[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib
 [Prev] [Next] [Top] [Search] [Index] [Print] [Home]  [Map
Version 2.5.4  



Highlight Words

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

Schmidt Number: S-5745

On-line since: 31st August, 2017

The First Goetheanum

The First Goetheanum

by Rudolf Steiner

Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith

Lesson Fourteen

Dornach, May 31, 1924

My Dear Friends,

We have been considering the human being's relation to the Guardian of the Threshold and have led our souls step by step to see what our relation is to the Guardian of the Threshold on the path of knowledge. Today we intend to enliven the situation of standing before the Guardian in order to advance a step further in this esoteric consideration.

I will repeat what has been considered in the previous lessons regarding this situation. Man leaves the physical world in which he develops his normal consciousness. He realizes that although this sensible-physical world can be wonderful, joyful as well as painful and full of suffering, it can also be majestic — and that he has every reason to consciously be a part of it. But he also realizes that he can never know himself if he merely directs his attention and his feelings to this physical world. He must say to himself: As wonderful as it is, with all its amazing variety of colors and forms, what I myself am, what my origin and being are, cannot be found in the scope of this environment.

Nevertheless, from all sides the words resound as the most important task in the life of the human being: O man, know thyself!

And it also becomes clear that in normal life we are protected from entering unprepared into the world which is the world of his real being. And the Guardian of the Threshold is the one who protects us from consciously perceiving his environment when we are sleeping at night, for what we would then perceive, unprepared, would be such a terrible shock that we would not be able to lead a normal human waking life.

The Guardian of the Threshold also makes it clear to us that he — the Guardian of the Threshold — is the true, the real gateway to the spiritual world.

Thus the person realizes that before he enters the kingdom of knowledge, he comes to an abyss, which at first seems bottomless. The support of the physical world ends here. He cannot cross it. One can only cross this abyss by freeing oneself from the physical, when one — symbolically speaking — “grows wings”, in order to cross the abyss as a psychic-spiritual being.

But the Guardian of the Threshold calls forth to him how to beware of the abyss, especially to be aware of the beasts which rise up as spiritual figures from this abyss, that one should realize that these beasts are the outer reflections of impure willing, feeling and thinking — that they first must be overcome. And in a graphic image one sees how his willing, feeling and thinking appear in three animals — one ghastly, one horrid to look at, and so forth.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold shows us how thinking, feeling and willing can strengthen themselves after having consciously determined to overcome the beasts. To enter the spiritual world, to visualize the spiritual world, we need to develop situation-meditations, in order to feel how the cosmos speaks to us, how the hierarchies speak to us, how at first everything foretells what awaits us there in the spiritual world.

And from what has entered our souls through the mantras, we will realize ever more that the human being must become different when he crosses the abyss, when he wishes to live into what is beyond the abyss. We will realize ever more: Here on earth we associate with the beings of the three nature kingdoms and with men; beyond we associate with disembodied souls and with the spirits of the higher hierarchies. It is a different kind of relating, which requires a different state of mind. [original: Seelenverfassung = soul-constitution].

It is again the task of the Guardian of the Threshold to strongly indicate how the human being must comport himself when faced with the fact that when he crosses the abyss and experiences something of the reality of the spiritual world, he must do so with a completely different state of mind.

The person will realize that two states of mind can be a reality within him: the one on this side of the abyss with normal consciousness; and the one beyond the abyss, outside the physical and etheric bodies — the state of mind in the purely spiritual world.

When the difference between these states of mind appears, great dangers await him, dangers which appear at first to be slight deviations from the normal state of mind which are always present within the psyche, but which are pathological deformities when carried to an extreme. Of course it must be emphasized: When the journey to the higher worlds is undertaken as it is carefully described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment, in many shorter works which have appeared in anthroposophical circles, and in the second part of my An Outline Of Occult Science, then aberration from the normal condition of the mind cannot occur, not even in the slightest degree. The person will cross into the spiritual world in the full consciousness of normal human understanding, first in knowledge and also through initiation. But he must know how, in two ways, he may lose the everyday capacity for understanding, which holds him securely to life, if he does not adhere to the right guidelines into the spiritual world.

Here on this side of the threshold we are standing on the earth, on the solid earthly elements. The ground is beneath our feet, it is our support. Around us is the watery element, which also participates in the formation of our own bodies. In ordinary life this watery element cannot support us, but it interpenetrates us, transforms itself into our blood. It is contained in our growth, in our forces of nutrition. We breathe the air. The airy or gaseous element is all around us. Warmth is all around us: the warmth ether, the fourth element.

In ordinary life they are separate from each other. Where there is solid earth there is not water; where there is water there is not air; where there is air there is not water. Only fire — warmth — interpenetrates all. It is the only thing which interpenetrates everything.

The moment we leave the physical body — also with the first push, my dear friends — this separation of the elements ceases. We enlarge ourselves, we expand, and at the same time we are in earth, water, fire, air. We can no longer distinguish them from each other and the individual attributes of these four elements have ceased to exist. The earth is no longer our support, for it is no longer solid. The water no longer forms us, for its formative force has ended. Once in the spiritual world it is as though we were dissolving, as ice melts in warm water, for we have become one with the water. We could not float in it, for that would mean that we were still separate from it. The blood is no longer a separate element in the blood vessels, but our blood becomes one with the all-pervading watery element of the universe. And air: it ceases being the formative breathing force in us. Warmth ceases to enkindle us to an I, and make us feel that we are a Self within the warmth. It all ends. We must meet this ending of the differentiation between earth, water, air and fire in the right frame of mind.

Imagine that we have already flown over the abyss. We have arrived on the other side, my dear sisters and brothers. The Guardian of the Threshold calls out to us, we should turn around again and face him.

Imagine it vividly, my dear sisters and brothers. The person has arrived on the other side, where the truths and knowledge of the spirit will be revealed to him. He stands on the other side. The Guardian of the Threshold invokes him to turn around in order to receive the advice he needs now that he has been touched by the state of mind which is on the other side of the threshold, where one lives within the four elements: in earth, water, air, fire.

He encounters there — pardon the trivial expression, my dear sisters and brothers — the illusion of being in love with release from the solid earth, from the formative water force, from the creative force of air, from the selfhood awakening force of warmth; he feels delight in spiritual beatitude, dedicated to it and wishes to remain in this state of spiritual beatitude. It overcomes him because the Luciferic temptation is approachng him. Depending on his karma, he can be more or less susceptible to this temptation. If he is so susceptible that he is utterly in love with the experience of dissolving into earth, water, air and fire, the luciferic forces will apprehend him and he will no longer leave this state of mind. He succumbs to the danger of continuing in this state of mind when he returns to everyday life.

The Guardian of the Threshold must call out to him: You may not do that. You may not succumb to Lucifer. You may not merely feel the delight of bliss in dissolving in earth, water, fire, air. When you return to the physical world you must again take on the state of mind of ordinary consciousness; otherwise in the future you will be an unstable person in the physical world.

That is the luciferic danger, that upon return from the spiritual world, from beyond the threshold, one becomes an unstable, confused person, no longer versed in the ways of the world, a dreamer who confuses dreaming for idealism and who is contemptuous of ordinary consciousness. That you must not do. And the Guardian of the Threshold urgently admonishes us that we must resolve to live in the world, be it the earthly, be it the spiritual, in the way which corresponds to each.

But the Guardian of the Threshold adds a second admonishment: that when we cross over with separated thinking, feeling and willing, we must pay attention to what extent earthly inclinations are still present in this thinking, feeling and willing.

The person may be inclined to fixate on his experiences on this side of the threshold because of having the earth's support, and cross the threshold in a materialistic state of mind, cross with the congealed formative forces of water. If so, he can be plagued by earthly arrogance and say to himself: In life on earth I breathed, inhaled that breath from which the Father-God once created the human soul, human life. I can also do that if only I am freed from earthly limitations.

But if the person wants to bring over into the spiritual world what he has of creative divine force through his breath, he will succumb to the Ahrimanic temptation. Then he will not be able to return, because before he does so he will become faint. He will be more or less unconscious. His consciousness will be paralyzed. Because his consciousness has been paralyzed, he more or less becomes an instrument of the Ahrimanic powers in the spiritual world.

Although today humanity is crudely hardened by materialism, since the beginning of the Michael age it is almost being dragged over into the spiritual world by spiritual life itself. And what it means when the ahrimanic powers seize humanity when its consciousness is paralyzed, though otherwise in a fully waking state, has been amply demonstrated, my dear friends, by the outbreak of the great [first] World War.

When this World War broke out, I said to many people: The history of this war can not be written from the physical plane alone. Documents alone do not speak the truth, because of the thirty or forty men in Europe who directly participated in the outbreak of the war, many of them had dimmed consciousness at the decisive moments. They became instruments for the ahrimanic powers on this side. So that much of what happened during this war was instigated by the ahrimanic powers. The war can only be written about in an occult way.

What is seen — in many respects modified on this side of the threshold — in many leading personalities at the outbreak of this World War, can be observed in those who preserved the habits of the mind and carried them over beyond the threshold and whose consciousness became paralyzed, muted, and they became instruments of the ahrimanic powers.

It must be perfectly clear that the human being may not carry over to this side the state of mind applicable to beyond the threshold, and that he may not carry over to the other side the state of mind applicable to this side. Rather must he develop a strong inner human consciousness for each domain — for this side and for beyond the threshold.

That applies to all four elements in the Guardian of the Threshold's admonition. We shall now work on these admonitions in meditation.

So let us imagine, my dear sisters and brothers, that you are standing on the other side of the threshold. The Guardian beckons. You look at his face. At first he calls out to you, admonishing:

Where is the earth's solidity which supported you?

We no longer have it. But the inner heart is motivated to give an answer. But this heart can be innerly motivated in a threefold way to an answer from the cosmos.

It can be motivated from the Christ and his power. Then it answers:

I abandon its foundation — the earth's solidity, that is — as long as the spirit supports me.

That is the correct attitude, that I abandon the earth's support as long as the spirit carries me in the spirit-domain, as long as I am out of the body. But the heart can also be motivated by Lucifer. Then it answers:

I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its support.

That is how one speaks with arrogance, with pride, as though he also does not need the support when he returns to the physical world.

Or the heart can be motivated by Ahriman. Then it answers:

I will hammer it down even harder — the support — with the spirit's power, and bring it over with me.

No one should recoil from meditatively calling to mind again and again all three answers in order to freely choose the first one. For he must feel: the inner self tends to waver to Lucifer, and to Ahriman. One must keep this in mind during meditation.

For the earth element the meditation must therefore contain:

[The first part of the mantra is written on the blackboard. (Writing is always shown in italics).]

1) The Guardian — speaks — Where is the earth's solidity, which supported you?

The Human heart must answer. If it is motivated by Christ, it answers:

Christ: I leave its foundation as long as the spirit supports me.

If the soul is motivated by Lucifer, it answers:

Lucifer: I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its support.

Now the heart omits “as long as” if it wants to replace the temporal with the eternal, which transforms the sentence. If the heart is motivated by Ahriman, it answers:

Ahriman: I will hammer it down even harder — the support — with the spirit's power.

In order that the soul fully dedicate itself to what is coming, we have the Guardian of the Threshold's second admonition, which is related to water's formative force. This formative force of water forms the solid organs in us from the liquid elements. All that we consume for nourishment must first become liquid, from which the organs are formed. All our sharply contoured organs are formed out of the liquid element. This formative force terminates once we tread the realm beyond the threshold. The Guardian warns us that this is the case. He calls to us once we stand on the other side of the Threshold facing his stern countenance:

[The second part of the mantra is written on the blackboard.]

Guardian: Where is the water's formative force which pervaded you?

The person answers if he is motivated in his heart by Christ:

My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.

Christ: My life extinguishes it (“it” is the formative force), as long as the spirit forms me.

Again, modestly, “as long as” is used.


Now, when one is over there, out of the body, the spirit is beginning to form.

If the soul is motivated by Lucifer, it leaves out “as long as” and forms the sentence in a prideful, arrogant way:

Lucifer: My life melts it away — what is extinguished can be re-kindled; what melts remains melted — so I am released from it.

If the soul is motivated by Ahriman, it answers:

Ahriman: My life solidifies it, so I transfer it to the spirit-realm.

Observe, my dear sisters and brothers, how everything in mantric verses is innerly certain and meaningfully formed. Here [in the first verse] is: “I leave”, “I feel”, “I will”. The “I” speaks in the answer. In the second verse the I no longer speaks egocentrically, but it says: “My life”: “my life dissolves”, “my life melts”, “my life solidifies”. It is all appropriate to reality if correctly spoken in the spirit. The carelessness in formulating sentences, which is common in the physical realm, may not be brought over into the spirit-realm. In the spirit-realm all that is spoken must be precise and exact.

You must understand, my dear friends, the reality that this Esoteric School is not established by human will, but by the spiritual world, as I said at the beginning. Everything given here in the Esoteric School of the Goetheanum is only spoken through my lips, but is dictated by the spiritual world. It must be that way in every legitimately existing esoteric school — also in the present and in the immediate future, as it was in the ancient holy Mysteries. And this Esoteric School is the true Michael- School, the institution of those spiritual beings who possess the inspiration of Michael's cosmic will.

In respect to air, the Guardian of the Threshold speaks again, warningly: Where is the air's stimulating force which awakened you? — awakened you to existence.

Just as Jehovah formed a feeling being from a merely living being by means of living breath and the stimulating power of air, so can a human being become a feeling being through the stimulation exercised on his senses by the outer world. What, though, are the senses?

My dear sisters and brothers, the senses are nothing other than differentiated breathing organs. Eye, ear — all are refined breathing organs. Breathing expands to all the senses. As it lives in the lung, it lives in the eye. Except that in the lungs it combines with carbon, and in the ears with highly rarefied silica. Carbon dioxide is formed in the organism. [He draws on the blackboard: “Kohlensäure” = carbon dioxide (red)] In the senses, very fine silicic acid is formed [“Kieselsäure” = silicic acid, yellow.]


Man lives downward by converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. He lives upward into the zone of his sense-nervous system by combining oxygen with silica, forming very fine silicic acid. [green]. So we live in a way that when breath turns to blood, it generates carbon dioxide; when breath passes around the senses it generates silicic acid — downward and outward through breath: carbon dioxide; toward the senses and back from the senses to the breathing process in very fine doses of silicic acid.

The Guardian of the Threshold calls to us about all that is in the air:

Where is the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?


He who is motivated in his heart by Christ answers:

My soul breathes the air of heaven — no longer the air of earth, the air of heaven — as long as the spirit surrounds me.


The heart motivated by Lucifer answers:

My soul regards it not in the spirit's rapture.


The heart motivated by Ahriman answers:

My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine creation.

As Jehovah once created with air, the ahrimanically-minded absorbs the air in order to carry it over to the spiritual world.

The Guardian speaks to the human being:

[The third part of the mantra is written on the blackboard:]

Guardian: Where is the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?

The heart motivated by Christ speaks:

Christ: My soul breathes the air of heaven, as long as the spirit surrounds me.

The heart motivated by Lucifer speaks:

Lucifer: My soul regards it not in the spirit's rapture.


The heart motivated by Ahriman speaks:

Ahriman: My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine creation.

About fire, the warmth element, the Guardian now speaks the last of his element-words, warning the human not to lose himself in the warmth element as it is experienced in physical earthly existence, but also not to carry it over to the spiritual world.

Beforehand, my dear sisters and brothers, I want to draw your attention to the ascending direction:

“I” the human being says at first.

“My life” the human being says.

“My soul” says the human being.

Now the Guardian speaks warningly about the fire element:

[The fourth part of the mantra is written on the blackboard:]

Guardian: Where is fire's cleansing — or purification — which ignited your I?

Our I lives in what pervades us as warmth, as fire. In these esoteric classes, my dear sisters and brothers, I have already indicated once that his solid element remains in man's unconscious, the liquid element also, although one does feels pleasure at being in the liquid element; when sated or hungry, he also feels the liquid element's attributes. Man already feels the air element in his soul: he finds breathing difficult when the air's composition is not right and with breathing difficulty, angst. Warmth is something in which the human being feels completely immersed. He accompanies his cold and warm states with his whole I. Fire ignites the I.


The heart motivated by Christ answers:

Christ: My I blazes in God's fire, as long as the spirit ignites me.

Man does not need earthly-material warmth when the spirit enflames or ignites: the I blazes in divine fire, not in earthly warmth, not in earthly fire.

But the heart motivated by Lucifer answers:

My I has the force of flame through the spirit's solar power.

In immense pride the I — ensnared by Lucifer — wants to usurp for itself the fire element that comes from the sun, instead of only for the time the spirit sets it ablaze — keep it forever, never give it away.


Lucifer: My I has the force of flame through the spirit's solar power.


The heart motivated by Ahriman answers as though it wants to keep for itself the fire it had captured on earth and carry it over to the spiritual world — to master the spiritual world with the I-fire of the physical world.


Ahriman: My I has its own fire, which ignites through self-enfoldment.

The I wills not to blaze in the spirit, but to develop its own fire.

There is again an ascending direction in the formulation:

The person first says “I”:

I leave

I feel

I will

He then becomes more objective in that what is in him refers to “My”:

My life extinguishes

My life melts

My life solidifies.

He goes more within, what is within makes him objective:

My soul breathes

My soul cares not

My soul absorbs it.

Now he delves deeper into himself. And — note the difference, my dear sisters and brothers — before only “I” was said. Now the “I” becomes objective: “My I”, as though it were another, as if one were to speak of the other as a possession. One is more outside of the physical body — which disposes one to speak so egoistically of the “I” — and speaks:

My I

as of an object. That is the correct speech here.

One gets to know this way of speaking in all its intensity, my dear sisters and brothers, when one speaks with souls who have passed through the gates of death and have been a while in the spiritual world. They never say “I”, but they say “my I”. I have not yet heard a dead person say “I” after death, at most only shortly after death. But after a certain time after death they always say “my I”, for they see the I with the eyes of the gods. They become completely objective. It is characteristic. Therefore, an enunciation from a dead person who has been dead a long time can never be true if he says “I” and not “my I”. So the soul speaks this “my I” here in the fourth place when standing before the Guardian of the Threshold.

That, my dear friends, is the wonderful conversation at the threshold between the Guardian of the Threshold and the human being. It is distinctive. And this distinctiveness is really present when one stands before the Guardian of the Threshold in this situation. When one practices the meditation of this dialog in the right way, as has been described here, one must be able to intuitively hear it. Therefore, we meditate these words correctly, which have come to you here today as mantric words, my dear sisters and brothers, when in a sense we hear ourselves speaking the words after the Guardian has been heard in our souls. Thus we meditate first hearing the Guardian of the Threshold four times as I, II, III and IV, as earth, water, air and fire; then as when we let our own soul answer, but in such a way that first we hear the answer innerly ensouled by Christ, the second answer as the voice of the tempter, the third answer as the voice of the inflated materialistic Ahriman-spirit, which approaches the human being with the desire to carry the mineralized human being into the spiritual world.

Therefore, to end this esoteric lesson today, the way this is to be meditated resounds in us:

Where is the earth's solidity, which supported you?

I leave its foundation, as long as the spirit supports me.

I feel rapture, for from now on I do not need its support.

I will hammer it down even harder with the spirit's power.


Where is the water's formative force which pervaded you?

My life extinguishes it, as long as the spirit forms me.

My life melts it away, so I am released from it.

My life solidifies it, so I transfer it to the spirit-realm.


Where is the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?

My soul breathes the air of heaven, as long as the spirit surrounds me.

My soul regards it not in the spirit's rapture.

My soul absorbs it, that I may learn divine creation.


Where is fire's cleansing, which ignited your I?

My I blazes in God's fire, as long as the spirit ignites me.

My I has the force of flame through the spirit's solar power.

My I has its own fire, which ignites through self-enfolding.





Last Modified: 16-Aug-2019
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]