Mr. Rabindranath Tagore of Calcutta, India, delivered a lecture on "Man's Relation to the Universe" in Emerson J yesterday afternoon at 4.30 o'clock. Mr. Tagore is recognized as the leading scholar and poet of his country and is the author of many plays, essays, short stories, and poems.
He first compared the attitude of the West toward nature with that of India. In the West civilization developed in cities and thus nature came to be regarded as something hostile, to be conquered by force. In India, on the other hand, the first inhabitants lived in the forests, and thus the influence of nature was so strongly implanted in them that it was not effaced by centuries of city life. They realized that truth was not to be attained by acquiring land and knowledge, but by contact and harmony with all things. One people regards nature as an obstacle, the other as a road to its desires. The western attitude leads a man to forget his own position in the scheme of the infinite and to rely only upon himself, with the result certain disaster.
The conditions which confronted the ancient people of India greatly resembled those of the first settlers in America, but the aims and evolution of the two races were far different. America sought to produce perfect men, who should possess all knowledge and power; India sought to attain eternal peace and calm by perfect harmony with God and nature, even at the cost of worldly success.
For man to attain true success he must understand the relation and relative importance of one thing to another, and he must not sacrifice great things to a few narrow aims. Man can gain comprehension only by submitting absolutely to the doctrine of universal love and by subordinating himself to his proper place in the universe. To the philosopher, immortality is so real that he regards life and death not as matters of importance but as mere changes of state. In Mr. Tagore's own words, "To unite with all things is the essence of goodness and the keynote of our philosophy."