Pursuit – Return

Read this 1915 Paper by Ananda Coomarasamy, highly recommended


“The life or lives of man may be regarded as constituting a curve – an arc of time – experience subtended by the duration of the individual Will to Life. The outward movement on this curve – Evolution, the Path of Pursuit – the Pravritti Marga – is characterized by self-assertion. The inward movement – Involution, the Path of Return – the Nivritti Marga – is characterized by increasing Self-realization. (9) The religion of men on the outward path is the Religion of Time; the religion of those who return is the Religion of Eternity. If we consider life as one whole, certainly Self-realization must be regarded as its essential purpose from the beginning; all our forgetting is but that we may remember the more vividly. But though it is true that in most men the two phases of experience interpenetrate, we shall best understand the soul of man – drawn as it is in the two opposite, or seeming opposite, directions of Affirmation and Denial, Will and Will-surrender – by separate consideration of the outward and the inward tendencies. Brahmans avoid the theological use of the terms “good” and “evil,” and prefer to speak of “knowledge” and “ignorance” (vidya and avidya), and of the three qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas. As knowledge increases, so much the more will a man of his own motion, and not from any sense of duty, tend tо return, and his character and actions will be more purely sattvic. But we need not on that account condemn the self-assertion of the ignorant as sin; for could Self-realization be where self-assertion had never been? It is not sin, but youth, and to forbid the satisfaction of the thirst of youth is not a cure; rather, as we realize more clearly every day desires suppressed breed pestilence. The Brahmans therefore, notwithstanding the austere rule appointed for themselves, held that an ideal human society must provide for the enjoyment of all pleasures by those who wish for them; they would say, perhaps, that those who have risen above the mere gratification of the senses, and beyond a life of mere pleasure, however refined, are just those who have already tasted pleasure to the full.”


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