“The student endeavors to live in conformity with both nature and spirit. Never overhasty, he is also never indolent. Excessive activity and laziness are equally alien to him. … He attempts nothing beyond his powers, yet seems to omit nothing within their scope. On the other hand, he sets himself aims that have to do with the ideals and the great duties of a human being. …
“Nothing passes before the student without giving him occasion to accumulate experience which is of value to him for life. If he has performed anything wrongly or imperfectly, he lets this be an incentive for meeting the same contingency later on rightly and perfectly. … He tries to gather a rich store of experiences.
“Finally, … the student must from time to time, glance introspectively into himself, sink back into himself, take council with himself, … and reflect upon the content and aim of life.” ~Rudolf Steiner
The Spiritual Student
The spiritual student does have many duties and responsibilities. It is not a game, or a hobby, or a leisure activity to kill time; it’s a lifestyle. Many popular churches give the impression that you can do whatever you want most of the week, as long as you attend a church service once a week. Serious spiritual students and spiritual schools do not agree with that. The student must practice here spiritual growth techniques regularly, but that is not all. The spiritual student must also live a life that is conducive to spiritual growth.
Conform with Nature and Spirit
The first thing of note with this statement from Steiner is that nature and spirit are two different things. While they are related and connected, they are different. Nature is all on the third dimension, the dimension of matter. Spirit is in the higher dimensions, especially the fifth and above.
The spiritual student must conform with, and work with, natural law if he is to make progress. This does not mean nature worship, as the spiritual student must also recognize the higher dimensions of spirit. He must also recognize that the higher laws of spirit (God’s Law) takes precedence over natural law when there is a conflict. There seldom is, however, since nature itself conforms to those higher laws.
Active and Passive
The spiritual student must certainly be an active person. This doesn’t mean she has to run marathons. The activity can be mental as well as physical. Most important, is that the activity is aimed at continued spiritual growth, directly or indirectly. An example of indirect activity might be exercise to become stronger and healthier, which does not improve one spiritually, but makes it easier for him to do spiritual activities.
On the other hand, the spiritual person is not someone who needs to be so constantly active that he never takes the time to think about what he is doing and of what value it has. It really saddens me when I see young people dying while engaging in dangerous activities that they do simply because it’s fun. If you have to die, let it happen doing something meaningful.
Beyond His Powers
While I understand what Mr. Steiner means, I think the way he wrote it makes it difficult. He doesn’t say how one is to know that an activity is “beyond his powers”. This also applies to some types of activities more than others. For example, you don’t make any progress at the gym if you don’t push yourself to lift a little more weight, or run a little longer, etc.
I think a better way to say it is that the spiritual student doesn’t attempt to do things until his teacher says he is ready. That does mean that the spiritual student has to actually have a teacher. At the very least, take it a step-at-a-time so you don’t get melted like Icarus.
The Spiritual Student Learns
While Mr. Steiner says the student must experience everything, that is only true of spiritual matters. One cannot know God by reading about it, it must be experienced. On the material plane, however, the same is not true. The spiritual student can observe what other do and what the consequences are without having to do them himself. We certainly don’t want to be like the punk in Washington, D.C. Some years ago who shot a teenager mowing his lawn just because he had never killed anyone and wanted to know what it felt like. When we choose to experience something, it must still be within the laws of nature and spirit and we will have to accept the consequences if we do something worthy of punishment.
The spiritual student should look at himself regularly to see if he is on the right path. Even if he knows that he is, he may be able to find small ways to improve. The best time to do this is in the evening before going to sleep. Consider your actions and thoughts of the day and what you could have done better. Did you have negative emotions like anger over something that happened? Did you ignore something when you knew you shouldn’t have? Did you fail to help someone out of fear?
You can congratulate yourself on the things you did do right, but resolve to do better on the others.