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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Esoteric Instructions
GA 270

Lesson XIII

17 May 1924, Dornach

My dear friends! First once again will be spoken the word emerging from the spiritual font of the universe, penetrating our souls, admonishing us to self-observing knowledge of our own being:

O Man, know yourself!
So sounds the word of worlds.
You hear it soul-forcefully,
You feel it spirit-powerfully.
Who speaks so world-mightily?
Who speaks so heart-inwardly?
Does it work streaming through space
Into your sense’s self-experiencing?
Does it sound weaving through time
Into your life's evolving stream?
Are you the one, who yourself
In sensing space, in experiencing time
Creates the word, feeling yourself
Estranged in in space’s soul-emptiness,
As you lose the power of thinking
In time’s destroying stream?

Now, my dear brothers and sisters, here in the last lesson we attempted to find inner soul-words, those which can bring human beings into a connection with what emerges as a revelation from the hierarchies, which most certainly the human spiritual-soul being stands in connection with. In doing this we have placed before our souls, by means of a special deepening, what can then become of the field of thinking, and by means of this special deepening in this field of thinking we can attain a presence for ourselves in this realm, where in a certain manner live the beings of the third hierarchy, the Angels, Archangels, and the Archai.

This was certainly not meant to be the thinking that we employ in everyday affairs, but rather the thinking that proceeds behind the thinking of everyday affairs. Such thinking we certainly are only able to bring into being by means of our entire organization, if and when we ourselves in meditating expand into the depths of certain words, such as have come to the fore here as the words that begin, “Examine the field of thinking.”

And as I certainly pointed out the last time, this thinking can also be perceived in the human organism itself over the organ of speech. While in the field of memory-thoughts it can be felt under the organ of speech. And when we say something to ourselves inwardly and full of life, either quietly or out loud, it can be sensed in the organ of speech itself. We feel the speech in us, and we can delineate the area in which we feel the speech in ourselves. We have this then as a jumping-off point, for to some extent it is the easiest way to experience this speech.

And beyond the speech at the back of one’s mind we may find the innards of thinking, by means of which we can discover the Angels. In speaking there are the Archangels. And under the speech in remembering, the Archai can be felt.

And just so the mantric saying parades before us. It most certainly courses along in this manner, as described the last time in the Class lesson.

We envision, as we speak it, that at first the far-spread cosmos speaks to us, intoned in a certain manner by the world-all itself, that then, intoned within this world-all, is what the Guardian of the Threshold says to us, what we should take note of, that we should hearken unto what the appropriate being from the ranks of the third hierarchy, of the Angels, has to say to us.

And then a second intonation presents itself, again in admonition by the Guardian of the Threshold to us, that we should attend to what belongs to us, or to the being belonging to us from the ranks of the Archangels.

And then the Guardian admonishes us again with a third pronouncement, to listen and hear the being belonging to us from the ranks of the Archai. And so we should place this mantric verse before ourselves, so that in a certain way we hear the world-all from all around, intoned, then the Guardian speaking, and then the hierarchies answering responsively.

Examine the field of thinking:

He speaks, who you the ways

From earthly life to earthly life

Will show in spirit light:

Look to your senses’ radiant nature.

He speaks, who on to souls

In realms of being material free,

Will carry you on wings of soul:

Look to your thinking’s forceful impact.

He speaks, who among spirits

In creator fields far from earth

Will give you the grounds of existence-awareness.

Look to memory’s picture-forming.

If and when, ever and again, we feel ourselves in this situation, the wide reaches of the world speaking to us, the Guardian of the Threshold speaking to us, the realms of the hierarchies speaking to us, if and when we envision this within ourselves in a fully alive fashion, as if it were actually around about us, then in conjunction with the schematic picture I drew the last time on the board, we get the feeling of the sort of thinking above the thinking in the back of our minds, through which we approach the interactions and life of the third hierarchy.

Therefore, one can say, my dear brothers and sisters, that we place ourselves in conjunction with the beings of the third hierarchy by means of these mantric verses.

In like manner, we place ourselves in conjunction with the beings of the second hierarchy by means of the second set of mantric verses, subsequently presented, and once again, similarly, we feel in a certain way that it may become perceived in spirit. We should completely refrain from the perception that we ourselves are saying it. We should totally realign ourselves situationally, as I have described.

Examine the field of feeling

He speaks, who as thought

Out of spirit sun-rays

Calls you to world existence-awareness.

Feel in your breath life stirring.

He speaks, who world existence-awareness

Out of star-life-forces

Would bestow on you in spirit realms.

Feel in your blood’s welling-weaving.

He speaks, who spirit-sense

In light-filled gods-high-realms

Will fashion for you out of will of earth.

Feel earth’s mighty counter striving.

In this way we come to the point of establishing our relationship with the Exusiai, Dynamis, and Kyriotetes. We do this by means of inwardly relating the sphere of feelings, the breath, the circulation of blood, and that place from which the will springs forth, although felt merely as the will, by relating all this in our human state of being to the beings of the second hierarchy. By this means the relationship is established.

It remains for us today, my dear brothers and sisters, to observe, to behold, to partake of the field of willing. This field of willing is certainly the one that holds dominion over human beings most powerfully, that works in human beings most powerfully, although at the same time the one that is really noticed least by human beings living through it. A human being, in fact, usually knows very little about the actual coursing of his will.

Let us take up first of all just where in the human organism the will comes to expression in order that the human organism may be engaged in movement, may be set into motion. Of course, my dear brothers and sisters, you must make this intimate imagination your own, if you wish to really open yourself up to the one who will show you the ways to the spirit, to the one who speaks through this esoteric school.

Now someone might imagine himself walking, and perhaps moving his arm. In this regard a person usually thinks that he moves his legs and that his legs carry him further along. This is certainly the most convenient imagination that a person might have. One thinks that some sort of unknown force, and of course it is an unknown force, for nobody can know anything about this force in customary awareness, that this unknown force is allowed to stream into the legs. One leg will be placed in front of the other. In such manner we carry ourselves through the world.

It is not really so. Entirely without doubt the legs simply do not have the wherewithal initially to carry us through the world. This is simply not the way it is. And we come here to a point where customary awareness shows its illusory nature at once, for it is illusion when we live with the belief that we walk forward with legs, with physical legs, that the physical legs are there, therefore, in order to walk forward.

Of course, this does not mean, my dear brothers and sisters, that you should now go out into the world of the philistines and cry out, that it is not true that a person has legs in order to walk about. For of course at first glance people would simply not understand it. People simply don’t know how deeply true it is, that in truth all that is around us, all that is dealt with in customary awareness, is maya, the grand illusion. The grand illusion encompasses not only what a person sees all around, but the grand illusion also encompasses all that a person experiences within himself concerning the world.

What this means is the following. Just imagine yourself just now totally schematically. [It was drawn.] Here are the human legs, one striding forth after the other [white]. But in between these human physical legs the etheric body is most certainly embodied [red], the part of the human etheric body corresponding to the legs. Then there is the astral embodiment [yellow] corresponding to the legs, and finally the ego-organization [violet]. We stride forth not with physical legs, not with etheric legs, not at all with astral legs, but rather we stride forth with those forces corresponding to the ego-organization. We live with these forces that correspond to the ego-organization, within the powerful forces of the earth that are out of sight [new drawing, half a circle with arrows]. The powerful forces of the earth are experienced by us with the forces of our ego-organization [short lines on the arrows]. And just what corresponds to motivation of will, of movement, plays out between the unseen ego-organization and the unseen powerful forces of earth’s gravity.

Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (left side)

The ego-organization, however, depends on feeling some sort of resistance when encountering the powerful forces of earth’s gravity. For this the astral body is there in the legs, and the ether body, and rather specifically the physical body also, simply so that the ego-organization can feel itself, can perceive itself. And without this perception it cannot really step into a relationship with the earth-organization. It must step into a relationship with the earth-organization consciously. The physical organization and the other organizations are there in order that the ego-organization might keep in step with itself in full consciousness, and thereby be able to encounter the forces of earth.

Striding along, therefore, is a fully transcendental process. The sensory organization is only there for ambulation, in order that ambulation can become perceptible by human beings, for someone can only accomplish such a thing when it is apprehended. You walk just as little with physical legs, my dear brothers and sisters, as you do with your stockings that you put on your legs. You walk along with what in the legs corresponds to your ego-organization. And as you have stockings in order to keep your feet warm, just so you have the physical legs in order to provide awareness to you for your walking about.

All this that I just related must also be felt. A person must learn to feel, in walking, that walking is a transcendental process, and that all the sensory apparatus is there merely in order to provide awareness. This awareness will not be engendered perfectly during waking life on earth, due to our physical legs also being heavy, so that we come into connection not merely with the heavy forces of earth’s gravity, but also with the heavy forces of gravity active in our physical legs. Therefore, when we do not have the physical legs, as in sleep, we while away our time there in the world-all, in our ego and astral bodies, in a manner much more free-moving than when we go about in physical life. We may be in motion during our sleep, but we normally have no awareness of it, for the physical legs provide for this awareness.

What then gives us the possibility, during sleep and also during moments of clairvoyance, what give us the possibility of moving? As I said, we can move in physical existence insofar as we are aware of the movement through our physical legs. What, my dear friends, performs this function for us during sleep? It is the function of the various beings that walk along with us in sleep, for the purpose of movement. These are the Thrones, high beings of the first hierarchy. A person in a state of customary awareness, however, or even in the customary awareness of sleep, does not perceive the Thrones, and therefore cannot receive help. Quite to the contrary, when someone through intuition becomes able to perceive what is really taking place in sleep, then he will become aware that by means of the Thrones during sleep, he stands in relationship with a world known through higher awareness, just as by means of his physical legs during customary life on earth he stands in relationship with physical life.

All this must be carried over into feelings. One must learn to sense all this inwardly, aromatically. Then one also inwardly senses the interwoven and undulating spiritual world, within which one certainly dwells from this point on.

So once again, we may be properly placed in an inner feeling and experience, if we allow it to work on us while remaining in the moment, just as with the other mantras, those concerning the fields of thinking and feeling. We should remain in the moment in the following way: first the wide-open reaches press in upon us with thunderous voice, then the Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us to take note, that we should hearken unto what the Thrones have to say to us. The Thrones speak to us about what springs forth when, as we say, we are really motivated about what passes over from motives of the soul into our force of will, about being engaged in something or other in the world with our force of will. To this end, we will allow the third part of the mantra to work on us, as we once again take up and hearken to what resounds from the wide-open reaches:

Examine the field of willing.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold:

He speaks, who guides world forces, muted
From earth foundations, dark and deep
Into your limbs’ impulses:

Then the Thrones:

Behold in motivation your fiery essence.

That is the first. The second leads us quite a bit more into the realm of soul. When we go further in pursuit of a person’s activity of will, well, in this inner meditative performance of the soul, we come upon a great discovery. And this great discovery must sooner or later flood into a person who wishes to stride forward on the field of his own self-development.

Here I must point something out to you, my dear brothers and sisters, something that you all know, for customary awareness knows quite a bit about it, and it is this, what we call in ourselves the voice of conscience. The voice of conscience! But this voice of conscience emerges from a human being and sounds forth into awareness indistinctly. A person does not generally know with certainty what is there, what is connected to his moralistic-soulful disposition, what sounds forth from underpinnings laden with mystery, that which he refers to as his voice of conscience. A person generally does not penetrate anywhere nearly deep enough in his own being in customary awareness to reach the voice of conscience. It may show itself, but the person does not reach down to it. And so he does not observe it in soul face-to-face.

But when a person then in meditating presses on to the wider world of the Cherubim, beings full of wisdom, who are interwoven with and live throughout the world, then he comes upon the great discovery, that from the world of the Cherubim a world activity presses in upon him, within which the voice of conscience lives.

Oh, the voice of conscience is from high and ancient sources, from higher beings. It lives in actuality in the world of the Cherubim. From this world of the Cherubim, it weaves into human beings and sounds forth from the depths of these human beings, initially indistinctly. But it is a great and powerful encounter when a person is there, alive in intuition, there where he can place himself in relationship with the field of the Cherubim, which is a world well-met, an encounter with the world in which his conscience moves and has its being. It is the greatest personal discovery that a person can make. For this the Guardian of the Threshold admonishes us with the words:

He speaks, who allows spirit rays, brilliant
From heavenly workshops, full of grace
To course within your blood.

Then the Cherubim:

Behold in conscience the soul’s progression.

In reality it is the spirit coursing through the blood, emerging from the Cherubim’s field, that constitutes the voice of conscience. Blood, present in all parts of our physical human being, carries this voice of conscience into all parts of our human physical being, along with other things. And it weaves the undulations of Cherubic life into the soul-nature of our blood. We shall gain a greater foothold on this meditation if we envisage it in the following way:

First is spoken that which comes from the far-off reaches of the world.

Examine the field of willing.

The Guardian of the Threshold then admonishes us:

He speaks, who guides world forces, muted
From earth foundations, dark and deep
Into your limbs’ impulses:

Then we envisage moving clouds [drawn in blue], the moving clouds as a representation of the Thrones. And while we envisage these moving clouds, we hear the Thrones, sounding forth from the first hierarchy:

Behold in motivation your fiery essence.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold speaks further:

He speaks, who allows spirit rays, brilliant
From heavenly workshops, full of grace
To course within your blood.

Now we envisage, flashing through these clouds, lightning [red], for flashes of lightning are the implements of the Cherubim, the fiery swords of the Cherubim. While the lightning flashes through the clouds, we feel this flashing in the words:

Behold in conscience the soul’s progression.

Then the Guardian of the Threshold speaks:

He speaks, who brings the human being, intact

That refers to one’s prior lives on earth.

Through deaths and births, wisely and justly
By breathing in the present time.

In doing this we envisage the entirety of the heavens above the lightning with interwoven warmth [The drawing was broadened in yellow.], with interwoven heat sending down the lightning. And in this interwoven heat from far-off reaches we perceive the speech of the Seraphim:

Behold in fate your spirit ordeal

—as the destiny of one earth-life to the next, extending here into this present life on earth.

The mantra concerning willing is especially effective when it is perceived together with the picture in the following way. One prepares somewhat mysteriously in implementing the mantra, for certainly willing is the one most full of mystery. While starting to prepare by putting aside anything commonplace in the words, and feeling the beckoning, guiding, world-direction-giving nature of the picture, one uses instead of the word “Thrones” the good normal word “seat.” Even though it could easily be given too trifling a meaning, everything commonplace must be put away from it when saying here “seating” instead of “Thrones.” Also imagine, my dear brothers and sisters, that as you feel the word “seat,” [It was written on the board.] seat, cloud-seating, form the picture within yourself of clouds standing in front of you. Then you form the word “fleet,” [over “seat” was written:] fleet. Again, with the image of lightning within, fleeting flashing lightning within the clouds. Then you form the word “heating,” [over “fleet” was written:] heat, universal heating, and feel in these three words the ascent from the cloud-seating to the lightning and to the universal heating, from which the lightning comes. In this way you feel prepared for the mantra with seat, fleet, heat.


And then feel with the picture standing before you the power of the mantra.

[The mantra was now written on the board, and at the same time in the first line “willing” was underlined, and similarly the last line of each section 1, 2, and 3 was underlined.]

  1. Examine the field of willing:
  1. He speaks, who guides world forces, muted

    From earth foundations, dark and deep

    Into your limbs’ impulses:

    Behold in motivation your fiery essence.

  2. He speaks, who allows spirit rays, brilliant

    From heavenly workshop, full of grace

    To course within your blood:

    Behold in conscience the soul’s progression.

  3. He speaks, who brings the human being, intact

    Through deaths and births, wisely and justly

    By breathing in the present time:

    Behold in fate your spirit ordeal.

In such meditative verses there is nothing that is a simple phrase. What is indicated here concerning the “limb’s activity,” I have illustrated as a conjoint effort of the ego-organization and the forces of the earth, wholly a supersensory occurrence. We must be aware of this in the first part of the mantra.

In the second part of the mantra, we must be aware of what moves through the entire organism in the circulation of blood, which in its pulsatile coursing contains the essence of conscience. Our basic fate, however, has been taken up by our breath, insofar as the highest part of the rhythmic system has streaming through it not only what enlivens the breath today, but rather by the breath having been formed in earlier earth-existence stop-overs.

Here [part 1] we are advised by the Guardian of the Threshold about the Thrones

Here [in part 2] about the Cherubim

Here [in part 3] about the Seraphim

[“Thrones” was written next to part 1, “Cherubim” next to part 2, and “Seraphim” next to part 3.]

In order for the mantra to have the necessary inner strength and spirit-condensing quality, we choose a symbol which allows the revelation of the first hierarchy to impact us in a very lovely way: clouds, Thrones. although at the same time, that out of which the Thrones, when we gaze up to the spiritual in the clouds, that out of which the Thrones take their substance, their own essential being, that their being is drawn forth from.

[It was written on the board and “beings” was underlined.]

clouds—Thrones—beings

We gaze out upon the thunderbolts of lightning. Well, the Cherubim are definitely veiled. With the Thrones one can catch a sense of them as they interweave themselves in the clouds. The mounded-up clouds give away the substance of the Thrones. The Cherubim do not make it so easy for us to observe them. They conceal themselves more than the Thrones. They don’t show themselves in formations. They reveal themselves in their implements, in the fleeting flashes of lightning. They are behind their implements. They show us in the fleeting flashes of lightning not their essence, but only their implements. [It was written on the board, and “implements” was underlined.]

lightning—Cherubim—implements

And if we mount clear up to universal heat, there the Seraphim conceal themselves deeper yet, much deeper than the Cherubim behind the implements, behind the fleeting flashing lightning. It is merely the radiant glory, this universal heat, merely the radiant glory of the Seraphim. The Thrones reveal themselves through their being, the Cherubim reveal themselves through their implements, but the Seraphim reveal themselves through the radiant glory streaming out from them. [It was written on the board, and “radiant glory” was underlined.]

universal heat—Seraphim—radiant glory

And so do we establish a human being’s connection with the first hierarchy in the field of willing:

Examine the field of willing:

He speaks, who guides world forces, muted

From earth foundations, dark and deep

Into your limbs’ impulses:

Behold in motivation your fiery essence.

He speaks, who allows spirit rays, brilliant

From heavenly workshop, full of grace

To course within your blood:

Behold in conscience the soul’s progression.

He speaks, who brings the human being, intact

Through deaths and births, wisely and justly

By breathing in the present time:

Behold in fate your spirit ordeal.

What it comes down to, what it depends on, is that we perceive ourselves within the process as if we ourselves were simply not speaking, feeling, or willing, but rather, what it all depends on, is that we forget ourselves, and in this process in a three-fold manner perceive ourselves as a recipient.

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, it is absolutely essential, that one engages in such mantric inner practices with complete sincerity. Then they work effectively, as they should. Then we are brought forward onto the field, onto the three-fold field of the spiritual world, onto the field of thinking, feeling, and willing. And that is of utmost importance, that we are able to penetrate into these things with complete sincerity.

For this something else is most assuredly necessary, and must be included. Someone meditating will of course often fall back, again and again, into the routine ambling stroll of customary life. Indeed, he must, for between birth and death he is an earthly human being. Customary awareness must ever and again return to him. But he may certainly continue to exist this way, for example, and I mean it here in the negative sense, when encountering some sort of continuing difficulty that becomes chronic. A person can experience this all the time, and although sometimes overlooking it, can still experience it continuously to some extent. We should also have this sort of continuity if we once understand the force of meditation. We should certainly always feel this way, so that we can say to ourselves, our customary awareness has certainly, once meditated on, it has certainly once achieved an understanding of the penetrating power of meditation. We should feel that meditating actually occurred, that we were once within it. Through meditating, we ought to have become a different person, to the extent that we can feel that meditating has made us into something else. In this way, in that we have begun with it, during our life we can no longer just forget, not even for a moment forget, my dear brothers and sisters, that we are active in meditation. And then we have the right demeanor for active meditation.

We must experience meditating thoroughly, keeping in mind of course that we should only engage in meditation for such brief periods of time that the rest of life is undisturbed. We should experience it in such reality, that the feeling of actively meditating is maintained, and that if we should once forget that we actively meditate, and later realize that we have forgotten, if we realize that there have been moments in life within which we have forgotten, well, we should then allow the feeling of shame to well up within us, just as we would be ashamed, for instance, if we should somehow find ourselves naked, without clothes, running through a street packed with people. We should adopt this approach. We should so well consider the transition from not meditating at all into being active in meditation, that at no single moment are we without the awareness that we actively meditate, and the discovery of our having lapsed in this awareness should become a moment of shame. Very much may be attained in this manner.

And then we will really be able to progress in what will be said through the universal world word, with which we began:

O Man, know yourself!
So sounds the word of worlds.
You hear it soul-forcefully,
You feel it spirit-powerfully.
Who speaks so world-mightily?
Who speaks so heart-inwardly?
Does it work streaming through space
Into your sense’s self-experiencing?
Does it sound weaving through time
Into your life's evolving stream?
Are you the one, who yourself
In sensing space, in experiencing time
Creates the word, feeling yourself
Estranged in in space’s soul-emptiness,
As you lose the power of thinking
In time’s destroying stream?

But we must ever and again bring to the forefront in heart and mind, that cognition is a serious business, that the world is a great illusion, this world of maya, that cognition does not simply come to us, that we first must come to the Threshold, where the Guardian is standing, and that at the Threshold all that we carry constitutionally must first fall away, all that comprises customary sensory reality and customary thinking.

We are able to take all this to heart, for out of the self-same far-off reaches, out of which the comprehensive universal word has come to us, that which even so has been spoken, additionally there sounds forth to us:

First come to know the earnest Guardian,
Who stands before the gates of spirit-land,
Denying entry to your sensory force
And to your intellect’s might,
For in weaving of sense
And in forming of thought
Out of space’s absence of being,1Raumeswesenlosigkeit
Out of time’s illusory powers
The truth of your own self
You must first forcefully master.

When we have heard such a thing, we can then speak out the devotional answer from depths of soul.

I walked within this world of sense,2Sinnes-Welt
Thinking’s heritage3Des Denkens Erbe guiding me,
A god’s power having ushered me in.4Eines Gottes Kraft hat mich hereingeführt
Death, it stands at journey’s end.
I will feel Christ’s presence.5Des Christus Wesen: Wesen in this sense is the presence of a being consciously aware of itself, which here is Christ’s presence.
In matter’s death spirit-birth wakes,
So in spirit I’ll find the world
And in world-becoming know myself.6The three lines of the first sentence have mixed tenses, first simple past, then gerund, and finally past perfect, so the second and third lines must be dependent: Thinking’s heritage guiding me, A god’s power having ushered me in. In the last three lines, it is incorrect in English to use the word thus to join two independent clauses, as it is an adverb. One must use so, which is a conjunction.

Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard Text for the Thirteenth Lesson

III. Vernimm des Willens Feld:

Hüter:
Es spricht, der die Weltenkräfte, die dumpfen
Aus den Erden-Untergründen, den finstren
In deiner Glieder Regsamkeiten lenket:

Throne:
Blick’ auf deiner Triebe Feuer-Wesen.

Hüter:
Es spricht, der die Giestesstrahlen, die hellen
Aus Gottes-Wirkensfeldern, gnadevoll
In deinem Blute kreisen läßt:

Cherubine:
Blick’ auf des Gewissens Seelen-Führung.

Hüter:
Es spricht, der das Menschensein, das vollbrachte
Durch Tode und Geburten, singerecht
Zum Atmen bringt in gegenwärt’ger Zeit:

Seraphine:
Blick’ auf denies Schicksales Geistes-Prüfung.

III. Examine the field of willing:

Guardian:
He speaks, who guides world forces, muted
From earth foundations, dark and deep
Into your limbs’ impulses:

Thrones:
Behold in motivation your fiery essence.

Guardian:
He speaks, who allows spirit rays, brilliant
From heavenly workshops, full of grace
To course within your blood:

Cherubim:
Behold in conscience the soul’s progression.

Guardian:
He speaks, who brings the human being, intact
Through deaths and births, wisely and justly
By breathing in the present time:

Seraphim:
Behold in fate your spirit ordeal.