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Esoteric Lessons for the First Class of the
School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum
part 2

Schmidt Number: S-5732

On-line since: 31st August, 2017

The First Goetheanum

The First Goetheanum

by Rudolf Steiner

Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith

Lesson Thirteen

Dornach, May 17, 1924

My dear Friends,

First of all we shall speak the imperative words from the spirit of the cosmos which urge us to self-observation for knowledge of our being:

O man, know thyself!
So sounds the Cosmic-Word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it firm in spirit.

Who speaks with cosmic might?
Who speaks from depth of heart?

Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through weaving waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

Is it you yourself who,
In feeling space, in experiencing time

Create the Word, feeling foreign
In space's psychic vacancy,
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow.

Well, my dear sisters and brothers, in the previous lesson we tried to find the inner psychic words which can bring our humanity into contact with what is revealed by the spiritual hierarchies – with which the human spirit is closely related. We placed before our souls how by concentrating on the field of thinking we could rise up to the region where the beings of the third hierarchy reside, so to speak: the Angels, Archangels and Archai.

Not meant is our everyday thinking, but the thinking which acts behind that everyday thinking, which we can only achieve from our whole being by meditating deeply on the words which begin with: “Perceive the field of thinking.”

And I also pointed out last time how this thinking can be perceived in the human organism itself above the region of speech; whereas the field of memory-thought can be felt under the region of speech. In respect to the region of speech itself: when we say something innerly and intensely in a low voice, or even out loud, we feel the speaking within and we can designate the place where we feel the speaking within us. Then we have a starting point, for it is more or less easy to experience this speech.

And over the speaking, more toward the rear of the head, we can find the inner thinking through which we can discover the Angeloi; in the speaking itself the Archangeloi; and in remembrance, under the speaking, the Archai can be felt.

And the mantric verse which leads us to this point was described in the previous class lesson.

By means of this verse we imagine how at first cosmic space speaks, the universe itself resounds to us, so to speak, and therewith the Guardian of the Threshold tells us to be attentive to what the beings related to us from the ranks of the third hierarchy, the Angeloi, have to say.

Then, secondly, how the Guardian of the Threshold again admonishes us to be attentive to the beings related to us from the ranks of the Archangeloi.

And thirdly, the Guardian again admonishes us to listen attentively to the beings related to us from the ranks of the Archai. So we should imagine this mantric verse so that we hear the universe from the distant cosmos resounding to us, and hear the Guardian and the hierarchies speaking:

Perceive the field of thinking:

The one who wants to show to you

paths from life on earth to life

earth in spirit light does speak.

Behold your senses' shining radiance.

The one who wants to carry you,

Your soul conveyed to souls

regions matter-free, speaks.

Behold the forces working in your thinking.

The one speaks who among spirits

earth-distant fields of creation

Desires to give you the ground of being.

Behold the imagery of remembrance.

So if we can always feel ourselves in this situation – the cosmic distances speaking to us, the Guardian of the Threshold speaking to us, the ranks of the hierarchies speaking to us, if we can vividly imagine it as though it were around us, then in relation to the schematic picture I drew on the blackboard the last time, we gradually come to sense the thinking above the place of speech in the back of the head, through which we approach the movement and the life of the third hierarchy.

And so, my dear sisters and brothers, we can say that by means of this mantric verse we come in contact with the beings of the third hierarchy.

Likewise do we come into contact with the beings of the second hierarchy through the second mantric verse, which was also set forth and which should also be felt and spiritually perceived. We should ignore the fact that we are saying it; we should transpose ourselves into the situation I described.

Perceive the field of feeling:

The one who speaks as thought

from the sun-rays of the spirit

calls you to cosmic existence:

Feel in your breath life awakening.

The one speaks who gives to you

From the stars' living forces

Cosmic being in spirit kingdoms:

Feel in your blood's weaving waves.

The one speaks who wants to create

the light of the divine heights

sense of spirit from earthly will.

Feel the earth's mighty resistance.

Thus we come into contact with the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes, An inner connection is created between the feeling sphere – breathing and blood circulation – and where the will arises, but which is only felt as will – and through which a connection is created between everything in our humanity and the beings of the second hierarchy.

What remains for us to consider today, my dear sisters and brothers, is the field of volition, of will. The field of the will is the one which most dominates the human being, which acts most strongly in him, but is also the one which is least experienced with real attention. For man usually knows little of how the will acts.

Let us take first where the will is most evident in the human organism, that is, when the human organism is set in motion.

You must, my dear sisters and brothers, adopt these intimate concepts if you want to penetrate into what the spirit which speaks through this esoteric school wishes to indicate as the path.

Imagine yourself walking, and perhaps moving your arms. Normally we think that we move our legs and the legs carry us forward. This is the most convenient idea one can have. We think that an unknown force – it is of course an unknown force, for nobody with normal consciousness can know anything about this force – streams into the legs. Each leg is placed before the other. Thus we carry ourselves through the world.

But such is not the case. In no way do the legs have the primary task of carrying us through the world. It is simply not true. Here we come to a subject where normal consciousness immediately shows its maya; for it is maya when we believe that we walk with the legs, with the physical legs, that the physical legs exist for walking.

Of course this does not mean, my dear sisters and brothers, that you should go out into the world of triviality and cry out-loud: “It is not true that man has his legs in order to walk.” For that would of course not be understood at first. Because the profound sense in which it is true is unknown – that almost everything normal consciousness offers us at first is maya, the great illusion. The great illusion does not only include what we observe around us, but also how we experience ourselves in the world.


Imagine the following [drawing]: these are human legs – where each one strides before the other [white legs]. But within these physical human legs is the human etheric body [red] — the part of the human etheric body that corresponds to the legs; here is the astral body [yellow] — the part which corresponds to the legs, and then the I-organization [violet]. We don't walk with the physical legs, we don't walk with the etheric legs, not even with the astral legs, but we walk with the forces that correspond to the I-organization. We live with these forces, which correspond to the I-organization, in the gravitational forces of the earth, which are of course invisible. [drawing: arc with arrows]. These gravitational forces of the earth we experience with our I-organization forces [short strokes on the arrows] – and the will which governs movement – which acts between the invisible I-organization and the invisible gravitational forces of the earth.

Now the I-organization is so constituted that it needs to feel something like resistance when it comes into contact with the earth's gravitational forces. The legs' astral body serves this purpose, also the etheric body and, especially, the physical body, in order that the I-organization can feel itself, can perceive itself. And without this perception it could not have a connection with the earth-organization – because it must be conscious of this connection. In order that in walking the I-organization may be conscious of itself and come into contact with the earth-organization, the physical and the other organizations are present.

Therefore, walking is a super-sensible process. The sensible organization is only present in order that the walking be perceived, because it can be accomplished only when it is perceived. You no more walk with your legs, my dear sisters and brothers, than you do with your stockings. You walk with what corresponds to your I-organization in your legs. And just as you have stockings to provide warmth, so do you have physical legs in order to provide consciousness for walking.

What I have just said must be felt. We must learn to feel when walking that walking is a super-sensible process, and that the sensible is only there in order to provide consciousness of the process. During waking earth-life this consciousness is created in a less than perfect way, because our legs are also heavy, so we not only come into contact with the gravitational pull of the earth, but also with the gravitational force that acts in our legs. Therefore, when we are not using our physical legs, as in sleep, we speed around the universe in the I and astral body in a much more agile way than when we move about in physical life. We do move about during sleep, only we have no consciousness of doing so, because the physical legs provide that consciousness.

Who is it then who provides us with the capacity for movement during sleep – and then also during clairvoyance? We are able to move, I said, in physical life because the movement becomes conscious through the physical legs. Who, my dear friends, does that instead when we are sleeping? Those beings who connect with us for the purpose of movement when we are sleeping. They are the Thrones, beings of the First Hierarchy. However, with normal consciousness, with normal sleeping consciousness, man cannot perceive the Thrones; therefore, it doesn't help. But when through intuition he is capable of perceiving what happens during sleep, he becomes aware that during sleep he is in contact with a higher world through the Thrones, just as in physical life he is in contact with normal earth life through his physical legs.

All this we must translate into feeling. We must learn to sense it. And then we will sense the interweaving, undulating spiritual world in which we always are.

And we can again rise to such an inner feeling and experience if we let it work upon us in this situation as we did in respect to the other mantras which I described for the field of thinking and the field of feeling: from out of the cosmos comes an urgent voice like thunder, then the Guardian of the Threshold tells us to listen to the Thrones speaking to us. The Thrones speak to us about the drives – as they are called – the instinctual drives which are transfered to our volition when we carry out an act of will.

Therefore, we will let the third part of this mantra work on us, as it resounds again from the cosmos:

Perceive the field of will

Then Guardian of the threshold:

The one who guides the cosmic forces

from the dull dark earth-foundations

into your limbs' movements, speaks:

Behold your fiery instinctual drives.

That is the first. The second leads us more into the soul [psychological] aspect. If we continue to investigate the human will's actions in this deep meditative practice we make a great discovery. And at some point humanity must make this discovery if it wishes to advance in the field of evolution.

Now I must indicate something to you, my dear sisters and brothers, something you all know, for normal consciousness is already aware of it. It is what we call the voice of conscience in us. The voice of conscience! But the voice of conscience calls out in an indeterminate way to human consciousness. Usually we do not rightly know what it is – in respect to our moral-psychological comportment – that comes from the mysterious depths of our souls and which we call the voice of conscience. With normal consciousness one does not penetrate so deeply into one's own being as to reach the voice of conscience. It ascends, but man does not reach it, so he does not look at it face to face.

And when man penetrates meditatively to the distant world of the Cherubim, the wisdom filled beings who live and act throughout the universe, he makes the great discovery that from the world of the cherubim an impulse enters into him within which the voice of conscience lives. Oh, the voice of conscience is of high origin, high being. It actually lives in the world of the Cherubim. From that world of the Cherubim it weaves itself into humanity and at first resounds from the depths of this humanity in an indeterminate way. But it is a great, mighty encounter when man, through intuition, can come into contact with the field of the Cherubim and encounter the world where his conscience lives and works. It is the greatest personal discovery anyone can make.

Therefore, the Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us with the following words:

The one speaks who with grace

lets the clear spirit-rays from God's

fields of action, circulate in your blood:

Behold the soul-guide of your conscience.

In truth it is the spirit from the field of the Cherubim that circulates in the blood that constitutes the voice of conscience. The blood is physical in all the parts of our bodies; but in that it is physical in all the parts of our bodies, it carries the voice of conscience, along with other things. And the waves of Cherubim life interweave in our blood.

We will gain an important place for this meditation if we imagine the situation thus:

First speaks what originates in the universal distance:

Behold the field of will.

Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us:

The one who guides the cosmic forces

from the dull, dark earth-foundations

into your limbs' movements, speaks:

Then we imagine [drawing] interweaving clouds [blue] symbolizing the Thrones. And in that we imagine these interweaving clouds, we hear the Thrones, the voices from the first hierarchy:

Behold your fiery instinctual drives.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold continues:

The one speaks who with grace

lets the clear spirit-rays from God's

fields of action, circulate in your blood.

Now we imagine lightning [red] flashing through the clouds, for lightning is the tool of the Cherubim, the fiery swords of the Cherubim. As the lightning flashes through the clouds, we feel these flashes in the words:

Behold conscience's soul-guidance.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold speaks:

The one speaks who brings the accomplished in man

That is, the previous earth lives

Sensibly through death and birth,

breathe again in contemporary times.

Now we imagine the entire sky above the lightning with interweaving warmth [drawing: yellow], sending the lightning down with heat. And in this interweaving heat from the cosmos we sense the Seraphim's speech:

Behold your destiny's spiritual trial

how destiny extends from earth-life to earth-life to the present earth-life.

This mantra is especially effective when it is felt combined in this way with the image. And we can prepare ourselves for this mantra by using the good German word “Sitze” – after denuding it of all triviality – instead of Thrones say “Sitze” (seats).

So imagine, my dear sisters and brothers, that you feel the word “Sitze”,

[it is written on the blackboard:]       Sitze  (seats)

Flashes in the clouds; form the idea of clouds in your minds – the word “Blitze”  (lightning bolts)

[“Blitze” is written over “Sitze”]        Blitze (lightning bolts)

again with the idea of “flashing through”: the lightning flashing in the clouds. You form the word “Hitze”.

[“Hitze” is written over “Blitze”]       Hitze (heat)

Universal heat; and feel in this threefold “i” [pronounced “ee”] the ascending from the cloud flashes to the lightning bolts and to the universal heat, from which the lightning bolts derive. You feel prepared for the mantra:

Sitze, Blitze, Hitze.

And then, after this scene is before you, feel with the image the force of the mantra:

[Mantra III is written on the blackboard. The word “will” and the last lines of all three parts are underlined.]

III. Behold the field of will.

1.) The one who guides the cosmic forces

from the dull dark earth-foundations

into your limbs' movements, speaks:

Behold your fiery instinctual drives.

2.) The one speaks who with grace

lets the clear spirit-rays from God's

fields of action, circulate in your blood.

Behold conscience's soul-guidance.

3.) The one speaks who brings the accomplished in man

sensibly through death and birth,

to breathe again in contemporary times.

Behold your destiny's spiritual trial.

Nothing in such verses is mere empty phrase: rather is it about the limbs' active movement. I described it as a working together of the I-organization with the forces of the earth – a super-sensible process. We must be aware of that in the first part of the mantra.

In the second part of the mantra we must be aware of the blood circulating throughout the whole organism, containing everything pertaining to the conscience. However, our destiny basically lives in our breathing – the uppermost part of our rhythmic system – insofar as it is streamed through not only with what today enlivens us in breathing, but because breathing has been formed by earlier stages of earthly existence.

Here [in part 1] the Guardian of the Threshold refers us

to the                                                Thrones

here [in part 2] to the                  Cherubim

here [in part 3] to the                  Seraphim

[“Thrones” is written beside part 1, “Cherubim” beside part 2, “Seraphim” beside part 3.]

The symbol we choose to give the mantra the necessary strength and spiritual consolidation and which expresses the first Hierarchy's revelation in a beautiful way: clouds , but at the same time what the Thrones derive their substance from – when we observe the spiritual in the clouds: their own being or essence.

[The following is written, with “being” underlined.]

clouds – Thrones – being

We look up to the lightning bolts. Oh, the Cherubim are already more hidden. We can sense how the Thrones are acting and moving in the clouds. The looming clouds provide the Thrones with substance. The Cherubim do not make it easy for us to see them. They are more hidden than the Thrones. They do not show themselves in the formations. They show us their tools in the lightning bolts. They do not show us their being in the lightning bolts, only their tools.

[The following is written on the blackboard, with “tools” underlined.]

Lightning bolts – Cherubim – tools

And if we ascend to the cosmic heat, the Seraphim are hidden deeply therein, much deeper than the Cherubim are hidden behind their tools, the lightning bolts. The heat is only the shining of the Seraphim. The Thrones reveal themselves by their being; the Cherubim reveal themselves by their tools; the Seraphim reveal themselves by their shining.

[The following is written on the blackboard, with “shining” underlined.]

Cosmic heat – Seraphim – shining

Thus we establish the connection between man and the first Hierarchy in the field of will:

Perceive the field of will:

The one who guides the cosmic forces

from the dull dark earth-foundations

into your limbs' movements, speaks:

Behold your fiery instinctual drives.

The one speaks who with grace

lets the clear spirit-rays from God's

fields of action, circulate in your blood.

Behold conscience's soul-guidance.

The one speaks who brings the accomplished in man

sensibly through death and birth,

breathe again in contemporary times.

Behold your destiny's spiritual trial.

In this situation, it is necessary that we feel as though we are not ourselves speaking, thinking, feeling and willing; rather that we completely forget ourselves and feel spoken to in a resounding threefold way.

Yes, my dear sisters and brothers, it is certainly necessary that such mantric procedures be taken most seriously. Then they are effective, as they are meant to be. Then they bring us forward, forward on the threefold fields of the spiritual worlds, on the fields of thinking, feeling and willing. And it is always necessary that we be able to undertake them earnestly.

Something else is necessary which must be taken into account. The meditator will often fall back into the humdrum routine of everyday life. He must do so because between birth and death he is an earthly being. He must always return to his normal consciousness. For example when we have some kind of ache which becomes chronic, we will always feel it. We can sometimes overlook it, but we feel that it is there. We can feel something similar when we have been embraced by the power of meditation. We should always be able to say to ourselves: this normal consciousness has meditated. It has been embraced by the prevailing power of meditation. We should feel that the meditation is present, that we were once in it. By feeling that meditation makes us into something different, we should have become a different person. Having once begun, we can never in life forget, not even for a moment, my dear sisters and brothers, that we are meditants. That is the right attitude.

We should live into meditative life in such a way – naturally for short enough intervals that it does not disturb our normal lives – that we always feel ourselves to be meditants, and when there are moments when we forget that we are meditants, then we should feel as ashamed as if we were walking completely naked along a street crowded with people. We should experience the transition from non-meditant to meditant in such a way that if we forget that we are meditants and then realize that we have forgotten, we are ashamed.

And then we will really advance in what is said to us by the cosmic words with which we began:

O man, know thyself!
So sounds the Cosmic-Word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it vast in spirit.

Who speaks with cosmic might?
Who speaks in depth of heart?

Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through weaving waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

Is it you yourself who,
In feeling space, in experiencing time

Creates the Word, feeling foreign
In space's psychic vacancy,
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow.

But we must always remember that knowledge is a serious thing, and that the world of great illusions, the world of maya, will not deliver it to us, that we must first arrive at the threshold where the Guardian stands, and that on the threshold all the deceptive forms with which normal sense-perception and normal consciousness is full will disappear.

Then we can perceive additional words from the same cosmic depths from which the words just spoken to us came:

Know first the earnest Guardian,
Who stands before spirit-land's gates,
Denying entry to your sensible forces
And to your understanding's power,
For in your senses' interweaving
And in your thoughts' forming
From space's lack of being,
From time's power of deception
you must first forcefully conquer
Your own being's truth.

When we have heard such words, the answering words can reverently issue from the depths of our souls:

I entered this world of sense-perception,
Taking with me thinking's heritage,
A god's strength had led me here.
Death stands at the long path's end.
I want to feel the being of Christ
Who wakens in death-of-matter spirit-birth.
Thus I find the world in spirit
And know myself in world's becoming.





Last Modified: 17-Oct-2018
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