“The student must, from time to time, glance introspectively into himself, sink back into himself, take counsel with himself, form and test the fundamental principles of his life, run over in his thoughts the sum total of his knowledge, weigh his duties, and reflect upon the content and aim of his life. … By means of these exercises the student will become ever more and more perfect. … Whoever speaks what is contrary to the truth destroys something in the germ of his sixteen-petaled lotus. Truthfulness, uprightness, and honesty are in this connection creative forces, while mendacity, deceitfulness, and dishonesty are destructive forces. The student must realize, however, that actual deeds are needed, and not merely good intentions.” ~Rudolf Steiner
There are many spiritual and mystical schools that teach students to look within themselves. In our time, this has resulted in many being mislead into believing that all truth lies within, God lies within, and so on. That is not the purpose of looking within.
We look within ourselves to find our what is holding us back, what is limiting our progress. That is true for anyone, not just spiritual students.
This past summer, I noticed that during the Olympics, Michael Phelps was shown watching his own performance between events. This was not vanity or ego. He was studying himself in an effort to improve. That is the mark of the champion. That is the path to success in any field. No matter where you are now, always try to improve. Even Michael Phelps knows there is always a possibility of improvement.
As Mr. Steiner points out, the purpose of this looking inward for the spiritual student is to study herself. To find weaknesses that can be worked on and corrected over time (no one is expected to become perfect overnight.) The student needs to ask if he is really performing spiritual growth techniques as often as he should. Students need to ask themselves if they are truly being positive, or do they occasionally give in to negative thinking. And one needs to look at their aim in life.
Aims Rather Than Goals
There is much being written about goals and how helpful they are. Goals can be helpful, but they can also hold us back. Yes, goals can hold us back. How?
Lets’ say you are a college student. Your goal might be to graduate and get a degree in your chosen field. When you complete that goal, you are left aimless until you create a new goal. If you don’t continuously create new goals, you stop growing. We see this even in spiritual schools where students complete a course, and then don’t know what they want to do next because completing the course was their only goal. The only worthy goal, for spiritual students and just about everyone else, is to constantly improve. And that isn’t really a goal at all, it’s an aim, a lifestyle, a mission.
When Steiner says that truthfulness, uprightness, and honesty are creative forces, he means that in order for us to create in a meaningful way, we have to be doing it with knowledge and wisdom. It is easy enough for an artist to paint an image, but if that image is negative, degrading, untruthful, no one can benefit in any way by gazing upon it. If an architect designs houses or apartment buildings with no knowledge of proper energy flow and vibrations, he makes a building that provides shelter, but makes one ill physically or spiritually. If a musician knows all the rules of composition, but has no knowledge or wisdom in him, his compositions are unlikely to help people to grow, or find peace (unless he was inspired by a spiritual muse).
But when a person is coming from a place of truth, knowledge, and wisdom, almost anything she does is an act of growth, an act of creation. Even saying hello to a person and flashing a smile at them, while sending them good thoughts and positive energy is an act of creation. Even simply sending thoughts of love and joy into the world in general is an act of creation, for though is energy and energy does work.
So look inside to cleanse yourself, look outside for the Light of Truth and Wisdom, and awaken true creative forces in yourself. Then use it to help others awaken their creative forces and soon we will have a world full of positive, peaceful, loving people, using their creative forces to help each other and the entire universe.