To develop the 16-leaved lotus flower, or Vishuddha (throat) chakra R. Steiner advises exercising the eight-fold Path of Buddha. And to do this in such a way that on each day of the week the emphasis is placed upon one particular exercise along with an eighth exercise which is to be done every day.
The question arises what the specific day of the week has to do with the exercise indicated. And this is where the planetary qualities peep around the corner.
The names of the days of the week are derived from the planets: Saturday - Saturn, Sunday - Sun, Monday - Moon, Tuesday - Tiwaz (Germanic god) or Mars, Wednesday - Wodan (also a Germanic god) or Mercury, Thursday - Donor (Germanic) or Jupiter and Friday - Frija (Germanic) or Venus.
If we take a look at the planetary qualities in connection with the eight-fold Path it strikes us that the spiritual tasks connected with the planets correspond with the relevant exercises from the eight-fold Path. This can be a help to work with the exercises. Once we have learned to discern the planetary qualities and know which qualities in us are stronger and which are weaker, then we can try to develop the weaker ones and work on the spiritual tasks of the stronger ones. As not many of us will be far enough to be in perfect balance and to be continuously alert, we have been given exercises to work on our spiritual development in convenient stages.
It is good to remember where the eight-fold Path leads us. It is the seat of the 'teacher' who serves the evolution of mankind; the guru in the right sense of the word. The eight exercises are his 'conditions'. A guru in service of the spiritual evolution of mankind will have a right opinion because he can differentiate between the ever-lasting and the temporary; he will make right judgements which are not based on sympathy or antipathy; he will always use the right word at the right time and that word will always be true; his deeds will always be directed towards the well-being of all mankind and that is the right deed; he lives according to the cosmic laws and rhythms and that is the right point of view; he has the highest ideals and does everything he can to realize these for mankind, the right habit; he is always open-minded and unprejudiced so he keeps learning from his experiences and those of others and he remembers them so he can use them in his teachings, which is the right memory. Above all this he is strict for himself and keeps examining himself to see if he is still attached to sympathies, antipathies, pride, etc.; also he keeps on the alert to see if he cannot do more for mankind, - this is the right contemplation. (What we have described here are just his behavioral traits!)
Keeping this in mind we can now take a look at the planetary qualities and the eight-fold Path.
Saturn's strength is being able to discern the essentials and his weaker trait is that he is so convinced of his own opinion that he doesn't really listen.
In the exercise 'the right opinion' one must quell one's own opinion to let the other (person or situation) enter one's being. That means that Saturn must let go of his rigidity, because even though he can easily find the essence he must learn to see that he does not always have all the facts. He must also learn not to be afraid to find that there are more facts than he can handle at that time and that by keeping inner calm and silence the essence will finally come to him. The fear arises out of self-interest and is not in service of mankind.
The Sun is the symbol for the harmony between all the planetary qualities. Steiner stresses that exercising the right judgement is done by detaching oneself from sympathy and antipathy within the situation.
How can we make a right decision, a right judgement? The Sun way is by first looking at the situation or decision through the qualities of each planet and then asking ourselves if the decision fits in the spiritual evolutionary stream working for mankind. In this way the decision is detached from personal sympathy or antipathy. It then becomes self-less and of service to mankind. The deed which accompanies the decision or judgement is then done with complete dedication, with complete awareness.
The Moon mirrors and her weak side is that she does this unconsciously, without direction, goal.
This quality of being able to mirror can be transformed to conscious mirroring by practising using the right word. The more she watches what she says, in the end she will be able to speak the right word at the right moment to her fellow man. Her own quality of being able to mirror will then be directed toward the spiritual progress of mankind and will be the mirror of deliverance.
The weak side of Mars is using uncontrolled action to solve problems. Immediate action without thinking the consequences through. The strong side is the fact that he can act; he is not afraid of acting.
Mars must learn to think first, to control his actions (this also applies to words). He can start by asking himself if his intended action would disturb his fellow man. This does mean that he has to build in this moment of reflection. He must try to enlarge his vision so that he can oversee the consequences of his deeds. Only with vision and love can he come to the right deed which is always good for all of mankind.
The weak side of Mercury is that he does not hold direction; he jabs without follow-up. The strong side is his quick grasp of new ideas; he is not afraid of new concepts.
If Mercury can learn to hold on to the line of spiritual evolution and the cosmic rhythms, if he can learn to use this as a key for his innovations and his shaking loose of stagnant properties, then he can reach the right point of view and become a healing factor for mankind.
The weak side of Jupiter is using his power as might through manipulation. His strong side is that he can oversee a huge amount of connections and can contain much at the same time.
Jupiter must try to use his power for the good of mankind and not for personal purposes. He has the possibility to contain much so let him set high ideals. In doing this he must also remember to understand his fellow man and that 'little' problems are just as important as 'big' ones.
The weak side of Venus is losing herself in her own feelings. The strong side is empathy in feeling.
If Venus can create some distance between her feeling and her higher Self she can learn to use her feeling as an organ of perception. Then she can learn from experiences of others and from her own in relation with spiritual growth. In this way she can obtain the right memory, which means seeing things the way they are and not just remembering her own feelings in the situation, but learning from it and making the right connections. By using this right memory she can help her fellow men find their way in the stream of spiritual evolution.
In this same way we can connect R. Steiner's 'looking-back' exercise to the right contemplation.
This exercise is to be done every evening before going to sleep. Before your inner view you unroll the day backwards from the end to the beginning as if it were a film about somebody else, objectively.
In the right contemplation exercise you judge with the higher Self. The Self looks at what you did, thought and felt; looks to see if you tried hard enough in practicing the exercises mentioned above; looks to see if you have been continuously aware of your place in the evolutionary stream; looks at your mistakes and imperfections; looks also how your immediate surroundings are coming along and where you can help. The Self also resolves to do better and searches ways which are within your possibilities but always working towards the high ideal.
Naturally there are many more aspects connected to the eight-fold Path. This article is only meant as an instigation to set foot on this Path with the help of the planetary qualities.
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