reading esoteric lessons

Since my last post, Frank Thomas Smith has continued to publish two more of the esoteric lessons in his own translation. For anyone new to this: the esoteric lessons for the first class are very serious stuff, indeed, it is advanced anthroposophy! But don’t be shy. In the second lecture, Steiner speaks about lies, thoughts that are dead corpses (thinking is dead, materialism, et c), spirit-scoffers, Ahriman, and the role of the guardian. Among other things. He says, for example, that ‘Humor may be called for with respect to some aspects of life. But the humor must then be serious. When we compare earnestness with mere game-playing, it is not sentimentality, false piety or the rolling of eyes as opposed to games.’

Later he talks about truth:

In esoteric life there is no possibility of introducing what is so prevalent in life: interpreting lies as truth. If one tries to do this in esoteric life it is not the interpretation which matters, but the truth. In esoteric life only the truth works, nothing else. You may color something because of vanity, but what has been colored makes no impression on the spiritual world. The unvarnished truth is what is effective in the spiritual world.

Then there’s one part of the lecture I guess might be interesting to bark at:

Take one of the saddest – to the spirit saddest – occurrences of our times, my dear friends. When people think clearly they are citizens of the world, for they well know that thinking makes you human, even when it is dead in the present age.

But people are separated by their feeling into nations, and especially today they let this unconscious feeling dominate in the worst possible way. Because people feel themselves as only belonging to a certain group, all kinds of conflicts arise.

For example, one might in this context (and being a real critic, not a phony one, like I am these days) ask how thinking, feeling, willing relate to the human races. In which race do those individuals incarnate who are capable of doing the thinking… and of leading humanity in spiritual progress? So — what Steiner says sounds nice, but is it?

(Hell, you’re going to suspect I bring these things up only to wind people up. After all, I know what gets people going. And here he is, saying something that seems so nice, why am I trying to wreck it, just to agitate someone. Try figuring out which of the three beasts — which Steiner talks about in this lecture — is most connected to my spiritually deficient state of mind, and give me a diagnosis. Please.)

So let’s talk about the latest edition of Southern Cross Review. In addition the third esoteric lesson, there is among things a short story about a magician cat, which, given the canineosophical circumstances, I cannot possibly recommend to you. So don’t read it. Do not read it. (Mr Dog will hate you.) Then there is, as said, the third lesson. It’s about the spiritual world again, of course, and about the physical world, too; about reality and illusion, truth and error, and separating one thing from another. He talks about thinking, feeling, willing in the spiritual world and about memory.

And when one enters the spiritual world, he immediately senses that his feeling does not stay with him. Thinking at least goes out into the presently existing universe. It disperses, as it were, in cosmic space. Feeling goes out of the universe and if one wants to follow feeling one must ask: Where are you now? When you have become 50 years old, then you have gone back in time farther than 50 years; you have gone back 70 years, 100 years, 150 years. Feeling leads you completely out of the time in which you have lived since childhood.

And willing, if you take it seriously, leads you ever farther back in time, back to your previous earth lives. That is something which happens immediately, dear fiends, when you really come to the threshold of the spiritual world. The physical body ceases holding you together. One no longer feels within the confines of the skin; one feels split into parts.

He talks about the necessity of cultivating reverence for the spiritual in life. (I know — do you draw any educational conclusions?) He talks about honesty in meditation, but before this explains:

When a person begins to meditate, when he or she is really dedicated to the meditation, he would like to continue in tranquility. He does not want it to deprive him of life’s comforts. Well, this desire not to be deprived of life’s comforts is a strong producer of illusions and semblances. Because when you dedicate yourself completely to meditation, necessarily from the depths of your soul the question arises about your capacity for evil. One cannot do otherwise than to feel through meditation, through that penetration into the depths, everything you are capable of perpetrating. But the urge to deny this is so strong that one submits to the illusion that one is essentially a very good person.

The mantras and stuff you’ll just have to read for yourself. They are, in a very special way, quite enjoyable. (It is in the reading of the mantras that I find the biggest difference, I feel, between the German original and Smith’s English translation. Not in a bad way. Somehow, the English language suits the mantras better. Oddly, very oddly. But so it is.)

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11 comments

  1. […] Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric teachings. (The Ethereal Kiosk) […]

  2. Via Roger (https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/news-2) I found this:

    http://southerncrossreview.org/81/ltr-jeremy2.html

    (All the lessons are available online in German, which means everyone — spiritually ready for it or not — have been able to read them for years now. That alone is enough to invalidate much of Jeremy’s argument. That they’ve been available only in German has only really stopped people who don’t read German. Naturally…)

  3. […] of online journals, Southern Cross Review. Southern Cross Review, as you already know (because I told you, if nothing else), publishes the First Class lessons the fourth lesson is published in the latest […]

  4. The basics of Rudolf Steiner and the core of Anthroposophy occurred in the first phase of his life as he developed his life philosophy written in his “Philosophy Of Freedom”. He describes his path to free thinking and morality that set the foundation for his later work. For anyone interested in the basics living at the core of Anthroposophy a new online Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course is available at http://www.philosophyoffreedom.com . Its Free and includes videos, illustrations, and diagrams to help work through the book.

  5. I suspect that any reader who even begin to think about reading the esoteric lessons is also aware that Steiner wrote these more ‘popular’ books. PoF being one. Although it was actually written long before Steiner became a theosophist… The latter being quite important, not to say essential, for his later career (and to the existence of the esoteric lessons).

  6. It’s pretty common knowledge and fairly easy to discern that POF came before Steiner’s obsession with the spiritual world. Steiner shows indications of “opening up” around the time he met Marie Steiner at the turn of the century. I kinda like the romantic idea of a woman softening up this “stick-up-his-butt” German/Austrian. It shows his human side much more than anything he wrote.

  7. It does. If certain things hadn’t happened (like Marie) and he hadn’t had career difficulties otherwise, I can personally doubt he’d have gone theosophy. Of course, anthroposophists might not agree with that; they (some) see less of a transformation (also very human) and more — or even complete continuity…consistency. (And justify what’s blatantly inconsistent in quite nutty ways sometimes.. Steiner himself did it, too, and set the precedent I suppose.)

  8. That he did not like theosophists, feeling mystics, or speculative metaphysics is clear, as he considered this unscientific. Finding no interest in The Philosophy Of Freedom and the failure of his magazine left him the choice of doing little publicly or going in the opposite direction; theosophy, which was popular at the time. Theosophy’s time is over so Steiner’s future influence depends on the restoration of the original Philosophy Of Freedom, which is in fact a humanist path to freedom and just what many people are looking for today, especially the science minded younger generation. What we all have in common is that we are human beings. The younger peoples interest in science and computers has lead to the necessary training in pure thinking required for freedom, so they are ready.

  9. “Theosophy’s time is over so Steiner’s future influence depends on the restoration of the original Philosophy Of Freedom, which is in fact a humanist path to freedom and just what many people are looking for today, especially the science minded younger generation.”

    Would you agree, then, that Anthroposophys’ time is over too? Could there be a Steiner “movement” based on Philosophy of Freedom – and NOT on Anthroposophy? Wouldn’t THAT make more sense – if you really ‘revere’ Steiner? If, as many Anthroposophists claim, it is possible to study Steiner and “overlook” Steiner’s worst ideas, WHY oh WHY can’t they see that Anthroposophy itself, compared to Philosophy of Freedom, is a very second-rate idea? If Steiner had something worthwhile to say, wasn’t THAT it?

    I look forward to some future day when Anthropops become PoFfers. If I can suggest a prophesy come true… For years, Anthros have been fighting Critics in what could be characterized as a sort of “war of all against all”… and Steiner himself said Anthroposophy wouldn’t survive after this war… so I suggest NOW is the time Steiner was talking about – the war of all against all has been fought and Anthropsophy lost… and NOW is the time for Anthroposophists to abandon Anthroposophy and ACTUALLY PARTICIPATE in Steiner’s closest attempt at lucidity… Philosophy of FREEDOM!

  10. The Philosophy Of Freedom contains the principles of freedom that are the basis of any true Anthroposophy. Does Anthroposophy strive toward these ideals? I would say no mainly because anthroposophists don’t even know what these principles are. How do I know? I have posted simple quizzes about these principles and get scores of 40 – 60%. The Philosophy Of Freedom has been declared as the basis of the existing institutional anthroposophy and then dismissed or twisted to conform to the belief of the leaders or variety of new age kooks who are selling something different. Everyone is fooled because others take their word without knowing what is in it. That is why http://www.philosophyoffreedom.com has a study course and also a helpful “illustrated” edition of the Philosophy Of Freedom arranged like a textbook with the principles as topic headings making it difficult to miss what it is saying,

  11. I agree that the new age kooks are not very attractive. I would say, though, that it’s quite funny to see anthroposophists reject other anthroposophists on the basis of a conception of ‘true’ anthroposophy. Even funnier, really, when this done to promote undogmatic anthroposophical ideals.

    But, yes, if PoF, and not the theosophy stuff post 1900, was the true anthroposophy — I suspect anthroposophy would look much less ridiculous than it sometimes does today.

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