Rudolf Steiner intended to form a research school comprising three classes. However, he was only able to realize the first of these (the “first class”) before his death. The content Rudolf Steiner gave for this first class includes nineteen lessons, as well as seven so-called recapitulation lessons and four lessons held away from the Goetheanum. These lessons are lectures and accompanying mantras that Rudolf Steiner gave to the members of the school throughout 1924. The lectures and mantras were preserved in stenographic records and still form the central content of the class today. Although Rudolf Steiner’s illness and death made it impossible to continue the development of the school, the first class stands as a completed whole.
The existence of these lessons is public knowledge, and they were published in a single edition in the 1990s to establish copyright. Their content, which includes penetrating guidance for meditation, is meant to be personally conveyed to class members for the simple reason that the way meditative materials are carried in human consciousness makes a real difference in their effectiveness.
At the heart of these lessons and mantras is a description of a path of self-knowledge that allows the pupil-researcher to approach the threshold of the spiritual world, to gain access into the spiritual world in waking consciousness and then return to daily life.
After Rudolf Steiner’s death, the care and distribution of these materials underwent a long, involved development. Today, these tasks are the responsibility of the Goetheanum leadership and “class holders” they appoint for particular geographic locations. When a class lesson is held for a circle of class members, the holder either reads the text and mantra of a lesson or “holds it freely,” speaking extemporaneously from the content of the lesson and its accompanying mantra, and from his or her personal research experience. The North American Class Holders Circle carries the consciousness and responsibility for class work on this continent.