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Those who are so fascinated by the ancient tenets and methods that they surrender themselves wholly to them are living in the past and are wasting precious time relearning the past. They are ignoring the lessons of Western civilization. Why were they reborn in the West if not to learn new lessons? Let them absorb whatever is good and useful and true in the old teaching, but let them give it the new form required by our altered conditions of life. They must be flexible enough to adapt themselves to the demands made by the present. Those teachers who have not perceived this continue to teach the old methods alone. They are phonographically handing down that which they have received by tradition. If they had realized the inner spirit of their inheritance rather than its musty outer form, they would have become utterly free of the past. For then they would stand alone in the great Aloneness. And out of such a spirit they would instinctively give what is needed now, not what was needed in past centuries. We may welcome the knowledge and custom which have come down to us from those who have lived before but we must not become embalmed in them. Our times are not theirs, our world shows large differences from that in which they dwelt, and our needs are peculiarly our own. Nature will not permit us to revert in complete atavism even if we try, for disappointment calls us back in the end. Here is today's book of life, she says; read it and master the fresh lessons it offers you.

-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 1: Meetings of East and West > # 176

-- Perspectives > Chapter 15: The Orient > # 12

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