Don’t be so afraid of the irrational as to deny the possibility of the transrational

We live in an age that prides itself on its rationality. Few put-downs anger thinking people as much as being called irrational. As today’s mainstream thought portrays belief in God as irrational, many people fear to be associated with anything connected with God. 

However, they confuse the irrational with the transrational. The irrational is that which can’t stand rational scrutiny, whereas the transrational is that before which rationality finds itself inadequate. 

Is rationality inadequate for any purpose? Rationality is a tool for discerning some aspects of reality. Rationality is itself not the full reality, nor is it a tool for discerning all of reality. Fundamentally, rationality struggles to provide a rationale for why rationality works. If the universe is a product of unguided natural forces, why should it function rationally, not randomly? If our brain is a product of unguided natural forces, why should it have a rational faculty, not just survival skills? Might the very existence of rationality point to a transcendental source that rationality alone can’t reach? Might that source be what religious traditions call God? 

Such a being would be transrational, not irrational; though a rational case could be made for God’s existence, experiencing his presence would require us to explore processes that expand our consciousness beyond the rational. 

Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (04.39) states that faith grants access to knowledge. This is a call not for blind faith, but for openness to the possibility that reality might exceed our conceptions. Complementing such openness, the Gita urges us to regulate our infatuation with the material and to cultivate attachment to the spiritual, thereby tuning our consciousness to perceive spiritual reality. 

Exploring the transrational divine is life’s greatest adventure, declare spiritual savants. Will we let our fear of the irrational deprive us of that adventure?

Think it over:

  • What is the difference between the irrational and the transrational?
  • What does rationality fundamentally struggle to explain?
  • How can we experience the transrational divine?

***

04.39 A faithful man who is dedicated to transcendental knowledge and who subdues his senses is eligible to achieve such knowledge, and having achieved it he quickly attains the supreme spiritual peace.

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