RUDOLF STEINER ON MEDITATION
In the first book in which Dr. Steiner presented the results of direct spiritual perception, his book THEOSOPHY: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SUPERSENSIBLE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD AND THE DESTINATION OF MAN, he outlines the basic teaching of Spiritual Science concerning Man as a being of nine parts (a threefold body, threefold soul, and threefold spirit) and the re-embodiment of the Ego or reincarnation, the meaning of karma, and the reality of higher regions or worlds. Only after describing these results of spiritual research does he embark on the much more intimate task of describing the methods of this science. He intentionally placed this brief yet profound chapter, entitled "The Path of Knowledge", at the end rather than the beginning because, as he explains, the beginning of direct knowledge of these things for oneself consists in the unprejudiced assimilation of the communications of a genuine spiritual researcher. The effect of really reading the book "Theosophy" upon the soul should stimulate one to wish to know how the things which he has perceived as truths in the presentation were divined, if he has been unprejudiced enough to recognize their truth.
But instead of fantastic or magical descriptions of this process of inner knowing, Dr. Steiner first directs the soul back to its everyday life of thought and feeling and will. If the thoughts contained in the book have been assimilated in the wrong way, the enquiring student may expect something he vaguely imagines as more sensational, of an otherworldly character. But this very seeking for "thrills" or exotic experiences is a great obstacle to the beginner. Spiritual science is the development of healthy human thinking and feeling into quite new forms, but its practice must not be something "other than" one's daily life and normal development of self in each area of life necessary to the individual. There are no shortcuts, no instant transformations without the preparatory work having been done. Our development as human beings is an organic whole; we separate it at our peril.
Therefore, one can see that even before beginning the practice of meditation, which is the source of spiritual knowledge, one must work upon one's present self. This is the Preparation for Initiation, which all human beings pass through in the form of the mundane existence Destiny has allotted us. Dr. Steiner will lead no one far who does not attend to the tasks of his life; the same is true of any teacher or teachings.
After the publication of "Theosophy", Dr. Steiner began writing essays on the methods of spiritual science. These are now published as the book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT, and give specific exercises for the development of the spiritual senses. But in chapter 4 he makes it clear that there are quite definite conditions which must be met before one can even begin to be able to truly meditate. "The Conditions of Esoteric Training" in the chapter's title are seven:
1. Maintaining health of body and balance of mind;
2. Feeling oneself as a link in the whole of life;
3. Recognizing that thoughts and feelings are as real as deeds;
4. Realizing that the being of man is in his inner, not his outer, self;
5. Steadfastness in carrying out a resolution;
6. Feeling gratitude to the cosmos for the gift of life; and
7. Regarding life unceasingly in the manner demanded by the previous conditions.
As stated, all of spiritual science begins with the practice of meditation; but the inner tranquility needed for meditation is itself something that must be striven for and achieved. Spiritual knowledge, unlike the intellectual knowing of the sense-world, is just as dependent upon the development of the moral sense as on the reasoning power of the soul. This does not mean that we must be perfect in all these respects before entering meditation; but these are areas in which we must be making an effort, our BEST effort. It is the spirit in which one attempts that is the essential agent of transformation. A deficiency by commission or by omission in any of these areas will prevent the inner calm of the soul in meditation; this is truly the meaning of the old proverbs about "keeping the temple clean" (health of body and mind) and of the injunction to "go and resolve whatever one has against thy brother" before "placing one's offering on the altar."
By means of the specific exercises given in "Knowledge of the Higher Worlds", the soul develops a central organ with which to regulate the flowing currents of what spiritual science terms the ether- or life-body. This organ at first is centered in the head, but must be brought down to the "12-petalled lotus" (etheric center or chakra) before one can use it to communicate with spiritual beings. As Steiner explains, six of these petals or spokes have already been developed for us in evolution; observing the six conditions for esoteric development awakens the other half, and the wheels begin to turn.
To repeat the conditions again---and one should repeat them until he knows them truly "by heart"---the first is that one be making his best effort to continually advance one's bodily health, and spiritual health as well. Spiritual health Steiner recognizes (as does psychologist Rollo May) as being mainly in increasing one's capacity for love and work; neither losing oneself in pleasure nor taking pleasure in denial (false asceticism),and accepting the tasks of life as they are given.
The second attribute we must have built in ourselves is the feeling of yourself coordinated as a link in the chain of life: having a feeling of identity with all others, rather than alienation or estrangement, and acknowledging that you share the responsibility for all that occurs in man's world---although turning this feeling inward, towards reform of self rather than external (especially political) involvements.
The third character trait we must instill into ourselves is the continuous awareness that our thinking and feelings are as important for the world as our actions. The only difference is that we may conceal the one from others; our inner actions are just as visible to higher beings, however. Truly, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
The fourth condition is that we know that the real being of man lies in his inner not his outer self. In particular here, it is necessary to see oneself as a being according to inner activity rather than external action. It is what one is, rather than what one does, which is the true man. Not that we are to become inactive; we must seek a "spiritual balance" or mean between our inner feelings of duty and outer circumstances. Our hearts must remain open to the needs of the outer world, while within we maintain inner fortitude and unfaltering endurance; not identifying our selves with our actions, while not disdaining action either (Pythagoras' "golden mean").
The fifth quality to be had is steadfastness in carrying out a resolution. One only acquires this by removing the power of circumstances to alter one's chosen course; this in turn is only possible if we make our motivation pure love for doing the deed itself. If we will to do something purely because we recognize it as right, rather than for personal gain, then the outer outcome is irrelevant.
The sixth petal is developed when we cultivate the ability to see how much we are given in life and feel true thankfulness at every opportunity.
These qualities should be worked upon by all students before entering into the meditative exercises; in fact, as previously stated, true meditation---inner tranquility for contemplation---will elude the student who is not making his best effort in all these areas; and the soul, which is what contemplates, "knows" if one is not making his best effort even if one closes one's conscious mind to that fact.
*To Be Continued...