Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

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Published in L. Shaposhnikova’s book The Unified Scientific Center for Problems of Cosmic Mentality. The International Center of the Roerichs. Мoscow: ICR; Master-Bank, 2005.


The “Urusvati” place of research, place of science, must be built in the Himalayas, within the borders of ancient Aryavarta. Again the human spirit, purified by the continuous currents of the Himalayas, will search in tireless labor. Medicinal herbs, medical research, wonderful magnetic and electric currents, the unique conditions of the heights, the unique luminescence of the planetary bodies and their astrochemical rays, radioactivity, and inexpressible treasures are preserved only in the Himalayas. [ . . . ] In these places where the great wisdom of the Rig-Vedas was crystallized, where Mahatmas themselves passed, here, in the caves and on the mountain tops, the power of human thought accumulated!

Nicholas Roerich

In prospect I see that the Urusvati Institute, where, as we know, unique collections are kept in perfect order, can become the Center-Museum affiliate, as a joint Soviet-Indian institution. Of course, the final settlement of this problem will require the elaboration of many legal issues, and a group of specialists (an ornithologist, zoologist, botanist, and, probably, an archeologist and folklorist) to approve the collections, but all this is quite doable. We will be able to approach this matter constructively only when the Center-Museum and the Roerich Foundation start their work in Moscow.

Svetoslav Roerich

Kullu Valley. N.K. Roerich with the statue of Guga Chohan
Kullu Valley. N.K. Roerich with the statue of Guga Chohan

Our great compatriots Nicholas and Helena Roerich were characterized by a rare quality. They knew how to implement thought into action. In 1928 the thoughts of a new science that we find in the Living Ethics and the Roerichs’ studies took the shape of the Institute of Himalayan Studies, which was called “Urusvati,” which means in Sanskrit “The Light of the Morning Star.” That was a time when traditional science had entered a period of crisis, when its great discoveries and findings could not be adequately explained either by the scientific theory of cognition or by European philosophical thought. Some outstanding scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, began to express the idea that the end of science was coming, that all it could do had already been done, and that essentially it was turning into a technical service for various needs of human society and did not need the results of any more fundamental research. Another group of equally famous scientists was seeking a way out of the existing situation and paid more and more attention to metascience, a field in which they guessed or intuitively sensed the prospects for further scientific advancement. The spiritual methods of metascientific cognition gave hope for the fruitful development of scientific research.

It was at that time that the books of the Living Ethics, the philosophy of Cosmic Reality started to appear, much discussing the great significance of science and its research, raising the problem of a new, transformed science, which offered a real possibility for escaping the crisis. The Living Ethics contained not only a new system of cognition, corresponding to the cosmic mentality being formed, but also showed a new path for the development of empirical science itself. “Knowledge comes before everything,” one of the Living Ethics books said. “Everyone who has brought a small particle of knowledge is already a benefactor of mankind. Everyone who has collected glimmers of knowledge will be a giver of Light. Let us learn to protect every step of scientific cognition. Neglect for science is immersion into darkness.

Everyone has the right to gain access to the Teaching. Read the study saturated with striving for the Truth. Ignoramuses sow prejudice, without even taking the trouble of reading the book. They call the most asserting labor negation. Indeed, prejudice is a bad Advisor! But there is no way to evade all collected knowledge. Do not let us forget to say words of appreciation for those who imprinted knowledge with their own lives.”[1]

The main trend in the new system of cognition contained in the Living Ethics is the synthesis of cognition and synthesis of knowledge itself. Such synthesis of the energetic process unites empirical science and metascience, experimental knowledge and the knowledge received in the spiritual domain of man’s creative work. Such an approach opens again the source of ancient knowledge, uniting the speculative findings of the East with the empirical discoveries of the West. Artistic achievements, religious experience, philosophical thought, experimental studies of empirical science – everything merges into a single synthetic picture of the human cognition of the Universe. Ethical issues were given as much consideration in the Teaching as were the physical laws of natural sciences and those truths achieved by empirical science.

the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute
the Biochemical Laboratory
the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute
the Biochemical Laboratory

Modern science,” Helena Roerich pointed out in 1935, “is moving in quick steps toward all the great Truths formulated in Oriental philosophy and religions, and soon, very soon, they will meet and stretch their hands out to each other. Let us hope that our church will light up with a new mentality, too, and will not remain a secondary witness of this new union. Science has already understood that there is no matter, just energy and vice versa. Thus, it came down the to spiritualization of a Single Element. Progressive minds start to give their due to the power of thought, and even fix and measure it physically, so the spiritual merges with the material. And how can it be any other way, when Matter is just a quality of the Spirit!”[2]

Paying tribute to science, the Teachers, the authors of the Living Ethics, asserted that the New World was coming “armored in laboratory rays.” “The collaboration of science should be called for with all powers,”[3] they pointed out. In the Living Ethics, we find a high appreciation of scientific achievement. “Following the development of science in the last half-century; one can be amazed at the progress of knowledge.”[4] Science had quite succeeded in the acquisition of knowledge by the means of detailed and diligent experimental work, but, at the same time, the old theory of cognition hindered its further advancement. Science lacked synthesis, and, even more importantly, it lacked relation to the Higher, which resulted in its creative potential becoming extremely limited. The Living Ethics, considering the essence of creative work, explained that any creation has two sources: the earthly and the heavenly, or solid matter and the matter of a subtler, higher state. It so happened historically that such methods of cognition as philosophy, true art and religion, were in one or another way related to the Higher, while in science, in its contemporary state, this relationship was absent. Without dwelling on the reasons for such an absence, the Living Ethics proposes a number of thoughts on this connection. “Ignoramuses talk about material science, which negates everything that is not visible to the insensitive eye. [ . . . ] When signs of the Higher World appear in our consciousness, every science will be transformed. There is no knowledge that would not assert the great relationship between the worlds. There are no paths that would not lead to the Higher World. The one who does not feel the greatness of unification and Infinity has not matured enough mentally.”[5] Further: “Science must consolidate the roads to higher cognition.”[6] The Living Ethics suggested to science a new system of cognition, which, together with scientific findings, would be able to bring science to the way of transformation and new paradigms. And then the illusion of “the end of science” will disappear, which will result in the heyday of new research and new discoveries in the cognition of the Universe. “The rapprochement of the worlds will take place under the sign of science,”[7] the Living Ethics states. The new system of cognition that is explained on the pages of the Living Ethics takes science beyond the boundaries of the physical world, into boundless spaces of other states of matter. And in that Infinity, there will be no end to cognition, there will be no end to amazing discoveries, no stopping before the mysterious depths of the Cosmos. The knowledge obtained by the empirical method must acquire natural links with the Higher for all the richness of its interaction to be correctly comprehended. The Cosmos is filled with billions of forms of Being, and their study will give humanity “the subtleness of understanding of the Infinity.”[8] The creation of a New World that is passing into a new stage is conditioned by the growth of Knowledge, its change in quality, and the expansion of the space it penetrates into the mysterious depths of matter and energy. “Thirst is satisfied with moisture,” the Living Ethics says. “Thirst for cognition is satisfied by approaching the Higher World. Many scientists suffered their whole lives from inexpressible longing, for they alienated themselves from the cognition of the Higher World. Misery and longing from the wrong way is the cruelest, is devouring! Man, at last, finally stops advancing and suffers without understanding his mistake. Much malice is born in such entities. They are ready to attack even the slightest manifestation of Light.”[9] This short extract tells an entire drama, the manifestations of which can be encountered in science, when the level of mentality does not correspond to the possibilities of cognition, which often results in a cruel fight of traditionalism against the new things that are now entering science. “The future world, the Higher World,” H. Roerich wrote, “is coming in the armor of laboratory rays. It is laboratories that will point to the advantage of higher energy and that will not only establish the superiority of human psychic energy over all previously known energies, but an obvious difference in its quality will be shown, and, thus, the significance of spirituality will be established in full.”[10] The study of subtle energies of other states of matter is one of the most important tasks of the new science. These studies will lead to the cognition of Higher worlds and will establish contact with them. Scientific facts obtained in the process of research are already testifying to such worlds’ existence. “It is time to pass from the rough layers of matter to the study of subtlest energy.”[11] And more: “Creative work,” the Living Ethics authors noted, “must be understood as the combination of various energies manifested by the Fire of space and the spirit of man.”[12] The higher the spirituality of the researcher himself and the level of his consciousness, and the higher the existence in him of ability for sensational knowledge, the closer to reality are the results of his research. “For major experiments,” H. Roerich wrote, “persons possessing high spiritual synthesis murt be specially selected.”[13] The spirit of man, the level of his consciousness is a decisive factor in subtle studies. If earlier nobody paid any attention to this aspect of science and the spirit was just negated as a phenomenon, then in the new system of cognition, a very great significance is attached to the researcher’s spirituality.

The transfer to experimental studies of subtle matter and subtle energies involves a number of difficulties about which the Living Ethics warns. The mobility of subtle structures determines the fact that results of the same experiment cannot be repeated. Subtle substances react to all cosmic and earthly conditions, perceive energetic changes in man himself, and sensitively respond to many issues in him, including his mood. To repeat the same results, it is necessary to restore all the energetic conditions under which the initial experiment took place. This can very seldom be achieved. “The impossibility of repeating experiments with subtlest energies,” we read in the Living Ethics, “often drives away the attention of scientists. But they forget that it is not the energy that cannot be repeated, but themselves. In addition, they cannot create a repeatable environment for the experiments. Many times you have noticed how different are the circumstances that penetrate from the outside. But even a very sophisticated scientist does not attach significance to many of the various conditions. First of all, he does not pay attention to his mood, but the state of the nerve centers is decisive for many experiments. Also, the number of assistants participating in the experiments is forgotten. But even in ancient times, and later, alchemists understood very well the value of collaboration. They also knew the significance of gender. They did not deny the moon’s influence and the power of the visible planets.”[14]

At Rohtang pass. Photo by L.V.Shposhnikova
At Rohtang pass. Photo by L.V.Shposhnikova

For the first time in the history of science, the system of scientific cognition included man, his energetics, his interaction with the micro and macrocosm surrounding us. According to the Living Ethics, man is a carrier of higher energy that has fiery character, which does not only lead him along the path of cosmic evolution, but is also necessary for man’s process of cognition of the specific features and mysteries of the Universe. It is known that this higher energy is called psychic and is the most important condition of any creation. The Living Ethics authors believe that such energy potential is higher than the energy of an atom that has been split. “Without psychic energy, one cannot discern the ways of space. The same happens in all fields of science. It is unreasonable to neglect higher energy. As in the times of religious wars and persecutions, daring and far-sighted seers must hide like alchemists from inquisition. Such a shameful situation is inadmissible.”[15] And more: “Indeed, it is high time for the fiery nature of man to be studied. It is high time that we understand that not only will, but also fiery energy shrouds man with a salutary cloak. It is true that this should be studied in laboratories, but these laboratories must be different from the laboratories for soil fertilizers. It is time that scientists recognize that subtle experiments require subtle conditions. It is also time to recognize that those conditions are not created by way of mechanical disinfecting. Each experiment requires spiritual fiery purification. It is true that many things can be achieved in nature and in temples, where emanations are not so soiled. But in arbitrary laboratories, where even the air is not always refreshed and the dust is full of poisonous residue, only little can be achieved.”[16]

The Living Ethics’ new system of cognition indicates two phenomena without which the new science cannot exist. These are the energetics of the heart and that of the mind. Traditional empirical science rarely or not at all studied either of these. The Living Ethics authors justly assert that in the heart of man the process of synthesis, which plays a most important role in cosmic evolution, takes place. The energetics of the heart correlates with the cosmic scales. Already in ancient times, the heart was considered the Sun of man. Between the heart of man and the Sun, there are invisible and mysterious links spreading out into Infinity. The Cosmic Magnet is the Heart of the Universe, which regulates its vital processes and development. “In the foundations of the whole Universe, look for the Heart!” the Living Ethics says. [17] The human heart contains high cosmic energies, whose basis is subtle light-and-matter. It is related not only to physical celestial bodies but also to the worlds of a different state of matter and contains the earthly and the heavenly, the solid and the subtle. Through the heart passes the spiritual path connecting, through the Subtle world, the physical world with the Fiery world. That is why the heart is called the Bridge of the Worlds. This Bridge combines in synthesis spirit and matter, the energy of the Earth and of the Cosmos. Physical and cosmic laws interact in it. The heart is a kind of junction between the planet earth and the Distant Cosmos. It is, Helena Roerich pointed out, “an amazing organ containing in itself, in its multiple centers, all creation and all psycho-life.[18] In the heart the most complicated processes take place, in connection both with the very initial energetic structures of man and with those completing his development. The heart is the place of man’s consciousness of himself, the extent of which is determined by the heart’s energy. Consciousness, placed in the heart is formed in the interaction of the earthly and the cosmic. These issues give us the possibility of considering the heart as an instrument of cognition more powerful and profound than the intellect. The heart leads the intellect, which creates for it new possibilities and new prospects in the cognition of the surrounding world. Neglect of the heart’s energetics and of the method of spiritual cognition impedes the process of cosmic evolution and interferes with further cognition of the Cosmos.

Kullu. N.K.Roerich with sons
Kullu. N.K.Roerich with sons

Together with the heart, the mind, bound by strong ties to the center of the spiritual heart, plays a great role in cognition. The modern theory of scientific cognition hardly touches upon this problem, and even when it does, the studies of thought neglect the most essential issues, without penetrating the depth of such phenomena. In the Living Ethics, we find the notions of thought, creation by thought, thought-images. Thought as such is not only an instrument of cognition, but is a link with other being, for it is born by other being. Its origination is related neither to solid matter, nor to the grey substance of the brain, which for a long time (and even now) has been considered the reason of the thoughts’ appearing. Its motivation, the motivation of the thought lies in the energetic space of the Cosmos, in its subtle and high-vibration processes. If it were not like this, we would not have known the creation of thought, or the energetics of thought. “Thus, the thought, the Living Ethics says, devoid of the vibration of the spirit, is a phenomenon of a dead state. Only the vibration of the spirit can create.”[19] “Let us hope,” Helena Roerich wrote, “that science will soon come to the rescue and prove that it is thought that nourishes life, and therefore, where thought stops, the process of decay starts.”[20]

According to the Living Ethics, thought is not only one of the foundations of the cosmic evolution of mankind, but is necessary in, if not the most important component of, the system of cognition. Without taking into account thought’s distinctive features and its essence, we will not be able to formulate a new system of cognition in the dimension required by the new thinking. The Living Ethics teaching regarding the thought, so different from our understanding, testifies to the fact that its authors are in many ways ahead of modern science in this respect. We learn that “thought is energy.”[21] At that, it is energy very high and subtle, possessing a number of important characteristics. From a subtle state, it can pass over into a physical state, which expands greatly the range of its impact. Under certain conditions, its subtle energy can turn into substance. This mysterious process that takes place in the depths of the Cosmos is related to the formation of the creative activity that develops in visible and invisible cosmic spaces. “Rotation,” the Living Ethics says, “is the symbol of the Universe. The one who perceived such a simple process as a symbol of great action, really understood the correlation between the microcosm and the Macrocosm. In physical terms, spiral rotation is the basis for the accumulation of substance, but thought works using exactly the same method. From the Heights to chaos, space is strained by the spirals of consciousness. Thought is spirally transformed into substance, filling the whole Universe. The transformation of thought into substance must be understood and accepted. Such a union will preserve the substance, for thought is inexhaustible. The understanding of the thought’s materiality will be highly useful for the Earth.”[22] This quality brings thought into the realm of the creating powers of the Cosmos.

Thought is the law of the World,” the Teaching’s authors assert. “This law must be understood in full. Thought is not only expression in words. The sphere of thought is also a sphere of mental energy. It is this circumstance that is overlooked, and only a small trajectory is ascribed to thought. Such limitation interferes with imagining thought beyond the planetary space, or, in other words, deprives it of its majestic meaning. Thought, like mental energy, receives its due significance when understood as lying beyond the Earth. Thought cannot be limited to the earthly sphere. [ . . . ] The restriction of this great energy serves to belittle human thinking as well. Indeed, the more man restricts his possibilities, the more he cuts [himself] off from great collaboration. Thought must be studied in the best scientific institutions. Thought must be put at the head of the physical conditions of life.”[23] And more: “Magnetic waves, electrical sparks, and thought, these three wanderers meet the one striving for the Infinity.”[24] These three types of creating energy constitute the basis of our Cosmos, and thought is the most important in this trinity, for it is the initial source for the Universe. A higher creative power created the Universe with its thought. “Thus, Thought is the initial basis and the crown of all creation,”[25] H. Roerich wrote. Due to its specific features, thought governs one of the most important laws of the Cosmos – cause and effect relations. Thought’s energetic power sets in motion the elemental forces of nature, which, in their natural state, are immovable and inert, and require the impetus of thought for their development. Thought is a powerful representative of Higher worlds, woven from the light-and-matter and possessing high dimensions incomparable with those of the solid world. The expansive thought most radically affects lower worlds, promoting their ascent and transformation. But thought creates not only in the Higher Spheres of the Cosmos, where its power grows to sizes incomprehensible to us, but on the Earth as well. There are plenty of examples of this kind. For thousands of years, places attracting a great number of pilgrims developed on the Earth. These places of regular pilgrimage are called holy, as for many centuries thousands and millions of people headed to them carrying the purest of thoughts. Traces of creative thoughts remain there, which, in their turn, affect man by transforming his consciousness, if his internal structure is ready to accept this. Those who have been to holy places can tell about the amazing atmosphere reigning there, about the mood that is hard to describe in words that seizes pilgrims, about the elevated spirits of those who sense the creative energetics of the stratifications of lofty thoughts.

In the Living Ethics system of cognition, we find all that must be introduced into science, so that, having been changed and transformed, it would become that new science, whose most deep and subtle research could not only change our earthly world, but could improve man’s inner world, too.

PAGES  123NotesPublications

S.N. Roerich. The prayer. 1930-s