Esoteric Lessons for the First Class
of the School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum
by Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, May 2, 1924
Translated by Frank Thomas Smith
My dear friends,
You have all probably been deeply affected this morning by the news that Miss Maryon* has departed from the physical plane – although it is something long expected and which follows difficult suffering which lasted more than a year.
Tomorrow when the members of the Anthroposophical Society are all gathered here, I will say what I have to say about Miss Maryon's departure from the physical plane. For now it is sufficient to say that the First Class has lost a truly dedicated student, for among those who have devoted themselves to the School with great diligence, Miss Maryon was the best. Despite the serious illness which afflicted her she not only participated in what is being esoterically developed here, but she also let the exercises given here work on her and lived with them in an extraordinarily intimate way.
This was the result of her having been familiar with esotericism before coming to us. She belonged to an esoteric school of a completely different nature before she discovered the Anthroposophical Society and through this esoteric school made the complete transition to anthroposophy quickly. The esoteric was essential to her and she experienced it intensely during the years with us on the physical plane. She has departed from the physical plane but certainly not from anthroposophy.
It would be unseemly to say more now as she has just left the physical plane. Tomorrow, though, when the members, the friends are here, it will be my task to say what is to be said.
My dear friends, in esoteric striving it is necessary to at least envision, to the extent possible, the path upon which real knowledge of spiritual things can be realized. Of course how far one or the other comes along this path depends on his karma, on what conditions he brings along from previous earth lives.
But not only that, it also depends on which physical and environmental conditions the person's destiny places him. Much old karmic residue may exist to be worked out which hinders achieving everything which is otherwise within one's capabilities. Thus much which perhaps could be quickly achieved without these karmic residues takes longer.
My dear sisters and brothers, we should never give up hope, never lose patience or energy, but continue on our way. When the right time has come, we will surely find what has been predestined. For certain lines of every human being's life path are uniquely predestined despite or perhaps because of freedom. Every individual is called to his life's task and can accomplish it with sufficient good will.
Here in this Free School for Spiritual Science everything that existed in the Mysteries in the past when they especially flowered is to be reenacted in the correct form according to our time and to the future. The flowering time of the Mysteries had already passed when the greatest Mystery of all, the one most hidden to world history, took place: the Mystery of Golgotha. After their flowering time, the Mysteries declined, a process in which, just because the Mysteries had declined, humanity could be taken into the stream of world evolution where freedom is possible.
Nevertheless, the time has now come when the Mysteries are to be renewed, in the fullest sense of the word and in the appropriate form. And once these things have been thought about correctly in the future the Goetheanum's work will be appreciated in the world, because the task of this Goetheanum is to renew the Mysteries. And only, my dear sisters and brothers, if we are permeated with the will to understand this School as representing, through us, a renewal of the Mysteries, can we participate in the Mysteries and in the School in the right way.
If you will remember what was presented here in the last Lesson, then what I have just said can live in your hearts. For the transition is made for meditation to really enter directly into the individual's experience so that he frees himself from the narrow limits of his personality.
In the triple-versed structure of the last meditation we saw how we place ourselves in the world process and how in the meditation we confront not only what resounds from our soul but also what resounds to our soul, which in a certain way incorporates itself into a general universal language, a general universal Word. But only when the individual gradually frees himself from the limits of his personality, when he finds himself meditating in an ever more objective way, then will he be able to follow that intimate, subtle path, which is the true path to human knowledge. But for this to happen the objective truths which apply to humanity must become objectively present in him in the most varied ways.
You all know, my dear sisters and brothers, what has often been described as the threefold human nature: the nerve-sensory man, mostly represented by the human head; the rhythmic man, mostly represented by the breast, in which the respiratory and circulatory organs are concentrated. All these organs are everywhere in the organism, are located in other parts of the body as well, but more in certain areas than in others. Then we have the limbs-metabolism-organization, localized downward and outward.
That which can be known theoretically can also be meditatively objective. And when it is meditatively objective it becomes esoteric. Therefore in meditation we must intensively and intimately keep this threefold man in view.
So we have the head-organization, a real replica of the entire cosmos. We have the breast or rhythmic organization, which does not directly show in its form the cosmic image. And least of all does the limbs-metabolism-organization show the image of the cosmos. But man must be intimately conscious of how he places himself in the cosmos through each of these organizations. He must be clear about what takes place in his head. We can feel this directly: when we think, our head is active. We notice that when the head is ailing, thinking is impaired. We sense the head's association to this clearest human earthly activity in both normal and abnormal circumstances. This doesn't mean that the head is really the bearer of the clearest human earthly activity, but it seems so to us.
What is actually going on? When do we see ourselves – in our heads – in the right way? Only, my dear sisters and brothers, when we are aware that this human head would not exist if the star-filled sky did not arch above us. For the moment we will not dispute what the astronomers say about this; we are only taking into account what is visible to the eyes: the sublime starry heavens.
In the previous lesson much was said about this. The stars are there above; their rays of light approach us when we look up at them. But they don't only approach us, we also receive them. And what we receive of the rays of light we enclose in our heads. And out of it sprouts our human activity on earth: our thinking. And so we must imagine: Outside are the stars; our heads receive the effects of the stars' rays. From without it looks as though the stars were sending their rays down to us. Our heads receive these rays; so what has been received is within our heads. From here is looks quite different than from without, but it is the same, the whole starry sky rolled together, so to speak, within our heads.
But only the starry sky? No, not only the starry sky. For – what are the stars? What is in the individual stars which rays toward us? It is the domicile of the gods. They are the places where the gods reside. It is where the gods were sought in the times when instinctive clairvoyance knew where the gods reside, which are the places worthy of the gods.
During the times when such clairvoyance existed, people did not look up at burning points in the cosmos, but at the dwelling places of the gods. And in doing so had a truer idea of what exists in the far reaches of space than do the astronomers of today who observe the points of light and calculate their positions and angles to each other.
But in that man is a threefold being, he speaks and acts through what holds him together: his I – through all three elements of his being, through the nerve-sensory-system, the head; through the rhythmic system, the breast; and through the metabolic-limbs-system. It is held together only because the physical body is a unity. But man always sends his I into the three individual elements and we will learn today the different ways he sends this I into the individual elements.
At first man speaks the I through his thoughts into his head from his innermost being. Truly, it is thus: [draws on the blackboard]: What unfolds without as the shining element of the stars [blue arc, yellow stars], acts in the human head [yellow arc and rays from the stars]. It is also here within [red dots]. Man speaks his I from out of his center of his being into this rolled together cosmic space which is the interior of his head [arrow with the word “Ich”, yellow]. And he should become aware that when he speaks his I into the part of his humanity which is an image of the dwellings of the gods, then the gods themselves who live in these dwellings will act in him. We meditate correctly when we are aware that when we say “I” through the force of our heads, the gods of cosmic space and cosmic time speak in us.
And this is not a teaching given to us on the earth; it is a teaching, my dear sisters and brothers, given to us by the beings of the higher hierarchies themselves, at first from those beings who are with us humans: the angeloi, and in the background the directing archangeloi. This element of human nature – this I – has a relation to the dwelling places of the gods in the radiant stars, from out of which the godly beings themselves speak, and should let itself be taught by the beings we have always referred to as angeloi in our descriptions of the hierarchies.
We correctly accomplish a meditation thus: We look up, allowing ourselves to be impressed by the radiance of the stars, sense that cosmic space itself is sending us words. And these words should be:
It resounds in the periphery. Thus we imagine that we hear it from cosmic space.
It becomes an echo in us. We treat it as a call, but a call that excites us, because all heaven resounds in this call. This is how we meditate. And then we will be conscious of what we have to say from the depths of our souls, from whence in the stillness we answer the cosmic trumpet-call:
Speaks with head-held-high