31 January 2010

Question troubling the intellect : Acharya Mahaprajna

I have been a student of philosophy; I used to think that without it truth could not be known. Having read both eastern and western philosophy, I am convinced that it is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. It cannot be denied that it is only through intelligence that man's development can take place.


Science has made unimaginable progress. Space flights are now a common feature. With clockwork efficiency one space ship takes off and another lands after completing the mission. Anti-aircraft guns pinpoint their targets in the distant skies and bring them down.

Pilot less aircrafts do the intended bombing through remote control. The example can be infinitely multiplied. Can anyone who is wide-awake deny the truth of these achievements of human intelligence? And yet our philosophers keep harping on the theme of the visible being unreal, and the invisible being real. That which is accessible to human intelligence is according to them not real, while that which is beyond its grasp is real.

The human intellect is a wonderful actor. It keeps playing diverse roles. Even though it is the prime agent of knowledge, it has taken a back-stage position and has fancied a line of thinking totally unrelated to man. I keep wondering whether that man was truly intelligent or unintelligent who said that real knowledge begins where the reach of the intellect ends. If he was intelligent, he displayed the power of intelligence in making that statement.

And if he was unintelligent, then he had no basis to make the statement. Whatever one asserts - whether in favour of something or against it - one does only on the basis of one’s intelligence. All proof or disproof has its origin in our intelligence.

From whatever point, therefore, one might begin, one gets back to recognising the supremacy of the intellect. By denying the importance of the intellect, we get into an unenviable position where the very basis of accepting or rejecting a proposition is knocked out.

When I look at my body, my natural understanding tells me that it is in essence physical and material, something different from me, for I am not matter but soul, not physical body but pure consciousness. The body is ephemeral. I am immortal. Belief in the body-mind dichotomy is regarded not only as crucial to philosophy but is also necessary for ultimate deliverance.

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