Be that guy – Emerson/Borges/Tagore (Situation, complication, resolution?)


What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Self-Reliance, 1841, Ralph W Emerson

Ahh, to know what one “must do”. Easier said than done, especially in a crowd – as The electric sage points out.

Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him. – Borges and I(Labrynths),1964, Jorge L Borges

Borges, inimitably, on why it is pretty hard to “know thy self”.

When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one, thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.

– Gitanjali, 1910, Rabindranath Tagore

Relying on his strong Upanishadic spirituality, Tagore offers us an interpretation of transcending one’s limited self. If only we that are “shut up in a corner” could learn like Tagore to “break open the door … with the ceremony of a king”.

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