THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 2, December, 1930
(Pages 65-66; Size: 7K)
(Number 35 of a 59-part series)

(Compiler's Note: The first of five short articles leading-in
to a continuation of the "Ancient Landmarks" series.)


THERE is a growing interest in the Orient which shows itself everywhere -- in political circles and art soirees; among literary critics and philosophic students. The archeological finds of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in India, as also of the city of Ur of the Chaldees, have already changed historical values, and are beginning to give to the Orient a new and different place in the scheme of things. Theosophists are naturally interested in this revival, for they have not only affection but reverence for the great world of Asia.

In every part of that ancient continent significant events are taking place. Human emotion and human thought are moulding afresh the destiny of races with an amazingly accelerated speed, but these races of the old world are vastly different from those of the new. Some in the occident are apt to look upon the East as effete, or in a state of degradation -- a false view, of course, and what is more, fraught with danger in many directions. There are aspects of the East, which not only look, but are, objectionable. An universal basis for observation and judgment is called for: The East needs to look at the West not from its peculiar angle of vision, but to learn to value it as a part of the universal whole. And men of the West should do likewise. So, while highly objectionable features exist in the modern East, we need not forget that a similar degradation exists also in the Western world. To help in any way the cause of human brotherhood requires not only sympathy but understanding. And so, while from Tokyo to Angora, nationalities are seething, politically speaking, the principles, so admirably enunciated by H. P. Blavatsky should be borne in mind:

"To seek to achieve political reforms before we have effected a reform in human nature, is like putting new wine into old bottles. Make men feel and recognize in their inmost hearts what is their real, true duty to all men, and every old abuse of power, every iniquitous law in the national policy based on human, social or political, selfishness, will disappear of itself. Foolish is the gardener who seeks to weed his flower-bed of poisonous plants by cutting them off from the surface of the soil, instead of tearing them out by the roots. No lasting political reform can be ever achieved with the same selfish men at the head of affairs as of old."
The forces which unite peoples are spiritual; those which cause conflict spring from selfishness. True culture is a uniting power. Culture creates family and civic and national bonds. The different strata of society form themselves naturally, culture being the cause of such formations. The mark of culture is seen in that strength with which man has overcome his own animal instincts, his own savagery. The culture of any nation flowers on the tree of purity and peace; the roots are in the hard soil of the past. The past is important. And the European past is intimately connected with the Orient. Jesus, whose religion Christendom is supposed to follow, was himself an Asiatic. Greeks who are regarded as the fathers of Western culture were but children of Asiatic thought. Pythagoras went to India; so did Apollonius; they influenced Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and all those who came after. The Moors were our teachers, but their forbears were the pupils of still mightier and more Eastern Asiatics. As children of the modern West trace their pedigree to the ancient East, they will learn to evaluate their cultures in the light of their age-old inheritance.

Study of the ancient Orient does not mean study of the political changes and manoeuvres in modern China or Persia; but the culture of China which focussed and flowered in Lao-Tzu and Confucius, Chavang Tzu and Mencius; the culture of old Iran where Zarathushtra spake words of fire and the Sufis sang their mystic verse; above all, the culture of India where Krishna taught Arjuna how to fight the greatest of all wars, and where the wise Buddha preached for nearly half a century. Unlike Egypt and Chaldea and Greece, India still lives; unlike even Persia and China and Japan, India remains in large part unchanged, unaltered, in its fundamental spirituality. In her atmosphere today can be heard what at the dawn of Aryan civilization the Vedic Bards heard. Sankara's philosophy still attracts to life and ardour keen Hindu minds, although coloured by Western ideas.

India is many-sided; Asia is myriad-minded. Work towards the understanding of our brothers of that continent will give opportunity for them to understand us. Mutually understanding one another, though living lives widely dissimilar in external modes, both peoples -- East and West -- will grow in unison and harmony.

Next article:
(The second of five short articles leading-in to a
continuation of the "Ancient Landmarks" series.)
(Part 36 of a 59-part series)

Back to the
"Ancient Landmarks"
series complete list of articles.

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"Additional Categories of Articles".


(1) Prior to resuming the "Ancient Landmarks" series (the last number of which appeared in Vol. XVII, November, 1928) with a study of the teachings of Ancient India, we publish a series of short articles dealing in large part with the India of to-day. --EDITORS.
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