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The Difficult Path

It is difficult to get attracted to and develop love for transcendental reality. It is not easy to formulate the concept of supra-mental existence by reason alone. And unfortunately at this stage of evolution of human intellect, persons with intuitive realization of such superconscious states are also very few.

Is it possible with efforts to take first step on the royal path of divine realization? Or, does divinity itself bless and beckon an individual towards it? This debate goes on. The question of 'free will' versus 'grace' is basically concerned with 'realization of higher Truth', and has been debated since time immemorial.

To enable us to see clearly through this dilemma many prophets and sages have guided the masses through their own experiences of superconscious states. While it may appear that Jesus Christ sought the blessings of the Father in Heaven through prayers and surrender of will, Lord Buddha appears to recommend path of austerity, self-effort and intense yearning. Former may, therefore, appear to be the path devotion and grace, and the later may be posited as path of knowledge or self-effort.

The Question of Utility

Much to the dismay, however, 'scientific mind' doubts the very existence of supersensory states and existence. This is because the results of application of scientific laws and inventions are visible in a short period of time in the form of technological achievements. Moreover, such scientific revolution has apparently benefited the humanity by advancement in the fields of comfort, health, wealth, and leisure. On the other hand, search in the field of spirituality and religion (superconscious states of knowledge) obviously yields no immediate gains for the masses. Moreover, austerities, forbearance, and discipline, which are necessary to train the mind and get results in search of God, appear to be anathema to its very purpose. Superficially it is seen as a contradiction, in that, to get happiness and comfort, one is required to lead life of hardship and renunciation! It is not easy to comprehend the subtlety of this necessity.

Therefore, quest of spiritual realization was (and is!) labeled as unscientific and superstitious. Utility of pursuit of excellence in the realm of religion and spirituality was seen as deliberate design to fool the masses and maintain superiority of priests and persons of higher caste order of organized religion.

I such a situation, atheists and agnostic philosophies gained ground supplemented by Marxist claim of 'religion is the opium of the masses'. Concepts like 'scientific temper' and 'reason and rationality' gained respectable place in the psyche of intellectuals and intelligentsia. And as the dictum goes, 'as the superiors behave, so do the subordinates'. Therefore, we see the irony of prevailing 'scientific culture' with majority knowing nothing about science!

Inadequacy of Science

In fact, science can be held responsible for perpetuating the same superstitious and grotesque culture as it tried to blame religion for. It inflicted heavy casualty on the dignity of human race by instilling the most harmful concept of privilege in the hearts of 'healthy, wealthy, and wise' against the afflicted and the ill, poor and the downtrodden, and the illiterate and mentally dumb. The power of knowledge and wealth gained by a few, through the monopolization and exploitation, demanded of the poor sections of the society (and poor nations of world order) to prostrate before the rich and the talented. Privileges were justified as the rights of a class. In such scenario, the call of equality, fraternity, and social justice was a mere slogan to overcome their guilt of hypocrisy.

The values of concern and care, generosity and altruism, compassion and love proved to be mere hollow words, which carried no conviction. The definition and scope of values got restricted to bipolar division, one set for the 'haves' and another for the 'have-nots'!

Necessity to Develop Spiritual Culture

Thus, today true scientists are feeling the need for change in outlook. Many of them realize the deficiency and limitations of science as the only savior of mankind. It is seen with increasing clarity that values are not (and cannot be) manufactured in factories, howsoever technologically perfect they might be.

New, unforeseen and peculiar insights by way of revelations from the study of particle and quantum physics have forced the scientists to reconsider their stand on religion and superconscious reality. Evolutionary biologists, physicists, and mathematicians have become humble to acknowledge the vastness and scope of 'human possibilities'. To deny the vast potential and variety to human achievements and to limit the grandeur of expression of bliss is no more possible.

To add spiritual dimension to scientific frame of mind is thus being accepted and sought with due intensity and alacrity. This is the beginning of the march on the difficult path. The terrain here is alien; the terms of references are new. But there are saints and sages, prophets and mystics who have had already trodden this royal path, and have discovered for us the land of blissful Beauty, eternal Existence, and desirable Divinity.

Thus we need not be afraid to explore new territories and areas of human knowledge and excellence. We might be required to adopt different methods, but the goal is the same: to seek that joy and knowledge which is our own true nature. Vedanta is one such philosophy that guides us to this virgin land of experimentation and fulfillment.
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C S Shah
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