The six basic exercises – 2. Control of the impulses of will

The soul must become a ruler in the sphere of the will as it must be in the world of thought. In the physical-sensory world, it is life itself that appears as the ruler. It emphasizes this or that need of the human being, and the will feels itself impelled to satisfy these needs. In higher training man must become accustomed to obey his own commands strictly. He who becomes accustomed to this will be less and less inclined to desire the non-essential. Dissatisfaction and instability in the life of will rest upon the desire for things the realization of which we cannot conceive clearly. Such dissatisfaction may bring the entire mental life into disorder when a higher ego is about to emerge from the soul. It is a good practice if one gives oneself for months, at a certain time of the day, the following command: Today, at this definite time, I shall perform this or that action. One then gradually becomes able to determine the time for this action and the nature of the thing to be done so as to permit its being carried out with great exactness. Thus one lifts oneself above the damaging attitude of mind found in, “I should like this, I want that,” in which we do not at all consider the possibility of its accomplishment. A great personality — Goethe — lets a seeress say, “Him I love who desires the impossible.” [Goethe: Faust 11.] And Goethe himself says, “To live in the idea means to treat the impossible as though it were possible.” [Goethe: Verses in Prose.] Such expressions must not be used as objections to what is presented here. For the demand of Goethe and his seeress, Manto, can only be fulfilled by someone who has trained himself to desire what is possible, in order then to be able, through his strong will, to treat the “impossible” so that it is transformed through his will into the possible.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 13 – An Outline of Occult Science – V: Cognition of the higher worlds. Initiation. (Part 2)

Translated by Maud and Henry B. Monges and revised for this edition by Lisa D. Monges

Previously posted on November 23, 2014