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At the Tufts Humanist Chaplaincy, we hope to foster a comfortable environment for people to engage in honest discussions around the challenges in their lives, and to explore how people outside traditional religion approach questions that many faith traditions engage regularly. Our day to day lives, on campus and off, can be challenging just as they are exciting, but we don’t always have a structured hour in the week to sit down and reflect on the way we’ve grown, and the lessons we can learn from the experiences of others.

At small group reflections, the Humanist in Residence facilitates an open, respectful, and confidential conversation around a theme that concerns and informs many of our choices and experiences in our life journey. The conversation begins rooted in a text (or other piece of culture) written from a Humanist perspective that engages the theme, and from there will be open to the perspectives and experiences of everyone present in the group. Those present are encouraged to bring pieces of culture that inspire their own values on the theme, including and especially those from other faith traditions.

The upcoming small group reflection will begin with a passage from author Mulk Raj Anand. It will be on Friday, September 16th, at 5:30pm in the Interfaith Center downstairs meeting room. Small group reflections are open to all members of the Tufts community, irrespective of anyone’s belief background. Light refreshments will be served!


Young MulkMulk Raj Anand was an Indian author whose writing is praised for its active depiction of and advocacy for the lives of those in poorer classes and castes, particularly in English-language writing in India. Like some authors with whom we have opened Small Group Reflections in the past, Anand did not identify explicitly as a secular Humanist, yet his writing is still important for Humanists to consider in a drive towards a more just world and an exploration of the world’s questions. Anand is perhaps best known for his 1935 novel Untouchable, depicting a day in the life of a latrine cleaner.

This week we’ll read a passage from another story by Anand, “The Lost Child,” which concerns being adrift in overwhelming questions.

‘Where does the water go, father?’

‘It goes to the sea, my son’

‘But it came from the sea, did it not?’

‘Haa, my son, it came from the sea; from the boundless infinite ocean it came, into that vast ocean it will go.’

‘Where is the sea, father?’

‘It is on the other side of the world, son.’

A smile of endless light lingered on the eyes of the day. It came upon the earth and played about the child’s face like a dim aureole as he sat now in his mother’s lap in the joy of his newly gained knowledge. Through the burdensome multiplicity of unending experience, he could see that the mystery of the river’s origin, the secret of its journey and the riddle of its destination had some significance for him.

But what it was he did not know. As the golden sunlight faded and the silver moonlight fell on the limitless expanse of water power, he asked one last question: ‘If the sea is on the other side of the world, father, why is the river on this side?’

‘They really are in the same world, child. Only they appear to be separated. The river comes from the sea and goes sweeping its spread onward to it. But I do not know, child. I cannot answer your eternal whys.’