by Rudolf Steiner
Volume Three, Lesson Seven
Dornach, September 20, 1924
Lessons for members of the Free School for Spiritual Science, from stenographic notes in German unrevised by the author.
Translation: Frank Thomas Smith
My dear Sisters and Brothers,
Since the Christmas Conference an esoteric breath flows through the whole Anthroposophical Society. And those members of the Anthroposophical Society who have taken part in the general members' lectures will have noted how this esoteric breath flows through all the work within the anthroposophical movement now, and should do so in the future.
This was a necessity which, above all, flows from the spiritual world, from where the revelations come which should live in the anthroposophical movement.
Therefore, the necessity arose to create a certain nucleus for anthroposophical esoteric life, to create real esoteric life, and therewith the necessity arose to build a bridge to the spiritual world itself.
In a certain sense the spiritual world had to manifest the will for the creation of such a School. For an esoteric school cannot be created by human arbitrariness, nor from that human arbitrariness called “human ideals”; rather must this esoteric school be the body for something which flows out of spiritual life, so that everything that occurs in such a school presents the outer expression of an activity which in reality occurs in the spiritual world itself. Therefore, this esoteric school could not have been created without first asking the will of Michael, which since the last third of the nineteenth century has been guiding human affairs - something which I have often mentioned here in members' lectures.
In the course of time this will of Michael again and again cyclically intervenes in human affairs from the spiritual world. And when we look back in the evolution of time, we find that this same Michael-Will - which we can also call the Michael Reign - was active in the spiritual affairs of humanity, in the great questions of civilization before the Mystery of Golgotha, in the time of Alexander in Greece through the Chthonian and Celestial mysteries, and which was to spread to Asia and Africa. Where the Michael-Will reigns, there is always cosmopolitanism. What differentiates people on earth is overcome during the Michael age.
The most important influence, related to Aristotle and to Alexander, which was under the impulse of Michael, was followed by that of Oriphiel, and after Oriphiel came the Anael impulse, the Zachariel impulse, then the Raphael impulse, then the Samael impulse, then the Gabriel impulse, which extended into the 19th century. And since the seventies of the nineteenth century we are again under the sign of Michael's reign. It is in its beginnings. But Michael's impulses must flow into all legitimate esoteric activities in a conscious manner - what can be clear to you, my sisters and brothers, through the general lectures for members.
And everything connected with the Christmas Conference leads to what is constituted as the basis of the anthroposophical movement's formation of this Esoteric School inspired and guided by Michael. It therefore rightfully exists in our times as a spiritual institution. All those who want to be rightful members of this School must accept this in their lives with the deepest sincerity. They must feel that they don't merely belong to an earthly community, but to a supersensible community, whose guide and leader is Michael himself. Therefore, everything communicated here is not to be understood as my words, insofar as they are the content of the lessons, but rather as what Michael communicates in an esoteric manner to those who feel they belong with him in this age. Therefore, what these lessons contain will be Michael's message for our age.
And it is because of this that the anthroposophical movement will receive its true spiritual strength. For this it is necessary that what membership in this School means be taken with the utmost earnestness. It is really necessary, my dear sisters and brothers, truly and deeply necessary, that it be indicated in the utmost earnest manner the sacred earnestness with which the School must be taken.
And here within the School it must be repeatedly said: in anthroposophical circles there is much too little earnestness for what really flows through the anthroposophical movement, and at least the esoteric members of the Esoteric School must be in the forefront of what humanity can gradually develop as the necessary earnestness. Therefore, it is necessary that the leadership of the School retain for itself the right to allow only those to enter as rightful, worthy members of the School who, in every aspect of their lives, want to be worthy representatives of anthroposophy; and the decision about whether this is the case or not must lie with the School's leadership.
Do not consider this, my sisters and brothers, as a limitation of freedom. The School's leadership must also have its freedom and be able to recognize who belongs to the School and who does not, just as each one is free to decide whether to belong to the School or not. So, a free, ideal-spiritual contract, so to speak, between each member of the School and the leadership must be agreed upon. In no other way could esoteric development be called healthy, especially not one which is worthy of the fact that this Esoteric School exists under the direct force of the Michael impulse itself.
Conscientious care of the mantric verses so that they do not fall into unauthorized hands is the first requisite; but also, to really be a worthy representative of the anthroposophical cause.
I only need to mention a few things to show how little the anthroposophical movement is still grasped with complete earnestness. It has happened that members of the School have reserved their seats by placing on them the blue membership certificates, which gives them the right to participate in the School.  It has happened in the Anthroposophical Society that whole piles of the News Sheets, only intended for members, have been found on the trolley cars that run from Dornach to Basel. And I could add many other examples to this list. And amazing things happen as a result of this lack of earnestness. Even with things that in everyday life are taken seriously, at the moment when those within the anthroposophical movement are expected to do so, they do not take them seriously.
These are things which must be considered in connection with the firm structure that this School must have. Therefore, these things must be said, because if they are not observed, one cannot worthily receive what is given here in the School as revelations from the spiritual world. At the end of each lesson, your attention is expressly drawn to the fact that the being of Michael is present while the revelations from the spiritual world are given, and are confirmed by Michael's sign and seal.
All these things must live in the members' hearts. And worthiness, profound worthiness must reign in all that is bound even in thought to the School. For only in this way what today is to be carried through the world as an esoteric stream can live. And that includes the duties incumbent on each individual.
The mantric verses written here on the blackboard can only be possessed, in the strictest sense of the word, by those who have the right to be present. And if a member of the School is unable to attend a lesson during which mantric verses are given, another member, who has the verses, may give them to him; but it must be for each individual case, that is, for each person to whom the verses are to be given, that permission must be requested, either from Dr. Wegman or from me. Once permission is granted in respect to a person, it remains valid. But permission must again be requested for each other individual. This is not an administrative rule, it is an occult rule that must be strictly adhered to. For every act of the School must be connected to the School's leadership: and that begins with having to request permission from the School's leadership for acts having to do with the School. Not the one who is to receive the mantras may ask, but only the one who is to give them, using the modality that I have just described. If someone takes notes on what is said here, except for the mantras, he is obliged to keep them for only one week, and then to burn them.
All these things are not arbitrary rules, but they relate to the occult fact that esoteric matters are only effective if they are embraced by the School members' attitude. The mantras lose their effectiveness if they fall into the wrong hands. And it is a rule so firmly inscribed in the cosmic order, that the following once happened and a whole group of mantras, which had been in effect within the anthroposophical movement, have been rendered ineffective.
I was able to give mantric verses to a number of people; I also gave them to a certain person, who had a friend. The friend was somewhat clairvoyant. And it happened that while the two friends were sleeping in the same room, the clairvoyant friend, when the other one merely repeated the mantra in thought, surreptitiously copied it and then did mischief with it by giving it to others as coming from himself. It was necessary to look into the matter, which revealed why the mantra became ineffective for all those who possessed it.
Therefore, my dear sisters and brothers, you must not take these things lightly, for esoteric rules are strict; and when someone has made such an error, he should not excuse himself by claiming that he was unable to avoid it. Of course, if someone runs through a mantra in his mind, and someone else copies it clairvoyantly, he certainly can do nothing about it. Nevertheless, the rules are applied with an iron necessity. 
I mention this so that you can see how little arbitrariness is involved, and how these things are being read from the spiritual world and that the practices of the spiritual world apply. Nothing is arbitrary in what occurs in a rightly existing esoteric school. And the earnestness from this esoteric school should stream out to the whole anthroposophical movement. For only then will this School be what it should be for the anthroposophical movement. But when something is done which only springs from personal motives and then it is pretended that it is because of devotion to the anthroposophical movement - well, I don't mean to say that it should not happen, because obviously, people today must be personal - but then it is also necessary that truth lives in what is personal, that for instance if someone comes here to Dornach for personal pleasure he should admit it and not pretend otherwise. There's nothing wrong with coming to Dornach for personal pleasure, in fact it is good. But one should admit it and not sidestep it by declaring pure dedication to spiritual life.
I mention this; I could just as well mention another example, which is more real, for it is really the case that when most of our friends come to Dornach, a will to sacrifice is involved, and that only in the least of cases is untruthfulness involved. But I've chosen this example because it is the least applicable and thus the least harmful. If I had mentioned other examples, what I would like to have as a calm prevailing mood in the hearts and souls of all who are sitting here now could not exist in the necessary degree.
After that introduction, I would like to start with the verse that is the beginning and end of Michael's proclamation to all unbiased human beings, and which contains what all entities in the world are saying, if one listens to them with the soul. For from all that lives in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, what sparkles down from the stars, what acts into our souls from the domains of the hierarchies, from all that crawls under and on the earth as worm-life, from what speaks in rocks and springs and fields and thunder and clouds and lightning; all these spoke to unbiased human beings in the past, speak at the present and will speak in the future:
O man, know thyself!
The previous lesson ended, my dear sisters and brothers, with the Guardian of the Threshold giving the last admonitions before one passes over the yawning abyss of being; the Guardian of the Threshold spoke the weighty, moving words:
Our souls and hearts have been exposed to the important, weighty, meaningful words spoken by the Guardian of the Threshold on behalf of Michael. And everything he said was to prepare us for the attitude we must have when we come over after the gate has been opened - over the yawning abyss of being, where one does not come walking with earthly feet, where one flies with the spiritual wings that grow when the soul is imbued with a spiritual attitude, with spiritual love, with spiritual feeling.
And now, now, my dear sisters and brothers, will be described what the human being experiences when he stands on the other side of the yawning abyss of being. The Guardian of the Threshold indicates to him: turn around and look back! Until now you have been looking at what appeared to you as black, night-cloaked gloom, about which you had to say that it will become inner light and will illumine your own Self. With the last admonitions — the Guardian of the Threshold says — I let it become lighter, at first most gently. You feel now the first light around you. But turn around, look back!
And now, when he who has crossed over the yawning abyss of being and turns around and looks back, he sees himself as an earthly human being, what he is during his physical incarnation, over there in the part of his being that he has left behind and which now lies in the earthly sphere. He observes his own human self there. He has embodied himself in spiritual being with his spirit-soul. The earthly environment is over there now. He stands there in the region, in which we first were with all our humanity, where we saw what crawls beneath and flies above, where we saw the sparkling stars, the warmth-giving sun, where we saw what lives in the wind and weather, and where, knowing that despite all its majesty, how the sun blazes and illumines, despite all the beauty and greatness accessible to the senses, we said to ourselves: our own humanity is not here; we must seek it on the other side of the yawning abyss of being, in what seems at first, to the senses, to be black, night-cloaked gloom.
The Guardian of the Threshold has shown, by the three beasts, what we actually are. Now will be described how in the gloom that is beginning to be light, we should begin to look back on what we as humans are in the sensory world, together with what was our only world in sensory earthly existence.
And now the Guardian of the Threshold points directly back there to the earthly man, which we ourselves also are during earthly existence, and to which we must continually return, into which we must always penetrate when we leave the spiritual world and return to our earthly duty. For we may not become dreamers and go into raptures, we must return completely to earth life. Therefore the Guardian of the Threshold directs us to look at the person who stands over there, who we ourselves are, in a way that at first draws our attention to what this person is. [An outline of a human being is drawn on the blackboard.]
He knows that he perceives the outer world through the senses, which are mostly situated in the head, and that he perceives his thinking through the impulse of the head.
But the Guardian of the Threshold now says: Look into this head. It is like looking into a dark cell, for you do not see the creative light within it. The truth is that what you had as thinking over there in the sensory world is mere seeming, mere images, not much more than mirror-images.
The Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us to be very aware of this, but also to be aware that what is only appearance in earthly thinking is the corpse - as we have heard in previous lessons - of a living thinking in which we were immersed in the soul-spiritual world before we descended to this earthly life. There thinking lived! Now thinking rests as dead thinking, as seeming thinking in the coffin of our bodies. And all the thinking we use in the sensory world is dead thinking. It was alive before we descended.
And what has this thinking accomplished? It has created everything that is within the head, within this dark cell - as it appears to the senses - that is light-creating essence. The brain, which rests within as thinking's support, has been created by living thinking. [The interior of the head, yellow, is drawn on the blackboard.] It is living thinking that creates the support for our earthly semblance of thinking.
Observe the brain's convolutions, observe what you carry within the dark cell that enables you to think, my sisters and brothers, observe the semblance of thinking in the dark cell, then you will find in what is felt above as thinking [drawing: red arrows] from out of which streams the force of will into thinking, so that each thought is streamed through with will. How the will streams into thinking can be sensed.
And now we look back from the other side of the threshold at how that other person, who we ourselves are, has waves of will streaming out of his body into the head, which create the will, and finally, when we follow them back to the turning points of time which lead to our previous incarnations, how they create the waves of thought from worlds past into our present incarnation and form our heads, all of which makes the semblance of thinking in this incarnation possible.
Therefore, we must be strong, the Guardian of the Threshold tells us, and imagine dead thinking being cast out into the cosmic nothingness, for it is only seeming. And the willing that then arises we should consider as what comes over from previous incarnations and interweaves and works, making us thinkers. Within [drawing: yellow] are the creating cosmic thoughts. These creating cosmic thoughts enable us to have human thoughts.
Therefore, the first words the Guardian of the Threshold speaks after he has let us cross the threshold, and after he has announced that the gate has opened, that we can become true human beings, the first words he speaks are:
See behind thinking's sensory light,
The first words we hear on the other side, as we look back at the figure, which we ourselves are:
[The first mantra is written on the blackboard, together with a heading. Blackboard writing is always in italics.]
The Guardian is heard in the brightening darkness:
See behind thinking's sensory light,
And then the Guardian of the Threshold adds - and one must strain to hear him: Now imagine that you are observing that figure on the other side who you yourself are; you turn around again and look into the darkness and try with all your inner imaginative force of remembrance - as one does when retaining a physical after-image in the eye. Try with all your strength to draw before you something like a gray outline of what you saw over there, but avoid drawing anything except the outline of the figure. [It is drawn.]
Then, if one succeeds in seeing this gray outline of a figure, behind it appears an image of the moon [a sickle moon, yellow, is drawn], the gray figure before it.
If one is able to keep inner calm, one sees the moon in the distance. The gray figure outline is also there, but it is active in us. And if we practice this over and over, we feel we have arrived at the spiritual figure of the head that we had over there, not the physical human figure, but at the spiritual figure of the head that we had over there, if we can feel what karma brings to us from previous earthly incarnations. [yellow arrow at the right of the sickle moon.]
Therefore, you should meditate on this picture that I have drawn here, the sickle moon with this arrow; let the mantra unfold, with this picture as the marker for the gradual familiarization with what forcefully comes over from previous earthly existences.
And secondly, the Guardian of the Threshold points with a stronger gesture to what feeling is to the person over there, who we ourselves are, and he admonishes that we are to see this feeling as a dim dream. In fact, we see feeling - which makes the person over there more real than thinking, for thinking is illusion, whereas feeling is half reality - we see the person's feeling enfold in numerous dream-pictures during the day. We learn by observing it that feeling, for the spirit and in the spirit, is dreaming.
But what kind of dreaming is feeling? In this feeling, not only the individual dreams, but within it the whole surrounding world dreams. Our thinking is our own. That's why it's illusion. The world lives in our feeling. The world's existence is within it.
Now we must achieve, to the extent possible, tranquility of heart, the Guardian warns, so that we can extinguish what lives and interweaves as feeling in the dream-pictures, just as dreams are extinguished in deep sleep. Then we can reach the truth of feeling, and we can see human feeling interwoven with the cosmic life that is present in spirit in all our surroundings. And then the real spiritual human being appears to us, who in his body lives at first in his half-existence. The human being appears to us from out of sleeping feeling. We feel ourselves to be on the other side of the threshold, on the other side of the yawning abyss of being, for feeling has fallen asleep and the cosmic creative powers, which live in feeling, have appeared around us.
See in feeling's weaving in the soul,
[This second part is written on the blackboard.]
(Before it was “behind”, here it is “in”; all the words in a mantric verse are important.)
feeling's weaving in the soul,
(Before it was “thinking”, here “feeling”; there “sensory light”, here “weaving in the soul”; “weaving” is much more real than merely semblance of light.)
[In the first part “thinking” and “sensory light”, and in the second part “feeling's” are underlined.
How in sleep's dim-like dawning
(There it was “Willing arises from the body's depths;”, here “Life streams in from cosmic distance;”)
[In the third line of the first part “Willing” is underlined, and in the second part “Life”.]
Let in sleep through tranquil heart
It is enhanced: Here [in the first part] it involved letting flow through the soul's force; here [in the second part] one must waft away human feeling. [the word “waft” is underlined.]
And cosmic life spiritualizes
— here [in the first part] it was the willing that is still in the human being; here it is cosmic
As the human being's power.
— the enhancement relative to cosmic thought's creation. —
[In the first part “cosmic thought´s creation” and in the second part “human being's power” are underlined.]
The Guardian of the Threshold indicates to us that we should look back once again at the gray figure that stands over there, which we are ourselves in earthly life, but this time after having turned away, in our minds we turn it around in a circle. We will find, when we rotate the figure, that the sun appears behind it and rotates with it. [It is drawn - left, red]. And we will realize that at the moment we are brought into physical existence from the spiritual world, our etheric body has been compressed from the cosmic ether. Therefore, just as the first verse belongs to this [the drawing of the gray figure and the first verse are numbered “I”], this second verse belongs to this. [The drawing of the red rotating form and the second verse are numbered “II”.]
Then the Guardian of the Threshold refers us to our will, which is active in our limbs. And he strongly draws our attention to the fact that whatever relates to the will is in a sleeping state, even when we are awake. He explains how as the thought works downward - I explained it last time, so may say it now -, how as the thought carries warmth downward into our limbs' movement so that it becomes will: this becomes clear in spiritual cognition and spiritual seeing. Normal consciousness hides this when we are sleeping, as it hides life in general during sleep. Now we should observe the will in the limbs as though sunken in deep sleep. The will is asleep. The limbs are asleep. We should see this as a firm mental image. Then, when it is firm, we realize how thinking, the source of willing in earthly man, sinks down into the limbs. Then it becomes light in him. The will becomes bright. It wakes up. When we first see it in its sleeping state, we find that it wakes up when thinking sinks downward and light from below streams upward, which is the force of gravity. Feel the force of gravity in your legs and arms when you let them relax: that is what streams upward, and which meets with the downward streaming thinking. We observe human will transformed into its reality and thinking appearing as what ignites the will in man in an enchanting, magical way. That is the truly magical effect of thinking on the will. It is magic. Now we become aware of it. The Guardian of the Threshold says:
See above the bodily effects of will,
[This third verse, with underlining, is written on the blackboard.]
See above the bodily effects of will,How into sleeping fields of activity Thinking sinks down from head forces; Let through the soul's vision of light human will transform itself; And thinking, it appears As the magical essence of will.
Now we imagine that the Guardian of the Threshold again points to the person over there, who we are ourselves, telling us to look and retain the picture, but not to turn around, but to let this picture sink below the surface of the earth beneath where the figure is standing. We look over there. There stands the one who we ourselves are. We make the picture and develop the strong force to look below, as though a lake were there and we were looking at this image as now being within the earth, but not as a mirror-image, but as an upright figure. [Draws.]
We imagine this picture: the earth [A white arc is drawn.] belonging to the third verse [This drawing and the third verse are given the number III.] We imagine: how the earth's gravitational forces rise, how the gravitational forces illuminate the limbs, feet and arms [white arrows]. In later observation, we acquire an idea of how gods and humans cooperate between death and a new birth to arrange karma.
That is what the Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us about when he speaks to us for the first time after we have crossed over the yawning abyss of being.
See behind thinking's sensory light,
The circle always closes. We are looking again at the starting point, listening to all the beings and all the processes of the world:
O man, know thyself!
By this affirmation, Michael is present in this, his rightfully existing School. His presence is confirmed by his sign, which should loom over everything given in this School:
It is confirmed by his seal, that he has impressed on the esoteric striving of the Rosicrucian School, and which lives on symbolically in the threefold verse:
Ex deo nascimur
In Christo morimur
Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus
And as Michael impresses his seal, the first sentence is spoken with this gesture:
[draws: Image 1, the lower seal gesture, yellow]
The second sentence with this gesture:
[draws: Image 1, the middle seal gesture, yellow]
The third sentence with this gesture:
[draws: Image 1, the upper seal gesture]
The first gesture means:
I esteem the Father
It lives mutely as we say: “Ex deo nascimur”.
[lower seal gesture]
The second gesture means:
I love the Son
It lives mutely as we say: “In Christo morimur”.
[middle seal gesture]
The third gesture means:
I unite with the Spirit
It lives mutely in the Sign, which is Michael's Seal, as we speak: “Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus”.
[upper seal gesture]
Thus, today's Michael affirmation is confirmed by means of his Sign and Seals:
[spoken with the seal gestures:]
Ex deo nascimur
In Christo morimur
Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus.