is important therefore that we are conscious creators of culture and
not just mechanically or passively follow the cultural influences
around us, which in the modern world are generally negative to
deeper spiritual values. Different
spiritual traditions have created different cultures. Yet of the
world's cultures, the richest and most spiritual is probably that of
India, which has placed the greatest emphasis on spiritual
realization. This is the culture of Yoga, the culture of the Dharma.
The culture of the Dharma is the
richest of all cultures because it is a universal culture. It is the
civilization of the cosmic mind which transcends all the limitations
of mere human social structures. It includes systems of physical,
mental, and spiritual culture. It contains art, music, poetry,
philosophy, medicine, and astrology. It provides a rich field in
which all parts of our being can grow toward the light. While this
spiritual culture has entered into the general culture of India, it
has a purity and elevation that remains above any mass culture,
which tends to limit, stereotype or distort it.
Many of us today
practice certain spiritual teachings but remain otherwise immersed
in a materialistic cultural matrix. This is true not only of
Westerners but of Hindus, particularly those who reside in the West.
The general cultural field in which most people live, modern
technological and pop culture, consists of mass media influences and
various scientific developments. There is the general intellectual
climate, the books or trends which are popular, and the major
political and social movements of the day. Many of us are identified
with these and follow their activities. In this process we may be
coming under the influence of their values, which may be contrary to
any spiritual practices.