by Rudolf Steiner
Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith
Dornach, May 2, 1924
My dear friends,
You have all probably been deeply affected this morning by the news that Miss Maryon* has departed from the physical plane — although it is something long expected and which follows difficult suffering which lasted more than a year.
Tomorrow when the members of the Anthroposophical Society are all gathered here, I will say what I have to say about Miss Maryon's departure from the physical plane. For now it is sufficient to say that the First Class has lost a truly dedicated student, for among those who have devoted themselves to the School with great diligence, Miss Maryon was the best. Despite the serious illness which afflicted her she not only participated in what is being esoterically developed here, but she also let the exercises given here work on her and lived with them in an extraordinarily intimate way.
This was the result of her having been familiar with esotericism before coming to us. She belonged to an esoteric school of a completely different nature before she discovered the Anthroposophical Society and through this esoteric school made the complete transition to anthroposophy quickly. The esoteric was essential to her and she experienced it intensely during the years with us on the physical plane. She has departed from the physical plane but certainly not from anthroposophy.
It would be unseemly to say more now as she has just left the physical plane. Tomorrow, though, when the members, the friends are here, it will be my task to say what is to be said.
My dear friends, in esoteric striving it is necessary to at least envision, to the extent possible, the path upon which real knowledge of spiritual things can be realized. Of course how far one or the other comes along this path depends on his karma, on what conditions he brings along from previous earth lives.
But not only that, it also depends on which physical and environmental conditions the person's destiny places him. Much old karmic residue may exist to be worked out which hinders achieving everything which is otherwise within one's capabilities. Thus much which perhaps could be quickly achieved without these karmic residues takes longer.
My dear sisters and brothers, we should never give up hope, never lose patience or energy, but continue on our way. When the right time has come, we will surely find what has been predestined. For certain lines of every human being's life path are uniquely predestined despite or perhaps because of freedom. Every individual is called to his life's task and can accomplish it with sufficient good will.
Here in this Free School for Spiritual Science everything that existed in the Mysteries in the past when they especially flowered is to be reenacted in the correct form according to our time and to the future. The flowering time of the Mysteries had already passed when the greatest Mystery of all, the one most hidden to world history, took place: the Mystery of Golgotha. After their flowering time, the Mysteries declined, a process in which, just because the Mysteries had declined, humanity could be taken into the stream of world evolution where freedom is possible.
Nevertheless, the time has now come when the Mysteries are to be renewed, in the fullest sense of the word and in the appropriate form. And once these things have been thought about correctly in the future the Goetheanum's work will be appreciated in the world, because the task of this Goetheanum is to renew the Mysteries. And only, my dear sisters and brothers, if we are permeated with the will to understand this School as representing, through us, a renewal of the Mysteries, can we participate in the Mysteries and in the School in the right way.
If you will remember what was presented here in the last Lesson, then what I have just said can live in your hearts. For the transition is made for meditation to really enter directly into the individual's experience so that he frees himself from the narrow limits of his personality.
In the triple-versed structure of the last meditation we saw how we place ourselves in the world process and how in the meditation we confront not only what resounds from our soul but also what resounds to our soul, which in a certain way incorporates itself into a general universal language, a general universal Word. But only when the individual gradually frees himself from the limits of his personality, when he finds himself meditating in an ever more objective way, then will he be able to follow that intimate, subtle path, which is the true path to human knowledge. But for this to happen the objective truths which apply to humanity must become objectively present in him in the most varied ways.
You all know, my dear sisters and brothers, what has often been described as the threefold human nature: the nerve-sensory man, mostly represented by the human head; the rhythmic man, mostly represented by the breast, in which the respiratory and circulatory organs are concentrated. All these organs are everywhere in the organism, are located in other parts of the body as well, but more in certain areas than in others. Then we have the limbs-metabolism-organization, localized downward and outward.
That which can be known theoretically can also be meditatively objective. And when it is meditatively objective it becomes esoteric. Therefore in meditation we must intensively and intimately keep this threefold man in view.
So we have the head-organization, a real replica of the entire cosmos. We have the breast or rhythmic organization, which does not directly show in its form the cosmic image. And least of all does the limbs-metabolism-organization show the image of the cosmos. But man must be intimately conscious of how he places himself in the cosmos through each of these organizations. He must be clear about what takes place in his head. We can feel this directly: when we think, our head is active. We notice that when the head is ailing, thinking is impaired. We sense the head's association to this clearest human earthly activity in both normal and abnormal circumstances. This doesn't mean that the head is really the bearer of the clearest human earthly activity, but it seems so to us.
What is actually going on? When do we see ourselves — in our heads — in the right way? Only, my dear sisters and brothers, when we are aware that this human head would not exist if the star-filled sky did not arch above us. For the moment we will not dispute what the astronomers say about this; we are only taking into account what is visible to the eyes: the sublime starry heavens.
In the previous lesson much was said about this. The stars are there above; their rays of light approach us when we look up at them. But they don't only approach us, we also receive them. And what we receive of the rays of light we enclose in our heads. And out of it sprouts our human activity on earth: our thinking. And so we must imagine: Outside are the stars; our heads receive the effects of the stars' rays. From without it looks as though the stars were sending their rays down to us. Our heads receive these rays; so what has been received is within our heads. From here is looks quite different than from without, but it is the same, the whole starry sky rolled together, so to speak, within our heads.
But only the starry sky? No, not only the starry sky. For — what are the stars? What is in the individual stars which rays toward us? It is the domicile of the gods. They are the places where the gods reside. It is where the gods were sought in the times when instinctive clairvoyance knew where the gods reside, which are the places worthy of the gods.
During the times when such clairvoyance existed, people did not look up at burning points in the cosmos, but at the dwelling places of the gods. And in doing so had a truer idea of what exists in the far reaches of space than do the astronomers of today who observe the points of light and calculate their positions and angles to each other.
But in that man is a threefold being, he speaks and acts through what holds him together: his I — through all three elements of his being, through the nerve-sensory-system, the head; through the rhythmic system, the breast; and through the metabolic-limbs-system. It is held together only because the physical body is a unity. But man always sends his I into the three individual elements and we will learn today the different ways he sends this I into the individual elements.
At first man speaks the I through his thoughts into his head from his innermost being. Truly, it is thus: [draws on the blackboard]: What unfolds without as the shining element of the stars [blue arc, yellow stars], acts in the human head [yellow arc and rays from the stars]. It is also here within [red dots]. Man speaks his I from out of his center of his being into this rolled together cosmic space which is the interior of his head [arrow with the word “Ich”, yellow]. And he should become aware that when he speaks his I into the part of his humanity which is an image of the dwellings of the gods, then the gods themselves who live in these dwellings will act in him. We meditate correctly when we are aware that when we say “I” through the force of our heads, the gods of cosmic space and cosmic time speak in us.
And this is not a teaching given to us on the earth; it is a teaching, my dear sisters and brothers, given to us by the beings of the higher hierarchies themselves, at first from those beings who are with us humans: the angeloi, and in the background the directing archangeloi. This element of human nature — this I — has a relation to the dwelling places of the gods in the radiant stars, from out of which the godly beings themselves speak, and should let itself be taught by the beings we have always referred to as angeloi in our descriptions of the hierarchies.
We correctly accomplish a meditation thus: We look up, allowing ourselves to be impressed by the radiance of the stars, sense that cosmic space itself is sending us words. And these words should be:
It resounds in the periphery. Thus we imagine that we hear it from cosmic space.
It becomes an echo in us. We treat it as a call, but a call that excites us, because all heaven resounds in this call. This is how we meditate. And then we will be conscious of what we have to say from the depths of our souls, from whence in the stillness we answer the cosmic trumpet-call:
That is what we say. Then the angel who belongs to us answers in our meditation:
Thus you live
— the gods —
in the earth-body
That is the sense of this meditation. We hear it as a world-spanning trumpet call from all sides:
We answer in stillness intimately praying:
The angel answers, looking upward to the source of the trumpet call:
Thus you live in the earth-body
And we accept these last two lines which the angel speaks in our meditation as teaching.
[The first verse is written on the blackboard.]
— the scrolled together starry radiance, the human radiance —
The "I am" :
The spiritual teacher Angelos:
Thus you live in the earth-body
— Starry-cosmic-spaces, Dwellings-of-the-gods! —
That is the first dialog with the cosmos and with the third hierarchy. Seen this way it is a deeply penetrating meditation on the human spirit, human soul and human body.
Now we go further to the rhythmic organization of man. We think of the lungs and the heart, the wonderful pulsation, the rhythm of breathing which by its very nature reveals that it is the expression of the deepest cosmic laws, the movement of which we sense in us. When we concentrate in meditation on our head, we sense rest. When we meditate on our breast, we feel movement. And this movement is an image of the movement of the planets, of the moon, the sun, of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn. But a representative of this movement is the sun. It is closest to us. Every day it circles around our earth — in appearance. It can therefore stand as representative. But just as we carry within us the starry-cosmic-spaces, dwellings-of-the-gods, rolled together, so also the movements of the whole planetary system — represented by the sun — in our breathing, in our blood circulation, in everything which is movement in our organism.
Therefore we must imagine that just as the sublimity of the dwellings-of-the-gods was announced by the trumpet calls from all sides of the cosmos, also what the movements of the planets, represented by the sun, have to say through melodious sound courses through our bodies:
Cosmic sun circling
That is the second thing: stillness in comparison to the loud trumpet-call of the cosmic surroundings.
It resounds majestically from all sides. That is what we must meditate on. But following on the path of the sun and the other planets in our breathing and in our blood circulation it resounds joyfully within us:
Cosmic sun circling
Now we say intimately from within us, if we take as inducement what resounds melodiously from the star-circles into our own bodies:
Resound in heart's center
The Angelos replies, speaking to the gods in the circling planets:
So you stride in earth's course
Just as the human being lives on the earth by means of what radiates into him from the dwellings of the gods, so does the human creative evolutionary force live by means of the activity of the gods in the planets' movements, which is also received into man's rhythmic system. Thus we have again the threefold verse: objective murmur through our body in the sense of the planets' course; our own intimate speech; the Angelos' reply:
Cosmic sun circling
[These lines are now written on the blackboard.]
Cosmic sun circling,
— above “speaks”, here “resounds”; above “head-held-high”; here “heart's center” —
— above “I am”; here “I live” —
Thus you stride in earth's course
Each of these verses must be felt as being threefold in their coming into being: The objective resounding; our own intimate speech as the echo within us; the speech of the Angelos. Then it works correctly in us.
However, when we come to the third element of man — what lives in the arms and legs and continues inward in metabolism — then we do not hear the trumpet calls from the cosmos, then we do not hear the melodiousness of the planets, then we hear the dull rumbling of the world-foundation itself. It is what makes us earth-people. The limbs do not participate in our spiritual being. They are completely shaped according to the earthly forces: the arms and hands are only partly shaped by the air forces, but otherwise all is shaped by the forces that arise from out of the cosmic foundations and flow up through human beings. We must be conscious of this. Just as we hear in the first verse the language of the cosmos itself in the majestic tones coming from the cosmic periphery, as we hear the speech of the periphery in the second verse, we hear the rumbling speech of cosmic foundation from the depths of the earth in the third verse:
It is not a luster of light, it is a luster of love. For in those places where otherwise what is in the periphery is gathered in the center is where the source of the love-forces also lie. Therefore we cannot answer in echo “speaks” and also not “resounds”, here we must answer with the deed, with what flows from the will. We must not “speak”, not “resound”, here we must “create”. Therefore we answer from within pouring will into our words:
Create in the body's limbs
Then the angel answers in that he lowers his eyes to what is rumbling from the cosmic-foundations — “rumbling” not in an antipathetic sense, but only in the dullness of the tone — the active forces answer which resound in the cosmic-foundation's depths:
Thus do you strive in earthly works
Again the threefold verse:
[This third verse is written on the blackboard.]
“speaks”, “resounds”, “creates” — [creates is underlined.]
— “height”, “center”, “limbs”, what strives from the center outwards — [“limbs” is underlined.]
— “I am”, “live”, “ will” — [“will” is underlined.]
Thus do you strive in earthly works
— “earthly-body”, Earthly-path, earthly-works” [the three words are underlined.]
as human sensory deeds.
— “being”, “creative force”, “sensory deeds”, which means: deeds visible to the senses — [the three words in quotation marks are underlined.]
True meditation, true exercise of the soul is not found in the theoretical, intellectual content of a meditation verse, but in its mantric character. The mantric character is present when the meaning dissolves into situation and happening and when we free ourselves from the theoretical, from the intellectual content, go out from ourselves, so that we do not merely have something vague in our thoughts, but have the idea that the sky, that the periphery, that the earthly depths resound; that we reply to these sounds from our own intimate inner self; that the angel interprets and teaches.
We should try to attain such an ideal setting, that is, to make meditation something in which we don't merely think, feel or will, but which also streams and weaves and radiates around us, and from all this something steps back into the life of the heart and in the heart it is streaming, weaving, striving and vibrantly radiating so that we feel ourselves integrated in the life of the world, of the cosmos, so that our meditation is not something that only lives in us, in our feeling, but which lives in us and the world; it extinguishes the world, extinguishes us, and in extinguishing unites us and the world, so that we can just as easily say: “The world is speaking” as we can say “We are speaking”. This gradually enhances the character of the meditation.
If the meditation is practiced in this way, — by extinguishing what has always seemed to be one's ordinary self — it is possible to perceive oneself as spirit.
When, however, we start along this path of knowledge, when we honestly approach such paths of knowledge, we learn that we are not alone in the world, that we are in a dialog with the spiritual world, and through this we approach closer and closer to a renewal of the Mysteries. Of course physical, outer temples stood in places on the earth which today are considered to be uncivilized. Outer temples stood there, and early peoples needed outer temples. But these temples were not the only ones, not even the most important ones. For the most important temples have no place, have no time. One comes to them if one exercises the soul in the way that has been indicated here and in the Mysteries of all times.
In order to be clear, my dear sisters and brothers, if we live in such a mantric formula, it is thus:
Here I stand — each of us says rightly — and all around me is the everyday world. Bourgeois walls and chairs are around me, or perhaps a natural forest, visible trees, or houses. It is all there. I am fully aware that this is my environment; it is there and I see and touch it. But the meditation arises in my soul while I am in the external, sensory world. The meditation arises in me:
What do I sense moving? What do I sense arching over me? It is something; it is nothing. I sense walls, I don't see them.
The meditation continues:
Cosmic sun circles
What I sensed — the moving, the temple dome which arches above, the temple walls. It is all becoming clear for the soul's senses, making the normal world invisible, the world of visible trees, clouds, everything which before was visible. A new visibility appears. The temple, which I only sensed at first, becomes real in the second verse.
And I hear the murmuring, the hissing and rumbling from below:
The temple is complete. It has acquired its foundation. And in it are those spiritual beings with whom we wish to be in communion. The temple is there, visible to the soul's senses. It has been found.
Our meditation does not contain visions. It leads us into the spiritual world. The spiritual world exists. I am describing, my dear sisters and brothers, how the meditation can proceed: the moving temple dome is sensed after the first verse; see the temple around us with the soul's senses. The temple is complete, and the beings with whom we wish to be in communion as humanity's teachers — the godly teachers — are there. We are within the temple, accomplished by the first, second and third verses of a true mantric meditation.
When we become aware that we are finding the temple, then we correctly understand what the content of this esoteric school is meant to be.
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