Literary Exploration Series: Sadhana, the Realisation of Life – Ch.1

Sadhana coverIn celebration of spring, you are warmly invited to come join in the reflection of the Spirit. This time of rebirth and new awakenings is a perfect opportunity to widen our eyes and open ourselves to seeing more of our Selves. For the next 8 weeks, we will embark on the Literary Exploration of Sadhana, the Realisation of Life by Rabindranath Tagore. Every week, you are most welcome to share your reflection of each of the 8 chapters of this illuminating tome.

The Literary Exploration Series is an opportunity to delve into the world of an author who had the courage to explore the esoteric and share his or her experiences with the world. The first book in this series is entitled Sadhana, the Realisation of Life, first published in English in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore, Asia’s first Nobel laureate, wrote this collection of stories that, as I understand them, aim to demystify the relation of the individual to the universe. They speak of soul consciousness, the ego, love, beauty, and that which has no beginning nor end.

If you would like to read more about the author prior to beginning this audiobook exercise, you are most welcome to begin your introduction to Rabindranath Tagore here. You can also find links to each of the 8 chapters of Sadhana, the Realisation of Life here. Every week for the next 8 weeks, we will reflect upon a single chapter until we reach the end of this literary exploration. You are welcome to join in at any time, and are warmly invited to write about your reflections here by commenting on the weekly posts.

During this first week, we will be reflecting upon Chapter 1: The Relation of the Individual to the Universe.  You may wish to listen to the chapter in full before reading the following reflection, or you might prefer reading the comments below prior to listening to it for yourself. The choice is yours.

Chapter 1: The Relation of the Individual to the Universe

Link to chapter: click here
Length of chapter reading: 38:06 minutes

A beautiful experience – and by that, I suppose I mean the experience of listening to Rabindranath Tagore’s The Relation of the Individual to the Universe, as well as the actual experience of realising life. Although I am not certain the extent to which I have realised my own life, I have to believe that this book comes to those who are ready to reflect upon the process. And, to reflect upon this grand theme of existence, I suppose that one would have had to have already recognised it at some point.


“…for we can never make anything truly our own except that which it truly related to us.”

If it is already related to us, then making something our own is simply the process of recognising a part of ourselves that was there all along.


“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.”

The way I see it, the first point of view is the definition of effort – fighting against obstruction. The second is the process of going with the flow.


“The man of science knows in one aspect that the world is not merely what it appears to be to our senses. He knows that earth and water are really the play of forces that manifest themselves to us as earth and water. … Likewise, the man who has his spiritual eyes open knows that the ultimate truth about earth and water lies in our apprehension of the eternal will which works in time and takes shape in the forces we realise under those aspects.”

An example of how perception has the power to divide, in this case, the worlds of science and spirituality.


“In art, we strive for originality and lose sight of truth which is old and yet ever new. In literature, we miss the complete view of man which is simple and yet great but he appears as a psychological problem or the embodiment of a passion that is intense because abnormal and because exhibits in the glare of a fiercely emphatic light, which is artificial.”

It is simple to underestimate simplicity.


“Where man tries to push himself to eminence by pushing and jostling others, to achieve a distinction by which he prides himself to be more than everybody else, there he is alienated from that spirit. … in the pursuit of wealth, you really give up everything to gain a few things…”

It is not ‘lonely on the top’ because no one else is good enough to be there with you. It is lonely because on your perceived climb up the ladder, you have forgotten who you are and how to connect to the essence of your Being. We are only alone when we forget that we have our Selves, and within our Selves is the Oneness of All.


“We are immersed in His consciousness – body and soul. It is through His consciousness that the Sun attracts the Earth. It is through His consciousness that the light waves are being transmitted from planet to planet. Not only in space, but this light and life, this All-feeling Being, is in our souls. He is all-conscious in space (or the world of extension), and He is all-conscious in soul (or the world of intention).

“Thus, to attain our World Consciousness, we have to unite our feeling with this all-pervasive infinite feeling. In fact, the only true human progress is coincident with this widening of the range of feeling. 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 realise its ‘Self’ truly only by denying its ‘self’.”

Poetry, philosophy, science, art and religion are all mechanisms through which we are invited to expand our awareness – to open our Eyes and see more of that which is hidden from the physical eyes. It is like the proverbial buffet table:

“Treat these words as various dishes laid out on a buffet table. Pick and choose what looks and tastes good to you. It is for you to decide what food agrees with your digestive system. None of this is for your acceptance or rejection. None of us get brownie points for what we believe to be true; only for what we apply.”

Devotion to one religion, admiration for one poet, appreciation of one artist or one school of scientific thought is constructive if we realise these beliefs for the duration that they benefit us and are willing to eventually let them go for new realisations. It is attachment to any one philosophy, to any one belief or perspective that is futile to the development of our World Consciousness.


“Compared to his ego, the rest of the world is unreal, thus in order to be fully conscious of the reality of All, one has to be free himself from the bonds of personal desires. This discipline, we have to go through to prepare ourselves for our social duties, for sharing the burdens of our fellow beings. Every endeavor to attain a larger life requires of man to gain by giving away and not to be greedy and thus, to expand gradually the consciousness of one’s unity with All, is the striving of humanity.”

Knowledge only becomes power when it is shared. I must be humbly honest with you that I do not know why I am writing this blog, where it will lead me, or what I am supposed to do with it next. But, 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.

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