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    Author's Preface

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    Chapter 1
    Perhaps it is well for me to explain that the subject-matter of
    the papers published in this book has not been philosophically
    treated, nor has it been approached from the scholar's point of
    view. The writer has been brought up in a family where texts of
    the Upanishads are used in daily worship; and he has had before
    him the example of his father, who lived his long life in the
    closest communion with God, while not neglecting his duties to
    the world, or allowing his keen interest in all human affairs to
    suffer any abatement. So in these papers, it may be hoped,
    western readers will have an opportunity of coming into touch
    with the ancient spirit of India as revealed in our sacred texts
    and manifested in the life of to-day.

    All the great utterances of man have to be judged not by the
    letter but by the spirit--the spirit which unfolds itself with
    the growth of life in history. We get to know the real meaning
    of Christianity by observing its living aspect at the present
    moment--however different that may be, even in important
    respects, from the Christianity of earlier periods.

    For western scholars the great religious scriptures of India seem
    to possess merely a retrospective and archaelogical interest; but
    to us they are of living importance, and we cannot help thinking
    that they lose their significance when exhibited in labelled
    cases--mummied specimens of human thought and aspiration,
    preserved for all time in the wrappings of erudition.

    The meaning of the living words that come out of the experiences
    of great hearts can never be exhausted by any one system of
    logical interpretation. They have to be endlessly explained by
    the commentaries of individual lives, and they gain an added
    mystery in each new revelation. To me the verses of the
    Upanishads and the teachings of Buddha have ever been things of
    the spirit, and therefore endowed with boundless vital growth;
    and I have used them, both in my own life and in my preaching, as
    being instinct with individual meaning for me, as for others, and
    awaiting for their confirmation, my own special testimony, which
    must have its value because of its individuality.

    I should add perhaps that these papers embody in a connected
    form, suited to this publication, ideas which have been culled
    from several of the Bengali discourses which I am in the habit of
    giving to my students in my school at Bolpur in Bengal; and I
    have used here and there translations of passages from these done
    by my friends, Babu Satish Chandra Roy and Babu Ajit Kumar
    Chakravarti. The last paper of this series, "Realisation in
    Action," has been translated from my Bengali discourse on "Karma-
    yoga" by my nephew, Babu Surendra Nath Tagore.

    I take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to Professor
    James H. Woods, of Harvard University, for his generous
    appreciation which encouraged me to complete this series of
    papers and read most of them before the Harvard University. And
    I offer my thanks to Mr. Ernest Rhys for his kindness in helping
    me with suggestions and revisions, and in going through the
    proofs.

    A word may be added about the pronouncing of Sadhana: the accent
    falls decisively on the first a, which has the broad sound of the
    letter.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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