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From the Contents of Esoteric Classes

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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From the Contents of Esoteric Classes

On-line since: 15th February, 2011

EL, Christiania, 10-5-'13

A number of changes take place in our soul life when we esoterics move up from one step to the next. For one thing, one can no longer think the robust thoughts that an exoteric can. I'll give you an example. William Crookes thought a lot in his life. He may have accomplished more in the spiritist realm than others. No doubt one of his most interesting problems is that of microscopic man. He imagines how a man shrinks to a kind of a homunculus. Finally he's only as big as a beetle who crawls around on a cabbage leaf. This cabbage leaf is the world and the leaf's edges are like high mountains for him. They seem higher than the Himalayas are for ordinary men. People also imagined a man who lives very fast, whose life span — that's about 75 years today — is only two months. The world view of such a man must be quite different, since everything an ordinary man experiences in many years is compressed into 2 months. He doesn't get to know the transition from one season to another at all. He would see the sun like a fiery circle, [about] as if someone swung a glowing coal and saw a closed circle. Flowers shoot out of the earth for him and disappear again immediately. People also imagined a man with an 80,000 year life span. For him flower growth is like a modern investigation of geological evolution and the sun hardly seems to move from its place. Such images are of interest to an esoteric, to the extent that they show him how wild moderns' exoteric thinking can get. Of the three soul forces it's thinking that can go wild the most. An esoteric can't copy this; he lacks robustness for this kind of thinking. Why? Because images like those of microscopic man and the man who lives fast don't lie within the necessities and lawfulness's of world existence. The good Gods were certainly more concerned about a man's life than he is himself, but they created him not as a microcosmic man but as a macrocosmic one, for this alone fitted in the world existence that the Gods created. Now if Crookes could have become a God he might have created such a microscopic man — the good Gods didn't do it, they were too weak. But a modern exoteric is strong. He paints a thought picture like the one of a microscopic man. He's stronger in his thinking than angels are — of whom an ancient document says: And they covered their faces. Why do they do that? Out of embarrassment for men's errors. The Gods created man as a thinking being and the whole world is arranged the way it is because he's supposed to be a thinking being. But if a man believes that thinking could exist by itself when he lets it run wild, he must then fall prey to errors and lose the connection with universal thinking, the primal source of thinking. Then the angels cover their faces. That's how profound these old religious documents are. That's why the exercises that were given to you contain thought pictures like the ones that're contained in the great world plan. And an esoteric will reject ideas like the ones about microscopic or slow or fast-living men. Such thoughts give him a pain, because he feels that they're unhealthy and that they don't lie in the necessity of world existence. He feels something like a burning sensation with respect to microscopic man; he gets hot — as if everything streamed together into a point. Whereas a feeling of coldness comes over him, he freezes from everything that wants to spread out far into the world when he's supposed to imagine a man who gets to be 80,000 years old.

One can also have such a cold feeling with respect to various philosophers. One gets an icy feeling from Anaxagoras and to a lesser extent from Empedocles. Leibniz gives one a feeling of agreeable warmth. He's a pleasant philosopher if his way of expressing himself is understood properly. One also has a burning, hot feeling if one meditates on a point. This is also a good test for esoteric development. If it's easy for me to imagine a point, as it's taught to children today, then it's still not the right thing. But if an esoteric finds it hard to do this, if he has a hot, burning feeling, then this shows that he's making progress in his training.

An image that's good to meditate on is a bowl filled with oil in which a flame is burning and shining. The bowl stands there, the oil is consumed. This gives one a true image of a human being. The bowl is the physical body, the oil is the etheric body, the flame that consumes the oil is the astral body, the shining light is man's ego. This human being varies a great deal depending on climate and location. A man's etheric body expands if he travels to the northeast, as to Finland and it contracts on the way down to Sicily. Strong healing forces can be unleashed thereby, karma permitting.

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