What is the logical proof for the existence of the spiritual world?
From Pancha Pandava P
Answer Summary as the acronym SPIRIT
S – Soul’s origin
P – Paranormal phenomena
I – Innate longing for eternal shelter
R – Revelation of scripture and realization of saints
I – Inconceivable consistency of diverse traditions
T – Transformational potency of spirituality
Edited by: Sudha Mehta
Question from PanchaPandavaprabhu:
What is the logical proof for the existence of the spiritual world?
Answer: We can discuss 6 logical proofs for the existence of the spiritual world based on the acronym: S- P- I- R- I- T.
S is “Souls origin”
P is “Paranormal phenomena”
I is “Innate longing for eternity”
R is “Revelation of the sages and scriptures”
I is “Inconceivable consistency amidst global diversity”, and
T is “Transformational potency of spirituality”
Let’s look at these one by one.
First “S” is Soul’s source or origin. If I am sitting in a room made of marble and I suddenly find a gold particle over there naturally the question will come up in my mind “Where did this gold come from”? The gold is so dissimilar to what is present everywhere around it. Therefore the question arises this gold must come from somewhere? Similarly once we understand that there is a difference between the body and the soul(the body is temporary, the soul is eternal, the body is unconscious, the soul is conscious, the body is source of misery, the soul is a reservoir of ecstasy and joy sat-cid-ananda)then naturally we will be inclined to know where did the soul come from?
There is such a drastic diversity or contrast in the nature of matter and spiritthat naturally when we understand that there is a soul immediately the question comes up, where did the soul come from?
The focus of this discussion will primarily be on the spiritual world and not on evidences for the existence of the soulsuch as past life memories, near death experiences, and the history of consciousness,etc. for understanding the soul.
Once we understand that there is a soul, thennaturally the question comes where does the soul come from?Where does this particle of spirit, whose characteristics is so radically opposed to whatever is present around it i.e. the matter, come from? Just as a gold particle comes from a reservoir of gold, or a gold mine, similarly this particle of spirit comes from a place where everything is spiritual and that is itssource. When we look at the particle of spirit, the soul, we can infer that it must have come from a place where there are spiritual things and that place is the spiritual world. None of these arguments can conclusively prove the soul because that proof comes directly by experience,eventually, when we go back to the spiritual world. But all these points can lead to logical inferences about the spiritual world and its existence.
Then P is paranormal phenomena:Using its current materialistic paradigmscience tries to explain things in gross material terms.It uses the laws of nature and the interaction of matter and energy based on those laws for this purpose. However, not everything is explainable by this neat simple framework of materialist science. Muchremains unexplained.Be it phenomena which are broadly categorised as ESP or extra sensory perception or “psi” (pronounced as sigh). There are many phenomena for example there is the phenomena of staring. When a person is stared at then that person seems to have an intuitive sense by which he can understand that someone is staring and looks behind. There are many experiments done on a probability basis on the number of times a person should be able to guess whether somebody is staring at him or not. Results of these tests confirm that actual number of times the person guesses correctly is much more. It’s not just a guess, there is some sort of sixth sense that we have which alerts us that there is something beyond me and something’s observing me. Now beyond this there are many well documented evidences of Telepathy, of Psychokinesisor other kinds of extraordinary phenomena which science calls as paranormal phenomena. There were so many evidences of Para normal phenomena that since the start of the 20th centuryWilliam James, who was one of the most prominent psychologists of the modern times, has said that “The examples for these phenomena are so many and so wide spread that to dismiss them to wish them away is bad science”.We keep ourselves narrow minded and closed mindedif we dismiss such phenomena as unscientific,fake or undocumented. There is so much documentation on this. Alfred Wallace, who was the co-founder of the theory of evolution, wrote a book about paranormal phenomena and it was then called as “Spiritism” and in that he explains in the introduction that“I do not ask for faith from my readers, what I ask for is doubt in the infallibility of their pre-conceptions.Don’t believe that whatever we know is correct. We have to be doubtful about the infallibility of the preconceptions”. There arelot of documented evidence of paranormal phenomena. What do paranormal phenomena indicate? It indicates that there is reality beyond the gross material reality. The Vedic wisdom as given out in the Bhagavad Gita explains “that reality” can be broadly classified into 3 levels. There is spiritual reality, there is subtle material reality and there is gross material reality. The modern science studies only the gross material reality. But science has come up with many inferences many observations and many findings which indicate that there is subtle material reality as well as the spiritual reality. Dr Michael Cremo in his book “Human Devolution” gives examples like say random number generated experimentalteration,staring and other examples to talk about how there issubtle material realm. He then gives examples of past life memories and experiences to talk about how there is a spiritual realm. So from these paranormal phenomena one can infer about the existence of a spiritual reality.The place where the spiritual reality is completely manifested is the spiritual world.Spiritual reality is eternally manifested in the spiritual world. This is the second inference.
Then “I” is the innate longing for an eternal shelter.We all want something lasting. If I have a house and if it’s not my own house, I’m a tenant,thenI want a permanent house. Why? Because we all want permanence but we see that everything around us is temporary. So why do we have a longing for permanence? If we look deeply in nature our inner most longings are always fulfilled. We have thirst and there is water in nature, we have hunger and there is food in nature. For most of our core longings there is fulfilment. There are longings and there are fulfilments for those longings. There is an innate longing for an eternal shelter which we can call as home forever. All of us want to belong to that place. So is there such a place? We have seen if there is a longing there is a fulfilmentas we observe from these other examples of food and water. We can therefore conclude that there is a place where this longing is fulfilledwhere we can get eternal shelter, and that is the spiritual world.
Then “R” is the revelations of the scriptures and the realizations of the sages
Not all people in this world may accept scriptures as the word of God. But if one studies scriptures open-mindedly one can see that there is profound wisdom in those scriptures. The Vedic scriptures contain a vast body of wisdom.They talk about the spiritual world. They talk about an eternal abode to which we belong. If we look at some of the greatest thinkers in world history they were saintly people and they talked about the world to come which is beyond this world, the world where there is no death, the world where there is eternal life. They were referring to the spiritual world.Even if we don’t believe the scriptures to be the word of God, even if we don’t consider the sages to be God realised, yet the fact that these books contain a lot of wisdom and the people who compiled them were themselves quite wise and since they have talked about this, that should give us a cause for pause before we dismiss the concept of a spiritual world as if it’s just some imagination.
And then “I” is the inconceivable consistency amidst remarkable diversity.
If we look at the various traditions of the world they have much diversityin terms of external dress, in rituals, in language, in modes of worship, and yet despite these diversities there are some ideas which havebeen there consistently in all the traditions, in the great traditions of the world, in the theistic religions be it Islam, or Christianity or Hinduism or in the many religions that were there in Europe before Christianity came about. All these religions and all these traditions have talked about some eternal Kingdom. When there is so much diversity in other beliefs like whether there one God or there are many Gods? Whether God is personal or God is impersonal?Yet on this one point there isconsistency amongst the greatest thinkers of the world andthat is “Beyond this temporary there is eternal”.
What’s the nature of this eternal? In that there may be diversity.But there is an eternal abode that is a consistent teaching. Where does that consistency come from? Dr Michael Cremoin his book “Human Devolution” talks about the remarkable similarity in cross cultural cosmologies. Cross cultural cosmologies means the conception of existence that is there in various global traditions. Here he talks about Native Americans, he talks about pre-Christian Europe, he talks about Africa, he talks about the Indian tradition and even the Chinese tradition, the natives in Australia and all of them have had the conception of an eternal world and this consistency in the teachings of all these traditions gives credence to the understanding that, there is a wisdom which is universaland it is hinted at by the universality of these teachings and by this particular teaching of the eternal world or the spiritual world.
And Lastly “T” Transformation potency of spirituality.
In the present times the word spiritual is often used in a very amorphous sense but if we look at serious spiritualists,throughout history, they have become detached from matter and they have become attached to something higher. Nobody can live without happiness. Yet there have been great saints and great spiritualists who have become detached from matterand they’ve become attached to something higher. What is that higher thing? That higher reality is the spiritual reality.Especially with the Vedic tradition we see that anyone who follows the Vedic spirituality, especially the process of bhakti yoga, can become transformed. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says “pratyakṣāvagamaḿ dharmyaḿsu-sukamkartumavyayam” this is directly verifiable by experience. So Krishna does talk in 15.6 about how there is a spiritual world:
na tad bhasayate suryo
na sasanko na pavakaḥ
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramaḿ mama
He says beyond this material world is the spiritual world which isself- effulgent, when one goes there he does not come back. There are references like thisnot just in the Bhagavad Gita, but in the Upanishads and even in the other Vedic literatures. We also see such references in other religious literature coming from other traditions of the world. These references are urging us to go towards the spiritual world and there are proposition in these literatures where a process is offered following which you go towards the spiritual world. When people follow the process the result is that they become attached to spirit and they become detached from matter. This indicates that they’ve attainedsome higher happiness which is making them detached from the lower happinessand that higher happiness is coming from spiritual reality. All these point out to a reality which is the reality of the spiritual world.
Thus by converging inferences from different directions or divergent sources like the soul’s source, from the paranormal phenomena, from the innate longing for eternity, from the revelations of the scriptures and realisations of the sages, from the inconceivable consistency amidst the diversity of the world’s traditions , and from the transformational potency of spirituality, we can come to this convergent inference that there is a spiritual world, and off course the ultimate conclusion will be indubitable “the conclusion that is beyond doubt” and that is when we become purified and we become re-instated in the spiritual world. Before that happens, for an open-minded person there are adequate reasons and logic available for inferring the existence of a spiritual world.
Thank you.Hare Krishna.