Theosophy, by Rudolf Steiner, , at sacred-texts.com
On the appearance of the second edition of this book occasion was taken to preface a few remarks which may also be said with regard to this third edition. "Amplifications and extensions," which seem to me important for the more exact description of what is being presented, have again been inserted; but in no case have essential alterations of what was contained in the first and second editions seemed necessary. What was said on the first appearance of the book regarding its aim, and what was added to this in the second edition, also require, at present, no alteration. In the preface to the second edition the following supplementary remarks were inserted.
Anyone who at the present time gives a description of supersensible facts ought to be quite clear on two points. The first is that our age requires the cultivation of the different branches of supersensible knowledge. The
other is that the intellectual and spiritual life of the day is full of ideas and feelings which make such a description appear to many an absolute chaos of fantastic notions and dreams. The present age requires knowledge of the supersensible because all that a man can come to know by current methods about the world and life arouses in him numerous questions which can only be answered by means of supersensible truths. For one ought not to deceive oneself in regard to the fact that the information concerning the fundamental truths of existence given within the intellectual and spiritual currents of to-day is, for the souls that feel deeply, a source not of answers but of questions regarding the great problems of the universe and of life. Some people may, for a time, hold firmly to the opinion that they can find a solution of the problems of existence within the "results of strictly scientific facts," and within the conclusions of this or that thinker of the day. But when the soul goes into those depths into which it must go if it is to understand itself, what at first seemed to be a solution becomes evident as being only the incentive to the true question. And an answer
to this question is not intended to be brought forward merely as a response to human curiosity; on it, rather, depend the inner calm and completeness of the soul life. The attainment of such an answer does not satisfy merely the thirst for knowledge; it makes a man capable of practical work and fitted for the duties of life, while the lack of a solution of these questions lames his soul, and finally his body also. In fact, the knowledge of the supersensible is not merely something that meets a theoretical requirement; it supplies a method for leading a truly practical life. Exactly on account of the nature of the intellectual and spiritual life of the present time, therefore, theosophy is a domain of knowledge indispensable for our age.
On the other hand, it is an evident fact that many to-day reject most strongly what they most sorely need. The dominating influence exercised by many theories built up on the basis of "exact scientific experience" is so great on some people that they cannot do otherwise than regard the contents of a book like this as a boundless absurdity. The exponent of supersensible truths can view such facts entirely
free from any illusions. People will certainly be prone to demand from him that he should give "irrefutable proofs" for what he states. But they do not realize that in doing this they are the victims of a misconception, for they demand, although unconsciously, not the proofs lying within the things themselves, but those which they personally are willing to recognize or are in a condition to recognize. The author of this work knows that it contains nothing that any person taking his stand on the basis of the natural science of the present day will be unable to accept. He knows that all the requirements of natural science can be complied with, and for this very reason the method adopted here of presenting the facts of the supersensible world supplies its own justification. In fact, the manner in which a true natural science approaches and deals with a subject is the very one in full harmony with this presentation. And anyone accustomed to think in that manner will be moved by many a discussion to feel in the way characterized in Goethe's deep and true saying, "A false teaching does not offer any opening to refutation, for it is, in fact, based on the conviction that
the false is true." Discussions are fruitless with those who allow only such proofs to weigh with them as fit in with their own manner of thinking. He who knows the true essence of what is called "proving" a matter sees clearly that the human soul finds truth by other ways than discussion. It is with these thoughts in mind that the author hands over this book for publication in its second edition.
Unfortunately, too long a time has elapsed between the date at which the second edition was exhausted and the appearance of this third edition. Pressing work of other kinds, in the domain to which this book is devoted, delayed the author in the examination he wished to give to the book, and prevented its appearing as soon as he had hoped.