To the Youth

Svetoslav Roerich

... By constantly improving ourselves, we serve best the cause of humanity in general. One of the rules for success is hard work. I do not think that any success achieved without hard work can be of a lasting nature. There may be a stroke of luck, but it will hardly last and can very seldom be of great consequence. There is no work actually below our dignity. After all, everything is determined only by our attitude. Our attitude to outside factors and circumstances is and can be the only determining standard. Once we are open-minded, everything is within our grasp if we but apply ourselves. The main problem is to free our mind of prejudices and everyday habits which tend very often to hinder our further progress. We must feel free, we must feel the urge to do things, improve ourselves, and be ready to sacrifice our comforts in this struggle for achievement. If se approach our problems in a half- hearted way, we can hardly expect success. It would hardly be just to expect success to come our way when success is so hard to win. The young men of today have tremendous opportunities before them, more, as a matter of fact, than thy ever had before. Study the lives of great men – contemplate their struggles, and you will see there was no short cut success for them, but they were always willing to work where others wanted to play. The ease, with which ideas are made to spread and encompass the world, tends to quicken the process of evolution. Hence – there are more opportunities and more fields for activity. By always being ready for further study and being prepared to do extra work, we qualify ourselves to be better and more useful members of society, and success may be expected in one way or another. One can hardly say with fairness that hard work has not justified itself – never be afraid to try. It is in our powers to create for ourselves a better life. Let us spread our wings, success lies within our grasp if we but apply ourselves…

From Diary Notes

Material prosperity without a corresponding increase in moral and ethical values will lead to eventual disaster. Education of the conventional type gives us only the means, but the proper and better living conditions must be built upon the foundations of ethics and morality. Otherwise the accumulation of mere knowledge will only immeasurably complicate life and make it more difficult for man to mould himself into a better being. These inner qualities in man, which we all recognize as the basic ethic and moral foundation must be developed simultaneously with our mastery of the material world and improvements in the standards of living. Difficult and slow is the inner cultivation and developments of man, yet it is essential in a properly balanced and evoluting society. Though every teaching, moral or religious, must develop and change with time, yet the inner, fundamental truth of behavior remains relatively stable, and it is along these way signs, milestones of the past that we must build our highways into the future.

Family life, stable and reliable, was a great contributing factor to a stable society, when children grew up around a solid, dependable core of inner unity. With the disintegration of family ties, the adverse influence upon the children, the youth will be even more pronounced and lead to tremendous inner conflicts and complications. The adolescent life of man is of a very long duration and is in need of an anchor to stabilize the restlessness of youth and give it the proper moorings. At the same time the future directions will be laid, and children will grow and develop around certain basic principles. If these principles are introduced early in their life, before the seventh year, then they are more likely to survive in spite of the, at times bewildering and confusing influences of our present day trends.

It is true; there must be an unfolding of the already existing, accepted customs and usages. Life is ever changing, and the accelerated rate of scientific discoveries and inventions must produce a fundamental changer in our habits and outlook, the revolutionary new world demands a re-appraisal of our attitudes and habits. Yet we must always remember that the ultimate goal of all our great discoveries and inventions lies in providing greater knowledge, broadening of our horizons and better facilities for a fuller, happier and richer life for a correspondingly more evolved human being, a human being who could worthily utilize all the great gifts of science and nature and mould a true paradise on this earth.

Let us carefully and dispassionately analyze the qualities we should expect to find in a superior man, a man whom we can look up to, a man whom we can honor and admire. If we peruse the majority of the Great Teachings – Philosophical, Religious and Moral, of whatever nation or race, we shall find a striking similarity in the basic maxims evolved and offered as guide lines for human behavior. Why? Because the basic essentials of life are more or less the same throughout the world and human behavior evolves through certain channels which are common, just as man’s reactions are similar, and man behaves or shows signs of behavior which are identical under similar circumstances of life. Man laughs when he is happy or pleased, he cries when he is sad or unhappy, he feels hungry and thirsty and feels pain or comfort; he shows signs of fear or confidence, of anger or kindness. To provide for and protect the children is the great common law of nature, and this great law in its countless ramifications unfolds before our eyes and conditions to a large extent our behavior.

We often hear the remark that art in all manifestations is a luxury, of secondary importance to be encouraged and indulged in only after the immediate material problems of our existence have been resolved. Yet, since no one can actually define when that happy state of material well-being begins, and when one may expect a universal attainment of this desired standard, one may rightfully feel perplexed and inquire. Can material well-being be ever assimilated without the cultural expansion of our consciousness and horizons? Art like any other phase of Education is primarily designed to expand our consciousness, hence, it would be foolish to consider Art a luxury no more than any other branch of mental achievement.

Without Cultural values, Life would not only fail to attain any material wellbeing, but, on the contrary, it will and must degenerate to a state of primitivism when material improvement will not be even appreciated. The curious fact lies in the realization that the statement that art is a luxury usually emanates from people who materially are considerably ahead of the average, and they at least could well afford not to indulge in such a formula.

Our inner striving towards something more
perfect, more beautiful, is that great inner
force which will transform us and transform
our lives as well.

There is a certain inexpressible aura of glory
which emanates from the great masterpieces,
which is an outflow of all the subtle
vibrations which are looked within the fabric
of a great work of art.

The young men of today have tremendous
opportunities before them, more, as
a matter of fact, than they ever had before.

Education of the conventional type gives
us only the means, but the proper and
better living conditions must be built upon
the foundations of ethics and morality.

To provide for and protect the children is
the great common law of nature.


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