Questions on inner practice
- Bruno Abrami wrote:
thanks for your will to deal with real experiences, I must admit I'm rather
tired of people who write, think, and do nothing else. Rapidly I go to
> However I still have some questions: is it enough that I just imagine the
> object? Don't I need to have a real object in front of me?
If you have difficolties visualizing the mind-image of an object, at the
beginning, you can start with someting you see, than close the eyes and
try to keep the mind-image only. Concentration should be an action of
the I on his own structure, so no outher - specially sensory - supports.
I am glad you are reaching out for more understanding of inner work as we all should.
Though there is much to be learned here, I would like to say that there
seems to much more to developing inner soul capacities than basic concentration exercises
and sheer will. I respect Bruno's (and others) dedication and inner fortitude but there are other
issues to be considered in this on going conversation.
In the Road to Self Knowledge for example, Steiner takes a entirely different approach than concentration per se.
This strongly Goetheian approach is more holistic than most of his suggestions found in his earlier manuals.
Here the meditation process is directed to the experience of the physical,etheric, astral and egoic bodies themselves rather than an image or an object. Differences in approach to meditation arises in the fact that AP as a path is so diverse and perhaps Steiner said too much. There are literally 20-50 different exercises leading to soul development that he discusses in lectures and books. In his earlier works the focus was on basic exercises like concentration and image building and free thinking. But in my humble opinion there is is much more to the work than this, and should be, or one will become as dry as a twig in world.
The head forces working on the so called upper chakras need attention but so does the heart and body. Latter in his life he introduced somewhat in skeletal form Euryhmy, movement poetry work with curative elements which helps balance the tendency to be too heady and spacey. In fact, this is a perennial problem with AP - it tends to send too much attention to the head area (throat, brow and crown chakras) and leaves one with a slightly out of body or spacey feeling of lightness. This is not what he intended, I believe.
The hallmarks of this path and the Rosicrucian path are as follows, as I see it:
First: Be fully awake and conscious in all that we do. In other words be fully incarnate in your body and vital in thinking, feeling and willing.
Two: Be moral and ethical and practice this daily in our interactions with others
Three: Do mediation and prayer to build and develop inner soul abilities to prepare us for direct knowledge of invisible spiritual realms.
Four: Be of Service to others and the world.
Five: Remember God, come to know the Christ and all Beings who are supporting our life on earth.
Sixth: Study esoteric sources in order to expand our understanding of the hidden spiritual side of the world and human nature
Seven: Live a practical, idealistic life with a strong spiritual foundation
There is more, of course, but this is hard enough. As for meditation:
We will continue to discuss this at length I am sure; but I would recommend surveying all the available works of Steiner and then choosing what speaks to you . The new volume First Steps to Inner Development by Steiner is excellent. The Road to Self Knowledge is very good as is Guidance in Esoteric Training. All these works came out after Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Occult Science and more fully round out the path of development he recommended.
Also, you asked, what to do when driving or some mundane activity. Though Bruno's suggestion is a fine one (mantrams and prayer) I would suggest another route. Spiritually dedicated people are always trying to go somewhere else it seems - to the spirit or "within".
In some spiritual work- Zen and Taoism, for example (and I think Steiner would embrace this) the opposite is encouraged at times. Even though people make light of Richard Alpert's aka Ram Das's, Be Here Now attitude, the essence of this is spiritual at its core.
- When driving, try driving with full attention and sensitivity to the will and hands on the wheels. Feel the etheric forces holding the arms up and supporting you back and spine. Be aware of all around you. Slow things down even if they are going fast around you. This develops keen senses and perception, a prerequisite of inner development.
- When walking, walk consciously. Most of the time we are lost in the environment or our own thoughts and stumble along and move without grace or proper posture. Try just be attentive to the feet touching the ground and flexing; are you standing relaxed and erect or slumping; are you breathing naturally and deeply or shallow; how does the will move through the body and make it move about, etc. There is richness in everyday activity though we must find it. Though this all may sound "easy" I guarantee you it is not. Being attentive, centered, and within oneself yet connected to the world is difficult for most. Imagine being this way for hours (as you asked). Some have achieved this and it is possible with practice and persistence.
More than concentration:
I believe the key is not just concentration per se but the commitment to Egoic or Self awareness and being fully awake and conscious at all times. In this one must also be cognitive or understanding of the world we interact with on a daily basis - listening closely to others, paying attention to others non verbal cues; observing weather patterns and the change in light during the day, etc. Very tough stuff. The whys and wherefores are profound in all this but essentially one is learning to "concentrate" the soul in life and maintain a sense of one's own soul being in the living moment during mundane activities.This in turn will transform itself into an energetic connection and awareness of one's being in world and will not take one away from it.
It will also give one a chance to do one's "practice" throughout the day when one chooses and not just a scheduled times. This will in turn enable one to maintain a similar centered soul state when experiencing spiritual realms. The tendency of these realms, at first, is to dissolve you and take you away from your soul. Mental concentration is not sufficient for this. Why? Even though one may have mastered the basic concentration method, it will not be enough when one is encountering the powerful pull of heart forces; or will forces flowing in the body; or the allure of the Double or Lesser Guardian; or elemental forces surging around you. Without inner calm and soul presence, one can be thrown about like a puppet in the wind or spread out like a drop of water in the ocean.
Check out some of the works mentioned above and let's see what you think.
- Dear Jeff and all of this thread,
Thanks for your long enthusiastic post. You (and others?) emphasize that
there is more than concentration, per se [in the path of spiritual
development], and either you or Bruno or Uldis? (i can't tell which from my
reading of your posts and replies) says that one need not focus on an outer
object of concentration because it is more an inner matter, a commitment of
OK, fair enough. Yet, in my own practice, I don't find it to be "either-or."
Concentration on an outer object can be important, and this is not
contradictory to inner work or to commitment of Ego. For example, Steiner
--in one place or 'nother-- said that it is good to choose an object that
might not be of great interest ordinarily, something rather "boring", if you
will, like a pencil or a paper clip. (Of course, once i start to concentrate
on these, i find that they are really very interesting...ha!)
At any rate, concentration is a first step, not an ending.
(((Many paths point to concentration: in Catholicism, the regularity of
certain chanting by monks or nuns, though in some cases,this may involve
less of Ego???; in shamanistic practices, the steadiness of drumming, though
again in some cases,this may involve less of Ego??? and so on.. But these do
involve more of astral, as well as etheric body, perhaps??? Questions...)))
I don't think Steiner said too much in giving 20-50 different exercises.
Different souls have different needs, and people must use discernment. All
roads lead home, i believe, though some may lead through insanity or death
first, before leading home. Hmm...
I especially relate to what Steiner said about the Six Basic Exercises:
***do them first, or you will walk down the road to unclarity, become prey
to evil forces, perhaps lose your way*** (though no one is lost forever, but
there can be lots of pain, if one is not properly prepared);thus, even in
other traditions--shamanistic ones, for example, there is care taken so that
one not lose one's way, and that usually involves the guidance of an
experienced teacher). Maybe what happened to such as Caligula, Nero, others
is that they were not prepared; they jumped ahead, tried to walk before they
Also, from experience I know this: Concentration and the other Five Basics
won't make one "dry as a twig," (to use your expression). Steiner himself
speaks of how these exercises will not lead one to aridity, but to a finely
attuned liveliness of soul, if one does the accompanying *bodily* exercises,
pouring certain feelings into the head, limbs, heart, surface of the body...
So, the Six Basics seem good for a lot of people to *start* with.
Now, I do appreciate what you are saying about working not just with the
head but also with the so-called lower chakras. "As above so below."
Anthroposophists, for example (not all, but many), are often "heady", and
thus ignore of slight lots of Earth issues.
Thanks for your provoking me on this rich topic, and for all you share.
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Just for clarification. I did not mention the six month exercises (and
they are just that, not meditation or transformational, but preliminary
reeducation work . Using these in union will produce a balance in the
soul life. What I was referring to was the constant focus by some on
"concentration" only using imagination and image building as the primary
practice. In fact, observing, studying and focussing on subjects in
nature leads one to the Goethian approach of perception where one
achieves a more direct insight and feeling for the subject and nature.
Remember also that some of these exercises and meditations are universal
and have been around for thousands of years. What Steiner did wisely was
modify, throw out outdated ones and introduce new ones for modern
consciousness. Often when scholars or newcomers read Knowledge of Higher
Worlds he is accused of borrowing from Buddhism and Pythagoreanism. This
is not true, of course, but points out the perennial nature of some of