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Home » editorials

On Faith and Reason

Submitted by on May 27, 2009 – 11:30 pm23 Comments

poppy-faithBy Swami Tripurari

When reason serves revelation it finds its proper place as an aspect of faith. As an aspect of faith reason is most useful and beautiful. It becomes a tool of the soul rather than its betrayer.

In what sense is reason an aspect of faith? Is not faith that which those lacking reason resort to? Such questions betray a superficial understanding of the nature of faith. Faith fully understood amounts to conformity to truth, whereas rational thought is but an imperfect means of apprehending truth. Conforming to truth involves apprehending or understanding it theoretically, but theoretically understanding truth does not necessarily involve conforming to it.

As Karen Armstrong points out, the Latin word credo derives from cordare: to give one’s heart, to commit oneself. Such commitment fosters understanding of something that intellectual fence-sitting cannot. It is with a similar understanding of faith (sraddha) that Thakura Bhaktivinoda equates it with surrender (saranagati), as does Sri Krishna in the Gita, when having awakened Arjuna’s faith in bhakti‘s efficacy he tells him that the practical application of his faith is surrender.

The world above and within, which includes within its circle the world below and without, represents itself before us symbolically. Its symbols, its myths are no more facts that one must blindly believe in than they are tales that need to be empirically proved before one proceeds to embrace them. Mythos is not logos but neither is it irrational to embrace the mythic and symbolic in the pursuit of knowing that which logos can never reveal. Nor is it logical to dispense with mythos altogether in the name of logos.

The fact that faith in its embrace of the symbolic is transrational—that it involves experience beyond that which is possible through rational thought alone—does not imply that it itself is irrational. Faith for good reason arises out of the mystery that underlies the very structure and nature of reality, a mystery that in its entirety will never be entirely demystified despite what those who have placed reason on their altar might like us to believe. The mystery of life that gives rise to faith as a supra-rational means of unlocking life’s mystery—one that reason does not hold the key to—suggests that faith is fundamentally rational in that it is a logical response to the mysterious. When faced with the great unknown we must find reason to trust.

But are we sure that reason does not have the potential to demystify life, rendering it static, meaningless, and boring? If faith has an influence in our lives, should we not be able to measure it? But can we even measure a simple line any more than in a pragmatic working sense, which has value only in terms of accomplishing a task? Can we measure what a line is?

Timothy Scott argues that if we try to understand a line as the sum of its points, we must start at one of its point and begin our measurement from there. From the starting point of our measurement a second point is considered in relation to the first point. However, as soon as the measurer moves to the second point on the line, the relationship between the original point and the second point  point changes in that it now lacks the element of measurer’s direct experience of it. The two points can be understood in relation to one another, but their relationship differs when observed from either point. At the same time, as Meister Eckhart has pointed out, a point itself does not have a quality of magnitude and thus does not lengthen the line of which it is the principle. Thus by mathematical measurement we can only arrive at a subjective approximation of the nature of the line we are measuring, and after all, the Sanskrit word “maya,” often translated as “illusion,” also means “to measure.”

Need we measure faith in order to believe in its revelatory potential? Better to question our faith in reasoning and empiricism in terms of their capacity to arrive at comprehensive knowing. This is especially so when, left to themselves, the knowing they could provide, if it were comprehensive, would take the mystery out of life. Faith on the other hand affirms life’s mysterious nature. If faith is the giving of one’s heart, it has much to do with love, in the absence of which reason alone does not qualify as a substitute.

This article originally appeared in Ananda, 1, 2009

23 Comments »

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    I would say from personal observation that faith comes from knowledge and experience.

    I have faith that the ladder I am climbing will support my weight because it looks solid and because I have climbed similar structures before. Religious faith is not much different. What we know about this world makes us believe that it has a Creator, and the people who can explain this Creation to us in a convincing and logical way give us faith in the religious process they represent.

    Thus faith and reason – at least for me – seem to be connected in a synergistic way: I have faith in reasonable ladders. However, some people also have faith which seems to go against reason – like those Christian fundamentalists who believe that this world is less than 7,000 years old, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Actually, their faith started from a reason based platform, but eventually developed into what can only be called a ‘blind faith’, through various pseudological and doctrinal contortions of the original platform. I see many devotees stuck in what seems like a very similar spot.

    I think we should be cautious with any extrapolations of the original knowledge and experience based faith, and we should not confuse the acceptance of such extrapolations with surrender to the Supreme (saranagati).

    BTW… excellent site! Kudos to organizers and contributors!

    • The reason that fosters divine faith in bhakti is itself result of bhakti. Thus only bhakti can give bhakti, as the Bhagavata says, bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya. It is another’s knowledge and experience derived from his or her bhakti that awakens faith in us.

      God does not answer entirely to reason, but he does to faith. Thus the position of faith is above that of reason. While blind faith is not encouraged, there are prominent examples of faith not informed by reason that have demonstrated its independent power. Among them Gopa Kumara’s uninformed faith in his guru given mantra found in Brihat-bhagavatamrta comes to mind.

      Experience in bhakti is a result of faith, not reason but the faithful application of a particular kind of reasoning—faith generated reasoning. Whereas experience as to the nature of material existence unto itself generates lack of faith in the impermanent and perhaps an openness to the possibility of a higher prospect.

      I may satisfy your intellect and generate faith in you for bhakti, but my experience and knowledge when directed to another may not generate the same faith. So what takes place in the instance where faith is generated is the taming of the intellect of those in whom sufficient sukriti has accumulated independently of reason or intellect (ajnata sukriti).

      Ultimately intellect will be retired. There is of course spiritual reasoning and thus intellect even in Krishna-lila, but this discrimination is merely the power to determine what particular service is most needed at any given time, not the doubting intellect that questions if we should serve or not.

      I agree with you that faith and reason share a relationship with one another, but as I mentioned in the article, my sense is that reason is an aspect of faith, divine faith.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    Faith in a particular spiritual practice, or in a particular guru who promotes such practice, also seems to be largely based on knowledge (reason) and experience.

    We become attracted to a particular guru because what he says seems reasonable to us, answers our questions, and because the practice recommended by him generates positive experience in his followers (including us). Granted, we must actually DESIRE what this process promises to deliver, but desire is not the same as faith.

    As to the bhakti being the only source of bhakti (SB 11.3.31) – that is perhaps a process which takes place later, and is in itself part of the experience which solidifies our faith in the chosen process:

    smarantah smarayantas ca
    mitho ‘ghaugha-haram harim
    bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya
    bibhraty utpulakam tanum

    SYNONYMS
    smarantah — remembering; smarayantah ca — and reminding; mithah — one another; agha-ogha-haram — who takes away everything inauspicious from the devotee; harim — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhaktya — by devotion; sanjataya — awakened; bhaktya — by devotion; bibhrati — possess; utpulakam — agitated by ecstasy; tanum — body.

    TRANSLATION
    The devotees of the Lord constantly discuss the glories of the Personality of Godhead among themselves. Thus they constantly remember the Lord and remind one another of His qualities and pastimes. In this way, by their devotion to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the devotees please the Personality of Godhead, who takes away from them everything inauspicious. Being purified of all impediments, the devotees awaken to pure love of Godhead, and thus, even within this world, their spiritualized bodies exhibit symptoms of transcendental ecstasy, such as standing of the bodily hairs on end. (from Vedabase)

    • But as I mentioned, in the bhakti marg the guru’s knowledge and reasoning that generate faith in scripture and the path are themselves a result of bhakti descending and they will take root in others who have sufficient sukriti gathered without reason in previous lives and earlier in the present life. So the reasoning that appeals to you and causes you to choose a particular guru in the bhakti marg has its origins in something that transcends reason: sukriti, the opportunity for which is generated by one who has bhakti. And again it is the practice of bhakti that the guru recommends that affords direct experience, which in turn deepens faith. As per the Gita, a person is his or her faith, sraddho ‘yam purusah. They are not their reasoning power. Without faith one’s animation is suspended.

      The verse cited is saying that bhakti gives bhakti from beginning to end. The logic here is that if something has the power to give bhakti other than bhakti then bhakti is not independent, which she clearly is being constituted of the svarupa-sakti of Bhagavan.

  • Gaura-Vijaya

    I think desire has deep connection to faith and practically as jivas we can only desire. All movements of physical body are actually carried out by the material nature with the sanction of Supreme. We just have minute desire which can be adjusted by the association we have: either towards maya sakti or svarupa sakti.

  • As far as reason goes, in the bhakti marg of Sri Caitanya we recognize two kinds of reason: kevala-yukti and sastra-yukti. Kevala- yukti is indepndent reasoning and sastra-yukti is reasoning that is tied to and brings out the conclusions of revelation/scripture. It is this latter form of reasoning that the guru employs and though which the student develops faith. Sastra-yukti follows divine faith. And, again, it will awaken faith in those who have sufficient sukriti gathered unknowingly and are thus predisposed to embrace this kind of reasoning that other reasonable people will not.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    To understand the basis of faith one should also look at the cases where faith is lost or diminished. What are the reasons for such a loss in people who at one time had plenty of faith? These are often very complex issues, but again I think we could link that loss of faith to knowledge and experience.

    When you have bad experiences with a particular process, your faith in it can be damaged. When you have unresolved doubts and foundational questions for which you are not getting satisfactory answers, your faith in the process can also be damaged. Just because you have faith in something now, does not mean that it is bound to stay like that forever.

    • Regarding loss of faith, Rupa Goswami details three levels of faith the first of which is pliable. The reason that it remains pliable is that it is not sufficiently strengthened by scriptural knowledge/reasoning (sastra-yukti) and experience generated from one’s practice, both of which characterize devotees who serve with nistha or firm faith—intermediate and superlative devotees.

      Despite negative experience as a result of unqualified teachers, institutional problems, etc., those who have attained firm faith will not lose their faith in bhakti. So loss of faith is a result of faith being pliable and not having spent sufficient time associating with advanced devotees who move under the influence of firm faith that is spiritually well reasoned and seasoned by practice that affords deeper experience.

  • Citta Hari

    If reason could make people take up bhakti then why are there millions of reasonable people who don’t?

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    The subject matter of faith in the religious process seems very, very important. Over the years I have seen far too many devotees lose faith in the process of Krsna consciousness. For me it is not an abstract or theoretical discussion but a very down to earth pragmatic problem that can, and should, be addressed in very practical terms.

    There is no need to turn the question of faith into something mystical, abstract, and vague. When faith is seen merely as a byproduct of past ajnata sukriti fertilized by bhakti descending from a guru, any real life situation can be explained away without addressing the specifics of the case, like good or bad experiences, reason, knowledge, or lack thereof. We simply repeat the cookie cutter formula and the case is dismissed, regardless of the circumstances.

    What makes the faith grow from a stage of tender faith (komala sraddha) to firm faith (nistha)? Is it not due to the increase of knowledge and the accumulated positive experiences on the path of bhakti? Religions which demand from their followers blind faith and obedience in exchange for a promise of salvation after death are precisely the cheating religions Bhagavatam warns us against.

    Unless we develop true spirituality here and now using a particular religious path, there is no tangible way to verify whether a path chosen by us is genuine. That is very much a rational approach that appeals to most people today.

    • Kulapavna,

      You seem to want to talk about faith and reason on a pragmatic level without discussing underlying causes and entering an abstract philosophical discussion. That’s fine. But I do not think the issue can be discussed comprehensively without discussing both. As to the pragmatic, of course I agree that it would not be prudent to tell someone that their faith is damaged in, say guru-tattva, by way of explaining away through abstract philosophy the abuse of the guru. They had a bad experience that was genuinely bad and thus their faith was damaged.

      You warn against blind faith and obedience in exchange for salvation as opposed to developing true spirituality in the here and now. How true, but that goes without saying here. People can abuse the abstract principles I am writing about but they need to be written about nonetheless. Rupa Goswami wrote about them and where would we be if he had not?

      So going back to the abstract, does ajnata sukriti exist? What predisposes one to embrace the logic of bhakti and another equally logical person to reject it? Does divine faith descend, or is it something that one reasons out and ascends to? This is the level on which I am discussing the issue. And on this level of discussion I have already answered your question as to what makes faith grow. You ask is it not knowledge and positive experience? As I have said, yes it grows through knowledge and positive experience but that this knowledge and experience are an outgrowth of bhakti. The experience of the faithful in bhakti marg is revelation. There is an ingress of mystical knowledge, and the reasoning about one’s faith that strengthens it is the kind of healthy reasoning I described in the article.

      As much as bhakti is faith, reason is subordinate to it. I would be surprised if you did not agree with this premise, but regardless it is a fundamental principle of the philosophy of Sri Caitanya and I to my knowledge the better part of theism in general.

  • Vrindaranya

    You say that there is no need to understand faith as something abstract like a byproduct of ajnata sukriti, etc., and point instead to an increase of knowledge and accumulated positive experiences on the path of bhakti. However, this is just what sukriti is.

    Of course, the source of our knowledge and experience is a devotee: the knowledge came from devotees who put their realization in books or gave discourses, and the experience originated in the mercy of devotees who created facility for us to engage in bhakti. So the root of this knowledge and experience is a devotee who carries bhakti in his or her heart. Thus bhakti comes from bhakti.

    This sukriti explains why people can apparently have the same experience and deal with it very differently, or why some people lose faith in bhakti when they don’t externally seem to have any outstanding bad experience and others sustain faith in bhakti despite terrible experiences.

    You might have a couple of people move into an asrama. One person might have extensive previous sukriti, so they are able to directly engage in bhakti and derive great satisfaction from it. Another person might have limited sukriti and engages in bhakti but is largely motivated by something that is not bhakti, for example, pratistha, psychological issues, etc. Furthermore, there will be a gradation of material desire, which itself can pull someone from the path if the faith is weak (sukriti is limited). In one sense, the two devotees will have the same experience, at least the same circumstance, but their subjective experience will be very different. One may find it blissful and the other an up-and-down roller coaster. So in the beginning there has to be some degree of blind faith that one’s experience will get better. One needs to have faith that one’s experience will improve as one develops in bhakti, because generally speaking someone isn’t going to get a full taste, and as long as the taste is small, the immediate material attractions can be very alluring.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    Vrindaranya-ji… sukriti by definition relates to pious acts, and ajnata sukriti refers to pious acts executed unknowingly. I am not sure that developing knowledge and experiencing positive things can be seen as being part of sukriti.

    I agree with you however, that we gain knowledge from realized devotees and that our positive experiences are also due in large part to receiving mercy from other devotees, who took care to arrange auspicious situation for others.

    You raise the issue of two people experiencing the same situation and arriving at two different conclusions. Of course we are all different in many ways: we have different underlying desires, different levels of knowledge, and different past experiences shaping our outlook on life. Such differences of perception observed in people experiencing the same situation are very common and are not limited to religious life.

    Just because one person can tolerate a lot of nonsense done in the name of a particular religious process without losing his or her faith, it does not mean that this person has a high level of sukriti or knowledge. We often see very ignorant people exhibiting truly blind and fanatical faith in their religion. Such faith can be seen as a product of religious indoctrination rather than actual knowledge.

    Another thing which negatively affects our faith are ‘broken promises’. The art of selling something to others often involves making promises to the prospective customers regarding the performance of the goods being sold. If such promises are bogus or grossly exagerrated, or if the seller does not stand behind their product, the customer feels cheated and his faith in both the seller and the product may suffer greatly. In the marketplace of the Holy Name the same principles seem to apply.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    Maharaja, I truly appreciate that you take time out of your busy schedule to engage in this discussion for the benefit of many readers. Jaya!

    I prefer to focus on the pragmatic side of faith because I would like to avoid nebulous catch-all answers which often heavily rely on a circular logic principle. I agree that ajnata sukriti plays a role in our initial faith in the process, but so does our previous knowledge and previous life experiences. If bhakti only comes from bhakti, and faith only comes from faith, where and how do you get started? Perhaps with some mystical, unbeknown to us event, we randomly performed some time in the past?

    Speaking from personal experience and from many years of observation of others, for me faith is not the same as bhakti, and our reason can, but does not have to, become subordinate to our desires and to our faith.

    It would be quite simplistic to assume that those who got a bad ice cream experience lost their faith in ice cream in general. They might have simply lost faith in one particular brand of that merchandise. As many children quickly learn, not all ice cream is created equal, not all vendors are honest in their advertising, and not all their childish ice cream fantasies are based in reality. This is what growing up is all about – accumulating knowledge and practical experiences. It is both rational and reasonable.

    • I think this is a good use of time. Thank you.

      There are different types of sukriti. Sukriti in relation to jnana, karma, or bhakti. We are of course talking about bhakti. According to Gaudiya siddhanta the beginning of our faith is this bhakti ajnata sukriti, the opportunity for which is distributed by advanced devotees. Bhakti distributes herself through them. They create, merely by there being in this world, opportunities to participate even unknowingly in bhakti. From there we participate with partial understanding and from there eventually faith awakens and one begins to formally tread the path. This faith is faith in revelation, the faith that perfect knowing requires a perfect method and that method is folding one’s hands in prayer, etc. It is not unreasonable but transrational and can be aided by good spiritual reasoning. Blind faith is not ideal and to the extent that it is so it is pliable. Thus Sri Rupa explains that informed faith better enables one to proceed. Informed faith is faith that is informed by scripture, acquiring which requires the application of reasoning.

      Is faith synonymous with bhakti? When we speak of faith in the above context, yes. It is a symptom of bhakti’s presence that further shows itself in saranagati. That is, it is an embrace of the path, answering to a calling that not everyone hears.

      You seem to want to say (and for me it’s hard to grasp what exactly what that is) that bhakti is “first know then believe” instead of “first believe then know.” I believe the latter is closer to the bhakti siddhanta, however simplistic this sounds. And again, I am not promoting blind faith and religious fanaticism, but rather the fact that knowing God or knowing at all is something that we are dependent upon another to be successful in. We are dependent beings. Bhakti is not our right to be fought out. It is a gift. You speak of experience, but so do I. I would suggest reading To Err is Human found elsewhere on the Harmonist in this regard.

      It is also perhaps worth pointing out that Thakura Bhaktivinoda has differentiated between faith and belief, relegating the former to the divine and the latter to the intellect.

      Overall I am not sure that we are getting anywhere in this discussion but I hope others have benefitted.

  • Citta Hari

    ” sukriti by definition relates to pious acts, and ajnata sukriti refers to pious acts executed unknowingly. I am not sure that developing knowledge and experiencing positive things can be seen as being part of sukriti.”

    After ajnata-sukrti comes jnata-sukrti: pious acts performed knowingly, the development of which culminates in sraddha. As I see it developing knowledge and experiencing positive things (in the company of sadhus) could be viewed as elements of jnata-sukrti.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    Faith can be split up into many segments, which may or may not be firmly connected. You may have faith in the process of bhakti in general, but not in the way it is practiced by a particular person or a particular group of devotees. You may have faith in the institution of a guru, but not in a particular person who performs this function. You may have general faith in a particular guru being qualified to lead others towards Krishna, but not in the social message this guru promotes. Faith does not have to be an “all or nothing” commodity.

    Focusing on the pragmatic side of faith is focusing on it’s rational and verifiable side. The same can be said about the religious process in general. Spirituality CAN be quite rational and verifiable. When Arjuna asks Krishna in the second chapter of the Gita (2.54) about how does a self realized person sit, walk, and talk, he is clearly looking for a rational and verifiable spirituality. Most of his questions are similarly practical and Lord Krishna answers them also in a practical and direct way. That is what makes Bhagavad Gita so relevant and timeless. Bhakti-yoga, like all other yoga proceses was always meant to be rational, practical, and directly verifiable. It is a lot easier to have faith in such a religious process.

    • Here is the problem. You said this:

      “Bhakti-yoga, like all other yoga proceses was always meant to be rational, practical, and directly verifiable. It is a lot easier to have faith in such a religious process.”

      But no one is arguing against this or similar points in favor of blind faith and religious fanaticism. It’s important to emphasize the rational aspect of bhakti but not at the cost of understadning that it is overall a descnding path, avaroha pantha. As one practices one gets verification. And the path is explained with the help of reason.

  • Gaura-Vijaya

    We are dependent on advanced devotees who have firm faith and show mercy to accommodate current social paradigms into their preaching. I certainly had a faith crisis of sorts and I could not resolve this crisis until I met with the presentation of Swami Tripurari and B.R Sridhar. Though I was trying to find answers through my reason, it is predominantly the mercy of my teachers that they have an ability to make GV presentation fit for me to accept.
    Most important thing is their own stature in devotional service that can generate firm faith in others. Komala sraddha can be generated by people who themselves are not so fixed up and package things well, but the stage of nistha occurs only under the guidance of the spiritual master. And there can be advanced devotees who do not interface that well with current social issues.

    Yet again it is important to note that only advanced devotees can show us mercy and provide us both with faith and good reason. Or else arguments are inconclusive in arriving at the truth: tarkopratisthanat V.Sutra.Faith otherwise is necessary even first to learn methods of science for 26 years before you can start to understand the philosophy of science( more like logical positivism) and conduct independent research. Why should logical positivism or any logic lead us to truth in nature. Normal logic and reason fails to even understand things in nature like quantum mechanics. Bertanand Russell and his hero David Hume were pretty reasonable people( perhaps “overreasonable”) but through their reason they dismantle all metaphysics, religion etc because they have no feeling for it. Certainly abuse of institution may have contributed to their suspension of faith but reading them one does not get the feeling that it would have mattered. Reason alone can only lead to agnosticism. Critique of pure reason by Kant tries to show the limitations of reason after excessive reasoning.em>Maximum you can do with reason is to understand the limitations of reason There needs to be some feeling behind one’s reason to accept the path of bhakti and that feeling is what we call sukriti.

    Sorry for the long post.

  • vrindaranya

    Dear Kula-pavana,

    In relation to your question above, sukriti means su=good or pious, krti=activities. These “pious” activities can be in relation to karma, jnana, or bhakti. By engaging in bhakti (unknowingly and later knowingly), we develop bhakti-sukriti. As sukriti develops it becomes sraddha, which is synonymous with saranagati, and of course sraddha develops into prema. So the whole continuum is fueled by the same thing: engaging in certain activities, in this case bhakti. [It is interesting to note how the terms sukriti, sraddha, bhakti, and in some ways samskara relate to each other.] Developing knowledge in the context of bhakti, is also a form of engaging in bhakti (Bg. 18.70: “One who studies this sacred conversation worships me by his intelligence.”)

    Although when sukriti develops sufficiently it is called sraddha, sometimes the term is still used even after sraddha, as the following excerpt from Harinama Cintamani shows in the context of discussing ruci: “Ruci or taste is the natural propensity born out of concentrated sukrti or piety. There are two kinds of piety, past sukrti and present sukrti.” As our sukriti/faith/bhakti increases and becomes more pure, it eventually becomes prema.

    So basically the underlying principle is that by engaging in bhakti, one’s sukriti or sraddha develops (which term is appropriate depends on where one is on the continuum). Because “developing knowledge” and “experiencing positive experiences on the path of bhakti” are both aspects of bhakti, they increase one’s sukriti/sraddha.

    You said, “Just because one person can tolerate a lot of nonsense done in the name of a particular religious process without losing his or her faith, it does not mean that this person has a high level of sukriti or knowledge.” I agree with that statement. Nonetheless, the point that I was making was that our experiences do not only determine our faith–our faith itself can determine our experience! This is the mystical aspect of faith, which in some ways you seem to be inadvertently minimizing by stressing logic and reason.

    Although I agree that we should not write off problems that occur in our tradition to abstract principles, we shouldn’t go to the other extreme and try to reduce everything to logic and reason. Yes, it is true that someone may tolerate a lot of nonsense without losing faith, and that this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a high level of faith. But that does not discount the fact that a person who does have a high level of faith will not lose that faith even when faced with averse circumstances. And who can deny that some people come to the path with the favorable wind of previous samskara pushing them along? Will such a person’s experience not be favorably enhanced? It seems incorrect to write this all off to favorable present circumstances. Again, why do some people with apparently favorable circumstances still stray from the path?

    So although I agree with most of the points that you have made, such as broken promises will negatively affect our faith, I would say that we have to be careful not to oversimplify things to a point where core principles–like bhakti comes from bhakti–become obscured.

  • Kula-pavana dasa

    It can be argued that rejection of rational thinking in spiritual life for the sake of following the descending path of bhakti can be a lot more dangerous than over-reliance on reason and logic on the same path.

    We have all witnessed how easily the arguments of a ‘descending path’ can be twisted to justify calls for blind following, personality cultism, and flat out abuse of power. The same argumentation causes some followers to accept personal opinions of their leaders to be the ‘supreme absolute truth’, often despite plenty of evidence (both shastric and empirical) to the contrary.

    Thus when it comes to faith, many people chose to err on the side of rationality, reason and logic, without disputing the essentially descending nature of the spiritual process.

  • You write

    “Thus when it comes to faith, many people chose to err on the side of rationality, reason and logic, without disputing the essentially descending nature of the spiritual process.”

    Good to keep that without in bold. But overall Eastern spirituality is appealing to modern educated people because it appears more philosophical, verifiable, and reasonable. Atheist Sam Harris has taken this position in his book The End of Faith. This plays into the discussion in the comments section of The Bhagavata Leans Left.

    But to be fair, what Harris and the like are contrasting is Eastern mysticsim with Western religion, not Western religious mysticism. Then again in my experience, as esoteric as Western mysticism gets the more it starts to resemble Eastern mysticism.

  • vrindaranya

    “Thus when it comes to faith, many people chose to err on the side of rationality, reason and logic, without disputing the essentially descending nature of the spiritual process.” Yes, but we don’t have to chose between two extremes (black and white).

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