- Cultivation of mind
- Difference between scholarship and culture
- Scholarship alone not sufficient to make a strong personality
- Inveterate novel readers are seldom cultured
- The cultured mind must be a moral mind
- Culture must be expressed
Cultivation of the mind is as necessary as food to the body. It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books great men talk to us. They give us their most precious thoughts. They pour their souls into ours. They show us the spiritual life of past ages. A perfect physical body without a cultured mind is indeed an empty shell. Although it may at first sight charm, its influence cannot be lasting. Its power must prove of very short duration.
When I speak of a cultured mind, I do not mean simply the mind of a scholar. There is a very wide difference between scholarship and culture. Have we not known men and women who have passed examinations one after another in the schools and colleges, and yet they could not be called cultured in the truest sense of the word. I have met with men and women who were scholars, men and women who could write letters after their names, but nevertheless, one can call them cultured. On the other hand, I have met men and women who knew very little of the schools and yet were really cultured. Their minds were refined and disciplined. They were stored with the sublime messages of the poets and philosophers, seers and sages, prophets and writers and whose lips were full of beauty and wisdom.
I remember on one occasion looking forward with very great pleasure to the company of young lady who had just taken her M.A. degree. I imagined her companionship would be at once an education and an inspiration. Alas! How great was my disappointment? I spoke of Browning. She was dumb; I mentioned Emerson. She had never read his works, I asked for an opinion on Ruskin. She had only glanced at his books, and she could not really say she knew Ruskin sufficiently well to talk about him. Rumi, Ghalib and Iqbal she had heard some thing of them. So I had to be content with commonplaces and hide my disappointment as best I could.
The scholarship is a fine thing, and a thing much to be desired but scholarship alone is not sufficient to make a strong personality. It must be accompanied by culture. And herein lies the difference between the two: Scholarship is entirely a thing of the head, a knowledge of facts, book learning “of the heart,” as it is called, and does not necessarily mean that the individual is refined or disciplined.
Culture is of the soul. It is an assimilation of truth. It is a store of inward knowledge. It is an intimate heart acquaintance with the best thought of the age. It is a fellowship with the great thinkers and writers. It is always accompanied by courtesy, kindness, sympathy, refinement, good manners, grace and self-control.
Another difference between scholarship and culture. The former is usually the result of cramming at school, loading the brain with words from books. The scholar mere memories the facts. Culture is entering into the spirit and life of all things. It has its foundation in intuition rather than intuition.
Inveterate novel readers are seldom-cultured people. The novels are usually out of joint with real life. It is a terrible mistake to suppose that reading of this kind means culture. Especially those novels where the characters are supposed to move in high circles, where the plots are laid in high life. For the most part they are unreal, un-wholesome, pandering to sensationalism, and appealing to the lower emotions and passions. I believe that the lower novel reading mania among women is worse than the drink mania among men. It is responsible for ruining many a home and wrecking the happiness of many a family. There are women who sit for hours, for a novel while the housework waits and the family needs are forgotten.
Tell me how men and women spend their spare time and I will tell you whether they have cultured minds or not. Do not let us forget that some of the greatest thinkers and writers, men who have influenced the world most, were not great scholars, and many of them toiled from twelve to fourteen hours every day in hard physical labour, yet they found time to become truly educated and cultured. A cultured mind must be a moral mind. The strength of a man’s virtue is not to be measured by the efforts he makes under pressure, but by his ordinary conduct. All culture must be expressed. A beautiful, well poised, and healthy body express physical. Mental culture is expressed by the mind. The cultured man cannot conceal the refinement and culture of his mind. He has a kinship with all other cultured minds. A man’s moral character is known by his deeds.