but because it shows its qualities simply through perception, the theosophist puts the question of the immortality of the human soul in another form than one normally hears it. He puts the question: how can we perceive internal, spiritual life? How become we engrossed in our inside, so that we hear the spirit speaking in our inside?

At all times and places where one tried to bring up disciples for understanding of these questions, one demanded from these disciples first of all that they go through a preparation time. Plato demanded — as you probably know — from his disciples that they had penetrated into the spirit of mathematics before they tried to take up his teachings about the spiritual life. Which sense did this Platonic preparation have? The disciple should have understood the spirit of mathematics. We heard in the first lecture what this spirit of mathematics offers. It offers truths in the most elementary way which is elated above all sensory truths; truths which we cannot see with the eyes and cannot seize with the hands.

Even if we illustrate the teaching of the circle, the teaching of the numerical ratios to ourselves sensually, we know that we make an illustration with it only. We know that the teaching of the circle, of the triangle is independent of this sensuous view. We draw a triangle on the board or on paper to us, and by means of this sensuous triangle we try to get to the sentence that the sum of the three angles of a triangle is 180 degrees. However, we know that this sentence is true for any triangle whichever shape we may give it. We know that this sentence makes sense to us if we are used to find such sentences disregarding the sensuous impressions disregarding any sensuous view. We acquire the simplest, most trivial truths this way. Mathematics only gives the most trivial super-sensible truth, but it gives super-sensible truth. Because it gives the simplest, the most trivial and super-sensible truth which is got the easiest, Plato demanded from his disciples that they learn in mathematics how one gets to the super-sensible truth. What does one learn by the fact that one gets to super-sensible truth? One learns to conceive a truth without desire and harm, without immediate, everyday interest, without personal prejudices, without that which meets us in life wherever we go.

Why does the mathematical truth appear with such clearness and invincibility? Because no interest, no personal sympathy and antipathy play a role in its knowledge. That means that no prejudices are contributory factors. We do not care completely that two times two are four; we do not care how big the angles of a triangle may be et cetera. It is this freedom of any sensuous interest, of any personal desire and listlessness, which Plato had in mind when he demanded from his disciples that they become engrossed in the spirit of mathematics. After they had got used to looking up to truth without interest, without interference of passion and desire, without interference of everyday prejudices, then Plato considered his pupils worthy to behold the truth of those questions against which people normally have the biggest prejudices.

Which human being could treat other questions at first also uninterested, without desire and harm, as the mathematical truth two times two four, or, the sum of angles of a triangle is 180 degrees? But not before the human being was able to see the highest truth of soul and spirit in a similar, uninterested light free of grief and desire, he was mature to approach these questions. Without desire and grief the human being must treat these questions. He must be beyond that which appears in his soul every day, at every opportunity, wherever he goes. Where desire and grief and personal interest interfere in our answer, there we cannot answer the questions objectively, in the true light. Plato also wanted to say this when he let the dying Socrates speak about the immortality of the human mind. It cannot be a matter of proving immortality in any situation, but it only concerns the question: how does one get the perception of the qualities of the human soul, so that — if one gets it — the strength of conviction flows from our soul by itself?

This also formed the basis of all those teaching sites in which one tried to lead the students to the highest truth in an appropriate way. It is only a matter of course that the questions: does the human mind live before birth and after death? And: which is the destination of the human being in time and in eternity? that these questions cannot be treated by most human beings without interest. It is a matter of course that any personal interest, any hope and fear accompanying the human being constantly are connected with the question of the eternity of the spirit. One called mystery schools in ancient times those sites where the highest questions of the spiritual life were taught and answered to the students.

In such mystery sites the pupils were not taught about such questions in the abstract. Truths were handed down to them only if they were able according to their state of soul, of mind, and of the whole personality to see these questions in the right light. They were in this state beyond desire and harm, beyond fear and hope which tie the human being to themselves day by day, hour for hour. These passions, these contents of feeling had to be removed from the personality at first. Without fear and hope, purified of them, the pupil had to approach the mystery site.

Purification was the preparation which the pupil had to go through. Without this, the questions were not answered to him. The purification of passions, of desire and harm, of fear and hope was the precondition to climb up to the summit on which the question of immortality can be treated. Because one was clear to himself about the fact that then the pupil can look in the eye of spirit as well as somebody who delves in a mathematical field sees in the eye of pure objective mathematics: without passion, without being tormented by fear and hope.

We have seen in the last lecture that desire and harm are the expressions of the human soul above all. The inner experience, the very own experience of the person is desire and harm. Desire and harm must go through purification first, before the soul can get to the spirit. Desire and harm are bound to the everyday impressions of the senses, to the immediate experiences of the person, to the interests concerning his person. What does desire normally do to us, what does harm do to us? That which interests us as a personality. That causes desire and harm which disappears with our death more or less. We must leave this narrow circle of that which causes desire and harm in order to get higher knowledge. Our desire and harm must be separated, must be drawn off from these everyday interests and be taken up to quite different worlds. The human being has to lift desire and harm, the wishes of his soul over the everyday, the sensuous things; he must bind them to the highest experiences of the spirit.

He must look up with these wishes and desires to that to which one attributes a shadowy or abstract existence usually. What could be more abstract for the human being of the everyday life than the pure, unsensuous thought? The human beings of everyday life who stick to their personalities with desire and harm already flee from the simplest, most trivial super-sensible truth. Mathematics is widely avoided just because it is not accompanied by any interest, desire, and harm in the everyday sense of the word. The pupil had to be purified in the mystery schools from this everyday desire and harm.

What lived only as an image of thought in his inside and flitted away like a shadowy formation, he had to be attached to it, and he had to love this like the human being is attached to the everyday with his whole soul. One called the change of the passions and desires metamorphosis. There is a new reality for him afterwards; a new world makes impressions on him. That which leaves the usual person cold which touches him as something sober and cold is the world of ideas. It is this to which his desire and harm are bound now, at which one looks like something real, and which becomes a reality now like table and chairs.

Only if the human being has progressed so far that the world of ideas, usually called abstract, moves, enchants, soaks up his soul, if this shadowy reality of thoughts surrounds him in such a way that he lives and works within this world as well as the everyday person moves in the everyday, sensuous reality which he can see and feel — if this metamorphosis of the whole human being has happened, he is in the state in which the spirit in the environment speaks to him; then he experiences this spirit like a living language, then he perceives the Word that has become flesh and expresses itself in all things.

If the everyday person looks out and sees the lifeless minerals around him, he sees them controlled by physical laws, controlled by the laws of gravitation, magnetism, heat, light et cetera. The human being realises the laws to which these beings are subject using his thoughts. But just these thoughts do not speak to him with the same concrete reality, do not mean that which his hands touch what his eyes see. After this metamorphosis of the human being has taken place, he thinks not only of shadow-images like of the physical laws, then these shadow-images start speaking the living language of the spirit to him. The spirit speaks to him from the surroundings. From the plants, from the minerals, from the different genera of the animals the spirit of the surroundings speaks to the human being who lives without desire and harm.

Theosophy points to a development, not to an abstract truth, to a concrete truth, not to logical proofs, if it speaks about the world of ideas, of the spiritual world. It talks about that which the human beings should become; it does not speak about proofs. Nature speaks to a human being differently who has purified his soul, so that it does no longer stick to the everyday; does not have the everyday pains and joys, but higher pains and higher joy and higher bliss at the same time which flow from the pure spirit of the things. The theosophical ethics expresses that pictorially. It expresses in two marvellous pictures that the human being can recognise the highest truth only at the moment when he has lifted his senses over the everyday pain and the everyday joy of the things. As long as the eye sticks to the things with joy and pain, in the everyday sense of the word, as long it cannot perceive the spirit round itself. As long as the ear still has the immediate sensitiveness of the everyday life, as long it cannot hear the living word through which the spiritual things round us speak to us. That is why the theosophical teaching of development sees the demand in two pictures which the human being has to put to himself if he wants to attain the knowledge of the spirit.

Before the eyes can see,
They must be incapable of tears.
Before the ear can hear,
It must have lost its sensitiveness ...

(Mabel Collins Light on the Path)

The eye which cherishes the spirit can no longer have tears of joy and tears of pain in the everyday sense. Because if the human being has advanced to this level of development, his self-consciousness speaks in a different, in a new way to him. Then we look into the covered sanctuary of our inside in a quite new way. Then the human being perceives himself as a member of the spiritual world. Then he perceives himself as something that is pure and beyond any sensuous because he has taken off desire and harm in the sensuous sense. Then he hears self-consciousness in his inside speaking to him as the mathematical truth speaks indifferently to him, but in such a way as mathematical truth also speaks in another sense. Mathematical truth namely is true and eternal in certain way. What appears to us in the language of mathematics, which is free of sensuality, is true regardless of time and space. Regardless of time and space that speaks in our inside to us which appears before our soul when it has purified itself up to desire and harm of spiritual matters. Then the eternal speaks to us in its significance. The eternal with its significance spoke to the dying Socrates that way, and the current of the immediate spirituality went over to the disciples. From that which he received as an experience from the dying Socrates the disciple Phaedo expresses that desire and harm in the usual sense must do damage if the spirit wants to speak directly to us.

We can observe this in the so-called abnormal phenomena of the human life. These phenomena are apparently far from our considerations of the first part of my lecture. However, considered in the true sense of the word, they are very close to these considerations. These are the phenomena which are called abnormal conditions of the soul, like hypnotism, somnambulism and clairvoyance.

What does hypnosis mean in the human life? Today it cannot be my task to explain the various performances which have to be carried out if we want to transport a human being into the condition similar to sleep which we call hypnosis. Either this happens — I want to mention this only by the way — by looking at a shining object whereby the attention is concentrated in particular, or also by simply speaking to the person concerned in suitable way, while we say: you fall asleep now. — Thereby we can produce this condition of hypnosis, a kind of sleep, in which the everyday waking consciousness is extinguished. The human being who has been transported into hypnotic sleep that way stands or sits before the hypnotist, motionless, without impression in the usual sense of the word. Such a hypnotised person can be stung with needles, can be hit, his limbs can be moved to other positions — he perceives nothing, he feels nothing of that which would have caused pain or maybe a pleasant sensation, a tickle, we want to say, to him under other circumstances, with waking consciousness. In the usual sense desire and harm are eliminated from the being of such a hypnotised person. However, desire and harm are the basic qualities of the soul, the middle part of the human being, as I have explained in the last talk. What does hypnotism eliminate? It basically eliminates the soul of the three parts, body, soul and mind. We have eliminated the middle part of the human being. He is not active, he does not feel desire and harm in the usual sense; it does not hurt him what would hurt him if his soul functioned normally.

How is the being active now in such a person if you speak to such a hypnotised person, if you give him some orders? If you say to him: get up, do three steps, he carries out these orders. You can still give him more intricate, more manifold orders — he carries out them. You can put down sensuous objects to him, for example, a pear, and say to him, this is a glass ball. He will believe it. What lies sensually before him has no significance for him. It is decisive for him that you say to him, it is a glass ball. If you ask him: what do you have before yourself? He will answer to you: a glass ball. — Your mind, what is in you if you are the hypnotist and what you think, what comes as a thought from you has a direct effect on the actions of this person.

He follows the orders of your mind with his body automatically. Why does he follow these orders? Because his soul is eliminated, because his soul does not intervene between his body and your mind. At the moment when his soul is active with its desire and harm again, when it is able to feel pain, to perceive again, at this moment only the soul decides whether these orders are to be carried out; whether it has to accept the thoughts of the other. If you face another person in normal condition, his mind works on you. But his mind, his thoughts work on your soul first of all. It works on you like desire and harm, and you decide how to react to the thoughts, to the will actions of the other. If the soul is silent, if the soul is eliminated, then it does not position itself between your body and the mind of the other, then the body follows the impressions of the hypnotist, the impressions of his mind will-lessly as the mineral follows the physical laws. Elimination of the soul is the essential part of hypnosis. Then the foreign thought, the thought located beyond the person, works with the strength of a physical law on this person who is in a condition similar to sleep. That works like a physical law which inserts itself between this spiritual natural force and the body, and this is the soul. Between your own mind and your own body the soul inserts itself. We carry out what we grasp as a thought what we grasp thinking in the everyday life only because it transforms itself into our personal wishes that it is accepted, is found right from our desire and our harm that, in other words, our mind speaks to our soul at first and our soul carries out the orders of our own mind.

Now one may ask: why does not the highest member of the human being, the mind, face the hypnotist if the soul is eliminated, if the hypnotist faces the hypnotised? Why does the mind of the person slumber, why is it inactive? — We get this clear in our mind if we know that for the human being during his earthly incarnation the interaction of mind, soul and body is essential that the mind of the human being understands the environment, the sensory reality only because the soul provides this understanding. If our eye receives an impression from without, the soul has to be the mediator, so that this impression can penetrate up to our mind. I perceive a colour. The eye provides the external impression for me because of its organisation. The mind thinks about the colour. It forms a thought. But between the thought and the external impression the reagent of the soul inserts itself, and that is why the impression becomes only its own inner life becomes an experience of the soul. The mind can speak only to the own soul, to the personal soul in the earthly human being. If you eliminate the soul by means of hypnosis, then the mind is no longer able to express itself in the hypnotised person.

You have taken away the organ of the mind by which it can express itself by which it can be active. You have not taken away the mind from the person. You have eliminated his soul and made it inactive. But because the mind can be active in the human being only in the soul, it cannot be active in the body. Hence, we say, he is in an unconscious state. That means nothing else than: his mind sleeps. Now we understand why the hypnotised person becomes so receptive to the mental impressions which go out from the hypnotist. He becomes receptive because nothing psychic inserts itself between him and the hypnotist. There the thought of the other becomes an immediate natural force, there the thought becomes creative. The thought is creative, and the spirit is creative in the whole nature. It only does not appear directly.

Eliminating the soul at the same time we have made the consciousness of the hypnotised person inactive like in other similar abnormal states. We have transported the person into an unconscious state. We can get an image of this process, if we imagine that we bring a sleeping person from one room into another and let him sleep there some time. Impressions are round him, but he does not perceive them. He knows nothing about his surroundings. If we bring him, without he has awoken, back into the room in which he has slept before then he has been in another room without knowing it, then he has not perceived anything of the other room. It depends on the fact that we perceive our surroundings if we want to call these surroundings “real.” A lot may be round us, may be real, and may be essential — we know nothing of it because we do not perceive it. We do not comply with it, our activity is not relating to it because we perceive nothing.

In such a state the hypnotised person faces the hypnotist. Forces go out from the hypnotist; forces are effective which are mind-impregnated with the thoughts of the hypnotist. They go out from him and have an effect on the hypnotised. But the hypnotised knows nothing about it. He speaks, but he speaks only according to the mind of the hypnotist. He is active, so to speak, without being his own spectator — like people in the everyday life — without observing the object of his activity at the same time. He is, so to speak, in the same situation concerning the mind of the hypnotist as the sleeping person who was transported into another room and knows nothing of that which takes place round him. The human being can be transported into surroundings time and again where the spirit speaks to him. He can be in surroundings where the spirit speaks to him. Now and at every moment you are also in surroundings in which the spirit speaks to you, because everything round us is done by the spirit. The physical laws are spirit, only that the human being perceives this spirit in the shadowy reflection of the thoughts in the usual view. This spirit is spirit just as the spirit which is active in the hypnotist if he works on the hypnotised person.

Compared with his spiritual surroundings the human being is also in the normal, in the everyday waking state in a state in which his senses and his perception are not open for the spirit, even if he is not in such a mental condition like the hypnotised. If this perception is open for the spirit which is in the environment if the things of the spiritual world which are round us speak a loud, clear language to us, then this can only happen if we are in the normal life in a similar situation like the hypnotised toward the hypnotist. The hypnotised person experiences no pain, he does not perceive needle stings, and he does not perceive a blow. Desire and harm in the usual sense of the word are extinguished.

If we get in our everyday life, in the waking consciousness to that state which I have described in the first part of my lecture — because the theosophical world view should consider a higher developmental state of the human being like Plato, like the mystery priest demanded it from his disciples — If we remove that which touches us as an everyday desire or harm which moves our eyes directly to tears or makes our ears sensitive, which fulfils us with fear and hope — If we remove what constitutes our everyday life, if we make ourselves free from this world and experience the described metamorphosis of the mind then we can get to a similar state toward the spiritual world — but consciously — like the hypnotised toward the hypnotist in the abnormal sense. Then our eyes and ears are active in the same way as before; we have our waking consciousness, but we do not allow to be touched by the everyday objects within this waking consciousness. This metamorphosis must take place with the human being. He has to perceive the spiritual environment, the language of the spirit in this environment without desire and grief like the hypnotised hears the thoughts and words of the hypnotist in his unusual state.

Only experience of this field can be the determining factor. If the great basic principles of the theosophical ethics are fulfilled to a certain degree, if the human being has got to the state where he faces spiritual truth really as the human being faces the mathematical truth in his everyday life, objectively, without desire and grief, then the spirit of the environment speaks to the human being, then the spirit is not engaged to the impressions of his senses, as little as the hypnotised is tied to that which works on his senses. The hypnotist works only on the hypnotised person who does not have desire and grief, and the spirit has the same effect only on the clairvoyant human being who does not have desire and grief. In order to have such sensitivity of the environment with waking consciousness it is necessary to have gone through a development, so that we are able with correctly functioning mind, with correctly active reason to pass between the things and still to let speak the spirit to ourselves. Clairvoyance is called that level the pupil has attained on which he is able to perceive the world round himself free of desire and grief. If the human being has developed so far that his passions and desires are silent in him and loves this state without passion and desire as the everyday human being loves the things round himself, then he has become mature to perceive the spirit round himself. Then he does no longer wish what he wished in the everyday life, and then he wishes in the spiritual world.

Then, however, his thoughts, saturated with his higher wishes, also become effective forces with his purified soul. The thoughts of the human being are only abstract thoughts, because the everyday human being inserts the soul with its personal wishes between himself, between his spiritual inside and everything else.

Only this is the reason why our thoughts must be taken up by the soul, why our thoughts must be transformed into the personality to become effective. Personal wishes approach the thoughts of the individual human being. If I have an ideal, I want to convert this ideal into reality according to my personal wishes. As a personality I must have an interest — it is in the everyday life in such a way — in that which a thought illuminates to me if I should carry out it. As a person I have to consider a thought, a will as desirable. My personal wish binds itself to the thought which would be, otherwise, independent of time and space because what is true in the thought is true at all times. If we go far beyond these personal wishes, we develop in the sense as the mystery priests demanded it from their disciples, then our wishes are transformed in such a way that we bind the whole strength of our soul not to our personal interest, but we follow up that which lives in the spiritual realm more affectionately and more devotedly. Then this thought, the mind which lives in us does not become dull and abstract like in the everyday person, it does not have to penetrate the outside world by means of the soul experiences, then it flows into the outside world, so to speak, from the innermost mind of the human being without being touched by the immediate self, without having to go through the personal self. It does not become dull by the outside world, it moves up to us like a natural force; it moves up to us like the force of crystallisation, like the magnetic force which goes out from the magnet and arranges the pattern of the iron filings. Like these forces which surround us in nature as reality the thought free of wishes works on our surroundings, on the reality around us. Knowledge of our environment, knowledge of our fellow men becomes fertile in quite different sense if we have advanced to such thoughts disregarding our personal wishes. Then that appears which merges as a strength of thought of this developed human being into his fellow men.

Then the thought appears as an organising natural force with really unselfish human beings. About the great, true sages — not only with the scholars, but with those who brought wisdom to humankind , it is told to us that they were healers at the same time that a strength went out from them which provided help, release of physical and mental sufferings to their fellow men. This was the case because they had advanced to such a development through which the thought becomes a strength through which the mind can stream directly into the world. The knowledge which is free of wishes this way which is unselfish knowledge which streams into the human being as the strength which, otherwise, only serves the self, such strength enables the human being to heal spiritually.

Only in principle I can indicate the preconditions of such a spiritual healing. A precondition of the so-called spiritual healing in the theosophical sense can be that the human being goes beyond his limited, everyday self. In a certain sense the human being has to eliminate his own soul-life if he wants to become clairvoyant, a healer, extinguishing what belongs preferably to him as a personality. Such a human being does not become completely insensible and dull that way. O no, on the contrary, such a human being becomes sensitive in a higher sense and more sensitive than he was before. Such a human being develops a susceptibility which is not, however, that which the senses supply in the everyday life, but he develops a susceptibility of a much higher type. Is the susceptibility of the human being lower than that of the lower animal which has a pigmentation mark only instead of an eye by which it can have a light impression at most? Is it different with the human being because he transforms the impression which he receives in the visual purple into the perception of the colour in the environment? As the eye of the human being relates to the pigmentation mark of the lower animal, the spiritual organism of the clairvoyant relates to the organism of the undeveloped human being. The elimination of the personality is the sacrifice. The effacement of the personality releases the voice of spirit in our environment. The effacement of the personality solves the riddles of nature for us. We have to efface our soul-world. We have to overcome desire and grief in the everyday sense of the word. This is necessary to get to a certain knowledge and higher development.

Now, however, an effacement of the own personality in certain sense is also necessary with a single task which has an infinite importance for the everyday human life, with the human educational system. In every adolescent human being, from the birth of the child, through the development years, it is the spirit in the innermost core of the human being which should develop; the spirit is hidden within the body at first, it remains a secret within the movements of the soul of the adolescent human being. If we face this spirit, we make the adolescent human being dependent of our interests — I do not even want to say of our desires and passions, then we let our mind flow into the human being and we basically develop what is in us in the growing human being. But I do not even want to speak of the fact that we let our wishes and desires be active with the education of an adolescent human being, but only that the educator lets speak his mind only too often, yes that it is almost a rule that the educator asks his reason above all what has to happen concerning this or that education measure. But he does not take into consideration that he has a growing mind before himself which can form only according to its nature if it can develop according to this nature universally freely and without restrictions, and if the educator gives it the opportunity of this development. We face a strange human mind. We must allow a strange human mind to work on ourselves if we are educators. As we have seen that in hypnosis, in the unusual state the spirit has a direct effect on the human person, the developing mind of the child works and must work in another form directly on us if we have the child before ourselves. However, we can develop this mind only if we are able to extinguish ourselves, just as with other higher performances, if we are able — without interference of our self — to be a servant of the human mind entrusted to our education if this human mind is given the opportunity to develop freely. As long as we allow our selfish concepts and demands to flow against the mind, as long as we set our self with its peculiarities against this mind, as long we see this mind just as little, as the eye which is still involved in desire and grief sees the spirit of the environment clairvoyantly.

On an everyday level the educator has to fulfil a higher ideal. He fulfils this ideal if he understands the mysterious, but obvious principle of the complete selflessness and understands the effacement of the own self. This effacement of the own self is the sacrifice by means of which we perceive the spirit in our environment. We perceive the spirit in unusual states if we become free of desire and grief in unusual way. We perceive the spirit clairvoyantly if we are without desire and grief in the normal state, with full waking consciousness. We lead the spirit in the right thinking if we lead it unselfishly within education. This unselfish ideal as an attitude which the educator has daily to strive for has to illuminate his work. But just because an immediate necessity of our cultural development is in this field because in this field a true, unselfish attitude must be produced for the purposes of our culture, therefore, it is the field of the educational ideals above all where theosophy can appear as something creative where it can render humankind a most valuable service. Somebody who is devoted to the theosophical life who learns bit by bit to open the senses to the spirit by the development of selflessness has the best basis for a pedagogic activity, and he will work on the educational task of humankind in the theosophical sense. The educator needs to follow only this, above all. Apart from that, he does not need to show theosophical dogmas or principles at every opportunity. It does not depend on dogmas, principles and teachings; it depends on the life and on the transformation of the forces which flow from selflessness and thereby from the perception of the spirit. It depends on it and not on the fact that the educator has taken up the teachings of theosophy. He is theosophist because he sees something like riddles in every developing human life which appears like a being before the soul whom he has to develop as a mind, while he has to train the mind. A riddle of nature which he has to solve should be any growing human being to the educator. If he is an educator with such an attitude, then the educator is a theosophist in the best sense of the word. He is it because he approaches any human being, any adolescent human being with a true, holy shyness and understands the words of Jesus: “anything you failed to do for one of these, however insignificant, you failed to do for me.” You did it to me, to God who has become a human being because you recognised and cultivated the divine spirit in the least of my brothers.

Somebody who penetrates himself with such an attitude faces as a human being other human beings quite differently. He sees the divine spirit, the developing spirit in the least of his brothers. His relation to his fellow men fulfils him in another sense with seriousness and dignity, with shyness and respect if he considers any human being as a riddle of nature, as a holy riddle of nature on which he must not intrude this way and to which he has to establish a relationship, so that from this seriousness the respect of the divine spiritual core may arise in every human being. If the human being has such a relationship to his brothers, he is on the way, even if he is still so far away from the goal. The goal which we set in such a way stands before us in infinite distance. He is on the way which the theosophical ethics indicate with the nice, great words:

Before the eyes can see,
They must be incapable of tears.
Before the ear can hear,
It must have lost its sensitiveness ...


Anything you failed …: Matthew 25:40 (Revised English Bible). Literal translation of the Greek text: what you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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