Esoteric Lessons 1904-1909: Notes written from memory by the participants and meditation verses by Rudolf Steiner (CW 266/1)
“Rudolf Steiner constantly sought the right soil for certain presentations, and so it could happen that he communicated, as a trial, something from his spiritual research to quite a small circle, sometimes only to three, two, and even only one person. At the same time, he was experimenting to see how far modern consciousness could bear such matters. It was some new research that he presented in this way to a few people. One could ask questions and discuss things. But, after a while, one noticed that he took the same matter to a larger circle—that is, to the circle of people who formed an esoteric group. Then it would happen that he brought it before all the members of the Anthroposophical Society. Moreover, if one waited a little longer, he began to give public lectures on the same subject. Esotericism…had to be implanted step by step in present-day consciousness.” —Carl Unger (lecture in Stuttgart, Oct. 29, 1928)
To read this book is to be part of Rudolf Steiner’s Esoteric School, to experience the growth and development of Anthroposophy from within. First and most essential here is the primacy of practice. Steiner stresses attention and concentration. We waste much of our time and energy on thoughts and feelings that to nowhere. Meditation—concentration on a living thought, an idea of higher origin—begins the process of self-gathering. Controlling our thoughts, we begin to form our “mental” (etheric) body; ordering our memories, we begin to work on our astral body. These two tasks are our preliminary goal. “We must make our life into a school for learning.” Humility is the key—when the world becomes our teacher, we must become humble.
With the beginning of these esoteric lessons, the path is deepened. We witness Rudolf Steiner the spiritual teacher in action. Throughout the lessons, Steiner moves between the so-called Christian-Gnostic path and the theosophical framework of the Masters. As the years unfold, however, the lessons move from the framework given by H. P. Blavatsky toward a deeper, more universal and, at the same time, more contemporary focus. Steiner reveals that behind what Blavatsky brought is the wisdom of Atlantis, which today must come to life again. Here, Christian Rosenkreutz, the Rosicrucians, and the “old philosophers” (alchemists) become important, for it was their task to bring this wisdom, now “enchristed,” into the West.
This volume is the English translation of «Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden, Gedächtnisaufzeichnungen von Teilnehmern. Band.1, 1904-1909» (GA 266/1).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West (2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982); Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books). HarperSanFrancisco included an essay by Mr. Bamford in its anthology Best Spiritual Writing 2000.
Rev. James H. Hindes was a Christian Community priest for more than thirty years, serving as pastor for congregations in England and Germany, as well as in New York City, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, and Denver. Rev. Hindes is the author and translator of several books.