The spiritual teacher stands by the disciple on the path of initiation as a friend with advice and help and, if necessary, gives him suitable exercises for concentration and meditation and also other rules of conduct helpful to the spiritual training in order to strengthen his spiritual powers. One is a spiritual teacher through one's inner calling and through one's own experiences made on the path of spiritual training.
The relationship between teacher and disciple
The relationship between disciple and teacher must be a completely free one in the present consciousness-soul age. Today it is also no longer absolutely necessary to seek personal contact with a spiritual teacher, but one can also work freely on one's spiritual development according to literary guidance. In the preface to the 5th edition of his fundamental work "Knowledge of the higher worlds" Rudolf Steiner says about the relationship between teacher and disciple:
„One could, for instance, see something much more essential in the personal relationship to this or that teacher in the striving for spiritual training than should be seen. I hope that in this new edition I have succeeded in emphasising more clearly, through the way in which some details are presented, how, in the case of those who seek spiritual training in the sense of present spiritual conditions, it is much more a question of a completely direct relationship to the objective spiritual world than of a relationship to the personality of a teacher. In spiritual training, too, the teacher will more and more assume the position of a mere helper, which the teacher, according to the newer views, holds in some other branch of knowledge. I believe I have sufficiently pointed out that the teacher's authority and faith in him should play no other role in the training of the spirit than is the case in any other field of knowledge and life.“ (Lit.:GA 10, p. 11f)
It would be most unfavourable for the development of the spiritual disciple today if he were to submit in blind faith to the authority of the teacher; on the contrary, he is called upon to constantly develop his own power of judgement.
„On the contrary, the esotericist should examine what he is told, penetrate it with his intelligence, compare it with all that has been said before, seek additions. Never will faith on authority be demanded of the esoteric schools, which are under the guidance of the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Sensations. Where such faith is demanded, where a vow is demanded from the disciple, the greatest caution is in order. The disciple should examine and strive freely; and his knowledge will guide him. Nor can he be given a magic remedy to remove his faults and weaknesses, faults and weaknesses which show him a deceptive world instead of the true spiritual world. Only through slow work and honest self-examination can the disciple gradually become a different person who can bear to look at his true being with all its infirmities and not lose courage and calm at the sight of it. The disciple must take the transformation of his being in hand with strong strength. Not a greedy longing for truth and knowledge must fill him, but a healthy longing for truth, in which lies the power to behold it.“ (Lit.:GA 266b, p. 191f)
„The second side in the Rosicrucian wisdom - in the position between teacher and disciple - is that essentially the relation of the disciple to the "guru", the Oriental teacher, is different from that of the other initiations. The way in which the disciple faces the guru cannot actually be described within Rosicrucian wisdom as belief in an authority. I will illustrate this with an example from ordinary life. The Rosicrucian teacher does not want to relate to his disciple in any other way than the expert mathematician to the mathematics disciple. Can we say that the mathematics disciple adheres to his teacher out of a belief in authority? No. Can we say that the student of mathematics does not need the teacher? Yes - many might say, because they have perhaps found the way to self-study through good books. But here only the way is different from sitting chair to chair. In principle, of course, you could. In the same way, every man, if he rises to a certain level of clairvoyance, could also find all spiritual truths, but each one will find it unreasonable to reach the goal by a roundabout way. It would be equally unreasonable to say: My inner being must be the source of all spiritual truths. - If the teacher knows the mathematical truths and transmits them to the disciple, then the disciple no longer needs any faith in authority, then he sees the mathematical truths by their own correctness, and he needs nothing at all but to see them correctly. It is no different with the whole occult development in the Rosicrucian sense. The teacher is the friend, the counsellor, who exemplifies the occult experiences and makes the disciple live them. Once one has them, one does not need to accept them on authority any more than one needs to accept the sentence in mathematics: The three angles of a triangle are 180 degrees. All authority in Rosicrucianism is not actual authority, but rather what is necessary for the short cut of the path to the highest truths.“ (Lit.:GA 99, p. 16f)
- Rudolf Steiner: The Way of Initiation, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2014, ISBN 978-1499288919, eBook: ASIN B071K57C8R
- Rudolf Steiner: Wie erlangt man Erkenntnisse der höheren Welten?, GA 10 (1993), ISBN 3-7274-0100-1 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Theosophie des Rosenkreuzers, GA 99 (1985), ISBN 3-7274-0990-8 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
- Rudolf Steiner: Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden, Band II: 1910 – 1912, GA 266/2 (1996), ISBN 3-7274-2662-4 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.