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Rabindranath Tagore Teachings

A collection of teachings of Rabindranath Tagore.

Whatever we treasure for ourselves separates us from others; our possessions are our limitations.

We do not love because we do not comprehend, or rather we do not comprehend because we do not love.

To understand anything is to find in it something which is our own, and it is the discovery of ourselves outside us which makes us glad. This relation of understanding is partial, but the relation of love is complete. In love the sense of difference is obliterated and the human soul fulfills its purpose in perfection, transcending the limits of itself and reaching across the threshold of the infinite. Therefore love is the highest bliss that man can attain to, for through it alone he truly knows that he is more than himself, and that he is at one with the All.


When we are restless we raise dust all about us and we forget the supreme truth that ‘we are.’

Work, especially good work, becomes easy when desire has learnt to discipline itself.

Wisdom does not attain completeness except through the living of life.

Strenuousness is the open foe of attainment. The strength that wins is calm and has an exhaustless source in its passive depth.

It is not by meticulous care in avoiding all contaminations that we can keep our spirit clean and give it grace, but by urging it to give vigorous expression to its inner life in the very midst of all the dust and heat.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Real freedom is of the mind and spirit; it can never come to us from outside.

Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it.

Genius does not argue, it creates.

If everyone were to act where would the audience be?

Our soul when detached and imprisoned within the narrow limits of a self loses its significance. For its very essence is unity. It can only find out its truth by unifying itself with others, and only then it has its joy.

To understand anything is to find in it something which is our own, and it is the discovery of ourselves outside us which makes us glad.

In love the sense of difference is obliterated and the human soul fulfils its purpose in perfection, transcending the limits of itself and reaching across the threshold of the infinite. Therefore love is the highest bliss that man can attain to, for through it alone he truly knows that he is more than himself, and that he is at one with the All.

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

Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.

Everything comes to us belongs to us if we have the capacity to receive it.

The real friendship is like fluorescence, it shines better when everything has darken.

Thoughts feeds itself with its own words and grows.

By your intellect you have understood so many things. Still there are some truths you have yet to learn. One of them is that he alone truly understands who is suddenly illumined by Divine Grace.

The farther I go into Your Infinity with my life and mind, I see nowhere sorrow or death or division.

The mystery of creation is like the darkness of night – it is great. Delusions of knowledge are like the fog of the morning.

What you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow.

Life finds its wealth by the claims of the world, and its worth by the claims of love.

What we want, we want in error; what we get we want not.

If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.

Love is when the soul starts to sing and the flowers of your life bloom on their own.

The real friendship is like fluorescence, it shines better when everything has darken.

Love is the only reality, it is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.

Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.

We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.

Truth comes as conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend.

We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us.

Man’s poverty is abysmal, his wants are endless till he becomes truly conscious of his soul. Till then, the world to him is in a state of continual flux – a phantasm that is and is not.

For a man who has realized his soul there is a determinate center of the universe around which all else can find its proper place, and from thence only can he draw and enjoy the blessedness of a harmonious life.

To know our soul apart from the self is the first step towards the realization of the supreme deliverance. We must know with absolute certainty that essential we are spirit. This we can do by winning mastery over self, by rising above all pride and greed and fear, by knowing that worldly losses and physical death can take nothing away from the truth and greatness of our soul.

Our highest joy is in the losing of our egoistic self and in uniting others.

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 attained 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 in itself it offers to us. This last point of view is that of India with regard to nature. For her, the great fact is that we are in harmony with nature; that man can think because his thoughts are in harmony with things; that he can use the forces of nature for his own purpose only because his power is in harmony with the power which is universal, and that in the long run his purpose never can knock against the purpose which works through nature.

In the west the prevalent feeling is that nature belongs exclusively to inanimate things and to beats, that there is a sudden unaccountable break where human-nature begins. According to it, everything that is low in the scale of beings is merely nature, and whatever has the stamp of perfection on it, intellectual or moral, is human nature. It is like dividing the bud and the blossom into two separate categories and putting their grace to the credit of two different and antithetical principles. But the Indian mind never has any hesitation in acknowledging its kinship with nature, its unbroken relation with all.

The fundamental unity of creation was not simply a philosophical speculation for India; it was her life-object to realize this great harmony in feeling and in action.

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 to life in history.

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.

In ancient India having been in constant contact with the living growth in nature, peoples mind was free from the desire to extend his dominion by erecting boundary walls around his acquisitions.

His aim was not to acquire but to realize, to enlarge his consciousness by growing with and growing into his surroundings.

He felt that truth is all comprehensive, that there is no such thing as absolute isolation in existence, and the only way of attaining truth is through the interpenetration of our being into all objects.

To realize this great harmony between man’s spirit and the spirit of the world was the endeavor of the forest dwelling sages of ancient India.

Man is not entirely an animal. He aspires to a spiritual vision, which is the vision of the whole truth. This gives him the highest delight, because it reveals to him the deepest harmony that exists between him and his surroundings.

It is our desires that limit the scope of our self realization, hinder our extension of consciousness, and give rise to sin, which is the innermost barrier that keeps us apart from our God, setting up disunion and the arrogance of exclusiveness.

For sin is not one mere action, but it is an attitude of life which takes for granted that our goal is finite, that our self is the ultimate truth, and that we are not all essentially one but exist each for his own separate individual existence.

Pride of self interferes with the proper function of the soul which is to realize itself by perfecting its union with the world and the world’s God.

Avidya is the ignorance that darkens our consciousness, and tends to limit it within the boundaries of our personal self. It is this ignorance, this limiting of consciousness that creates the hard separateness of the ego, and thus becomes the source of all pride and greed and cruelty incidental to self seeking.

When a man lives the life of Avidya he is confined within his self. It is a spiritual sleep; his consciousness is not fully awake to the highest reality that surrounds him, therefore he knows not the reality of his own soul. When he attains Bodhi (the awakenment from the sleep of self to the perfection of consciousness), he becomes Buddha.

The quality of the infinite is not the magnitude of extension, it is in the Advaitam, the mystery of Unity. Fact occupy endless time and space; but the truth comprehending them all has no dimension; it is One. Wherever our heart touches the One, in the small or the big, it finds the touch of the infinite.

What is the truth of this world? It is not in the masses of substance, not in the number of things, but in their relatedness, which neither can be counted, nor measured, nor abstracted.

Growth is the movement of a whole towards a yet fuller wholeness. Living things start with this wholeness from the beginning of their career. A child has its own perfection as a child; it would be ugly if it appeared as an unfinished man. Life is a continual process of synthesis, and not of additions.

Forms are many, forms are different, each of them having its limits. But if this were absolute, if all forms remained obstinately separate, then there would be a fearful loneliness of multitude. But the varied forms, in their very separateness, must carry something which indicates the paradox of their ultimate unity, otherwise there would be no creation.

To be truly united in knowledge, love and service with all beings, and to realize one’s self in the all-pervading God is the essence of goodness.

When a man’s life rescued from distractions find unity in the soul, then the consciousness of the infinite becomes at once direct and natural to it as the light is to the flame. All the conflicts and contradictions of life are reconciled; knowledge, love and action harmonize; pleasure and pain become one in beauty,… it is only the soul, the one in man which by its very nature can overcome all limits, and finds its affinity with the Supreme One.

Evil cannot altogether arrest the course of life…for evil has to pass on, it has to grow into good; it cannot stand to give battle to All.

It is through the heightening of our consciousness into love and extending it all over the world, that we can attain Brahma-vihara, communion with this infinite joy.

Work, especially good work, becomes easy when desire has learnt to discipline itself.

That which cannot be expressed otherwise can only be told through music. A thought, which seems commonplace in its analysis, acquires a deeper sense in music.

With begging and scrambling we find very little, but with being true to ourselves we find a great deal more than we desire.

That which oppresses me, is it my soul trying to come out in the open, or the soul of the world knocking at my heart for its entrance?

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.

Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom.

There is only one history – the history of man. All national histories are merely chapters in the larger one.

Man will have to exert all his power of love and clarity of vision to make another great moral adjustment that will comprehend the whole world of men and not merely the fractional groups of nationality. The call has come to every individual in the present age to prepare himself and his surrounding for this dawn of new era, when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual unity of all human being.

Our needs are always in a hurry. They rush and hustle, they are rude and unceremonious; they have no surplus of leisure, no patience for anything else but fulfillment of purpose.

The greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness (spatial largeness and extensiveness).

The one object of greed is to produce and consume.

Greed has pity neither for beautiful nature nor or living human beings.

Avidya is the ignorance that darkens our consciousness, and tends to limit it within the boundaries of our personal self. It is this ignorance, this limiting of consciousness that creates the hard separateness of the ego, and thus becomes the source of all pride and greed and cruelty incidental to self seeking.

Every endeavor to attain a larger life requires of man to gain by giving away, and not to be greedy.