Roberto Assagioli, nineteen years old, writes a glowing and passionate essay for including Buddhism and Hinduism in Western culture as part of a call for moral regeneration.
Roberto Assagioli ([i] See correct endnote at the bottom) Excerpt from LEONARDO Magazine of Ideas. Series III April-June 1907 Year V, No. 2. Original Title: Per Un Nuovo Umanesimo Ariano([ii] (See correct endnote at the bottom) Translated with Notes by Jan Kuniholm.
Anyone who is a little acquainted with contemporary culture will certainly have noticed in recent years signs of a general growing interest in ancient Eastern civilizations, and especially in India. Indeed, translations of Indian writings are now multiplying, and numerous works are appearing that study various aspects of that great civilization.
What are the historical, intellectual and moral reasons for the rise of this new movement? What might be its effects? What is its importance for us? I shall try to answer these questions first of all by showing, with a brief glance at the history of Indian studies, that only in recent years have we come to possess the philological and historical materials necessary to nurture a vast current of culture. Then I shall attempt to trace certain new philosophical, spiritual and moral needs in the present state of European culture. Finally I shall try to demonstrate by a summary examination of the whole — both of the general characteristics of Indian civilization and of some of its particular philosophical and religious doctrines — how it can effectively help us to satisfy those new needs.
In every age Western civilization has had the perception (often vague and obscure, but nevertheless always present) that great and mysterious civilizations had flourished in the fabled countries of the East. The few reports that came in spoke of colossal buildings, unheard-of pageantry, marvelous poems, profound and fascinating philosophies, sublime mystical outpourings, and strange occult ceremonies. And in every age there were minds and souls which Western wisdom could not satisfy, who turned longingly to the East, hoping to find there the key to the enigmas that troubled them.
But until recent times, too little was known about Eastern civilizations to be able to understand and assimilate their cultures. Until after the mid-18th century, for example, there were almost no translations of Indian writings: Sanskrit was known in Europe only to very few, and very imperfectly. The travelers who went to the East often caught only the picturesque and superficial exterior side of the peoples with whom they came in contact; and even those who penetrated more deeply did not know how, or were unable to spread the fruits of their explorations widely in Europe, given the unpreparedness of their contemporaries. 
Thus for a long time Eastern civilizations were almost unknown in Europe. It was not until the last quarter of the 18th century that the first translation of the Upanishads (from the Persian version made by order of Sultan Mohammed Dara Shikoh) was begun by Anquetil du Perron, into Latin, right around 1775. And the Asiatic Society was founded in Calcutta in 1784, mainly by William Jones (who, while in Europe having publicly condemned the burgeoning interest in the fables indiennes, upon arriving in India found them so important that he devoted much of his further activity to their study). Well, already around 1800 an important movement had arisen in Germany in which the best poets and philosophers participated. Goethe was one of the earliest and most ardent admirers of the newly discovered writings, so much so that he did not hesitate to write the famous verses about the drama Sakuntala, which in their lyrical exaggeration give us a clear sense of the fervor that inflamed their souls.
Along with Goethe, Herder and the leaders among the “romantics” sensed the enormous importance of that new current of culture. Friedrich Schlegel dealt with it longer and more deeply than anyone else, and the enthusiastic essay he wrote in 1808 Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier is an interesting and ingenious attempt at philosophical reconstruction of Indian civilization, though by necessity largely a work of fiction. 
The movement, however, intense as it was, could not last long among poets, philosophers and the more educated public, because the translations and writings available to them were still too scarce and imperfect. It was worthwhile, however, in that it gave a new and vigorous impetus to Sanskrit philological studies, which continued with an eagerness and liveliness unknown to the other branches of the icy science of philology.
Henry Thomas Colebrooke, a likeable figure of a civil servant, judge, and diplomat of multifaceted activities and great ingenuity, was the first to assemble a rich collection of valuable Indian manuscripts. He studied Indian grammar, philosophy, law, and astronomy, and was the first to provide [to Europeans] somewhat more extensive information on Vedic literature.
In 1819 Wilson’s Sanskrit dictionary appeared, following by three years Franz Bopp’s important book Conjugationssystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen lateinischen, persischen und germanischen Sprache, (1816) which formed the basis of all later comparative linguistics.
Soon afterwards the Norwegian Christian Lassen collected and coordinated all the information that had been discovered up to that time in his voluminous work Indische Altertumskunde;  in Calcutta, Prinsep began a large edition of the Mahabharata that was completed only after 30 years.
Hodgson for his part began the scholarly study of Buddhism, especially Northern Buddhism; followed by Burnouf, who dealt at length with Southern Buddhism, and who made many translations of pre-Buddhist works.
In the meantime, however, one man did not resign himself to leaving to posterity the coveted privilege of assimilating this magnificent philosophical flowering, but, impelled by a strong intellectual affinity, wanted — albeit with the very imperfect means at his disposal — to attempt the difficult undertaking himself: this was Arthur Schopenhauer. It is truly admirable how, through the barbaric Latin of the already mentioned second-hand translation by Anquetil du Perron, Schopenhauer was able to comprehend to what unprecedented sublimity Indian thought had arrived in the Upanishads, as can be seen from the following important passage from the Parerga und Paralipomena:  “This [Upanishads] is the most rewarding and elevated reading that can be done in the world: it has been the comfort of my life and will be that of my death.” And throughout Schopenhauer’s system we can clearly see the profound influence of Indian thought.
Here, however, there is an important fact to point out: namely, that influence is quite different from adaptation, and all the more so from exposition.
For Schopenhauer did indeed take from Indian philosophy some fundamental ideas, but he then reworked them in his own way and incorporated them into his own system along with other purely Western ideas. It is therefore very interesting to study the intertwining in Schopenhauer’s system of the two currents of thought, but one should certainly not look there for an exact exposition of Indian philosophy. This seems self-evident and the observation is superfluous, yet many in Germany and elsewhere believed and still believe that they know Indian thought by having read only Schopenhauer.
It can therefore be said that Schopenhauer’s philosophy, with the oriental elements it contains, contributed greatly to bringing Western culture closer to the Eastern way of thinking, and thus to prepare for the great work of fusing the two cultures. But it had the immediate effect of diverting attention away from the original Oriental writings and offering a satisfying substitute for them.
Meanwhile, philologists continued to work actively. A group of Germans, consisting mainly of Max Müller, Albrecht Weber, Adalbert Kuhn, Theodor Benfey and Rudolf Roth began the study of the Vedas. Max Müller, with Burnouf’s encouragement, undertook in 1849 the publication of the Rig Veda with Sayana’s commentary, and finished it in 1874.
At the same time (from 1852 to 1875) Roth (for the Vedic texts), Bohtlingk (for the later texts) and Weber published a large Sanskrit dictionary that marked a huge advance beyond Wilson’s. 
Unfortunately, however, the philologists were also impatient, and instead of contenting themselves with doing the very useful work I have mentioned and many others of the same kind, they also wanted to attempt to penetrate into the inner and higher philosophical and mystical meaning of the great works they were studying, before the linguistic work was done. They lacked the necessary philosophical depth, and even more so spiritual preparation and understanding.
They wanted to apply to the study of a civilization so radically different from the West the methods and intellectual parameters that serve the study of this one, and of course they very often misrepresented and distorted what they claimed to interpret. Max Müller, for example, who for many years was regarded as the leader of European Orientalists, believed that he had found the key to the deep and complex Indian myths — in some of which two or three different symbols are woven together — with the “solar explanation,” which is often blatantly contrived and superficial, and is always wholly insufficient, at most highlighting only one element of the interpretation — and not the most important one.
Moreover, Max Müller (as Houston Stewart Chamberlain rightly reproached him for in a book which I shall deal with later) lingers too much in his research (which was done superficially) on the elements that Indian culture has in common with others. In order to be useful and fruitful, this work requires complete knowledge of the specific characteristics of Indian civilization, which were precisely those that were ignored.
Eventually, however, the continuous and important advances in Indology made it possible for those who had the ability to do so to boldly and successfully initiate the grand enterprise of rediscovering and reviving Indian greatness, thus injecting into our civilization elements of life for which it has and feels a great need (as I shall show below).
The first and so far best philosopher who dared to do this is undoubtedly Paul Deussen. He is a professor of philosophy, and for the sake of Indian philosophy he became the great philologist we admire; his work shows us clearly how superior this path he followed is to the opposite one, which alone had been taken until then. In twenty-five years of assiduous work (from 1881 to 1907) he expounded with genius and depth hardly surpassed from the philosophical point of view, the Vedic literature (including also the Upanishads) and the Vedanta system in four powerful volumes. He translated sixty of the principal of the very important Upanishads, and recently four philosophical texts included in the Mahabharata,  in a way that surpassed all his predecessors.
This great work of Deussen, however, is neither complete nor perfect. For example, in the beautiful study of the philosophy of the Upanishads, which occupies the whole of the second volume of his Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, one often feels the lack of a corresponding treatment of the mystical side, which would certainly have thrown even more light on the philosophical side, given the intimate relationship in which they stand. Moreover, I know that someone who has studied Indian esotericism would find that in Deussen’s books and translations his lack of a deep knowledge of the subject is clearly noticeable, especially with regard to the Upanishads, in which the occult side has so much importance, as is shown by their very name, according to the etymology generally accepted and supported by Deussen himself.
In addition to Deussen, in the last thirty years there have been scholars of Indian civilization who have been especially active in the vast Buddhist literature. Here more than ever I shall have to limit myself to naming just a few of the main ones: in Germany Oldenberg, author of a beautiful book on the Buddha, many essays and good translations, and Neumann who has done and is doing translations of important Buddhist texts; in America Whitney, known for his work on the Vedas and especially for his mighty posthumous translation of the Atharva Veda, and the brilliant popularizer Paul Carus; in France Bergaigne and Regnaud. In Italy very few have dealt with Indian studies, but these deserve special mention: Puini, who was the first to deal in depth with Buddhism in Italy, studying, however, more Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism than Indian Buddhism; Pavolini, author of an excellent handbook on Buddhism, dense with precise information and observations; Kerbaker, Mariano and finally Costaand De Lorenzo,  both authors of books on Buddhism, rich in merits but not free from some flaws, which it would now be too long to examine in detail.
Before closing this quick orientation roundup on the history of Indian studies, I want to mention that interesting information and suggestive observations can also be found in the books of numerous modern travelers. Among the many I will mention only in passing Fano and Mantegazza for Italy, and for other countries Edward Carpenter, Rudyard Kipling and André Chevrillon.
And now I turn to talk about what interests me most; namely, to search in the latest trends of Western culture for signs of the rise of new intellectual and spiritual needs, and to show how and to what extent they can be satisfied by ancient Indian culture.
The most important and obvious change that has taken place during the last few years in European and American culture was a widespread and powerful awakening of idealistic tendencies. In a few years the new intellectual generation, and the more intelligent part of the earlier ones, have rapidly abandoned the narrow and superficial materialistic outlook — with all its attendant sterile negations and contemptuous disregard for more noble and transcendent aspects — for the more fruitful activities of human nature.
The recent idealistic movement, however, while great in scope and intensity, has often taken very questionable forms in Europe, and has so far yielded intellectual and spiritual products that are too petty and fragmentary to fulfill the great dreams and ardent aspirations it has aroused in so many youthful souls. Even the best attempts have been isolated and disorganized, and have proceeded almost tentatively, being full of noble intentions, but finding no sure way to implement them decisively and vigorously.
The cause of all this seems to me to consist in the fact that a whole civilization finds it very difficult to accomplish such a radically different orientation by its own forces alone. It needs a previous kindred culture that almost directs and channels it, harmoniously coordinating all the disordered energies and tendencies aroused by it. Clear evidence of this we find first of all in the general phenomenon of frantic search for predecessors and antecedents, which is always made for every new direction in science, art and philosophy (the need is so urgent that when one cannot find precursors, one is forced to invent them!). And [this occurred successfully] especially in the history of the very important classical humanistic movement, in which the Latin and Greek civilizations were truly revived enthusiastically by an entire generation that had found in them the fulfillment of its new aspirations.
Is it possible for this to be repeated now? Do the classical civilizations contain those elements of life that our present culture so badly needs? To answer this question, we need to examine a little more closely what are the main new contemporary needs created by the idealistic renaissance. We first find that the need for a new metaphysical “approach” to the great philosophical problems — and especially that of life [itself] — to be very much alive.
Having recognized the utter insufficiency and poverty of the mechanistic explanation of the universe, we seek a new, broader, more complex and more philosophical conception, which does not claim to give the explanation of all the highest problems by means of rationalistic speculation alone, but instead shows us its inevitable limitations. This is not only so that we will no longer futilely persist in trying to reach an end by means that are by their very nature inadequate; but also to help our own rationalistic speculation give all that it is capable of, having finally persuaded ourselves that the first step in unraveling a mystery is to humbly acknowledge that it exists.
We do not merely ask this new metaphysical “approach” to the highest problems for a series of blunt solutions that will set the universe right so that we no longer think about it — admittedly very convenient, but unfortunately equally impossible. Rather, we can ask of it another very important thing, that is very difficult, but still possible to achieve: namely, that it give us the elements and the occasion for the great work of unifying our individualities.
For too long and to his detriment, two personalities have dwelt in every Western man. This is the tragic contrast between thought and feeling, between reason and faith, between conviction and adoration. It has existed, and too often his uncertain and contradictory actions have been but a reflection of the ups and downs of the barren struggle between his two personalities.
Enough of this! In order to carry out the great purposes that kindle us, we absolutely and primarily need a harmonious personality, in which all energies cooperate by complementing each other reciprocally, and do not disturb each other by opposing each other. But we also want this personality to be complete. In fact, the harmony achieved through the renunciation of an important and vital part of ourselves might perhaps be preferable to conflict, but now we neither know nor want to achieve this. Instead, we firmly believe that there is a way to coordinate the discordant elements of our selves into a beautiful and fruitful higher synthesis, and it is this synthesis that we now all consciously or unconsciously seek, and that we must try to bring about in ourselves and in others with all our strength.
But once we have achieved inner unity, even if only in a small way, to what ends shall we strive, with our increased and harmonized energies? Here another major current trend clearly emerges: an intense need for inner life.
Once we have allowed the enthusiasm for the great external, material and mechanical advances of which the last century was so proud to fade, and recognized them to be powerless to fulfill our innermost essential aspirations, we can now turn full of faith and ardor toward our inner personality. From the first glimpse into ourselves, we realize with great wonder that we possess strengths, capacities and possibilities — latent but ready to be developed — of which we were ignorant. And the more we insist on studying ourselves, the more we realize how vast, important and fruitful is this new field that is open to our activity — indeed how this is the only thing that really vitally interests us. But it is especially here that we need a sure and wise mentor to direct and guide us. This is because, due to the long voluntary exile of our civilization in the outer world, we have lost the intimate and lived knowledge of ourselves (not the “descriptive” knowledge given to us by scientific psychology), and now, as strangers, we grope miserably in the mysterious labyrinth of our self (“I”).
A third intense need today, intimately connected with the two already stated, is that of radical moral renewal.
In the moral realm, more than in any other, we can clearly see the great disorganization at present, the disordered interweaving and clashing of disparate elements, the general lack of a clear-cut position and firm and secure convictions to inform our moral judgments and actions. But it is only natural that this should be the case, for one cannot have firm moral convictions until one has found a satisfying metaphysical or religious resolution to the highest problems, even if it is a a negative one, and until the inner disagreement between reason and feeling has been settled.
Having thus taken a quick glance at the main emerging contemporary needs, let us see whether the Latin and Greek civilizations contain those elements of culture which would satisfy these needs if injected into our present life. In other words, whether a new classical humanism is possible.
On the philosophical side certainly we have a great deal to learn from the Greeks, and a deep knowledge of the philosophy of Plato and Parmenides could help us to find a validly solid and elevated metaphysical position; but in their other aspects it rather seems to me that the classical civilizations cannot answer our call. For the classical civilizations were, like ours, essentially externally oriented. The Latin, which is most like ours, aimed at the greatest practical activity and material dominion and possession; the Greek (caring more for the aesthetic than the mechanical side) aimed at the most perfect artistic expression of formal beauty. There was indeed an important current of inner life in Greece, as what little we know of the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries clearly shows us; but too few documents have come down to us of that inner activity of the Greeks, which was practiced in secrecy, for it to form the basis of such a modern direction. We ardently embrace the stern admonition carved on the door of the temple at Delphi: “Know thyself.” But the admonition alone is not enough: We do not know how to follow it by our own strength alone; we need wise guidance.
Not even on the moral side does it seem to me that classical civilizations can offer us the elements of profound renewal. Neither the rigid-as-iron social morality of Sparta and Republican Rome, that ignored the individual, nor the bland later Epicureanism, nor the passive and purely negative Stoicism, can be proposed as ideals to our civilization, it seems to me.
Now, before moving on to discuss Indian culture, I should mention the function of Christianity in modern life. But this is too vast and complex an issue to be dealt with in a few pages, especially by those who, like me, believe that Christianity can give valuable religious, psychological and moral teachings to all of us, especially through the works of its great mystics. I therefore leave aside the serious question as to what extent Christianity can and will satisfy modern souls, merely pointing out here two points that seem important to me:
- For those who have found their complete inward satisfaction in Christianity, the study of ancient Eastern civilizations, while not of vital importance, may nevertheless prove very useful both as an enrichment of historical and philosophical culture and as an excellent remedy against the intolerance and narrowness of thought to which those of intense faith are so often drawn.
- For a great many contemporaries, on the other hand, who for various and complex intellectual, historical and psychological reasons — which may not now be examined — have not been able to find in Christianity the fulfillment of all their highest aspirations, but who, as I have mentioned, are searching anxiously for another spiritual foothold, the study of Indian culture will certainly be of the greatest help.
Let us see, then, at last — at least in broad strokes — how ancient India can validly and amply respond to our insistent and excited appeal.
I could not begin this examination better than by quoting the profound — and elegantly ironic for our civilization — words that Deussen wrote in his introduction to the study of Indian philosophy:
We would perhaps be considered naïve if we wanted to pretend that our age “of such great progress” in every field still has something to learn from the Indians. Yet a more widespread knowledge of the Indian conception of the world will at least have one advantage; namely, that of making us aware that with all our religious and philosophical heritage we are colossally one-sided, and that there may be an entirely different way of conceiving things from that which Hegel constructed as the only possible and rational one.
In addition to this most useful admonition, and grand “broadening of philosophical perspective” of a general nature, let us now examine more closely what Indian culture offers us to fulfill the three main contemporary needs of which I have spoken.
For the first one — that is, for a new metaphysical “approach” to the highest problems, which would serve to settle the inner disagreement that tears us apart — it can be safely said that a large part of the best ancient Indian writings is admirably useful, for the simple categorical reason that they are the product of a civilization in which this inner conflict did not exist.
Indeed, the most salient feature of Indian civilization is precisely the harmonious fusion — often even the identity — of religion and philosophy. When these did not constitute one, they were at best no more than two sides, two aspects of the same truth. As Rudolf Kassner puts it very well:
It seems . . . that in India the soul actually thinks . . . The Indian thinks because he loves. Thought is not a detour, but the straight path of his nature. The Indian does not think about this or that, the Indian thinks about the virtue and flavor of all things, he thinks within the medium of nature, and in a mode of presence, and he is not always in front or behind things with his thoughts. 
In a truly magnificent spectacle, the unfolding of Indian thought occurred over several centuries without the disruption of either the overall metaphysical and religious harmony of the population or the psychological and inner harmony of individuals. There is no need to demonstrate further how much the assimilation of the works of such a people can help us to regain that harmony of which we so keenly feel the lack.
We must, however, especially in the beginning, know how to choose appropriate works, because not all the writings left to us by the Indians are definitely suitable for our purpose. In the period of decadence that preceded the coming of the Buddha, for example, there was no lack of the most illogical departures in philosophy, and the Indian Cãrvãka materialists, says Deussen, “surpassed, if that is possible, their Western brethren in frivolity and cynicism.”
Nor can all the writings of the finest ages of Indian thought serve the humanistic purpose for which we seek them. For example, two of the six great orthodox philosophical systems that form the magnificent flowering of thought that has blossomed out of Vedic literature, namely the Nyãya and the Vaicesika, while by no means contradicting our purpose, cannot serve us. They deal only with logic and the scientific classification of things, and although the comparison of them with the corresponding European sciences can form the subject of a specific interesting work, we now prefer to turn to the search for “vital nourishment.” And how much of it we find in countless other Indian writings! The Upanishads, the Vedanta system, and the speculative part of the Yoga system are especially important for the sublime idealistic “approach” to the highest metaphysical and religious problems.
This part which I have now briefly mentioned is very well treated by Houston Stewart Chamberlain in his book Arische Weltanschauung. It is unfortunate that this little book, the first in which the humanistic importance of Indian thought for contemporary civilization is recognized, is marred by serious flaws. For not only does Chamberlain fail to deal with the two vital sides of Indian culture whose importance I shall shortly show, but he condemns the whole grandiose Buddhist movement en bloc as a decadence. That movement was a vital reaction to the decadence of Brahmanism, which had degenerated into a complicated and arid ceremonial, the deep symbolic meaning of which was neglected or forgotten. Chamberlain rests his strange judgment of Buddhism entirely on superficial and highly questionable racial reasons, to which he attaches an evidently exaggerated importance, and which have also tainted his other philosophical books, which like this one of which I speak are otherwise full of new and ingenious ideas.
The second need which I have observed to be felt in contemporary Western civilization — that of having a guide through the unknown labyrinth of our self in order to trace the treasures hidden in it and to develop the forces and faculties latent in it — is fully met by many of the inexhaustible Upanishads and by the Yoga system, one of the great philosophical systems already mentioned. I note at once that the Yoga system has nothing at all to do with the present-day fakirs who torture their bodies in various manners, some of whom improperly call themselves yogis; if connection is to be found between them, it is only at most the lowest and most material degeneration of loftiest spiritual principles.
Reading the marvelous Bhagavad Gita, the profound aphorisms of Patanjali, and so many other works shows us how far the introspective psychology of the Indians had reached such a point of complexity and depth that it far surpassed contemporary Western psychology, especially with regard to the higher states of consciousness.
Indeed, I do not hesitate to make the easy prophecy that in not too many years’ time the progress of introspective psychology in Europe will necessitate the adoption of many technical Indian terms to designate states of consciousness for which all European languages lack equivalents. We shall thus speak of Pratyãhãra, Dhãrana, Dhyãna, Samãdhi, etc. just as in the moral and philosophical fields the equally untranslatable terms of Karma and Nirvana are already in current use, and in the grammatical field those of Guna and Vrddhi.
But what is even more important and valuable to us is that the Yoga system not only brings us very useful new knowledge about the complex and vast structure of our inner self, but that it guides us by precise practical rules for the development and direction of those forces it shows to exist within us. It is not a purely speculative or descriptive system, but also contains a harmonious set of particular teachings, applicable by anyone with the necessary will power and perseverance.
Most important for us is especially Raja-Yoga, which teaches the mastery and development of all our internal faculties by purely psychological means, and in which we find clearly expressed and admirably fused and coordinated certain psychological doctrines known in Europe only in recent years, such as James’s “will to believe” and “mind stream,” suggestion, unconscious activity, etc.
The ultimate end which the methods that make up the Yoga system seek to lead us is the annihilation of our small, petty and narrow separate individual consciousness, and the glorious identification with universal consciousness. But if we are still too attached to the earth and to our own personality to appreciate and make this sublime ideal our own, if the mere thought of that lofty height gives us vertigo, we may, by stopping much earlier, concern ourselves only with the methods leading to the mastery of ourselves, the development of the will, the control of the passions, emotions, thoughts and unconscious activity. All of these are of the utmost importance to anyone and alone constitute a vast field of study and activity.
We come finally to look at what India can give us to fulfill the last contemporary need we have considered: that of moral renewal. This last need is felt in a very different way from the previous two. The first two are felt only by the more intelligent and more educated part of the contemporaries, by those who are purposely concerned with philosophical and spiritual matters. Moral renewal is, on the other hand, at least as necessary even to the great mass of our generation, to all those who are absorbed in material activity and have never concerned themselves with metaphysical problems, and to all those who believe that they can attain happiness in wealth or domination, and who consume their energies in the dogged pursuit of them.
What is needed, therefore, is a set of moral doctrines, which can establish themselves by their own merit, for which a previous metaphysical treatment of the highest philosophical problems does not need to be given; but which on the other hand are not at variance with either reason or feeling, and on the contrary are in harmony with the idealistic “approach” to metaphysical problems of which I have spoken.
Well, in India there is a doctrine that can bring together both of these difficult conditions: it is Buddhism.
Indeed, Buddhism puts metaphysical questions in second place, and even goes so far as to blatantly disregard them. But anyone who wishes to bring together and coordinate the various speculative elements that are nevertheless to be found in Buddhism, will find that they coincide completely with the philosophy of the Upanishads, except in the use of the ultimate term of individual evolution that must constitute our supreme aspiration, which for the one is Nirvana and for the others is Atman. But is there then any real difference between them? I very much doubt it. In any case, this is not the time to discuss that question.
The very useful function that a revival of Buddhism can have at present consists mainly in its negative side. Our civilization is still hurriedly running in pursuit of material advantages, still dazzled by the mirage of omnipotent gold; and urgently needs the calm, incisive, and powerful word of the Buddha to show the tragic inanity of its fever for possessions, which bring nothing but pain and vanish after a short time, according to their nature as vain and deceptive appearances. Thus Buddhism will be able to bridge the rapidly widening gulf between the more advanced number of our contemporaries, who are turning more decisively every day toward the inner life, and the vast majority of others who continue to give themselves over to the most unrestrained and ruthless self-serving careerism.
Just as when it arose in India, Buddhism now has a predominantly social function. It tends not to train a small cohort of the elect, but to fundamentally renew the consciousness of civilization by replacing what is the “root of sorrow” — namely the unbridled selfish greed for possessions — with inner serenity and infinite compassion for it recognizes as universal sorrow.
Signs of the beginning of this Buddhist revival are apparent first of all by the very rich literature of which I have already briefly spoken. Then also there are some personal examples, still isolated but nevertheless extremely significant, such as that of the German Robert L’Orange, and that of the Englishman Allan Bennett, a scientist who became an ardent Buddhist, took religious orders in Burma under the name Ananda Metteyya (meaning the happy Pious One), and now devotes all his wits and activity to Buddhist propaganda through the Buddhasasana Samagama (International Buddhist Society), which publishes philosophical works and the journal Buddhism.
It must be noted, however, that nothing is more contrary to the spirit of Buddhism than to deal with it — as has been done by some — with the elegant and superficial dilettantism with which some cultural snobs squander everything they touch (beginning with dilettantism itself, which could be a much higher and more sympathetic philosophical attitude than the petty selfish hedonism to which they have reduced it).
With this brief examination of the respective current positions of the two great civilizations — contemporary European and ancient Indian — I hope to have shown persuasively how possible, and how fruitful, important and magnificent would be an Aryan humanism, which is not sterile imitation of old models, but rather an intimate fusion of the highest products, the purest and most essential life juices of two glorious millennial civilizations.
 Now, however, that we have sufficient culture to understand them, I believe that we can find in the reports of ancient travelers — among whom there are many Italians — some very interesting news, tales, and judgments for the psychological understanding of Eastern peoples. We have a fine example of this, which deserves to be widely imitated, in the important report of Fr. Ippolito Desideri’s Journey to Tibet, published with a learned introduction and notes by Prof. Puini (Rome, 1904, at the Geographical Society). —Author’s Note.
 Prince Dara Shikoh (1615-1659), grandson of the famous Mughal Emperor Akbar, was groomed to become Mughal ruler of India but was defeated and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb Alamgir. Darah Shikoh was said to have personally made translations of the Upanishads and the Ramayana into Persian. —Tr.
 Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron (1731-1805) was the first professional French Indologist. He conceived the institutional framework for the new profession. He inspired the founding of the École française d’Extrême-Orient a century after his death.—Tr.
 Sir William Jones (1746-1794), British philologist, orientalist, judge, and scholar of ancient India.—Tr.
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, and critic.—Tr.
 “Do you want the blossom of the early year, the fruits of the later year, Do you want what excites and delights, Do you want what satiates and nourishes, Do you want to comprehend heaven, earth with a name, Name me, Sakontala, you, and so all is said.” Quoted by the author in German.
 Abhijnanashakuntalam, also known as Shakuntala, The Recognition of Shakuntala, The Sign of Shakuntala, and many other variants, is a Sanskrit play by the ancient Indian poet Kālidāsa, dramatizing the story of Śakuntalā told in the epic Mahābhārata and regarded as best of Kālidāsa’s works. Its exact date is uncertain, but Kālidāsa is often placed in the 4th century CE. —Tr.
 Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), German philosopher, theologian, poet, and critic. —Tr.
 Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829), German poet, critic, philosopher, philologist, and Indologist.—Tr.
 [About the Language and Wisdom of the Indians] was the first attempt at comparative Indo-Germanic linguistics.—Tr.
 (1765-1837), English orientalist and mathematician, called by some “the first great Sanskrit scholar in Europe.”—Tr.
 A Dictionary, Sanscrit and English [sic] by Horace Hayman Wilson, Calcutta, 1819.—Tr.
 [On the conjugation system of the Sanskrit language in comparison with that of the Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic languages], sought to trace the common origin of Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and German.—Tr.
 (1800-1876), Norwegian orientalist and Indologist.—Tr.
 [Indian Antiquities], 1867.—Tr.
 James Prinsep (1799-1840), English scholar, orientalist and antiquary, deciphered the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts of ancient India. —Tr.
 Brian Houghton Hodgson (1800-1894), naturalist and ethnologist working in India and Nepal. —Tr.
 Eugène Burnouf (1801-1852). French scholar, Indologist, and orientalist. —Tr.
 (1788-1860), German philosopher. —Tr.
 German translation of Greek for Appendices and Omissions: a collection of philosophical reflections published in 1851. —Tr.
 “It is the most rewarding and elevating reading possible in the world (the Urtext excepted): it has been the consolation of my life and will be that of my death.” – Parerga und Paralipomena B. II 1, p. 418 (ed. Reclam) —Author’s Note, quoted in German.
 On the relations between Schopenhauer and India see Dr. Max F. Hecker’s book Schopenhauer und die Indische Philosophie Köln, 1897, Hübscher und Teufel. —Author’s Note.
 Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900), German-born British philologist and orientalist.—Tr.
 Sayana, a.k.a. Sayanacarya (d.1387), Sanskrit scholar from South India, author of over a hundred works. His commentary on the Rig Veda was translated into English by Max Müller. —Tr.
 A Sanskrit-German dictionary by Rudolf von Roth (1821-1895) and Otto von Böhtlingk (1815-1904), in seven volumes, was published 1853-1895. Friedrich Albrecht Weber (1825-1901) was a close friend of Müller who studied Buddhism and Jainism. —Tr.
 I am unable to trace the origin or significance of the “solar explanation” referred to here. —Tr.
 Paul Jakob Deussen (1845-1919), German Indologist and professor of philosophy at University of Kiel.—Tr.
 Das System des Vedanta 1881; Die Sutras des Vedanta 1867; Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie; I. Die Philosophie des Veda bis auf die Upanishad’s 1894; II. Die Philosophie der Upanishad’s 1899. —Author’s Note.
 Vier philosophische Texte aus dem Mahabharata übersetzt von P. Deussen und Strauss, 1907. —Author’s Note.
 [General History of Philosophy] published 1894-1917.—Tr.
 Sechzig Upanishad’s des Veda, aus dem Sanskrit übersetzt u.s.w. 1897. —Author’s Note.
 According to the Oxford online dictionary, The Sanskrit term Upaniṣad (from upa “by” and ni-ṣad “sit down”) translates to “sitting down near,” referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving spiritual knowledge. (Gurumukh) Other dictionary meanings include “esoteric doctrine” and “secret doctrine.”—Tr.
 Hermann Oldenberg (1854-1920), German Indologist and Professor at Kiel and Göttingen.—Tr.
 Hermann Oldenberg, Buddha, Cotta’sche Buchandlung, Berlin, 1903. Inoltre: Die Religion des Veda – Aus Indien und Iran, ecc. La traduzione di parte del Vinaya-pitaka fu pubblicata nella collezione Sacred books of the East. Voll. XIII, XVII e XX. —Author’s Note.
 Karl Eugen Neumann (1865-1915), Austro-Hungarian translator of large parts of the Pali canon of Buddhist scriptures into German.—Tr.
 The translation of of the Majjhimanikaya is already finished (in 3 volumes, Leipzig, 1896-1902), and that of the Digha Nikaya is being published. Of part of the former De Lorenzo has recently given us the Italian translation (Bari, Laterza, 1907). —Author’s Note.
 William Dwight Whitney (1827-1894), American linguist and Sanskrit scholar.—Tr.
 In the Harvard Oriental Series collection, 1905.
 Paul Carus (1852-1919), German-American philosopher, author of The Gospel of Buddha and other works. —Tr. Author’s Note was: The Gospel of Buddha – Karma, etc.
 Abel Henri Joseph Bergaigne (1828-1888), French Indologist and Sanskrit scholar.—Tr. Author’s Note was: La religion védique, 3 vol. Paris, 1878-1883, etc.
 Paul Regnaud (1828-1910), French linguist and Indologist.—Tr.
 Carlo Puini (1839-1924), Italian Sinologist and Buddhist scholar.—Tr.
 Alessandro Pavolini (1864-1942), Italian Indologist, professor in Florence.—Tr.
 Buddhismo, Milano, 1898, Manuale Hoepli. —Author’s Note.
 Michele Kerbaker (1836-1914) Italian Indologist and professor in Naples, translator and author.—Tr. Author’s Note was: Author of elegant versions from Vedic hymns and the Mahabharata.
 Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, Italian priest, teacher and Indologist, author of a Sanskrit grammar in Latin.—Tr.
 Allessandro Costa, Italian Buddhist scholar.—Tr.
 Guiseppe De Lorenzo (1871-1957). Italian scientist, professor, scholar of Buddhism, author and translator.—Tr.
 Alessandro Costa, Il Buddha e la sua dottrina, Torino, Bocca. – Giuseppe De Lorenzo, India e Buddhismo antico”, Bari, Laterza, 1904. —Author’s Note.
 Giulio Fano (1885-1963), author of Un Fisiologo Intorno Al Mondo: Impressioni De Viaggio (1899).—Tr.
 Paolo Mantegazza (1831-1910), Italian doctor and author, investigated the effects of coca leaves on the psyche.—Tr.
 Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), English poet, philosopher, author of Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure and From Adam’s Peak to Elephanta: Sketches in Ceylon and India. —Tr.
 Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), English poet, novelist and journalist who was born in India, wrote of his travels across the world.—Tr.
 André Chevrillon (1864-1957), French professor of English, essayist and travel writer. —Tr.
 This critique of current idealistic movements will form the subject of a forthcoming article by Giovanni Papini. I therefore do not pursue this further. —Author’s Note.
 Assagioli uses this word in its dictionary definition of “the contemplation or consideration of some subject” (www.dictionary.com). —Tr.
 Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, I-i, Seite 36. —Author’s Note.
 Der indische Idealismus, F. Bruckmann, München, 1903, S. 21. —Author’s Note. [translated from Assagioli’s Italian version, not from the original —Tr.]
 Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie, I-i, Seite 13. Author’s Note.
 Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927) British-born naturalized German philosopher and author. His later writings promoted German ethnonationalism, antisemitism, and scientific racism. —Tr.
 Berlin, 1905 (1st volume of the collection Die Kultur – Bard, Marquard & Co.) —Author’s Note.
 Robert L’Orange (1877-?) was a German student of Buddhism. Few references to him have been found, one such indicating that in 1900 he retreated to the Arabian desert and never returned. —Tr.
 Charles Henry Allan Bennett, a.k.a. Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya, (1872-1923) was an English Buddhist, ordained as a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition, instrumental in introducing Buddhism to England. —Tr.
[i] The use of the word “Aryan” (Ariano in Italian) refers to a grouping of proto-indo-european people supposed to be the original speakers of the language that is at the basis of modern “indo-european” languages. This word was taken up and used with changed meaning by various racist and antisemitic writers during the 19th century who influenced later German Nazi ideology. However, the original term, as used here, referred only to Indo-Iranians and the authors of the oldest known texts of the Rig Vedas and Avesta, and was used exclusively by Indo-Iranian tribes to refer to themselves. Assagioli uses this term to suggest “of ancient Indian origin,” as is made clear by the last paragraph of this article. —Tr.
[ii] From a lecture given on January 20, 1907 at the Philosophical Library in Florence.
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