The Sunlit Path|Jul 2, 2006 1:42 PM| by:

Commercialism and Vulgarity

All around, in every aspect of life, we find a growing commercialism and vulgarity, a lack of higher values and ideals, a tendency to cater to the lower and baser instincts and desires. And because of this, that which is really beautiful is becoming rarer and finds no opportunity to express itself.

Once a child asked the Mother about the large number of books and journals, containing vulgar stuff,
which were circulating all around and what should be our attitude towards them.

Question : All that we read in literature-stories, novels, etc.-very often contains stuff which lowers our consciousness. Why is this so? It is also not altogether possible to leave out the matter and
read only from the point of view of the literary value. What can be done?

Here is the Mother, explaining to the children and describing the present situation in the world.

You see, there is no excuse for reading any odd novels except when they are remarkably written and you want to learn the language-if they are written either in your own language or in another one and you want to study this language, then you may read anything at all provided that it is well written. It’s not what is said that’s interesting, it’s the way of saying it. And so the way to read it is exactly to be concerned only with the way it has been said, and not with what is said, which is uninteresting. Only, for instance, in a book, there are always descriptions; well, you see how these descriptions are made and how the author has chosen the words to express things. And for ideas it is the same thing: how he has made his characters speak; you take no interest in what they say but in how they say it. If you take certain books like study books, to learn just how to write sentences well and express things as you should, because these books are very well written, what the story is has not much importance.

Books that Lower the Consciousness

But if you start reading books for what they narrate, then in that case you must be much stricter and not take things which darken your consciousness, because that’s a waste of time; it’s worse than a waste of time. So, things like vulgar stories which are written in a vulgar way, about these, you see, there’s no longer any question. These things you should never touch. And yet this is the currency which circulates everywhere, above all in our times, it seems, because men have invented methods for cheap printing, for making cheap illustrations. So they flood the country and all other countries with worthless literature, which is badly written, ill-conceived, and which expresses vulgar things and coarsens you with vulgar ideas and completely spoils your taste through vulgar pictures.

All this happens because from the point of view of production they succeed in making things very cheap, what are called popular editions “accessible to all”. But as the aim of these people is not at all either to educate or to help men to progress, far from that-they hope on the contrary that people don’t progress, because if they did they would no longer buy their wares-so their intention is to make money at the expense of those who read their literature, and so the more it sells, the better it is. It may be frightful, but it’s very good if it sells well. It’s the same thing with art, the same thing with music, the same thing with drama.

The latest scientific discoveries, applied to life, have put within the reach of everyone all kinds of things which formerly were reserved only for the intellectual and artistic ´elite; and to justify their effort and profit by their work, they have made things which can sell most, that is, the lowest, most ordinary, most vulgar things, the easiest to understand because they require no effort and no education. And the whole world is drowned under these things, to such an extent that when there’s someone who has written a good book or a fine play, there is no longer any place for him anywhere, because the whole place has been taken up by these things.

    The Commercial Mentality

Naturally there are sensible people who try to react; but it is very difficult. First of all the commercial mentality should be driven out from the world. This will take some time. There are a few signs that it is perhaps less respected than before. There was a time when, you see, one was considered a criminal if he didn’t know how to do business, and he who had the audacity to spend his capital, even for very good things, was fit to be sent to a madhouse. It is a little better now, but still we are quite far from the real situation; there is yet the golden calf, there, reigning over the world; before it is pulled down some time will yet go by, I am afraid. This has so perverted men’s mind, that it is for them the criterion.

You see, in America when someone is spoken about, it is said: “He, oh, he is worth a million dollars!” This indeed is the greatest compliment one can pay. And it is this: someone asks, “Do you know this person? What is he worth?” -“He is worth a hundred thousand dollars”, “He is worth five hundred dollars.” So this means that he has a position which brings him this. “Is he intelligent, is he stupid? Is he…” This is not at all important. “Is he a good man or a bad one?” That makes no difference at all! “Is he a rich man or a poor one?” If he is rich, ah, ah! “I would like to know him very much! If he is poor, I have nothing to do with him.” There! Naturally America is a young country, so its ways are those of a child, but of a fairly ill-bred child. But the older countries have become too old and can no longer react, they shake their heads and wonder if after all this youth is not right. Everything is like that. The world is very ill.
The Mother