We quote the following passages from Rudolf Steiner's
The Story of My Life.
They are to accompany the publication of the lectures which were, in
the beginning, privately printed at the urgent wish of the members of
the Anthroposophical Society, and now are made accessible to the
public in book form.
From my anthroposophical activity two things have resulted:
First my books published for the whole world, and secondly a great
number of lecture courses which were at first to be considered as
privately printed and to he sold only to members of the
Anthroposophical Society. These were really shorthand reports of the
lectures more or less well done and which I, for lack of time, could
not correct. It would have pleased me best if spoken words had
remained spoken words. But the members wished the private publication
of the courses. And thus it came into existence. If I had had time to
correct the reports, the restriction ‘For Members Only’ would never
have been necessary. For more than a year now, this restriction has
Here, in this
Story of My Life,
it is necessary to say, first of all, how the two things my
published books and this privately printed matter fit into that
which I elaborated as anthroposophy.
Whoever wishes to trace my inner struggle and labor to set
anthroposophy before the consciousness of the present age must do this
on the basis of the writings published for general circulation. In
these I dealt also with all which is present in the striving of this
age for knowledge. Here there is given what more and more took form
for me in ‘spiritual perception,’ what became the structure of
anthroposophy in a form incomplete, to be sure, from many
points of view.
Together with this purpose, however, of building up anthroposophy and
thereby serving only that which results when one has information from
the world of spirit to give to the modern culture world, there now
appeared the other demand to meet fully whatever was manifested
in the membership as the need of their souls, as their longing for the
Most of all was there a strong inclination to hear the Gospels and the
biblical writings generally set forth in that which had appeared as
the anthroposophic light. Persons wished to attend courses of lectures
on these revelations given to mankind.
As private courses of lectures were held in the sense then required,
something else arose in consequence. Only members attended these
courses. These members were acquainted with the elementary information
coming from anthroposophy. It was possible to speak to them as to
persons advanced in the realm of anthroposophy. The manner of these
private lectures was such as it would not have been in writings
intended wholly for the public.
In private groups I was allowed to speak about things in a manner
which I should have been obliged to shape quite differently for a
public presentation if, from the first, these things had been designed
for such an audience.
Thus in the two things, the public and the private writings, we have
really something derived from two different bases. All the public
writings are the result of what struggled and labored within me; in
the privately printed matter the Society itself shares in the struggle
and labor. I listen to the vibrations in the soul-life of the
membership, and through my vital living within what I thus hear the
bearing of the course is determined.
Because of this working out of the reality of the members' soul-needs,
the privately printed matter must be judged differently from
that given to the public from the beginning. The content of this
printed matter was originally intended as oral, not printed,
information. The subjects discussed were determined by the soul-needs
of the members as these needs appeared with the passage of time.
What is contained in the published writings corresponds to the demands
of anthroposophy as such; in the manner in which the private printed
matter evolved, the configuration of soul of the whole Society has