This chapter is entitled, “A Modern Path of Meditation and Inner Development”, which talks about the two worlds that Rudolf Steiner perceived – one a physical world of things we can see, feel and touch, and a second world of spiritual realms. Steiner felt that each of us held inside us a dormant capacity to be in touch with this spiritual world. He developed a series of exercises and meditations for this purpose.
Although Steiner did acknowledge the meditative traditions of the Far East, he saw his exercises as not a way to attain an enlightenment to escape suffering or the cycle of birth, life, death but as a way to assist the further development of all of humanity by using new creativity and new insights to help all of humanity. Therefore, Steiner’s view on inner development was not just for the person doing this, but a way to assist others. I feel this moral and social component driving Steiner’s insights into inner development uniquely reflects his time and place in the world.
In order to be ready to begin spiritual work in Steiner’s view, one had to develop patience, the ability to not criticize others, a positivity, and open-mindedness. And again, spiritual work was not to be undertaken in order to solely help oneself, but in order to help others and all of humanity. Prayer and religious practice, along with other forms of practice mentioned in this section, can help develop these qualities. We can also start with studying spiritual texts.
Steiner acknowledged that he felt there was a “threshold” separating the spiritual realm from us, and that humans had over the centuries used chanting, ecstatic dance, etc to cross this realm, although it often left the person in a hazy, dreamy state. Steiner wanted people to be able to cross this threshold in a very rational, thinking way that was clear. Therefore, he invented a series of exercises that involved developing clarity and focus in the thinking realm and once one has learned how to concentrate and focus, he recommended starting with meditation. “Word” meditation is a Western approach to meditation where the person is focused on a short phrase. These can be from religious traditions or other traditions in Steiner’s view. One ponders the words and what these words really mean. In this way, Steiner felt that people of all religious backgrounds could work with his exercises, because one could interweave one’s own religious path and beliefs into these meditations. He also felt people of all professions should embark upon a path of spiritual development.
There are many more of Steiner’s ideas on this in this chapter, available for free on-line through The Waldorf Library. This is the last chapter in this book, and we are on to a new book next Sunday!
Thank you for reading, blessings to you,