Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Esoteric Instructions
GA 270

Second Recapitulation Lesson

9 September 1924, Dornach

My dear brothers and sisters! It is not possible, again today, to repeat the introductory words, despite the fact that a number of new members of this esoteric school are present who were not here before. For this reason, I must require that when the newly admitted members of the school receive the mantras from other members, in accordance with the instructions which I shall refer to at the conclusion of today’s session, they must feel themselves duty bound to have explained to them, by those who impart the verses, the conditions for membership in this school. It will now be necessary to continue where we left off the last time.

To begin with let us once again allow those words to come before our soul which sound forth to any open-minded human soul from all beings of the world and from all living processes of the world. What lies in the following words sounds forth to the human being from everything around him; all things have spoken thus to man in the past, all things speak thus to him in the present, all things will speak thus to him in the future.

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 space’s soul-emptiness,
As you lose the power of thinking
In time’s destroying stream?

We saw how someone who takes this in comes to feel the longing arising out of the word which speaks to him from all things and from all processes in the world, the longing to take leave of the majestic, shining world of the senses and to enter into that world which exists beyond the yawning abyss, the world which at first looms up before the human soul as black, night-bedecked darkness. For the solution, the true solution of the riddle of man the hope arises that everything in external life that is bathed in radiant, gleaming light may grow dark so that the light which is in the world where our true self is to be found may shine forth from the world of being that at first appears to be black, night-bedecked darkness.

And as we approached in thought and feeling along the path, we saw the figure of the Guardian of the Threshold brightly forming up, clarifying its existence in our awareness as if from a spiritual cloud. We heard him speak, for everything that is spoken here sounds forth out of spiritual worlds, sounds forth at the behest of Michael, the leader of the spiritual stream of mankind at the present time, for this school is the true Michael School. And the Guardian spoke about human self-awareness. But then he uttered words which at first have a crushing effect upon the soul.

The Guardian called us to himself, to stand close by him. He gazes toward us, beholding us with earnest countenance. He shows us how our willing, our feeling, our thinking appear, at least as imaginations of what is envisioned by the gods. There it is not yet human, this willing, this feeling, this thinking; there it is still animalistic. There acquaintanceship with oneself is still bewildering, shattering. But we must penetrate out of their misconception by means of that aspect of ourselves that is conjured up, which in our time, in our world era has been placed in us, for by means of this we can press onward to true self-awareness.

This misconception, familiarity with that aspect of ourselves that we carry about within us in the spirit of our era, is shown to us by the Guardian as he allows the first beast to rise out of the yawning abyss of existence, the beast that depicts willing. His hand then sweeps again instructively over the abyss of existence, showing the second beast rising up, the beast that depicts feeling. And then once again the hand sweeps instructively over the yawning abyss of existence, allowing the third beast to rise up, the beast that depicts thinking.

They rise up one after the other. The first beast, initially the true spirit-gestalt of our willing, is produced by fear of knowing, fear that can only be overcome through courage, courage concerning spiritual awareness. Just so the second beast appears, born out of hatred of knowing, lurking in the underground reaches of the soul in all human beings, only to be overcome by dignified enthusiasm for knowing, by truly soul-filled fire for knowing. Living in souls today is lukewarm indolence toward inner awareness, indeed, hatred in relation to inner acquaintanceship, because of mental laxity and laziness. Then also comes the third beast in his ghostly character, produced by doubts about the spiritual world, doubts which gnaw today at the roots of human souls, doubts that can only be weakened and made to yield when inner knowing wakes the strength in itself to attain those things which exist outside in the spiritual world. The Guardian speaks about this at the yawning abyss of being once we have drawn near to him:

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.

[The mantra, including the underlinings, was now written on the blackboard:]

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.

When the Guardian has shown us this staggering picture, confronting us presently in answer to the challenge, “O Man, know yourself,” once the Guardian has shown us this picture, he approaches us to give us a clarification, which now can begin to set us straight, a clarification of the third beast, that is interwoven in our thinking, of the second beast interwoven in our feeling, and of the first beast interwoven in our willing. And he gives us a sort of lesson in what he initially says to us. He points out to us how we should feel our way correctly into our human earth-thinking.

My dear brothers and sisters, even exoterically one feels that this thinking, suitable in relationship to things and processes of the world, is somewhat abstract, somewhat shadowy, somewhat unreal. What actually is this thinking?

As a picture we must place in our mind’s eye what this thinking really is. We place there a corpse, a corpse which has only a short time ago been left by the soul and spirit of a human being. We examine this corpse. It can never arise in the world as it is now. It can be nothing for itself, but can only be left over from a living person. It must have been due to the person, who must himself have configured it. Death lies there; life has withdrawn; the corpse lies in the coffin. Let us keep firm hold of this image.

Our soul-spiritual life, which is our own true human essence, was alive before it descended from the divine spiritual world through conception and birth into a physical earthly human body. When it was in the spiritual world it was no shadowy, abstract thinking, but soul-spirit-being, living, moving, fashioning, working, weaving, continuing. There it was alive. Then it descended into a human body. But it died while descending. The human body is its coffin. And the thinking that we have between birth and death is the corpse of that living thinking that we had before we descended into earthly existence.

My dear brothers and sisters, we rightly experience thinking’s esoteric essence only when we experience it in this way, and only then can we struggle upward, gradually, gradually overcoming the ghostly gestalt of the third beast. Only then can we rise ever nearer and nearer to the pure angelic gestalt of true thinking, the dead after-image of which whiles away, weaves, works, and dwells1west und webt und wirkt und wellt. in our physical, earthly body.

As long as we regard thinking as somewhat alive, we are not being truthful. Only when we look at our body as the coffin of dead thinking, only when we feel this thoroughly, only then are we truthful. So the Guardian of the Threshold speaks to us in his words, which we will hear and can use as mantric verse. He speaks them to us in special intimacy.

And when we pass by our thinking to view our feeling, then we must see and feel how the sort of customary feeling, which we believe to be living within us between birth and death, is only half-living, how this feeling works continually to consume us, how it somehow continually kills us, how it pointedly drags us away from spirit. Thinking is dead, but in us our half-alive feeling is basically only picture-formation. Only when we feel this contrast in our feeling, that this earth-feeling is a weak, half-living reflection of the might of the sun, which as universal world love the cosmic feeling streams through the whole cosmos, then we feel the contrast of feeling correctly. In this manner the Guardian of the Threshold speaks to us confidentially, intimately.

And not until we feel a similar contrast in willing, that it undoubtedly lives in us, but that that it is continuously being tampered with and bogged down by hostile opposing spiritual powers, who intend that its force should not be in service to overarching godliness, but rather to physicality below, not until we actually feel these opposing powers, that in our willing continuously would like to divert us from our proper godly task and ensnarl us entirely and solely in awareness of our earth existence, only then can we really feel these opposing powers trying to take possession of our willing, trying to have the future of the earth in their power. If they were to succeed, if we are not steadfastly on guard that our willing remains hallowed to godliness, not to Ahrimanic earth-powers, then on earth the gods themselves would be disputed, the gods who actually tended earth-existence from the very beginning.

The Guardian says this to us in clarification of the three beasts:

The third beast’s glassy eye
Is the bad contrary-type
Of thinking, that denies itself
In you and chooses death,
Forsaking spirit powers
That held it before its earth-life
Living in spirit in spirit-fields.

The second beast’s mocking face
Is the bad contrary-force
Of feeling, that hollows-out suitable soul
And in it fashions living emptiness
Instead of spiritual worth, which was
Illuminating it before its earth-existence
By means of spirit’s sunny might.

The first beast’s boney mind,
Is the bad creative-might
Of willing, that estranges suitable body
From your soul's domain
And devotes it to adverse powers,
Who would rob world-existence
Of gods-existence in times to come.

[The mantra was now written on the blackboard and a few words were underlined]

The Guardian speaks:
The third beast’s glassy eye
Is the bad contrary-type

(it is merely an image)

Of thinking, that denies itself
In you and chooses death,
Forsaking spirit powers
That held it before its earth-life
Living in spirit in spirit-fields.

The second beast’s mocking face
Is the bad contrary-force

(the first is image, the second force)

Of feeling, that hollows-out suitable soul
And in it fashions living emptiness
Instead of spiritual worth, which was
Illuminating it before its earth-existence
By means of spirit’s sunny might.

The first beast’s bony mind,
Is the bad creative-might

(the progression: image or type, force, might)

Of willing, that estranges suitable body
From your soul's domain
And devotes it to adverse powers,
Who would rob world-existence
Of gods-existence in times to come.

Ever more the Guardian at the gaping abyss of being leads us nearer to true self-knowledge, which can only dawn for us when light arises yonder in the black, night-bedecked darkness. In this regard he shows us in different ways, what he first showed us in the formation of the beasts, and then in the formation of the corresponding mantric verses, and now again delineates, in order that we may come ever closer and closer to self-awareness, so that we may gain wings with which to cross the abyss of being, for we are not able to cross over with human feet, with heavy human feet, which means with external illusions, with maya-reality.

So the Guardian makes us aware, after he has given us these mantric verses intimately, he makes us aware of how we should proceed in using empathy in delving into our thinking, how we should feel our thinking and not just see it as objectively existing, for there we no longer weave the fabric of our thoughts as illusion, as we do in the sort of thinking that we engage in as men and women of earth, but rather as something else than appearance. Self-aware existence means our true actual existence, that does not actually live in thinking, but conceals itself in thinking, so says the Guardian. One can do nothing except to plunge into the appearance of thinking, ever further, then as one plunges deep into and disperses oneself with the soul beneath the appearance of thinking, one arrives into immeasurable world-ether.

There, where our aware-self feels itself just minimally hovering in appearance, there we should honor the guiding beings of the higher hierarchies that guide us. There we feel that we need these guiding beings of the higher hierarchies.

Then the Guardian admonishes, that we should turn from thinking to feeling, experiencing, finding with empathy feeling streaming within us. Thinking is still entirely appearance. In feeling, however, we stand at least halfway close to our existence. In feeling we come deeper into our intrinsic existence than we do in thinking, although we are not yet fully within. We are halfway into our proper being when we are feeling, for feeling has some ambiguity, not total ambiguity, for it mingles semblance and substance. The aware-self that we seek, here in the proper sense genuine aware-self, simply leans toward semblance. Now we should plunge into the semblance of existence, into an existence that only seems to be, into a semblance that is energized halfway toward existence. There we will grasp world forces that now are not merely semblance, but rather halfway existing as world soul forces. There we should consider well in this moving web of our intrinsic weaving, moving being in the weaving moving world ether, there we should consider well the life powers intrinsic to the soul, that we cannot consider in thinking, for thinking is semblance only.

Then we should plunge into willing, which we feel as existence, existence concealed within us. We are unable to inwardly grasp it. But the will is effective as thrusting and crafting existence. The will climbs from all apparent being and equips our autonomous existence, our true autonomous existence, meant here as autonomous existence in the best sense. We should turn our life to this. It is filled with world-spirit-might. Our intrinsic existence should inwardly grasp and plunge into world-creator-might, the world-maker-might that inwardly fills all regions of space, all times, all spirit-realms in willing.

At the very edge of the abyss the Guardian speaks:

Look upon your web of thoughts:
World of semblance you experience,
Self-awareness hides from you;
Plunge beneath appearance:
Ether being whirls in you;
Self-awareness, it should honor
Your own spirit’s guiding beings.

Embrace your stream of feelings:
Where semblance and substance mingle,
Aware-self leans toward semblance;
So plunge beneath appearance:
And world soul forces are in you;
Aware-self should consider well
Inherent in soul the powers of life.

Let reign in you the thrust of will:
It climbs from all apparent being
With autonomous existence well-equipped;
Turn to this throughout your life:
Filled it is with world-spirit-might;
Your autonomous existence should grasp
World-maker-might into spirit-I.

I will write these mantric verses on the board next time and clarify their various characteristics.

Now, however, let us turn once more to what spoke to man in the past, to what speaks now in the present, and to what will speak in the future, exhorting him to undertake the holiest task on his life's path, the task of seeking self-knowledge:

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 space’s soul-emptiness,
As you lose the power of thinking
In time’s destroying stream?

The next esoteric Lesson of this First Class will take place on Thursday at 8 o'clock.

I must now add that the verses, which are given as mantric verses for meditation by the Guardian of the Threshold at the behest of Michael, are only for those who are members of this school. Those who are unable to receive them personally can obtain them from someone else who is a member of this school. Permission must, however, be requested in every single instance either from Frau Dr. Wegman or from me. This is not merely a bureaucratic regulation, but rather it points to the fact that everything in our Anthroposophical Movement from now on expresses a reality. The procedure for passing on the texts begins with the request for permission as a real matter of fact, not as a mere administrative reason. The mantras may not be sent through the mail. Only the one who has to give the mantras to someone else may ask permission from Frau Dr. Wegman or from me. It is not the one who is to receive them who asks, but the one who is to give them. You speak with someone who might give them to you and that person then requests permission.

If anyone has taken notes during this lesson of anything other than the mantras, I would ask that they be kept not longer than a week, after which they should be burned, in order that the content of the school, which only has meaning if the Michael stream flows through the school, shall not go beyond the circle of its members and thereby become ineffective. This is not because of any obscure wish to make things secret, but so that the content of the school may not become ineffective. This is a fundamental occult law that must be observed. And we live in an earnest occult school, in the true School of Michael, and we give what flows here through this school in the sign of Michael.

[The Michael Sign was drawn on the blackboard.]

We give it in the Rosicrucian sense with the Rosicrucian symbol.

Ex Deo Nascimur

[The sign of the lower seal gesture was drawn on the blackboard.]

In Christo Morimur

[The sign of the middle seal gesture was drawn on the blackboard.]

Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

[The sign of the upper seal gesture was drawn on the blackboard.]

And we think as we make this seal and sign of Christian Rosenkreutz:

I honor the Father

[This was written beside the sign of the lower seal gesture.]

I love the Son

[This was written beside the sign of the middle seal gesture.]

I unite with the Spirit

[This was written beside the sign of the upper seal gesture.]

Per signum Michaeli:

[The sign of Michael was made.]

[The three seal gestures were made and the words were spoken.]

Ex Deo Nascimur
In Christo Morimur
Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.

Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (left side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard (right side)
Blackboard Text for the Second Recapitulation Lesson

The Guardian speaks at the edge of the abyss:
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;
In your fire of knowing it must be tamed.

Behold the third beast, with split mouth,
Glazed eye, and slouching attitude,
Dirty red its form appears to you;
Your doubt in spirit-light-dominion
Produced this spectral form 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,
Salvation seeking, would hallow itself.

The Guardian speaks:

The third beast’s glassy eye
Is the bad contrary-type
Of thinking, that denies itself
In you and chooses death,
Forsaking spirit powers
That held it before its earthly life
Living in spirit in spirit-fields.

The second beast’s mocking face
Is the bad contrary-force
Of feeling, that hollows-out suitable soul
And in it fashions living emptiness
Instead of spiritual worth, which was
Illuminating it before its earth-existence
By means of spirit’s sunny might.

The first beast’s bony mind,
Is the bad creative-might
Of willing, that estranges suitable body
From your soul's domain
And devotes it to adverse powers,
Who would rob world-existence
Of gods-existence in times to come.

Ex Deo Nascimur
In Christo Morimur
Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus
I honor the Father
I love the Son
I unite with the Spirit