Upanishads 4: The Significance of One’s Self  — Rabindranath Tagore

THE question necessarily arises, what is the significance of this self of ours ? Is it nothing but an absolute bondage for us ?

The Upanishad says that from anandam, from an inner spirit of Bliss, have come out all things, and by it they are maintained. Therefore, in spite of contradictions, we have our joy in life, we have experiences that carry their final value for us.

It has been said that the Infinite Reality finds its revelation in the deathless form of joy. The supreme end of our personality also is to express itself in its creations. But works done through the compulsion of necessity, or some passion that blinds us and drags us on with its impetus, are fetters for our soul; they do not express the wealth of the infinite in us, but merely our want or our weakness.

Our soul has its Anandam, its consciousness of the infinite, which is blissful. This seeks its expression in limits which, when they assume the harmony of forms and the balance of movements, constantly indicate the limitless. Such expression is freedom, freedom from the barrier of obscurity. Such a medium of limits we have in our self which is our medium of expression. It is for us to develop this into an embodiment of deathless joy, and only then the infinite in us can no longer remain obscured.

This self of ours can also be moulded to give expression to the personality of a business man, or a fighting man, or a working man, but in these it does not reveal our supreme reality, and therefore we remain shut up in a prison of our own construction. Self finds its Ananda-rUpam, which is its freedom in revelation, when it reveals a truth that transcends self, like a lamp revealing light which goes far beyond its material limits, proclaiming its kinship with the sun. When our self is illuminated with the light of love, then the negative aspect of its separateness with others loses its finality, and then our relationship with others is no longer that of competition and conflict, but of sympathy and co-operation.

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