Foreword to the MANAS Reader


The first issue of MANAS was dated January 7, 1948. The idea of a philosophical weekly, however, goes back to the middle 1930's, when a small group of people living in the Los Angeles area began to wonder if the time had not come for an attempt to revive serious philosophical thinking independent of both academic authority and "popular" trends. Plans were laid for the paper, tentative dummies constructed, but the shadow of the coming war was already on the horizon, and those who would be most active in the venture found themselves no longer free to devote themselves to it. The delay, perhaps, was fortunate. In any event, an accidental consequence of the war was to heighten an awareness on the part of many Americans of the philosophical wealth of Eastern thought, which brought a rich if often indiscriminate infusion of Buddhist, and other Indian conceptions. Worldwide communication was now a commonplace reality, and with the growing recognition that both Asian and Occidental cultures could teach each other many things, the "meeting of East and West" was no longer only a poetic hope. Choice of a Sanskrit root for the name of the magazine seemed more justified after the war, providing also an identification without hackneyed institutional associations. The obscurity of the name, save for its usage in the Theosophical vocabulary, might be an advantage, and in time the paper would achieve its own identification through practice.

A policy of editorial anonymity seemed appropriate. The objectives were virtually heroic, and since responsibility for what appeared in MANAS would be assumed by the non-profit corporate publisher, personal identities were felt to be unimportant. The policy also seemed a good educational principle. Let the ideas stand on heir own merits, was and is the basis for the undertaking. There is too much emphasis on personality, anyway. Now, nearly twenty-four years later, the value of the policy seems demonstrated in practice. If people feel they have to know who gets the paper out, a letter will bring an answer- a humdrum and unclimactic answer, as it is bound to be. From the beginning the editorial stance and outlook have been the same.

Each issue of the magazine bears this description:

"MANAS is a journal of independent inquiry, concerned with the study of the principles which move world society on its present course, and with searching for contrasting principles- that may be capable of supporting intelligent idealism under the conditions of the twentieth century. MANAS is concerned, therefore, with philosophy and with practical psychology, in as direct and simple a manner as the editors and contributors can write. The word "manas" comes from a common root suggesting "man" or "the thinker." Editorial articles are unsigned, since MANAS wishes to present ideas and viewpoints, not personalities."

Neither the policy nor the format has undergone any important change since 1948. Usually there are five articles in each issue. These are the opening lead article, a Review, a brief editorial, a discussion under the heading "Children . . . and Ourselves," and another sort of review titled "Frontiers." For the MANAS READER, which begins with the lead article in the first issue, selections have been made from all five "departments," through the years until the present.

Publication of MANAS spans nearly a quarter of a century. This has been a time of great vicissitudes and ominous portents in the affairs of mankind. There have also been some few encouraging developments, with the emergence of currents of thought suggestive of new strength and vision for the future- a future still darkly unclear and by no means certain. Yet if the record of "intelligent idealism" in the past can be relied upon for guidance, the courage of good men is not dampened by evil prospects, but rather increased. MANAS would continue its chronicle of the constructive thought of the times, endeavoring to separate messages of authentic meaning from the "noise," and give to them what amplification it can. In the terms of the scope of this undertaking, there is nothing else to do.

— Editors of MANAS, 1971