This is one of many courses of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) in the early years of this century, in the amplification of his spiritual science or anthroposophy. Some of these courses were given to members of the Anthroposophical Society who had been familiar with the subject for many years. Others were given to the general public. In both cases — and naturally more particularly and esoterically so in the former — they were a deepening and extension of what was contained in his written works.
It is the written works that contain the essentials of his teaching. Among them are some which have come to be known as the “basic books,” and without some knowledge of them it is impossible to appreciate what was spoken of in these lecture courses. Those basic books are: The Philosophy of Freedom (also published as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity), Theosophy, An Outline of Occult Science, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, and Christianity as Mystical Fact (also published as Christianity and Occult Mysteries of Antiquity).
It is essential to make this clear to readers, and even to impress upon them the need to have some familiarity with the basic books before attempting the courses. The reasons should be obvious. First, it would be unfair to the readers themselves to be led into buying a book which they might find mystifying and confusing, if not wholly incomprehensible, later; and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it would be unfair to the cause of spiritual science if the unadvised reader should be led to forming a premature judgment about what is admittedly recondite, if not at times arcane, through insufficient knowledge of its basic principles.
Any scientific investigation — and anthroposophy is just that, even though its field is the super-sensible — presupposes a discipline which demands a thorough grounding in its fundamentals. This was all Rudolf Steiner ever asked for the results of his investigations, which he gave out in these and other lectures. So finally, it would be unfair to his unchallenged reputation as a scholar and philosopher to offer to the public such a book as this without these few introductory remarks.