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

Schmidt Number: S-5812

On-line since: 31st August, 2017

The First Goetheanum

The First Goetheanum

by Rudolf Steiner

Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith

Lesson Seventeen

Dornach, July 5, 1924

My dear Friends,

We also begin today with that verse which, by a correct understanding of the universe, resounds to human hearts from all that is and all that is becoming as a call to self-knowledge, which one must first attain for true knowledge of the cosmos.

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

Who speaks with such cosmic might?
Who speaks with 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?

It's you yourself who,
In feeling space, in experiencing time

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


Once more let us review in our souls what summarized the contents of the previous Class Lesson. It was also a meditation arising from what the human being can experience when he feels himself completely immersed in the cosmic context, above all in the context of the spiritual world.

Man's path to the abyss of existence, at which the Guardian of the Threshold stands, appeared before our souls. We heard the teachings the Guardian gives to those who cross the threshold. We heard how the person who arrives on the other side of the threshold at first feels himself to be within light, and experiences the world in a new way in that he first hears what the Guardian says, but also what the beings of the higher hierarchies are saying. In the last dialog the Guardian asks a question and the Angeloi, Exusiai, Thrones; Archangeloi, Dynamis, Cherubim; Archai, Kyriotetes, Seraphim speak, one after the other, about the element of warmth, which penetrates everything and reveals itself to be a moral element on the other side of the abyss.

We saw how the Guardian then speaks to the I, asking three questions which penetrate deeply into the human being, and the I answers with humility, as was explained last time, but exchanging words as in a deeply intimate conversation with the Guardian.


The Guardian speaks:
What becomes of the fire's purification, which enkindled your I?

Angeloi, Exusiai, Thrones:
Awaken in the cosmic etheric vastness the flaming script of life.

Archangeloi, Dynamis, Cherubim:
Create the soul's atoning forces in circling waves of time.

Archai, Kyriotetes, Seraphim:
Ask help from the redemptive eternal force of spirit.


The Guardian:
Has your spirit understood?

The I:

The cosmic spirit in me
It held its breath within
And may its presence now
Illuminate my I.


The Guardian:
Has your soul apprehended?

The I:

The cosmic souls in me
Lived in the council of stars
And may their harmonies
Resounding create my I.


The Guardian:
Has your body experienced?

The I:

The cosmic forces in me
They judge the acts of men
And may their words of verdict
Guide the I in me.


The human being beyond the threshold of existence, where the Guardian stands, feels himself to be within weaving, living light. Gradually it becomes not only felt light, but a kind of light about which we can say that he sees it.

From feeling the light in waves, as in spiritual thoughts, so to speak, light appears which is seen by the spirit's eye.

But the human being cannot enter already seeing into this light without hearing another deeply founded admonition from the Guardian. And this admonition refers to a powerful cosmic imagination, something tremendously majestic which the person, even while being here in the sensible world, can receive as an impression — if he has the heart for it. For, when he becomes magically illuminated by the cloud formations and the majestic rainbow, then he can feel as if the spirits beyond the physical sense-perceptible rainbow's glow are shining in through its colors. It is there, builds itself up from the universe, then disappears back into the universe, is placed within the universe like a mighty imagination.

The Guardian reminds us of this rainbow's impression at the moment when it becomes light enough for perception there in the spiritual world.


[The rainbow is drawn on the blackboard.]


And the Guardian reminds us that the one who has come over to the spiritual world should recall the impression from the sensory world which the rainbow had made. For it is remarkable, my dear sisters and brothers, that when we cross over from the physical sensory world to the spiritual world, the image of the rainbow is the easiest to remember and the one which most easily allows us to recall the relationship between the spiritual world, where it is becoming light, and the physical-sensory world, which we have left together with our capacities for knowledge.

Not referring to the view of the rainbow itself, but to the memory of the rainbow which has been called forth by the Guardian of the Threshold, the Guardian now indicates (we will hear the exact words): Try, with the force you normally use to see with your eyes, to prepare the substance with which you will penetrate this rainbow, with which you will pass below, through the rainbow and to the other side.

If we can imagine [the second drawing is made]: here in the cloud formation [white in the upper right-hand corner] — looking up from the earth [small arrow] — the rainbow would be here [red in the cloud formation]. Then the Guardian instructs us to penetrate through that rainbow and from this vantage point [a line is drawn to the small circle on which the word “Warte” (vantage point) is written] which is on the other side, to look back from that cosmic distance at the rainbow. The Guardian instructs us to make our imagination more profound through meditation, if we wish to advance beyond the point we reached during the previous lesson.

When we look back from out there, if you imagine that you go behind the blackboard [white arrow pointing up and left in the first drawing], then look at the rainbow from behind [red arrow pointing down and left in the first drawing], as it appears in memory, looking from behind, then the rainbow becomes a powerful bowl, a cosmic bowl. And we no longer see a bow, we see a powerful bowl extending over half the sky, within which the colors flow into each other.

This is the imagination which the Guardian first introduces:


See the ether-rainbow arc's
Light teeming round,
Let the light creating force
Pass through your eyes,
Your I penetrate the circle,
Observe from the other side's vantage point
Color flooding the cosmic bowl.


[This first stanza of the mantra is written on the blackboard.]


See the ether-rainbow arc's
Light teeming round,
Let the light creating force
Pass through your eyes,
Your I penetrate the circle,
Observe from the other side's vantage point
Color flooding the cosmic bowl.


These are the powerful words spoken by the Guardian, my dear sisters and brothers, and you must put yourself correctly in the image-filled situation in which the Guardian of the Threshold's pupil finds himself when he is called to observe the cosmic bowl with its content of color-flooding light.


See the ether-rainbow arc's
Light teeming round,
Let the light creating force
Pass through your eyes,
Your I penetrate the circle,
Observe from the other side's vantage point
Color flooding the cosmic bowl.


We must pass through such images. And if they work deeply into the I, then we see how the beings of the third hierarchy — Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai —   appear in the flood of colors that fill the bowl. They are breathing the colors into their own angelic beings.

Thus we have an idea about the cosmic creation behind the sensory world, which is the result of the deeds of the higher hierarchies; we have a conception of how the spiritual beings act beyond the rainbow, at first breathing in the cosmic bowl's colors, taking them into their own being.

We observe how what flows from the cosmos to the rainbow, penetrating it, then appears behind the rainbow as thoughts, how it is absorbed, breathed in by the angelic beings. Now we learn the true nature of the rainbow. All the thoughts thought by people in a particular place are gathered from time to time through the rainbow's bridge and sent farther out to the spiritual domain, where it is breathed in by the beings of the third hierarchy.

What so magically appears [the rainbow] in the vastness of the universe does not only have a physical meaning; it has a spiritual-inner meaning. And the magical ether-rainbow cannot be discerned from within the physical-sensory world; we can discern it only beyond the threshold of existence, once we have heard the Guardian of the Threshold's various admonitions.

Through the impression we receive from that outlook point of the rainbow as the cosmic bowl, it becomes clear to us how the light, which at first was a dark, night-bedecked sphere, spreads out before us. We are now within it. It brightens: it is sun, the cosmic bowl with its flood of colors seen from the other side of the rainbow.

Then the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai begin to reflect their consciousness within the human soul of how they breathe in the floods of color in order that what exists here on the earth as sense-perceptible may be brought into the spiritual domain, to the extent it is of use there.

And then we perceive how the beings of the third hierarchy have breathed in what they took from the sensible world, what has penetrated them through the rainbow, what they have transformed to the extent that it can be taken into the spiritual world — they go as helpers, with what they have absorbed within themselves, to the even higher spirits, to the spirits of the second hierarchy. For the spirits of the third hierarchy, Angeloi, Archangeloi, Angeloi, are the helping spirits of the spirit-world. We now hear from them what we see when we behold the color-flooded cosmic bowl — somewhere beyond the rainbow.


Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai:

Sense our thoughts
Breathing the colors of life
To the light-flooded bowl;
We carry the mirage of the senses
To spirit's domain of being
And turn, by the world inspired
To serve the higher spirits.


[This second stanza is written on the blackboard.]


Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai:

Sense our thoughts
Breathing the colors of life
To the light-flooded bowl;
We carry the mirage of the senses
To spirit's domain of being
And turn, by the world inspired,
To serve the higher spirits.


My dear sisters and brothers, let us place the image once more before our souls: the cosmic bowl, half the sky in size, the colors flooding within — which we normally see toned down in the rainbow — weaving, living in one another; the beings of the third hierarchy, Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai, approach. They breathe these colors. The thoughts of the beings of the third hierarchy are visible to us in this breathing of colors.

We observe how these beings of the third hierarchy, permeated with these cosmic thoughts, turn to the beings of the second hierarchy, the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes, whom they serve. And we have this powerful image before us — the pure spirit-beings appear, the residents of the sun, who only appear when the physical image which the sun casts, disappears; for despite all its greatness in comparison to the earth, it is a small image — for it is only an image. And the sun majestically fills the entire universe, infinitely larger than the gigantic cosmic image. Then the beings of the second hierarchy appear, weaving, living in the pure spirit-domain, but now receiving what the Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai bring them. These are not dead thoughts, such as we have. The dead thoughts are taken from the illusion of the senses and become living thoughts through the breath of the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai. As a powerful offering, the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai place these living thoughts before the second hierarchy, the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes. The thoughts which are illusions in earthly life are awakened to existence by the beings of the second hierarchy.

And we see how the beings of the second hierarchy receive from the beings of the third hierarchy the thoughts already made living by them; and we see that a powerful resurrection of a new world takes place, created out of what was dead, illusionary, and taken up by the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai. Thus a new world, a resurrecting world comes into existence through the workings of the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes. 

Then we see how the remarkable secret of the cosmos works. We see how the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes give over what they received from the beings of the third hierarchy to what we call rays in earthly life — rays of the sun, of the stars. The awakened, now living world-thoughts are given over to all that rays.  

In reality rays are not physical. In reality it is the spirit that beams in the rays. But we fail to see, when the rays reach us, what they had previously been given from the realm of the beings of the second hierarchy. All these rays, the rays of the stars, the rays of the sun, have been given what the beings of the second hierarchy weave in world-thoughts, but also what they let be resurrected from the dead thoughts — our thoughts on earth — which were made living by the beings of the third hierarchy. And now we hear how they also give to these raying spiritual forces what works as creative love in the cosmos — what weaves in the sun and star rays as love; the love that floods the cosmos and which is the creative force in the whole cosmos; how they entrust it to the rays of the stars, to the rays of the sun. We now see with the eye of the spirit how the beings of the second hierarchy — raying spirit, awakening love, bearing love — merge with the world.

Thus we hear them speaking, not to us; we are witnesses to a dialog  between the beings of the second hierarchy and the beings of the third hierarchy. It resounds across. We only listen. It is the first time in the course of situational meditation that we hear the beings of the hierarchies speaking to each other:


What you have received
From dead illusion made live:
We waken it to existence;
We give it to the rays,
Who manifest with love
The nothingness of matter
In the spirit's essence.


By being witnesses to a heavenly dialog, the once night-bedecked darkness is gradually illuminated for the eye of the spirit. It becomes filled with a soft, mild light.


[The third stanza is written on the blackboard.]


What is received by you
From dead illusion made live:
We awaken it to existence;
We give it to the rays,
Who manifest with love
the nothingness of matter
In the spirit's essence.


If we have heard and have absorbed all this, then we will see with the spirit's eye something else taking place. We have already seen how earthly thoughts are made living ones by the third hierarchy, that what was made living is received by the second hierarchy and then shared with the rays of the stars and with the rays of the sun, and transformed into love. Now we see it taken over by the beings of the first hierarchy and made by these beings into the elements with which to create new worlds; what Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai breathe in from the world, what Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes receive from them and transform into creative forces from which they — Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim — shape new worlds.

What is remarkable is this: first we were witnesses to a conversation in heaven between the beings of the third and second hierarchies. Then we hear more with our spiritual ears. The beings of the first hierarchy begin to speak the cosmic words. At first it seems as though we were only to be listeners to a heavenly conversation. But soon we realize that it is not so.

First the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai made their voices heard; then a dialog took place between the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes and the Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai; then the Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim join the conversation. A choir of the spiritual spheres rings out. We become aware, now that the voices of all nine choirs ring out together, that what they are intoning is directed at us as human beings. And so finally the whole spirit world speaks to us. But only when what has been spoken within the spirit-world is included in the cosmic words of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, is it again intoned in our humanity. It intones to us as human beings:


In your worlds of will
Feel our cosmic working:
Spirit glows in matter,
When we create thinking;
Spirit creates in matter
When we willing live;
World is I-Willing Spirit-Word.


The world is the spirit-word which wills the I; and the world is in the creation by Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.


[This fourth stanza is written on the blackboard.]


Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim:

In your worlds of will
Feel our cosmic working:
Spirit glows in matter,
When we create thinking;
Spirit creates in matter
When we willing live;
World is I-Willing Spirit-Word.  


The spirit-word, which wills the I, is the world. And as we hear with the spiritual ear these words directed at our humanity, it becomes light in the spiritual world. The mild light which was there before is transformed into spiritual brightness.

This is the experience with the Guardian while the spiritual sphere is becoming light:


See the ether-rainbow arc's
Light teeming round,
Let the light creating force
Pass through your eyes,
Your I penetrate the circle,
Observe from the other side's vantage point
Color flooding the cosmic bowl.

Sense our thoughts
Breathing the colors of life
To the light-flooded bowl;
We carry the mirage of the senses
To spirit's domain of being
And turn, by the world inspired,
To serve the higher spirits.

What is received by you
From dead illusion made live:
We awaken it to existence;
We give it to the rays,
Who manifest with love
The nothingness of matter
In the spirit's essence.

In your worlds of will
Feel our cosmic working:
Spirit glows in matter,
When we create thinking;
Spirit creates in matter
When we willing live;
World is I-Willing Spirit-Word.


And it is as though the Guardian of the Threshold were touching us softly with his spiritual hands. We feel his presence as if he closed our spirit-eyes and we saw nothing for a moment, despite having been in a bright spiritual space a moment before. Words arise within me which I will place at the end of the lesson, to be saved for next time; I do not wish to include them as a mantra for today.

When the Guardian of the Threshold — if we may express with a sense-perceptible picture what takes place in a purely spiritual way — softly places his hands over our eyes so that we do not see the spiritual light around us, something arises in us that acts as a remembrance of the sensory world, which we had left behind in order to acquire knowledge in the spiritual world:   


I walked in this world of senses,
Thought's legacy with me leading,
A god's force had led me in.
Death stands at the path's end.
I will to feel the presence of Christ.
In matter's death wakes the spirit's birth.
Thus In spirit I find the world
And know myself in the evolving world.


*


My dear friends, I must remind you of something I said upon the opening of these Class Lessons, and also during the Christmas Conference. It cannot be assumed that things which have been organized in a certain way for good reason may be changed from outside and be organized in a different way. Therefore, I must announce here that in the future no application to the Class will be considered which is not directed to the secretary of the Executive Committee of the Goetheanum, Dr. Wegman, or directly to me. Only applications for participation in the Class Lessons directed to either one of these two addresses will be considered. What has been the rule from the beginning must be continued. The members have not followed this procedure, but have done as they wish. And those who are already members of the Class should make this clear to others who want to participate.

On this occasion I would like to bring to your attention something else, my dear friends, which is especially grave now when the importance of how the Anthroposophical Society is managed must be maintained. Again and again letters are arriving which state: If I don'ive a reply, I will assume the answer to be affirmative. Those who have written in this way know about it. I wish to inform those who have written in this way, and those who intend to do so, to please know that every letter which contains the sentence: I consider no answer to mean yes — that every such letter can form its own answer as being a negative. In the future such letters will not be answered, because one cannot accept such impertinence, but what is written in such letters must be regarded as containing their own rejection.


Blackboard Texts in original German:






Last Modified: 17-Apr-2019
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