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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

Guide to piritual Science: Lecture 6

LECTURE 6.

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E said last time that the evolution of mankind can be furthered only when individual development is furthered, and that an individual can only unfold his powers when he works at his spiritualisation with the whole force of his ego. We see, too, that the individual is of the utmost importance in that he hinders or furthers the evolution of the whole of mankind, and we must become more and more conscious of our responsibility in this respect. The materialistic age has run its course, and we dare no longer rest content with a purely external consideration of things and of existence. And above all, we must abandon such purely external considerations of man. For everything which indeed goes to make us man, for our ideals, our moral and religious impulses, in short for everything that is sacred the mechanistic-materialistic outlook has no use. There has been much crossing of swords over our moral and religious ideals. The very reality of that world can be disputed. Proof can only come through deed. That means that only he who stands in the world as the incarnation of the spiritual living within him, he who carries out his ideals into life, can prove that reality. Prophets, apostles, martyrs and all truly great artists have their place in the history of mankind as living proof of the spiritual world. Great and mighty has been the suffering of the little human ego which surrendered itself to the impulses of the spiritual world. Mankind can be rescued from materialism when, in ever-increasing numbers, men learn to surrender themselves to the spiritual world, to interpret its plan; when more and more individual men take their stand with the courage to carry out into life the impulses from the spiritual world in the position in which their destiny has placed them, and for which they bear the responsibility before the spiritual worlds. In these times we have, however, to learn afresh how to place ourselves at the disposal of the spiritual powers. In ordinary life one often likes to devote oneself to the service of some cause, or of some man who is more able and who has got further in life than oneself. We have not as yet the courage to follow the demands of our own life, nor as yet the will power, nor the sense of responsibility for carrying out our own life. We lay the burden on him under whose direction we have put ourselves. Failing to recognise this, we can easily confuse such an attitude with self-sacrifice, with virtuous self-surrender and so on, forgetting that if we want to bring an offering we must first have something to offer. One is then a man who does not know how to begin on his own account, and who pins his hopes on to another, who may be able to begin something with him. In ordinary life such a man can be well used as a tool, an instrument. But if we want to put ourselves under the direction of the spiritual worlds, we must be conscious that we have something to bring to it. As we are, with all our weaknesses and failings of soul, our lower instincts and passions and our ordinary understanding, the spiritual world cannot use us. We must first of all prepare a place within us for the spirit, we must make ourselves ready to receive it. It can only employ us as its instruments when we have a self, and indeed a strong self, full of courage and of love, a self that is able to stand in life with the conscious will to bear the responsibility for our own actions, a self that can take the command first of all over our own lower nature. For the spirit can come to activity within us only to the extent that we purify our astral body, which means, make our thinking, feeling and willing free from egoism. Then only will the spirit in us be able to appear as holy spirit. And only when the holy spirit is active within us, when it, overshadowing us, fructifies us, can we act in the sense of the spiritual world.

If we take up into ourselves the truths of spiritual science it creates in us, it fulfils the first work in us, when it enlivens our dead thinking, so that it can be fired to the extent of a spiritual impulse of the will. We shall then be on the way leading to the reunion of the physical world with the spiritual.

Along with the spiritualisation of our soul forces as it is affected through taking up anthroposophy in us, there must also go on the training of certain faculties which can only be attained by our own efforts.

Rudolf Steiner shows him, who has the serious purpose to create the possibility of the unfolding of the spiritual powers resting within him, how he can effect the transformation of his own soul. He speaks in the Outline of Occult Science in the chapter “The Perception of Higher Worlds” of five soul qualities which the spirit pupil must adopt in a duly ordered discipline, — the control over the impulses of one's will, equanimity in sorrow and joy, positiveness in judgments of the world and impartiality in one's view of life.

Before all things we must be clear that such-like qualities of the soul are only to be won if they are practised with a systematic discipline, and can be attained only if we carry on these exercises with the utmost patience and perseverance through a long space of time, so that these qualities can become qualities of the soul, characteristics.

To begin with, it is best not to practise all five qualities at the same time but at first, throughout a month, to try to win the control over the trend of thought. That means so to practise thinking that it can give itself the right direction and aim. Such exercises in thought need not be undertaken on distant or complicated objects, but on simple ones, on an everyday object such as even a pin, a pencil, etc., as Rudolf Steiner gives in the above-mentioned chapter of the Outline of Occult Science. One starts from such a thought and follows up through one's own inner power, all that can be relevantly connected with it, and excludes all the thoughts that obtrude themselves, but which are not really connected with this object. Each day a new object can be considered, or, alternatively, one can retain a thought through several days. Through these exercises the soul is educated to a reality and attains in itself to a certain inner steadiness and surety. In the second month one can try to attain to the control of the impulses of the will. It is a good exercise, again for a month, daily at a certain time to make some action a duty for oneself, an action which without this self command one would certainly not have done. Here, too, the point is not that one should take up an important action. [See further in the above-mentioned chapter of the Outline of Occult Science.] One can undertake, e.g., to water a plant. If one carries on such an action daily, then, after a time takes up some other duty of this kind, and later a third one, and so on, so much the more can one carry on one's duties with strong support. One undertakes, of course, no more than one can fulfil, the point of this exercise being just that one becomes accustomed strictly to obey the commands one has set oneself. He who accustoms himself to this will gradually cease to desire the meaningless and will overcome what is unsatisfying, what is unsteady in his will life, which comes from the desire of such things of the realisation of which one makes no clear idea. In the third month the student practises to achieve a certain moderation in respect to pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. By that it is not meant that one should face one's world with indifference, or unfeelingly. What is pleasurable should rejoice the soul, and sorrow ought to cause it pain, but we can watch that no joy carries us away, no pain bows us to the earth, no experience drives us to anger beyond measure, that no situation disconcerts us. One tries to overcome timidity and discouragement. It is not the justified pain that should be suppressed, but the involuntary weeping, not the revulsion against a mean action but the blind fury of rage. One pays attention to a danger, but suppresses the fear of it. Through such an exercise we arrive at the control of our feeling life and attain that inner calm which the occult student must have within him. In the fourth month one practises equity in judgment; that means that in respect to all experiences, beings,and things, one looks for whatever of good and beautiful exists in them. Error, vice and ugliness should not prevent the soul from finding truth, goodness, beauty everywhere. This positiveness must not be mistaken for want of judgment. Though what is bad cannot be deemed good, nor error acclaimed as truth, we can yet train ourselves not to be withheld by error from seeing truth. One can abstain from criticism without being uncritical. One then arrives at a judgment which does not arise from personal sympathy or antipathy. He who learns to sink himself with love into a new phenomenon or a strange person, learns to refrain from criticising the incomplete as fruitless, and to help in its completion. In the fifth month one can try to acquire impartiality in one's view of life. That means that we try never to allow what we have already experienced, or learned, to rob us of our unbiased receptiveness for new experiences. We must not lose sight of experiences we have previously had, but must believe in the possibility that new experiences may contradict the old. Indeed, what we experience in the present should be judged in accordance with the sum of our past experiences, and these should not fetter us from receiving a new truth. The occult student should not underrate anything he hears, or that happens, or is thought, with a — ”I have never heard that before; I have never yet seen that; I don't believe it; that is a delusion,” and so on, but he should be ready at any moment to meet a fully new experience. The thought and will through such convictions will experience a certain maturity. In the sixth month we should try to bring all these five soul characteristics named into an harmonious whole, for which all five exercises must be practised, in regular alternation. In the seventh month we can begin again with the first month's exercise, in the eighth the second is repeated, in the ninth the third and so on. One tries also to start with that of the second month and continue with that of the first, and in the third with the first and second, and never again to lose the fruits once won. It is a matter of significance that the occult pupil is able to raise these capabilities to ever higher degrees. These exercises, the description of which I have given as nearly as possible in the words of Rudolf Steiner, lead not only to the above-mentioned results, but to the possibility of a true self-observation and self-judgment on which occult training lays special stress. For that Rudolf Steiner gives a further exercise which the occult student should practise daily in order to achieve the observation of his own experiences, of his own affairs, with the calmness and objectivity he would bring to another's. Every day when one's work is done, should the events of the day be allowed to pass before the mind's eye, but backwards, the last first, then backwards to the first experience of the morning, using one's personal self as a person in the picture, not thinking one's thoughts. We see ourselves thus within our day's experiences as in a picture. We can make a beginning by picturing one single small piece of the life of the day. After practising such a review backwards for some time, one becomes able to pass in review before one's mind's eye the whole of the day's experiences in a very short space of time.

The continual repetition of all these exercises effects a harmonising of our soul-powers and gradually leads to the control of our soul-life by our ego, our self, and to the transformation of our astral body. These exercises strengthen our ego, our self, and at the same time deliver it from egotism. They confer upon it firmness and security, serenity and power, enable us to follow with courage the necessities of our own life, and with the power of the conscious will to bear the responsibility for our own actions.

That is the work which we have to do upon ourselves; it must be connected with what the taking up of the truths of Spiritual Science effects in us. Then can Anthroposophy become life in individual men, and the way for mankind to reunite itself with the spiritual world.




Last Modified: 16-Aug-2019
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