I had heard so much about this Rabbi Tagore and his message of calm for our hustling, feverish life, that I thought I would try to put some of that stuff into practice.
“Shut out the clamour of small things. Withdraw into the deep quiet of your soul, commune with infinite beauty and infinite peace. You must be full of gladness and love for every person and every tiniest thing. Great activity and worry is needless–it is poison to the soul. Learn to reflect, and to brood upon eternal beauty. It is the mystic who finds all that is most precious in life. The flowers of meditation blossom in his heart.” I cut out these words and pasted them in my hat. I have always felt that my real genius lies in the direction of philosophic calm. I determined to override the brutal clamour of petty things.
The alarm clock rang as usual at 6.30. Calmly, with nothing but lovely thoughts in my mind, I threw it out of the window. I lay until eight o’clock, communing with infinite peace. I began to see that Professor Tagore was right. My wife asked me if I was going to the office. “I am brooding upon eternal beauty,” I told her.
She thought I was ill, and made me take breakfast in bed.
I usually shave every morning, but a moment’s thought will convince you that mystics do not do so. I determined to grow a beard. I lit a cigar, and replied “I am a mystic” to all my wife’s inquiries.
At nine o’clock came a telephone call from the office. My employer is not a devotee of eternal calm, I fear. When I explained that I was at home reading “Gitanjali,” his language was far from mystical. “Get here by ten o’clock or you lose your job,” he said.
I was dismayed to see the same old throng in the subway, all the senseless scuffle and the unphilosophic crowd. But I felt full of gladness in my new way of life, full of brotherhood for all the world. “I love you,” I said to the guard on the platform. He seized me by the shoulders and rammed me into the crowded car, shouting “Another nut!”
When I reached the office my desk was littered with a hundred papers. The stenographer was at the telephone, trying to pacify someone. “Here he is now,” I heard her say.
It was Dennis & Company on the wire.
“How about that carload of Bavarian herrings we were to have yesterday without fail?” said Dennis.
I took the ‘phone.
“In God’s good time,” I said, “the shipment will arrive. The matter is purely ephemeral, after all. If you will attune yourself–“
He rang off.
I turned over the papers on my desk. Looked at with the unclouded eye of a mystic, how mundane and unnecessary all these pettifogging transactions seemed. Two kegs of salt halibut for the Cameron Stores, proofs of the weekly ad. for the Fishmongers’ Journal, a telegram from the Uptown Fish Morgue, new tires needed for one of the delivery trucks–how could I jeopardize my faculty of meditation by worrying over these trifles? I leaned back in my chair and devoted myself to meditation. After all, the harassing domination of material things can easily be thrown off by a resolute soul. I was full of infinite peace. I seemed to see the future as an ever-widening vista of sublime visions. My soul was thrilled with a universal love of humanity.
The buzzer on my desk sounded. That meant that the boss wanted to see me.
Now, it has always seemed to me that to put one’s self at the beck and call of another man is essentially degrading. In the long perspective of eternity, was his soul any more majestic than mine? In this luminous new vision of my importance as a fragment of immortal mind, could I, should I, bow to the force of impertinent trivialities?