Pagan and Christian Creeds HTML version
THE TEACHING OF THE UPANISHADS
BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF TWO LECTURES TO POPULAR AUDIENCES
II. THE NATURE OF THE SELF
To some, in the present whirlpool of life and affairs it may seem almost an
absurdity to talk about Rest. For long enough now rest has seemed a thing far off
and unattainable. With the posts knocking at our doors ten or twelve times a day,
with telegrams arriving every hour, and the telephone bell constantly ringing; with
motors rushing wildly about the streets, and aeroplanes whizzing overhead, with
work speeded up in every direction, and the drive in the workshops becoming
more intolerable every day; with the pace of the walkers and the pace of the
talkers from hour to hour insanely increasing-- what room, it may well be asked,
is there for Rest? And now the issues of war, redoubling the urgency of all
questions, are on us.
The problem is obviously a serious one. So urgent is it that I think one may safely
say the amount of insanity due to the pressure of daily life is increasing; nursing-
homes have sprung up for the special purpose of treating such cases; and
doctors are starting special courses of tuition in the art--now becoming very
important--of systematically doing nothing! And yet it is difficult to see the
outcome of it all. The clock of what is called Progress is not easily turned
backward. We should not very readily agree nowadays to the abolition of
telegrams or to a regulation compelling express trains to stop at every station!
We can't ALL go to Nursing Homes, or afford to enjoy a winter's rest-cure in
Egypt. And, if not, is the speeding-up process to go on indefinitely, incapable of
being checked, and destined ultimately to land civilization in the mad-house?
It is, I say, a serious and an urgent problem. And it is, I think, forcing a certain
answer on us--which I will now endeavor to explain.
If we cannot turn back and reverse this fatal onrush of modern life (and it is
evident that we cannot do so in any very brief time--though of course ultimately
we might succeed) then I think there are clearly only two alternatives left--either
to go forward to general dislocation and madness, or--to learn to rest even in the
very midst of the hurry and the scurry.