The First Class Lessons and Mantras: The Michael School Meditative Path in Nineteen Steps – Under this title in Dec. 2015 Steinerbooks published the spiritual legacy of Rudolf Steiner from 1924. The editor T.H. Meyer added comments and an afterword about the history of the so called “Class”. It was the first time ever that the 19 Class lessons had been printed in English for the public at large. Before they had only been known and studied within an inner circle of the Anthroposophical Society. The decision for an unrestricted publication was taken after serious consideration of the needs of our time.
What are the lessons about? They outline a modern path of crossing the threshold to the spiritual world. Such a conscious crossing is indispensable if the hyper-materialism of our time is to be transcended and overcome. For fruitful work with these unique texts and mantras, however, some knowledge of and experience with some of Steiner’s basic writings such as The Way of Initiation, as well as some acquaintance with his book Occult Science, is indispensable.
The publication was in a certain sense a risk. Would it not “vulgarise” the highly esoteric contents of the lessons? But we remember the answer Aristotle once gave when his pupil Alexander thought that his teacher had given away too many esoteric truths and that he should not have made them exoteric. “For those who do not understand them,” Aristotle replied, “they still remain esoteric.”This truth was in a certain sense verified by the first public reactions to the publication.
First public echoes
Since the first moment the book was available from Amazon.com there have appeared nine reviews of it there which seem to come from the general public and not from anthroposophical circles. They represent without exception positive appraisals of this publication.
The first review states:
Finally a book on the Esoteric school of Rudolf Steiner. Previously you had to be a member of the national anthroposophical society and then get a mentor and take these classes. Here with this book is provided a good way to study the lessons. It was needed as there are lots of unclear ‘’bootleg’’ lessons out there. The book contains color prints of Steiner’s drawings that accompany the lessons, it is a complete presentation of Steiner’s lessons. This is the path laid out by Rudolf Steiner and like nearly all of Steiner’s material it’s not an easy read or an easy path, but this book makes that path much more accessible and brings Steiner’s teachings to those not near an anthroposophical center. This brings an aspect of Steiner’s teaching to those outside Anthroposophical circles. Although Steiner’s path is difficult to learn it is probably the most accessible of the Western Esoteric paths by a bona fide teacher. This book is a must, albeit difficult, for all serious Steiner’s students and Western esotericists.
This book won’t be of value to many people who are not somewhat familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s work. That being said, there is a very good reason for this book to be in the public domain, as it is now necessary. There are no First Class Readers near us, and the books from the Goetheanum were hundreds of dollars. (…) Beautiful, worth it for sure, but times necessitate affordability (…) something the Society hasn’t caught on to in many instances. This is a serious book to be taken and worked with respectably and with humility and gratitude. This is a wonderful opportunity for those who are drawn to it to join others in the School of Michael.
For years the German speaking world has had public access to this remarkable body of work. The path of the Michael School is a personal one which comes to life in a social, worldly context. At long last, it is available to all people in the English-speaking world having an interest in this subject at a cost that is affordable for most. The form of the book and the way it is laid out makes good sense, while giving the reader reasonable entry into the material. Historical commentary and great color drawings of blackboard exhibits enhance the value of this book. I look forward to a deepening of my experiences with this book over time.
I refer the reader to the Amazon website to see the other six reviews.
Two newly-discovered recapitulation lessons now published for the first time
This positive echo from the “normal” world is encouraging. In fact, in a few months there will be Volume 2 with a number of so-called “recapitulation lessons”, in which Steiner repeated the contents of the first basic lessons for people who were not able to attend them.1
There are no new mantras, but quite different comments on them than in Vol. 1. Furthermore, this second English-language volume will contain two recapitulation lessons never known or published before. They were given in Breslau (Silesia) on 12 and 13 June 1924.
The editor discovered them a few years ago in the Kolisko Archive in England in a stenogram by Lily Kolisko. The grandson of Eugen and Lily Kolisko, Andrew Clunies-Ross, gave us permission to publish them. The editor had them transcribed into German and is happy that they are now included in Vol. 2 of the English edition. There will be a separate bi-lingual English-German edition of these newly- found lessons in the near future.
An “official” publication
Apart from this well-received publication of the “esoteric” class lessons, the headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society, located in Dornach, Switzerland, is preparing a bilingual edition of the 19 lessons, based on the edited versions of earlier translations.
This edition will only be available, as announced, for members of the “Class”. This is in striking contrast with the wish of the officials to be in tune with the demands of the times, and raises the question: is the headquarters aware of the general public’s gratitude for the availability of these texts, as reflected in the above reviews? And how does it relate to Steiner’s own words: “when the Class lessons lead to sectarian behavior and pretensions of power, they will have to be published like all my other lectures.”2
1 The First Class of the Michael School, Recapitulation Lessons and Mantras, Great Barrington 2018.
2 The First Class Lessons and Mantras: The Michael School Meditative Path in Nineteen Steps, Preface to the First English edition, p. VII. – Original quote from Wege, ed. A. Kimpfler, No. 3, 2011, p. 26..