by Rudolf Steiner
Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith
Dornach, April 11, 1924
My dear friends,
Quite a large number of new members of this School are present, and I am therefore obliged to again say a few words about its principles.
First if all, this School represents the impulse of the anthroposophical movement which was renewed here during the Christmas Conference at the Goetheanum. Previously there were several esoteric circles. All these esoteric circles must be gradually absorbed into this School, because with the Christmas Conference a new spirit was introduced into the anthroposophical movement insofar as it streams through the Anthroposophical Society.
I have repeatedly spoken - also outside [Dornach] - about what the difference is between the anthroposophical movement before the Christmas Conference and the one we now have since Christmas. Previously the Anthroposophical Society was a kind of administrative body for anthroposophical teaching and content. Within the Anthroposophical Society, Anthroposophy was, so to speak, cultivated. Since Christmas anthroposophy is not only cultivated, it is also carried out; meaning that everything which passes through the Anthroposophical Society as activity, as thought, is anthroposophy itself.
The renewal which has taken place must be clearly grasped, my dear friends, and above all it must be grasped with deep earnestness. For a distinction exists between the Anthroposophical Society in general and this Esoteric School within the Anthroposophical Society. The Anthroposophical Society will, as a matter of course and according to the principle of openness, not be able to demand anything more from the members than that they honestly recognize what anthroposophy is and that they are in a certain sense listeners to what anthroposophy says; and that they receive from it what their hearts, their souls can make of it.
It is different as far as the School is concerned. Those who become members of this School declare that they want to be true representatives of the anthroposophical movement. In this Esoteric School, which will gradually be expanded to include three classes, the same freedom must of course apply as it does to every member of the Anthroposophical Society; but freedom must also apply for the Executive Council at the Goetheanum which is responsible for this School. In this case, it means that only those who are recognized by the School as true members can be recipients of what the School teaches.
Therefore, whatever a member of the School does should have the effect of reflecting on anthroposophy in the world; and it must belong to the competence of the Executive Council to remove a member if it considers that he cannot be a representative of the anthroposophical movement. The relationship must be mutual.
Therefore, more and more a serious, in a certain sense strict spirit will have to be utilized in the management of the School. Otherwise the anthroposophical movement cannot advance if we do not feel that the School is like building a rock to support anthroposophy. It is going to be very difficult and the members of this School must know that they must adapt to those difficulties. They are not merely anthroposophists, they are members of an Esoteric School.
And it must be an inner obligation to consider the Executive Committee, as it is presently constituted, as an esoteric entity. This is not generally understood. So something must be done to bring it to the members' attention. It is saying much that an Executive Committee has been esoterically formed.
Furthermore, all those who consider themselves to be legitimate members of this School see the School as not having been founded by men, but in fact by the will of the world's presently reigning spiritual powers; something which has been instituted from the spiritual world and which intends to act accordingly; which feels responsible to the spiritual world alone. Therefore, anything which indicates that a member is not taking the School seriously must lead to the cancellation of that person's membership.
It is a fact that negligence has entered into the Anthroposophical Society to a marked degree in recent years. That it ceases is one of the tasks for the members of this School. We want to feel responsible even for the words we speak. Above all we should feel responsible that every word we speak is tested to the extent that we know it is true. For untruthfulness, even when derived from what is called good intentions, is destructive in an occult movement. There must be no illusions about this; it must be completely clear. It is not a question of good intentions, which are often taken very lightly, but of objective truth. Among the first duties of an esoteric student is that he does not merely feel obliged to say what he thinks is true, but that he feels obliged to determine that what he says is really objectively true. For only when we serve the divine-spiritual powers - whose forces stream through this School - in the sense of objective truth, will we be able to steer through all the difficulties which will assail anthroposophy.
What I will now say is within the circle of the School, and what is said within the circle of the School remains within the circle of the School. We may not forget that many people are saying something like the following. Certain influential persons are saying: Those who represent the principles of the Roman Church will do everything in their power to make the individual states of the former German Empire independent and out of them - I am only reporting - with the exception of the predominance of Prussia, to reestablish the Holy Roman Empire, which of course, when it is established by such prominence, will spread its power over the neighboring regions. Then - they say - we will need to completely destroy from the roots up the most dangerous, the worst movements. And, they add, if the reestablishment of the Holy Roman Empire is not successful, and it will be successful, but if not, we will find other means to completely destroy from the roots up the most resisting, the most dangerous movements of the present, and they are the anthroposophical movement and the movement for Religious Renewal [Christian Community].
I quote almost verbatim. And you can see that the difficulties are not less, but every week greater, that what I say is well founded. I wish today to speak from the heart to those who consider their membership in this School with heartfelt seriousness. Only by such earnestness as members of the School can we construct the necessary foundation for navigating through the future difficulties.
You can see from this that anthroposophy - the movement for religious renewal is only a branch of it - is taken more seriously by the opposition than by many of the members. Because when one can learn that the Holy Roman Empire, which fell in 1806, is to be reinstated in order to eliminate such a movement, that means that it is taken very seriously indeed. What is important is whether a movement is founded from the spirit and not, my dear friends, how many members it has, but which force is instilled in it directly from the spiritual world. The opponents see that it contains a strong inner force; therefore, they choose sharp, strong rather than weak means [to combat it].
The considerations of these Class lessons, my dear friends, have been primarily concerned with what can be told about the encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold, the encounter which is the first experience towards the attainment of real and true supersensible knowledge. Today I would like to add something to what has already been considered.
It is not possible to claim that the encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold has been successful until one has experienced what it means to be outside the physical body with the human I and the astral body. Because when the human being is enclosed within the physical body, the only things he can perceive in his surroundings are those which he perceives with the instruments of his physical body. And through the instruments of the physical body only the sensible world can be perceived - which is a reflection of a spiritual world, one which does not, however, reveal to the senses what it is a reflection of.
Generally speaking, it is not difficult for a person to leave the physical body. He does so every time he falls asleep. He is then outside the physical body. But when he is asleep outside the physical body his consciousness is suppressed to the point of being unconscious. Only illusory - or perhaps even not illusory - dreams rise up from this unconsciousness. But through the attainment of higher knowledge leaving the physical body takes place in fully conscious deliberateness, so that when outside the physical body the person perceives his surroundings exactly as he perceives the physical world with his senses when within the physical body. He perceives the spiritual world while outside the physical body.
But the human being is at first unconsciously asleep. Under normal circumstances he is not aware of what he could see when outside the physical body. And the reason for this is that he is protected from approaching the spiritual world unprepared.
If he is sufficiently prepared, what happens then? When he is at the abyss between the sensory world and the spiritual world, the Guardian of the Threshold extracts his true human essence - assuming he is prepared as described in the previous lessons - which can then fly over the abyss with the means indicated in the mantric verses. And then from beyond the threshold he can behold his own sensory physical being.
That is the first powerful impression of true knowledge, my dear friends, when the Guardian of the Threshold can say to the human being: See, that is how you are over there, as you appear in the physical world; here with me you are as your inner being really is.
And now meaningful words sound out again from the Guardian of the Threshold - that the person is called upon, now that he is on the other side of the abyss, how differently he sees himself on the other, physical side. He sees himself differently. He sees himself as a tripartite being. He sees himself as a tripartite being which expresses itself psychically in thinking, feeling and willing. In reality they are three humans: the thinking one, the feeling one, the willing one, which exist in every person and are only held together in one by the physical body in the physical world. And what the person sees there resounds from the lips of the Guardian of the Threshold in the following way:
Or also “human imprint”; one must translate the words from the occult language.
[The mantra is written on the blackboard:]
The Guardian of the Threshold is indicating here how the Three - which separate from each other once the person leaves the physical body - how the Three look in relation to the physical body. The vision is directed to the physical body, to the head, heart and limbs, and the Guardian of the Threshold says: If you observe the human head in its true cosmic significance, it is a mirror image of the heavenly universe. You must look into the distance, where the universe seems to reach its boundary. (In reality it is bounded by the spirit, not as it naively appears physically to be.) In looking up you must recall that your round head is a true image of the heavenly universe. And we add here, being conscious of the mantric words:
“Experience the head's cosmic form”
The sign is added here [in front of the above line]:
which encourages us to pause at this line of the mantric verse in order to envision the upward direction to the cosmic vastness, and of course that direction is always upward from anywhere on the earth.
“Feel the heart's cosmic pulse”
Through this cosmic-heavenly place the cosmic rhythm resounds as cosmic music. When we hear the human heart beating it seems as if this human heart were only beating as a result of the human organism's interior processes. In reality what beats in the heart is the counterpoint of the cosmic rhythm which has circulated not only for thousands but for millions of years. Therefore, pause again - the Guardian of the Threshold says - at the words “Feel the heart's cosmic pulse”, and feel what works in the heart upward as well as downward.
[The corresponding sign is drawn:]
The triangle pointing downward combines with the one pointing upward.
“Think the limbs' cosmic force”
This cosmic force is the one concentrated from below by gravity and other earthly forces. In our thinking - which as earthly thinking is only capable of understanding the earthly - we must look downward to grasp what streams out from the earth to work in man. Now we pause again at “Think the limbs' cosmic force” in the triangle pointing downward:
And we will feel the Guardian's words as they should affect the human heart, the human soul today if one activates this mantric verse in the appropriate way.
Experience the head's cosmic form.
The verse is spoken while making the sign before the head:
Feel the heart's cosmic pulse
One speaks the verse while making the sign before the breast:
Think the limbs' cosmic force
One speaks the verse while making the sign pointing downward:
And you should then try, after letting these mantric verses work on the soul, to make the senses subdued, close the eyes, hear nothing with the ears, perceive nothing and have darkness around you for a while, so that you are living totally in the atmosphere through which these words pass. And in this way you will transport yourself to the sphere in initiation which in all reality can be realized during the encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold. This is one of the ways by which one can take the first step beyond the threshold.
But we must let the Guardian's next words work upon us with great earnestness. These words indicate that once we have crossed the threshold everything is different from the sensory world. In the sensory world we think that the site of thinking and mental images is the human head. And so it is, for the sensory world. But this thinking in the head is always mixed a little bit with willing, something which is also perceptible for normal consciousness. Because when we move from one thought to another we must use the will just as we use it when moving an arm or a leg, or when willing in general. But it is a fine, delicate willing which transfers one thought to another. When we are in the sensory world the whole extent of thinking and a small amount of willing are bound together in the head. As soon as we cross over the Threshold and encounter the Guardian it is the reverse: a small amount of thinking and much widespread willing is bound to the head. And in this willing, which otherwise sleeps in man, we sense the spirit which forms the head from out of the cosmos, the heavens, as it's spherically-shaped mirror image in all its details.
Therefore, once we have crossed beyond the threshold, the Guardian calls out the following words:
[The new mantra is written on the blackboard.]
And now we see that willing is something quite different from what it previously was. Previously the senses were the transmitters of sense-impressions, and one was not aware that the will goes through the the eyes, through the ears, that the will goes through the sense of warmth, and through every other sense as well. Now we see that everything the eye experiences as multiple colors, what the ear hears as multiple sounds, what man perceives as warmth and cold, as rough and smooth, smells and tastes etc., is all will in the spiritual world.
If on seeing the head from the other side of the threshold one recognizes how will goes through the head and how the senses represent will, then he will realize how the heart contains the soul and how one can feel the soul within the heart just as he can will the head's spirit when observing the head. And now we know that when thinking is not considered as a function of the head, but as a function of the heart, of the soul, we realize that thinking does not belong to an individual, but to the world; then one experiences cosmic-life, the music of the spheres.
[The second verse is written on the blackboard.]
not in the unsubstantial shining, but the shining where the essence of the world appears.
summing up in the line:
You weave in wisdom.
Summing up what pertains to the heart's soul and feeling in the line:
You live in the shining.
Just as you recognize the senses as will, you also recognize thinking as feeling in respect to cosmic being, when you consider the Three, which only in the sensory world are One.
And thirdly the Guardian of the Threshold adds:
[The third verse is written on the blackboard.]
Now we have a complete reversal. Whereas normally we consider thinking to be concentrated in the head, here [in the first verse] it is the will, as I previously explained, that is concentrated in the head. Feeling stays in the heart, where it is also felt to be in the sensory world; for the inner force of the heart goes over to the spiritual world.
Now thinking is brought directly into connection with the limbs, the opposite of the sensory world.
thus, willing becomes thinking,
You strive in virtue.
Thus, we have the complete reversal in the spiritual world as revealed to us by the Guardian of the Threshold. Whereas we normally differentiate willing, feeling, thinking from below upward in man, on the other side [of the threshold] we differentiate man as a Three: will above in the head, feeling in the middle, thinking below at the limbs.
We realize then how willing, concentrated in the head, is the weaving cosmic wisdom in which we live; how feeling is the cosmic shining in which all the spirit-beings glow; and how thinking, observed in the limbs, is human striving, which can be lived as human virtue. And the Three appear before spiritual vision thus:
The mantric verse is built thus. And we must be aware of this inner congruence, and also aware that if we let this mantric verse work on us the following will penetrate our being:
[These three lines are underlined in yellow.]
These then are the Guardian of the Threshold's words which accompany our spiritual vision of the Three, which derive from the One, when we cross over into the world beyond the threshold:
These are the sensations which must flow through the soul if real knowledge is to be obtained; these are the admonitions which the Guardian of the Threshold lets resound at the moment when he also tells us:
[Written on the blackboard:]
Those are the words which for thousands and thousands of years have resounded at all the gates to the spiritual world, admonishing and yet encouraging:
Just imagine, my sisters and brothers, that you say to yourselves for the first time: I want to take the Guardian of the Threshold's words seriously; I recognize that I was not yet a human being; I recognize that I will become one through insight into the spiritual world.
Imagine, my dear sisters and brothers, you say the second time: Oh, I didn't take the words seriously enough the first time; I must admit that I need not one, but two of the stages from where I am now in order to become a true human being.
And imagine you say the third time: I recognize that I need three of the stages from the point where I now stand, at which I am not a true human, in order to become a true human being.
The first admonition, which you give to yourself, is earnest. The second admonition is more earnest. But the third admonition must bear the most earnest impression of all. And if you can awaken this threefold admonition of earnestness from the depths of your souls, then you will have an inkling of what it means to become a true human being through knowledge. And then you will return to the first admonition - as we will also do now - as a transforming verse in our souls.
Thus, my sisters and brothers, has it resounded in the hearts of all who have striven for knowledge ever since there have been human beings on the earth.
There has been a pause in the striving since the dawn of the fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. According to the will of the divine-spiritual entities who guide humanity, the pause has come to an end. Now it is up to you to make human hearts open again in a worthy way to what the wise guides of humanity raise up to the vision of what works in the world as spirit, what as spirit works in the world in humanity, as the crown of existence.
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