As a comment on the publication of the spoken lectures
that were first published privately at the urgent request of members
of the Anthroposophical Society and are now being made available to the
public in book form, we cite the following excerpt from Rudolf Steiner's
The Story of My Life.
“There are two
categories of works that are the fruit of my anthroposophical activities:
first, my published books, available to the world at large, and second,
a great number of lecture courses first intended to be printed privately
and for sale to members of the Anthroposophical Society only. These were
taken down with varying accuracy in shorthand, but lack of time always
prevented me from correcting them. I should have preferred to have the
spoken word remain such; but the members clamored for the private printing
of the lectures, and so this came about. If I had had time to correct
them the restriction ‘for members only' would have been unnecessary
from the start. Now, for over a year, it has been abandoned.
The Story of My Life
it is necessary to make clear the relative position
of these two categories — the published books and the private
printings — in what I have developed as anthroposophy.
“Whoever would follow
my inner struggles and labors to bring anthroposophy to present-day
consciousness must do so by means of my published writings intended
for the world at large. There I have dealt with all we have today in
the way of striving for knowledge; and there is also set forth what
took ever clearer shape in me through spiritual vision, what became
the edifice of anthroposophy, albeit in many respects imperfectly.
“But side by side
with this call to build up anthroposophy and, in doing so, to serve
only what resulted from the duty to impart communications from the spirit
world to the general educated public of today, there arose the obligation
to meet the spiritual needs of the soul, the spiritual longings, of
“There was above
all an urgent demand to have the Gospels and the substance of the Bible
in general presented in the light that had become the anthroposophical
light. People wanted lecture courses on these revelations that have
been vouchsafed mankind.
given courses led to something else. Only members were present, and
these were familiar with the elementary disclosures of anthroposophy.
One could talk to them as to advanced students, and these private lectures
were given in a way that would not have done for writings intended for
the public. In this inner circle I could talk of things in a way different
from what it would necessarily have been, had the presentation been
intended for the public.
“There exists, then,
something in this duality — the public and the private writings
— that really springs from two sources: the wholly public writings
are the result of what struggled and worked in me alone, whereas in
the private printings the Society struggles and works with me. I listen
to the vibrations in the soul life of the members, and the character of
the lectures is determined by my living vividly in what I hear there.
“If for no other
reason than that I worked from the reality of the members' soul needs,
the privately printed lectures must be judged by a different standard
than those given full publicity from the start. The contents of the
former were intended as oral communications, not as books; and the subjects
discussed were gleaned in the course of time by listening for the soul
needs of the members.
“ The substance
of the published books conforms with the demands of anthroposophy as
such. The manner in which the privately printed works unfold is something
in which the soul configuration of the whole Society collaborated, in
the sense set forth.”