CONCERNING THE TRANSCRIPTS OF THE LECTURES
From Rudolf Steiner's autobiography Mein Lebensgang (My Life), Chapter 35, 1925.
TWO consequences of my anthroposophical activity are the books which were made accessible to the general public and an extensive series of lecture courses which were initially intended for private circulation and were available only to members of the Theosophical (later Anthroposophical) Society. The transcripts of the latter were taken down — some more accurately than others — during my lectures. But time did not permit me to undertake their correction. I, for my part, would have preferred spoken word to remain spoken word, but the Members were in favour of private publication of the Courses. And so it came about. If I had had time to correct the transcripts, the reservation “For Members Only” need not have been made from the very first. Now it has been dropped for over a year.
Here in “My Life” it is above all necessary to explain how the two — the publications in general and in private circulation — are accommodated in my elaboration of Anthroposophy.
Whoever wishes to pursue my own inner conflict and toil in my effort to introduce Anthroposophy to contemporary thought, must do so with the aid of the works in general circulation which include analysis of all forms of cognition of this age. Therein also lies that which crystallised within me in “spiritual vision” and from which came into existence the structure of Anthroposophy, even if imperfect in many respects.
Apart from this obligation to construct Anthroposophy and thereby to serve only that which ensues when communications from the Spirit World are to be transmitted to modern civilisation, the need also arose to meet the claims which were manifested within the Membership as a compulsion, a yearning of the soul.
Above all, many Members were greatly disposed to hearing the Gospels and the scriptural content of the Bible presented in an anthroposophical light. Courses were requested which were to examine such revelations to humanity.
Internal courses were held to meet this requirement. At these lectures only Members were present who were initiated in Anthroposophy. It was possible to speak to them as to those well versed in Anthroposophy. The delivery of these internal lectures was such as simply could not be communicated in written works intended for the general public.
In these closed circles I was able to discuss subjects which I would have had to present quite differently if they had been intended for a general public from the very first.
Thus in the duality of the public and private works there actually exists something of two-fold diverse origin. The wholly public writings are a result of that which struggled and toiled within me; in the private publications, the Society struggles and toils with me. I listen to the vibrations within the Soul-life of the Membership and within my own being and the tone of the lectures arises from what I hear there.
Nowhere has even the slightest mention of anything been made which does not proceed from the substance of Anthroposophy. No concessions can be made to any prejudices or presentiments existing within the Membership. Whoever reads these private publications can accept them as a true representation of anthroposophical conviction. Thus when petitions became more urgent, the ruling as to the private circulation of these publications within the Membership could be amended without any hesitation. Any errors occurring in transcripts which I have not been able to revise will however have to be tolerated.
The right to pass judgement on the content of any such private publication is nevertheless reserved to those possessing the prerequisite to do so. For the great majority of these publications, this is at least an anthroposophical knowledge of man and the universe, in so far as its essence is presented in Anthroposophy, and of “the history of anthroposophy” such as it is derived from communications from the Spirit-World.