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Hence the moral code will vary with every stage. I will take a common example.


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A man out in India surrenders everything, has become what in the West would be called a monk of the most extreme type of poverty. He owns nothing; he has given his life for service of the world, and those who guide the world will direct that life. His only to give. He has no further care for his own life. With that view of absolute surrender goes also the duty of absolute harmlessness. He must not touch a life sharing the world with him. The venomous snake must go unslain, the tiger go unharmed.

He must not use any power of the surrendered life to defend it against the attack of any other creature ; for if the serpent or the tiger come to him and slay, it comes as a messenger from behind the veil to tell him that his service in that body is over. But the same rule does not apply to the householder, to the man who has children to guard, servants to protect, animals who are part of his household. Hence arises much confusion in the western mind in reading eastern books, because they read, as binding upon all, ideals which in the East are related to their proper stage of evolution — a doctrine that in the West finds small acceptance.

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And naturally so, among modern Christian people, because the Sermon on the Mount is thrown broadcast as the moral ideal, but that ideal of non-resistance applied to the ordinary man of the world is impossible, and therefore disregarded. When a man like Tolstoy applies it all round, people say that he is a "crank". Certainly he is very unwise.

No State could live on such a foundation, false alike for the citizen and the thief, true only for the Saint. The late Archbishop of Peterborough said that, a nation founded on the Sermon on the Mount would very soon go to pieces. But then is it not a pity to put the Sermon on the Mount as binding on all Christian men?

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For the result is that, inasmuch as they know it to be impossible for them, it leads them to profess a belief with the lips which does not guide the life. The view of the relativity of morality, is another of the valuable eastern ideals which then, may have something to do and to say in the West. The last great ideal of wide spreading importance that I can deal with here is the ideal of what is now called the " simple life," and of voluntary poverty.

There must be in a nation some standard of social position. Among most of the western nations, coining down from feudal times, the standard of social position has been a standard of birth. Of late years that has become largely mingled with a standard of money, partly because great wealth often received the title which placed its owner among those whose titles came to them by long descent, and partly because, with the growing luxury of the time, wealth weighed more and more heavily us a social distinction.

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The result of that is widely to be seen in the vulgarising of society, in the loss of noble manners, stately and dignified. A man making a vast fortune has not, as a rule, time, leisure,or taste for the culture of the more delicate mental faculties, and those graces that go with a culture that has come down through centuries. And so gradually, in the western world, a new standard asserts itself against the standard of birth : the standard of great wealth. Society is adapting itself to the new conditions; no future Tennyson will write about :.

The manners of the great lady of the past are indeed past, and loud voice, noisy laughter, familiar gestures, have taken the place of the soft tone, the low musical In laughter, the courteous but stately bearing of the leaders of society, when a golden key did not open all doors. And the change means much, for.

Manners are not idle, but the fruit Of loyal nature and of noble mind.

A destiny to overspread the continent required facing the issue of slavery.

An aristocracy should he the custodian of stately manners, dignified bearing, artistic culture, simple or splendid living, according to the seemliness of the occasion, the ever-present example of " good taste ". It is now only too well symbolised by the motorcar, rushing headlong, careless of life and limb, screaming its right of way discordantly, rattling noisily and panting furiously, regardless of all comfort but its own, scattering dust and evil smell on all behind it.

Now in the East, wealth has never been regarded as the standard of social' consideration ; on the contrary, the gathering of wealth was the work of the third caste, not of the second nor of the highest. The warrior and the teaching castes had not the duty of gathering and holding wealth.

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The warrior had to be generous and splendid. You may still find in India an immense display of wealth in rulers and princes on State occasions; but go into their houses when no great ceremony is going on, mingle with them in their domestic life, and you will find there a simple life — splendour for the ceremony of the rank, simplicity for the service in the home.

And when from the warrior caste with its public splendour you pass on to the class of learning, then wealth is marked as a disgrace, not as reason for pride. And social consideration you must remember, has gone to the teacher, not to the millionaire, so that the millionaire and the prince alike bow down at the feet of the half naked but learned man. That gives an entirely different standard of social life, and it works effectively even now, with all the changes that have come over Indian life.

The ordinary round of living, so much alike in the different classes, draws these different classes together in a way that is never dreamed of in the West. You send for a man in India to sell you a shawl. He comes into your room and sits down on a carpet near you.

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He plays with your children ; he talks with you as friend with friend, until the coolie comes along with the shawls for you to choose from. He would never dream of taking what is here called a liberty; he is too well-mannered. To meet you in that way is not taking a liberty, but the recognition of a common human life. And so right through; and inasmuch as the clothing and the food are very much alike in the different classes, save where western influence has spread, there is not the same bitterness and jealousy as you find in the West, where the life of the poor is compulsorily simple, and the life of the rich luxurious and complicated.

Both alike in their home will wear but a single cloth — finer in one case than in the other, but still the simple common garment worn in similar fashion; both sit down to their meals in similar ways, and the difference of the meals is not so great as you might think. These forces it is which make the general refinement of the people to be noticed in India. You may meet a man who is but a labourer, but his manners will be the manners of a gentleman.

A gentleman gives a play in his house, and any one may walk in from the street and share the amusement; part of the hall is kept for the invited guests; the uninvited crowd outside this, perfectly well-mannered and content. You find refinement there, because the standard for all is so much alike in those outward things.

To live luxuriously means to live in the western way, and among the bulk of the people it is rather a reproach than a praise, although there is a growing desire to imitate, which is threatening largely to corrupt the old simplicity of the Indian life. Now that simplicity of material life which lays stress on knowledge, character, service, instead of on wealth, how well it would be for western nations if that also made its way to some extent among them!

The frightful competition, the multiplication of endless articles of luxury, the crowding of houses with useless furniture, and the heaping on that furniture of still more useless knickknacks, so that when you go into a room it is more like a bazaar than a room — all these things you see on every side do not tend to beauty but only to ostentation. It is the vulgarising of the whole of the peoples, and the dragging them down to a lower plane of life.

It means increasing competition, increasing struggle. It means the growing poorer of the poor, while the wealthy become wealthier; for it means the turning of labour into useless channels, the multiplication of new wants and the devisal of new objects to meet those wants, until all life grows complex and overburdened.

And while I would not ask that every life should be as simple as the best Indian life, I do say that it would be well for England, and well for all the western nations, if those who alone can do it — the wealthy and the highly placed, especially the highly placed, even more than the wealthy — followed a noble simplicity and a dignified beauty of life, which would encourage. Now, to come back to my starting-point.

Those ideals of the East were in danger of perishing.


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Humanity cannot afford to let them die. Western energy, western initiative, western willingness to bear responsibility, are all good for eastern life ; but the West has also much to learn from the East as well as much to teach, and the danger was lest the growing power of the West in the East should kill out those great ideals which change men's attitude to the world and to life as a whole. And if the balance is being redressed today, if on land and sea an eastern nation is conquering a western, it is because the West will only learn to respect where armed force can hold its own against the West, and eastern ideals have no chance of anything save contempt and despisal until they are lifted on high in a hand that can wield the sword, and show itself as strong on the field of battle as it is in the realm of mind.

IN the last lecture I pointed out that certain great ideas, necessary for the evolution of the race, may be said to belong especially to the civilisations of the East, and that those ideas were in danger of being trampled out by the advancing western civilisations. We saw that that was a danger to humanity at large, the ideals of both eastern and western civilisations being necessary in the future of the world ; and that it became necessary for some definite interference to take place to re-establish the balance of thought.

I now want to draw attention to the nature of that interference, to show what lies behind the destinies of nations and what forces guide the current of affairs, so that we may see through the veil of events to the forces that guide them. The great world-drama is not written by the pen of chance, but by the thought of the Logos, guiding His world along the road of evolution.

In the course of that evolution many beings are concerned. We have to look on this world as part of a chain of worlds all closely interlinked, all the inhabitants of these different worlds having something to say in those parts of the drama which are being worked out in each. We are all living in three different worlds, and not only in one; and whether in the physical world, or in the next world, the astral, or in the third, the heaven world, the inhabitants are busy with the general conduct of affairs which affect all three. Life becomes enormously more interesting when we recognise that it is shaped not only in the physical world but in other worlds as well, and that when we trace the destinies of nations we find that those destinies stretch backward, and that the working out in the present is largely conditioned by the energies of the past.

Let us look for a moment on the rough plan of the whole. Let me put it as though it were a great drama written by a divine pen.