Esoterics' progress is hindered because they think that the experiences they should have are much more tumultuous than they are. Whereas it's mainly a matter of paying attention to very subtle happenings. Imagine going into a forest on a quiet evening. One would hear the slightest sound — the falling of leaves, a sled's approach, etc. And now imagine a big city. One wouldn't hear them in its noisy streets, yet all of these slight, fine sounds would also be present there.
I often hear the complaint: I can't free myself of the many images and thoughts that arise when I'm meditating. But one can definitely look upon this as progress in meditation. For as the astral body and ego loosen their connection with the physical and etheric bodies during meditation, an esoteric is enabled to objectify his other human being, as it were. He should take a close look at his soul and spiritual part that weaves and works there without his help.
Lucifer's temptation approaches an esoteric from within and that of Ahriman from outside. An example: Say that one is living in a moral and quiet family, but that there are people in the adjacent apartment who read and tell each other a lot of tall tales. Even if one did not hear any of this with one's physical ears it nevertheless becomes imprinted on one's etheric body and then appears during meditation. Another example: One happens to see a dog being run over. Yelping and whimpering can arise in one's own body and continue to work after one experiences such an accident. Or a whole witches' sabbath can arise during meditation out of other connections. The meditator shouldn't despair about this but should be glad, since he can have an inkling of the connection, and thereby learns to look at himself ever more objectively and at everything that worked upon him previously.
It's like a palpation of one's whole body during meditation. Painful feelings will arise here and there as a result of egoism and other things. In this probing one begins above the head and goes down the whole body, one small part at a time.
If one starts from symptoms one will learn to draw conclusions about previous experiences. Thus an inflammation of the middle ear permits one to infer the strangest impressions that were made upon the etheric body through the fact that one heard tall tales as a child without full consciousness, but which had a very vivid effect nevertheless. If someone falls asleep in theosophic talks or similar events, then what he heard continues to work in his etheric body, and this especially if he feels pangs of conscience or if he reproaches himself for having gone to sleep; this often works very strongly in the subconsciousness.
If one reproaches oneself for still being so bad because ugly images repeatedly arise during inner concentration and meditation we can be comforted by the Gospel word: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.