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Initiation and Its Results

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.



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Initiation and Its Results

On-line since: 8th March, 2013


III

DREAM-LIFE

AN intimation that the student has arrived at the stage of evolution described in the foregoing chapter is the change which comes over his dream-life. Hitherto his dreams were confused and haphazard, but now they begin to assume a more regular character. Their pictures begin to arrange themselves in an orderly way, like the phenomena of daily life. He can discern in them laws, causes, and effects. The contents of his dreams will likewise change. While hitherto he discerned only the reverberations of daily life, mixed impressions of his surroundings or of his physical condition, there now appear before him pictures of a world with which he had no acquaintance. At first, indeed, the general nature of his dreams will remain as of old in so far as the dream differentiates itself from waking phenomena by presenting in emblematical form whatever it wishes to express. This dramatization cannot have escaped the notice of any attentive observer of dream-life. For instance, you may dream that you are catching some horrible creature and experiencing an unpleasant sensation in your hand. You wake up to discover that you are tightly holding a piece of the bed-clothes. The perception does not express itself plainly, but only through the allegorical image. Or you may dream that you are flying from some pursuer and in consequence you experience fear. On waking up you find that during sleep you had been suffering from palpitation of the heart. The stomach which is replete with indigestible food will cause uneasy dream-pictures. Occurrences in the neighborhood of the sleeping person may also reflect themselves allegorically in dreams. The striking of a clock may evoke the picture of soldiers marching by to the sound of their drums. Or a falling chair can become the origin of a complete dream-drama in which the sound of falling is translated into a gun report, and so forth. The more regulated dreams of the person whose etheric body has begun its development have also this allegorical method of expression, but they will cease to repeat merely the facts of the physical environment or of the sense-body. As these dreams which owe their origin to such things become orderly they are mixed up with similar dream-pictures which are the expression of things and events in another world. Here one has experiences that lie beyond the range of one's waking consciousness. Now it must never be fancied that any true mystic will then make the things which in this manner he experiences in dreams the basis of any authoritative account of the higher world. One must only consider such dream-experiences as hints of a higher development. Very soon, as a further result of this, we find that the pictures of the dreaming student are no longer, as hitherto, withdrawn by the guidance of a careful intellect, but are regulated thereby, and methodically considered like the conceptions and impressions of the waking consciousness. The difference between this dream-consciousness and the waking state grows ever smaller and smaller. The dreamer becomes, in the fullest meaning of the word, awake in his dream-life : that is to say, he can feel himself to be the master and leader of the pictures which then appear.

During his dreams the individual actually finds himself in a world which is other than that of his physical senses. But if he possesses only unevolved spiritual organs, he can receive from that world only the confused dramatizations already mentioned. It would only be as much at his disposal as would be the sense-world to a being equipped with nothing but the most rudimentary of eyes. In consequence he could only discern in this world the reflections and reverberations of ordinary life. Yet in dreams he can see these, because his soul interweaves its daily perceptions as pictures into the stuff of which that other world consists. It must here be clearly understood that in addition to the workaday conscious life, one leads in this world a second and unconscious existence. Everything that one perceives or thinks becomes impressed upon this other world. Only if the lotus-flowers are evolved can one perceive these impressions. Now certain minute beginnings of the lotus-flowers are always at the disposal of anyone. During daily consciousness he cannot perceive with them, because the impressions made on him are very faint. It is for similar reasons that during the daytime one cannot see the stars. They cannot strike our perceptions when opposed by the fierce and active sunlight, and it is just in this way that faint spiritual impressions cannot make themselves felt in opposition to the masterful impressions of the physical senses. When the door of outward sense is closed in sleep, these impressions can emerge confusedly, and then the dreamer remembers what he has experienced in another world. Yet, as already remarked, at first these experiences are nothing more than that which conceptions related to the physical senses have impressed on the spiritual world. Only the developed lotus-flowers make it possible for manifestations which are unconnected with the physical world to show themselves. Out of the development of the etheric body arises a full knowledge concerning the impressions that are conveyed from one world to another. With this the student's communication with a new world has begun. He must now — by means of the instructions given in his occult training — first of all acquire a twofold nature. It must become possible for him during waking hours to recall quite consciously the beings he has observed in dreams. If he has acquired this faculty he will then become able to make these observations during his ordinary waking state. His attention will have become so concentrated upon spiritual impressions that these impressions need no longer vanish in the light of those which come through the senses, but are, as it were, always at hand.

If the student is able to do this, there then arises before his spiritual eyes something of the picture which has been described in a former chapter. He can now discern that what exists in the spiritual world is the origin of that which corresponds to it in the physical world, and, above all things, can he learn in this world to know his own higher self. The task that now confronts him is to grow, as it were, into this higher self, or, in other words, to regard it as his only true self, and also to conduct himself accordingly. He now retains, more and more, the conception and the vital realization that his physical body and what hitherto he designated “himself ” is only an instrument of the higher self. He takes an attitude toward his lower self, such as might be taken by some one limited to the world of sense with regard to some instrument or vehicle which serves him. Just as such a person would not consider the carriage in which he travelled to be himself, though he says “I travel,” or “I go,” so, too, the developed person, when he says “I go through the door,” retains in his mind the conception, “I take my body through the door.” This must become for him such an habitual idea that he never for a moment loses the firm ground of the physical world, that never a feeling of estrangement in the world of sense arises. If the student does not wish to become a mere fantastic or vain enthusiast, he must work with the higher consciousness, so that he does not impoverish his life in the physical world, but enriches it, even as the person who makes use of a railway instead of his own legs may enrich himself by going for a journey.

If the student has raised himself to such a life in the higher Ego, then — or still more probably during the acquisition of the higher consciousness — it will be revealed to him how he may stir into life what is called the fire of Kundalini which lies in the organ at the heart, and, further, how he may direct the currents described in a previous chapter.

This fire of Kundalini is an element of finer material which flows outward from this organ and streams in luminous loveliness through the self-moving lotus-flowers and the other canals of the evolved etheric body. Thence it radiates outward an the surrounding spiritual world and makes it spiritually visible, just as the sunshine falling upon the surrounding objects makes visible the physical world.

How this fire of Kundalini in the organ at the heart is fanned into life may only form the subject of actual occult training. Nothing can be said of it openly.

The spiritual world becomes plainly perceptible as composed of objects and beings only for the individual who in such a way can send the fire of Kundalini through his etheric body and into the outer world, so that its objects are illumined by it. From this it will be seen that a complete consciousness of an object in the spiritual world is entirely dependent upon the condition that the person himself has cast upon it the spiritual light. In reality the Ego, who has drawn forth this fire, no longer dwells in the physical human body at all, but (as has been already shown) apart from it. The organ at the heart is only the spot where the individual from without enkindles that fire. If he wished to do this, not here but elsewhere, then the spiritual perceptions produced by means of the fire would have no connection with the physical world. Yet one should relate all the higher spiritual things to the physical world itself, and through oneself should let them work in the latter. The organ at the heart is precisely the one through which the higher self makes use of the lower self as his instrument and whence the latter is directed.

The feeling which the developed person now bears toward the things of the spiritual world is quite other than that which is characteristic of ordinary people in relation to the physical world. The latter feel themselves to be in a certain part of the world of sense, and the objects they perceive are external to them. The spiritually evolved person feels himself to be united with the spiritual objects that he perceives, as if, indeed, he were within them. In spiritual space he veritably moves from place to place, and is therefore spoken of in the language of occult science as “the wanderer.” He is practically without a home. Should he continue in this mere wandering, he would be unable to define clearly any object in spiritual space. Just as one defines an object or a locality in physical space by starting from a certain point, so must it also be in regard to the other world. He must seek for a place there which Dream-Life

he practically completely explores — a place of which he spiritually takes possession. This he must make his spiritual home and set everything in relation to it. The person who is living in the physical world sees everything in a like manner, as if he carried the ideas of his physical home wherever he went. Involuntarily a man from Berlin will describe London quite otherwise than a Parisian. Only there is a difference between the spiritual and the physical home. Into the latter you are born without your own cooperation, and from it in youth you have acquired a number of ideas which will henceforth involuntarily give color to everything. The spiritual home, an the contrary, you have formed for yourself with full consciousness. You therefore shape your opinions when going out from it in the full, unprejudiced light of freedom. This formation of a spiritual home is known in the speech of occult science as “the building of the hut.”

The spiritual outlook at this point extends at first to the spiritual counterparts of the physical world, so far as these lie in what we call the astral world. In this world is found everything which in its nature is akin to human impulse, feeling, desire, or passion. For in every sense-object that surrounds a person there are forces which are related to these human forces. A crystal, for instance, is formed by powers which, when seen from the higher standpoint, are perceptible as akin to the impulse which acts in the human being. By similar forces the sap is drawn through the vessels of the plant, the blossoms unfold, the seed-cases are made to burst. All these powers acquire form and color for the developed spiritual perceptions, just as the objects of the physical world have color and form for physical eyes. At the stage of development here described the student no longer sees merely the crystal or the plant, but likewise the spiritual forces behind them, even as he does not now see the impulses of animal or human being only through their external manifestations, but also directly as veritable objects, as in the physical world he can see chairs and tables. The entire world of instinct, impulse, wish or passion, whether of a person or of an animal, is there in the astral cloud, in the aura with which the subject is enwrapt.

Besides this, the clairvoyant at this stage of his evolution perceives things that are almost or entirely withdrawn from the perceptions of sense. For example, he can observe the astral difference between a place which is for the most part filled with persons of low development and another which is inhabited by high-minded people. In a hospital it is not only the physical but also the astral atmosphere which is other than that of the ball-room. A commercial town has a different astral air from that of a university town. At first the powers of perceiving such things will be but weak in the person who has become clairvoyant. At first it will seem to be connected with the objects concerned, very much as is the dream-consciousness of the ordinary person in relation to his waking consciousness, but gradually he will completely awaken on this plane also.

The highest acquisition that comes to the clairvoyant, when he has reached this degree of sight, is that by which the astral reaction of animal or human impulses or passions is revealed to him. A loving action has quite a different astral appearance from one which proceeds out of hatred. The sensual appetite gives rise to a horrible astral image, and the feeling that is based on lofty things to one that is beautiful. These correspondences or astral pictures are only to be seen faintly during physical human life, for their strength is much lessened by existence in the physical world. A wish for any object displays itself, for instance, as a reflection of the object itself, in addition to that which the wish appears to be in the astral world. If, however, that wish is satisfied by the attainment of the physical object, or if at least the possibility of such satisfaction is present, the corresponding image would only make a very faint appearance. It first comes into its full power after the death of a person, when the soul, according to its nature, continues to foster such desires, but cannot any longer satisfy them because the object and its own physical organs are both lacking. Thus the gourmet will still have the desire to tickle his palate; but the possibility of satisfaction is absent, since he no longer possesses a palate. As a result of this the desire is displayed as an exceptionally powerful image by which the soul is tormented. These experiences after death among the images of the lower soul-nature are known as the period in “Kamaloka,” that is to say, in the region of desire. They only vanish away when the soul has cleansed itself from all appetites which are directed towards the physical world. Then does the soul mount up into a loftier region which is called “Devachan.” Although these images are thus weak in the person who is yet alive, they still exist and follow him as his own environment in Kamaloka, just as the comet is followed by its tail, and they can be seen by the clairvoyant who has arrived at this stage of development.

Among such experiences and all that are akin to them the occult student lives in the world that has been described. He cannot as yet bring himself into touch with still loftier spiritual adventures. From this point he must climb upward still higher.


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