Days of the Week Exercises
as put forth by Rudolf Steiner in his book,
“Guidance in Esoteric Training.”
FOR THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The pupil must pay careful attention to certain activities in the life of soul
which in the ordinary way are carried on carelessly and inattentively.
There are eight such activities.
It is naturally best to undertake only one exercise at a time, throughout
a week or a fortnight, for example, then the second, and so on, then
beginning over again. Meanwhile it is best for the eighth exercise to be
carried out every day. True self-knowledge is then gradually achieved
and any progress made is perceived. Then later on — beginning with
Saturday — one exercise lasting for about five minutes may perhaps be
added daily to the eighth so that the relevant exercise will occasionally
fall on the same day. Thus: Saturday — Thoughts; Sunday —
Resolves; Monday — Talking; Tuesday — Actions; Wednesday —
Behaviour, and so on.
To pay attention to one's ideas.
To think only significant thoughts. To learn little by little to separate in
one's thoughts the essential from the nonessential, the eternal from the
transitory, truth from mere opinion.
In listening to the talk of one's fellow-men, to try and become quite still
inwardly, foregoing all assent, and still more all unfavourable judgments
(criticism, rejection), even in one's thoughts and feelings.
This may be called:
To determine on even the most insignificant matter only after fully
reasoned deliberation. All unthinking behaviour, all meaningless actions,
should be kept far away from the soul. One should always have well-weighed
reasons for everything. And one should definitely abstain from doing
anything for which there is no significant reason.
Once one is convinced of the rightness of a decision, one must hold fast
to it, with inner steadfastness.
This may be called:
having been formed independently of sympathies and antipathies.
Talking. Only what has sense and meaning should come from the lips of
one striving for higher development. All talking for the sake of talking -
to kill time — is in this sense harmful.
The usual kind of conversation, a disjointed medley of remarks, should
be avoided. This does not mean shutting oneself off from intercourse
with one's fellows; it is precisely then that talk should gradually be led to
significance. One adopts a thoughtful attitude to every speech and answer
taking all aspects into account. Never talk without cause — be gladly
silent. One tries not to talk too much or too little. First listen quietly; then
reflect on what has been said.
This exercise may be called:
External actions. These should not be disturbing for our fellow-men.
Where an occasion calls for action out of one's inner being, deliberate
carefully how one can best meet the occasion — for the good of the whole,
the lasting happiness of man, the eternal.
Where one does things of one's own accord, out of one's own initiative:
consider most thoroughly beforehand the effect of one's actions.
This is called:
The ordering of life. To live in accordance with Nature and Spirit. Not to
be swamped by the external trivialities of life. To avoid all that brings
unrest and haste into life. To hurry over nothing, but also not to be
indolent. To look on life as a means for working towards higher
development and to behave accordingly.
One speaks in this connection of
Human Endeavour. One should take care to do nothing that lies beyond
one's powers — but also to leave nothing undone which lies within them.
To look beyond the everyday, the momentary, and to set oneself aims and
ideals connected with the highest duties of a human being. For instance,
in the sense of the prescribed exercises, to try to develop oneself so that
afterwards one may be able all the more to help and advise one's fellow-men
— though perhaps not in the immediate future.
This can be summed up as:
‘TO LET ALL THE FOREGOING EXERCISES BECOME
The endeavour to learn as much as possible from life.
Nothing goes by us without giving us a chance to gain experiences that
are useful for life. If one has done something wrongly or imperfectly, that
becomes a motive for doing it rightly or more perfectly, later on.
If one sees others doing something, one observes them with the like end
in view (yet not coldly or heartlessly). And one does nothing without
looking back to past experiences which can be of assistance in one's
decisions and achievements.
One can learn from everyone — even from children if one is attentive.
This exercise is called:
(Remembering what has been learnt from experiences).
To turn one's gaze inwards from time to time, even if only for five
minutes daily at the same time. In so doing one should sink down into
oneself, carefully take counsel with oneself, test and form one's
principles of life, run through in thought one's knowledge — or lack
of it — weigh up one's duties, think over the contents and true purpose
of life, feel genuinely pained by one's own errors and imperfections. In a
word: labour to discover the essential, the enduring, and earnestly aim at
goals in accord with it: for instance, virtues to be acquired. (Not to fall
into the mistake of thinking that one has done something well, but to strive
ever further towards the highest standards.)
This exercise is called: