Rudolf Steiner Archive 

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GA 235

Preliminary Remarks

We quote the following passages from Rudolf Steiner's The Story of My Life. They are to accompany the publication of the lectures which were, in the beginning, privately printed at the urgent wish of the members of the Anthroposophical Society, and now are made accessible to the public in book form.

“From my anthroposophical activity two things have resulted: First my hooks published for the whole world, and secondly a great number of lecture courses which were at first to be considered as privately printed and to be sold only to members of the Anthroposophical Society. These were really shorthand reports of the lectures more or less well done and which I, for lack of time, could not correct. It would have pleased me best if spoken words had remained spoken words. But the members wished the private publication of the courses. And thus, it came into existence. If I had had time to correct the reports, the restriction ‘For Members Only’ would never have been necessary. For more than a year now, this restriction has been removed.

“Here, in this The Story of My Life, it is necessary to say, first of all, how the two things — my published books and this privately printed matter — fit into that which I elaborated as anthroposophy.

“Whoever wishes to trace my inner struggle and labor to set anthroposophy before the consciousness of the present age must do this on the basis of the writings published for general circulation. In these I dealt also with all which is present in the striving of this age for knowledge. Here there is given what more and more took form for me in ‘spiritual perception’ what became the structure of anthroposophy — in a form incomplete, to be sure, from many points of view.

“Together with this purpose, however, of building up anthroposophy and thereby serving only that which results when one has information from the world of spirit to give to the modern culture world, there now appeared the other demand — to meet fully whatever was manifested in the membership as the need of their souls, as their longing for the spirit.

“Most of all was there a strong inclination to hear the Gospels and the biblical writings generally set forth in that which had appeared as the anthroposophic light. Persons wished to attend courses of lectures on these revelations given to mankind.

“As private courses of lectures were held in the sense then required, something else arose in consequence. Only members attended these courses. These members were acquainted with the elementary information coming from anthroposophy. It was possible to speak to them as to persons advanced in the realm of anthroposophy. The manner of these private lectures was such as it would not have been in writings intended wholly for the public.

“In private groups I was allowed to speak about things in a manner which I should have been obliged to shape quite differently for a public presentation if, from the first, these things had been designed for such an audience.

“Thus, in the two things, the public and the private writings, we have really something derived from two different bases. All the public writings are the result of what struggled and labored within me; in the privately printed matter the Society itself shares in the struggle and labor. I listen to the vibrations in the soul-life of the membership, and through my vital living within what I thus hear the bearing of the course is determined.

“Because of this working out of the reality of the members' soul-needs, the privately printed matter must be judged differently from that given to the public from the beginning. The content of this printed matter was originally intended as oral, not printed, information. The subjects discussed were determined by the soul-needs of the members as these needs appeared with the passage of time.

“What is contained in the published writings corresponds to the demands of anthroposophy as such; in the manner in which the private printed matter evolved, the configuration of soul of the whole Society has co-operated.”

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