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The Inner Development of Man

A Lecture By
Rudolf Steiner
Berlin, December 15, 1904
GA 53

This lecture, Vom inneren Leben, was given in Berlin, December 15, 1904 (vol 53 in the Bibliographic Survey. 1961). It was translated from the original German by Maria St. Goar.

This translation has been authorized for the Western Hemisphere by agreement with the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Copyright © 1970
This e.Text edition is provided with the cooperation of:
The Anthroposophic Press
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Recently I have endeavored to sketch the being of man and the three worlds surrounding him, namely, the actual physical world, the soul world and the spirit world. Later on, I plan to speak about the main anthroposophical concepts regarding the origin of man, the earth and the heavenly bodies in general. Thus, the overall outlook on the theory of life as developed by anthroposophy will have been outlined.

Today however, I would like to present a few suggestions on how man's inner development must progress if he desires to reach conclusions of his own concerning the statements proclaimed by an anthroposophical world outlook. It must be kept in mind that there is a great difference between arriving at an understanding of the concepts presented by a spiritual scientist as truth gained through his cognition and experience, and the inner development of the human soul and spirit that enables a person to attain to such cognition and perceptions on his own. One has to distinguish between an elementary level of development leading to comprehension of an experienced spiritual teacher's statements, following them as it were in thought and feeling and acknowledging them as truth within certain limits, and an advanced level on which one attains the personal experiences in soul and spirit realm. This elementary level shall be the subject here. The advanced level concerns actual clairvoyance and to the extent that indications pertaining to such actual clairvoyance can be given at all in public, they will form the topic of a later presentation. The problem of how one may gain personal comprehension of anthroposophical truths shall occupy us today.

Only a few mere hints can be given here since the training that the human soul and spirit must undergo for attainment of the understanding mentioned above is an extensive one. It requires a long period of inner study and the many necessary details involved in such training can certainly not be elaborated upon in the course of a brief lecture. The information that can be related here is but a scant outline of what would be conveyed in personal instructions. Thus it must initially be noted that most people require the aid of a personal teacher in this field. Some might be of the opinion that a person can develop in himself inner abilities, soul forces and spiritual perception by his own attempts, and it might seem unfortunate that in this vital area of life personal guidance is supposedly necessary. The nature of such guidance, however, gives sufficient guaranty that no person comes by any means under any sort of dependence upon another. Nobody evaluates and honors the dignity of man and the respect for the individual more highly than the occult teacher. The instructor of mystical and anthroposophical development never gives anything but advice. Indeed, the greatest teachers in this field never did more than advise and suggest. It is left entirely to the judgment of the individual to what extent, if at all, he intends to follow such advice. It is left up to the individual what task he sets before his soul and spirit; the consideration of human freedom is too pronounced on the part of the teacher to do more than advise and guide. Everything that can be conveyed in any manner in this area must be understood with this reservation (see Note 1).

Another important point is that the main part of this schooling does not express itself in any particular external formalities, nor does it require any definite external measures. This schooling is, rather, a completely intimate development of the human soul, and all the significant degrees of development one must undergo take place in the innermost depth of being. Precisely here a transformation takes place in a person, but nobody, not even his closest friend, need notice anything different. Thus, in privacy, tranquility and seclusion the mystic trains himself to acquire understanding of soul and spirit worlds. It cannot be emphasized enough that nobody devoting himself to inner spiritual development needs to change his everyday occupation in any respect whatever, nor neglect his daily duties in any sense, nor take time away from them. On the contrary, he who is of the opinion that a special amount of time must be spent on his inner training and consequently neglects his ordinary duties and, by his attempts at ins