The capacities by which we can gain insights intohigher worlds lie dormant within each one of us. Mystics,gnostics, and theosophists have always spoken of a worldof soul and spirit that is as real to them as the world wecan see with our eyes and touch with our hands. Listeningto them, we can say to ourselves at every moment: “Iknow that I, too, can experience what they talk about, ifonly I unfold certain forces within me that today still liedormant there.” All we need to know is how to begin todevelop these faculties for ourselves.Only those who have already developed such powersfor themselves can help us to do this. From the beginningof the human race, a form of schooling has always existedin which persons possessing higher faculties guide thosewho seek to develop these faculties for themselves. Suchschooling is called esoteric or mystery schooling; and theinstruction one receives there is called esoteric or occultteaching.By their very nature, these terms invite misunderstanding.Hearing them, we might easily be led to believe thatthose who provide this kind of schooling wish to form aprivileged class of human beings who arbitrarily withholdtheir knowledge from their fellows. We might even thinkthat perhaps there is nothing much to this kind of knowledge.Were it genuine knowledge, we are tempted tothink, there would be no need to make a secret of it; itcould be made public and its benefits shared by all.Those initiated into the nature of esoteric knowledgeare not in the least surprised that the uninitiated shouldthink like this. After all, the secret of initiation can be understoodonly by those who have themselves, to some degree,undergone initiation into the higher mysteries ofexistence. How, we may well wonder, under these conditions,are the uninitiated to develop any human interestwhatsoever in this so-called occult knowledge? Why andhow should one seek for something of whose nature onecan have no clear idea?Such questions are basedon a completely false idea ofthe nature of esoteric knowledge. In actuality, esoteric orinner knowledge is no different from other kinds of humanknowledge and ability. It is a mystery for the average persononly to the extent that writing is a mystery for thosewho have not yet learned to write. Just as, given the rightteaching methods, anyone can learn to write, so too anyonecan become a student of esoteric knowledge, and, yes,even a teacher of it, if he or she follows the appropriatepath. Ordinary knowledge and ability differ from esotericknowledge in one respect only. A person may not have thepossibility of learning to write because of the cultural conditionsor poverty he or she is born into, but no one whoseeks sincerely will find any barriers to achieving knowledgeand abilities in the higher worlds.Many people believe that they must seek out mastersof higher knowledge wherever such masters may befound in order to receive teachings from them. There is atwofold truth to this. On the one hand, if our aspiration tohigher knowledge is sincere, we will certainly spare noeffort and avoid no obstacle in our quest for an initiateable to lead us into the higher mysteries of the world. Onthe other hand, we can be certain that, if our striving forknowledge is sincere and worthy, initiation will find uswhatever the circumstances. There is a universal lawamong initiates that the knowledge due a seeker cannot bewithheld. But there is also another universal law that esotericknowledge may not be imparted to anyone not qualifiedto receive it. The more perfect the initiate, the morestrictly these two laws are observed.The spiritual bond uniting all initiates is not an outwardone, but the two laws just mentioned are what hold itsmembers together. You may live in close friendship withone who has been initiated, but until you yourself havebeen initiated something will always separate you fromthat initiate’s inmost being. You may enjoy an initiate’sfull heart and love, but the initiate will not share the secretwith you until you are ready. You may flatter, youmay torment, but nothing will induce the initiate to betrayanything that should not be divulged to you if, at thepresent stage of your development, you do not yet understandhow to prepare a proper welcome for this secret inyour soul.Quite specific methods prepare us to receive suchsecrets. Their course is traced out with indelible, eternalletters in the spiritual worlds where initiates preserve thehigher secrets. In ancient, prehistoric times, the templesof the spirit were outwardly visible, but today, when ourlife has become so unspiritual, they no longer exist wherewe can see them with our physical eyes. Yet spirituallythey are still present everywhere, and whoever seeks canfind them.Only within our own souls can one find the means ofopening an initiate’s mouth. But before one can receivethe highest treasures of the spirit, one must develop definiteinner qualities to a specific high degree.We begin with a fundamental mood of soul. Spiritualresearchers call this basic attitude the path of reverence,of devotion to truth and knowledge. Only thosewho have acquired this fundamental mood or attitude canbecome pupils in an esoteric school. Anyone with anyexperience in this area knows that those who later becomestudents of esoteric knowledge demonstrate thisgift for reverence in childhood. Some children look up tothose whom they revere with a holy awe. Their profoundrespect for these people works into the deepest recessesof their hearts and forbids any thoughts of criticism oropposition to arise. Such children grow up into youngpeople who enjoy looking up to something that fills themwith reverence. Many of these young people become studentsof esoteric knowledge.If you have ever stood before the door of someone yourevered, filled with holy awe as you turned the doorknobto enter for the first time a room that was a “holy place”for you, then the feeling you experienced at that momentis the seed that can later blossom into your becoming astudent in an occult, esoteric school. To be gifted with thepotential for such feelings is a blessing for every youngperson.We should not fear that such feelings of reverence leadto subservience and slavery; on the contrary, a child’sreverence for others develops into a reverence for truthand knowledge. Experience teaches that we know besthow to hold our heads high in freedom if we have learnedto feel reverence when it is appropriate—and it is appropriatewhenever it flows from the depths of the heart.We will not find the inner strength to evolve to ahigher level if we do not inwardly develop this profoundfeeling that there is something higher than ourselves. Initiatesfound the strength to lift themselves to the heightsof knowledge only because they first guided their heartsinto the depths of veneration and devotion. Only a personwho has passed through the gate of humility can ascendto the heights of the spirit.To attain true knowledge, you must first learn to respectthis knowledge.We certainly have the right to turn our eyes toward thelight, but we must earn this right. Spiritual life has itslaws just as physical life does. Rub a glass rod with theappropriate substance and it becomes electrified—that is,the glass rod will now have the power to attract small particles.This process demonstrates a physical law. If onehas learned some elementary physics, one knows that thisis so. Similarly, if one knows the fundamentals of esotericscience, one knows that every feeling of true devotionunfolded in the soul produces an inner strength orforce that sooner or later leads to knowledge.Whoever possesses an innate tendency toward feelingsof devotion, or has been lucky enough to receive aneducation that cultivated those feelings, is well prepared inlater life to seek the way to higher knowledge. Those whodo not bring this preparation with them will have to workat developing this devotional mood with vigorous self-discipline;if not, they will encounter difficulties after takingonly the first few steps on the path of knowledge. In ourtime it is particularly important to focus complete attentionon this point. Our civilization is more inclined to criticize,judge, and condemn than to feel devotion and selfless veneration.Our children criticize far more than they respect orrevere. But just as surely as every feeling of devotion andreverence nurtures the soul’s powers for higher knowledge,so every act of criticism and judgment drives thesepowers away. This is not meant to imply anything againstour civilization—our concern here is not to criticize it. Afterall, we owe the greatness of our culture precisely to ourability to make critical, self-confident human judgmentsand to our principle of “testing all and keeping the best.”Modern science, industry, transportation, commerce,law—all these would never have developed without theuniversal exercise of our critical faculty and standards ofjudgment. But the price of this gain in outer culture hasbeen a corresponding loss in higher knowledge and spirituallife. Therefore we must never forget that higherknowledge has to do with revering truth and insight andnot with revering people.Nevertheless, we must be clear about one thing.Those completely immersed in the superficial civilizationof our day will find it particularly difficult to work theirway to cognition of the higher worlds. To do so, they willhave to work energetically upon themselves. In timeswhen the material conditions of life were still simple,spiritual progress was easier. What was revered and heldsacred stood out more clearly from the rest of the world.In an age of criticism, on the other hand, ideals are degraded.Reverence, awe, adoration, and wonder are replacedby other feelings—they are pushed more and moreinto the background. As a result, everyday life offers veryfew opportunities for their development. Anyone seekinghigher knowledge must create these feelings inwardly, instillingthem in the soul. This cannot be done by studying.It can be done only by living.If we wish to become esoteric students, we must trainourselves vigorously in the mood of devotion. We mustseek—in all things around us, in all our experiences—forwhat can arouse our admiration and respect. If I meetother people and criticize their weaknesses, I rob myselfof higher cognitive power. But if I try to enter deeply andlovingly into another person’s good qualities, I gather inthat force.Disciples of this occult path must always bear in mindthe need to cultivate such admiration and respect. Experiencedspiritual researchers know what strength they gainby always looking for the good in everything and withholdingtheir critical judgment. This practice should notremain simply an outer rule of life, but must take hold ofthe innermost part of the soul. It lies in our hands to perfectourselves and gradually transform ourselves completely.But this transformation must take place in ourinnermost depths, in our thinking. Showing respect outwardlyin our relations with other beings is not enough;we must carry this respect into our thoughts.Therefore we must begin our inner schooling by bringingdevotion into our thought life. We must guard againstdisrespectful, disparaging, and criticizing thoughts. Wemust try to practice reverence and devotion in our thinkingat all times.Each moment that we spend becoming aware ofwhatever derogatory, judgmental, and critical opinionsstill remain in our consciousness brings us closer to higherknowledge. We advance even more quickly if, in suchmoments, we fill our consciousness with admiration, respect,and reverence for the world and life. Anyone experiencedin these things knows that such moments awakenforces in us that otherwise remain dormant. Filling ourconsciousness in this way opens our spiritual eyes. We beginto see things around us that we could not see before.We begin to realize that previously we saw only a part ofthe world surrounding us. We begin to see our fellow humanbeings in a different way than we did before.Naturally, this rule of life alone does not yet enable usto perceive what, for example, is called the human aura.For this, still higher schooling is needed. Yet we cannotbegin such schooling until we have undergone a vigoroustraining in devotion.As occult pupils, we should embark upon “the pathof knowledge” quietly, unnoticed by the outer world. Noone should perceive any change in us. We continue tocarry out our duties and attend to our business just as before.Changes occur only in the inner part of the soul,which is withdrawn from, and invisible to, the outer eye.At first, a basic mood of devotion to everything truly worthyof reverence suffuses our entire inner life. This onefundamental feeling becomes the center of our soul’s life.Just as the sun’s rays quicken all living things, so the reverencein us quickens all the feelings in our soul.At first glance, it is not easy to believe that feelingsof reverence and respect are in any way connected withknowledge. This is because we tend to see cognition as anisolated faculty that has no connection whatsoever withanything else going on in our souls. Thus we forget that itis the soul that cognizes. What food is to the body, feelingsare to the soul. If we feed the body stones instead ofbread, it will cease to function. It is the same with thesoul. We nourish it with reverence, respect, and devotion.These make the soul healthy and strong, particularly forthe activity of knowing. Disrespect, antipathy, and disparagingadmirable things, on the other hand, paralyze andslay our cognitive activities.For spiritual researchers these soul realities are visiblein the aura. A soul that learns feelings of devotion andreverence changes its aura. Certain spiritual yellow-red orbrown-red colors, as they may be called, disappear andare replaced by tones of blue-red. Our cognitive capacityincreases. We now receive information about facts in ourenvironment of which we were previously unaware. Reverenceawakens a power of sympathy in the soul. Thisdraws toward us qualities in the beings around us thatwould otherwise remain hidden.What we attain through devotion becomes evenmore effective when another kind of feeling is added.This consists in our learning to surrender ourselves lessand less to the impressions of the outer world and developinstead an active inner life. If we chase after amusementsand rush from one sense impression to the next, we willnot find the way to esoteric knowledge. Not that occultstudents should become dull or unfeeling toward the outerworld; rather, a rich inner life should orient us in respondingto impressions.A person rich in feeling and deep of soul who passesthrough a beautiful mountain landscape will have a differentexperience from one whose inner life is poor infeeling. Inner experience is the only key to the beauties ofthe outer world. It depends upon the inner lives we havedeveloped whether, when we travel across the ocean,only a few inner experiences pass through our souls, orwe sense the eternal language of the world spirit and understandthe mysterious riddles of creation. To develop ameaningful relationship to the outer world we must learnto work with our own feelings and ideas. The worldaround us is filled everywhere with the glory of God, butwe have to experience the divine in our own souls beforewe can find it in our surroundings.As students of occult knowledge, we are told to createmoments in life when we can withdraw into ourselves insilence and solitude. In these moments, we should notgive ourselves up to our own concerns. To do so wouldlead to the opposite of what we are striving for. Instead,in such moments, we should allow what we have experienced—what the outer world has told us—to linger on inutter stillness. In these quiet moments, every flower, everyanimal, and every action will disclose mysteries undreamedof. This prepares us to receive new senseimpressions of the outer world with eyes quite differentthan before.If we seek only to enjoy—consume—one sense impressionafter another, we will blunt our capacity for cognition.If, on the other hand, we allow the experience ofpleasure to reveal something to us, we will nurture andeducate our cognitive capacities. For this to happen, wemust learn to let the pleasure (the impression) linger onwithin us while we renounce any further enjoyment (newimpression) and assimilate and digest with inner activitythe past experience that we have enjoyed.Here we must face a great hurdle, and with it a greatdanger. Instead of working inwardly we can fall into theopposite and indulge our enjoyment to the full. We shouldnot underestimate the boundless sources of error openingup for us here. For we must pass through a throng oftempters of the soul, all of whom seek to harden the I andenclose it in itself.As students, it is our task to open the I to the world. Andbecause the outer world can approach us only throughsensory impressions, we must certainly seek for pleasurethere. If we become indifferent to enjoyment, we becomelike plants that can no longer draw nourishment from theirenvironment. On the other hand, if we stop at mere pleasure,we become shut up in ourselves. We might havemeaning for ourselves, but we will have none for theworld. No matter how intensely we live in ourselves andhow much we cultivate our “I,” the world will then cut usout. As far as the world is concerned, we shall be dead.As esoteric students, we regard pleasure only as a meanswhereby we can become nobler for the sake of the world.Pleasure becomes a messenger, instructing us about theworld. After we have taken in the teaching it provides, wemove on to inner work. The purpose is not to accumulatelearning as our own private store of knowledge, but toplace what we have learned in the service of the world.One fundamental principle of esoteric science,taught in every form of schooling, must never be violatedif we wish to achieve our goal: Every insight that you seekonly to enrich your own store of learning and to accumulatetreasure for yourself alone leads you from your path,but every insight that you seek in order to become moremature on the path of the ennoblement of humanity andworld evolution brings you one step forward. This fundamentallaw must always be observed. Only if we make itthe guiding principle of our lives can we call ourselvesgenuine seekers after higher knowledge.This truth of esoteric schooling may be summarized asfollows: Every idea that does not become an ideal for youkills a force in your soul, but every idea that becomes anideal for you creates forces of life within you.Inner PeaceAt the beginning of esoteric training, the student isdirected first to the path of reverence and to the developmentof an inner life. Spiritual science then providespractical rules which, when observed, help us to followthis path and develop an inner life. These practical rulesare not arbitrary. They are based on age-old experienceand wisdom. They are given in a similar manner whereverways to higher knowledge are taught. All true teachers ofspiritual life agree upon the content of these rules, thoughthey may not always express them in the same words.Any apparent differences are only minor and are due tofacts we need not discuss here.No teacher of spiritual life exercises dominion overother human beings by means of such rules. Such teachersdo not seek to restrict anyone’s autonomy. Indeed, there isno better judge and guardian of human independence thana spiritual researcher. As we said earlier, a spiritual bondconnects all initiates, and two laws hold this bond together.But when initiates leave their closed spiritual circle and appearin public, they are immediately subject to a third law:“Regulate each of your words and actions so that you donot interfere with anyone’s free decisions and will.”Once we have realized that a true teacher of spirituallife must be thoroughly permeated by this attitude,we know that we can lose nothing of our independence ifwe follow the practical rules we are given.One of the first rules may now be put into words,somewhat as follows: “Create moments of inner peace foryourself, and in these moments learn to distinguish the essentialfrom the inessential.” Here, as I said, it is put intowords, but originally all the rules and teachings of spiritualscience were given symbolically in a sign language.Whoever would learn the full meaning and import ofthese rules must first understand this symbolic language.Such understanding, however, depends upon havingtaken the first steps in spiritual science. To take thesesteps, one must observe closely the rules presented here.The way stands open to anyone whose will is sincere.The rule concerning moments of inner peace is simple.Following it is also simple. However, the rule leadsto results only when the practice of it is as sincere and rigorousas it is simple. Therefore it will be plainly statedhow this rule is to be followed.As students of the spirit, we must set aside a briefperiod of time in daily life in which to focus on things thatare quite different from the objects of our daily activity.The kind of activity we engage in must also differ fromwhat occupies the rest of our day. This is not to say, however,that what we do in the minutes we have set aside isunconnected with the content of our daily work. On thecontrary, we soon realize that, if approached in the rightway, such moments give us the full strength for completingour daily tasks. We need not fear that following thisrule will actually take time away from our duties. Ifsomeone really cannot spare any more time, five minutesa day are sufficient. What matters is how those five minutesare used.In these moments we should tear ourselves completelyout of our everyday life. Our thinking and feelinglives should have a quite different coloring than they usuallyhave. We should allow our joys, sorrows, worries, experiences,and actions to pass before our soul. But ourattitude toward these should be one of looking at everythingwe have experienced from a higher point of view.Consider, in ordinary life, how differently we perceivewhat other people have experienced or done from the waywe perceive what we ourselves have experienced or done.This must be so. We are still interwoven with what we experienceor do, but we are only onlookers of other people’sexperiences or acts. In the time we have set aside forourselves, then, we must strive to view and judge our ownexperiences and actions as though they belonged to anotherperson.For example, imagine you have had a serious misfortune.You naturally regard your own misfortune differentlythan you would that of another person. This attitudeis quite justified; it is simply human nature. Indeed, itcomes into play not only in exceptional circumstances butalso in the events of everyday life.As students of higher knowledge we must find thestrength to view ourselves as we would view strangers.We must face ourselves with the inner tranquillity of ajudge. If we achieve this, our own experiences will revealthemselves in a new light. As long as we are still woveninto our experiences, and stand within them, we will remainas attached to the nonessential as to the essential. Butonce we have attained the inner peace of the overview, thenonessential separates itself from the essential. Sorrowand joy, every thought, every decision will look differentwhen we stand over against ourselves in this way.It is as though we spent the whole day somewhere andsaw everything, small and large, at close range, and then inthe evening climbed a neighboring hill and enjoyed anoverview of the whole place at once. Then the various partsof the town and their relationships to each other would appearvery different from when we stood among them.Of course, one cannot succeed in achieving such a transcendentperspective toward whatever experience destinydaily brings us—nor is it necessary to do so. However, asstudents of the spiritual life, we must strive to develop thisattitude toward events that occurred in the past. The valueof such inner, peace-filled self-contemplation dependsless upon what one contemplates and more upon findingthe inner strength that such inner calm develops.For all human beings, in addition to what we maycall the ordinary, everyday self, also bear within themselvesa higher self or higher human being. This higherhuman being remains concealed until it is awakened. Andit can be awakened only as each of us, individually, awakensit within ourselves. Until then, the higher facultiesthat are latent within each one of us and that lead to supersensibleknowledge remain hidden.We must continue to observe this rule seriously andfaithfully until we feel the fruits of inner calm and tranquillity.For each of us who does this, a day will comewhen all around will become bright with spirit. Then, toeyes we did not know we had, a whole new world will berevealed.Nothing needs to change in our outer lives becausewe begin to follow this rule. We carry out our duties asbefore. In the beginning, too, we endure the same sufferingsand experience the same joys. We must not in anyway become alienated from “life.” On the contrary, webecome able to live “life” more fully the rest of the day,just because we are acquiring a “higher life” in those momentswe set aside.As this “higher life” makes its influence more and morefelt in our ordinary, established lives, the calm of our contemplativemoments begins to affect our everyday existence.Our whole being becomes more peaceful. We actwith greater confidence and certainty in all our undertakings.We do not lose composure in the face of all kinds ofevents. Slowly, as we continue on the path, we increasinglycome to guide ourselves, as it were, rather than allowingourselves to be led by circumstances and outerinfluences. Before long, we realize that the moments setaside each day are a great source of strength for us.For example, we gradually cease to become angryabout the things that used to annoy us, and are no longerafraid of many things that used to frighten us. Instead, weacquire a whole new outlook on life. Hitherto we mayhave approached what we had to do hesitantly, saying toourselves, “Oh, I don’t have the strength to do this as Iwould like to.” Now, however, such thoughts no longeroccur to us. We are more likely to say, “I shall gather upmy strength and do my task as well as I possibly can.” Wesuppress any thought that could make us tentative, becausewe know that hesitation can lead to a poorer performance,or at least can do nothing to improve the executionof what we have to do.Thus thought after thought, fruitful and beneficial forthe affairs of our lives, begins to permeate our interpretationof life. These new thoughts replace the thoughts thatpreviously weakened and hindered us. In the process, webegin to steer a safe and steady course through the ups anddowns of life, rather than being tossed about by them.Such inner calm and certainty affect our whole nature.Our inner person grows, and with it, inner facultiesthat lead to higher knowledge. As we progress in this direction,we become increasingly able to control the effectthat impressions from the outer world have upon us. Forexample, we may hear someone say something to hurt oranger us. Before we began esoteric training, this wouldhave made us feel hurt or anger. Now, however, becausewe are on the path of inner development, we can takethe hurtful or annoying sting out of another’s wordsbefore it finds its way into our inner being. Anotherexample: before beginning to follow this path, we mayhave been quick to lose our patience when we had to waitfor something. But now, having started on the path andbecome pupils in a school of esoteric study, we imbueourselves in our contemplative moments so fully with therealization that most impatience is futile that, wheneverwe feel any impatience, it immediately calls this realizationto mind. The impatience that was about to take rootthus disappears, and the time we would otherwise havewasted in expressions of impatience can now be filledwith some useful observation that we may make whilewe wait.We should realize the scope and significance of allthese changes. The “higher self” within us evolves continuously.Only such inner calm and certainty as has been describedcan ensure that its evolution unfolds organically. Ifwe are not masters of our own lives but are ruled by life,then the waves of outer life press in upon our inner selffrom all sides, and we are like a plant trying to grow in thecleft of a rock. Unless it is given more space, the plant willbe stunted. Outer forces cannot create the space our innerbeing needs to grow. Only the inner calm we create in thesoul can do so. Outer circumstances can change only ourouter life situation—they can never awaken the “spiritualperson” within. As esoteric students, we ourselves mustgive birth to a new, higher being within us.This higher self then becomes the inner ruler, directingthe affairs of the outer person with a sure hand.As long as the outer being has the upper hand and guidesus, the “inner” self remains its slave and cannot unfoldits powers. If other people can make me angry, I am notthe master of myself—or rather, better stated, I have notyet found the “inner ruler.” In other words, I must developthe inner faculty of allowing the impressions of theouter world to reach me only in ways that I myself havechosen. Only if I do this, can I become a student of theoccult.Only a person striving sincerely for this ability canreach the goal. How far we advance in a certain amountof time is unimportant; what matters is only that our seekingbe sincere. Many work on themselves for years withoutnoticeable progress, and then suddenly—if they havenot despaired, but have remained unshakable—they attainthe “inner victory.”Of course, in many life situations, great strength isneeded to create such moments of inner peace. But thegreater the effort required, the more meaningful theachievement accomplished. On the path to knowledge alldepends upon whether we can face ourselves and all ourdeeds and actions energetically, with inner truthfulnessand uncompromising honesty, as though we were strangersto ourselves.Yet the birth of our own higher self marks only oneside of our inner activity. Something else is also needed.When we look upon ourselves as strangers it is still onlyourselves that we are contemplating. We see the experiencesand actions connected to us by the particularcourse of life we have grown through. But we must gobeyond that. We must rise to see the purely human levelthat no longer has anything to do with our own particularsituation. We must reach the point of contemplatingthose things that concern us as human beings as such,completely independent of the circumstances and conditionsof our particular life.As we do this, something comes to life in us that transcendswhat is personal or individual. Our view is directedtoward worlds higher than those our everyday lifebrings us. We begin to feel, to experience, that we belongto these higher worlds of which our senses and everydayactivities can tell us nothing. The center of our beingshifts inward. We listen to the voices that speak within usin our moments of serenity. Inwardly, we associate withthe spiritual world. Removed from our daily round, webecome deaf to its noise. Everything around us growsstill. We put aside everything that reminds us of outer impressions.Quiet, inward contemplation and dialog withthe purely spiritual world completely fill our soul.For students of the spirit, this quiet contemplation mustbecome a necessity of life. At first, we are wholly absorbedin a world of thought. We must develop a livingfeeling for this silent thinking activity. We must learn tolove what streams toward us from the spirit. Then weshall soon cease to accept this world of thought as lessreal than the everyday life surrounding us. Instead, wewill begin to work with our thoughts as we do with materialobjects. And then the moment will approach when webegin to realize that what is revealed to us in the silenceof inner thinking activity is more real than the physicalobjects around us. We experience that life speaks in thisworld of thoughts.We realize that thoughts are not mere shadow picturesand that hidden beings speak to us through thoughts. Outof the silence something begins to speak to us. Previouslywe could hear speech only with our ears, but now wordsresound in our souls. An inner speech, an inner word, isdisclosed to us. The first time we experience this we feelsupremely blessed. Our outer world is suffused with aninner light. A second life begins for us. A divine, bliss-bestowingworld streams through us.This life of the soul in thoughts, gradually broadeninginto life in spiritual beingness, is called in spiritual scienceor gnosis “meditation” (contemplative reflection).Meditation, in this sense, is the way to supersensibleknowledge.We should not lose ourselves in feelings in these momentsof meditation. Nor should our souls be filled withvague sensations. This would only keep us from attainingtrue spiritual insight. Our thoughts should be clear,sharp, precise. We will find a way of achieving this if wedo not stay blindly with the thoughts arising within us.Rather, we should fill ourselves with high thoughts thatmore advanced and spiritually inspired souls havethought in similar moments. Here our starting pointshould be writings that have themselves grown out ofmeditative revelations. We may find such texts in worksof mystical, gnostic, or spiritual scientific literature.These texts provide the material for our meditations.After all, it is seekers of the spirit who have themselvesset down the thoughts of divine science in suchworks. Indeed, it is through these messengers that thespirit has permitted these thoughts to be made known tothe world.Practicing such meditation will completely transformus. We begin to form quite new ideas about reality.Things take on a different value for us. Yet such transformationdoes not make us unworldly. In no way does itestrange us from our daily responsibilities. This pathteaches us that the most trivial tasks we have to carry outand the most trivial experiences that come our way arewoven together with great cosmic beings and worldevents. Once this interconnection becomes clear to us inour moments of contemplation, we will enter our dailyround of activities with new and increased strength, becausenow we know that all our work and all our sufferingare work and suffering for the sake of a great, spiritual,cosmic interrelationship. Thus meditation produces notindifference but strength for life.Consequently, students of higher knowledge walkthrough life with confidence, holding their heads high, regardlessof what life may bring them. Before, they did notknow why they worked and suffered. Now they know.Naturally, such meditative activity will lead to its goalmore easily if it is practiced under the guidance of someonewith experience who knows from personal knowledgehow best to do it. Therefore, we would do well to considerthe advice and instructions of such people. We certainlywill not thereby lose our freedom or independence. Suchguidance turns uncertain groping into work with a clearend. If we listen to those with knowledge and experiencewe will never ask for guidance in vain. Nevertheless, wemust understand that we are seeking only the advice of afriend, not domination by someone who wants to havepower over us. We will always find that those who trulyknow are the most humble and that nothing is more aliento them than any lust for power.When we raise ourselves through meditation to whatunites us with the spirit, we quicken something within usthat is eternal and unlimited by birth and death. Once wehave experienced this eternal part in us, we can no longerdoubt its existence. Meditation is thus the way to knowingand beholding the eternal, indestructible, essential centerof our being. Only meditation can lead us to this vision.Gnosis and spiritual science speak of the immortality ofthis essence and of its reincarnation. It is often asked whywe do not know anything of our experiences before birthand after death. This is the wrong question. Rather, weshould ask how we can attain such knowledge.Meditation, properly carried out, opens the way to suchknowledge. Meditation brings to life memories of experiencesthat lie beyond birth and death. Each of us can attainthis knowledge; each of us possesses the capacities tosee firsthand what true mysticism, spiritual science, anthroposophy,and gnosis teach. We have but to choose theright means. Only a being with ears and eyes can perceivesounds and colors. But even the eye can see nothing whenthe light that makes things visible is lacking. Spiritual scienceoffers us a method of developing our spiritual earsand eyes and of kindling the spiritual light.Three stages in this method of spiritual schooling maybe distinguished: Preparation, which develops ourspiritual senses; Illumination, which kindles the spirituallight; and Initiation, which initiates our relationshipwith higher spiritual beings. These stages will bediscussed in the following chapters.