"Within us we have that where space and time cease to rule and where the links of evolution merge in unity." Rabindranath Tagore
In the back streets of central London, in the City of Westminster, there is a hall with a history. For well over a century, this set of utilitarian rooms with simple chairs and dark woods, along with a grand hall with tall windows opening to the city sky, have sat quiet. Quiet in daytime that is. The air is stale until the doors swing open and the evening crowds flood inside. This was a place of ideas, of changes, of challenges and bold direction.
Caxton Hall has now been converted to luxury flats, convenience and location for the wealthy. But look back.
One page turns: a registry hall for civil ceremonies and celebrity weddings.
Turn back again: rallies for reform, political activism, rights and equality.
In all, it is a serviceable facility renamed in honour of William Caxton, the inventor of a printing press, a pivotal instrument in world communication. And in the hall of his name, there has been much to communicate.
Dangerous ideas have circulated here, causes and appeals. It was, in many ways, the heartbeat of great nation, somewhere between the political theatre of parliament and the eccentric free-wheeling circus of Hyde Park corner.
From Caxton Hall the big ideas of the 20th century have entered the global arena. The voices of women's suffrage, heartfelt socialism and the first Pan-African conference dealing with the aftermath of slavery have each echoed from its walls, rattled its Victorian windows. The sound has spilled into the streets with both fervour and violence.
But then, look again. Turn back the decades: you can hear the most dangerous ideas of all — spiritual truth, selfhood and ascent. The ideas are dangerous because they speak to the core of our existence, the meaning of life.
The voice is that of the great Bengali poet and Nobel Prize winner Ravindranath Tagore. His well-attended lectures in the summer of 1913 had such titles as "The Relationship of the Individual to the Universe," "Soul Consciousness," "Realization in Love" and "The Problem of Self." The East came to the West. The ideas were new to English ears, but ancient in India.
Tagore spoke the themes. He outlined the new awareness. Others would fill in the details.
In a modern society the avenues for public life are few. Neither winning public office nor standing on a Sunday soap box in the park guarantees the listening ear of the public, let alone their heart. To convince fully is a slow labour. And can take years. But what happened in London in 1913 can only be described as "Tagoremania."
In that summer, in the centre of London, at the heart of the commonwealth, many Londoners were ready to listen. Rabindranath Tagore stood on the stage of Caxton Hall. He spoke.
"It is the high function of love," he said, "to welcome all limitations and to transcend them."