Some Necessary Qualities for the Spiritual Path
In his book How to Know Higher Worlds, Rudolf Steiner has outlined some of the necessary qualities or requirements that are necessary to walk upon the spiritual path. Due to his enormous contribution to the esoteric corpus of knowledge, Steiner was one of the most prominent spiritual teachers of the 20th century. Although the path he talks about is not as elaborated as what we study in the teachings of Gnosis, the requirements he outlined can be applied here as well. These seven requirements are:
Dedication to Self-improvement
This one is self-explanatory. If we wish to walk the path, we have to be dedicated to doing so, just like it is with everything else in life that requires effort to reach it. The more dedicated we are to this, the more we progress.
To be a part of the whole of life
Feeling oneself as the part of the unity of life comes with practicing the exercises that we have in Gnosis for some time; exercises such as awareness of oneself and of the environment (being conscious), increasing the consciousness, meditation, practices that strengthen connection with a part of us that is infinite, etc.
The reality of thoughts and feelings
Steiner says the following: “The third requirement requires that we win through to the conviction that thoughts and feelings are as important for the world as actions. We should recognize that, when we hate our fellow human beings, it is just as destructive as physically striking them. This brings us again to the insight that anything we do for our own improvement benefits not just ourselves, but also the world. The world benefits just as much from pure feelings and thoughts as from good actions. Indeed, as long as we do not recognize the significance that one’s inner life has for the world, we are unprepared to take up esoteric training. And we cannot rightly believe in the meaning of our inner lives, our souls, until we care for our souls and perform our inner work as if it were at least as real as outer work. We must know that what we feel has as much impact upon the world as the work done by our hands.”
The spiritual scales
“We must acquire the conviction that our true nature does not lie without, but within. We can achieve nothing spiritually if we regard ourselves merely as a product, a result, of the physical world. The very basis of esoteric training is feeling that we are soul-spiritual beings. Once we have made this feeling our own, we are ready to distinguish between our inner sense of duty and outer success. We learn to recognize that there is no necessary and immediate correlation between these. As esoteric students, we must find the middle ground between following the demands of the world and doing what we see as the right thing to do. We must not force upon others something that they cannot understand, but at the same time we must be free of the urge to do only what those around us recognize and approve of. Only the inner voice of the soul, as it honestly strives for higher knowledge, can confirm our truths. Yet we must also learn as much as possible about our environment and find out what is useful and good for it. And, if we do so, we will develop within ourselves what esoteric science calls “the spiritual scales” or the “balance”—on one of whose trays lies a helpful heart, open to the needs of the world, and on the other, inner firmness and unshakable endurance.”
“This brings us to the fifth requirement: steadfastness in following through on a resolution once it has been made. Nothing should lead us to abandon something we have decided upon except the insight that we have made a mistake. Each resolution we make is a force that works in its own way—even when it is not immediately successful in the area where it is first applied. Success is crucial only when we act out of longing. But any action motivated by craving is worthless from the point of view of the higher world. In the higher world, love is the only motivation for action. As esoteric students, all that stirs us to action must be subsumed in love. If we act out of love, we shall never tire of transforming our resolutions into deeds, no matter how often we may have failed in the past. As a result, we do not judge a deed on the basis of its outer effect on other people, but take satisfaction in the act itself of carrying out our actions. We must learn to offer up our deeds, our very essence, to the world—regardless of how our offering may be received. To be esoteric students, we must be prepared for this life of sacrifice and service.”
“The sixth requirement is that we develop the feeling of gratitude for all that we receive. We should know that our very existence is a gift from the whole universe. How much is necessary for human beings to receive and sustain their existence! We owe so much to nature and to other people. Grateful thoughts such as these must become second nature for those engaged in esoteric training. If we do not give ourselves fully to such thoughts, we shall never develop the all-embracing love we need to attain higher knowledge. Only if I love something can it reveal itself to me. And every revelation should fill me with thankfulness, for I am made richer by it.”
“All the above conditions come together in the seventh: always to understand life as these conditions demand. In so doing, we create the possibility of giving our lives the stamp of unity. All the different expressions of our life will then be in harmony and not contradict each other.”
These are some of the requirement or qualities that we develop as we proceed on the path. It is clear that those attracted to the path to awakening already have those things developed to a certain extent, but these further deepen with spiritual progress. To the above-mentioned requirements, we could also add a need to use our speech wisely, to keep our body healthy as much as we can, etc. As we move along the path, we are becoming increasingly more aligned to all the necessary requirements that are needed to reach the final liberation.