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SELF-DESTRUCTION

In the middle of the seventeenth century Stepanov reported to the Yakut chieftains ":and because of the Uprisings of these people, life on the great river Amur has become hard and unbearable." Such reports and the local "chronicles related in detail the difficulties with which the building up of this frontier country proceeded, not so much because of the foreigners and members of other tribes, but precisely because of various strange internal rebellions. He breaking out of these rebellions usually is not described, but there are recounted most distressing irreparable consequences. And the result was that because of the internal disorders blows were dealt to values, of external Significance.

Was it because of a lack of vision and imagination that these aimless, self-destructive flare-ups took place? And now, are we not witnessing the same kind of logically unexplainable clashes, which are taking place with the very fine impermissible coarseness, just as in remote ages? Does not middle-of-the-road thinking, as one of the reasons, lie at the very core? There are inexpressible words in the beats of the human heart as it strives toward something better; but the mind deprived of wings limits itself by the conditions of today only. It is indignant in the face of these chance happenings; but precisely through them, and not in any other way, does it wish to find a solution.

The most complicated controversies, the piling up of newly invented complicated terminology as a seeming token of erudition  all this does not lead to, but draws away from, the needs of existence. And yet now the simple, hearty word is so needed. Not a three-storied cumbersome term, but a particle of an illumined life of fulfillment is awaited. People, ordinary folk, wish to live. They wish to adorn life as much as possible. We see how ancient tribes under even the most meager circumstances aspired and found original ways for such adornment. The masses wish to learn. The people understand very well that knowledge is not by any means an arbitrarily piled up incomprehension, but something that can be imparted in very simple, clear, not snarling, not malice-bearing words.

Everyone who has had occasion to talk to people, even in very remote localities, of course knows of this quite sensible striving toward the simplest expression. We ourselves in recalling our school and university years turn with especial warmth to those teachers who taught clearly and simply. It matters not what the subject was, whether higher mathematics, or philosophy, or history, or geography  absolutely everything could be, and was, presented in clear terms by the gifted instructors. Only the limited and the untalented became entangled in their own verbal accumulations, and often, to the secret amusement of the students, tried painfully to get out of the difficulties which they themselves had created. Frequently such ill-fated pedagogues ended their meandering explanations with a tragic, "Well, you understand." And precisely because of this lack of clarity offensive nicknames were created, uncontrollable jeering spouted forth, and an internal split resulted.

Precisely now many fields are overloaded with newly invented complications. And yet at present people are pass-Site through a particularly responsible period. No one is now satisfied with the middle-of-the-road thinking of recent years. On the one hand, nets are cast into the future, at times hurled ungovernably. And on the other hand, consciousness is directing thought to those primary sources whence the keen ear catches a great deal that unexpectedly corresponds to the latest theories. A period wherein this combination of the newest with the most ancient occurs is a responsible one. Strange as it may seem, the nineteenth century, with its many researches, appears to be one of the least convincing. The very primitive structures of nihilism in this century render it unconvincing. Each negation, every insistence on the void and non-existence are already rejected. They are rejected not only by philosophy and studies of antiquity, but also by the latest discoveries in the physical sciences. Leading scientists quite calmly speak about their religious and philosophical views, of which their fathers often would not have dared to speak openly, even for the sake of preserving their "scientific integrity." In this way, the moves that easily turn into achievement become indisputable. Truly, an achievement, in its essence, cannot be limited. Precisely in an achievement the most ancient wisdom as well as the answer to the most modern problem are easily accessible. And besides, we will be evaluating something not only in regard to its antiquity. We shall study it fully, conscientiously, and with good will. And only these honestly unlimited investigations will enable us to retrieve that which can be most concretely applied to the problems of the future. Again, if someone insists that he will take only just a bit from ancient wisdom, he will reveal himself as a hypocrite; because this "bit" can be applied only after an all embracing true study. And he who wants to put any negation into the foundation of a structure will thus mix into his cement a poisonous, corroding substance.

Many new discoveries have been given to people in recent years. And many times because of them one becomes convinced of the indescribable link of ancient times with our problems. If clear words can be found about the possibility of life and progress, the dark rebellions will recede into the realm of legends. People reading about them will only regret the lost opportunities and rejoice that the new boundaries of knowledge will help them restrain themselves from self-destruction. Clarity and simplicity  these are what the heart is waiting for.

Peking

December 28, 1934

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