Thursday, August 30, 2018
The Tension Between East and West. Lecture 4: Spiritual Geography
Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, June 4, 1922:
We can describe the features of the earth in accordance with the principles of physical geography. In the same way, the spiritual impulses at work on earth (and already briefly characterized in these lectures) can be described by a kind of spiritual geography — especially the interplay of Eastern and Western impulses in human life, with all their various differences. What I have to say today in this direction is bound to remain rather sketchy; but it is more important to find a specific point of view for looking at much that I have already outlined than to give a detailed description.
The relationship of East and West is often expressed symbolically by saying that light comes from the East. Looking at the East, Western man — the man of recent civilization in general — receives the impression of a dream-like spiritual life. Modem spiritual life is used to sharply delineated concepts, closely linked to external observation; in contrast, the notions of the Orient — shifting, fluctuating, less closely and less sharply linked to externals — show up as dream-like. Admittedly, from this dream-like spiritual life, embodied in the most splendid poems, the Vedas, there did of course then develop the clear-cut concepts of a comprehensive philosophy — Vedanta, for example. These concepts were not gained by examining external data, that is analytically, but emerged from an inwardly experienced and apprehended spiritual life.
When this dream-like spiritual life works on us, however, and we lovingly submit to it without at first noticing how much it differs from our own, it has a curious effect. Once we allow its various configurations to affect our soul, we cannot stop there. We cannot merely take over its concepts and ideas. In absorbing them, whether from the literature or the philosophy (including such forms of these as have survived in the East down to the present), we feel a spiritual need to go beyond these images, ideas and concepts. When an Oriental idea, such as that of man's relation to the secrets and the mysterious workings of nature and the world, affects us, it is often accompanied in our mind by something that symbolizes it for the Orient too: the flower of the lotus, as it folds its petals about what must remain mysteriously hidden. We may immerse ourselves lovingly in shifting concepts that are more fitted gently to touch external phenomena and surround them with a mist, than to perceive them in sharp contours, and we may enter their intertwining branches; and if we do, there will inevitably appear to us all the intertwining, branching vegetation of the East and, with it, all that the human hand, the human spirit and civilization have produced from stone and other materials in line with these flowing, branching concepts. We may say: in immersing itself in these concepts, our soul inevitably sees before it a nature similar in its life, diversity and imaginative working to the soul's experience of the concepts themselves.
There appears to be no objective reason for man to abandon this Oriental spiritual activity in favour of a “faithful observation of nature;” indeed, it seems to me rather that there is in the Oriental concepts themselves an incentive not merely to accept them, but to apply them to the outside world. Europeans may feel that such things cannot be applied to the outside world, because of their vagueness, their (to them) fantastic character. If so, we may ask: How, then, can we track, with sharply delineated concepts, the shapes of clouds, fluctuating and rapidly changing as they are? Yet track them we must, if we wish to observe nature's workings in immediate revelation, as they appear to the human senses and the human soul.
Why is this so? It seems to me that there can be only one reason: that in what reaches us from this Eastern spiritual activity, there survives an element from which it was once directly created.
At the time when the Oriental was developing the finest part of his philosophy of life (which has since come down to his descendants in a partially decadent condition), the East created everything with devoted love. Love lives in each of its ideas, concepts and images and in them we perceive love. The love seeks to flow out into objects. And it flows out according to its nature, and conjures up before our soul the symbols that the Oriental established, with an inner understanding of much that functions supersensibly, in seeking to establish what he perceived as the spiritual dement in things. Of course, this is not to assert that this configuration of spirit, if extended over all the earth, would be an unmixed blessing for the development of the world. But once it has appeared on earth, and exerted its influence over other regions, it must be considered objectively, especially at a time when we need to foster understanding between men.
Against it, we may set the particular outlook that has developed, certainly with no less justification, but in a quite different form, further West — and in this respect we ourselves belong in many ways to the West. Here, we find, it is regarded as an ideal to stand back from what the senses observe directly, what extends in space and time, and to test what nature offers, and what should lead us to the world's secret, for position, motion, dimensions and weight. What presents itself directly to the eye is dissected and placed under a microscope, and gives rise to notions that could only emerge under a microscope.
Let us imagine for a moment that we are in the laboratory: how heavily equipped we are with these concepts, so remote from direct observation! Look how we regard the light flooding through the world! How we regard it by means of abstract concepts! We need them, if we are to reach understanding. But how remote are the observations we record on light and colour from what we encounter in wood and meadow, cloud-shape and sun! We may say: what we formulate in our sharply delineated concepts — with the balance, the measuring-rod, the most varied counting devices — takes us into some of nature's shallows and solves some riddles, but it does not take us to direct observation of nature. It is all very well to say: direct your attention to sensory observation and then try to derive your philosophy of life from it. But this is not what happens at all! The scientific view of life we establish is far removed from what the senses observe.
What we ought to say is this: if we establish our knowledge by using the equipment of learning with which we have harvested perhaps the finest fruits of present-day natural science, we shall have to retune our soul before we can approach nature again. If as botanists we have used the microscope extensively and learnt about cell-life, and formed concepts in the atomistic manner of today, we shall have to retune our soul before we can recapture a love of the immediate world of plants as it grows and flowers. If we have formed a scientific concept of the structure of animal and man, again we shall have to retune if we want to move on to direct observation of the animal's shape and actions, and to enjoy the way it plays in the meadow or turns its melancholy or unmoving gaze upon us or looks at us confidingly. Equally, we shall have to retune our soul to share in what the eye can see when it looks at the human shape, tracing its planes with an artistic eye. The Oriental has no retuning to do. Since what he called his science was shot through with love, it led him out to immediate observation. And this was a direct echo of what he experienced in his soul.
These are differences of temper in the attitude to life of East and West. And these different tempers multifariously combine in the man of the region between. In what we experience scientifically, artistically and religiously, there flows much of the temper I have just been characterizing as the one that comes to us from the Orient. In other respects again, we are moved by something of the way of experiencing the world kindled by that scientific attitude which the West has developed — by youthful science and knowledge, so to speak, as against the old-established ones of the East. And in every soul in the civilization that lies between, these two currents flow together. In the last analysis, the life that surrounds us in Europe is a fusion — and one whose component currents we really need to understand.
The contact between the tempers of East and West in our present spiritual life can be characterized in another way.
From what I have just said of the East, one thing is clear about the Oriental. In growing into his spiritual life, he experiences it as immediate reality; he bears it with him in his soul as the reality self-evident to him. External nature, and indeed the entire external world right up to the constellations, seems to him an echo which is, however, fundamentally the same as what he bears within him. Yet he cannot regard as reality what strikes him as an echo, what seems to him a reflection, as he can regard as reality what he experiences directly in his soul. He is closely linked with what he experiences in the spiritual sphere and can say “It is,” because he feels its existence as if it were his own, and in this way understands its mode of being. When he looks out at the reflection of this existence, he knows that it is not reality in the same sense. If he did not illuminate it with the light that streams from within him, it would be dumb and dark. And in becoming more and more aware of this, he arrives at a temper of soul that says: truth and reality reside in what the soul experiences directly. What is reflected to it from without is illusion, maya, incomplete reality, becoming reality only when it is touched by what must first reveal itself through the human soul.
Thus we see how the East developed the view that the spiritual world is reality, and the outside world, that of the senses, is semblance, the great illusion, maya. It would, however, be wrong to believe on this account that, in the pre-Buddhist period for example, the Oriental averted his glance completely from the outside world. He accepts) it, even if in a higher sense he must admit that in what extends in space and time he is dealing not with complete reality but with an illusion, the great non-being, maya. But this in turn gives a particular temper to the life of the soul in the East: the soul feels a close link with the spiritual world and sees, in all that exists in the external world of the senses, a replica of the original shape of the world as it exists in the spirit. And in the end this grows into the view that one's own human sensuous substance is a replica of a human being whose true existence is in the spiritual world. And here I would say: the Oriental, quite consistently, regards the world as made up of replicas of a spiritual world, just as he regards himself as a replica of what he was before he descended into the physical and sensuous world. From his standpoint, the view of man and the view of nature are in complete harmony.
This harmony is possible; though no longer consonant with our views, it does indeed express a truth, if somewhat one-sidedly, as we can see once again if, with the research methods of spiritual science, which I have been describing in the last few days, we ourselves take a look at this Oriental mode of knowledge.
As I have shown, by awakening powers dormant in the soul we can attain a view of the spiritual world that yet suits modern man; we can look once more into a spiritual world; and find this spiritual world unfolding before our “mind's eye” just as the physical and sensuous world unfolds before our physical eye. When we develop this vision, however, the spiritual world does not remain a mere pantheistic and nebulous embodiment of universal spirituality; it becomes just as concrete in its individual forms as the world of the senses in those of the realms of nature. There will then follow a view of man that I should now like to characterize.
Let us start with something familiar to us at every moment in our lives: an experience of the outside world. We have entered into this external experience through our sensory perception and perhaps also through setting our will in motion in some activity. We live in conjunction with the data of the outside world. For us, this is an immediate experience. In the last analysis, human existence on earth is composed of such experiences. From them, we retain thought-images, which become our memories. We can look back on our experiences through bearing within us faded, shadowy and, in fact, mental images of them.
Let us be quite honest with ourselves and consider whether, at any moment in life, our consciousness contains very much more than memories of external, factual, sensory experiences. Of course, many a nebulous mystic believes that he can summon up eternal things from the depths of his soul. If he looked more closely and could really test the structures he summons from his soul, he would discover that as a rule they are no more than transformed external perceptions. Within man, memories are not only faithfully preserved; they are also transformed in many ways, and man then fails to recognize them. He thinks that he is acting as a mystic and summoning something from the depths of his soul, when he has only called up from his memory a transformed external experience. Of course, we need only think of mathematical truths to realize that all kinds of mental structures do establish themselves in the life of the soul. But as a rule it is not these structures that the mystic seeks.
However, anyone who simply wishes to accept the everyday life of the soul, as it appears in ordinary consciousness, must say: This life is made up of images that are the remains of our experiences gained-through perceptions, and of other experiences within the external sensuous world. When we look at our soul and at the spiritual element that permeates it, as we have it in physical life on earth, we can therefore say: outside is the physical world extending in space, the world that unfolds its causes and effects in time, the world, that is, of facts. Here within is the world of shadows in the soul; we do indeed experience it in general as something spiritual and vital, but its content we experience only as a replica of the world of facts and of the senses. Now, paradoxical as the outlook of today may find it, for the attitude that I have been expounding in the last few days, the reverse comes about: in empty consciousness, as a result of meditation, the spiritual in the world, the spiritual within natural phenomena, is really experienced; it is observed also as the soul-spiritual element in man himself, as he is before he descends into his physical existence from a spiritual world; the spiritual is observed concretely by the spirit-organ we have developed; the world about us becomes spiritual, just as to our senses it is sensuous and physical. And when all this happens, we begin to perceive — as if in recollection of the times when we lived as spiritual beings in purely spiritual worlds — how in its particulars our physical organism is a replica of the spiritual world that surrounds us. With physiology and anatomy we can observe our lungs, heart and other organs only as outer objects; but when we can see the spiritual world about us, then the lungs and heart as they really are within us will become for us a replica in the physical sphere of what is spiritually prefigured. Just as in our ordinary consciousness the world outside is physical, and our soul creates replicas as its experiences; so now we learn that there is a spiritual world outside and that the replicas of this spiritual world exist in our own organs. We come to know man's structure only in coming to know the spiritual world. What is usually called matter then ceases to have the significance it has assumed in recent civilization, just as spirit ceases to have the significance of something abstract that it has had in recent civilization. We can thus see that in our organic functioning there is in fact a replica of what we were before we descended into our earthly existence.
At this stage, we need no longer be frightened even by materialism, in so far as there is justification for it — and even materialism has done some good and brought us countless discoveries. We look at the human brain and the human nervous system in its physical operation. Of course, we agree that ordinary, everyday thinking is a function of these physical organs. We are entirely in agreement with what exact science must hold about these matters today. But on the other hand we know that the material forms operating within us are themselves simply a transformed reflection of the spiritual sphere. For this reason, the material is acceptable, and because, in transforming itself into mortal man, the spiritual has sought out the capacity of brain and nerves to achieve in a material replica what is spiritually prefigured.
Modern man can see this in his “mind's eye” by developing the powers of cognition of which I have been speaking in the last few days. Yet there is a dream-like anticipation of it, I would say, in the Oriental philosophy of life I have outlined. This philosophy has become old and senile, but certain of its features still work effectively in our heart and soul. In its instinctive clairvoyance, the ancient Orient sensed that the spiritual world is a reality with which it felt closely linked, and that nature, and the natural element in man himself, is a replica of the spiritual; it provides an external garment for the revelation of what is inwardly spiritual.
Yet it would be wrong to say that the Oriental did not observe nature. His organs were finely attuned to its observation. For him, however, from everything that he faithfully observed and lovingly honoured as a replica, something of the spirit shone. Nature revealed spirit to him, shone spirit upon him at every turn. And this spirit was his reality. What lay before him outside was maya.
Even in Buddhism, which gained a far greater influence on Oriental life than we usually think — since it later assumed the most varied forms — we can see how the sense of inhabiting a spiritual world paled as man and world developed. The gaze was increasingly directed upon what was maya, and experience of the great illusion, the great non-being, maya, gradually became predominant. There thus arose an awareness of the need for redemption from what can be experienced within maya — experienced, that is, in the manner of Buddha, who regarded our direct experiences of this maya as a crowd of sorrows that flow in on man.
But it faded, this sense of inhabiting a spiritual world; and this is what justifies us in considering the early Oriental philosophy of life as something instinctive and even partial: if we do return to something like it, we must do so with complete self-possession and lucid consciousness. The impairment of human activity relative to the demands of the physical, external world must not occur a second time in the world's development. Man must never again escape into spiritual activity and so prevent himself from devoting his full strength to earthly tasks — which are what the Oriental perceives as maya, even if in deference to modern concepts he does not say so; whereas he perceives as reality what reveals itself within him. He has within him a light that is a direct reflection of the divine and spiritual elements in the world.
Against what I have thus described as the spiritual geography influencing our modern life, I should now like to set another illustration from the development of the human spirit and the world, but this time from the immediate present. Our civilization, which even in Europe is now of some antiquity, is subject to pressures from certain spheres, whence arise social longings and also social conflicts. Anyone who has moved in these spheres will have come across the phenomenon I am about to describe.
Although no one could properly accuse me of Socialist opinions, I was for some long time a teacher in Socialist circles. My intention was to do something for which in fact the time had not yet come (it is more than twenty years ago now): to propagate a spiritual life that could lead to theories that are in closer accord with reality than those derived from abstract or modified Marxism, which in many respects indeed are not realistic at all. There exists in these circles a basic attitude — something we can recognize as a first step, yet which is as deeply rooted in the soul as was the sense of maya at which the Oriental finally arrived. And in observing this attitude, we are profoundly struck by a word that expresses many unconscious feelings, unconscious ideas and concepts, unconscious longings too, a word that we hear again and again and must recognize as having characterized wide circles of humanity for centuries. Encompassing millions of people is a mood that this word expresses. The word is “ideology,” by which is meant “idealistic theorizing.” It derives from an attitude that the proletarian class in particular has absorbed into its education. The scientific method, with its increasing emphasis on matter, has given rise to the view that historical reality consists simply of economic struggles, economic patterns, class struggles, in short of the immediate material elements, externally sensuous and physical, in human life and history; and that therefore economic forces are the true reality.
This economic materialism, which is far more widespread than many upper-class people today believe, is a consequence of the general materialistic outlook. Nowadays, this is taken to be overcome even in science; yet it has a wide following particularly in the West.
And what is this “ideology?” It is law, morality, the realm of the beautiful, religious concepts, political theory, in short everything that makes up spiritual life. These things are not true reality, but bubbles and baubles arising from true reality, which resides in material struggles and patterns. “Ideology” is a way of indicating that what man experiences within himself — whether it is art or science or law or maxims of state or religious impulses — is maya, to use the Oriental term.
If we do not just take it at its face value, but can feel what millions of people are thinking, then the word “ideology” points to something that must inevitably assume the most formidable dimensions unless it can be set on the right course in good time. What the soul experiences and shapes within is not reality: true reality is only what exists externally in tangible facts.
Inside Western civilization, therefore, there has developed an outlook diametrically opposed to that which long ruled the Orient and still survives even today as a kind of antiquated trimming. There, true reality is what is experienced in the spirit, and maya what proceeds outside in physical actuality; here, maya or “ideology” (which is indeed a translation of the word “maya,” but applied to the spiritual sphere) is what is experienced in the spirit, and reality what is tangibly displayed, palpably there in the world.
In its development, the world aims at complete realization of its various potentialities. Just as the one extreme developed, in the Orient, so too the other was bound in its turn to take hold of humanity. To bring about a fruitful development of man and world, however, and to change the forces of decline into constructive ones, we must understand the significance of this mood, this “ideology.” It is recent and therefore a first step.
Let us look once more at what modern spiritual science can tell us. In the Orient, there was a dreamy, dark, instinctive knowledge that there exists a spiritual reality, with a sensory replica here in the physical realm. Because the soul's attention was devoted primarily to this spiritual reality, sensory reality came to be regarded as unreality, external appearance, maya. Yet this maya is important in more than one way. Although the world may be maya, our efforts, which are a reality for us, must still be applied to it in the first instance. But it is important also for the precept “Know thyself,” for a truly human attitude. Why? Well, it is true that we can now elevate ourselves to a life in the spiritual world, as I have described; that we can see by means of sharply delineated concepts and thus understand what appeared to the Orient like a dream. But the experience of such a world would never have created in human development the impulse to freedom.
When man feels closely linked to the spiritual world, he feels at the same time inwardly determined by and dependent on it. Therefore he and his consciousness had to move out of it and, for a passing phase of history (in which we now are), to turn to a world of mere fact. Confronted with this external actuality, the life of man's soul becomes an image of it. The spirit informing this life turns into abstract concepts and gradually becomes a mere image, to be recognized as a replica.
I have already suggested that, by having images within us, we can be free. Mirror-images do not determine our actions. If we wish to conform to mirror-images, which in themselves are powerless, the impulse to do so must come from us. The same is true of abstract concepts. And in making its appearance in pure thinking, our noblest feature, the moral and religious element, becomes for us an impulse of freedom. It is a most valuable component of human life. But in a period when man finds himself confronted with physical actuality, it makes its appearance in abstract thinking.
At the moment when the moral element, in the shape of moral intuition, makes its appearance in pure thinking, the task of the epoch is fulfilled. The epoch has developed from spirit-reality to the spirit as abstraction and (I would say, exaggerating a little) it now interprets everything spiritual as maya, as mere illusion, as “ideology.” We have a certain right to interpret as “ideology” everything that is a reflection of external natural existence. At the moment when the moral element, in the shape of intuition, enters this maya-thinking, this “ideology,” we reach the first stage at which we can recognize once more that we must awaken this “ideology,” which we experience as mere semblance, to inner life by energizing ourselves and allowing the life that is hidden within us to stream forth. The meaning of the world had to become “ideology” for humanity in order that man himself could infuse it with his own reality.
This was necessary for man's experience of freedom, which is something that has only been attained in the West and in recent civilization. It was necessary that man should first feel himself to be in a sphere of unreality when in contact with everything that is most valuable to him — his art, his science, his moral concepts, in short his entire spiritual life — and that everything transitory that shone on him should appear to be the only reality. For this reality, rightly contemplated, cannot in any way impair his freedom — the freedom that depends on his being himself a spiritual being who creates in physical and sensuous actuality only a replica of the spirit.
We see, therefore, that “ideology” represents in an extreme form an attitude that we really need in face of such concepts of nature as position, motion, dimensions and numbers. If nature were to provide us with anything other than concepts, it would never make us free. Only if we rise to concepts that will then appear as mere “ideology” to someone who is still stranded at the previous stage, can a new and spiritually real form of the higher world infuse these initially unreal concepts. This is the first step, from which must emerge for man a new form of the spiritual world. And when we encounter the exaggerated notion of “ideology,” those of us who are not bogged down in the immediate opinions of the day but can see beyond them to the world's development, must conclude: it was necessary for man to reach a stage of development at which, looking at only one side of the world and himself, he could speak of “ideology;” it is equally necessary now for him to attain the decision, conviction, power and courage to infuse into this “ideology” a spiritually perceived and experienced world. Otherwise, although perhaps it may be discussed philosophically, the “ideology” will remain merely “ideology.” And as we shall see in the second part of these lectures, which will be devoted to Anthroposophy and Sociology, in that case the forces of decline will quite definitely proliferate.
Before us, then, are two pictures: spiritual world as reality and world of the senses as maya — world of the senses as reality and spiritual world as maya. We need a philosophy of life that is capable of injecting the spiritual world, regarded as “ideology,” with spiritual intuition, spiritual imagination and inspiration, so that what today appears unutterably empty is filled once more with spiritual meaning. At the same time, it must be able to perceive that what the Orient regards as illusion and maya is a reality in the sense that it is a true and faithful replica, a transformation of the spiritual world, which was necessary for the development of humanity in freedom. If we are to reach an understanding of these two diametrically opposed world-pictures, we need a philosophy that can combine them and not just add them together mechanically, one that will develop through its own inner life, not from the one or the other, but in a spiritual progression from human substance itself.
And these world-pictures do ultimately affect everything that we experience spiritually. They certainly condition individual features of life and of human attitudes. As a Central European here in Central Europe, I would rather not give my own opinion on this particular point. I prefer to pass on the opinion expressed some years ago by an Englishman who compared Western and
Central Europe in relation to a certain aspect of spiritual life. This Englishman wanted to exemplify the way in which spiritual life has revealed itself in particular phenomena. He referred to the appearance, at the end of the fifties and beginning of the sixties of the last century, of Buckle's important work, The History of Civilization. Buckle, he noted, views history mainly — if not so exclusively as do the Marxists, for example — in terms of economic drives, so that ultimately spiritual life is taken to arise from the action and interaction of economic forces. We do not always have to condemn a view of this kind; we can take a positive attitude, and say: since man is in part an economic being, a historical consideration of human life from this standpoint also was needed at a certain stage in human development. The Englishman then refers to another book that was produced in Central Europe at the same time as Buckle wrote his History of Civilization — Jacob Burckhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. The Englishman himself observes that a quite different spirit prevails here; Burckhardt describes how men feel, what their attitude to one another is, and how through the opinions they have of each other they enter into certain relationships, which in turn determine other events occurring among them. And the Englishman finally sums up — I am simply quoting his opinion here — by saying that Buckle describes man as he eats and drinks, whilst Burckhardt describes man as he thinks and feels.
And if I may now add something myself: if, as we have heard, the West looks at eternal actuality and derives spiritual life from it, and the Central European looks at what inhabits the realm of the soul, but the soul in its earthly existence, then one would have to add, thirdly, that Eastern man (and in many respects even the East European) describes man as he preaches and sacrifices.
And so we might say, supplementing the Englishman's verdict: in the West, man is described as he eats and drinks (I say this in no pejorative sense); in the Middle region, as he thinks and feels; in the East, as he preaches and sacrifices. In this preaching and sacrificing is operative what I have described as the attitude of the East. Similarly, in the view of history that has become generally familiar today and that is also reflected in the notion of “ideology,” there operates what I have described as the attitude of the West. But we also need to see how in the mode attributed to the Centre, where man is presented as he thinks and feels, the two currents meet. We are called upon today to understand this confluence correctly, by taking a first step that will gradually lead us onward to spirituality.
I will try to sum up in a single image the two attitudes I have sought to represent, in order to show where understanding is really needed between East and West. To do so, I should like to recall that, at a time when the physical and sensuous world, and human existence also, was already felt as maya in the East, he who is called the Buddha encountered in his wanderings the most varied manifestations of human suffering on earth. Among these manifestations was a corpse; death confronted the Buddha, and through contemplation of death he reached his conclusion: Life is Suffering.
This was the tenor of Oriental civilization six hundred years before the establishment of Christianity. Six hundred years later, Christianity was founded, and henceforward we have a significant symbol: the crucifix, the raised cross with the Redeemer, the human body on it. In the West, countless men look at this body, at the image of it; just as countless men, who have become disciples of Buddha, have looked at the body from which Buddha drew his teaching. The East acknowledged: Life is suffering, we long for redemption. Western men, in looking at the image of the dead body, however, did not simply say: Life is suffering! For them, the sight of death became a symbol of resurrection, resurrection of the spirit through inner human power. It became a symbol of the fact that suffering can be redeemed by overcoming the physical; that it is overcome, not by turning away from it in asceticism, but by keeping it in full view, not regarding it as maya, and overcoming it through work, activity, and the vigour of the will. Out of the introspective life of the East arose a contemplation of the dead body, with the conclusion: Life is suffering, man must be redeemed from life. Out of the life of the West, attempting always activity, there arose, at the sight of the body, the view: Life must develop power within itself, so that even the forces of death can be overcome, and human work can do its task in the development of the world.
The one philosophy is old and jaded. Yet it contains things of such great value that, even though we may treat it as senile, we still approach it as something venerable. We honour an old man without expecting him to profess the views of youth. What we encounter in the West, however, has the character of a first step. We have shown what the “ideology” in its attitude must become. It is young, it must develop youthful power in itself so that it may attain spiritual meaning in its own way, just as the Orient did.
In honouring the Orient for its spirituality, there is something we still need to be clear about: we must build up our own spirituality from the first step we have taken here in the West. We must so shape it, however, that we can achieve an understanding with any view that may exist on earth, especially old and venerable ones. This will be possible if, as Central and Western men, we come to understand that, although our philosophy of life has faults, they are the faults of youth.
If we do understand this, it is a summons to have the courage to be strong. If for all our respect, love and admiration for its spirituality, we take what we need from the East, not with passive receptivity, but with a busy activity rooted in what, today, is still perhaps unspiritual in the West, yet contains the germ of spirituality — if we add strength to respect, then we shall do the right thing for human development.