By Paul N. Poloz
What is culture?
The word “culture” originates from the Latin: cultura – cultivation, and from the Greek: Κουλτούρα – the cultivation of spirit, upbringing, and intellectual education.
Culture is the natural realization or embodiment of the human spirit in all empirically cognizable forms of its activity: religion, science, philosophy, arts, politics, law, and so on.
Culture as a form of spiritual life of human society and as a mental discipline includes a broad scope of an ordered knowledge and historical experience that has remarkable advantages in all spheres of human creativeness because its roots are deepened in religious life and historical and spiritual experiences.
The height and excellence of human culture lies in spiritual purification, cultivation, and education of the human spirit. The Great Russian composer Glinka once said: “The pure soul creates beauty.” The purer the soul of humanity, the more elevated is its culture, and the filthier the soul of humanity, the filthier is its culture. True culture always seeks the purification and enlightenment of man, while also transforming the realm of society and opening new spiritual horizons and goals. People’s lives become filled with the highest values and gain eternal meaning.
Beauty is one of the greatest values of spiritual culture and is the engine that transforms the monotonous human world. The pursuit of divine beauty changes man so that he will not work anymore for the sake of fame, wealth, or power, but for the sake of eternal love, truth, and goodness. Fyodor Dostoyevsky believed proclaimed, “Beauty will save the world.”
Spiritual culture is a rebellion of human personalities against despotism and violence, not only over physical but also spiritual despotism and slavery. Freedom is the result of a high and healthy culture. A great culture does not merely proclaim human rights, but elevates them. Freedom here is understood not only as an external democratic or political set of rights, but as an internal creative act of the spirit that exposes the human personality.
Spiritual culture is the atmosphere of life, which contributes to the high responsibility of man for all his ideas, beliefs and actions. The highest spiritual culture exposes not only beauty, but also the hostility of lies and evil, which are progressing in all layers of contemporary civilization. As Lev Shestov once said: “Light reveals beauty, but it also reveals ugliness.”
A creative energy of the human spirit will be revealed to humanity that will overcome pseudo-culture from the inside and abolish all the fears of life and every created lie. If this will happen, then the creativeness of man will open a new era of theurgical culture and a boundless and unlimited creative freedom in the Spirit. Then Christianity will be revealed in the world not as a religion of salvation from the torments of hell, but as the religion of Love. Love cannot be connected with the religion of fear, nor can it be mixed with the lies of this world. Christianity will be revealed not only symbolically, but also in reality – not only in the act of the Divine Liturgy, but also constantly throughout human life, for love will be a new creative life in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Love is not a law, and it cannot force anyone. Every historical lie in external Christianity will then be rejected and thrown out of the life of the individual, as well as the life of the Church.
The problems of the world’s life and world’s culture in summary are the problems of anthropological revelation. True creativeness and theurgical culture in the most precise way of the religious sense are still unknown to mankind. All threads lead humanity to one point. Humanity must turn to the only source of Truth and Light: Christ, Who is the unfathomable Tao, incarnate Logos, and the Light Who enlightened Siddhartha Gautama who became the Buddha.
Our epoch of artificial intelligence is raising the level of human civilization to the heights of superhuman reality. This epoch is making the greatest changes ever in the worldview, life, and activities of human society. It is leading to the result of a complete disappearance of all ancient cultures from the historical and genetic memory of man. The profound spiritual values, cultural and religious traditions, philosophical and spiritual teachings, and beliefs that were shaped for millenniums are in great risk of being seamlessly erased from human memory. They are in danger of being dissolved into the nothingness of new civilization, becoming a lifeless objectification of history and nothing more than mere museum artifacts.
The global changes in the dominating spheres of human development are quickly destroying the ancient foundation of life and the balance of Earth’s ecosystems. Scientific knowledge and technological innovations may be admirable, fascinating, and inescapable even to those who resist them. However, their consequences are intimidating and imperil man and his existence. The ecological crisis as one among many failures of the industrial and scientific-technological progress has turned into a landmark event in the history of the planet. Even the scientific forecasts are not promising any optimistic outcome, as there are no technological solutions for it, and there cannot be. Today a fatal delusion remains as the arrogant self-reliance of society leads to transhumanism as the greatest absurdity and ignorance of man. This movement has become the strategic direction of science and technology, which rebels against living nature and especially against the biological nature of man. Truly, they will very soon no longer be able to survive in this polluted man-created world. Furthermore, this is a riot against faith, freedom, love, and the image of God in man.
Today, truly spiritual and creative people are painfully aware of the tragedy of humanity in the death of spiritual culture and are making every effort to revive it. In human history, culture has never experienced such a painful crisis as now.