Overcoming A Critical Experience
Anyone who has for many years been seriously occupied with Anthroposophy will, sooner or later, experience something like what could be described in the following way:
He will feel the need to bring something new into his relationship to Anthroposophy.
This feeling is not about simply studying a new cycle of lectures, but about developing a new quality, a new degree of earnestness with regard to Anthroposophy. With some people, it leads to a crisis; they feel they are up against a dark wall, which they perhaps feel to be impenetrable and they give up any further study of spiritual science.
This wall actually exists. It is the threshold of the spiritual world. It can only be crossed when the path of spiritual exercises is taken; at the point where the above-mentioned experience is encountered, perhaps for the first time; or with the decision, to go on along this path with new strength and new courage.
Most readers will know the six qualities, which are also known as the six “subsidiary exercises”, that is, exercises besides actual meditations, as given by Steiner on several occasions. They are: control of one’s thoughts, control of one’s actions, endurance (tolerance), open-mindedness, trust in the world (also known as positivity) and inner equanimity. These are the terms Rudolf Steiner uses in, amongst other works, the books Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (GA 10) and The Stages of Higher Knowledge (GA 12). To train oneself consistently and repeatedly in these qualities is already a very secure way to overcome the above-mentioned critical experience. They are also worth recommending to those who do not actually also practise meditation.
If the crisis is not mastered, then anthroposophical “knowledge” threatens to become superficial. Spiritual science or Anthroposophy is a living being. It therefore has to be lived with. The soul cannot do this as long as it only accuses the cold intellect of being “muck”.
Positivity and the Value of Life
The exercise of positivity has a special meaning in the face of the wold situation today which creates such untold catastrophic suffering. This exercise is one for strengthening the I. 1
The thinking human I is the judge of the value of life, which seems oppressed in so many ways today, if not even negated. But how does the I determine the value of life? By means of a division. The denominator below the line may contain countless negative experiences. As long as there is even a single positive value of life in the numerator – hourly, daily, yearly etc., the value of life can never become zero. In no hour, on no day, in no year, in no life.2
In-dividuality divides. When we become real individualities, life appears worth living under all circumstances.
1 Rudolf Steiner in a lecture in Leipzig, 2 January 1914 (GA 266c)
2 This is, in short, the way in which Steiner determines the value of life in the 13th chapter of the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom).