- Series: Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of Rudolf Steiner
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Rudolf Steiner Press; 2nd edition (August 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1855840537
- ISBN-13: 978-1855840539
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart: The Fundamental Spiritual Exercises of Rudolf Steiner 2nd Edition
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About the Author
FLORIN LOWNDES was born in Romania in 1938 and graduated from the Institute for Fine Arts in Bukarest. After escaping the Communist regime there and moving to the United States, he became known internationally for his architecture-related art. Since moving to Germany, he has become known as a free thinker, writer, and lecturer. He has taught college-level courses and in Waldorf schools and has studied anthroposophy since 1971. Mr. Lowndes has written for numerous journals and, with George and Gisela O'Neil, coauthored The Human Life. He founded the Center of Heart-Thinking in Boston and leads training seminars in the U.S. and Europe.
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Top Customer Reviews
I used this book as a tool for historical knowledge rather than attempting to actually do the exercises, though I can see and know why they are of importance to personal philosophical change and growth. It is very esoteric in its scope and is a testament to the on-going influence of Dr. Steiner's life and practices. The details of the actual exercises are concise and pictured clearly. I would recommend to book as a reference book and also as a personal guide to practicing ancient spiritual evolution. It clarifies in a physical way how what is thought, felt and performed affects you and those around you.
Lowndes argues that Steiner had two parallel teachings. The exoteric teaching was a reformed version of traditional Western esotericism. The esoteric teaching was a direct path to “heart-thinking”, based on Steiner's book “The Philosophy of Freedom”. Perhaps inevitably, it's very difficult to grasp what the esoteric message might be, except that it somehow entails the notion that thinking should reflect upon itself, thereby transforming itself into a purely spiritual force. Most of Lowndes' book deals with the first path, the “exoteric” one.
Lowndes argues that the traditional chakras enumerated by various Eastern traditions and Theosophy are solely based in the etheric body (the lowest purely supersensible body). The forthcoming task of human evolution is to develop new chakras based in the astral body (which is higher than the etheric body). In traditional teachings, the kundalini was awakened in the human body and ascended until it reached a point immediately above the head, exploding and inducing ecstatic experiences. In Steiner's version, the kundalini descends from a supersensible sphere down into the astral body, where it creates or enlivens new chakras. The end-result is said to be clear, systematic, level-headed thinking (rather than ecstasy), but also a supersensible ability to “read” other people's souls and soul states. The most important effect of the descending kundalini is to develop the heart chakra (called “the twelve-petalled lotus” by Steiner), which will start to vibrate and radiate in all colours of the spectrum. Humans will be able to communicate through the heart-chakra. Lowndes believes that it will take many more incarnations before humanity in general reaches this new level of development. To sum up this far, the author believes that the descending kundalini can be tapped by humans to aid their spiritual evolution. (Parallels to Sri Aurobindo are pretty obvious here.)
“Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart” contains six exercises to develop the heart chakra. They are not particularly dramatic, and include exercises in meditation, open-mindedness, equanimity, etc. The author proposes different body postures (the Agrippa positions) to harness etheric energy, positions apparently also used in eurythmy (a kind of performance art developed by Steiner and Marie von Sivers). The exercises are said to protect the practitioner from the evil forces of Lucifer, Ahriman and the Asuras, while gaining the protection of angelic hierarchies. Lowndes believes that the evolution of the heart chakra is *the* most important task of humanity today, and that the six exercises described in his book therefore aren't optional, but rather imperative for our future…
I admit that “Enlivening the chakra of the heart” is a relatively interesting book, although perhaps too narrow for general readers. I found the book by chance when typing the words “Steiner kundalini” into the Amazon search engine. I will give it four stars for stimulating my thinking, although perhaps not my chakras! ;-)
The six "subsidiary" exercises described by Rudolf Steiner, and elaborated in this work by Lowndes, ENLIVENING THE CHAKRA OF THE HEART (ETCOTH), are to be considered absolutely essential, a safety measure, without which no other exercises or meditations should be practiced. All meditations and spiritual exercises can open one to undesirable influences, or have undesirable effects, and these 6 exercises are meant to stabilize and strengthen the etheric and astral bodies against this possibility. The use of the description "subsidiary" by Steiner himself has led many to wrongly believe that these 6 exercises are supplementary, or secondary, in importance. Not true. Steiner himself is clear on this issue, that other exercises or meditations must not be commenced without the simultaneous practice and protective benefit of these foundational exercises.
These six exercises are as follows (very brief and incomplete description):
1. Control of thinking by concentration one's thoughts on a particular object
2. Control of will by choosing an activity to repeat at a given time
3. Control of feelings by developing equanity towards joy and sorrow
4. Development of positivity
5. Development of open-mindedness
6. Harmonizing all the foregoing
Lowndes elaborates on these practices in a very useful and pedagogical way. My only caveat is that, in ETCOTH, Lowndes overlays his own experience (and therefore, interpretation) on this work, and one should really read how R. Steiner himself describes these exercises (quoted extensively in Lowndes' text, also to be found in Guidance in Esoteric Training, and Outline of Esoteric Science). If any fault could be found with Lowndes' work here, it is only that his way of working some of these exercises seems to me more ponderous and difficult than Steiner himself described them. Still, I consider ETCOTH by Lowndes to be absolutely essential to anyone sincerely engaged in anthroposophical inner work, and, in my view represents a solid pedagogy and systematization which is less developed in Steiner's own presentation of anthroposophy.
Read also THE INNER PATH by Karl Koenig who describes these same six "subsidiary" exercises with the warmth and wisdom of one whose life has been devoted to this kind of spiritual work and teaching.