Full Title: Sadhana: The Realisation of LifeSadhana by Rabindranath Tagore
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Publisher: Public Domain (originally published in 1913)
Length of Audiobook: 4 hours, 23 minutes
How long it took me to listen to: 9 weeks
Where I downloaded it: LibriVox
ISBN: 1-4209-2654-3

Like a Moth to a Flame

I got an email one day from LearnOutLoud. It had a link to an audiobook. I don’t know what inspired me to click on it since I receive emails from LearnOutLoud daily, but most of them remain unopened (yes, I’m guilty of self-induced information overload!). This could very well be a case of the right book coming to the right reader at the right time. And so began my relationship with Sadhana.

Favorite Five

My favorite 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “We can look upon a road from two different points of view. One regards it as dividing us from the object of our desire. In that case, we count every step of our journey over it as something obtained by force in the face of obstruction. The other sees it as the road which leads us to our destination, and as such, it is part of our goal. It is already the beginning of our attainment, and by journeying over it, we can only gain that which within itself it offers to us.”

4. “…a truth opens up a whole horizon. It leads us to the infinite. That is the reason why, when a man like Darwin discovers some simple general truth about biology, it does not stop there, but like a lamp shedding its light far beyond the object for which it was lighted, it illumines the whole region of human life and thought, transcending its original purpose. Thus we find that truth, while investing all facts, is not a mere aggregate of facts. It surpasses them on all sides and points to the infinite reality. As in the region of knowledge, so in that of consciousness, man must clearly realize some central truth which will give him an outlook over the widest possible field.”

3. “All our poetry, philosophy, science, art and religion are serving to extend the scope of our consciousness towards higher and larger spheres. Man does not acquire rights through the occupation of larger space nor through external contact, but his rights extend only so far as he is real, and his reality is measured by the scope of his consciousness. We have, however, to pay a price for this attainment of the freedom of consciousness. What is the price? It is to give one’s ‘self’ away. Our soul can realize its ‘Self’ truly only by denying its ‘self’.”

2. “Pessimism is a form of mental dipsomania. It disdains healthy nourishment, indulges in the strong drink of denunciation and creates an artificial dejection which thirsts for a stronger drought.”

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “In learning a language, when from mere words we reach the laws of words, we have gained a great deal. But if we stop at that point and concern ourselves only with the marvels of the formation of a language, seeking the hidden reason of all its apparent caprices, we do not reach that end, for grammar is not literature… When we come to literature, we find that, though it conforms to the rules of grammar, it is yet a thing of joy; it is freedom itself. The beauty of a poem is bound by strict laws, yet it transcends them. The laws are its wings. They do not keep it weighed down. They carry it to freedom. Its form is in law, but its spirit is in beauty. Law is the first step toward freedom, and beauty is the complete liberation which stands on the pedestal of law. Beauty harmonizes in itself the limit and the beyond – the law and the liberty.”

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“A beautiful experience – and by that, I mean the experience of listening to Tagore’s The Relation of the Individual to the Universe, as well as the actual experience of realizing life itself, of course! Although I’m not certain about the extent to which I have realized my own life, I believe this book comes to those who are ready to reflect upon the process.”

“Devotion to one religion, admiration for one poet, appreciation of one artist or one school of scientific thought is constructive if we realize these beliefs for the duration that they benefit us and no longer. It is attachment to any one philosophy, to any one belief or perspective that is futile to the development of our growth.”

“Knowledge only becomes power when it is shared. I must be humbly honest. I do not know why I am writing these words or to where they will lead. What I do know, unequivocally, is that we are all meant to share with one another. It is not to teach, to preach nor to dictate that I write these words. It is to serve. It is to enable the sharing of experiences, of perceptions and of stories in order to broaden the collective perspective.”

“I am so deeply touched, inspired and impassioned by the effortlessly meticulous way in which Tagore weaves words into golden strands of the most brilliant poetry – poetry of truth, timeless understanding, gentle compassion. These words were written in the beginning of the 1900’s yet they still resonate the deepest of truths today. Tagore’s words perform a dance, frolicking to the tunes of the aged and wise, lacking any sign of tiredness or uncertainty. To reach such a point of clarity…would be divine…”

“Perhaps I am learning how to build words, and sentences, and ideas out of letters. Perhaps it is my time to make sense of the alphabet. Perhaps it is time for joy.”

“Much of my life has become virtual. Perhaps it is due to my travels and coupled with my personality, for I have left many friends behind and seem to  maintain most of my relationships from a physical distance. For whatever reason, I find myself communicating through written word more than through any other form. I have found, through this practice of faceless/bodiless connection, that deeper truths and more fulfilling relationships can be cultivated – at least this has been my truth. The lack of physical interaction has opened the door to deeper spiritual contact.

“It is as if the virtual space has allowed me to forget about the shell and to connect with what’s beyond. Yet, I remind myself that I am still in physical form for a reason. What that reason is, I haven’t much of a clue. But the fact that I have a physical body must mean there’s some purpose for the vehicle. So, as I write this, I am focusing on learning how to care for my vehicle. I am more intent than ever to nurture it, to pay attention to how I fuel it and to carefully choose the activities I perform with it – all this, in the name of devotion for the chick inside the shell. Perhaps this is my way of attempting to create balance between the virtual and the physical – trying to respect both equally through the discovery of the qualities that make both states divine. Can Spirit reveal more of itself through the virtual world?”

“Evil is but the perception of the short-sighted. It is not empowered in the mind that sees beyond the current scene on the stage. How far beyond the scene we choose to see depends on one thing and on everything. It depends on the Seer. It depends on all of us, for we are all interconnected Oneness. All that he does impacts on all of us. The ripples of her actions reverberate upon the surface of the sea of Oneness which we all connect to form.”

“How is it that we can be so profoundly yet unconsciously connected to the wisdom of the All, yet get so caught up in the drama? Think of the magnificence of our inherent capabilities and then look at what so many of us choose to do with each life. I am not saying that we don’t do our best, but what if we chose to express more of our true Selves to the world? What would the world look like then?

“Yesterday I met someone new. At a certain point, he described his perception of his work-week and how, by the time 3pm on Friday comes along, the seconds tick by excruciatingly slowly. I saw this divine being in front of me, with gifts and talents that only he can offer, and wondered what the world would be like if he shared those gifts with us. What do you think the world would look like then?”

“Do you see the optimist as trustworthy or delusional? Do you see the pessimist as realistic or hopeless? I don’t tend to distinguish between optimism and pessimism. I don’t think in those terms. When someone calls me an optimist, it’s usually said in a wistful manner telling me that there’s a part of that person that would like to believe but finds it too difficult to run the risk of being deluded…again. In place of optimism and pessimism, I see imagination and trepidation. To see life through child-like eyes does not mean to be ignorant and senseless. On the contrary, innocence brings with it wonder, delight and joy.”

“To assume that what we hear is what is meant to be heard is to create within our own minds a reality disconnected from the rest. Even if the meanings of all the words in the dictionary were implanted in everyone’s minds, we still wouldn’t be able to ensure clear communication. The interpretation of each sentiment is dependent upon the place from which it is experienced. This is why the eyes, the smile, the act of radiating light from within are all so important. The messages that come through us from our Higher Selves cannot be mistaken. They may perhaps not be consciously observed, but the soul knows, and that is more than enough.”

“Duality is not an expression of separation. It is an invitation to embody unconditional love and acceptance for all, no matter whether our minds can make sense of it, no matter whether our beliefs are in line with it, no matter whether our desires are fulfilled by it. Duality is the ultimate union of opposites representing the possibility of wholeness disguised in contradiction. When there is little evidence, where we do not believe that there is enough proof, we can ask ourselves what we do have. This is when we open ourselves to the realization that through free will, we have the power to choose to see things differently.”

“Why is it that so often, we reach ‘a’ point and conclude that we have reached the final step in our journey?

“I have found love! My search is over.”
“I have completed a degree. I no longer have to be a student.”

“As with the learning of a language, there are many facets to our understanding. We eventually discover that the more we know, the less we understand. The complexity of the universal truth is so intricate and vast that we can easily become entangled in its details. The human mind was not made to grasp all the facts, calculate all the figures and make sense of all the outcomes. It is in the simplicity where we can truly make sense of things. It is in the silence where we can truly find clarity. It is when we transcend the words of a poem and feel the essence of the poet that we have come to a point of greater understanding.”

“This morning, I saw a man at work. This man was very special. I sensed that he had agreed, a long time ago, to meet me in this exact place at this exact time to teach me what I was starting to forget. He sat at his desk, the same small space he filled each day, wearing the same uniform I imagined him preparing each evening for the following morning. He worked very quickly, his hands busily making notes and shuffling papers. Each time a patient approached him, warmth and patience flooded his face as he looked up to greet us. He knew that he worked in a place where people were afraid to go. He also knew that he had the power to bring them peace, through his eyes, through his smile, and through the integrity with which he dedicated himself to his work. It is through him that I saw God this morning. It is through his nobility and his grace that I was able to remember myself. It is for this that I am grateful today.”

“Our journey is not one of systematic predictability. We are not meant to follow the path discovered by our neighbor simply because we know where it will lead. Our journeys are of a much greater purpose. By having the courage to follow a path that we consciously create, we gradually remember who we are. We get to know our Selves. We rediscover the consciousness that we were when we were planning this life; the consciousness that we are underneath the physical vehicle; the consciousness filling each breath we take. Action is the process through which to rediscover our Selves. When we rediscover the truth about our Selves, there is no more a need for fear. That realization is where freedom resides.”

“Possession is a representation of what we have already attained. It symbolizes that which we have already discovered about our Selves. That is not to say that the act of possessing is a result of higher understanding or greater awareness, but rather it can often be a consequence of the misunderstanding of achievement. In this wonderful physical world, it is no wonder that possession is understood as a symbol of attainment, but it is to confuse attainment with obtaining that creates the mess of chronic consumption and ravenous consumerism. To replenish the void within (the still undiscovered Self) with material things is like trying to fill the infinite with the finite.”

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  1. karen dickens says:

    I just found this book on ‘bookshouldbefree’. The title perked me a little, however, this book review inspired me. I go to Scotland on Friday for a week, the inner hebrides region. I will have a lot of time on my hand,.. and I am looking forward to what will come of me after this book. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. We will see.

    • Kat Kiddles says:

      Sadhana promises to take its reader on an enchanted journey. The number of doors it unlocks is up to you. Time and space, the perfect items to pack for the trip. Enjoy it!

  2. […] There is always time to celebrate work inspired by Rabindranath Tagore. […]

  3. mariatheresa says:

    Yes Kat : SHARING, this is a word we should use more often.

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