Nicholas Roerich - Joy Of Creation
Is not our epoch one of the most significant?
Are not the most wonderful discoveries approaching for our daily use?
And are we not becoming familiar with some of the most subtle energies?
Is it not a happiness, not only to know about these energies but also to be able to utilize them actually in life?
Before our very eyes, everything is being transformed.
We know already how to divide our energies between individuals and the millions.
And we know where and how to reach millions and how to exercise our energy with the individual.
The boundaries of spiritual life are broadening.
And the physical frontiers are becoming flexible and vibrating.
The idea of East and West
—the idea of the twain which never shall meet—
is to our mind already a fossilized idea.
We are already ashamed to believe that superficial walls can exist
and can divide the best impulses of humanity,
this impulse of creative evolution.
And now before our eyes is the so-called West and the so-called East.
Piercingly they look at each other.
They examine every movement of each other.
They can be the closest friends and co-workers.
The West can easily understand the principal ideas of the East
and cherish the eternal wisdom which is emanating from that part of the world,
from where, as a fact, all religions and all creeds originated.
And the great East is following the Western discoveries,
and values the achievements of these creative minds.
They desire the products of civilization.
I avoid the questionable expression “mechanical”
—because to my mind nothing is mechanical,
when we know that matter and spirit is Energy,
and we, as well as our Far-Eastern friends,
are ready to accept the benediction of progressive evolution.
But life through ignorance is full of misunderstandings.
They are not enemies.
There are no enemies of evolution —there are misunderstandings;
misunderstandings of family;
misunderstandings of sex;
misunderstandings of age;
misunderstandings of countries; of continents, of worlds.
And only through open-minded constructive thought can we solve them;
when we are thinking not of ourselves
but of the future generations.
I repeat that the East can be a close friend,
a most skilled co-worker,
but this billion of people can also easily become an enemy
through a simple misunderstanding.
Is it not a beautiful task
for our generation
to solve the problem of misunderstanding,
if we feel the oneness of the great Energy?
The same single impulse
is the same for all humanity.
With the same hand we may give our benediction
and with the same hand we may commit murder.
I do not believe in so-called varying conditions.
One condition exists for all humanity
—the mutual language of the heart,
and with this language
you destroy all misunderstandings
because you are acting in full sincerity.
You can proceed,
you can surmount,
because you know for what unifying purpose you are working.
We speak so often about eternal peace,
but from whence emanate the wars?
And if we are so skillful in our discoveries,
is it not also a most important discovery
to determine how to solve the misunderstanding
through the language of the heart?
I am not speaking about anything metaphysical.
After forty years of activity
I affirm that everything is not ephemeral
but if every energy can be discovered, measured and weighed,
then in the same way
our thought is also a tangible emanation.
And the power of thought,
without any metaphysical powers,
can approach in the most friendly way each misunderstanding.
Hence, from the highest, from the future,
we can approach our reality.
And our optimism is not the product of far-off dreams,
but the result of studying dozens of countries
and of approaching widely differing peoples,
with quite varied psychologies.
And after all,
in spite of all variations,
they are one.
And the language of the heart,
the language of love,
is also one.
If the sign of malice is the minus,
sharp as a piercing dart,
then the sign of love is the plus,
the eternal flaming cross
which from immemorable time
enlightened the consciousness and uplifted life.
Amidst the glaciers of the Himalayas, someone is coming from the summits.
In his hands he carries a chalice.
Whence has he come?
And where shall he disappear in the cliffs,
this silent, lonely pilgrim?
Such are the unforgettable memories of the Himalayas.
The carriers of the messages of Shambhala are recalling the links
between the great traditions of the past
and our aspirations of the future.
He is the messenger of Rigden-jyepo,
ruler of Shambhala,
ruler of the future,
ordainer of the coming achievements of humanity,
who sends his messengers throughout the world.
From many nations have come these messengers. In devotion and reverence they bring the sacred message of the coming evolution.
What is the message?
Throughout the world billions of hearts are beating.
What shall link them together?
In my article “Beauty the Conqueror” is the thought that the best way to approach an unfamiliar dwelling is in song. Not by night, not with covered face.
bring the smile of understanding.
The great traditions of past and future,
the high teaching which emanated from the eternal heights
make it possible to approach the sacred spaces
in cooperative understanding.
Then hearts are opened
and an immense blessed work is at hand.
Not war, not hatred,
but the best constructive concepts shall
bring to all the world
the messengers of Rigden-jyepo,
the ruler of Shambhala.
The iron birds predestined by Buddha are already in flight,
peacefully demolishing the conventional boundaries.
In beautiful, scientific rays of Agni Yoga,
evolution is knocking at the door.
The messengers of Rigden-jyepo are speeding
and blessed discoveries are bringing
to all mankind.
In twenty-five countries we have seen countless hearts who consider
as the most unifying powers.
Truly it is cause for the greatest enthusiasm
to perceive how so many different peoples consider
beauty and knowledge
as the great motive power
which set the stones for the coming progress.
Why have we the right to regard beauty and knowledge as real motive powers?
For a moment imagine the history of humanity without the treasures of beauty and knowledge.
For a moment erase from our memories the majestic images of Egypt and Assyria.
Let us forget the beauty of the Gothic primitives,
the enchantment of Buddhist glory
and classic Greece.
Let us disrobe the epics of heroes and rulers of the garb of beauty.
How crude would the pages of history remain!
Truly, not a single heroic achievement, not one constructive victory may be imagined without the sense of the beautiful.
The form of life
is the synthesis of evolution.
Is it not inspiring to realize that the evolution of humanity culminates in beauty?
A beautiful conception of life is growing in America and throughout the world.
Humanity begins to realize
that the summa summarum of art and knowledge
is the noblest crest of the nations.
UNION OF FIRE
When we begin to think about something
not accidentally to our minds come both
the lofty towers of North America
and the majestic outlines of South America.
Not occasionally, on the sites of the most ancient culture, are growing the seeds of new peaceful conquests and erection.
Pan-America stands as a balance of Asia.
It is most instructive to learn how,
on the places of the most ancient achievements,
are growing the new flowers of human attainments.
Even from the cold-blooded scientific point of view,
we are already accustomed to speak
These emanations of culture
fertilize the soil,
and who knows,
perhaps they provide the real enthusiasm of this constructive spirit.
As yet I have never been in South America.
But in spirit
I feel this physically unseen friendship and mutual understanding.
From where does it come?
Well, some have asked me if the root of our family comes from Spain, because a branch of our family is in Barcelona.
Perhaps such pan-human feeling
is deep in every human heart.
Perhaps the sacred sense of adventures,
in search of the great solutions,
came into my being
from the first years of consciousness,
when as hunters,
we traveled for days and days through the immense forests of Russia,
certainly not with the idea of killing
but with the comradeship of nature as our guiding star.
When we studied old structures of India, China and Tibet, our first comparison was with the remnants of the Mayan culture.
And in my old article, “Joy of Art,” I could not finish this conception with anything other than with some reference to the ancient Mayas. In this way,
that which was most ancient and most beautiful came to mind.
Just now I look upon a ring from Asia,
with an inscription of the coming Age of Maitreya.
And I cannot forget how one lady,
who has studied the remains of Yucatan,
recognized the same inscription there,
with the meaning of the Union of Fire.
Now comes the solution in this formula:
Our spiritual, unseen friendship and devotion—
does it not come from the all-pervading element of fiery space?
In these all-pervading beneficial flames
our hearts are enlightened
and through them we recognize our friends, sincerity and co-workers.
Is it not the Union of Fire
which now illumines the builders of Pan-America?
when she speaks of the Blessed Shambhala,
about Agni Yoga,
about the Teaching of Flame,
knows that the holy spirit of flame
can unite the human hearts
in a resplendent evolution.
In March, 1914,
I exhibited a series of paintings
in which was previsioned the coming war;
now I have been happy to bring for the Americas the visions of Asia—
the Agni Yoga,
the Teaching of Flame,
the same conception outlined by the wisdom of the old Yucatan wise men, the Union of Fire.
Again some of the Great Truth comes to us
and this Truth expresses the gathering of all the bearers of fire of the heart,
to enlighten the world
with peaceful and beautiful labor.
The abstract conception of love
can again be transmuted
into benevolent action,
because without constructive action
love is dead.
But in the New Era
nothing is dead,
everything lives, uplifted
by enlightened labor and enthusiasm.
When I hear beautiful songs of Spain and South America, they reveal for me the great East.
Where is East and West? After Asia you come to Greece and you feel the wisdom of the East; you reach Italy and the same wise romance penetrates you; Corsica, Spain—in all these places is something still of the Great East. And the banners of Ferdinand and Isabella are close to Moresque ornaments. You reach New Mexico and in the spaces of this beautiful country again sounds for you the anthem of the East; and you know that in Mexico, in Yucatan, in all castles of South America, the same note of great romance, of great vision, of great wisdom, shall be everywhere.
I do not diminish either west, nor south, nor north, nor east—because in practise these divisions are non-existent. And the entire world is divided only in our consciousness.
But when, with this consciousness,
the fire of space penetrates,
then is created the Union of Fire,
and the Fire of Enthusiasm is unconquerable.
With this holy banner,
we can reach most beautiful lands
and we can awaken ancient cultures
for new achievements and for new splendors.
On one of the most ancient Druidic images of far-off Mongolia I have seen in the hands of a stony giant a flaming chalice. These beginners of the great migrations remembered also about the holy spirit of flame. And certainly this inextinguishable torch could bring them through all expanses of Asia, Europe and across all oceans. In the antiquities of Yucatan is inscribed the ancient commandment about fire. In the name of this unifying, great wise symbol, I greet you, my unseen friends of South America.
What a joy it is to see again the towers of New York! How often in the deserts of Asia and especially in Tibet we remembered the skyscrapers, the Indian Pueblos and the ancient cities of Italy and Spain! The many-storied Tibetan buildings evoke images of skyscrapers. The labyrinthian clay walls of the usual Asiatic home recall the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. The monasteries, proudly clinging to the summits, resemble the old eagles’ nests of Italy. When I saw once more, the towers of New York, I recalled the joyous exclamations which the photographs of these strongholds of human achievement evoked in Asia.
Never did we hear more enthusiastic admiration at the sight of postcards and photographs of New York than in the towns and nomad camps of Central Asia. The dwellers of clay-houses and yurtas tore these souvenirs out of each other’s hands and exclaimed:
“This is the land of Shambhala!”
What more can a son of Asia say than this, his most sacred conception, in which are united all his hopes and aspirations? In prayers, Asia awaits Shambhala—this new era of mankind; and therefore each comparison with Shambhala is indeed the highest praise.
The inhabitants of Asia added: “America is the chichab over all countries!” And chichab means protector.
How many reproductions of the towers of New York have remained in the desert! And they are kept in the sacred corners, where the most revered objects are collected.
In the remote yurtas of Asia’s deserts, President Hoover is the giant Savior of starving peoples.
Ford is considered as a symbol of motive power.
The Mongols consider American Indians their lost relatives.
All our latest discoveries are regarded by the East as signs of the era of Shambhala.
Milliken’s cosmic ray,
Teremin’s music from the ether,
are regarded in Asia as signs of the evolution of human consciousness,
confirmed by Vedic and Buddhist traditions
and the teachings of Shambhala.
According to these ancient teachings,
the forties of our century are regarded as the era of cosmic energies and expanded consciousness.
These touching memories rose before me, when I again saw the towers of New York. And among the old friends I noticed so many new strongholds, which rose during the last five years.
Such unarrestable creation gives real joy.
When thirty years ago I arranged the first exhibition of paintings of artists of the United States in Russia, I expressed the firm opinion that Art in this great country would expand widely as all its vigorous activities.
Eight years ago, summarizing the position of art in America, I wrote an article “Collectors,” observing what colossal conquest of cultural principles had been achieved by America. In 1923, leaving for my long Central-Asiatic expedition, I could hear of the growth and art-movements in America, only from casual newspapers and clippings from magazines, or from letters, which rarely reached us. Of course it could be felt that the cultural-artistic and scientific work grew each year and that new co-workers and admirers entered. But returning to America and now stepping again into its cultural life, one must express sincere astonishment!
In the history of human achievement, America is an unique example of prodigious progress.
Not bound by conventionalities and old forms, without prejudice, America built its life with the powerful hands of toil.
Naturally, the question of material existence and life had first to be settled.
Then attention was turned toward problems of technical necessity and social life.
Having built the foundation of civilization, America began to aspire toward the firm establishment of cultural principles.
Knowledge and Beauty became imperative requirements in the life of the young country.
In most unexpected ways, meriting great admiration, grew the conquest of Art and Science.
The quality of production advances still higher, and this is always a sign of the growth of national creative genius.
The wide industrial growth reaches the poesy of creation.
Business life becomes enriched with the true friends of the human spirit-books and creations of art.
All the steps of culture lead, as they should, beyond national limitations.
And another sign of true culture is the fact that what is gamed is not kept for personal use alone.
The treasures of achievement are open to society as a whole.
The most striving and vital forces of all nations have gathered in America, contributing to the gigantic growth of this country. By voluntary, faithful and sometimes even by anonymous hands, huge American institutions are built.
May the light, which has illumined human hearts, shine for all.
These results of voluntary and conscious human aspirations are highly instructive.
In them can be measured the specific value of the co-workers for the general good.
It is also most interesting to note how American organizations and institutions are developed.
One notices not limited specialization, but a broad outlook, unfrightened by prejudiced opinion.
One can feel that there is liberality and true good will not hindered by chauvinism, nor by fossilized systems.
It is most valuable to confirm for oneself, how the artistic creativeness of America has expanded, and how in addition to the old known art patrons, many new and vigorous collectors welcome this creation.
There is a saying:
“Flowers do not grow on ice.”
Artistic and scientific achievements,
But the essential thing is a broad response of the nation.
It is necessary to have those loyal enthusiasts,
that striving toward culture
is the highest duty
and joy of humanity.
One notices that often colossal sums are paid for art works and for books.
Is this folly on the part of the collectors or something which results from conviction?
When humanity will become conscious
that spiritual and creative genius
are the highest achievements,
and the milestones in the histories of nations,
the prices of these works will become a special indicator.
In our life,
how can we compensate works of creative genius?
But only recently humanity had occasion to convince itself what a changing and precarious thing money is.
Therefore the price for works of creative genius is very relative.
If we hear that somewhere high prices are paid for products of culture, then we know that culture is valued there.
And this fact will remain on the pages of history as the witness of the growth of this nation.
The people can value highly the results of labor of the creators of culture.
The people can wish to have in their midst the best specimen of creative genius of bygone epochs.
One must welcome every striving of thought in this direction.
everything is relative;
mistakes may occur,
but it is the direction of thought
which is valuable.
when old forms are changed so rapidly and vigorously into new,
the direction of people’s thoughts is extraordinarily precious.
America follows in its development the path of true progress.
During the last few years America stands alone in the creation of new museums, schools, societies, agencies, lectures, theaters…
One is amazed at the colossal resources of the country which absorbs this rich stream of creative power.
Opportunity is also found both for the development of a national art, as well as for collecting the treasures of the whole world.
There are multitudes of people who welcome artistic events and show response.
Reading the pages of history of the most cultural nations, we are glad to note when the people turned toward values of science and beauty.
This always occurred at moments of the nation’s ascendance.
Now having returned from a long journey, it is admissible for me to express my joy at the artistic and scientific growth of America’s consciousness.
This is the very thing in which I had faith.
When I was accused of excessive idealism I asserted that, on the contrary, my beliefs were real and practical.
And I was right, because it is just the most practical people who show signs of high valuation of cultural achievements.
Creativeness is in its essence
A creative nation cannot limit its activity to narrow civilized paths.
The expanded consciousness leads to a synthesis of the whole life.
The highest impulses and decisions
become real and convincing.
America animates the consciousness by broad decisions;
in her generosity
she wants to have the best objects
and wants to hear the best words
and aspires to make of her children future creators.
The statesmen of America and her finest leaders are at the same time collectors of most varied forms of creative genius.
There, where leading men, and where great men,
devote the best part of their mind to creative products—
there also the masses express the same aspirations
and will think in the same direction
of true evolution.
Unbound by prejudice or superstition,
people want to have not only a convenient,
but also a beautiful life.
No small habits hang behind the back of the builder of life.
And his success will be followed by new progress
and even the very obstacles will become levers of energy.
I trust the Secretary of Labor, Mr. James Davis, will not mind if I quote a passage from his letter, sent to the Roerich Museum on March 24, 1929, on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone:
“As we grow in material wealth it is all the more necessary to keep alive our knowledge and love of the beautiful things of the spirit and mind, otherwise we are in danger of gaining the world and losing our souls. It will gratify every high-minded American who has the destiny of his country at heart, to see enlisted in this preservation of culture and intellect a body of people and an organization as influential, vigorous and enthusiastic as yours.
“In whatever direction your endeavors reach out, I wish you a great and ever-growing success through the years. After all, while this is a time of danger to things of the spirit, that time has also its propitious aspect. Civilization attains its highest peaks only after it has amassed the material means with which to recompense the artist and the thinker. These ample means we have. The need is only for leaders to call forth this wealth and see that it is expended in cultural advancement. You and your associates are such leaders. May you build not only this building but a great new movement among us toward a love of the beautiful, and may both endure to serve our people and bring more light into their lives.”
These are indeed remarkable lines from the mind of a statesman!
There, where people think in such ways, there the land is on the path of happy achievements.
When you come from the mountains and deserts, where the best culture lies hidden in the shadow of centuries, the extraordinary growth of artistic and scientific work in America deeply amazes you and brings you great joy.
The conquest of culture does not pass unnoticed.
It creates that finesse of thought—
the creative imagination
and the ability to perceive the new wave of progress.
The era of happy attainments is predestined for America.
As the rapid movement of a big ship attracts everything movable, so also is the irresistible development of America joined by the highest and the best.
New York, 1929.
- Roerich Nicholas. Joy Of the Creation.
- In Shambhala . © Copyright 1930.
Nicholas Roerich Museum. n.p. n.d. Web. Accessed February 23, 2014. <http://www.roerich.org/roerich-writings-shambhala.php#a26>.
- Copyright © Courtesy of the Nicholas Roerich Museum (New York)