East and West

Changing the world, by changing ourselves....…

This page displays the text of the exercises and mantrams by Rudolf Steiner that are translated each day.

Having worked with these mantrams for years, I have shown in bold the exercises I have selected as specially important when the book first came out, after practising them enough.

On the other hand, in red, I have shown the exercises I believe to be exceptional even now, and which, with the others shown here, should enable the full development of inner life for practitioners, in the long run (that is together with the basic exercises: concentration and the other 5 exercises, pure perception, memory review and meditation).

SOURCE: Rudolf Steiner " Soul Exercises with Word and Sense-Image Meditations" (GA 267)


The rule below should be grasped in such a way that each esoteric disciple might arrange his/her life vita, so that he/she might constantly observe and guide him or her self, to check that the inner world is being lived in in accordance with the corresponding demands. All esoteric training, and especially when it rises to higher levels, may only lead to the disciple being unhealthy and confused, if those rules are not followed. On the other hand, no one should draw back in fear before such lessons, if he/she makes an effort to live these rules in this way. Nor is there any need to despair, if someone were to say to himself or herself: I am still only meeting the required demands in a very poor way. If he/she has only made an effort with the required sincerity, in order no to lose sight of these rules throughout his/her whole life, this alone will be enough. However, first of all this must be a form of sincerity towards oneself. Many make mistakes in this regard. One person might say: I want to struggle on in a pure way. And yet if he/she were to examine the self closely, he/she would note that there is a great deal of hidden selfishness, and many refined personal feelings are lying in ambush in the background; those feeling in truth are often those that wear the mask selfless effort, and lead the disciple into error. In practice it is impossible to check oneself enough by means of sincere introspection, to ensure that there are no similar feeling hidden inside one's own soul. A person may free themselves from such feelings by following the corresponding rules set out here ever more energetically. These rules are:


No unverified imagination must be allowed to enter my awareness.

One should observe how many imaginations, feelings and will impulses lie in the soul of any man, which are taken in by means of life situations, our profession, belonging to a family, a people, or living through the conditions of the age, etc. Such soul contents should not be grasped as if a moral action were redemption for all mankind. People, in fact, receive security and stability through what their people, their age, their family, or their education, bring to them. If one were to lightly do away with such things, then one would quickly find oneself with no support in life. Going too far in this direction is especially undesirable for people with a weak nature. In particular, every esoteric disciple should be very clear that by observing this first rule has the consequence of acquiring understanding for every action, thought and feeling, even for those of others. One should never arrive at the point where observing this rule would lead to an excess or anything similar, such as when for example one says: I am breaking away from everything I was born with, and by means of which I have been inserted into life. On the contrary: the more we check ourselves, the more the justification of what surrounds us in our environment can be seen. It is not a question of fighting against this or that, or rejecting things proudly, but rather of becoming free through careful testing of everything that comes into relation with our own soul. Then a light will be seen to widen across all one's thinking and on one's own opinions, through the power of our own soul, and the awareness will expand correspondingly; and above all we will be ever more inclined to let the spiritual laws speak to reveal themselves to the soul, and not to allow ourselves to blindly follow the world around us. With regard to this rule it is also relevant to stress the following: if a person wishes to verify everything, therefore one will have to also put occult and esoteric teachings to the test. – This involves understanding checking in the correct way. One cannot always check something oneself directly, but such checks can often be performed by indirect means. For example, still today no one is in a position to verify directly whether Frederick the Great really lived or not. However, one can check if the life of Frederic the Great as it has been passed down to us in the accounts, is trustworthy. Here, checks have to be performed at the right place. In this way, all belief in so-called authority can be done away with. If someone tells us something that we have been unable to see directly for ourselves, then in turn all of the materials available should be checked, and if it is a credible authority, and if the things that are said give the intuition and sensation of being true. From this example we can see that this involves performing checks at the correct place.

A second rule is:

Continually increasing the total number of imaginations should be a living duty before my soul.

There is nothing worse for an esoteric disciple, than when he/she has a certain number of concepts, and he/she wishes to remain with them alone, and to grasp everything by means of them. It is of infinite importance to receive new imaginations in oneself continually. If this does not happen, then the disciple, if he/she were to come to super-sensible vision, he/she could not approach with any well-prepared concepts and would be overwhelmed by it or it would lead to his/her detriment or at least to his/her unhappiness; the latter because whilst he/she in such circumstances may have in fact have been able to have higher experiences, he/she would not have been able to be aware of it. The number of disciples who are, in fact, completely enveloped in higher experiences is not small, but they are aware of nothing, because their way of imagining what to expect is totally different from the correct one. Many people in outside life are not at all inclined toward comfort, but in their imaginative life they are not at all inclined to enrich themselves directly, by building new concepts.

A third rule is:

Knowledge can come to me only about those things I am no longer able to feel sympathy or antipathy towards.

One old initiate would repeatedly drill into his disciples: You will know something about the immortality of the soul only once you will be able to treat with indifference, whether your soul will be destroyed after death, or if it were to live on eternally. For as long as you will wish to live on eternally, you cannot win over any image of conditions after death. That is how it is for all truths, exactly as for this important example. For as long as a person ahs even the slightest desire that things might be this way or that, the pure clear light of truth cannot shine in him/her. For example, someone, who, on self-examination has even the most hidden desire that good characteristics might be preponderant in him/her, for them this desire will play them as if it were a conjuror and will not permit any true self-knowledge.

A fourth rule is:

I have an obligation to overcome the tendency to back away when faced with so-called abstractions.

For as long as the esoteric disciple depends on concepts that have the sense world as raw material, he/she may not reach any truths on higher worlds. Much must be done to conquer imaginations that are sense free. Of all four rules, this is the most difficult, especially in the living conditions in our age. Materialist thought has to a large extent lost the human faculty of thinking in sense-free concepts. A great deal of effort is needed, either to think such concepts, which in outer reality are never perfect, or which are very often only there approximately, such as with the example of the concept of a circle. A perfect circle exists nowhere, and can only be thought, but all images with a circular form are subject to the laws dictated by that thought circle. Or else you can think a highly moral ideal; this too cannot be entirely realised in its perfection by any person, but many human acts are subject to it: like to their own law. None make progress in their own esoteric development if he/she does not see the full meaning of such abstractions for life, and if he/she does not enrich his/her soul with the corresponding imaginations.


Omitted (well known)


[Ordering virtues by the zodiac derives from H.P. Blavatsky, whose text was translated from English - and the variations made are in round brackets - with the words added by Rudolf Steiner preceded by "becomes..."]

Devotion (reverence)
Power of sacrifice
Balance (inner)
Endurance (power to undergo, constancy)
Heart tact
Control of words:
Control of thinking
(Control of words - mastery of the tongue "Watch your tongue")
Perception of truth
Power to solve
Power of meditation

Always start practising on the 21st of the previous month, until the 1st of the month after the following one, for example: Devotion from 21st March to the 1st May, etc.



"The first step consists of the fact that a person should build up in him or her self the maximum number of symbolic imaginations possible. One should draw satisfaction from the subtle understanding of this activity. Yet this is also a safe path, a path that protects against all flights of fancy, against any illusions. The symbols should not only be such, as can be held as images before the eyes, but can also be words in which deep cosmic truths are gathered."

(Vienna, 28th March 1910, G.A. 119).

On the Essence of These Exercises

Minutes by Prof. Dr. Hans Wohlbold, Munich
May 1917

The essential point of the exercise lies in orienting imaginative activity so that it is able to rise up to knowledge of spiritual reality. The essential point is that this imaginative activity should be experienced independently of the physical organism. It is the subject of experience, knowledge: by now I note how I am able to think, etc. without the usual conditions connected with my body expressing themselves. This moment comes into play after the exercise. I especially recommend:

1.) In the evening an imaginative memory review, upon the events of the day. With this a first step will be made using the imagination, which is not connected to the usual sequence in the imagination. The imagination becomes freer.

2.) Concentrate in full calm on a brief though content. This must be wholly controllable, so that no unconscious or subconscious imaginative reminiscence may be mixed in; otherwise you remain with spiritual activity with an agitated awareness. Then let the thought content drop and try to maintain the energy, remaining aware for a brief period without any thought content. Fro, this, the capacity for awareness is brought to a calm energy, as required to grasp the spiritual, which otherwise falls in a certain way into the gaps between usual thinking, and as a result does not come to awareness.

I advise exercises 1. and 2. for the evening.

In the morning it is good to perform a thinking concentration similar to 2. For this a mental picture imagination can play a good role as I have set out in the Rose Cross exercise mainly in the 2nd part of Occult Science".

In order to conquer the calm required for thinking concentration, it is good to perform the 6 exercises set out (as subsidiary exercises) in the 2nd part of Occult Science".

The meaning of the exercises lies partly in their producing a strengthened soul activity compared with the usual one. As in physical life, in critical points quantity suddenly changes over the quality in accordance with nature, and so the uplifting of the capacity for knowledge becomes from the everyday one towards those that can have the spirit world as their object.