BLTC Press Titles

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Initiation and Its Results

by Rudolf Steiner


1 I would request the physicist not to resent the expression "etheric body." The use of the word "ether" is merely an attempt to suggest the fineness of the phenomenon under consideration. It has practically no connection at all with the hypothetical ether of the physicist.

gested. If one omits to do so, one's view of the etheric body is confused by the complete interpenetration of the astral body.

Now the particles of this etheric body are in continual motion. Countless currents pass through it in every direction. By these currents life itself is supported and regulated. Every body that has life, including the animals and plants, possesses such an etheric double. Even in minerals there are traces of it perceptible to the attentive observer. These currents and movements are almost entirely independent of the human will and consciousness, just as the action of the heart or stomach in the physical body is independent of our will. As long as a person does not take his development (in the sense of acquiring supersensual faculties) into his own hands, this independence remains. For his development at a certain stage consists precisely in adding to the unconscious independent outrayings and movements of the etheric body that by which the individual is enabled to influence them in a conscious manner by himself.

When his occult education has progressed so far that the lotus-flowers described in the foregoing chapters begin to bestir themselves, then the student is given certain directions which lead to the evocation of particular currents and movements within his etheric body. The object of these directions is to fashion in the region of the physical heart a kind of center from which these outrayings and movements, with their manifold forms and colors, may go forth. The center is, in reality, not merely a given point, but a most complicated structure, a really wonderful organ. It glows and shimmers with all kinds of color and displays forms of the greatest symmetry— forms which are capable of transformation with astonishing speed. Other forms and outrayings of color proceed from this organ to the other parts of the body, as also to those of the astral body, which they entirely pervade and illumine. The most important of these rays move, however, toward the lotus-flowers. They pervade each petal and regulate its revolutions; then, streaming out at the points of the petals, they lose themselves in the surrounding space. The more evolved a person may be, the greater becomes the circumference to which these rays extend.

The twelve-petalled lotus-flower has a peculiarly close connection with the center already described. The rays move directly into it, and from it proceed, on the one side, toward the sixteen-petalled and the two-petalled lotuses, and, on the other, the lower side, to the lotuses of eight, of six, and of four petals. This is the reason why the very greatest care must be given to the development of the twelve-petalled lotus. If any imperfection be there allowed, the entire formation of the whole structure must remain disorderly. From what has here been said, one may imagine how delicate and intimate is this occult education, and how strictly one has to conduct oneself if everything is to be developed in the proper way. It will now be quite evident that instruction concerning the development of supersensual faculties can only be given by one who has already experienced everything which he desires to awaken in another, and who is unquestionably in a position to know whether his instructions will be rewarded with success.

If the student follows out what is prescribed for him in these instructions, he introduces into his etheric body outrayings and vibrations which are in harmony with the laws and the evolution of the world to which he belongs. Consequently, these instructions are reflections of the great laws which govern the development of the world. They consist of special exercises in meditation and in concentration, which, if appropriately practised, produce the results described. The content of these instructions may only be imparted to the individual during his occult education. At certain periods these instructions must entirely pervade his soul with their content, so that he is inwardly, as it were, filled with it. He starts quite simply with what is necessary above all things, a deepening and an interiorization of the reasonable and sensible thought of the head. This thought is thus made free and independent of all sense-impressions or experiences. It is in a certain manner concentrated into a point which is entirely in the power of the individual. By doing this a preliminary center for the rays of the etheric body is formed. This center is not yet in the region of the heart, but in that of the head, and it appears to the clairvoyant as the outgoing point of the vibrations. Only that occult educational course is successful which creates this center first. If this center were from the outset transferred to the region of the heart, the clairvoyant could doubtless obtain glimpses of the higher worlds; but he would yet lack any true insight into the connection between these higher worlds and that of our senses, and this for the individual at a certain stage of the world's evolution is an unconditional necessity. The clairvoyant must not become a mere enthusiast; he must retain his footing upon firm earth.

The center in the head, when it has become duly settled, is then transferred further down, that is to say, to the region of the larynx. This change is again induced by a particular exercise of concentration. Then the characteristic vibrations of the etheric body stream forth from this point, and illuminate the astral space that surrounds the individual.

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