Nicholas Roerich - Culture
We shall say briefly wherein the substance of our tasks and strivings lies.
Everything which is defined can be expressed briefly:
We are helping Culture.
And if some one in a moment of audacity should take upon himself the burden of saying
“We are constructing Culture,”
then he will be not far from the truth.
Does not every one who helps appear to be a co-worker?
We are asking our friends, each day to think, to pronounce and to apply the understandings of Beauty and Culture.
And this is not new, because there is nothing new anywhere.
But we are gathering around these precious understandings a new effort; we are striving to help towards the tension of creative energy. We are striving to learn and to reincarnate the so-called abstraction into reality.
It is very easy to make an abstraction from each action, and in this abstraction to lose the possibility of action.
We see constantly that the most real teaching of life is being transmuted by clever rhetoric into an unapproachable abstraction and for the appeasing of the weak will it is being transported into an intangible cloudiness.
To make this artificially created abstraction a reality and substance of life, is the next task of Culture.
It is impossible for one to imagine that the true perception of substance, the true teaching of life is only something forbidding, obstructing or deadening.
Truth will be there, where will be manifested without obstacles a constructive broadening containment and love towards the untiring achievement.
Our enemies say that we are forming of ourselves a special race.
If we understand by this a nation of culture, then maybe this hostile definition, as too often happens, comes very close to the truth.
We shall not be afraid of this truth, if as the highest condemnation, the Black Century—which has already spent itself—will tell us:
“Here are gathered dreamers, and they imagine they can help humanity.”
Namely, in this help to humanity we are being reproached.
But each of our companions-at-arms, who are scattered all over the world, will smile at that and say:
“Does not every natural labor appear to be a help to humanity?”
Because it would be abominable to think that every one who labors, labors only for himself.
No, he works for some one unknown to him.
And this unknown one will accept the nameless labor as an expression of Benevolence which makes his passage along the earthly path easier for him.
Not dreams, but embodiments of thoughts; the dream flies away into the shoreless ocean of the air, but the embodiment of thoughts creates substance and cements space with the coming creations.
Of the creation by thought into multiple forms, all religion, all teaching has spoken.
Many thousands of years before our era the Egyptians knew the creativeness of thought.
And it has been said everywhere:
“Thought and Love.”
And under the sign of the Heart and the Serpent and the Chalice in all its multiformity of benevolent symbols is being given also the wise, preordained inscription,
“Thought and Love.”
Because from a thought, an emanation absolutely real, we contrive to make abstractions.
We forget that it is not the hand, but the thought which creates and kills.
And of Love we have made either a sour sigh or an abomination of fornication.
It has been told us that certain branches of the Christian Church recently sanctioned abortion.
This unhappy ordinance must be understood as the highest negation of spirituality.
Just think, if the Church will recommend murder, instead of the wise distribution of strength and abstinence.
If the division of the world into Constructors and Destroyers is constantly talked about, then this measure would be a terrible sign of destruction.
But Culture in its essence does not know destruction as such.
It is impetuously, constantly creating, it is constantly covering with a newer, higher dome the imperfections of yesterday.
But here it comprises that stone which would be of use to the wise builder, which meets every possibility.
Verily, in all parts of the world, at present is rising the tension of constructive energy.
The lines of new workers cry out:
“We are tired of destruction,
we are overburdened by senseless mechanization.
We want to create,
we want to do that useful work
which unites us with the resplendent future.”
In ancient teachings, there has always been pointed out the bridge which unites the old and the new worlds.
And nowhere have destruction and violence been mentioned.
If one is to ponder over the spirituality of the future, although this spirituality seem an abstract one, it shall again assert its visibility, its tangibility and its immutability. And again Benevolence will become objective, just as Thought is objective and can be weighed.
If one ennobles his life, if instead of vile calumny, one tries to turn again to the resplendent creation, is this laughable? Because only ignoramuses will laugh—for them, knowledge itself has already become an abstraction and Beauty also has become an unnecessary luxury, and Benevolence itself has become a childish fairy-tale.
But the most serious scientists long ago came to the conclusion that a fairytale is a narrative.
And a narrative is an historical fact which one can perceive only through the smoke of ages.
The same scientists have pointed out to us that Culture and the achievements of empires have been constructed by Beauty.
Take away the monuments of Beauty and the whole aspect of history will be depleted.
The virility of Beauty, the age-long inviolability of Culture tell us of the true transmutation of abstraction into manifested life.
And we are not dreamers at all, but workers for life, and our apostolate above all is content in that we are striving to say to the people,
Do not exile its image from life,
but also actively call others to this feast of joy!
And if you see allies, do not bid them depart, but find the full measure of benevolent containment in order to call us to the very same peaceful, measureless field of labor and construction.
In Beauty and in Spirit shall our strength be multiplied.
Look into the heights,
and spread thy wings as the conqueror of the predestined Light.” ...
In the day of spiritual disturbances and tremor, we shall repeatedly affirm the very same construction and the same benevolent Light.
And there are no conditions which could turn one aside who has entered the path of construction.
And we shall not be afraid in the name of the Beautiful; and we shall remember that the ridicule of ignorance is only a torch of achievement.
If we will eschew egotism, if we will strive not only ourselves towards the path of the Beautiful, but also by all possible means open it to our nearest ones, then we shall have already fulfilled the next task of the enlightening of Culture—the ascension of the Spirit.
- Roerich Nicholas. Culture.
- Nicholas Roerich Museum. n.p. n.d. Web. Accessed March 9, 2014. <http://www.roerich.org/roerich-writings-realm-of-light.php#a2>.
- Copyright © Courtesy of the Nicholas Roerich Museum (New York)