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

Schmidt Number: S-5726

On-line since: 31st August, 2017

The First Goetheanum

The First Goetheanum

by Rudolf Steiner

Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith

Lesson Twelve

Dornach, May 11, 1924

My dear friends,

First let us recite the verse which reminds us of what comes from the cosmos itself as an invitation to knowledge:

O man, know thyself!
So resounds the cosmic-word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it vast in spirit.

Who speaks so vastly cosmic?
Who speaks so deeply heartfelt?
Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

Is it you yourself who
In feeling space, in experiencing time

Create the Word, feeling foreign
In space's psychic vacancy,
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow?

Self-knowledge, my dear sisters and brothers, is what, in a spiritual sense, can lead to cosmic knowledge. And it has often been said that understanding must exist for true spiritual cosmic knowledge to stream out of the spiritual world itself; that we must understand that the person who is able to transmit such knowledge from the spiritual world must approach the threshold; that the Guardian of the Threshold stands at the threshold, the Guardian who protects the person in normal consciousness from entering the spiritual world unprepared.

But it is just when one gets to know this Guardian – at first by means of healthy human understanding – then later in its true form, in its real essence, then the Guardian makes known to us the admonishments if we wish to enter the spiritual world in the right way, and then to stand within the experiences of the spiritual world.

It has also often been said that this living in the spiritual world is mostly mistakenly imagined, because one wants something different than really standing within the spiritual world. One wants something which is similar to the sense perceptible world. It is super-sensible though, and can therefor not lead to envisioning something similar to what is seen through the senses. This imaginative-super-sensible envisioning is only an image. It must lead to a real experience of the spiritual world. And many of you, my dear sisters and brothers, have this experience of the spiritual more so than you think. You are only not aware of it. You do not pay attention to how the spirit acts and weaves within psychic experience. It works and weaves. And it is a matter of mustering the intimate mindfulness necessary for perceiving this working and weaving.

Therefore more and more real indications should be given to enable you to feel how the human soul lives in the spiritual world – for knowledge is meant to flow to you directly from the spiritual world through these class lessons, my sisters and brothers. And the following can be such an indication.

Take any of the mantras or other verses and recite it. It doesn't matter much which one it is, it can be any mantra you are familiar with. For your meditation select any mantra and recite it in the fairest way you can. Do it therefor not loudly, but in a soft, gentle manner:

O man, know thyself!
So resounds the cosmic-word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it vast in spirit.

And then, once you have recited such a mantra to yourself, try to sense how the reciting reacts within you. Try to come to the point where you can sense the speaking, that you sense the difference in your bodies between when you are silent and when you are speaking. Try to sense the speaking in your organism, how it passes through. You will sense it as all kinds of pressure and wave currents in the speech organs.

And when you have sensed this, ask yourselves: When I think something, due to someone talking to me or some other event that makes an impression on me relative to the present: Can I also sense that?

Well, if you have learned to sense speaking, then you will easily be able to sense the thinking which is directly induced by the immediate present. It is lighter and more delicate to sense than speaking, but it can be sensed. And you can learn to sense, to feel thinking by sensing speech.

Then, just as you can sense speech, you can also sense thinking. Then you will be able to touch, touch internally that is, perceive internally, thus: [draws: white outline of a profile]. When speaking is sensed so that it must be moved here [red], you will sense thinking here above [green]. That is, the sense of thinking is moved somewhat up against the back of the head.


It is good to practice such an exercise, for it acts as a guide to intimate self-observation.

And now you proceed, my dear sisters and brothers, to make a thought active, a remembrance-thought, one which you had days, weeks or months ago and which you can activate just as well now, and try to sense, to feel such a remembrance-thought. And you will have the sensation: I feel this under the region of speech, I feel it here below, under the region of speech [yellow]. And you will then say to yourselves: When I speak, I experience it in the region of my speech organs; when I think, I experience it above in the head, when I remember, I experience it under the region of speech.

When this becomes an intimate experience for you, when you really feel it, then you have grasped something spiritual, which can be the beginning of a progressively increasing spiritual understanding. But a substantial seclusion from the outer events of the day is necessary in order to sense this. It is not good to say: Yes, but in order to achieve such seclusion I'll have to take a few weeks off and go to where there are no people, where nothing can bother me, where I will have absolute peace and quiet, for example in a hut on Mont Blanc. It is not good to think like that, because you will never progress that way. It is better to stand within the tumult of life, exposed to what life brings from morning to night and nevertheless dedicate by strength of soul a period of time, be it ever so short, when you are completely outside of the world's tumult, but at the same time within it, purely by means of your inner force. That is best. To withdraw in solitude in order to have peace is not what works best, but rather to create solitude through one's own forces. That is what definitely and securely can lead to the goal. This is a good foundation for meditating in the right way.

You have learned mantras, my dear sisters and brothers, which are spoken quietly from the soul. The first mantras in these lessons were like that. We have however advanced to mantras which partly ring out to us from the soul and also partly must be imagined as resounding to us from out of the distant universe; where we therefor do not inwardly meditate speaking, but where we inwardly meditate hearing. We imagine ourselves as being transferred to where we hear what is being spoken to us whether it is by the cosmos or by the spirit-beings. And it is just this transferring to a condition in which other beings speak to us that creates the condition which is conducive to feeling that we are in the spiritual world.

Today's mantras will be given with this objective. The mind, the soul should imagine itself as being perfectly silent. But the soul should also imagine itself to already be on the other side of the threshold standing before the Guardian in the spiritual world. And, although being perfectly silent itself, it hears three sounds. The first sound comes from the distant universe; the second from the Guardian. And the third comes from the beings who will be identified later in the mantra. That is how the mantra which is presented to your souls today is to be understood.

Thus, coming from all sides of the distant universe:

Listen to the field of thinking.

It's a question of becoming enlightened concerning the true nature of thinking through a spiritually cosmic experience.

Then the Guardian speaks. After the resounding to us from the distant universe – we must experience this situation spiritually – the Guardian speaks the next three lines:

The one who wants to shows to you

The paths from life on earth to life

On earth in spirit light does speak.

That is the Guardian speaking.

Then the angel who shows us the path from earthly life to earthly life speaks:

Behold your senses' shining radiance.

This is the being who as an angel-being, as angelos, guides us from incarnation to incarnation. It speaks of these goals. We hear them in inner contemplation.

Again the Guardian speaks:

The one who wants to carry you,

Your soul conveyed to souls

in regions matter-free, speaks.

And the next lines are spoken by the being who watches over us from the hierarchy of Archangels:

Behold the forces working in your thinking.

That goes above, to where the Archangels are.

First we had “Behold your senses' shining radiance.” This means that for the senses the sun shines and the senses do not; in reality, though, our senses also shine, except that while our senses are shining we are not aware of it. So the being who belongs to us from the ranks of angels admonishes us: “Behold your senses' shining radiance.”

In general we think in normal consciousness; but we do not apprehend thinking; we do not sense it, we do not feel it. The being who belongs to us from the ranks of the archangels admonishes us: “Behold the forces working in your thinking.”

Now we ascend to where the Archai are. The Guardian advises us that we should listen to the admonishment of the being from the ranks of the Archai. The next three lines are those of the Guardian:

The one speaks who among spirits

in earth-distant fields of creation

Desires to give you the ground of being.

I could also say the “throne of being”, but “ground of being” is better, for it is what is to be given to you by the one who wants a spiritual ground in the spiritual field for you, just as here in the sensory field you are standing on physical ground.

After the Guardian of the Threshold has thus spoken, the being from the ranks of the Archai speaks:

Behold the imagery of remembrance.

That is third. First we should see the radiance of the senses, then the forces of thinking working in us, then what lies deep down, below speech, in the memory images: “Behold” the imagery of remembrance.

Thus have we listened with quiet souls to the threefold voice speaking to us: speaking from the cosmos in the very first lines: “Listen to the field of thinking”. Then to the intervening three lines by the Guardian of the Threshold, and then to the beings who belong to us from the ranks of the hierarchies, always using paradigmatic lines which are meant to speak to the deepest levels of our being. Together it is like this:

Listen to the field of thinking:

The one who wants to shows to you

The paths from life on earth to life

On earth in spirit light does speak.

Behold your senses' shining radiance.

The one who wants to carry you,

Your soul conveyed to souls

in regions matter-free, speaks.

Behold the forces working in your thinking.


The one speaks who among spirits

in earth-distant fields of creation

Desires to give you the ground of being.

Behold the imagery of remembrance.


[The first mantra is written on the blackboard. The word “thinking” in the first line is underlined as well as the last lines of 1,2,3.]


I. Listen to the field of thinking:

1.) The one who wants to show to you

The paths from life on earth to life

On earth in spirit light does speak.

Behold your senses' shining radiance.

2.) The one who wants to carry you,

Your soul conveyed to souls

in regions matter-free, speaks.

Behold the forces working in your thinking.

3.) The one speaks who among spirits

in earth-distant fields of creation

Desires to give you the ground of being.

Behold the imagery of remembrance.


Therewith we have inwardly experienced the admonishments resounding from the three lower hierarchies for our self-knowledge:

the first from the hierarchy of the        Angeloi

the second from the hierarchy of the  Archangeloi

the third from the hierarchy of the      Archai.

[“Angeloi” is written beside part 1, “Archangeloi” beside part 2, “Archai” beside part 3.]

Before the exercise begins, concentration in the soul [mind] can be achieved by imagining a definite image, this image [drawing begins on the image above]: an eye looking upward [eye] and perceiving the higher hierarchies [arc], from which the cosmic forces stream into the eye [upper rays], which then perceives the circle of the lower hierarchies [wavy line], which reach up to the higher hierarchies and send the rays on the human beings [lower rays].

We call this image to mind and hold it there: the eye looking upward, the two lines – the circular one, the wavy one – the descending rays. And while doing the exercise, without thinking about it, the image remains before our soul: the image of the upward looking eye.

Then we hear again, resounding from all sides of the cosmos:

Perceive the field of feeling.

The Guardian then speaks the next three lines:

The one who speaks as thought

From the sun-rays of the spirit

Recalls you to cosmic existence.

It is now a higher language, the language that resounds from higher hierarchies. Whereas there [indicates the first mantra] we are made more attentive to what is already within us, in this mantra we are spoken to by the Guardian in a manner which does not only call us to observe our senses, our thinking and our memories, but we are now meant to hear how we are being called into cosmic being itself. This resounds from the hierarchy of the Exusiai.

Then the one who belongs to us from the hierarchy of the Exusiai speaks:

Feel in your breath life awakening.

Again the Guardian speaks the next three lines:

The one speaks who gives to you

From the stars' living forces

Cosmic being in spirit kingdoms.

Then the being from the hierarchy of the Dynamis speaks:

Feel in your blood's weaving waves.

We must feel the world's weaving movement continued in the weaving waves of our blood.

And the Guardian speaks once more, now advising us that we should listen to what the being from the rank of Kyriotetes says:

The one speaks who wants to create

In the light of the divine heights

The sense of spirit from earthly will.

Then this being from the ranks of the Kyriotetes speaks:

Feel the earth's mighty resistance.

For only if we feel this mighty resistance of the earth's forces can we enter correctly into the world of pure spirit.


Therefore the experience of this mantra must be felt:

Perceive the field of feeling:

The one who speaks as thought

from the sun-rays of the spirit

calls you to cosmic existence:

Feel in your breath life awakening.


The one speaks who gives to you

From the stars' living forces

Cosmic being in spirit kingdoms:

Feel in your blood's weaving waves.


The one speaks who wants to create

In the light of the divine heights

The sense of spirit from earthly will.

Feel the earth's mighty resistance.

It is the ascent to the rank of the second hierarchy where self-knowledge asserts itself in us, where the Guardian advises us that a being from the ranks of the Exusiai will speak to us.

Well, my dear sisters and brothers, we think in earthly life; our thoughts are almost nullities. But when a being from the ranks of the Exusiai thinks, he is thinking us. Our I is being thought. And it, our I, exists as a thought by a being from the ranks of the Exusiai. When on earth we speak “I” to ourselves, where are we looking? Yes, this I: when we say “I” [drawing: circle with the word “Ich”, yellow], we are looking back at this Ich [red arrows], and say the word “I” [Ich]. But for a being from the ranks of the Exusiai [green line] this I-thought is a real thought. We exist in that we are thought by beings from the ranks of the Exusiai. And when we say “I” to ourselves we are confirming that we are being thought by divine beings. And it is in this being thought by divine beings that our higher being consists.

Then: A being from the ranks of the Dynamis reminds us that the spiritual existence we receive from him as a gift comes from the life-forces taken from the stars.

And a being from the ranks of the Kyriotetes reminds us that what exists in us on earth as will is taken out to the heavenly heights and after the transformation which it undergoes there it is returned to us so that we can then also use it as spirit-will. Earthly will is only a transformation of spirit-will. Earthly will is constantly being taken up and brought down again. Above it is heavenly will; below it is earthly will. Finally the Guardian reminds us that a being from the ranks of the Kyriotetes is saying: “Feel the earth's mighty resistance.” When we feel the earth's resistance, we feel the benefit, the grace inherent in the bestowing of forces from the heavenly heights.

[Mantra II is written on the blackboard. In the first line “feeling” is underlined, and the last lines of Parts 1,2 and 3 are also underlined.]

II.) Perceive the field of feeling:

1.) The one who speaks as thought

from the sun-rays of the spirit

calls you to cosmic existence:

Feel in your breath life awakening.

2.) The one speaks who gives to you

From the stars' living forces

Cosmic being in spirit kingdoms:

Feel in your blood's weaving waves.

3.) The one speaks who wants to create

In the light of the divine heights

The sense of spirit from earthly will.

Feel the earth's mighty resistance.


This, then, is the second mantra (recites it):

Perceive the field of feeling:

The one who speaks as thought

from the sun-rays of the spirit

calls you to cosmic existence:

Feel in your breath life awakening.


The one speaks who gives to you

From the stars' living forces

Cosmic being in spirit kingdoms:

Feel in your blood's weaving waves.


The one speaks who wants to create

In the light of the divine heights

The sense of spirit from earthly will.

Feel the earth's mighty resistance.


The first resounds from the ranks of the Exusiai

The second from the ranks of the             Dynamis

The third from the ranks of the                 Kyriotetes

[Exusiai is written alongside part1; Dynamis alongside part 2, Kyriotetes alongside part 3.]

And finally, in order to remember the image we have placed before us after all this has taken place within us, and in order to have a clear experience of it, we recall the image – although we realize that it has been before us during the whole exercise – but we want to place it once more before our souls.

In the image already drawn on the blackboard, the eye, arc, upper rays, wavy lines, lower rays are drawn again.]


The ascent to the ranks of the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones will be added to these in the next class lesson. But now it is appropriate to clarify the meaning of the whole.

My dear sisters and brothers, at the beginning of today's lesson the words from cosmic-being instructed us to practice self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, it was said, leads to world-knowledge; but only if the Self can be in connection with the world.

But the Self does not exist in relation to an external natural entity or process, but alone in relation to the spiritual world. That is where the beings of the hierarchies are. So if we really wish to penetrate into our Self, into our I, then we must experience it together with the beings from the hierarchies and not with external nature. For what we can call our I in external nature is only the distant echo of the I. The true I exists in the same realms as these beings of the higher hierarchies. Therefore in entering the realm of self-knowledge we must also enter the realm of the higher hierarchies. Then we must hear the speech of the higher hierarchies.

The admonishments of the Guardian of the threshold always intervene in order that we do this with all our strength, that we do not make it into a mere bloodless theory. In order that the whole content in the meditation appear before us in all its majesty, we hear the two – and as we will soon hear, three – forceful admonishments from the cosmos: “Behold the field of thinking”, “Behold the field of feeling”.

Only if we feel the language in such a living, threefold way, and if we experience ourselves within the spiritual world as described in the mantras, then these things will be able to help us advance. For only then will we feel them with the right attitude. We must seek this mental attitude above all. For inner consecration must be there if the meditation is to contribute to initiation. And this inner consecration comes only from the attitude through which we are displaced from the outer world for a while and live exclusively within the content and elements of the meditation. If we can do this so that self-knowledge is not merely an inner brooding, but is an explicit conversation with the universe, the Guardian and the Hierarchies, then we will find ourselves in possession of true self-knowledge.

Basically, we should even avoid thinking about such things if we cannot simultaneously evoke the appropriate mental attitude. We should only think about what has been presented today if we can really evoke this inner attitude in the soul, which consists in simply feeling that the sublime majesty from the universe, from the cosmic distances, comes to us like cosmic thunder; that a softly admonishing voice intervenes which comes from the Guardian of the Threshold; and that then one of the beings of the Hierarchies urgently speaks.

Only when we remember this and when we evoke the feeling related to this remembering, should we even think of these mantras or create an inner connection with them, so that we do not desecrate them inwardly, desecrate their force – that we do not think of them with the usual, dry, common way of thinking, which we would think if we did not first evoke the appropriate attitude, the inner mood.

And we therefore should achieve the inner mental attitude to feel that human self-knowledge is something solemn, earnest and holy and that these things should only be spoken internally by the soul – let alone externally – when they are felt to be earnest, solemn, consecrated.

It is a great hindrance to progress on the esoteric path that so much is spoken about these things in a cliquish manner, even with a whiff of vanity and gossip, when this earnest, solemn attitude of consecration has not been developed. We don't realize then that in esoteric life everything depends on the pure, absolute truth prevailing. Whoever does not recognize this – that in esoteric life truth, absolute truth must prevail – can do nothing in esoteric life; that one cannot merely speak of the truth and then regard things as one does as usual in profane life. That happens when we make these things the object of idle gossip.

And this idle gossip which is so much practiced is what throws so many hindrances and obstructions on the esoteric path. And we must necessarily bring together everything related to self-knowledge with an earnest, solemn consecrated attitude. Then we will have allowed the words to correctly work on our souls which were spoken at the beginning of the Class lesson and will be repeated now at the end:

O man, know thyself!

Yes, that is a guide to self-knowledge:

O man, know thyself!
So resounds the cosmic-word.
You hear it strong in soul,
You feel it vast in spirit.

Who speaks so vastly cosmic?
Who speaks so deeply heartfelt?

Does it work through distant radiant space
Into your senses' sense of being?
Does it ring through waves of time
Into your life's evolving stream?

Is it you yourself who
In feeling space, in experiencing time

Create the Word, feeling foreign
In space's psychic vacancy,
Because you lose the force of thought
In time's destructive flow?

Essentially it is a question. The answer is found in the mantras given today.

Translators' note: Indeed it is a question. However, all the German originals (see below) here and in future lessons end the last line with a period instead of a question mark. Why, I don't know. Nevertheless, I am using a question mark in English, which seems the correct thing to do.

O Mensch, erkenne dich selbst!
So tönt das Weltenwort.
Du hörst es seelenkräftig,
Du fühlst es geistgewaltig.

Wer spricht so weltenmächtig?
Wer spricht so herzinniglich?

Wirkt es durch des Raumes Weitensgtrahlung
In deines Sinnes Seinserleben?
Tönt es durch der Zeiten Wellenweben?
In deines Lebens Werdestrom?

Bist du es selbst, der sich
Im Raumesfühlen, im Zeiterleben

Das Wort erschafft, dich fremd
Erfühlend in Raumes Seelenleere,
Weil du des Denkens Kraft
Verlierst im Zeitvernichtunsstrom.





Last Modified: 01-Dec-2019
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