The wisdom of the Absolute posing a challenge to the intellect of human is the crux of human predicament. The perennial questions about god, self, soul, afterlife, purpose and meaning of personal and impersonal existence – all point towards the enormous gulf between our limited capacities to understand key abstractions on one hand and the infinite wisdom on the other. The bridge of language, logic, poetry and symbol seem to be ill built to connect one to the other, and join the limited self to the infinite Absolute. It is not that the human is grappling in the dark but she is perplexed with the subtleties of the wisdom that existence eternally exhibits. A large number of humans do not and intend not to decipher these subtleties. Others grasping a little instantly wish to freeze the mysteries into principles or norms of spirituality. In doing so the wisdom flies far away. We do not know what to make of the bounties and the cruelties that surround us. We pickle the mysteries dead.
Some mystics have managed to reach the other shore of Truth/Absolute and stretched a helping hand for others to find their way to Truth. They have as they say in Zen wisdom, ‘pointed the finger to the moon’. But most seekers have failed to glance at the moon and rather held the hand of the mystic to find solace in his/her refuge. Worse, we have malformed the mystics and their words into ‘things’ we can die and kill for. We sap mystics and religions off their spirit and are satisfied with their corpse. We love to make organizations out of living religions and heroes out of mystics/prophets. We proclaim and propagate the rules of religion rather than imbibing the fundamentals of spirituality. Is our intellect so crippled that it can never comprehend the Absolute? If yes, then the doors to human spiritual evolution are closed. If not, then how do humans understand the essence of spirituality and comprehend the Absolute wisdom that seems to pose a challenge to human intellect?
To comprehend the Absolute is to come in close proximity of the Absolute. One needs to realize that she is a part of the whole that is named as the Absolute. It is to try and fine-tune oneself with the Absolute that is existing and living every moment. One needs to silence oneself, eliminate all thoughts and sink deep within oneself. Can a part isolate itself from the whole and yet understand what whole means of which it is a part? The Absolute is not out there separate from you but rather is living in, out and through you. The need to interpret existence arises only because one develops an ego identity, ‘I’ as separate from the ’It”, the Absolute. May be we aren’t separate at all! Kabir says: pani hi tai him bhaya, him hve gaya bilayi. Jo kuchh tha sohi bhaya, ab kachhu kahyo na jayi. In essence this means that on Self realization, Existence crystallized in you as the ego, once again becomes Existence. The separation of the self from the existence is only apparent and illusory in this sense.
Can the intellect comprehend the Absolute? The answer is: Yes, it can. But it is only a necessary condition not a sufficient one. Intellect when satiates its capacities, lets other faculties in humans (intuition, emotion) also to participate in understanding the Absolute. Intellect when unduly dominates over all other faculties skews individuals to skepticism. Skepticism may be useful in the pursuit of knowledge to an extent but it proves to be an impediment when exaggerated in pursuit of wisdom. In the quest of wisdom, intellect must join hands with emotion and intuition. Even what is just said should not be cerebrated into a principle. On the path of spirituality one should be determined but flexible. Determined to find the Truth and flexible in one’s approach.
Rare individuals have found access to infinite wisdom or at least the key to it. They are the enlightened beings, the masters. The seeker should treat the words of the enlightened master as a beacon to reach the sun which she is yet to discover for oneself. A Master’s words are pointers, not principles. They are truths, not faiths. So whenever you are awestruck by a phenomenon in nature or a statement of a spiritual text, let the intellect not overshadow and let your whole being comprehend its deeper meaning and significance.
Nilesh P Megnani is a meditation facilitator and writer. Connect with him on firstname.lastname@example.org