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The Principle of Spiritual Economy

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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The Principle of Spiritual Economy

On-line since: 15th May, 2009

A Note on the Transcription of Lectures

From Rudolf Steiner's Autobiography
The Course of My Life, XXXV (1925)

My anthroposophical work has yielded two results: first, the books I have published for all the world to read; secondly, a number of lecture courses which were at first intended for private printing and were to be for sale only to members of the Theosophical (later the Anthroposophical) Society. These were reports of my lecture, more or less accurate, which I did not have the time to correct. I would have preferred oral pronouncements to have remained just that, but the members wanted a private printing of these courses and that is what was done. Had I had the time to correct the transcriptions, the restriction “for members only” would have been unnecessary from the very beginning. Now, for more than a year, the restriction has been omitted anyway.

Here, in The Course of My Life, it is above all necessary to state how the published books and the privately printed material combine into what I developed as anthroposophy.

Whoever wants to trace my inner struggles and see how I worked to acquaint contemporary consciousness with anthroposophy must do so on the basis of publications that were intended for the general public. It is in them that I dealt with everything that in our time qualifies as the search for knowledge. The reader will find in these works what increasingly took form within me through “spiritual perception” and what became — albeit incompletely in many ways —the edifice of anthroposophy.

One requirement that emerged was to build “anthroposophy” and thereby respond to the need of imparting information from the spiritual world to the generally educated public of our time. Soon, however, it also became necessary to fully address what from within the membership revealed itself as spiritual needs and intellectual longings.

Above all, a strong inclination was felt to have the Gospels and the Bible presented in the light of what had emerged as anthroposophical inquiry. The members in the courses wanted to hear about the revelations that mankind had been given.

In response to this request, internal lecture courses were given which were attended only by members. They, however, were familiar with the rudimentary pronouncements about anthroposophy so that one could speak to them as one would to advanced students of anthroposophy. The approach in these internal lectures was different from the one necessary for the publications that were entirely intended for the general public.

In these inner circles it was appropriate for me to discuss the subject matter in a less structured way. If the same subject matter had from the outset been designated for public presentation, I would have had no choice but to rearrange things accordingly.

Thus, something is indeed present in the two endeavors, in public and private writings, which derives from two different backgrounds. The exclusively public writings are the result of what struggled and was at work in me, whereas in the privately printed material the society joins me in my struggle and labor. When it does, I listen to the pulsations in the soul-life of the members and as I vividly partake in what they have to say, the lecture takes shape.

At no time is anything whatsoever mentioned in the lectures that is not the clearest result of the developing anthroposophy and absolutely no concession is made to accommodate the members<p class="western" style="text-indent: 0.25in;"> prejudices or preconceived notions. Anyone reading this privately printed material can accept its contents in the fullest sense as a pronouncement of what anthroposophy has to say. Therefore, when complaints in this regard became too persistent, we could without hesitation abandon the practice of distributing the printed material only to members. What will have to be accepted, however, is that the transcriptions not checked by me may contain some errors.

We will concede the right of judging the content of this printed material only to those who know what is acceptable as a prerequisite for making such a judgment. The minimal prerequisite for an appreciation of this printed material is that one has an anthroposophical understanding of man, and of the cosmos to the extent that its nature is explained by anthroposophy. Moreover, one should know “anthroposophical history” as manifested in the pronouncements from the spiritual world.

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