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An Outline of Occult Science

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

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

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An Outline of Occult Science



(Part 10)

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If the student of the spiritual has had the above described experiences he is capable of distinguishing, within the surrounding world of soul and spirit, between himself and what lies outside him. He will then recognize that it is necessary to comprehend the cosmic process described in this book, in order to understand man and his life. Indeed, we understand the physical body only when we recognize how it has been fashioned during the Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth evolutions. We understand the ether body when we follow its formations through the Sun, Moon, and Earth evolutions. Moreover, we understand what at present is connected with the Earth evolution when we know how everything has unfolded itself step by step. Through spiritual training the student is placed in the position to recognize the relationship of everything that exists in the human being to corresponding facts and beings of the world outside him. For it is a fact that every member of the human organism stands in a relationship to the whole world surrounding it. In this book it has only been possible to indicate the facts in a sketchy outline. We must, however, consider that the human physical body, for example, was present during the Saturn evolution only in its rudimentary beginnings. Its organs — the heart, the lungs, the brain — developed later out of these beginnings during the Sun, Moon, and Earth evolutions. The heart, lungs, and the other organs are thus related to the Sun, Moon, and Earth evolutions. It is quite the same with the members of the ether and soul body, the sentient soul, and the other principles. Man is fashioned from the entire surrounding world, and every part of him corresponds to a process or being of the outer world. At the corresponding stage of his development the student becomes acquainted with this relationship between his own being and the great world. We may designate this stage of cognition as the becoming aware of the correspondence between the lesser world, the microcosm, which is the human being himself, and the greater world, the macrocosm. If the student has struggled through to such a stage of knowledge, a new experience may occur for him. He begins to feel as though he were intergrown with the entire cosmic structure, in spite of the fact that he feels himself in his complete independence. This feeling is a merging with the entire cosmos, a becoming one with it, but without losing one's own essential being. This stage of development may be designated as the “becoming one with the macrocosm.” It is significant that this becoming one, this union, is not to be thought of as though through it the individual consciousness were to cease and the human being were to flow out into the universe, merging with it. Such a thought would be merely the expression of an opinion springing from the untrained power of judgment. — The stages of higher knowledge, in the sense of the process of initiation that has been described in this book, may now be enumerated as follows:

I. Study of spiritual science, in which one employs one's power of judgment gained in the physical-sensory world.

II. Acquiring imaginative knowledge.

III. Reading the occult script-corresponding to inspiration.

IV. Living into the spiritual environment — corresponding to intuition.

V. Knowledge of the relationships between microcosm and macrocosm.

VI. Union with the macrocosm.

VII. Total experience of all previous experiences as a fundamental mood of the soul.

These stages need not be thought of as successive experiences. On the contrary, the training may proceed in such a way that, in accordance with the individuality of the student of the spiritual, he may have reached only a certain degree of perfection in a preceding stage when he begins exercises that correspond to a subsequent stage. It may well happen, for example, that the student has only gained a few imaginations with certainty, yet he already performs exercises leading to inspiration, intuition, or the cognition of the relationship between microcosm and macrocosm.

*   *   *   *   *

If the student of the spiritual has experienced intuition, he not only knows the images of the psycho-spiritual world, he cannot merely read their connections in the “occult script,” but he attains to knowledge of the spiritual beings themselves through whose co-operation the world, to which the human being belongs, comes into existence. In this way he learns to know himself in the form he possesses as a spiritual being in the world of soul and spirit. He has struggled through to a perception of his higher ego, and he has become aware of how he has to continue his efforts in order to control his Doppelganger, the “guardian of the threshold.” He has, however, also encountered the “greater guardian of the threshold,” who stands before him as an ever present exhorter to further effort. This “greater guardian” becomes the ideal toward which he strives. If this feeling emerges in the student of the spiritual, he has then acquired the possibility of recognizing who it is that stands there before him as the “greater guardian of the threshold.” To the perception of the student of the spiritual this guardian now transforms himself into the form of the Christ, whose Being and participation in Earth evolution has been made clear in the previous chapters of this book. The student is now initiated into the exalted mystery that is linked with the name of the Christ. The Christ shows Himself to the student as the “great ideal of man on earth.” — If thus through intuition the Christ is recognized in the spiritual world, what occurred historically on earth in the fourth post-Atlantean evolutionary epoch — the Greco-Latin epoch — also becomes comprehensible. The way in which, at that time, the exalted Sun Being, the Christ, has intervened in the Earth evolution and how he continues to work within this evolution becomes the personally experienced knowledge of the student of the spiritual. It is thus a revelation of the meaning and significance of Earth evolution that the student receives through intuition. The way to knowledge of the supersensible worlds, which is described here, is one that every human being can follow, no matter what the situation in which he may find himself within the present-day conditions of life. When describing such a path we must consider that the goal of knowledge and truth is the same in all ages of Earth evolution, but that the starting points of man have been different in different ages. If the human being wishes to tread the path to the spiritual world he cannot at present begin at the same starting point as, for example, the would-be initiate of ancient Egypt. Therefore, the exercises that were imposed upon the student of the spiritual of ancient Egypt cannot be carried out by the modern man without modification. Since that time, human souls have passed through various incarnations, and this advance from incarnation to incarnation is not without meaning and significance. The faculties and qualities of souls alter from incarnation to incarnation. Whoever considers human historical life, be it only superficially, is able to notice that since the twelfth and thirteenth centuries A.D. all life-conditions have changed when compared with previous centuries; that opinions, feelings, and also abilities of human beings have become different from what they were previously. The path to higher knowledge described here is eminently fit for souls who incarnate in the immediate present. It is one that places the point of departure for spiritual development just where the human being now stands in any situation presented by modern life. — Progressive evolution leads mankind in regard to the path to higher knowledge from period to period to ever changing forms, just as outer life changes its forms, and at all times a perfect harmony must prevail between outer life and initiation.

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