by Rudolf Steiner
Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith
Dornach, April 22, 1924
My dear friends,
First - without taking notes - let us be reminded of the admonition which directs human beings to the ancient holy words of knowledge:
We can, my dear friends, look up to the distant stars and let our vision rest upon what radiates down to us from the universe in the forms the constellations possess. When we immerse ourselves in the sublimity of what the vast universe offers, we will gain enhanced inner strength. And especially for the strength to hold the soul separate from the body, we need to inwardly direct our gaze toward the heavenly bodies. By “inwardly” is meant the following: We have seen the stars so often and have stored the vision in our hearts and minds so that we no longer need to even look up at the heavenly bodies in order to make the powerful image of the star-embedded heaven's vault effective in our inner consciousness. If this picture arises from our own inner being, if the soul empowers itself to create it, then it will be able, through this empowered force, to liberate itself from its corporeality.
And we can also observe all that radiates down and streams through us from the planets which circle the earth, and in their circling directly affect the earth's wind and weather. And when we again create a picture in our hearts of all this, the sensation of being integrated in the movement of the circling constitutes the second experience.
And then when we are conscious of all that binds us to the earth, that we are heavy bodies among other heavy bodies. In other words what lives in us as a feeling of being bound to the earth becomes a facet of our soul, and it is the third aspect.
And from these three inner experiences: what we have gained in luminous, radiant, living thought derived from the stars; and then when we merge with the path of our earth in the universe, merge with what the planets say to us meaningfully from space by their movements - so that having felt ourselves to be at rest in respect to the stars, now we feel ourselves to be set in movement through the cosmos itself. And thirdly, if we then feel ourselves bound to the earth by the force of the earth itself, then we will gradually and harmoniously be more and more able to make a beginning at entering into the spiritual world. And today everyone can make this beginning.
This leads to the question: Why is it then that so few do so? The answer to this must be: most people don't want to experience things so intimately in order to enter into the spiritual world. They disdain experiencing so intimately. They prefer titillating experiences such as the spiritual world approaching them with all the characteristics of the sensory world.
It would be easy to convince people about the spiritual world if for example a table from the spiritual world were to approach them. But there are no tables in the spiritual world, there are only spiritual beings in the spiritual world, and they must be perceived with what is spiritual in man. But spiritual is what we can read in the stars, what we can feel in the movements of the planets, what we can experience in the forces which hold us to the earth and make us people of the earth. Therefore whoever desires to understand in the right way must do so inwardly. With common sense we can understand all of anthroposophy, but to understand inwardly means to transfer more and more what is understood to inner life. Whoever wishes to do this must decide to undertake a really intimate exercise of these three sensations - or experiences, it doesn't matter what we call them.
And now, my dear sisters and brothers, what is flowing to you from the spiritual world through this School wishes to speak to you about how by means of an intimate exercise you can become more aware of the connection of humanity with the world than you are accustomed to through normal consciousness.
Firstly, we humans should in later life be more like we were to a great extent when we were children. As children we are almost all sensory organs: eyes, ears. The child experiences everything that happens in its environment as though its whole body were a sense organ. That's why he imitates everything, because everything continues to vibrate within him; and in the same way in which it vibrates within him, it seeks to emerge by means of the will.
The child retains this characteristic only as long as we protect it from doing with its senses what we as adults do with them. The child develops this inner sensory capacity only as long as we carry it, protecting it so that it is not yet exposed to the forces of the earth. And it is really wonderful how the growing child's sensory-being is protected from the effects of the earth forces as long as this sensory-being is especially vital and alive.
At the moment when the child stands on its feet and begins to move about is when its movements become susceptible to the earth's forces and it must find its own equilibrium, at that moment the intimate sensory-being ends. The human being of course does not remember back to this first stage of infancy, and therefore does not know what it means to feel his whole being as a sensory-organ. But we must, if we want to experience the human in us more and more, be able to feel and experience our whole human being as such a sensory organ.
You grasp something, my dear sisters and brothers. It presses on you. You perceive the pressure. Or you perceive the texture of the surface you are touching. But in reality, you are continually touching in that you place your whole body from top to bottom on the earth and feel the earth under the soles of your feet. Only you are so used to it that you don't notice. When you begin to notice it, then you will first feel yourselves as human beings standing amidst the earth's forces. Therefore, the admonition at the threshold to the spiritual world.
[written on the blackboard:]
[Certain essential words are underlined later, as described in the text. Trans.]
Thus, we let the first stage of this inner experience work in us.
Now we can feel ourselves as the ones touching, sensing. We can experience this touching, feel inwardly as the person doing the vibrant touching. When we advance enough to feel this touching itself, we are then not perceiving earth forces, but we begin to feel the vibrating water forces in us, the fluid forces which as blood and other liquids course through our bodies. And in these forces, we feel how all the fluids which course through our bodies are connected to the ether in the universe.
[writing on the blackboard:]
If we only had earth forces to touch in our whole being, we would be constituted as something continually crumbling away. The water forces in us shape the form of the human body from the cosmic ether. Only the earth has influence over what is solid in us. But the whole wide world of ether has influence over the liquids in us .
But then during the third stage we can immerse ourselves in what lives and weaves in the fluidity. We can feel it dimly, inwardly. When we feel our breathing, for example, we will realize how we are continually nurtured by the essence of breathing and of the air. We would be helpless children if we weren't continually nurtured by the forces of breathing flowing through us.
[writing on the blackboard:]
And now if we have advanced to the third stage of inner experience, we can come to the fourth, if we feel inner warmth, and are attentive to our own fulfilling warmth which is in breath, which lives in everything air-forming within us. For only through what is air-forming in us is our warmth created.
But what lives in us as warmth can be reached with thoughts. And here we have a most important secret of human nature.
My dear sisters and brothers, you cannot reach with thought, but only with the sense of touch, how earth forces act on you and support you. You cannot reach with thought, but only with inner experience, how the water forces are your formative builders. You cannot reach with thought, but only with inner feeling, how the airy powers in you are your nurturers. You can be thankful for this nurturing, you can love these nurturers, but you cannot directly reach them with thought. But what man can reach by thought, by meditating on his warmth, is to experience himself as a being of warmth.
The physician comes with a thermometer; he measures warmth from without. Just as warmth can differ on different places of the body, it is also different in the individual inner organs. You can direct your thoughts down to the individual organs and will find that the whole inner warmth-organism is differentiated. One can reach his own warmth organism with thought.
But then, having done that, you have a specific feeling. This feeling, my dear sisters and brothers, will now be revealed to your souls. Imagine that you have achieved it, that in thought you have descended into your organism, reached the differentiating warmth - the warmth of the lungs, the warmth of the liver, the warmth of the heart, which are all God-spirit created entities within you. You achieve this with thought. Now for the first time you know what thought is. Before you didn't know what thought is. You know now that thought, by descending into what was before only warmth, turns the warmth into flame, into fire. For in ordinary life thought appears to you in its imperceptible inwardness as abstract thought. When you sink it down into your own body, the thought appears to you as luminous, radiantly penetrating into the lungs, into the heart, into the liver. Just as the light which goes out from your brow stretches downward, so does thought illumine the inner organs, differentiating itself into various nuances of color.
One cannot merely say: I think through to the differentiations of my warmth; one must say: I enlighten myself by thinking through to the differentiations of my warmth.
[writing on the blackboard:]
Everything in these eight lines can be summarized by letting what has been intimately worked through be summed up in your souls with the words:
[On the blackboard each element is placed after the corresponding mantra-phrase.]
Thus, do you measure yourselves, radiate, strengthen yourselves in respect to the body. But note how this strengthening, this measuring of the mere physical extends to the moral:
Here we have the support of man, the physical support. [In the first mantra sentence “support” is underlined.]
Here we have the formative forces. [In the second mantra sentence “formers” is underlined.] Still somewhat physical, but permeated with the etheric.
Here we have nurturer. [In the third mantra sentence “nurture” is underlined.] It already has a certain morality. Then as we ascend from water to air we feel that the beings who are in the air are permeated with morality.
And in the fire, we have not only nurturer, but also helpers, [“helpers” in the fourth mantra sentence in underlined], comrades, beings similar to us.
Just as we feel through to our bodies, we can also feel through to our souls. For this we must not concentrate on the elements, rather must we concentrate on what pulls the planets that circle the earth and pulls the air and sea currents along with it. We feel our physicality in our spirituality when we measure the body as has been explained; but we directly experience our soul-life.
[written on the blackboard:]
It can also be summarized in the sentence:
We realize and experience the spiritual in us when we elevate the spirit to the stars, which reach us in their groupings and formations and become like a celestial script to us. If we preserve what is thus written in the starry heavens we will become aware of our own spirituality, that spirituality which doesn't speak about man personally, but about the entire universe.
[written on the blackboard:]
Not by vague generalities, not by vague sensations are we able to gradually extract our souls from our physical bodies and pass over to the universe, but rather by grasping the elements in the specified way, by the movement of the planets, by the meaning in the stars. We unite with the universe when we do this.
And we will note that once the first part of the exercise is accomplished we feel a life in us, the life of the universe.
[Alongside the first eight lines of the mantra is written:]
Once we have finished the second part of the exercise we feel love towards the whole world.
[Alongside the tenth and eleventh lines is written:]
Once we have finished the third part we feel a sense of piety in us.
[Alongside the thirteenth and fourteenth lines is written:]
And it really is an ascension from life through love to piety, to a truly religious cosmic sense which can be undergone through such mantric words.
But if it is really undergone, if we really end up being pious through such an exercise, then the world ceases to be physical for us. Then we say to ourselves with total certainty: the physical in the world is only semblance, maya; the world is everywhere through and through spirit. As humans we belong to this spirit. And if we feel ourselves as spirit in the spirit-world, then we are beyond the threshold to the spiritual world.
Then, however, once we are beyond the threshold to the spiritual world, we sense how here, on this side, our body holds thinking, feeling and willing together through its own bodily force; how at the moment we are body-free in our experiencing, thinking, feeling and willing are no longer one, but threefold. Then it is as though by binding ourselves to the earth-powers in water, air, fire, earth, that by sending our will to the earth we become one with the earth through our will.
Furthermore, because we feel love in our souls for the movements of the planets, that is, for the spiritual beings who live therein, it is so that we experience the Powers circling cosmic space as feeling. And if we can say: the sun moves in the feeling of cosmic space, Mercury moves in the feeling of cosmic space, Mars moves in the feeling of cosmic space, then we have grasped feeling in its cosmic being separated from thinking and separated from willing.
And if we are able to grasp thinking in such a way that thoughts are freed from physical existence, it is as though our thinking were to fly out to the [resting] stars and rest there themselves.
[Translator's Note: in German the stars themselves can be referred to as “resting” stars, in contrast to the “wandering” or “moving” stars: the planets. In this lecture there is much play on words between the two concepts, which is necessarily lost in translation.]
And we say to ourselves when we have arrived on the other side of the threshold: my thinking rests in the resting stars; my feeling moves in the wandering stars [planets]; my willing unites with the earth forces. So thinking, feeling, willing are separated in the cosmos.
And they must be again joined together. Here on the earth man does not need to bind thinking, feeling and willing together, because they already are so due to the physical body being a unity. Thinking, feeling and willing would be constantly falling apart if they were not held together by the physical man, without his intention or awareness. Now though, on the other side of the threshold, they are divided so that thinking rests above with the stars, feeling circles with the planets, and willing unites with the forces of the earth. And with strong inner determination, with our own forces, we must bring them back together as a unity.
In doing this we must experience thinking, feeling and willing in such a way that we can communicate to thinking, which has gone to the stars, something of feeling and willing; to feeling, which is circling with the planets, communicate something of thinking and willing; to willing, which is bound to the earth, something of thinking and feeling. This something we indeed can do using such a mantric formula.
We must look up to the stars and with devotion say to ourselves: there is where your thinking lies. But I will bring the starry sky into movement; just as feeling likewise does for the planets, in spirit I will slowly move the starry sky. I feel myself attracted to the starry sky; I want to go up there and be at one with that star-filled heavens. Thus have I incorporated feeling and willing into thinking, which is bound to the stars.
Then I look up to the planets and feel: In these planets [Ger. wandering stars] my own feeling wanders. But I will attempt to fix the moment as the stars [Ger. fixed stars] are fixed in place. And through my rhythmic system - to which heart and lungs belong - I will become as one with the entire planetary system. Then I have assigned thinking and willing to feeling.
And when I become aware of how, through this mantric formula, I am bound to the earth as a human being, then I should add feeling and thinking to this being bound to the earth. In thought I should set the earth in motion so that like a planet I accompany it on its rounds without perceiving its weight: bound to it as if I were guiding the earth through cosmic space. Feeling is combined with willing. I add thinking to the mixture when I accompany the earth's movement in thought, but can bring it again to a standstill, thus making the earth itself a [fixed] star by my own meditating force of thought.
When I carry out such a meditation again and again, I gradually come to feel myself as a human being outside my body in the cosmos. For this, my dear sisters and brothers, this mantric formula can work on the soul with special force.
[written on the blackboard:]
(that is: as meditation, as contemplation)
Only seen thus does the human body appear in its true form.
What is gleaned from the spiritual world, what the initiate experiences in the spiritual world, if it is expressed in words, they are mantric words, and he who experiences them will be led into the spiritual world.
Therefore, if you let the words work on your soul, they are a true guide to the spiritual world:
Then, my dear sisters and brothers, when what lies in these mantric words is clearer and clearer to you, then when you come again and again to these lessons it will be with greater understanding, that is, with ever greater cosmic experience that you will hear these words:
|Last Modified: 07-Oct-2019||
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