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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Instructions
GA 270

First Lesson

15 February 1924, Dornach

My dear friends! With this lesson, I wish to restore the School of Spiritual Science as an esoteric institution to the real task from which it has been threatening to become estranged during recent years. Today in this introductory and foundational lesson, there will be no further elaborations on the sentence just spoken, but by stating this sentence I merely want to indicate the significance of this hour, and I want to point specifically to the serious nature of our whole movement, which day by day is increasingly being jeopardized and undermined. I want to point specifically to the serious nature that must be present in our whole movement, and especially to the serious nature which must come to expression in our school. And it is this observation, by no means superfluous, because overall it has not been attended to, which will allow this serious nature to really be borne in mind from now on.

A kind of preparatory introduction will be given here today, my dear friends. And here I would like to emphasize above all, that within this school the life of the spirit should be taken up in all of its true significance, so that really, in full depth, you should consider that an institution has been constituted with the founding of this school, coming forth out of the spirit, out of the spirit of our time, which can become dedicated to what the life of the spirit can reveal. In every sphere, this life of the spirit can be deepened. But there must be a center from which this deepening occurs, and for those who wish to belong to this school as members, it should be seen now to be at the Goetheanum, in Dornach.

Therefore, I would like today to begin the school, beginning initially with this, that you should know, that every word that is spoken inside this school will be so spoken that fundamentally, the whole responsibility for each word is given over to the revealed spirit of our time, the spirit through whom for hundreds and thousands of years mankind has received revelations, although in each period of time in a particular manner. And this spirit will give to a person, just that which the person can find only through the spirit.

We must be clear from the beginning, that what one meets in the sensory world should not be considered with hostility when reviewing spiritual revelations in a school of spiritual science. We must also be clear in acknowledging, and acknowledging profoundly, that the world of the senses, as a great and essential manifestation of life itself, gives essential yet practical hints to each of us, and we must not at all be disposed to feel that what one comes upon in the world of the senses is in any way too low to be noticed.

But here it becomes important to accept the offerings of the spirit as such. Many preconceptions, much stubbornness, and much self-willing that still resides today in the members of the school must fall away. And a way must be sought for each, a way to allow one's own stubbornness and self-willing to subside, in order to reflect properly on what the school may be. For many today do not think seriously enough about this school, and this they must gradually do. And it will certainly not otherwise be possible to gradually engage in what will be revealed in the school, except really to take it seriously in all details.

This is necessary at first by the very nature of the subject matter, and on the other hand by the difficulty of the path to be traversed, in regard to the hindrances and undercurrents of resistance we will have to deal with, which from all sides are put in place every day. Even the students well along the path must continue to pay attention to such things. This all, my dear friends, must be duly considered.

What appears first before the eyes of our soul in this school will of course be part of the main substance of what can be given and received out of the spirit. The members of the school must absolutely, in the imparted presentations, in walking along the difficult paths, be expected to overcome hindrances and undermining tendencies.

I have previously dealt with what has just been discussed in the member's newsletter, What is Happening in the Anthroposophical Society, in which I specifically undertook to distinguish between the General Anthroposophical Society and this school. And it is necessary that this difference should be explicitly felt, and in a sense lived by the members of the school, so that the school can thereby really come to have, as its members, only those personalities who will really make themselves into representatives of anthroposophical endeavors in life in all particulars. I am presenting these words to you today as a paradigm, in order to point out the seriousness of the matter.

What in a manner of speaking should stand as a plaque cast in bronze over our school, I now, without further ado, would like to bring before your hearts and minds. As it develops, we will really be identified, within this school, with what is fathomed out of spiritual life and approaches the ears and perceptions of our souls. And so we begin with the words:

Where on grounds of earth,1Erdengründe is the inner experience of being on the grounds of the estate of earth. Gründe is cognate with grounds. In his lectures on the Genius of Language (GA299) Steiner emphasizes that he tries to choose words of German rather than Latin etymology, so it is grounds rather than foundations. color upon color,
Life stirring reveals itself,
Where out of stuff2Stoff is cognate with stuff in English. of earth, form on form,
All without life takes shape,
Where feeling creatures,3erfühlende Wesen clearly refers to animals, and so is translated directly as feeling creatures. strong in will,
Delight in the warm glow of their existence,
Where you yourself, O Man,4Mensch is traditionally translated as Man, although Mann is a perfectly good German word not used here. A Mensch is an adult individual responsible human being. derive
Bodily existence from earth and air and light,

There you enter your own being’s
Deep, night-bedecked, cold inner darkness.
You’d ask within the dark expanse
Never, who you are, and were, and will become.
For your true existence the day dims
To the night of the soul, to darkness of spirit
And you turn yourself, soul-searching,5sellensorgend
Unto the light, that from darknesses6Finsternissen strengthens,

I will read it once more:

Where on grounds of earth , color upon color,
Life stirring reveals itself,
Where out of stuff of earth, form on form,
All without life takes shape,
Where feeling creatures , strong in will,
Delight in the warm glow of their existence,
Where you yourself, O Man , derive
Bodily existence from earth and air and light,

There you enter your own being’s
Deep, night-bedecked, cold inner darkness.
You’d ask within the dark expanse
Never, who you are, and were, and will become.
For your true existence the day dims
To the night of the soul, to darkness of spirit
And you turn yourself, soul-searching,
Unto the light, that from darknesses strengthens,

These lines should say to us how beautiful and magnificent and immense and grandiose the world is, an unending radiance of miracles bestowed upon all of us, that wells up alive in bloom and blade and in what our eyes envelop in color upon color in the visible world around us all; it should remind us of all of these heavenly offerings, revealed in lifeless un-living earthly matter under our feet in thousands and ever more thousands of crystalline and non-crystalline forms, and in water and air, in clouds and stars; it should bring us close to all the spiritual offerings of the heavens, frolicking even as animals in the wild do, enjoying and warming themselves in their own existence. And it should call out to us in memory, how we have taken into our own bodies all that forms up there, all that color upon color grows and wanders about. But it should also bring us to the realization, how in all that is beautiful and grandiose and immense and heavenly for the senses, it is asked in vain, what we ourselves as human beings are.

The natural world may be immense and powerful in regard to whatever is revealed in lights, sounds, movements, and warmth. But in spite of giving us so much information, even about immensities and godly profundities, the natural world nevertheless gives us no information about ourselves. So, we must immediately say to ourselves, that the very thing that we feel to be our self in our inner life, is not present at all in what comes to us as beauty and dominion and greatness and power in external nature and in our own external aspects. And the question stands before our souls, why the domain of being from which we ourselves come remains dark and silent.

And it is necessary that we become ready, and not in a lighthearted way, to come to the boundary of the sensory world, to where the offerings of the spirit can be revealed. In this regard, it is necessary that we say to ourselves, that if we were to approach this boundary unprepared, at once being confronted by the full light of the spirit that we should come upon there, then, if we have not yet called up the strength of spirit and warmth of soul for the reception of the spirit, then the spirit would shatter us, and we would be thrown back into our nothingness.

For this reason, at the boundary between the sensory world and the spirit world stands he who bodes the gods, who brings spirit-premonitions, the spirit-boder,7Gesistesbote: der Bote in colloquial German is a messenger, but Geistesbote is one who bodes the spirit, who brings spirit premonitions, rather than spirit messages. Only later is he also referred to as der Hüter, who heeds, herds, guides, shepherds, and guards us from entering before we are prepared about whom we will hear more and more in the next few lessons, and whom we will become acquainted with more and more closely. There stands the bringer of spirit-premonitions, who admonishes us,8mahnend sprechen is to admonish, to speak to someone as an earnest advisor or mentor. It is a very ancient word seen in muse, mind, remind, mention, mantra, and the ancient Sanskrit manas. Negative aspects are seen in mania, automatic, dementia, and amnesia. It is urging someone to focus their mind on something, often as a sort of warning, for personal development may veer off into the slough of despond or into the heights of losing oneself, and so must be done with caution. speaking of what we should be and of what we should cast away, so that we may approach the revelations of the spirit world in the proper manner.

And as we have just begun to grasp, my dear friends, the ever-present beauty and grandeur of nature in contradistinction with the initial spiritual darkness of human awareness, out of which the light must initially be born which speaks to us of what we are and were and will be, then we must also be clear that the first thing that must be fathomed out of this darkness is specifically the bringer of spirit-premonitions, who confronts us with the corresponding admonitions. And we allow the words of this bringer of spirit-premonitions to reverberate within our souls, and we allow the characteristics of this bringer of spirit-premonitions to flash up before our inner eye.

And from darknesses clarifies itself9hellet sich is an astral activity of brightly gathering oneself up into a gestalt, and is what sheep do in forming a herd, or fish a school, or birds a flock. It is not merely an etheric strengthening activity, but an astral activity; it clarifies itself.
(Revealing you

Each person who comes to this situation is referred to here.

in counterpart,

Yet also portraying you as parable,
Earnest spirit-word in ethereal realm,
Audible to your heart, forcefully effective),10The lines in parentheses were clarified later as a Zwischensatz.
The bringer of spirit-premonitions to you,11dir der Geistesbote
He who alone can illuminate your way;
Before him spread the sensory fields,
Behind him yawns the deep abyss.

And from his fields spirit dark,
Hard by the yawning chasm of existence,
Rings forth the ancient might of his creator-word;
See, I am the only door to inner knowing.12Erkenntnis is the same as the English word to ken, to know, but with the er- prefix meaning inner knowing, and with the -nis suffix at the end turning it a second-level-conceptual word, meaning the actuality of inner knowing. Knowledge (Kenntnis) is clearly different than knowing (Erkenntnis). Just compare “I have some knowledge about what happened” to “I know what happened.”

We must be fully clear with ourselves, we must acknowledge that from all that can come before our souls from this bringer of spirit-premonitions, from all this, and as said, we will get to know him better and better in lessons to come, that from all this we must acknowledge, before we attempt to fathom it as it broadens out in spirit, not on this side in the sensory fields but rather on the other side of the yawning abyss, initially for human awareness in deep darkness, out of which simply appears the face of the bringer of spirit-premonitions, which initially appears quite similar to the person himself, for it is very much like the person but forms up in daunting vastness, forming ethereally as a sheer parable of the person, from all this we must first acknowledge his warning to us, that none may seek entry into what is on the other side of the yawning abyss without corresponding seriousness. Be in earnest warns the earnest bringer of spirit-premonitions.

And then, as we hold fast in soul to this appropriately earnest demeanor, then we should become aware of the initially gentle, very gentle and abstract terms of reference we are provided in orientation from the spiritual world beyond the abyss, which looms before us and which we come up against, in order that we not take any careless steps. The bringer of spirit-premonitions sounds forth there the following:

From the wide expanse of the beings of space
Who in the light experience existence,
From the onward tread of the course of time
Which in creating13Das Schaffen is creating, producing, legislating. finds itself expressed,
From the depths of the feeling heart,
Where in one's self the world is born anew:

There sounds in speech filled with soul,
There shines in thoughts filled with spirit,
The from godly healing forces
In world shaping powers
Welling working word of existence-awareness:14Dasein was used by Steiner 51 times in his 1894 The Philosophy of Freedom and 61 times in his 1904 Theosophy. It had been defined previously by Hegel (1770–1831) and Brentano (1838–1917), Steiner’s philosophy professor in Vienna. In Hegel's Science of Logic (§ 191) Dasein is a determinate individual being who uplifts himself in an Aufhebung of becoming, and for Brentano it is a being that contemplates its own future. Heidegger wrote about it extensively in 1927 in his opus Being and Time. “An entity which enquires about the possibilities of its own being we shall denote by the term "Dasein". In this sense we should translate Daseinswort not just as “word of existence,” but rather, “word of existence-awareness”. Otherwise, it loses all its meaning.
O Man,15O Mensch know yourself!

I will say it once again:

From the wide expanse of the beings of space
Who in the light experience existence,
From the onward tread of the course of time
Which in creating finds itself expressed,
From the depths of the feeling heart,
Where in one's self the world is born anew:

There sounds in speech filled with soul,
There shines in thoughts filled with spirit,
The from godly healing forces
In world shaping powers
Welling working word of existence-awareness:
O Man , know yourself!

With these words it can become clear to us how the secrets of existence must be fathomed out of all that weaves and works in and manifests out of the wide expanse of space, how completed works revealed in the onward march of time must be fathomed through real insight, and how all the revelations of the world of human hearts, how this world must open up for honest seeking of the soul. For all of this can alone build the foundation that a person needs, for insight into, for a thorough understanding of one's own true self, in which the world has laid the whole sum of her secrets, so that what can be found emerging from this self, as human self-insight, out of this can be found all that a person needs in days of health and in days of sickness on his path of existence between birth and death, and also what he must encounter on the other path of existence between death and a new birth.

All those, however, who feel themselves to be members of this school, should have become clear, quite clear, that all else that is not acquired in this spirit, is not real insight but rather the mere external semblance of insight, passing as science. It must be acknowledged as passing for science, prior to a person’s acquiring an awareness of spiritual insight for himself out of the admonitions of the Guardian of the Threshold;16der Hüter die Schwelle: der Hüter is someone who heeds, herds, and guides you, and so is a guardian. die Schwelle is the swelling at the top of a mountain pass that you can’t quite see beyond, or a ford or swelling of a stream-bottom, which you cannot see but which allows you to cross over. In English a threshold is the same, you enter a building over the threshold or you enter new inner territory when you cross a certain threshold of understanding. all that must be acknowledged as being merely a semblance of knowledge. It does not need to remain a semblance of knowledge, though. We do not disdain an external semblance of knowledge. But we must be clear about it, that it first emerges on the stage as semblance of knowledge, and then becomes transformed, by means of all that a person can know, specifically what a person can know about the purification of his being, about the metamorphosis of his being, which he achieves for himself when he understands what in warning the guardian spirit messenger at the yawning abyss of insight, what in warning the guardian spirit messenger, emerging from the darkness glimmering in spirit, has called out to the person, has called out in the service of the prime spirit, the prime spiritual holder of the spiritual world.

Whoever does not develop an awareness of the abyss, that between our sojourning within the fields of sensory experience, in which we must live during our time on earth, between birth and death, that between our sojourn in the fields of sensory experience and the sojourn in the fields of the spirit, that a yawning abyss prevails, whoever does not develop a proper awareness of this cannot develop genuinely effective insight. Only with this awareness can a person develop genuinely effective insight. It is not necessary to become clairvoyant, even though insights into the spiritual world come from true clairvoyance, but an awareness must be developed of those things that are at hand as guidance from the yawning abyss concerning the secrets of space, the secrets of time, and the secrets of one's own heart. For as we go out into the roomy depths the abyss looms. Also, as we go into the depths of our hearts, the abyss looms.

And these three are not three abysses. They are a single abyss. For in wandering in the wide expanses of space coming to the border at the end of all wide-open spaces, there we find the spirit, and just so in wandering the byways of time till we find the very commencement of the beginning of this cycle of time, and just so in wandering the depths of human hearts, as deep as we ourselves can fathom. These three ways lead to a single destination, to a single ultimate place, not to three different places. All three lead to the same divine-spiritual, pouring forth as if from the fountainhead of the world, pouring forth, fertilizing, nourishing all existence-awareness, but also fostering existence-awareness for humankind, giving instruction on its recognition.

Dwelling within this earnest state of mind, at this time we should place our thoughts there, where the earnest spiritual messenger speaks, and we should take note that directly due to the special nature of our time and situation, namely what is present for us just now, he portrays hindrances which we must clear away, in order to come to true spiritual insight.

Hindrances, my dear friends, hindrances to spiritual awareness have been there in every age. In every age people have had to overcome this and that, have had to lay aside this and that under the guidance of the earnest Guardian of the Threshold of the Spiritual World. But every era has its particular hindrances. And most of what comes from human earth-civilization does not give us the means to advance, but rather acts to hinder entry into the spiritual world. And in what comes from a person's normal civilization of the day, just there must be found the particular hindrances of that era, hindrances planted in his nature, in his time, which he must lay aside before he may cross over what has been spoken of, the yawning abyss. Now hear him speaking directly about this, the earnest guardian who bodes for the gods:

Yet you must beware the abyss;
Lest your beasts within devour
You, if in heedless haste you pass me by;
They are in you throughout this age of man,
As foes of knowing placed within.

Behold17schau is a combination of behold and show (with which it is cognate) and is active and willful. the first beast, the crooked back,
The bone-locked head, the withered body,
Dull blunt blue is its skin.
Your fear of spirit-creator-being
Produced this monster in your willing;
Your courage of knowing alone overwhelms it.

Behold the second beast, it bares its teeth,
Contorts its face, and lies in scornful mockery,
Yellow with grayish cast is its body;
Your hatred of spirit-revelation
Produced this weakling in your feeling;
Your fire of knowing must tame it.

Behold the third beast, with long-split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this specter, this ghost in your thinking;
The work of knowing18For Erkenntnisschaffen, the second part of the word is not schöpfen, to create, but schaffen, to work on something, so Erkenntnisschaffen is the work of knowing. must weaken19Weichen is cognate with to weaken, and in German also alludes to giving way, but should not be translated as to yield, as this also connotes in English to produce or to gain. it.

Only when you subdue the three,
Will wings of your soul grow,
To soar across the deep abyss
That severs you from fields of knowing,
For which your yearning heart,20Sehnsuchen is more than just longing, it is yearning.
Healing-seeking,21Heilersterbend is a simple German gerund meaning healing-seeking, and if translated with the Latin-derived word salvation, it becomes complex, convoluted, and intellectualized. would hallow itself.22weihen is cognate with hallow, which we all know well from the Lord’s Prayer and Halloween. Weihen might be translated as sanctify or consecrate or devote, but these are Latin-derived words carrying a great deal of conceptuality. It is better to use the native English word hallow. We wish to hallow ourselves, so that we can proceed properly across the Threshold.

I will read it once more. The guardian speaks:

Yet you must beware the abyss;
Lest your beasts within devour
You, if in heedless haste you pass me by;
They are in you throughout this age of man,
As foes of knowing placed within.

Behold the first beast, the crooked back,
The bone-locked head, the withered body,
Dull blunt blue is its skin.
Your fear of spirit-creator-being
Produced this monster in your willing;
Your courage of knowing alone overwhelms it.

Behold the second beast, it bares its teeth,
Contorts its face, and lies in scornful mockery,
Yellow with grayish cast is its body;
Your hatred of spirit-revelation
Produced this weakling in your feeling;
Your fire of knowing must tame it.

Behold the third beast, with long-split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this specter, this ghost in your thinking;
The work of knowing must weaken it.

Only when you subdue the three,
Will wings of your soul grow,
To soar across the deep abyss
That severs you from fields of knowing,
For which your yearning heart,
Healing-seeking, would hallow itself.

These, my dear friends, are the three great enemies of insight present for mankind today.

A person of the present day is afraid of the spirit-creator-being. The fear sits deep within one's soul existence. And a person may wish to leave this fear behind. Therefore, he clothes this fear in all sorts of seemingly logical reasons, through which the offerings of the spirit may be laid aside and disregarded.

You will hear from all sides, my dear friends, all sorts of objections against spiritual insight. They are clothed at times in wise, at times in clever, and at times in foolish logical lines of thought. The logical lines of thought, however, are certainly never the reason that this or that spiritual experience is rejected. In truth it is the spirit of fear, which rests and works and forms a force deep below in a person's inward life, and then, emerging from one's head, is metamorphosed into a logical argument. Fear it is.

Let us be clear, however, that it is not enough to say, “I have no fear.” Of course, each of us can say it. We must first get to the bottom and the real being of this fear. We must say to ourselves that, yes, we have sprung out, have risen out of the forces of opposition, the spirits of fear, which in the manner of Ahriman have been placed within, the spirits of fear which have imprisoned us. We may seem to have overcome and forced them out, but they really have not departed. And we must find the means and ways (and this school will give instructions about this) to find courage in knowing how to deal with these spirits of fear, which as monsters reside within our will. For the very thing that drives many people today toward insight, or rather about which they say drives them toward insight, cannot really bring insight, but rather it is courage alone, inner courage of soul, that allows a person to grasp the strengths and capabilities needed to walk the paths, the paths leading to genuine, authentic, light-filled spirit-insight.

And the second beast, emerging from the spirit of the times and creeping around today within the soul of human beings, as an enemy to insight, this second beast lurks wherever one goes, in most works of literature of the present day, in most galleries, in most sculptures, in the most part in sundry works of art, and in all manner of music of the day. It has ensconced its lifeless demeanor within schools, it has ensconced its lifeless demeanor within the business world, and this second animal in all the vicissitudes of man has no need to remain in spiritual fear, but inwardly engenders the mocking of spiritual lore.

The mocker does not always make itself apparent, for a person does not always rise to a conscious perception of what is within. It is as though the conscious mind were cut off by a thin cobweb, a thin film, cut off from what, in one's heart, mocks effective spiritual awareness. And if the mocker comes to light, it is only then that a person of the present day may somewhat repress this impudence, this more or less known or unknown fear. However, being spurred on by exceptional inner strength, in reaching the revelations of the spirit, this certainly lies within each of us today. And by an extremely exceptional inner exertion this mocker may be revealed.

And the third beast, it is the drooping flaccidity of thinking, it is the passivity of thinking, it is that sort of thinking that makes the whole world into a cinema, a cinema purposely made, so that a person has no real need to think, because everything just rolls on and on, so that thoughts are just not needed to follow the action. Science would like to deal with the external aspect of existence-awareness in just this way today, with passive thoughts. The person is too peaceful, too lackadaisical and limp, to bring activity into his thinking. It is just so with the thinking of mankind today, as it would be with a person, who in wishing to pick up something lying on the floor, steps back, puts his hands in his pockets, and believes he can pick up what lies on the floor even with his hands still in his pockets. He cannot. Just so existence cannot be grasped by this sort of thinking, with one’s hands at rest. We must become active, must activate our arms and hands, if we wish to grasp something. We must bring our thinking into activity, into practice, if we wish to grasp the spiritual.

Characteristically the Guardian of the Threshold speaks of the first beast, lurking in our willing as fear, as a beast with a twisted back, distorted bony fixed countenance, and withered body. This beast, covered entirely in dull blunt blue, is actually the one for the human being of today that comes forth out of the abyss right beside the Guardian of the Threshold. And the Guardian of the Threshold makes clear to the person of today that it is there, this beast in dull blunt blue and twisted back, scrawny right up to the bony mold of its distorted face. This beast is certainly within you. And out of the yawning abyss, lying before the fields of knowledge, out of the abyss this beast steps forth, built up as if in a mirror of what is in yourself, as one of the enemies of knowing, the very enemy of knowing that lingers in your willing.

And the second beast, associated today with sarcasm about the spiritual world, is characterized by the Guardian of the Threshold similarly. It emerges next to the other monster, although its whole manner points to weakness. Limp is its bearing. Even though its manner is limp and its body ghoulish-yellow, it nevertheless snarls and contorts its face. And out of this snarling comes laughter, lying laughter, for the mocker is a liar, smirking at us as a mirror image of that contrary animal that lives in our feelings, hinders our insight, and is an enemy of knowing.

And the third beast, which refuses to even approach the content of the world of spirit, is also characterized by the Guardian of the Threshold, this third to emerge from the abyss, with mouth split open wide asunder and eye glazed-over. Its vision is blunted, for its thinking is passive and will not be active, its manner is slouching, and its entire form is dirty red. It is an inwardly lying skeptic, speaking from its split-open mouth, and decked out entirely in dirty red, the skeptic of the dominion of spirit. It is the third of our enemies of inner knowing that lingers within. They make us heavy and hard as earth.

And if we go with them to confront spirit-insight, without taking into account the admonition of the Guardian of the Threshold, the yawning abyss is there. A person with the heaviness of earth may not cross over, not with fear, not with mockery, and not with doubt. A person may only cross over if the person holds fast in thinking to the spiritual reality of existence, if in feeling one experiences the soulfulness of existence, and if in willing one enthrones the powerful action of existence. Then will the spiritual, the soulful, the working actuality of existence move us to flying, to lifting ourselves out of the heaviness of earth. Then may we cross over the abyss.

Three-sided is the measure of conceit, as we are thrown into the abyss, if we do not acquire courage in knowing, fire in knowing, and work in knowing. But then, if we inwardly grasp the experience of forming our thinking, if we actually activate thinking, if we actually confront the spirit not in sleepy lassitude but rather actually welcome the spirit with hearts blazing, and if we have the courage to inwardly accept the spiritual, specifically as the spiritual, as it really is, not letting it come to us merely as a material image, then we will grow wings to carry us over the abyss, which frankly is the yearning in the hearts of each and every one of us today.

And that, my dear friends, is what is brought before our souls today, in these preliminaries in the first lesson, with which this school of spiritual science should begin. Allow us in closing to bring once again before our souls the beginning, the middle, and the end of our meeting with the Guardian:

Where on grounds of earth, color upon color,
Life stirring reveals itself,
Where out of stuff of earth, form on form,
All without life takes shape,
Where feeling creatures, strong in will,
Delight in the warm glow of their existence,
Where you yourself, O Man, derive
Bodily existence from earth and air and light:

There you enter your own being’s
Deep, night-bedecked, cold inner darkness.
You’d ask within the dark expanse
Never, who you are, and were, and will become.
For your true existence the day dims
To the night of the soul, to darkness of spirit
And you turn yourself, soul-searching,
Unto the light, that from darknesses strengthens,

And from darknesses clarifies itself
(Revealing you in counterpart,
Yet also portraying you as parable,
Earnest spirit-word in ethereal realm,
Audible to your heart, forcefully effective),
The bringer of spirit-premonitions to you,
He who alone can illuminate your way;
Before him spread the sensory fields,
Behind him yawns the deep abyss.

And from his fields spirit dark,
Hard by the yawning chasm of existence,
Rings forth the ancient might of his creator-word:
See, I am inner knowing’s only door.

The Guardian speaks:

From the wide expanse of the beings of space
Who in the light experience existence,
From the onward tread of the course of time
Which in creating finds itself expressed,
From the depths of the feeling heart,
Where in one's self the world is born anew:

There sounds in speech filled with soul,
There shines in thoughts filled with spirit,
The from godly healing forces
In world shaping powers
Welling working word of existence-awareness:
O Man, know yourself!

And the Guardian speaks further:

Yet you must beware the abyss;
Lest your beasts within devour
You, if in heedless haste you pass me by;
They are in you throughout this age of man,
As foes of knowing placed within.

Behold the first beast, the crooked back,
The bone-locked head, the withered body,
Dull blunt blue is its skin.
Your fear of spirit-creator-being
Produced this monster in your willing;
Your courage of knowing alone overwhelms it.

Behold the second beast, it bares its teeth,
Contorts its face, and lies in scornful mockery,
Yellow with grayish cast is its body;
Your hatred of spirit-revelation
Produced this weakling in your feeling;
Your fire of knowing must tame it.

Behold the third beast, with long-split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this specter, this ghost in your thinking;
The work of knowing must weaken it.

Only when you subdue the three,
Will wings of your soul grow,
To soar across the deep abyss
That severs you from fields of knowing,
For which your yearning heart,
Healing-seeking, would hallow itself.

In inwardly walking the path laid down by the Guardian of the Threshold, what is noteworthy in experiencing feeling, willing, and thinking, in attaining the clarity of the Guardian, in treading within the darkness from which the light emerges, the very light in which we again get to know our true selves, and in arriving at the "O Man, know yourself!" that sounds forth, revealed in darkness, illuminated by spirit, what is noteworthy in all this will be dealt with further, my dear friends, next Friday in the next lesson of the First Class.

Blackboard Text for the First Lesson

Wo auf Erdengründe, Farb’ an Farbe,
Sich das Leben schaffend offenbart;
Wo aus Erdenstoffen, Form an Form,
Sich das Lebenslose ausgestaltet;
Wo erfühlende Wesen, willenskräftig,
Sich am eignen Dasein freudig wärmen;
Wo du selbst, O Mensch, das Leibessein
Dir aus Erd’ und Luft und Licht erwirbst:
Da betrittst du deines Eigenwesens
Tiefe, nachtbedeckte, kalte Finsternis;
Du erfragest im Dunkel der Weiten
Nimmer, wer du bist und warst und werdest.
Für dein Eigensein finstert der Tag
Sich zur Seelennacht, zum Geistesdunkel;
Und du wendest seelensorgend dich
An das Licht, das aus Finsternissen kraftet.
Und aus Finsternissen hellet sich,
(Dich im Ebenbilde offenbarend,
Doch zum Gleichnis auch dich bildend,
Ernstes Geisteswort im Weltenäther,
Deinem Herzen hörbar, kraftvoll wirkend),
Dir der Geistesbote, der allein
Dir den Weg erleuchten kann;
Vor ihm breiten sich die Sinnesfelder,
Hinter ihm, da gähnen Abgrundtiefen.
Und vor seinen finstern Geistesfeldern,
Dicht am gähnenden Abgrund des Seins,
Da ertönt sein urgewaltig Schöpferwort:
Sieh, ich bin der Erkenntnis einzig Tor.

Aus den Weiten der Raumeswesen,
Die im Lichte das Sein erleben,
Aus dem Schritte des Zeitenganges
Der im Schaffen das Wirken findet,
Aus den Tiefen des Herzempfindens,
Wo im Selbst sich die Welt ergründet:
Da ertönet im Seelensprechen,
Da erleuchtet aus Geistgedanken
Das aus göttlichen Heileskräften
In den Weltengestaltungsmächten
Wellend wirkende Daseinswort:
O, du Mensch, erkenne dich selbst.

Doch du mußt den Abgrund achten;
Sonst verschlingen seine Tiere
Dich, wenn du an mir vorübereilt’st;
Sie hat deine Weltenzeit in dir
Als Erkenntnisfeinde hingestellt.
Schau das erste Tier, den Rücken krumm,
Knochenhaft das Haupt, von dürrem Leib,
Ganz von stumpfem Blau ist seine Haut;
Deine Furcht vor Geistes-Schöpfer-Sein
Schuf das Ungetüm in deinem Willen;
Dein Erkenntnismut nur überwindet es.
Schau das zweite Tier, es zeigt die Zähne
Im verzerrten Angesicht, es lügt im Spotten,
Gelb mit grauem Einschlag ist sein Leib;
Dein Haß auf Geistes-Offenbarung
Schuf den Schwächling dir im Fühlen;
Dein Erkenntnisfeuer muß ihn zähmen.
Schau das dritte Tier, mit gespaltnem Maul,
Glasig ist sein Auge, schlaff die Haltung,
Schmutzigrot erscheint dir die Gestalt;
Dein Zweifel an Geistes-Licht-Gewalt
Schuf dir dies Gespenst in deinem Denken;
Dem Erkenntnisschaffen muß es weichen.
Erst wenn die drei von dir besiegt,
Werden Flügel deiner Seele wachsen,
Um den Abgrund zu übersetzen,
Der dich trennet vom Erkenntnisfelde,
Dem sich deine Herzenssehnsucht
Heilerstrebend weihen möchte.

Where on grounds of earth, color upon color,
Life stirring reveals itself,
Where out of stuff of earth, form on form,
All without life takes shape,
Where feeling creatures, strong in will,
Delight in the warm glow of their existence,
Where you yourself, O Man, derive
Bodily existence from earth and air and light:
There you enter your own being’s
Deep, night-bedecked, cold inner darkness;
You’d ask within the dark expanse
Never, who you are and were and will become.
For your true existence the day dims
To the night of the soul, to darkness of spirit;
And you turn yourself, soul-searching,
Unto the light, that from darknesses strengthens,
And from darknesses clarifies itself
(Revealing you in counterpart,
Yet also portraying you as parable,
Earnest spirit-word in ethereal realm,
Audible to your heart, forcefully effective),
The bringer of spirit-premonitions to you,
He who alone can illuminate your way;
Before him spread the sensory fields,
Behind him yawns the deep abyss.
And from his fields spirit dark,
Hard by the yawning chasm of existence,
Rings forth the ancient might of his creator-word;
See, I am the only door to inner knowing.

From the wide expanse of the beings of space
Who in the light experience existence,
From the onward tread of the course of time
Which in creating finds itself expressed,
From the depths of the feeling heart,
Where in one's self the world is born anew:
There sounds in speech filled with soul,
There shines in thoughts filled with spirit,
The from godly healing forces
In world shaping powers
Welling working word of existence-awareness:
O Man, know yourself!

Yet you must beware the abyss;
Lest your beasts within devour
You, if in heedless haste you pass me by;
They are in you throughout this age of man,
As foes of knowing placed within.
Behold the first beast, the crooked back,
The bone-locked head, the withered body,
Dull blunt blue is its skin;
Your fear of spirit-creator-being
Produced this monster in your willing;
Your courage of knowing alone overwhelms it.
Behold the second beast, it bares its teeth,
Contorts its face, and lies in scornful mockery,
Yellow with grayish cast is its body;
Your hatred of spirit-revelation
Produced this monster in feeling;
In your fire of knowing it must be tamed.
Behold the third beast, with long-split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this specter, this ghost in your thinking;
The work of knowing must weaken it.
Only when you subdue the three,
Will wings of your soul grow,
To soar across the deep abyss
That severs you from fields of knowing,
For which your yearning heart,
Healing-seeking, would hallow itself.