“The conditions attached to esoteric training are not arbitrary. They are the natural outcome of esoteric knowledge. Just as no one can become a painter who refuses to handle a paint-brush, so, too, no one can receive esoteric training who is unwilling to meet the demands considered necessary by the teacher. … To insist on being admitted to esoteric training without fulfilling the conditions would be equivalent to saying: “Teach me how to paint, but do not ask me to handle a paint-brush.” The teacher can never offer anything unless the recipient comes forward to meet him of his own free-will. But it must be emphasized that a general desire for higher knowledge is not sufficient. … Nothing can be achieved by it alone so long as the special conditions attached to esoteric training are not accepted.” ~Rudolf Steiner
By Harold Boulette
Do What You’re Taught
Whether you call it esoteric, mystic, or spiritual, training in this art is necessary as is a need to follow rules and instruction. As Mr. Steiner says, you can’t become a painter if you are unwilling to handle a paint brush, paint knife, or some modern equivalent such as an air gun. In other words, you can’t be a painter just by wishing it to be true; you actually have to start painting something, even if it isn’t good. And for best results you need to get some instruction from a competent art teacher, or apprentice with an accomplished painter.
I had a friend year ago who enter college with a plan of studying medicine and becoming a doctor. After observing a few operations as part of his training, though, he found he couldn’t stand the idea of doing that himself and changed his major to computer science. He was smart enough to recognize that his initial choice was not going to work, and he corrected it. Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t do that. They think, with regard to spiritual training, that if they don’t like what the teacher is telling them to do, they can simply do it their own way, or do something entirely different. During my years in Cosolargy, I have seen a number of such people. Most eventually drop out and the few that remain accomplish little when they don’t listen to the teacher.
A Proper Teacher
The other side of the coin is, of course, having a teacher who knows what he is teaching and knows how to teach it properly. Today there are many who see spiritual or mystical training as just another way to scam people and sell them snake oil. They are actually businessmen or salesman, not spiritual teachers.
A good spiritual teacher must tell you some things to get you started in the right direction, but mostly she should be teaching you how to gain spiritual knowledge (Gnosis) on your own, or working with other students. But even though you are to do this on your own, you should not innovate on the methods taught. These methods are, in most cases, thousands of years old, modified only slightly by the most advanced spiritual teachers to meet the conditions of modern man and the modern world. There are also basic difference in the psyche of people living in the Western World, and those in the East. The legitimate teacher will not try to use Eastern methods in the West, or Western methods in the East, as that will limit their effectiveness. If this isn’t the way your spiritual teacher operates, it might be time for you to seek a new one if you are to make any real progress.