Explanation Main Exercise
Whoever strives for esoteric development must above all be clear that certain extremely simple formulae conceal a force which takes effect if these formulae or sentences are made alive in the soul. He does not rightly grasp what this implies if he tries to understand such sentences merely with the intellect. That way they say very little to him, to begin with. He must for a certain time fill his whole inner being with such a sentence, pouring himself into it with all the powers of his soul. Such a sentence is: ‘I am’.
The whole secret of present-day human existence really lies in this sentence. Only a being possessed of an external form similar to that of earthly man today is able to think, feel and imbue these words with will. The form of such a being must have developed in such a way that the goal of all the forces working in the body was the frontward shape of the vaulted brow. This vaulted brow and the ‘I am’ belong together. Earlier in the evolution of the human form there was a stage when it had not yet pressed forward into such a brow. At that time the ‘I am’ could be neither inwardly thought, nor willed, nor felt. Now it would be quite wrong to believe that the form of the body, as described above, could itself bring forth the ‘I am’. This ‘I am’ was already in existence, only it could not yet express itself in an appropriate form. Just as it now expresses itself in the bodily form of man, so, in an earlier time, it expressed itself in a world of soul. And it is this very power of the ‘I am’ which, having united in the far-distant past with a human body lacking the present brow-formation, impelled the forehead to assume its present shape. Hence it is that a man, by sinking deeply into the ‘I am’, can feel within himself the force which has moulded him in his present form. And this force is higher than the forces which, in his ordinary life, are active within him today. For it is the creative force of soul which forms the bodily nature out of the soul.
Anyone, therefore, who is aiming at esotericism must, for a short period, live entirely in the ‘I am’. He must think this ‘I am’, while at the same time he experiences within himself something like: ‘I rejoice that I, as an independent being, can participate in the work of shaping the world’. And he must also experience something like: ‘I will my own existence; I resolve to place myself in the whole context of the world’. If a man concentrates all this into a single, inner act of consciousness, and at the same time shifts the whole force of his consciousness upwards into the region of the brow and the inner members of the brain beneath it, then he actually transfers himself into a higher world out of which his brow-formation has been brought into being.
Let him not think, however, that he can attain these higher worlds tomorrow morning. He must have the patience to undertake this meditation day by day, over and over again, for a long time. If he has this patience, then, after some time, he will notice a thought arising within him – no longer a mere concept but a thought teeming with life and force. He will be able to say to himself: ‘The force contained in the seed of a plant, impelling it to form the organs of the plant, must be inwardly alive, just like this thought of mine’. And soon this thought will reveal itself to him as if it were radiating light. In this inner radiation of light he feels happy, full of the joy of existence. A feeling permeates him which can only be described as joyful love in creative existence’. And a force imparts itself to the will as if the thought were radiating warmth through the will, energizing the will. All this can be drawn from sinking himself in the right way into the ‘I am’. He will gradually realize that the highest intellectual, psychical and moral power comes to birth in him in this way, and that he thereby brings himself into a more and more conscious relationship to a higher world.
A second such sentence is: ‘It thinks’. This ‘It thinks’ represents – in a way that corresponds to the account given of the ‘I am’ – the force through which the form of the human speech-organs has been developed from the higher worlds. When thinking was still functioning in a higher world of soul, and not yet within a human body, it worked from that higher world in such a way that organs of speech not yet existing in the human form were incorporated into it. If, therefore, the esoteric pupil sends his thinking, feeling and willing into the depths of the ‘It thinks’, at the same time concentrating his consciousness on the region of the larynx, there will arise in him an experience of the creative force of soul which, from the higher worlds, manifested in the creation of the organs of speech. If again he has the patience described above, he will experience how from the ‘It thinks’ rays go forth which are like the opening harmonies of spiritual music; they fill him with a feeling of reverent devotion, and at the same time with a force which tells him: ‘What I will, as man, will gradually increase in wisdom.’ An inkling will come to him of that force which as divine-spiritual force pours itself through the Cosmos, ordering all things according to measure, number and weight.
A third sentence is ‘She feels’. In still earlier times, the force of this sentence, too, was not yet present within man but dwelt in a higher world of soul. Working down from that higher world, it re-cast the form of the human body. Until then there had been no difference between hands and feet; they were identically shaped organs of movement. Hence man had not yet attained his upright posture. It was a great step forward in human evolution when his anterior organs of movement were transformed into organs for manual work. He was then able to assume his upright posture and so to overcome his lower nature, inasmuch as his gaze was now directed out and upwards towards the heavenly worlds of Spirit. Thereby, too, he first became capable of fashioning karma. For it is only when a being possesses this particular form that his deeds come within his own, individual responsibility.
Thus it was that Spiritual Beings transformed man as the force of the ‘She feels’, which had previously reposed in them alone, streamed into the human body. If therefore the esoteric pupil sinks himself into the ‘She feels’, again in the way described above, he raises himself to the corresponding Creative Powers of the higher worlds. But together with the ‘She feels’ he must concentrate the whole of his consciousness on his arms and hands. Out of the thought ‘She feels’ an experience of indescribably blissful life will then stream to him. This feeling can be described as that of ‘love in active existence’. Thereby he attains consciousness of how the Creative Love flows through cosmic space, and by its deed pours into all things the breath of life.
A fourth sentence is ‘He wills’. It was by the force of this sentence that in a primeval past the human body, as a whole, was for the first time separated out as an independent being from its environment.
Before this force worked upon it from higher worlds, the human body was not shut off on all sides by an outer skin. Streams of substance flowed into the body from all sides and out of it again. It had no independent life but was entirely immersed in the life of its environment. In that epoch, of course, the environment was quite different from that of our own time. If the esoteric pupil now again sinks all his thinking, feeling and willing into the ‘He wills’, concentrating his consciousness on the whole surface of the outer skin, he transfers himself gradually into the sublime creative forces of the ‘He wills’. These are the forces of the supersensible world whereby the things of the world of sense are given their form and shape. If he has sufficient endurance, the human being will feel, in the deeply inward experience of this thought, as if he were raised above all sensible-corporeal existence and were looking down upon the field of sense-creation in order to work upon it in conformity with the Divine Thoughts attained in the spiritual world. The force proceeding from this thought is that of being joyously transported into pure spirituality, and the attainment of a consciousness that out of higher regions one can bring to the world of sense that of which it stands in need.
As he engrosses himself deeply in these thoughts that are forces, the esotericist will simultaneously have to focus attention on his breathing-process and, for a short time, transform it from an unconscious process into a consciously regulated act. For while the forces working from higher worlds upon the human form were achieving the transformation indicated, these same forces produced, within this form, the present breathing-system – the system necessary for a being whose body has an independent existence, the work of whose hands is his own responsibility, whose organs of speech can translate experiences in the life of soul into externally audible sounds. The ascent into the higher regions of world-creation is furthered by directing the attention in this way to the breathing process.
If the esoteric pupil learns by degrees thus to experience consciously the higher cosmic forces, which indeed are always slumbering within him but of which he has hitherto been unaware, then what he should already have assimilated through study becomes alive in him, begins to glimmer into perceptible reality. He should already have acquired the knowledge that man, together with the evolution of the Earth as a whole, passed through different stages of transformation before the present Earth came into being. These stages of transformation are called: the Saturn condition, the Sun condition, the Moon condition. The esotericist has also to acquire the knowledge that in later epochs there is a certain recapitulation of earlier conditions. Thus the Saturn, Sun and Moon conditions were recapitulated during the Earth-evolution, and in such a way that the Saturn repetition corresponds to the creative work of the ‘He wills’ on the outer sheath of the human being. The Sun recapitulation corresponds to the creative work of the ‘She feels’ on the arms and hands, and the Moon recapitulation to the creative work of the ‘It thinks’ on the organs of speech. The idea of the human body as a mere product of the sense-world is abandoned, and the esotericist finds his way to vision of those higher worlds whence come the forces that work creatively upon man. So, too, the bare concepts which have been acquired of such matters as Saturn, Sun and Moon become actual perceptions and experiences. And so indeed it must be if the way is to be found more and more from the exoteric to the esoteric.
The exercises given here must of course be regarded only as a beginning. The pupil must, however, work strenuously through them, and then he will reach the point where he can receive the further exercises through which still higher forces that slumber within him are awakened. The aim is to gain an inkling of the spiritual facts which underline the words, ‘I am’, ‘I think’, ‘She feels’, ‘I will’, and to feel their connection with the members of the human body, whose form has arisen from out of the spiritual world.
It should be added, for information, that in the above Words of Power, the three forms
are well founded in the nature of the higher worlds.
‘It’ is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Thinking: that is, for those Beings in the higher world to whom creative thinking belongs in just the same measure as sense-perception belongs to the human beings below them.
‘She’ is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Soul which originates the Feeling that streams out from it, whereas human feeling streams in, being stimulated from outside. This Feeling of the World Soul is the Creative Cosmic Love which brings all things into existence.
‘He’ is the Word of Power for the Cosmic Will, the Cosmic Spirit whose Will acts from out of Himself, whereas the human will is brought into action through the outer world. This ‘He’ is the Creative, Archetypal Power of the World.