Reason can’t reach beyond reason, but it can give us reason to reach beyond reason
Reason, or our rational faculty, is said to be the foundation of the scientific method that has dramatically transformed the way we interact with the natural world. Some people hold that we should stick to reason alone in gaining any knowledge; so, we should reject anything spiritual as it can’t be known through reason.
While reason can help us better understand the world, reason itself can’t provide much of an explanation of why reason works. After all, if the world is the result of unguided subatomic particles, why should such particles have ever organized themselves in ways that are rationally intelligible? More foundationally, why should our mind, which too is supposed to be a product of unguided natural forces, be structured to work according to reason? The very presence of rationality in the world points to a reality beyond rationality.
The Bhagavad-gita (07.07) illustrates metaphorically how a trans-rational ultimate reality underlies and unifies all the rational immediate. When we behold a beautiful pearl necklace, our attention is first drawn to the pearls that comprise the necklace. But if we analyze more deeply, we realize that the visible pearls are held together by a thread, even if it isn’t immediately visible. So too can we perceive a divine reality as the underlying thread of truth that unifies the many diverse manifestations that reason discovers.
While reason can point to a reality beyond reason, reason falls short of discerning the specifics of that reality. For that, we need to elevate our consciousness and purify our heart, thereby accessing nonmaterial ways of knowledge acquisition that we normally never access. One powerful way is the process of bhakti-yoga which makes us receptive to the revelation of the supreme spiritual reality.
Thus, reason can prompt us to reach beyond reason.
Think it over:
- How does reason point to a reality beyond reason?
- What metaphor does the Gita use to explain the reality beyond reason?
- How can the reality beyond reason be known?
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