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The Foundation Stone Meditation
GA 260

Translated by John Riedel MD (2023)


The verses presented by Rudolf Steiner at the Christmas Conference 1923-24 were for the foundation of the General Anthroposophic Society. Prokofieff in The Foundation Stone Meditation repeated Steiner’s words that first we are to hear the verses ‘first may our ears be touched by these verses’, and then later you may ‘hear it resound in your own heart’. In his lectures on the Genius of Language (GA299) Steiner emphasized that he tried to choose words of German rather than Latin etymology, for the meaning is more contained in the actual sound of the words. Latin is not only more conceptual but does your thinking for you, which we should not allow. Furthermore, words come and go and evolve, and so any translation must be fluid and ever-evolving, and our use of the verses should be fluid and ever-evolving.

The verses are formed into four stanzas, each composed of an initial address to Menschenseele by Anthroposophia herself, then 12 lines comprising a dodecahedral set of instructions, and then a second part of 9 explanatory lines. The first three stanzas begin with Menschenseele, which means an individual responsible human being. They begin in the conjunctive: for you to live in the (limbs, beat of lungs and heart, resting head) practice ... Please note that the German verb walten is cognate with the English verb to wield. In the second stanza sinnen is to muse, to reflect on, to make sense of, but the prefix ‘be-’ both in German and in English modifies the verb from something more active to something more passive, so Geist-Besinnen is being beset with the feeling of spirit all about us and calmly sensing it. In the third stanza, Geist-Erschauen is inwardly observing the outer show (show is cognate with schau). The show is world-thoughts, and we must not just observe, but we must practice actually being out there in the midst of world thoughts but in inner silence. In the fourth stanza Taghelles Licht erstrahlte in Menschenseele is in the second conjunctive tense, and means that day-bright light can begin to shine in human souls and to emanate out.

Each of the first three stanzas end with Menschen mögen es hören. This can be translated in three ways: human beings are permitted to hear it, human beings might possibly hear it if they try, and as a hopeful prayer that human beings will actually hear it.

The Foundation Stone Meditation

Der Grundstein

The Foundation Stone

Du lebest in den Gliedern,
Die dich durch die Raumeswelt
In das Geistesmeereswesen tragen:
Übe Geist-Erinnern
In Seelentiefen,
Wo in waltendem
Das eigne Ich
Im Gottes-Ich
Und du wirst wahrhaft leben
Im Menschen-Welten-Wesen.

Human Soul!
For you to live in the limbs
That carry you through the world of space
Into the ocean of spirit being:
Practice spirit-remembering
In depths of soul,
Where in the wielding
Of world-maker-being
The individual I
In God’s I
Arises and persists;
And you will truly live
In the Human-World-Way.

Denn es waltet der Vater-Geist der Höhen
In den Weltentiefen Sein-erzeugend:
Ihr Kräfte-Geister
Lasset aus den Höhen erklingen,
Was in den Tiefen das Echo findet;
Dieses spricht:
Aus dem Göttlichen weset die Menschheit.
Das hören die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Father-Spirit on high wields
Being-producing in world-depths:
You Spirits of Might,
Let sound from the heights
What would echo in the depths;
This speaks:
Out of God’s nature mankind arises.
The spirits hear it in East, West, North, South:
Human beings may hear it.

Du lebest in dem Herzens-Lungen-Schlage,
Der dich durch den Zeitenrhythmus
In's eigne Seelenwesensfühlen leitet:
Übe Geist-Besinnen
Im Seelengleichgewichte,
Wo die wogenden
Das eigne Ich
Dem Welten-Ich
Und du wirst wahrhaft fühlen
Im Menschen-Seelen-Wirken.

Human Soul!
For you to live in the beat of heart and lung
That leads you through the rhythm of time
In the individual way of soul-feeling:
Practice spirit-sensing
In calmness of soul,
Where the surging
Of world-evolving-activity
The individual I
With the world-I;
And you will truly feel
In the Human-Soul-Working.

Denn es waltet der Christus-Wille im Umkreis
In den Weltenrhythmen Seelen-begnadend;
Ihr Lichtes-Geister
Lasset vom Osten befeuern,
Was durch den Westen sich formet;
Dieses spricht:
In dem Christus wird Leben der Tod.
Das hören die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Christ-Will encircling wields
Soul-gracing in world-rhythms:
You Spirits of Light,
Let ignite from the East
What would form in the West;
This speaks:
In Christ death becomes life.
The spirits hear it in East, West, North, South:
Human beings may hear it.

Du lebest im ruhenden Haupte,
Das dir aus Ewigkeitsgründen
Die Weltgedanken erschliesset:
Übe Geist-Erschauen
In Gedanken-Ruhe,
Wo die ew'gen Götterziele
Dem eignen Ich
Zu freiem Wollen
Und du wirst wahrhaft denken
In Menschen-Geistes-Gründen.

Human Soul!
For you to live in the resting head
That from the grounds of eternity
Opens world thoughts to you:
Practice spirit-observing
In silence of mind,
Where the eternal aims of gods
On individual I
For freedom in willing;
And you will truly think
In Human-Spirit-Grounds.

Denn es walten des Geistes Weltgedanken
Im Weltenwesen Licht-erflehend;
Ihr Seelen-Geister
Lasset aus den Tiefen erbitten,
Was in den Höhen erhöret wird;
Dieses spricht:
In des Geistes Weltgedanken erwachet die Seele.
Das horen die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Spirit’s world-thoughts wield
Light-invoking in the world-being:
You Spirits of Souls,
Let pray from the depths
What will be heard in the heights;
This speaks:
In the Spirit’s world-thoughts the soul awakens.
The spirits hear it in East, West, North, South:
Human beings may hear it.

In der Zeiten Wende
Trat das Welten-Geistes-Licht
In den irdischen Wesensstrom;
Hatte ausgewaltet;
Taghelles Licht
Erstrahlte in Menschenseelen;
Das erwärmet
Die armen Hirtenherzen;
Das erleuchtet
Die weisen Königshäupter.

At the turning point of time
The World-Spirit-Light entered
The earthly stream of being;
Dark of night
Had run its course;
Day-bright light
Began to shine in human souls;
That warms
The hearts of poor shepherds;
That enlightens
The heads of wise kings.

Göttliches Licht,Christus-Sonne,
Erwärme Unsere Herzen,
Erleuchte Unsere Häupter,
Dass gut werde,
Was wir aus Herzen
Was wir aus Häuptern

Godly light, Christ-Sun,
Warm our hearts,
Enlighten our heads,
That good will be
What heartfelt
We found,
What purposeful
We guide