Monday, June 27, 2011

Vivikenanda: On Instinct, Reason and Inspiration

"Unity in variety is the plan of the universe. As a man you are separate from an animal, but as living beings man, woman, animal and plant are all one; and as existence you are one with the whole universe. That universal essence is God, the ultimate Unity in the universe. In him we are all one. At the same time, in manifestation these differences must always remain."
-- Swami Vivikenanda --
"We find in all beings three sorts of instruments of knowledge," Vivikenanda writes. "The first is instinct which you find most highly developed in animals; this is the lowest instrument of knowledge. What is the second instrument of knowledge? Reasoning. You find that most highly developed in man."

"Now in the first place," Vivikenanda observes, "instinct is an inadequate instrument; to animals the sphere of action is very limited, and within that limit instinct acts. When you come to man, you see it is largely developed into reason. The sphere of action also has bere become enlarged. Yet even reason is still insufficient. Reason can go only a little way and then it stops, it cannot go any farther; and if you try to push it the result is helpess confusion; reason becomes unreasonable."

"Logic becomes argument in a circle," he notes. "Take for instance the very basis of our perception - matter and force. What is matter? That which is acted upon by force. And force? That which acts upon matter. You see the complication, what the logicians call a seesaw, one idea depending on the other, and this again depending on that."

"You find a mighty barrier before reason, beyond which reasoning cannot go," he points out. "Yet it always feels impatient to get into the region of the Infinite beyond. This world, this universe which our senses feel or our mind thinks, is but one atom, so to say, of the Infinite, projected on to the plane of consciousness. Within that narrow limit defined by the network of consciousness works our reason, and not beyond. Therefore there must be some other instrument to take us beyond, and that instrument is called inspiration."

"So instinct, reason, and inspiration are the three main instruments of knowledge," says Vivikenanda. "Instinct belongs to animals, reason to man, and inspiration to God-men. But in all human beings are to be found in more or less developed conditions the germs of all these three instruments of knowledge. To have these mental instruments evolved, the germs must be there. And this must also be remembered, that one instrument is a development of another and therefore does not contradict it."

"It is reason that develops into inspiration," Vivikenanda concludes, "and therefore inspiration does not contradict reason, but fulfills it. Things which reason cannot get at are brought to light by inspiration, and they do not contradict reason. The old man does not contradict the child, but fufills the child."

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