Nicholas Roerich - The straight path

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The straight path
To The South African Roerich Association, 1931




It is not long since the Colonies of South Africa were far from Art.
The construction of life consumed all time and creativeness, and this perpetual friend of progress and florescence could not manifest itself imperatively.
How long is it that we know anything at all about the native African Art, which has now taken so important a place not only in the ethnographical departments of museums, but also in the appraisals of Art connoisseurs?
Recent decades have considerably precipitated all earthly paths.
The abodes of the goddess Cultura have been considerably shifted and new hearths have been created, where creativeness is a welcome guest.
Who can pass his life without this glorious guest?
What creativeness is possible without the Towers of Beauty, Knowledge—without the treasures of that Bliss which we call Culture.


We have, long since, already understood that civilization, a white collar, golf and the telephone are not the sole pillars of Culture.
Without creativeness, without means of evolution, there is no need for us to fly, for we will aspire only to the task of creating a speed record but not of enhancing the quality of the news carried.
The signs of progress compel one to think of Culture; otherwise we shall again sink into the chaos of insoluble mechanical problems.
The more precious is it, therefore, to note the enlightening initiative of Mr. Jacques Lagrange, inspired with the idea of the Arts of the South African settlers.
All creative elements strive to mutual understanding.
The language of creativeness is that pan-human tongue, understood by the heart.
And what can be more light-bearing, more mutually appealing, than the language of the heart, in comparison with which all dialects of sound are meager and elementary.
Only creativeness in all its multifold variety introduces a peaceful all-unifying stream into the entire constructiveness of life. And he, who despite all difficulties which encumber him, strives along the path of light, fulfills the vital task of evolution.
We cannot remain inert.
Either we move ahead or we retreat in chagrin.
To go forward means to create with all means and possibilities, in deed and in thought and to introduce the creative light into all recesses of life.


Each worker of Culture can have but one enemy—verily the dark homunculus of ignorance.
Even in antiquity, ignorance was considered, with full deserts, one of the most heinous crimes.
Hence it is natural that every enlightened man aspires to live in a country of Culture.
But for this every thinking man must indefatigably introduce cultural foundations into his social as well as his personal life.
Wealth in itself does not yet predicate Culture.
But expansion and refinement of thought and sense of Beauty give that subtlety and nobility of spirit which distinguish the cultured being.
Verily he can build the glorious future of his country.
He comprehends the sacred responsibility and realizes the Beautiful Necessity in untiring constructiveness.
And those who carry the torches of Beauty, will understand the life of their near ones.
Culture is in its essence the Service to Light.
And Light in its multiple aspects is one.


I accept the election of the South-African Society as Honorary President and send my most sincere greetings and confidence in their successful work.



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Copyright © Courtesy of the Nicholas Roerich Museum (New York)