Shanti Sadan and Self-Knowledge name
Vol.62 No.3 Summer 2011

From Shadow to Substance

The poet and writer, Israel Zangwill, published a volume of poems which he called 'Blind Children'. In the title poem of this book, he depicts blind boys and girls at playtime, playing delightedly on the college lawns, unmindful of any limitation to their means of knowledge. After all, they have their other senses. They can smell the grass and the flowers, hear what the poet calls their playmates' glad symphony, feel the 'cool touch of western wind, sunshine's divine caress'. How should they know or feel, he asks, that they are in darkness? Then he goes on:

But, O the miracle!
If a Redeemer came, Laid finger on their eyes -
One touch, and what a world,
New-born in loveliness.

Finally, he reflects on the world experience most people enjoy, the world revealed to all five of our senses. Is it not the case, he ponders, that this experience, too, might be less than the whole of reality? And if there were a similar divine touch, laid on our being, then:

One touch, and what a strange
Glory might burst on us,
What a hid universe!

The missing sense in our case is not a physical faculty, but the spiritual sense, which leads man to the revelation of the nature of the absolute and perfect Reality behind the appearances. It is not really missing, but latent and unrevealed in most people. As for the world as we know it, several thinkers, from Plato to the exponents of the Vedanta philosophy, have compared it to a realm of shadows.

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