The addresses published here do not belong in a narrow sense to those ‘Private Papers’ of Rudolf Steiner which have been published as urgently desired study-material for seekers after true humanity and a world-conception in accordance with spiritual values. Nevertheless what Rudolf Steiner himself says in his ‘Lebensgang’ concerning the printing of words which were taken down by his listeners, though intended by the lecturer himself to be only spoken, applies also to these:
‘Of my anthroposophical work there are now two results; first, my books which are open to all the world, and secondly a long series of Courses, which were intended to be looked upon as private publications, for sale only to the members of the Theosophical, later the Anthroposophical Society. These were versions, made with more or less accuracy at the lectures, which, owing to lack of time, could not be corrected by me. I should have preferred if the spoken word were to have remained so. But members wanted the printed edition of the Courses, and so it came into being. Had I had time to correct things, there would have been no need from the beginning for the limitation “Only for Members.” Now it has been omitted for more than a year.
‘Here in my “Lebensgang” it is above all necessary to say how the two things — my published books and private editions — fit into what I established as Anthroposophy.
‘Anyone who wishes to follow my inner struggle and work to bring Anthroposophy before the consciousness of the present age, must do so by means of the general published writings. In them I elaborate everything that exists at present in the way of the pursuit of knowledge. There is given what was revealed more and more to me in “spiritual vision,” what became part of the building of Anthroposophy — although in many respects in an incomplete manner.
‘Side by side with this demand to build up Anthroposophy, and by doing so to take the consequence of giving messages from the spirit-world to the general world of culture to-day, there was also the other demand, to meet fully the spiritual needs and desires of the members as they manifested themselves.’
Also the lectures given publicly in Berlin had, beside the casual listeners each time, an audience of people who came regularly, whose intelligence and capacity to understand were from time to time taken into consideration by the lecturer. And the stenographer had to adapt his gradually increasing skill to catching lectures of one and a half hour's duration. The two addresses published here cannot pretend to give again the pure style of the spoken word, which Rudolf Steiner so sharply differentiates from the style of the written Essay.
As there is such a strong demand for the spoken wisdom of Rudolf Steiner, that we can scarcely keep up in the issue of his addresses with the wishes of readers, our obligation increases to place simultaneously the written Essays of Rudolf Steiner by the side of these as a corrective. They are contributions to several papers, notably to the Goetheanum. Under the title ‘Studies in Goethe, the Goetheanistic Thought Methods,’ a series of these Essays is to appear shortly in book form. In them one will recognize the continuity of Rudolf Steiner's thought and the impersonality and timelessness of his style as a form of expression of those thoughts which are directed towards the eternal, and grasp ‘all things transitory’ with the most intimate sympathy and the acutest accuracy, as a link in the chain from earthly growth to divine existence.