Steiner prescribed prayers, meditations, mantras, and other spiritual invocations for his followers. I say “invocations” for a reason. Steiner taught that the words he prescribed have power — they can produce real effects, bringing living spiritual forces into our lives, elevating us, activating the beings who are above us, and driving off evil spirits. With our words, we can actually direct the activities of spiritual beings. In this very literal way, Steiner’s teachings amount to a religion: Say certain words, do certain things, and you will gain certain powers and reap spiritual rewards.
"Let's make it clear to ourselves what's really brought about by meditation. Streams of spiritual life are always flowing through the world. These streams can't flow into us when we're thinking about everyday things. But our meditation words are like portals that are to lead us into the spiritual world. They have the strength to open up our soul so that the thoughts of our great leaders, the masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings can stream into us." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.
The specific words used have magical powers. They summon spiritual beings to our aid. Importantly, we should know that some of these beings exist on Earth in physical form (masters: such as you-know-who). Importantly, we shouldn’t think or question too much.
"High spiritual beings whom we call masters stream down to us. We should realize that it's mainly they who guide us and are near to us in meditation. We should also know that they walk on earth incarnated in a physical body. Thus we should let the meditation words live in our soul without pondering about them; rather we should try to grasp the words' spiritual content with our feelings and to permeate ourselves completely with it. The power of these words doesn't just lie in the thoughts, but also in their rhythm and sound. We should listen to this, and if we shut out all sensorial things we can say that we should revel in the sound of the words. Then the spiritual world sounds into us. Since so much depends on the sound of the words one can't translate a meditation formula into a foreign language without further ado. The mediation formulas we received in the German language were brought down from the spiritual world directly for us. Every formula has the greatest effect in the original language. When an East Indian wants to give the highest expression to his reverence for the Godhead who reveals himself in three Logoi, he summarizes his feeling in three times three words that describe the activity of the three Logoi:
"Primal-truth, primal-goodness, immeasurability, O Brahma
"Primal-blissfulness, eternity, primal-beauty
"Peace, blessing, undividedness
"Aum, peace, peace, peace.
"But the whole wealth of spiritual strength is only reproduced if the words are said in Sanskrit, the original language. Then one hears how even the air resonates:
"Satyam jnanam anantam brahma
"Anandarupam amritam bibharti
"Shantam shivam avaitam
"Om, Shantih, shantih, shantih.
"The same applies to the Lord's Prayer. Spoken in German, practically the only thing that's effective is the underlying thought. The Latin Pater noster has a better effect, but the whole power and fullness only come to expression in the original Aramaic." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
Certain accessories are helpful. They, too, have spiritual powers.
"Very high god beings live in incense; they draw us up directly to God. The lowest kind of beings are incarnated in musk scent." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
Various mental exercises are important. One is to review the day’s events in reverse order: Play the tape in your head backwards. You want to cut the cord between yourself and reality; your mind should empty itself. Then you will be able to read an invisible celestial encyclopedia of occult knowledge, the Akashic Record — you won’t have a memory, anymore, but you will be able to directly perceive everything that has happened.
"In some elementary esoteric schools a pupil is told to think nothing but glass, glass, glass for 15 minutes every day, for instance. If he succeeds in really keeping all other thoughts out of his soul during this time, then his soul becomes quite empty and pure, and the forces slumbering in it awaken, if other influences aren't too strong. But our meditation formulas contain great spiritual forces; they are portals to the spiritual world. The exercises get ever simpler the more a pupil progresses.
"...With practice one can get to t he point where the whole day's life runs through the soul, clear as wall paintings with all details in five minutes ... No event of the past is entirely gone, they're all there in the Akashic record. This is the only way one learns to read it. Initially one only sees things that concern oneself from this, and gradually also other things. That's why the evening retrospect is such an important, indispensable exercise.
"An esoteric will gradually notice that his memory is worsening, until it disappears, but it will be replaced by the ability to see the past directly." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
There’s special power in the esoteric chant or mantra: Aum:
"AUM. One wards off bad influences when one says it in the right way; it connects man with the creating Godhead, the three Logoi. The evil beings who want to tear men away from the Godhead can't stand it. AUM must be spoken with the awareness:
"Primal Self from which everything came
"Primal Self to which everything returns:
"Primal Self that lives in me
"Towards you I strive.
"Peace-peace-peace = AUM.
"A is atma, U is buddhi, M is the wisdom that directs the higher self to AUM." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
The powers released through spiritual exercises affect the physical as well as the spiritual human being. A mantra (or mantram) is a powerful thing.
"In the Mysteries there were leaders and guides who were not unlike our modern doctors of medicine. The modern doctor gives his advice about man's body. That is quite understandable, and no reproach is intended. But the leaders in the Mysteries, who were also physicians, would for example, if a man suffered from some physical infirmity, give instruction as to how he could better his relationship to Venus, or it may be to Saturn. It was thus advice for the soul that these leaders in the Mysteries gave. Let us suppose a physician of this kind found that the person who had come to him for healing was too strongly attracted to his physical body. Instead of feeling his body merely as a garment for his soul, he was firmly bound to it, rather like a man of the present day who persisted in sleeping in his clothes. The physician would say to such a person: When the Moon is full, try going out for a walk in its light, when it is rising in the evening; and while you walk, repeat a certain mantram.
"Why did the physician of the ancient Mysteries give this advice? Because he knew that when a person goes for a walk in the light of the Moon, repeating the while certain mantrams, that will counteract the Saturn force, and so it will come about that Saturn has less power over him. For, you see, this physician of olden times knew that the clinging to the physical body, the being so closely knit with it, was due to the fact that the person in question had held on too strongly to Saturn when he was passing through the world of the stars, on his way from the spiritual world into earthly life. This excessive attraction to the life of Saturn had given him the infirmity from which he was suffering. But now the two heavenly bodies, Moon and Saturn, tend to counteract one another. In order, therefore, to cure an affliction due to the Saturn forces, the physician would have recourse to the forces of the Moon. He would, in effect, prescribe a spiritual diet.
"We have today a physical diet and that is quite right and suitable for us. In the olden times man felt the need for a diet of a more spiritual kind, and we must now learn to add to our physical diet also a spiritual diet. That is the mission of the present age; we have our physical diet, and we must regain a feeling for the importance of a spiritual diet as well. If we can do this, it will enable us to achieve the tasks that call for fulfillment at this present moment in earth evolution." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN’S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Health Research Books, 1960), pp. 73-74.
The Lord’s Prayer is a mantra, but of a very special sort: it is a "thought mantram":
"The Lord’s Prayer is not a mantram as such [i.e., it is not an ordinary mantram]. It will still be meaningful in thousands and thousands of years’ time, for it is a thought mantram. The action and effect of the Lord’s prayer is cast into thoughts, and just as it is true that human beings can digest food quite well without first being told by a physiologist about the action and effect of the digestive process, those who pray using the Lord’s Prayer can sense its effect without being told about it. The Lord’s prayer has this effect because it lies in the very power of the thoughts themselves. ... Religious doctrines and formulas are only echoes of the sensations that could be once communicated from person to person and that were drawn from the primal wisdom that created the world itself." — Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER: An Esoteric Study (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 57.
Praying properly is a form of meditative chant, summoning up spiritual powers.
"For most of his life, an an esoteric teacher, Rudolf Steiner prayed the Lord’s Prayer standing upright, he used to say it so loudly in his Berlin apartment that it could be heard in the neighboring room." — Editor's note, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), a collection of Steiner's "soul and spiritual exercises," p. 218.
Steiner used various occult forms of the Lord’s Prayer, going far afield from the Biblical text. In the following version, we can see him using the mantra AUM and progressing backwards:
"Bearing witness to I-being
"and to selfhood's guilt —
"Incurred through others,
"Experienced in the daily bread
"Wherein the will of heaven
"Does not reign,
"Has separated itself
"From Your Kingdom
"And forgot your names
"Ye Fathers in the heavens."
— Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 221.
Correct praying is a mystical exercise. The goal is occult knowledge yielding occult power. Note how, in the following, Steiner links “spiritual science” (his own doctrines) to prayer, which is a religious action:
"[T]he mystic seeks to make himself free and independent of all the experiences that come to him from the external world. He tries to press on to an experience which will prove to him that when everything to do with ordinary life has been extinguished and the soul withdraws into itself, it still has within it a world of its own, so to speak. This world is always there but is outshone by the external experiences that work so powerfully on human beings, and thus it appears as a light so weak that most people never notice it. Hence the mystic often calls it the little spark. But he is sure it can be fanned into a powerful flame which will illuminate the sources and foundations of existence. In other words, it leads a man along the path of his own soul to a knowledge of his origin, which can indeed be called “knowledge of God.”
"...[T]he mediaeval mystics supposed that the little spark had to grow by itself, its own nature remaining unchanged. In opposition to this...modern spiritual research calls for a development of these inner soul-forces under conscious control, so that they can rise to higher forms of cognition, which we called Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. So this inwardly devoted mediaeval mysticism comes before us as a sort of first step towards true spiritual investigation.
"... [T]he aim of the spiritual scientist is to develop the little spark through his own inner forces. The only difference is that the mystics believed that they could surrender themselves in peace of soul to the little spark and that it would come to shine ever more brightly of its own accord, whereas the spiritual scientist is convinced that we must use our capacities and forces, placed by the wisdom of the world in the service of our will, to kindle the spark to a brighter flame. If, then, the mystical frame of mind is a good preparation for spiritual science, we have, in turn, as a preparation for mystical devotion, the activity of soul which can be called, in the true sense, prayer. Just as the mystic is able to attain to his inward devotion because he has — even though unconsciously — trained his soul for it, so, if we wish to work our way along the same path to physical meditation, we can look for a preparatory stage in true prayer." — Rudolf Steiner, METAMORPHOSES OF THE SOUL, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), lecture 4, GA 59.
Here is Steiner’s summation of the real nature of prayer:
"Observations such as these on the nature of prayer are not popular today. How on earth — people say — can prayer change anything, whatever we may ask for? The course of the world follows necessary laws and we cannot alter them, but if we want to recognise a force, we must look for it where it is. Today we have sought for the power of prayer in the human soul, and we found that it is something which can help the soul forward ... If we strengthen our spiritual life through prayer, we need only wait for the effects; they will certainly come. But the effects of prayer in the outer world will be sought only by someone who has first recognised the power of prayer as a reality.
"...I must admit that the time is not yet ripe for going into the wider effects of prayer, however unbiased the discussion might be. The idea that a congregational prayer, in which the forces of all the participants flow together, has a heightened power and therefore an enhanced strength of reality — that is outside the grasp of ordinary thinking today. Hence we must be content with what we have brought before our souls with regard to the inner nature of prayer. And that is enough, for anyone who understands it will certainly see through many of the objections to prayer that are so easily advanced nowadays.
"...Anyone familiar today with the underlying causes of life will feel that many writers of leading articles in newspapers would be rendering better service to their fellows if they prayed and worked for the improvement of their souls, far-fetched as this may sound. Would that more people were persuaded that to pray is more sensible than writing articles. The same could be said of many other intellectual occupations.
"Moreover, to understand the whole life of man, an understanding is necessary of the force that works through prayer, and this comes out with especial clarity if we look at particular aspects of cultural life. Who can fail to recognise that prayer, not in its one-sided egotistic sense but in the wider view of it that we have taken today, is a constituent of art? ... [E]ven pictorial art shows examples of what could be called “prayers in paint.” And who would deny that in a great majestic cathedral we have something like a prayer expressed in stone and reaching heavenwards?
"...[P]rayer, seen in accordance with its true nature, is one of the things that lead mankind out of the finite and the transient to the eternal. This was felt especially by those who found the way from prayer to mysticism, as did Angelus Silesius ... When we turn in prayer to those aspects of life where we seek for God, then — whether we are aware of it or not — the feelings, thoughts and words which enter into our praying will be permeated by the feeling for eternity which is expressed by Angelus Silesius in lines with which we may well conclude today. They can bring to every true prayer, even if unconsciously, something like a divine aroma and sweetness:
"Forsaking time, I am myself eternity,
"Then I am one with God, God one with me."
— Rudolf Steiner, ibid.
You may have noticed how odd Steiner’s references to God often were. He taught that there are many gods, and “God” is a sort of abstraction or ideal, something we may arrive at, something that may — in a sense — exist within us, but also something that does not precisely, fully exist now. As the foundation of being, God or the Godhead is within everything and everyone. But as the One True God, S/he is yet to come. Thus, although Steiner often spoke of God, he prayed to “Ye Fathers in the heavens” — multiple gods.
[Design by Alberta Hutchinson.]
Mandalas are traditionally used as aids to meditation, and some of the artwork created in Waldorf schools has the effect of mandalas, especially the geometric designs often produced by the students under their teachers' supervision. Steiner said that geometry helps develop clairvoyance. Such work becomes a form of art, which Steiner taught has magical powers.
“Art is of particular importance for an education into spiritual psychology — myth, fairy tale, story, symbolic image, mandala, poetry, drama, painting, music, and film. Furthermore, art forms that are explicitly made as revelations and expression of spirit, carrying the intention of awakening and initiating the conscious life of spirit, are important.” — Robert J. Sardello, introduction to Rudolf Steiner' FREUD, JUNG, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (SteinerBooks, 2001), p. 28.
“Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92.
For more on Anthroposophical meditations,
see "Breathing Spirit".
- Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 14. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER ◊◊◊
Mystical thinking, realistic thinking
Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools
A report by a mother who was drawn to a Waldorf school but left disillusioned
Describing the near-collapse of the Waldorf school I attended
Deprogramming myself after Waldorf