“In esoteric training there is the question of four attributes which must be acquired on the so-called preparatory path for the attainment of higher knowledge. The first is the faculty of discriminating in thought between truth and appearance or mere opinion. The second attribute is the correct estimation of what is inwardly true and and real, as against what is merely apparent. The third rest in the practice of the six qualities …: thought-control, control of actions, perseverance, tolerance, faith, and equanimity. The fourth attribute is the love of inner freedom.
“A mere intellectual understanding of what is included in these attributes is of no value. They must be so incorporated into the soul that they form the basis of inner habits.”~Rudolf Steiner
A number of quotes that I have used on my blog recently mention Esoteric Training, Spiritual Training, or Mystical Training. This is something that should be noticed by all. None of the ancient mystery schools believed that it was likely that someone working entirely on his own would gain all the knowledge necessary to become fully enlightened. Yes, we all have to walk that path ourselves. In the beginning, however, we need teachers to show us the direction to start in, how to “walk” that path, and how to protect ourselves from those forces and beings that seek to stop anyone from following the path.
We need to be part of a spiritual community and students in a spiritual school.
I’m sure there are other teachers who would disagree with Mr. Steiner on what the four attributes are and even how many there are. Exactly how you break it up doesn’t matter. What matters is making sure that you are doing all the things Steiner (and others) recommend for continued spiritual growth.
It is interesting that this should be what Steiner considers the first of the four attributes. Sadly, we are living in a time when many people cannot tell truth from fiction, fact from opinion. What is worse is that many don’t seem to care. As long as you tell them exactly what they want to hear, they don’t care if its true or not.
That attitude may work for the person wrapped up in the material world with no concern for what lies beyond. For the spiritual student, it is unacceptable. We need to use our mind and our intuition together to avoid the trap of living lies and opinions.
This second of the four attributes sounds like the first. It is similar, but on a different level. Here we are not concerned with people or media telling lies. Now we are concerned more with what is true on a spiritual level. Specifically, what inner voices are we listening to. We may not actually think we have inner voices, but in some way we all do. That inner voice can be our own, the voice of an angelic being, or the voice of a demon trying to deceive. We need to learn how to distinguish between them and know which voices to listen to and which to ignore. This isn’t easy and takes years to develop. It is worth the effort.
Of the six that Steiner lists, the first is the most important in this third of the four attributes. Thought control is the most important because all the others are really a result of proper thought control.
We almost never act at random. We think about what we do before we do it, even if only briefly. Therefore, control of actions is mostly done by controlling thoughts. Perseverance, tolerance, faith, and equanimity are a result of proper thinking. Control of thinking means that when we find ourselves disliking another person, we ask ourselves why. If we learn that it is because of her race, nationality, religion, etc. then we need to improve our though control. We need to free ourselves of false believes that prevent us from being truly tolerant and treating all people as equal.
Perseverance is also something the spiritual student must develop for two primary reasons. One, it takes patience and perseverance to develop our spiritual self. Two, those who don’t believe in spiritual worlds may try to stop us from developing those faculties.
Faith, here, does not mean the blind faith the conventional churches teach us to have. It means having faith in our ability to grow and having faith in our spiritual teacher.
Steiner wraps up his list of four attributes with “Inner Freedom”. What he means is freedom from false beliefs, false teachings. As the Oriental teachers say, you must empty the tea cup before you can fill it with something else. If you want your “cup” to be filled with truth and wisdom, you must empty it of falsehood and opinion.