How an initiate experiences his own death

For the initiate the next physical death is an entirely different event from the death as he knew it formerly. He experiences death consciously by laying aside the physical body as one discards a garment that is worn out or perhaps rendered useless through a sudden rent. Thus his physical death is of special importance only for those living with him, whose perception is still restricted to the world of the senses. For them the student dies; but for himself nothing of importance is changed in his whole environment. The entire supersensible world stood open to him before his death, and it is this same world that now confronts him after death. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 10 – Knowledge of the Higher Worlds – IX – The Guardian of the Threshold

Translated by George Metaxa, with revisions by Henry B. Monges

Previously posted on March 19, 2018

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In the primeval beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and with God was the Word

The Saint John Gospel is looked upon by theologians as a book which emanated out of poetic genius. They have however no understanding for what the Saint John Gospel means.

Whereas the three other evangelists relate the exoteric. Saint John relates what he experiences as an initiated seer, who could look into the Spiritual worlds. The writer of the Saint John Gospel wrote from the point of view of an initiate. Whoever looks upon it as a book that one should read and understand in the same way as one reads and understands any other book knows nothing of the Saint John Gospel. He alone has knowledge of it who can experience it. Most translators do not render the Spirit of it at all.

The first words of this Gospel, rightly translated, sound as follows:

In the primeval beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and with God was the Word.

The same was in the primeval beginning with God.

All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.

In Him was the Life and the Life was the Light of men.

And the Light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

The same came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe on it.

He was not the Light, but a witness of the Light.

For the true Light which lighteth every man, was to come into the world.

It was in the world, and the world was made by It, but the world knew It not.

It came into each individual man (even into the ‘I’ man It came) but the individual man (the ‘I’ man) did not receive It.

Those who did receive It, through It they could reveal themselves as Children of God.

They who trusted in His Name were not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of human will, but of God.

And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us and we have heard His Teaching, the Teaching of the only Son of the Father, filled with Grace and Truth.

These words with their mighty content — one should not take them and speculate over them, but rather allow them to work upon one in the same manner as countless human beings have done through the centuries. Early in the morning when the soul was still virginal, they have let these words resound in their soul, up to the passage: “And the Word become Flesh and lived among us …” as above.

When a man does this day by day, then something shows itself in the soul which gives him new life, he is reborn, he is spiritually transformed. He sees around him a spiritual world of which he had previously no idea.

Everyone who takes the first verses of the Saint John Gospel and lets them work upon him for the education and training of his soul, experiences the Saint John Gospel itself in mighty pictures.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA unknown – Esoteric Christianity: The Gospel of St. John and Ancient Mysteries – Dusseldorf, 27th November, 1906

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Illusion /Reality / Danger

I would like today to draw your attention to the fact that on the border between the sensuous-visible world and the invisible-extrasensory world, indeed, a certain danger lies in wait for the human being, and that someone who wants to become an initiate has to overcome this danger at first. It consists in the fact that it is exceptionally difficult to distinguish illusion from reality, dreams from reality, vision from the real view at the border of the physical and the supraphysical worlds. In this area, it is very easy to confuse own fantastic things of the soul with the objective reality. One needs different qualities that are explained in the following: keeping cool, retaining certainty of the soul, courage, perseverance and energy at the border. If the human being lost the clearness about that which is appearance and what is reality at this border, he would have lost his mind, then he would be a fool instead of an initiate.

Nowadays an immense greed, a true fury exists with most people indeed, if they hear of such matters to behold something of the higher worlds. However, with most human beings the perseverance and the will and above all the strength to overcome everything that must remove the indicated dangers do not exist. 

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Knowledge of Soul and Spirit: Lecture IV: Initiation – Berlin, 28 November 1907

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The difference between an initiate and a clairvoyant

The person who, without being clairvoyant, understands everything spiritual science has to say, is an initiate. However, he who can enter these worlds, which we call the invisible world, is a clairvoyant. In earlier times, not so long ago, there existed a strict separation in the secret schools, between clairvoyants and initiates. As an initiate, without being clairvoyant, a person could attain to knowledge of higher worlds, if only he or she used their intellect in the right way.

On the other hand, someone could be clairvoyant without being initiated into a particularly high degree. It will be clear to you what is meant. Imagine two people, a very scholarly man, who knows all that physics and physiology possibly have to say about light and the phenomena of light, but who is so near-sighted, that he can barely see ten centimetres in front of himself: his eyesight is weak, but he is thoroughly acquainted with the laws of light.

Similarly, someone can be initiated into the spiritual world, but still be unable to perceive clearly what he sees. Another has excellent sight in the outer sensory world but has almost no knowledge of everything the scholarly man knows. Thus, there can also be clairvoyants who are able to perceive the spiritual world – they see into the spiritual world, but have no realisation, no knowledge of that which they see. 

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, October 10, 1907 (page 26)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on March 26, 2018 

The Akasha Chronicle

Whatever a person has done and accomplished is recorded in that imperishable book of history even if there is no mention of it in our history books. We can experience there everything that has ever been done on Earth by conscious beings. Suppose the seer wants to know something about Caesar: he will take some little incident from history as a starting-point on which to concentrate. This he does “in the spirit”; and then around him appear pictures of all that Caesar did and of all that happened round him — how he led his legions, fought his battles, won his victories.

All this happens in a remarkable way: the seer does not see an abstract script; everything passes before him in silhouettes and pictures, and what he sees is not what actually happened in space; it is something quite different. When Caesar gained one of his victories, he was of course thinking; and all that happened around entered into his thoughts; every movement of an army exists in thought. The Akasha Chronicle therefore shows his intentions, all that he thought and imagined as he was leading his legions; and their thoughts, too, are shown. It is a true picture of what happened, and whatever conscious beings have experienced is depicted there. (Plants, of course, cannot be seen.) Hence the Initiate can read off the whole past history of humanity — but he must first learn how to do it.

These Akasha pictures speak a confusing language, because the Akasha is alive. The Akasha image of Caesar must not be compared with Caesar’s individuality, which may already have been reincarnated again. This sort of confusion may very easily arise if we have gained access to the Akasha pictures by external means. Hence they often play a part in spiritualistic séances. The spiritualist imagines he is seeing a man who has died, when it is really only his Akasha picture. Thus a picture of Goethe may appear as he was in 1796, and if we are not properly informed we may confuse this picture with Goethe’s individuality. It is all the more bewildering because the image is alive and answers questions, and the answers are not only those given in the past, but quite new ones. They are not repetitions of anything that Goethe actually said, but answers he might well have given. It is even possible that this Akasha image of Goethe might write a poem in Goethe’s own style. The Akasha pictures are real, living pictures. Strange as these facts may seem, they are none the less facts.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: LECTURE TWO: THE THREE WORLDS – Stuttgart, 23rd August, 1906

Translated by E.H. Goddard & Charles Davy