Toward that seven-starred constellation known as the Seven Sisters, the Seven Elders or the Great Bear, the consciousness of humanity has at all times been directed. The Scriptures extol this celestial sign and Buddhism’s sacred Trepitaka dedicates an imposing hymn to it. Ancient Magi and Egyptians carved it upon the stones. And the black faith of Shaman of the wild taiga paid their obeisance to it.
To another of heaven’s miracles, the constellation of Orion, which the wisuom of astronomers has named the “Three Magi,” were dedicated the ancient temples of mystery in Central Asia.
As a pair of iridescent wings, these two constellations are spread out across the firmament. Between them, darting headlong toward earth, is the Star of the Morning, resplendent abode of the Mother of the World. By its dominating light, by its unprecedented approach, it foretells the new era of humanity.
The dates, recorded eons since, are being fulfilled in the starry runes. The predictions of the Egyptian Heiro-phants are being invested with reality before our eyes. Verily, this is a time of wonder for its witnesses. Likewise predestined and also descending over humanity is that satellite of the Mother of the World—Beauty, the living raiment. As a garment of purification must the sign of Beauty glorify each hearth.
Simplicity—Beauty—Fearlessness: so it is ordained! Fearlessness is our guide. Beauty is the ray of comprehension and upliftment. Simplicity is the sesame to the gates of the coming mystery. And not the menial simplicity of hypocrisy, but the great simplicity of attainment encircled in the folds of love. Simplicity which unlocks the most sacred and mysterious gates to him who brings his torch of sincerity and incessant labor. Not the Beauty of conventionality and deceit, which harbors the worm of decadence, but that Beauty of the spirit of truth which annihilates all prejudices. Beauty alight with the true freedom and attainment and glorious with the miracle of flowers and of sounds. Not the Fearlessness of artifice, but the Fearlessness which knows the unsounded depths of creation and discriminates between self-confidence in action and the presumption of conceit. Fearlessness which possesses the sword of courage and which smites down vulgarity in all its forms even though it be adorned in riches.
The understanding of these three covenants creates faith and support of the spirit. For within the last decade everything has been endowed with motion. The most massed clods have become mobile and the greatest dullards have comprehended that without simplicity, beauty and fearlessness, no construction of the new life is conceivable. Nor is the regeneration of religion, politics, science or the revaluation of labor possible. Without Beauty the closely inscribed pages, like withered and fallen leaves, will be whirled away by the winds of life and the wail of spiritual famine shall shake the foundations of the cities, deserted in their populousness.
We saw revolutions. We saw crowds. We passed through the mobs of insurrection. But only there did we behold the banner of peace waving overhead, where beauty was aglow and by the light of its wondrous power evoked united understanding. We saw in Russia how the apostles of beauty and the collectors—the true collectors, not those who were the incidental possessors of some inheritance—were singled out for honor by the crowd. We saw how the most ardent youth stood in breathless vigilance, in prayer, under the wings of beauty. And the remains of religion were revivified there where beauty did not perish and where the shield of Beauty was most firm.
By practical experience we can affirm that these words are not the Utopia of a visionary. No, these are the essence of experience gathered on fields of peace and of battle. And this manifold experience did not bring disillusion. On the contrary, it strengthened faith in the destined and in the near, in the resplendence of the possibilities. Verily, it was experience which constructed confidence in the new ones who hastened to help in the erection of the Temple and whose joyous voices resounded over the hill. The same experience directed our eyes toward the children, who, untaught, but already permitted to approach, began to unfold like the flowers of a beautiful garden. And their thoughts became crystal; and their eyes became enlightened and their spirits strove to proclaim the message of achievement. And all this was not in nebulous temples but here upon earth—here where we have forgotten so much that was beautiful.
It would seem incredible that people could want to forget the best possibilities—but this happens oftener than one can imagine. Man lost his key to the symbols of the Rig-Vedas. Man forgot the meaning of the Kabala. Man mutilated the glorious word of Buddha. Man, with gold, defiled the divine word of Christ and forgot, forgot, forgot the keys to the finest gates. Men lose easily, but how to regain again? The path to recovery permits every one to have hope. Why not, if a soldier of Napoleon discovered the Rosetta Stone in a trench, key to the understanding of the complete heiroglyphs of Egypt? Now, verily when the last hour strikes, men—still too few—begin hurriedly to recall the treasures which were theirs long since, and again the keys begin to clink on the girdle of faith. And dreams clearly and vividly recall the abandoned but ever-existing beauty. Only accept! Only receive! You shall discern how transformed shall be your inner life; how the spirit shall quiver in its realization of unbounded possibilities. And how simply beauty will envelop the temple, the palace and the hearth, where a human heart is throbbing. Often one does not know how to approach beauty—where are the worthy chambers, the worthy raiments, for the festival of color and of sound? “We are so poor,” is the reply. But beware lest you screen yourselves behind the specter of poverty. For wherever desire is implanted, there shall bloom decision.
And how shall we start to build the Museum? Simply. Because all must be simple. Any room may be a museum —and if the wish that conceived it is worthy, it shall grow in the shortest time into its own building and into a temple. And from far will come the new ones and knock—only do not outsleep the knocking.
How shall we commence our collecting? Again, simply—and without riches, only with unconquerable desire. We have known many very poor persons who were very remarkable collectors, and who although limited by each penny, gathered art collections full of great inner meaning.
How can we publish? We know also that great art publications began with almost negligible means. For instance, such an idealized work as that tremendous publishing project of art postcards, Saint Eugenie, began with five thousand dollars, and in ten years afforded hundreds of thousands of profit yearly. But the value of this work was not measured by its financial profits. Rather was it gaged by the quantity of widely-spread art publications which attracted a multitude of new, young hearts to the path of beauty. The colored post-cards which were artistically published, and in a definite method penetrated into new strata of the people and created young enthusiasts. How many new collectors were born! And measuring their approach to new hearts, the publishers sent into the world, reproductions of the most progressive creations. Thus, through fearlessness, in the simplicity of clearness, were created new works of beauty.
How can we open schools and teach? Also simply. Let us not expect great buildings or sigh over the primitive conditions and lack of material. The smallest room —not larger than the cell of Fra Beato Angelico in Florence—can contain the most valuable possibilities for art. The smallest assembly of colors will not diminish the artistic substance of creation. And the poorest canvas may be the receiver of the most sacred image.
If there comes the realization of the imminent importance of teaching beauty, it must be begun without delay. One must know that the means will come, if there be manifest the enduring enthusiasm. Give knowledge and you will receive possibilities. And the more liberal the giving, the richer the receiving.