THE interest of the West in the Orient is widespread, but, too often such interest is along the line of self-pride which enquires in what manner and to what extent is this or that country becoming Europeanized. All agree that this is an economic civilization, and yet repeat that man cannot live by bread alone. How many try to learn by what nourishment other than that of earning their daily bread by the sweat of the brow do millions of our fellow-men live in old Asia? Now and then one hears, "Light comes from the East," and having heard, forgets what is that light by which souls have lived in the Orient for many hundred centuries.
Ex Oriente Lux -- has many meanings, ranging from the most obvious to be observed in the rising Sun, to the most occult, which, like other ideas of the Mysteries, cannot be put in words. Great and wonderful cultures have reared magnificent Empires and civilizations all over the East. Some of them are now dead, like that of ancient Babylonia, and yet who can say that that age-long influence is not at work today? Some have undergone a complete metamorphosis; for example, Japan -- now thoroughly westernized, in other words, materialized and militarized. Some, like China, are undergoing a similar change. In India, where a very ancient culture continues to vivify the life of the peoples, a somewhat different phenomenon is taking place: more directly old cultural ideas and ideals are shaping the structure which is rising.
Shintoism and Buddhism are only indirectly influencing Japan; the power of Lao Tzu and Confucius, as also that of the Buddhist patriarchs, is also indirectly manifesting itself in the new China; still less direct is the influence of old Iran visible in the affairs of modern Persia. But in India it is different. The pre-Aryan civilization of the Dravidians is still contributing its quota in making the India of tomorrow; the Vedic hymns and rituals, the Upanishadic metaphysics and philosophy, the Puranic Anthropology are likewise active; the Islamic cultural current, as the Avestaic through the Parsis, plays each its part. Thoughtful leaders and large numbers of Indians directly wish for a deliberate assimilation of the old cultures of Arya Varta, of Bharata Varasha, and other ancient lands.
Westerners -- if sincere -- are confronted with a double task in the wish to help the East, or be helped in return: they should learn the real basis and nature of the old philosophies and ethics which are indirectly or directly influencing the Asia of our days; (2) as an international cosmopolitanism is the vision of so many thoughtful philanthropists in Europe and America, they should endeavour to learn what can be assimilated from these old cultures and thereby draw closer to their Asiatic brethren.
Avoiding the danger of carnalizing and materializing the ancient truths on the one hand, and avoiding the pitfall of superstition created by the hordes of modern Asiatics on the other, there is still much in the East, and especially in India, that is noble and beautiful, and which the West does not possess. The soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans is needed in Europe and America.