Reason, the Sap of Vedanta
Excerpt from The Eternities: Vedanta Treatise
by Swami Parthasarathy.
The faculty of reason is a human prerogative. It arises from the ability to think. All other beings lack this faculty. Reason makes a human the chef d’oeuvre of creation. But few care to develop the art of thinking, reasoning. People do not seem to realize that thinking is skilled work. That you need to learn and practice it. On the contrary, you believe that it is a natural process like breathing or eating. That you can think clearly and accurately without putting in the necessary effort on your part. It is not so. If you are to develop the faculty of thinking, reasoning, you need to devote as much time and effort to it as you would to learning any other skill.
In the world today few have developed the art of thinking. People are possessed with groundless beliefs. Propositions are accepted without question as a matter of course. Their beliefs rest upon superstition. Or someone’s mere assertion. They bear no proof. Do you realize that many of your strongest beliefs had taken root in your childhood? Now as an adult you find it difficult to question their veracity. They seem to be obviously true. You feel even to question them would be absurd.
Take the example of two men professing different religious beliefs. One, a staunch Hindu. The other, a devout Christian. They were born the same day in a maternity ward forty years back. The attending nurse committed a colossal blunder. She mistakenly exchanged the newborns in their cradles. The Hindu baby was placed in the Christian mother’s cradle. And the Christian in the Hindu mother’s cradle. And the two children were brought up unknowingly with the opposite domestic, social and religious influences. You could imagine the natural consequence. Both have now grown up holding beliefs totally opposed to their original family and religion. And each now swears by his particular belief!
William Drummond remarks: He who cannot reason is a fool; he who will not is a bigot; he who dare not is a slave.
With these facts in mind look at the present-day world. One set of people is hawking spirituality with their own views. Another set is blindly accepting them. Religion has been reduced to mere parroting of ideas picked up from preachers. Neither the preacher nor the pupil can claim to have gone through any systematic study and research, reflection and absorption of the truths of life. People are confused and confounded. In such an irrational state of affairs how can there be any spiritual edification? The world remains as poor as ever morally and spiritually. People are afflicted with worry and anxiety. They undergo mental strain. Suffer from stress. This has been a perennial problem with human beings.
The world must wake up from its slumber. You must start thinking, questioning, inquiring, reasoning with the truths of life. The philosophy of Vedanta satisfies the tests of reason and logic. It complies with the principles of sound judgment. The truths that are acceptable to your intellect you should apply in your life. Verify their authenticity. Then you begin to taste the joys of higher and chaster living. With your personal experience you would delve deeper into the essence of Vedanta. Attain peace and happiness.