Powerful inspirations by Initiates

Those whom the world recognises as the great men of history were not really the greatest; the greatest, the Initiates, kept in the background.

In the course of the eighteenth century, on a quite unnoticed occasion, an Initiate made brief acquaintance with a writer, and spoke words to which the writer paid no special attention at the time. But they worked on in him and later gave rise to potent ideas, the fruits of which are in countless hands today. The writer was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was not an Initiate, but his knowledge derived from one.

Here is another example. Jacob Boehme, a shoemaker’s apprentice, was sitting alone one day in the shop, where he was not allowed to sell anything himself. A person came in, made a deep impression upon him, spoke a few words, and went away. Immediately afterwards, Boehme heard his name being called: “Jacob, Jacob, today you are small, but one day you will be great. Take heed of what you have seen today!” A secret attraction remained between Boehme and his visitor, who was a great Initiate, and the source of Boehme’s powerful inspirations.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 95 – At the Gates of Spiritual Science: Lecture One: The Being of Man – Stuttgart, 22nd August, 1906

Translated by E. H. Goddard & Charles Davy

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Spiritual darkness

In the thirteenth century spiritual darkness fell for a time upon all human beings, even the most enlightened, and also upon the initiates. Whatever knowledge of the spiritual worlds existed in the thirteenth century came from tradition or from men who in still earlier times had been initiates and were able to call up memories of what they had then experienced. But for a brief space of time it was impossible even for these men to have direct vision of the spiritual world. Darkness had to fall for this short period to prepare for the intellectual culture which was to be characteristic of our modern age. The important point is that we have this kind of culture today in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Culture in the Greek epoch was quite different. Instead of the modern, intellectual kind of thinking, direct perception was then the dominant faculty; the human being was one, as it were, with what he saw and heard, even with what he thought. He did not cogitate and reason as he does today, and needs must do, for this is the task of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In the thirteenth century it was necessary for especially suitable personalities to be singled out for initiation, and the initiation itself could only take place after that brief period of darkness had come to an end.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 130 – Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz – Lecture 1 – Cassel, 27th January 1912

Translated by Pauline Wehrle

Previously posted on July 8, 2014

What the eye sees is of far greater influence than materialistic writings (2 – End)

At a given time an architectural style is created, born out of the great ideas of initiates. Human souls take up the force of these forms. Centuries go by. What the soul has absorbed through its contemplation of building forms appears in the mood of his soul. Ardent souls will then come into existence, souls who look up to the heights. Even when the course was not always quite as I have described it, still like effects showed themselves often in human development.

Now let us follow these people some millennia further. Those who absorbed the forces of the forms of these buildings into their souls show the expression of their inner soul configurations in their countenances. The entire human shape forms itself through such impressions. What was built thousands of years ago, appears to us in human countenances thousands of years later. Thus, one recognizes why such arts were practiced. Initiates look out into the far future and see how human beings are meant to become. Hence it is that at a definite time, they form external building styles, outer art forms, on a large scale. So it is that the germ of future human epochs is laid.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 101 – Occult Signs and Symbols: Lecture II – Stuttgart, 14th September 1907

Previously posted on December 30, 2014

Where are the earlier Initiates?

Now I come back to the question: Where are the earlier Initiates? For certainly it will be said that they are not to be found. But, my dear friends — I shall have to say something paradoxical here! — if it were possible for a number of human beings to be born today at the age of seventeen or eighteen, so that when they descended from the spiritual world they would in some way or other find and enter seventeen- or eighteen-year-old bodies, or if at least human beings could in some way be spared from going to school (as schools are constituted today), then you would find that those who were once Initiates would be able to appear in the human being of the present day. But just as little as it is possible, under the conditions obtaining on earth today, for an Initiate, when he needs bread, to nourish himself from a piece of ice, just as little is it possible for the wisdom of an older time to manifest directly, in the form that you would expect, in a body that has received education — in the present-day accepted sense of the word — up to his seventeenth or eighteenth year. Nowhere in the world is this possible; at all events, nowhere in the civilised world. We have here to take account of things that lie altogether beyond the outlook of the educated men of modern times.

When, as is the custom today, a child is obliged as early as the sixth or seventh year to learn to read and write, it is torture for the soul that wants to develop and unfold in accordance with its own nature. I can only repeat what I have already told you in my autobiography, that I owe the removal of many hindrances to the circumstance that when I was twelve years old I was still unable to write properly. For the capacity of being able to write, in the way that is demanded today, kills certain qualities in the human being.

It is necessary to say such a thing, paradoxical though it may sound, for it is the truth. There is no help for it — it is a fact. Hence it is that a highly evolved individual can be recognised in his reincarnation only if one looks at manifestations of human nature which are not directly apparent in a man, if he has gone through a modern education, but reveal themselves, so to speak, behind him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I – Lecture XII – Dornach, 23rd March 1923

Previously  posted on May 4, 2014

One who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer

I have often emphasised that one who attains really spiritual perception does not become a dreamer or enthusiast, living only in the higher worlds and not seeing external reality. People who are ever dreaming in higher worlds, or about them, and do not see external reality, are not initiates; they should be considered from a pathological point of view, at least in the psychological sense of the term. The real knowledge of initiation does not estrange one from ordinary, physical life and its various relationships. On the contrary, it makes one a more painstaking, conscientious observer than without the faculty of seership. Indeed we may say: if a man has no sense of ordinary realities, no interest in ordinary realities, no interest in the details of others’ lives, if he is so ‘superior’ that he sails through life without troubling about its details, he shows he is not a genuine seer.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 234 – Anthroposophy, An Introduction: Lecture VIII – Dornach, 9th February 1924

Translated by Vera Compton-Burnett