The Stages of Higher Knowledge
From the Preface for the edition of September 1914 of Rudolf Steiner's book Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its Attainment
When I wrote the essays that constitute this book, much had to be discussed in a different way from today, because at that time I had to allude in a different manner to the substance of what has since been published concerning facts of cognition of spiritual worlds. In my book, An Outline of Occult Science, in The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind, in A Road to Self-Knowledge and especially in The Threshold of the Spiritual World, as well as in other writings, spiritual processes are described whose existence, to be sure, was already indicated in this book ten years ago, but in words differing from those that seem right today. At that time I had to explain that a great deal of what was not yet described in the book could be learned by oral communication. Much of this material has since been published. But allusions to it before publication left the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding on the part of the reader. It might be possible, for instance, to imagine something much more vital in the personal relations between the seeker for spiritual schooling and this or that teacher than is intended. I trust I have here succeeded, by presenting details in a certain way, in emphasising more strongly that for one seeking spiritual schooling in accord with present spiritual conditions an absolute direct relation to the objective spiritual world is of far greater importance than a relation to the personality of a teacher. The latter will gradually become merely the helper; he will assume the same position in spiritual schooling as a teacher occupies, in conformity with modern views, in any other field of knowledge. I believe I have sufficiently stressed the fact that the teacher's authority and the pupil's faith in him should play no greater part in spiritual schooling than in any other branch of knowledge or life. A great deal depends, it seems to me, upon an increasingly true estimate of this relation between the one who carries on spiritual research and those who develop an interest in the results of his research. Thus I believe I have improved the book wherever I was in a position, after ten years, to find what needs improving.
A second part is to be added to this first part, bringing further explanations of the frame of mind that can lead a man to the experience of the higher worlds.
Berlin, September 7, 1914