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Friday, May 6, 2011

Number 147: Rabindranath Tagore "Playthings"


Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust, playing with broken twigs all morning!
I smile at your play with that little bit of a broken twig
I am busy with my accounts, adding up figures by the hour.
Perhaps you glance at me and think, “what a stupid game to spoil your morning with!”

Child, I have forgotten the art of being absorbed in sticks and mud pies.
I seek out costly play things, and gather lumps of gold and silver.
With whatever you find you create your glad games
I spend both my time and my strength over things I can never obtain.

In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the ocean of desire,
and forget that I too am playing a game.

--Rabindranath Tagore

Hap Notes: If you do not see that almost everything we do in life is akin to playing with sticks and making mud pies, i.e., a sort of game, I'll be very surprised. Everyone at one time in their life has realized that most of life is an intricate illusion that we create for ourselves. There is no "matrix" outside of the one of your own making. You do not have to live in this exposed truth all day, but it's pretty important that you know it exists. When you rise above the machinations of the illusions within which we all live, just for a moment, you'll discover that all beings on the earth have meaning, war is a brutal and sad game and possessions are a joke. You are free to sink back down into the "real" world" if you choose. But know that there is a choice and you have made it.

I don't know that Tagore wants all that baggage packed into this poem but, who knows? He was a deep thinker and a believer in compassion for all creatures. He was not a flaky goof, either, he knew physics and biology and was a great respecter of the sciences. He was not a grim prophet of doom but a hopeful, joyous and respectful believer in the good of life. You can see the "game" and have compassion.

Tagore met and discussed issues and science with no less than Albert Einstein (whose theories have been once again validated recently by Gravity Probe B). A journalist present at one of the recorded events said, “It was interesting to see them together—Tagore, the poet with the head of a thinker, and Einstein, the thinker with the head of a poet. It seemed to an observer as though two planets were engaged in a chat. “

Maybe, rather than rising above our illusions today, we should all just go out, sit in the mud and play with a few sticks and twigs. Perhaps just the act of playing around will give your spirit the room it needs to move.

And by the way, if all of this is a game, why aren't many of us having any fun? It's time to put some silly fun in your life and what better day to do that than Friday, eh? Go out and play with some bubbles, chew some bubble gum, talk to the birds, eat your dessert first and put your socks on over your shoes. Life is short- enjoy it and don't get fenced in by "adding up figures by the hour."

Tagore, in addition to a Nobel prize, has the distinction of writing the lyrics of two national anthems; India's and the one for Bangladesh.

Here are some famous Tagore quotes: "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."

"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it."

"Do not say, ‘It is morning,’ and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name."

and one more (they're irresistable):

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."

And a bonus one because I love you: "Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it."

Here's where we've talked about Tagore before:

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