To lose one’s reason is bad, but to lose everything except one’s reason is far worse

Our reason, our rational faculty, is vital for keeping us intelligently regulated and purposefully directed in life. The use of reason has assisted in the development of many influential fields of knowledge such as science. If we lose our reason, we become sentimental and gullible, vulnerable to imprudent or even self-destructive choices.

Losing our reason is dangerous, but danger lies at the other extreme too – in losing everything except our reason. For example, the Nazis used reason to rationalize the Holocaust. They appropriated the prevalent theory of social Darwinism to convince themselves that they, the Nazis, were earth’s fittest race and that the Jews, whom they saw as their nemesis, were an unfit race that nature would eliminate in due course amidst the survival of the fittest. They saw their gas chambers simply as ways of helping nature in its evolutionary course. Their unidimensional devotion to their version of reason desensitized them to the monstrous atrocities they were inflicting on millions of Jews.

Reason, when made into a god, can make us unfeeling automatons who perpetrate unconscionable deeds remorselessly. The natural brainchild of reason is doubt: doubt towards anything that doesn’t submit itself to reason. When reason becomes our life’s sole arbiter, we doubt and discard other valid and valuable forms of knowing such as conscience, intuition, common sense, scriptural revelation and spiritual experience. The Bhagavad-gita (04.40) cautions that those who submit uncritically to doubt get happiness neither in this world nor the next.

Rather than granting reason monopoly over our life, we need to integrate it in a holistic life. Bhakti-yoga assists in such integration by enabling us to use all our faculties, including our reason, to connect lovingly with the supreme source of everyone, Krishna, thereby developing an empathic vision towards all.

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