Reason, danger in Vedanta

Posted: 02/04/2014 in Mandtao, Science
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I am in the middle of watching Frank Huguenard’s movie “Beyond Reason”. It turns out that the movie is about Vedanta, I have nothing against Vedanta – it is not my tradition – but if I had known I probably wouldn’t have watched it.

Before I go into the movie I must make my usual caveat. Vedanta is a long established tradition, from before the Buddha, so in discussions about Vedanta it is understandable that they don’t talk about the 1%, but in his introduction to the actual Vedanta (32.00 mins) Frank discusses happiness. Basically he says science does not bring happiness, his emphasis being on the development of science and why it hasn’t brought happiness. At this point it could have been appropriate to say that the 1% are the problem, but throughout the movie’s emphasis is on science because they are emphasising that Vedanta is a type of scientific method. But in so doing they ignore the reality of socity as it is, they do not explicitly express the awareness that the primary factor that contemporaneously is preventing spiritual development is the 1%-system.

I was first attracted by the clear exposition of the history and dichotomy of knowledge by the Elder Brothers, they then went on to discuss quantum mechanics which I found interesting, which I suspect is true because of their understanding of science, but which I don’t know for sure. But then began discussion of Vedanta, literally the “culmination of knowledge”. Basically there was an appeal to the rational. There was an attempt to show that Vedanta was a scientific method with its own axioms and methodology – primarily raja yoga. They are the teachers – it is their tradition, but for me this leaves a gaping chasm that can lead to poor practice. The axioms and methodology of Vedanta are concerned with an examination of the mind through raja yoga. It is not about books, Frank’s analogy was that to learn to swim you must go in the water – no amount of reading about swimming can teach you to swim.

But here is the chasm that I am so concerned about. Our education system teaches us that all is rational, and if a system of understanding such as Vedanta places itself on a parallel with that supposed education system of rationality, then western students are instinctively drawn to reason and so will not go “Beyond Reason” – Frank’s title and purpose of the movie. Undoubtedly the movie makes clear that currently science does not seek knowledge (the 1% don’t want us to know they want us to accept their system), what needs to be emphasised is that Vedanta is a genuine search for knowledge as opposed to the rational science and technology that has been hijacked by the 1% for their profit-making. Vedanta is not concerned with profit, it is about understanding, truth and therefore happiness, values completely alien to the science the 1% has diverted.

Here is Frank’s scientific approach:-

This is a compromise game on the part of the teachers and presenters whose rationale goes something like this:- western students accept academic science so to involve them in Vedanta we will use the same terminology that academia uses. The danger is that western students will then use the same distorted minds – distorted by an extreme over-emphasis on the faculty of reason, and approach the learning of Vedanta with the same academic distortion of their upbringing – NEVER going beyond reason.

Now I am certain that Vedanta, as a scientific methodology in its own terms of searching for knowledge, can lead to an understanding of the spiritual Path – even though I don’t practice it, but the scientific methodology that Vedanta must practice has to be greatly different to the scientific methodology practised by academia. I met an academic and we got involved with a long discussion about Insight and reason. He sought the transcendence discussed in the movie. However all that he did was take the discussion of Insight to be an expansion of the academic rationality, so whilst he knew in some sense the importance of transcendence he never transcended because all he saw was rationality. Beyond reason is essential, comparing Vedanta methodology with science creates dangers.

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