09.02 – Let reason be our minister, not our master

by March 16, 2013

We may get the question: “Do I have to give up reason in order to put faith in the Gita?”

Not at all, answers Gita wisdom. But we should ensure that reason is our minister, not our master.

Let’s understand the difference:

Reason as master: If we install reason as the ultimate arbiter of our life, then its judgments can be devastating. Skeptics who have made reason their secular god have reasoned themselves out of existence – figuratively and literally. By their reasoning, they inferred that their emotions being nothing but neurochemical signals were illusory; their consciousness was illusory; and so were they themselves – their sense of self was false. Therefore, life itself was meaningless. So the only philosophical question in life, said the skeptical philosopher Albert Camus, was whether to commit suicide tomorrow or today. Better today, decided some people overcome with despair due to such reasoning, and ended their lives.

Reason as minister: If we have not suffered so much under the tyranny of reason, that’s because we have had the common sense to not become its fanatical worshipers. We haven’t placed reason on a pedestal higher than reality. And the reality is that our existence is a greater reality than the reality of reason; it is because we exist that we reason. That’s why we need to subordinate reason to the verdict of experience.

Reason as minister helps us separate authentic spirituality from shadow spirituality; the core principles of Gita wisdom definitely stand the scrutiny of reason. However, the transformational potency of Gita wisdom is vindicated not in the court of reason, but in the court of experience, as the Bhagavad-gita (09.02: pratyakshavagamam) indicates. By refusing to let reason become our master, we open ourselves to the inner experience of Krishna that is life’s ultimate confirmatory test.


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