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Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Guidance in Esoteric Training [Explanation of Main Exercise]

Rudolf Steiner Archive Document

Rudolf Steiner Archive Books Document: An electronic Library (e.Lib) and Archive site for the collected works (over 6000) of the Austrian born philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).



Whoever strives for esoteric development must above all be clear that 
certain extremely simple formulae conceal a force which takes effect if 
these formulae or sentences are made alive in the soul. He does not 
rightly grasp what this implies if he tries to understand such sentences 
merely with the intellect. That way they say very little to him, to begin 
with. He must for a certain time fill his whole inner being with such a 
sentence, pouring himself into it with all the powers of his soul. Such a 
sentence is: `I am'.

The whole secret of present-day human existence really lies in this 
sentence. Only a being possessed of an external form similar to that of 
earthly man today is able to think, feel and imbue these words with will. 
The form of such a being must have developed in such a way that the 
goal of all the forces working in the body was the frontward shape of the 
vaulted brow. This vaulted brow and the `I am' belong together. Earlier in 
the evolution of the human form there was a stage when it had not yet 
pressed forward into such a brow. At that time the `I am' could be neither 
inwardly thought, nor willed, nor felt. Now it would be quite wrong to 
believe that the form of the body, as described above, could itself bring 
forth the `I am'. This `I am' was already in existence, only it could not 
yet express itself in an appropriate form. Just as it now expresses itself in 
the bodily form of man, so, in an earlier time, it expressed itself in a 
world of soul. And it is this very power of the `I am' which, having 
united in the far-distant past with a human body lacking the present 
brow-formation, impelled the forehead to assume its present shape. 
Hence it is that a man, by sinking deeply into the `I am', can feel within 
himself the force which has moulded him in his present form. And this 
force is higher than the forces which, in his ordinary life, are active 
within him today. For it is the creative force of soul which forms the 
bodily nature out of the soul.

Anyone, therefore, who is aiming at esotericism must, for a short period, 
live entirely in the `I am'. He must think this `I am', while at the same 
time he experiences within himself something like: `I rejoice that I, as an 
independent being, can participate in the work of shaping the world'. 
And he must also experience something like: `I will my own existence; I 
resolve to place myself in the whole context of the world'. If a man 
concentrates all this into a single, inner act of consciousness, and at the 
same time shifts the whole force of his consciousness upwards into the 
region of the brow and the inner members of the brain beneath it, then he 
actually transfers himself into a higher world out of which his brow-
formation has been brought into being.

Let him not think, however, that he can attain these higher worlds 
tomorrow morning. He must have the patience to undertake this 
meditation day by day, over and over again, for a long time. If he has this 
patience, then, after some time, he will notice a thought arising within 
him - no longer a mere concept but a thought teeming with life and force. 
He will be able to say to himself: `The force contained in the seed of a 
plant, impelling it to form the organs of the plant, must be inwardly alive, 
just like this thought of mine'. And soon this thought will reveal itself to 
him as if it were radiating light. In this inner radiation of light he feels 
happy, full of the joy of existence. A feeling permeates him which can 
only be described as joyful love in creative existence'. And a force 
imparts itself to the will as if the thought were radiating warmth through 
the will, energizing the will. All this can be drawn from sinking himself 
in the right way into the `I am'. He will gradually realize that the highest 
intellectual, psychical and moral power comes to birth in him in this way, 
and that he thereby brings himself into a more and more conscious 
relationship to a higher world.

A second such sentence is: `It thinks'. This `It thinks' represents - in a 
way that corresponds to the account given of the `I am' - the force 
through which the form of the human speech-organs has been developed 
from the higher worlds. When thinking was still functioning in a higher 
world of soul, and not yet within a human body, it worked from that 
higher world in such a way that organs of speech not yet existing in the 
human form were incorporated into it. If, therefore, the esoteric pupil 
sends his thinking, feeling and willing into the depths of the `It thinks', at 
the same time concentrating his consciousness on the region of the 
larynx, there will arise in him an experience of the creative force of soul 
which, from the higher worlds, manifested in the creation of the organs of 
speech. If again he has the patience described above, he will experience 
how from the `It thinks' rays go forth which are like the opening 
harmonies of spiritual music; they fill him with a feeling of reverent 
devotion, and at the same time with a force which tells him: `What I will, 
as man, will gradually increase in wisdom.' An inkling will come to him 
of that force which as divine-spiritual force pours itself through the 
Cosmos, ordering all things according to measure, number and weight.

A third sentence is `She feels'. In still earlier times, the force of this 
sentence, too, was not yet present within man but dwelt in a higher world 
of soul. Working down from that higher world, it re-cast the form of the 
human body. Until then there had been no difference between hands and 
feet; they were identically shaped organs of movement. Hence man had 
not yet attained his upright posture. It was a great step forward in human 
evolution when his anterior organs of movement were transformed into 
organs for manual work. He was then able to assume his upright posture 
and so to overcome his lower nature, inasmuch as his gaze was now 
directed out and upwards towards the heavenly worlds of Spirit. Thereby, 
too, he first became capable of fashioning karma. For it is only when a 
being possesses this particular form that his deeds come within his own, 
individual responsibility.

Thus it was that Spiritual Beings transformed man as the force of the 
`She feels', which had previously reposed in them alone, streamed into 
the human body. If therefore the esoteric pupil sinks himself into the `She 
feels', again in the way described above, he raises himself to the 
corresponding Creative Powers of the higher worlds. But together with 
the `She feels' he must concentrate the whole of his consciousness on his 
arms and hands. Out of the thought `She feels' an experience of 
indescribably blissful life will then stream to him. This feeling can be 
described as that of `love in active existence'. Thereby he attains 
consciousness of how the Creative Love flows through cosmic space, and 
by its deed pours into all things the breath of life.

A fourth sentence is `He wills'. It was by the force of this sentence that in 
a primeval past the human body, as a whole, was for the first time separated
out as an independent being from its environment.

Before this force worked upon it from higher worlds, the human body 
was not shut off on all sides by an outer skin. Streams of substance 
flowed into the body from all sides and out of it again. It had no 
independent life but was entirely immersed in the life of its environment. 
In that epoch, of course, the environment was quite different from that of 
our own time. If the esoteric pupil now again sinks all his thinking, 
feeling and willing into the `He wills', concentrating his consciousness 
on the whole surface of the outer skin, he transfers himself gradually into 
the sublime creative forces of the `He wills'. These are the forces of the 
supersensible world whereby the things of the world of sense are given 
their form and shape. If he has sufficient endurance, the human being will 
feel, in the deeply inward experience of this thought, as if he were raised 
above all sensible-corporeal existence and were looking down upon the 
field of sense-creation in order to work upon it in conformity with the 
Divine Thoughts attained in the spiritual world. The force proceeding 
from this thought is that of being joyously transported into pure 
spirituality, and the attainment of a consciousness that out of higher 
regions one can bring to the world of sense that of which it stands in 

As he engrosses himself deeply in these thoughts that are forces, the 
esotericist will simultaneously have to focus attention on his breathing-
process and, for a short time, transform it from an unconscious process 
into a consciously regulated act. For while the forces working from 
higher worlds upon the human form were achieving the transformation 
indicated, these same forces produced, within this form, the present 
breathing-system - the system necessary for a being whose body has an 
independent existence, the work of whose hands is his own 
responsibility, whose organs of speech can translate experiences in the 
life of soul into externally audible sounds. The ascent into the higher 
regions of world-creation is furthered by directing the attention in this 
way to the breathing process.

If the esoteric pupil learns by degrees thus to experience consciously the 
higher cosmic forces, which indeed are always slumbering within him 
but of which he has hitherto been unaware, then what he should already 
have assimilated through study becomes alive in him, begins to glimmer 
into perceptible reality. He should already have acquired the knowledge 
that man, together with the evolution of the Earth as a whole, passed 
through different stages of transformation before the present Earth came 
into being. These stages of transformation are called: the Saturn 
condition, the Sun condition, the Moon condition. The esotericist has 
also to acquire the knowledge that in later epochs there is a certain 
recapitulation of earlier conditions. Thus the Saturn, Sun and Moon 
conditions were recapitulated during the Earth-evolution, and in such a 
way that the Saturn repetition corresponds to the creative work of the `He 
wills' on the outer sheath of the human being. The Sun recapitulation 
corresponds to the creative work of the `She feels' on the arms and 
hands, and the Moon recapitulation to the creative work of the `It thinks' 
on the organs of speech. The idea of the human body as a mere product of 
the sense-world is abandoned, and the esotericist finds his way to vision 
of those higher worlds whence come the forces that work creatively upon 
man. So, too, the bare concepts which have been acquired of such matters 
as Saturn, Sun and Moon become actual perceptions and experiences. 
And so indeed it must be if the way is to be found more and more from 
the exoteric to the esoteric.

The exercises given here must of course be regarded only as a beginning. 
The pupil must, however, work strenuously through them, and then he 
will reach the point where he can receive the further exercises through 
which still higher forces that slumber within him are awakened. The aim 
is to gain an inkling of the spiritual facts which underline the words, `I 
am', `I think', `She feels', `I will', and to feel their connection with the 
members of the human body, whose form has arisen from out of the 
spiritual world.

It should be added, for information, that in the above Words of Power, the 
three forms


are well founded in the nature of the higher worlds.

`It' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Thinking: that is, for those 
Beings in the higher world to whom creative thinking belongs in just the 
same measure as sense-perception belongs to the human beings below 

`She' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Soul which originates the 
Feeling that streams out from it, whereas human feeling streams in, being 
stimulated from outside. This Feeling of the World Soul is the Creative 
Cosmic Love which brings all things into existence.

`He' is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Will, the Cosmic Spirit whose 
Will acts from out of Himself, whereas the human will is brought into 
action through the outer world. This `He' is the Creative, Archetypal 
Power of the World.



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