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Reason And Intuition
As a gesture of appreciation, Lord Rama once offered a beautiful pearl necklace to his most faithful devotee Hanumana. This invaluable gift made others envious, but we know what Hanumana did to it! Under his teeth he broke each pearl and threw it away saying: "It is useless; there is no Rama in this."
In a somewhat different epistemological context, scientists demand similar test today and we welcome it. When we talk of 'all-pervasive divinity' realized out of the faculty of intuition, scientists want concrete proof; they want to find "Rama" therein! They want us to show the existence of Divine by direct observation or by indirect inferences.
Scientists insist that following four criteria should be fulfilled for any theory to be labeled as scientific :
i) Good observation, ii) public nature of observation, iii) necessity to theorize logically, and iv) testing of the theory by observable consequences.We agree. However, direct observation of Divine is not easily possible, for it requires specialized state of mind - concentrated, one-pointed, and pure. And therefore, when we quote Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda as direct proofs of intuitive excellence these scientists shrug the topic off as nothing more than mystic babbling!
Additionally, indirect ways are sought to prove (or disprove!) the existence of 'Divine' with the help of such equipment and devices as CT scan, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET (Proton Emission Tomography), EEG (Electroenchephalography), etc. On the basis of 'reason' and rational experiments scientists deny the existence of intuition as a source of knowledge!
They, however, fail to understand that intuitive experiences are beyond rational proof; and mystic experiences cannot come, and cannot be explained, when one attempts to seek them through such devices with their inherent limitations. These scientists fail to understand the ultimate limitation of machine and matter: it has only five senses for their working. To deny the existence of human intuitive capabilities is to deny the possibility of future scientific progress. Scientists fail to consider that reflexive and rational behavior finds its fulfillment in intuitive awakening of soul, and as such intuition is a natural process of growth in human intellect, and therefore it should be welcome.
As Romain Rolland says, "The majority of European (and let me add without hesitation, Indians as well) thinkers shut themselves up on their own particular floor of the house of mankind; and although this floor may be stored with libraries containing the history of the other floors inhabited in the past, the rest of the house seems to them to be uninhabited, and they never hear from the floors above and below them the footsteps of their neighbors. In the concert of the world the orchestra is made up of all the centuries, past and present..." (and future as well, if I may add!)[The life of Ramakrishna, Romain Rolland, p. 2, Advaita Ashrama Calcutta, 1997]
A philosophy takes it birth to eulogize the presumed source of knowledge that gives mankind best enjoyment and pleasure. Our genetic structure tries to thwart the penetration of searchlight of inquiry into the depth dimension of human mind beyond a particular level; level demarcated by Reason at present. Thus, while instincts and reason are accepted as the tools for acquiring knowledge, intuition is denied its rightful place as a higher developed faculty to acquire knowledge beyond the realm of reason, although not contradicting it!
For instance, materialistic philosophy stems from the premise that sense perception is the only source of knowledge. To have good food, shelter, and clothing so as to appease the senses led the scientists to focus their research only on the technological utility to satisfy, glorify, and modify sense pleasures to their extreme.
However, science as an instrument for search for truth has to progress, has to go beyond! The materialistic resistance to scientific development was overcome by intense and deliberate attempts of scientists of renaissance that caused crumbling down of monarchy in Europe. But still it was not sufficient to go beyond the body and mind compendium! The craving of flesh was replaced with the craving of mind and intellect: greed of silk and food for excellence in art and literature. Body pleasures were replaced by intellectual pleasures; gluttony for desire for Nobel Prize! The rule of reason still prevailed! But the due respectful place for intuition was denied; no chair for intuitive excellence was created in any University.
Scientific reason in its search for truth produces (creates) visible material as bye-products for sensual and intellectual pleasure: fine cloth, wonderful crockery, mouth-watering cuisine, books, art, literature, Hubbell's space-scope, etc, etc. But the genetic selfishness as a social structure compels scientists to hold themselves from going further towards Truth, the political and economical compulsions cry: Halt, this far and no farther.
The natural culmination of reason into intuition does not find the light of day, it aborts or miscarries. But there is no pain or remorse anywhere. The loss of likely pleasure - Bliss - to be born to intuition is not repented because we are happy with our limited pleasure of body and mind. We do not miss taste of nectar, for we are satisfied and engrossed in enjoying ordinary drinks.
We fail to understand the tragic loss of opportunities that the intuitive knowledge offers us for enjoying Ultimate Spiritual Bliss. Our adamancy, born out of our infatuation with technological innovations, keeps us engaged in childish play of two World Wars and Tian'an Men Square Protests. We turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the cries of millions who suffered and continue to suffer. We adore scientists in Einstein and Newton for the intellectual comforts that have been made possible due to their discoveries and inventions. We do not want to look beyond the possible useful implications of their research in acquiring intuitive insights. We do not feel guilty that we have unintentionally, and indeed sometimes intentionally, kept at abeyance the logical culmination of their discoveries and inventions in acquiring intuitive truths.
We club intuition and religion together as unscientific. Let us once again quote Romain Roland, "The first qualification for knowing, judging, and if desirable, condemning a religion or religions is to have made experiments for oneself in the fact of religious consciousness." And: "It is the quality of thought and not its object which determines its source and allows us to decide whether or not it emanates from religion. If it turns fearlessly towards the search for truth at all costs with single-minded sincerity prepared for any sacrifice, I should call it religious; for it presupposes faith in an end to human effort higher than the life of the individual, at times higher than the life of existing society, and even higher than life of humanity as a whole."
Let us accept, as scientists, intuition as another valid source of knowledge, at least in principle. Hopefully subsequent practices to realize the expressions of intuitive truths would follow in new scientific culture - A culture based on concepts of Science of Vedanta.
As Swami Vivekananda says, "There are much higher states of existence beyond reasoning. It is really beyond the intellect that the first state of religious life is to be found. When you step beyond thought and intellect and all reasoning, then you have made the first step towards God; and that is the beginning of life."
c s shah