A Note on the Transcription of Lectures
From Rudolf Steiner's Autobiography
The Course of My Life, XXXV (1925)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 form of the lecture takes its shape.
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' 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.
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.