C O O P E R A T I V E S A N D C O O P E R A T I O N
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, March 31, 2009
1. Peace is the crown of cooperation. We know many equivalent concepts—cooperation, collaboration, community, cooperative—these are most hearty, unifying fundamentals, like beacons in the darkness. People must not become afraid at the thought of a good fortune of their near ones, but must rejoice, because the happiness of a near one is our own happiness. The Great Helpers of humanity do not abandon the Earth so long as sufferings go unhealed. Wholehearted fellowship can easily heal the wounds of a friend—but it is necessary to develop the art of thinking in the name of Good. And this is not easy amid the day's hustle and bustle. But the examples of the Great Helpers of humanity can encourage and infuse new forces.
2. Every unification can take place only on a cooperative basis. To admit but an element of conquest, suppression and humiliation, means that sooner or later these horrible shadows will turn into destructive monsters. Therefore no act of violence can enter into the construction of the Stronghold. One may find the power of joy in cooperation, but such cooperation requires the art of thinking. Who will distribute the forces for productive labor? Only he who is able to visualize a useful cooperation. He must know how to imagine such labor in common, but, as you know, imagination must be cultivated. The task of every school is the opening of a well-founded imagination.
Fiery World II, 63
3. Many warnings were given against selfhood…. Do not consider a reminder about egoism out of place during the establishment of cooperatives. On the contrary, each statute must be written not for oneself but for others. Among various appellations the word "friend" will be a most hearty one. Indeed, the heart does not admit egoism. The heart lives in self-abnegation. Thus, strong is the heart when it is concerned about the future, not thinking about self.
4. We urge you, even if for only an hour, to be consciously responsible people.… Surely for one hour one can dismiss personal ventures. If this be difficult, how then can you think about progress and growth of consciousness? An ox knows about chewing its cud but does not advance farther than digestion. Make an effort to give your discourses beauty, simplicity and purity.
The most unusual problems of knowledge, the most audacious forms of beauty, should force you out of your musty corner. Understand, I wish to see you, at least for a while, particular and able to absorb. These seeds of cooperative thinking will give you the perseverance for attainments. Not only resolve but also persistence is needed. Understand concentration as a test of consciousness. Let Me see you proceeding aspiringly and consciously. I am speaking for immediate fulfillment.
5. A cooperative is not a closed community. Cooperation based on the law of nature contains within itself the element of infinity. The exchange of work and mutual assistance must not impose conventional limitations. On the contrary, the cooperative opens the doors to all possibilities. Besides, cooperatives are interconnected, and thus a working network will cover the whole world.
No one can predetermine what forms of cooperation may be developed. Institutions founded by cooperatives may be highly diverse and cover the problems of education, industry, and of rural economy. It is impossible to imagine a single field which could not be vastly improved by the cooperative. One should not prohibit people from gathering together for cooperation in completely new combinations. The cooperative is a bulwark of the state and a nursery for public life. Whence will come public opinion? Whence will be formed the longed-for progress? Whence will solitary workers receive help? Surely, cooperation will also teach unity.
6. Communities dedicated to scientific research are excellent, they facilitate the work of the scientists who are occupied with a common problem. Excellent are the sanatoriums and experimental laboratories that unite various specialists for the work of the Common Good. I can well imagine whole educational settlements and cities of knowledge, and also cooperatives dealing with all spheres of life; however, knowing human nature, I can hardly visualize a successful narrow closed community of entirely different people. In a narrow, closed community, given the present average state of consciousness, the tendency to leveling would be unavoidable, and such leveling inevitably transforms talent into mediocrity, causing a loss of culture and lowering of the level of civilization, that is, to primitiveness, and, alas, to the next stage -- coarseness.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 14 August 1936
7. Life will grow stronger not through mechanics but through the ideas of communal life. A man who joins a settlement cannot be an enemy of all his neighbors. Good relationships must be established, and only cooperation will lead to effective good. It is necessary to adopt a rational exchange—thus we arrive at that which is called the cooperative. But cooperation will not be durable if in its basis lie concealment and cupidity. Confidence is indispensable. Partnership based on trust was the first form of the cooperative. Indeed, everything must be perfected. Thus, since that time science has yielded so many new achievements that communal life can become not only a matter of business but also one of the heart. The Living Ethics enters as a consolidating principle.
8. Therefore, community and cooperation should be understood broadly and practically. Precisely, the new scientific discoveries and life itself will prompt new forms of collaboration. The international postal system and means of communication have already shown what mutual benefit and excellent cooperation can be achieved between different countries. And so, I believe in the broadest development of cooperatives in the most diverse combinations. Cooperatives organized broadly will prove what kind of national benefit can come from such collaboration. As there is now evidence of an awakened desire in many people to establish working communities, a desire which is undoubtedly in response to the trend of evolution.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 14 August 1936
9. The cooperative is not a shop but a cultural institution. There may be also trade within it, but its basis must be one of enlightenment. Only along such lines is it possible to apply cooperation to the new life. Such unity is not easy; people have been accustomed to combining commerce with cupidity. Such an error is difficult to eradicate. But undeferrably, by way of school education, should the significance of healthy exchanges be brought out. Earning money is not greediness. To receive wages for work is not a crime. One can see that labor is the one just value.
10. The epoch of individual trading has passed Petty plunderers shall cease to exist. It is better to think about the welfare of the people.
I do not like to talk about reward for labor, but the remuneration will not be delayed. I speak of the joy of labor. The cooperative system is the sole salvation.
11. Each domain of life has become so complicated that cooperation everywhere is required. Not a single branch of labor can be named in which a man can regard himself as an isolated unit. Therefore cooperation becomes, as it were, the science of life. But in order to give it a scientific basis it is necessary to recognize it throughout life. It is impossible to summon people to it as to something abstract. In each school subject the inherent possibility of cooperation should be pointed out precisely.
Each legislation should allot a large place to the cooperative principle. Let each outgrowth of it be protected by sound laws. Life is multiform, and cooperation cannot be conditioned by a single interpretation….
Some may not comprehend what relationship the cultivation of thinking has to the laws of cooperation, but cooperation is the harmony of humanity.
12. Each school must be a complete educational unit. In schools there must be a useful museum in which the pupils themselves take part. There must be a cooperative, and the pupils must also be taught such cooperation. All phases of art must be included. Without the paths of beauty there can be no education.
13. Some will call Brotherhood an exalted cooperative. Let us not stand in the way of such a definition. It is essential that the concept of Brotherhood enter life, and cooperation is already near to the understanding of the broad masses. Each heightening of cooperation will thereby be an approach to Brotherhood. Let people ponder carefully upon those traits of their characters which contribute to the strengthening of cooperation. Precisely these qualities will be of need to them on the path to Brotherhood. Let us not renounce the feature of communal life if individuality will be preserved in it. Each cooperative must also safeguard the individuality; only on this condition can cooperation be multiform and fruitful.
14. Evolution requires new forms in everything. Useful deductions should be discovered in already crystallized circumstances. The limits of knowledge are expanding. New interrelations are being created between the branches of science. Much which once appeared separate is now proved to issue from a single root. A need for new cooperative combinations is evident. It is imperative to study former subdivisions, replacing them with more goal-fitted ones. Such a need exists in all the domains of life—from philosophy and creed to the most practical sciences.
15. Cooperation can be the adornment of a conscious spirit. Not compulsion, and still less, competition, but the increase of energies transmits the understanding of cooperation. Cooperative work is clear to those who have understood Hierarchy through the heart. A teacher of freedom is a manifestation of Hierarchy, for it is said— first of all walk the shortest path, gather your forces, affirm yourselves in the understanding of individualization, because a rainbow is strengthened by all rays.
16. The teaching of the New World will solve all discomforts. Verily, only the shield of the Community can give meaning to the sojourn on Earth. How indescribably beautiful it is to think about cooperation with the far-off worlds. This cooperation, begun consciously, will draw into the orbit of communication new worlds. And this heavenly cooperative will broaden its possibilities infinitely.
If all possibilities are stipulated by a community, then their manifestation will take place through the channel of the spirit. It has been said that sound will be the first to reach through. Let these fragments be rudimentary, like the first jagged edges of an eolith. Let whole years pass before the understanding of a complexity of meaning be achieved. Yet it is unquestionable that this conquest will begin not in the observatories and not in the optician's shop. Harkening of the spirit will bring the first tidings; not for master degrees, but for life which forges evolution.