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Origin and Destination of Humanity
GA 53

IX. On the Inner Life

15 December 1904, Berlin

In the talks on the basic concepts of theosophy I have allowed to myself to outline a picture of the nature of the human being and the so-called three worlds: the physical world, the soul-world and the spiritual world. It will be my task after New Year to develop the most important theosophical insights about the origin of the human being, about the origin of the earth and the heavenly bodies generally. With it the big outlook presents itself for the theosophical world-picture.

Today, however, I would like to make some remarks how the inner development of the human being has to take place if he himself wants to get to a conviction of the matters that the theosophical world view announces. But I ask you to take into consideration that a big difference has to be made between that development of the human soul and the human mind which enables someone to understand what the theosophist announces as his truth, his knowledge and experience, and a second level. A higher level is only that which enables someone to get to such insights and experiences. I would like to say that one must make a distinction between an elementary level of the development which leads so far that one becomes able to say to that what the experienced mystic says: I understand, I can mull over it in myself, I can empathise and accept it as truth within certain limits and a higher level with which one is enabled to make experiences in the soul-world or the spirit-land. Today the first level should occupy us. The second level concerns the real clairvoyance, and as far as generally remarks can be publicly made about this real clairvoyance, it occupies us in a later lecture.

So, how one gets to a kind of own understanding of the theosophical truth, this is the question which occupies us today. Do not believe that I can give more than only few remarks; for that education which the human soul and the human mind have to go through in order to get to that understanding to some extent is an encompassing one. It requires a long, long time of an internal study, and, needless to say, all necessary details cannot even be touched in the course of a short lecture. What I am able to say to you is related to that what the personal lessons give in this field like the instruction how to use a microscope or a telescope which you can receive in the laboratory or on the observatory.

For the time being, I want to note that for most people real lessons in this field can only be attained by a personal teacher. It may appear to somebody, as if the human being could get it by own attempts to develop internal abilities, soul forces, spiritual view with himself and it may seem deplorable that in this important field of life personal instructions should be necessary. Only the way how such an instruction is gives a sufficient guarantee that the human being can get by no means to an anyhow natured dependence on another. The esoteric teacher appreciates and honours nothing more than human dignity and self-esteem. Someone who teaches mystic and theosophical development gives nothing else than advice, and the loftiest teachers in these fields gave nothing else than advice and instructions, and it is completely up to the discretion of the human being to what extent he wants to obey them or not. It depends on the human being himself which task he sets to his own soul and mind; the appreciation of the human freedom is so strong that by the teachers nothing else is given than advice and instructions. With this reservation everything must be understood that can be said anyhow in this field.

The most important education in this field does not consist in particular external measures but in a quite intimate development of the human soul. All important levels of this development take place in the deepest inside of the human being. The human being is transformed, and nobody, not even the most intimate friend, needs to notice anything of it. Thus the mystic develops in rest and seclusion, thus somebody develops who wants to get to the understanding of the worlds of soul and spirit. Nobody this must be emphasised again and again needs to change his everyday profession, needs to neglect his everyday duties even in the slightest or to take away any time from them if he devotes himself to an internal mystic education. On the contrary, someone, who believes to be supposed to use a special time to his mystic education who neglects his duties and, hence, becomes a bad citizen, a bad member of the human society because he tries to get a general idea of the higher worlds, soon convinces himself that the least is achieved in such a kind in this field.

This inner development takes place not tumultuously but calmly, in completely internal rest. And I definitely mention today that I give no “particular” instructions, but only a description of such a way whose observance, however, demands one thing from the human being, and this one is at the same time that without which never own higher experience is attained: this is patience. Who does not have steadfastness and patience, who cannot endure and cannot obey the internal rules again and again calmly achieves nothing at all as a rule. There is only one possibility by which somebody can achieve something without observance of these rules. Then, however, one has advanced very far in the development of the human being. This is the case if one was in former lives already on a certain level of clairvoyance; then the way is much shorter and completely different. The teacher, who has to give the concerning instructions, soon knows that and he has only to eliminate the corresponding obstacles towering as an embankment there.

Therefore, it is no good idea as a rule to seek for a mystic development without personal instructions because almost for every human being the right way of this development is different, and because someone who gives the instructions must know his pupil exactly not in the usual sense of the word, but in the spiritual sense of the word. However, the esoteric teacher needs to know nothing about profession, life-style, members of the family or experiences of the pupil; he needs to obtain an intimate knowledge of his soul and mind and the corresponding level of them. The way how the esoteric teacher gets this cannot yet told today but in the talks on clairvoyance. Moreover, the internal development is linked with particular results for every person. Who starts his path must be clear in his mind that in his being particular qualities will appear. These qualities are symptoms of the internal development. They are, so to speak, evidence of this internal development, and they must be observed carefully. The esoteric teacher must know how he has to interpret these symptoms. Then only the development can take place in the right way.

The development of the inner human being is a birth, the birth of soul and mind. This is not meant figuratively, but in the true sense of the word as a fact. And a birth in this field is not without results, and one must know to treat these as an esoteric teacher. I had to say that first.

Now you will approximately be able to put the questions to yourselves which are normally put as first if one hears of the basic teachings of theosophy, of the teaching that the human soul was embodied already often, returns often, of the teaching of reincarnation and of the balancing justice, of karma.

You will ask how one can understand this. This is the big question which approaches every human being. There is a golden rule which one has to obey; then everybody gets to this understanding once. This is a common experience of those who have really undergone the concerning exercises. There is no human being who cannot obtain this understanding of reincarnation and karma in the easiest way. However, one would like to say with Goethe: “it's easy, to be sure, but easy tasks take effort” (Faust II). For few people find the right decision, the steadfastness and the patience to acquire particular processes of soul and mind that are necessary for this understanding. This golden rule is: live in such a way, as if reincarnation and karma were truth; then they become truth for you. It seems as if this has to be attained by self-suggestion. But this is not the case. You know the mystic symbol of the snake biting its own tail. This symbol has different profound meanings; one of them expresses itself in this golden rule.

You see that the precondition gets intertwined in certain way like the coiling snake does it. How is one able to do this? If reincarnation is a truth, it may not be vain that certain human efforts have an effect on the human soul, and these effects must later become nature. One of the big laws which the human being establishes and has to test intimately with himself is expressed in an Indian writing with the words: what you think today you become that tomorrow.

Who believes in reincarnation has to realise that a quality which he develops within himself, a thought which he memorises bearing it again and again, becomes something permanent in his soul and has to appear in this soul time and again. Above all one who looks for a mystic development makes the attempt with himself to give up inclinations he had before, to get new inclinations only by the fact that he looks after the thought intimately and connects it with this inclination, virtue or quality and incorporates it into himself, so that he is thereby able to transform his soul by his own will. This has to be attempted exactly as a chemical experiment has to be attempted. Who has never tried to transform his soul, who has never come to the first decision to develop the qualities of perseverance, steadfastness, and of the calm logical reflection and has never remained firm and if he does not succeed in a week, then he has to use a month, a year, or a decade-, such a human being can recognise nothing of this truth with himself.

This is the intimate way the soul has to go. It must be able to incorporate qualities, thoughts, and inclinations. The human being must be able to appear in the course of a certain time with whole new habits by his will-power. The human being who was careless before must have got the habit of being precise and exact, not by external coercion, but by his own will. If this happens with minor qualities, with minor things, then it is particularly effective. The clearer the things are which he recognises with himself, the more surely he gets to true knowledge in this field. As soon as he is able to objectively observe a movement of the own hand, a facial expression, an unimportant habit with himself at first, as if he observed it with a fellow man, then he can incorporate something that he wants only by his will-power instead of the habit, of the inclination et etcetera. Someone who does this is on the way of understanding the big law of reincarnation. Just as an experienced chemist can give instructions about the processes in the laboratory, someone can also give you such instructions which he has attempted. The highest is achieved by minor changes.

Now, we deal with karma, the big law of fair balance. We get to know it if we live in such a way, as if karma were a truth. If you are hit by any accident, by pain or anything like that, try once to have the idea again and again: this pain, this accident stands there not like a miracle in the world, but must have a cause. You do not need to investigate the cause. Only someone who can overview karma can really recognise the cause of a stroke of luck, of pain et etcetera. But you must have a mere feeling to devote yourselves to it and to feel that such an action, such a pain or such a joy must have a cause, and that it must be a cause of future events. Who penetrates himself with this sensation and considers his life and that which overwhelms him from without in such a way, as if karma were a truth, will see that it becomes comprehensible to him. Someone attains the knowledge of karma who is not angry if anything happens to him, but is able to stop the annoyance and imagines that just as a stone gets rolling if it is pushed and is detached according to a necessary principle in the world that that which annoyed him must have a necessary cause. As certainly as you wake up tomorrow morning if all circumstances remain as they are and you keep well and fit, as certainly you get to the understanding of karma looking at life in this sense.

These are two preconditions for somebody who wants to experience a spiritual education. These are two preconditions for every pupil that he considers life this way. He does not need to devote himself to the thoughts immediately in such a way, as if they were truth. He has to leave it open: maybe they are true, maybe they are not. He should have neither doubt nor superstition, because these are the most important obstacles. If anybody is qualified to observe life in this sense, then he is qualified, actually, only to receive mystic lessons. And still a third thing is necessary.

No esoteric teacher gets involved in teaching a human being who is inspired by superstition, by the prejudice of the crudest kind or is inclined to judge without reason or devotes himself to any illusion. This is the golden rule that before the human being wants to attain the first level he has to attempt to free himself from any aimlessly wandering thought, from any superstition and any possibility which could take illusion for reality. Above all the esoteric pupil has to be a reasonable person who devotes himself only to the strict sequence of his thoughts and observations. If you devote yourselves in the sensuous reality to a prejudice, a superstition, it is soon corrected in the sensuous reality. If the human being does not think logically, but fantasises, then the correction is not so easy. Hence, it is necessary, before you enter the soul-world and the spirit-land, to be absolutely certain in your thought-life and to be able to practise strict control of your thoughts. Who is easily inclined to speculative fiction, superstition and illusions is not qualified to enter the nursery school of spiritual science. One may easily reply: I am free from speculative fiction, superstition and illusion. One is easily mistaken about this. Absence of any prejudice, speculative fiction and illusion, and absence of superstition, these are the matters which must be acquired by strict self-discipline; these are matters which are not to be got so easily by any individual human being. Imagine how most people have aimlessly wandering thoughts and are not able to strictly control their thoughts by their own will-power.

Now we consider life. You cannot free yourselves completely from the external impressions. Hence, it is necessary to select a short time every day. The short time suffices which is necessary without interfering with your duties even if these are five minutes, still less, they suffice. But then the human being must be able to tear out himself from all that the sensory impressions offered to him that he has taken up with his eyes, with his ears, with his sense of touch. He has to become blind and deaf toward his whole surroundings for a while. Everything that pours in us from without connects us with the sensuous, with the everyday life. This must be silent for a while. An entire internal rest must take place. If this internal rest, this removing of all sensory impressions has taken place, then all recollection of previous sensory impressions must be quiet. Consider once how the human being is always connected with everything temporal and spatial that I have mentioned, with that which comes into being and goes by. Try once to test this for a little while. Take the thought which passed your head one minute ago and test whether it does not contain anything transient. Such thoughts are good for nothing for the internal development.

All thoughts which connect us with the limited, with the passing must be silent. If this rest is produced in the soul if that which surrounds us as age, century, people et etcetera is removed, if the internal silence has taken place for a while, then the soul begins speaking by itself. Not immediately; but it is necessary that the human being gets it to speak first of all. There are means and instructions which engender this inner language of the soul.

The human being has to dedicate himself to such thoughts, ideas and sensations which are not descended from the temporal, but from the eternal which have not been true only today, yesterday and tomorrow, not only a century ago but are always true. You find such thoughts in the most different religious books of all peoples. You find them, for example, in the Bhagavad Gita, the song of the human perfectioning. Also in the New and in the Old Testament, in particular in John's Gospel from the thirteenth chapter on. You have such thoughts, which are especially effective for human beings who belong to the theosophical movement and are given to them in the little book Light on the Path, also in the first four sentences of this book.

These four movements, which are engraved on the internal walls of any initiation temple, these four sayings do not depend on time and space; they do not belong to any human being, any family, any century, any generation; they extend to the whole development. They were true before millennia and are true after millennia. They wake the slumbering forces and get them out from the inside. Indeed, this must be made correctly. It does not suffice that one thinks to understand the sentence. The human being has to make such a sentence revive in his inside. He must allow radiating the whole force of such a sentence in his inside, he has to dedicate himself completely to it. He must learn to love such a sentence. If he believes to understand it, then only the right point in time has come to let light up it again and again in him. It does not depend on the intellectual understanding, but on the love of the spiritual truth. The more the love of such internal truth penetrates us, the more force of the inner beholding arises to us. Such a sentence must occupy us not for one or two days, but for weeks, for months and for years; then such soul-forces awake in us. Then there comes a particular moment when still another illumination happens.

Who announces theosophical truths by own experience knows this inner contemplative life. He announces theosophical truths to you today, tomorrow. They are part of a big theosophical world picture which he beholds with the internal force of his mind and soul. He turns the look into the soul-world and the spirit-land; he turns the look away from the earth to the solar systems investigating them. But this force would soon expire in him unless he gave it new nourishment every morning. This is the secret of the esoteric researcher. The big picture of the world and humanity, which he has let his soul penetrate hundred upon hundred times, penetrates his soul every morning again. It does not matter that he understands all that, but that he learns to love it more and more; that he ministers every morning looking up in devotion to the great spirits. He has learnt to overview the whole picture in few minutes. Gratitude runs through him for that which it has given to his soul. Without this path of devotion one does not get to clearness. However, from this clearness he has to coin his words. If this is the case, he is only destined to really speak about the truth of mysticism, to speak about the truth of theosophy and spiritual science. The spiritual researcher does it that way, and everybody has to do it that way, and begin in the simplest, most elementary way until he gets to the understanding of these teachings. The human being and the cosmic beings are profound, infinitely profound. You achieve anything in this field only with patience, endurance and love of the world powers. These are forces that are powerful in the inner world like electricity is in the external world. They are not only moral forces, but also forces of knowledge. If the pupil allowed such truths to live in him for a while, if he has exercised and accepted them in gratitude toward those who revealed them to him, then a moment comes, which happens for everybody once who allowed rest and calmness to develop. This is the moment when the own soul starts speaking when the own inside starts beholding the big eternal truths. Then the world is suddenly illuminated round him with colours he has not seen before. Something becomes audible for him that he never heard sounding before. The world gleams in a new light; new sounds and words become perceptible. This new light and this lustre shine to him from the soul-world, and the new sounds which he hears come up to him from the spirit-land. One sees the soul-world, one hears the spirit-land. This is a feature of these worlds.

If you yourselves want to look for the development in this field, the observance of many single rules belongs to it because only in general lines I could indicate how such a thing takes place, how you get to know it. These single rules should be strictly observed as the chemist must weigh and measure the smallest substances with the subtlest instruments which he needs for a compound. You find a description of those rules which can be given publicly in my writing How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? These rules are special instructions how you have to go this way. They also demand the most intimate patience and endurance. These rules were never published before. Realise that the esoteric lessons have been given only in secret schools, and also today they are given only in secret schools because they are intimate going from person to person.

It does not help to look for instruction by special things, which you read or hear as fragments, and to try them independently. That is useless to you as a rule. All instructions you can receive from the most different sides there are almost shops which recommend such instructions! are nothing else than small fragments of the big book of the esoteric education. Who uses them has to realise that he gives himself up to certain dangers. It is not advisable to the single person to let these things approach him by economic activity, things which refer to the internal transformation of the soul, which refer to the greatest, to the most significant of the soul.

All that approaches you in this field by recommending for money is not only worthless but also dangerous in this case. This must be said because today so much approaches the human being in this field. Those rules, which are given in How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds?, are descended from ancient traditions Because it is necessary today to give a picture of truth compared with the things which press forward from all sides to the human beings, because it is necessary compared with these instructions to give a picture of truth once. Therefore, the masters of wisdom gave the permission to publish such rules. There is only the possibility to publish a bit; everything else must be excluded. The most important can be told only from mouth to ear.

What you find in How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? is harmless in contrast to a lot of other instructions. Only such things have been informed which do not harm to the human being even if they are not carried out with patience and steadfastness. Even if they are not carried out with steadfastness, they cannot do harm. Nobody can suffer damage from them. This had to be said because I have been asked how it is that recently a sum of such rules have been informed. It depends whether you have organs for the soul-world to become conscious in the soul-world like for the sensuous world. As you have eyes and ears in the body, you must have organs in your soul and spirit to be able to perceive the soul-lights and the spirit-sounds. Who is experienced in this field and is able to see sees these organs developing in the aura of anybody enclosed like in a cloud of light who is engaged in internal development. With undeveloped people the aura is formed cloud-like.

If the human being sleeps, it hovers above the physical body because the astral body separates from the physical body. Then it is visible like two spirals curled into each other like nebulous rings. They coil themselves into each other that way to disappear in further spirals in the uncertain. Such two interwoven rings form the aura with the sleeping. If the human being experiences an esoteric development, the aura becomes more and more distinct. The ends of the spirals disappear going to the indefinite, and both spiral formations fitted into each other organise themselves. More and more they become a particular, enclosed structure, and then they show certain organs which appear in this aura, and which one calls chakras. These are the senses of the soul which are developed. This development takes place under no other circumstances. The structures are tender, they must be nurtured. Who refrains from this will never really be able to enjoy a mental view. This soul-eye must be nurtured by the human being suppressing all negative sensations and feelings within him. The chakras cannot come out if the human being becomes angry at every opportunity. He must stay equanimous, he must have patience. Annoyance and rage do not let the soul organ come out; also hastiness and nervousness do not let them develop.

It is also necessary that the human being takes off in particular what is exceptionally hard to be taken off in our civilisation, namely the desire to perpetually find out the newest. This has a big influence on the soul-eye. Who cannot grasp fast enough at the newspaper, and if he has found out anything must immediately inform another, who cannot keep to himself what he hears and sees and who cannot suppress the desire cannot get to the development of his soul. It is also necessary that the human being learns a particular way of judging the fellow men. This is hard to achieve: absence of criticism. Understanding is necessary instead of criticism. If you immediately confront your own opinion with that of your fellow man, it suppresses the soul development. We must listen to the other first, and this listening is an exceptionally effective remedy of developing the soul-eyes, and who attains a higher level on this path has to owe it to the fact that he has stopped criticising everything, judging everything. How can we see into the soul? We are not allowed to roundly condemn the criminal, but also to understand him, understand the criminal like the saint. Understanding everybody is necessary. This is the higher, occult listening. If the human being persuades himself this way by firm will not to assess his fellow men, also not the remaining world according his personal judgement, according to his opinion and his prejudice, but to take in them silently, then he can receive occult forces. Every moment where the human being intends: now I do not think any bad thing that I wanted to think about my fellow man every such moment is a gained one.

The loftiest sage can learn from a child, and the simplest human being can say: what does the child talk to me, I know this much better! However, he can also say: what does the sage talk to me, what is it of use to me? Not until he listens to the stammering child like a revelation, he has created in himself the force that streams from the soul.

You must also not expect that the soul-eyes are there already tomorrow. Who combats rage, annoyance, curiosity et etcetera, removes obstacles at first only which lie as embankments before his soul. This must be always repeated. Always new efforts are to be done. The occultist can assess how the tender structures develop. If the human words have forgotten “wounding”, if they are no longer sharp and harsh, if they have become mild to understand the human being, then the chakra awakes in the larynx. However, the human being must practise for long time until that is perceptible to him. In the human being only an ocular point, then the first attempts developed to form a lens, and quite slowly and bit by bit the physical eye came into being in millions of years. The soul-eye does not require so long. With the one it lasts few months, with the other longer time.

You must have patience. Once the moment comes with everybody, when these tender structures can be seen and if the human being continues these exercises properly, in particular if he develops certain virtues which can develop now and again also in the life of a long-suffering human being. There are three virtues that he must still develop, and that make him almost a seer. They must only exercised in proper strength, with intensity: self-confidence with humility, self-control with mildness and presence of mind combined with steadfastness. These are the big levers developing the spiritual organs. However, these three virtues lead to gruesome negative virtues if they are not paired with three other virtues, with humility, mildness and steadfastness.

These remarks can be made. These are picked out examples how the esoteric pupil experiences them on the three levels which one calls preparation, enlightenment and initiation. In the esoteric training there are these three levels: preparation or catharsis, enlightenment and initiation. The preparation is suitable to equip the human being in such a way that the tender structures of the soul can come forth. He attains the possibility to behold in the soul-world by enlightenment, and by the initiation he attains the ability to express himself in the spirit-land. It may appear as something difficult that I have described today. Indeed, it is easy, however, it also applies to it that the easy is difficult.

Everybody can walk the esoteric path, it is closed to nobody. In the breast of every human being are the secrets. It only requires serious, internal work and the fact that the human being can free himself from all obstacles that inhibit this intimate inner life.

The most distant and biggest in the world comes to our knowledge most intimately. We must be aware of that. The greatest sages of humanity attained the great truths in the same way as I have described it to you. They attained them because they found the way in their inside, because they knew that they must practice patience and steadfastness in these performances. If the human being deepens his inside this way, if he rises from the external thoughts to the thoughts which signify eternity, then he stokes the flame up in himself that shines over the soul-worlds. If the human being develops the higher qualities of calmness, rest and peace inside and the qualities which we have mentioned, then he fans the flame, so that it will maintain. If the human being is able to be silent and no longer sends words into the world but love so that that which should be life becomes a service, then the world begins sounding to him. This is the Pythagorean music of the spheres. This is not a symbol but reality. I could make remarks about the path which leads to a narrow gate. Everybody can come to the narrow gate, and it is opened to him who does not save means and pains, and he finds what he has got to know in the great world views of humanity: the eternal and only truth and the way of life.