A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
Tibet cannot resist successfully the oncoming of the white
faces, be it for good or for ill. Already its heads have been reluctantly
forced to drop a little of their conservatism, and to admit a few of the
white man's inventions. Even now the Government are putting up a
broadcasting station chiefly for the purpose of enabling it to issue
orders more quickly to the governors of certain provincial towns.
Electric lights glimmer in the palace of Potala. And a telegraph
line has linked the capital with Darjeeling in India. When the
Tibetan officer interceded on behalf of my Mount Kailas expedition
with the authorities at Lhasa I did not have to kick my heels in
New Delhi for three weeks while a yak-rider crossed the high passes
and a horseman traversed the plateau of Southern Tibet to and fro
with the messages. No, thanks to the Lhasa telegraph line to Dar-
jeeling I was able to get the final decision through my friend within
a few days.
It is in the line of evolution today that East and West must
meet, if not marry. Although I am somewhat sympathetic to the
desires to be left alone of Oriental peoples who, in the past, were
naturally suspicious of the white man's imperialism, the calendar
has moved and those desires are now antiquated. The whole world
is being welded by transport, communications, trade and culture.
I am not of those who foolishly assert that the Western peoples bring
nothing but materialism with them to the East, nothing good. On
the contrary, they bring both good and bad. And they find both
good and bad.
Holiness is not the sole prerogative of the Orient. The latter, I
confidently claim, needs a spiritual revival no less than the Occident.
Both hemispheres are spiritually in a bad way.
And as we are living in a material world, because we possess
material bodies, it is right and sensible to make the most of this
world, to use all the conveniences, comforts and inventions which
the brain of man can devise. Therefore the meeting of the progressive
West and the conservative East must awaken the latter to exploit
and develop the resources of Nature more fully. Such a result will
not hurt it, only benefit it.
The West, too, benefits. The first and obvious benefit is purely
material. The second, and slower, is purely cultural.
But let these meetings of different peoples come about through
friendly intercourse. The methods of mediaeval Spain in opening up
Central America and raping her gold will not be admired by the
world today. East and West should meet in good fellowship. Let
their ideas be exchanged and material improvements brought
about by means of mutual co-operation, not by means of the bullet
and the bomb!