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BENEVOLENCE

How odd that things which are both benevolent and significant so often remain unrecorded anywhere! Just today we heard that the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Peking was saved only by the personal intercession of the Tashi Lama. In the history of religions such a sign of benevolence should be carefully preserved. It is regrettable that around religions too much evidence of coldness and negativity has accumulated. And so when one hears, in old Peking, a beautiful story of how a body of priests and religious societies once went to the Tashi Lama to beg him to help preserve the most worthy Russian Orthodox Mission in Peking, which had guarded many fine traditions for so long, and how benevolently he responded to this plea, one in sincerely glad. And not only was this plea accepted benevolently, but desirable results followed, and this significant act of high benevolence has entered into the history of the Russian Mission in Peking.

When humanity is possessed by the devils of malice and mutual destruction, every token of affirmativeness and mutual help is especially valuable. True, a great deal is known about the good acts and magnanimity of the Tashi Lama. But it is one thing when his countrymen relate it and quite another when strangers also bear good testimony about it.

People often do not realize and reflect about how valuable is the inculcation of good signs. There are certain kinds of persons who warn against all enthusiasm and even against speaking a good word out loud. Naturally, with such a way of thinking all submerges if not into total darkness then at best into greyish twilight. Antagonists of any kind of enthusiasm would like to have people respond to nothing, react to nothing, and remain shamefully indifferent to both good and evil.

In our anxious days there are quite many such grey dwellers. In great measure the responsibility for the confusion deeply imbedded in the social structure lies with them. This shocking and, at the same time, vacillating confusion is nothing but formlessness and ugliness. The very words confusion and perplexity are not far from distortion, doubt, and fear. In confusion vague insinuations are engendered. It also gives birth to all manner of anonymous calumnies. When the heart loses the tremor of exaltation, it can become prey to the tremor of confusion. And just as the tremor of exaltation impels upward and toward the beautiful, so will the tremor of confusion be limiting, depressing, frightening. What could be uglier than the spectacle of fear? The very highest concepts  honor, dignity, devotion, love, achievement  can, after all, be violated and mutilated precisely through fear. Because of fear people keep silent, renounce, and betray. And what a mass of silent disavowals and cowardly silences are revealed in daily life!

For disavowals no high words or beautiful surroundings are needed. Usually, disavowals, silence, belittlement are more suitable to the dusk. They live in a grey atmosphere wherein clear-cut forms are blurred by twilight and everything becomes indefinite. Vagueness of thoughts, indecisiveness is in reality confusion. Confusion does not sing, or mold beautiful forms, but distorts everything in trembling reflections. Thus, a bird flying over the water lightly touches the calm surface, and long afterward the forms which before had been beautifully reflected will be atremble.

One should cure oneself of confusion and fear. As one should undergo lengthy restoration of one's strength after many illnesses, so also a recovery from confusion is needed. One should not allow the confusion to become corrupt in boils and abscesses. New strong thoughts and powerful actions will be salutary and can carry the spirit out of confusion into a renewed condition. Naturally, by a change of location alone or of the living conditions, confusion will not be conquered. The potentiality of the spirit, the consciousness, roust be struck by something, and still better, should become enraptured by something.

It is impermissible to say that rapture, or to use another word, enthusiasm, cannot be accessible even to confused souls. For there are such actions, such conditions in the world as will transport the heart and thus enable it to con-1faer disturbing tremors. Beautiful creativeness, lofty knowledge, and finally the pure heart's striving to the Heavenly World  all these miracles, of which there are so many in earthly life, can easily lead even a drooping spirit into the gardens of rapture.

If people were to attempt to erase from their existence the words enthusiasm and rapture, at times ridiculed by them, how would they fill up this frightful void in their consciousness? In such desolate hearts anguish and lack of faith begin to dwell, and there appears that deadly mustiness which is found in abandoned, empty places. Entering an abandoned house, people say, "It will take a long time to make it livable." And truly such neglect even threatens with physical ailments.

To make a dwelling place livable does not mean simply to light a fire. Precisely the human presence is needed, in other words, the beat of the human heart, in order to enliven and spiritualize the arrested life.

One of the simplest examples of spiritualization will be each news about some good, unusual, and benevolent action. Thus, let us rejoice at each benevolence; for it dispels someone's confusion and replaces ugliness with beauty.

Peking

December 29, 1934

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