Thursday, 1 January 2015

The method of Religious Knowledge

Anoop Pati Tiwari

According to Radhakrishnan Religious experience in it’s condense and continuous state is called some time mystical experience and sources of mystical experience is mystical intuition the only true destiny of intuitive life It is the heart of integral experience. Other intuitions draw their essence from it. They must have their face turned toward it for their fulfilment. Other intuitions take mystical intuition for granted. "Even logical knowledge is possible because this highest knowledge is ever present. It can only be accepted as foundational1." As for mystic experience, "The experience itself is felt to be sufficient and complete. It does not come in a truncated form demanding completion by something else. It does not look beyond itself for meaning and validity2". Radhakrishnan described this unique fact of mystical intuition in many ways. We can do no better than quote some of his statements to convey some idea of this fact as he perceives it.
About the fact of the experience it there can be no possibility of doubt, although we may disagree as to what it really means. "However much we may quarrel about the implications of this kind of experience, we cannot question the actuality of the experience itself3". Even without having the experience in its profundity, we can and do often have a taste of it is same kinds of empirical awareness.
While the profounder intuitions do not normally occur, milder forms are in the experience of all who feel an answering presence in deep devotion or share the spell which great works of art cast on us. When we experience the illumination of new knowledge, the ecstasy of poetry or the subordination of self to something greater, family or nation, the self-abandonment of falling in love, we have faint glimpses of mystic moods4.
Mystic Experience Posits the Transcendental Reality: All mystics would agree that mystic experiences reveals the transcendent reality or God, regardless of whether one conceives of the Drivine Being as personal or impersonal. It was William James who said that it is "a postulator of new facts", and that it points to "the presence of a being or reality through other means than the ordinary perceptive processes or reason". Evelyn Underhill also speaks of mysticism as essentially the possibility "first of knowing, finally of attaining Ultimate Reality". Otto, likewise, defines the aim of mysticism as "a real knowledge of, a real personal communion with, a Being, whose nature is yet above knowledge and transcends personality". Radhakrishna agrees with the mystical tradition all over the world that mystical intuition reveals reality. Mark the following statement of his:
The individual adopts an attitude of faith which is urged by its own needs to posit the transcendental reality. He affirms that the soul has dealings, direct, intimate and luminous, with a plane of being different from that with which the senses deal a world more resplendent but not less real than the conventional one. The experience is felt as of the nature of a discovery or revelation, not a mere conjecture or a creation. The real was there actually confronting us, it was not conjured out of the resources of our own mind5.
The Unity of Being: The unity of being includes two things, as already noted, (1) the unity of the absolute "Beyond" and visible nature of the universe, and (2) the unity of "the other" and the self (or object and subject). The concepts or transcendence and immanence are common to both. "The Beyond" implies a contrast with the world; "the other" implies a contrast with the self of man.
The Unity of "the Beyond" and the Universe: Radhakrishnan sees the universe as immanent spirit. The materiality or actuality of the universe in no way contradicts its spirituality; for the latter comprehends the former. Seeing the universe as spirit is seeing it whole while seeing it as matter is seeing it partially, and the partial is wrong. Spirit is not opposed to matter, for it includes matter. The question is asked, "If the universe is essentially sprit, who do we account for its appearance as non-spirit?" Likewise if integral experience challenges us to "The joyful awareness of the universe as harmony," how do we explain "the tension, the discord and the cleavage in the universe"? Radhakrishnan answers his own questions thus:
The world of science and common sense seem so different from the freedom of the self. It is an illusion or is it a reality? Those who are pragmatically inclined take the practical life as reality and treat spiritual experiences as a mere dream, so deep seem to be the division between them. Some of the more careful trace the appearance of the multiple universes to the limitations of human intelligence, avidya, and nascence. The human mind, being what it is, tries to reconstruct the universe from the intellectual point of view into an organic whole. For the intellect, the unity is only a postulate, an act of faith. For the spirit, the harmony is an experienced reality.
We see partially because we use only a part of out self in apprehending the universe. Integral experience will show that the universe is spirit. Then, "the earth and the sky, the world and animals, all become suddenly strange and wonderful. For our eays are opened and they all declare the presence of the one Supreme. The universe seems to be alive with spirit, aglow with fire, burning with light. As the chandogya Upanishad declares, we will see spirit "above, below, being, before, to the right and to the left6.
The Unity of "the other" and the Self: Here we are considering transcendence in the sense of otherness, the contrast with the self being assumed. Radhakrishnan is an advocate of the otherness of God just as he is an advocate of his beyondness. Yet as beyondness is complemented by the immanence of the spirit in nature, so the otherness of God has to be complemented by the idea of a God subjectivity, or that of God indwelling in man in the proper sense of the term, seeing that indwelling can never mean dwelling inside the psychosomatic organism, but dwelling in the subjective being of man. "While the fullness of spiritual being transcends our categories, we are certain that its nature is akin to the highest kind of being we are aware of. If the real were entirely transcendent to the self of man it would be impossible for us to apprehend even dimly its presence. We would not be able to say even that it is "wholly other. So we have to see that "there is in the self of man, at the very centre of his being, something deeper than intellect, which is akin to the Supreme. It is this fact that makes divine revelation possible. "God's revelation and man's contemplation seem to be two sides of one fact ........ There is a real ground in man's deepest being for the experience of reality. This fact is the apriori basis of all spiritual experience. "The consubstantiality of the spirit in man and God is the conviction fundamental to all spiritual wisdom. It is not a matter of inference only. In the spiritual experience itself the barriers between the self and the ultimate reality drop away. In the moments of its highest insight the self becomes aware not only of its own existence but of the existence of the omnipresent spirit of which it is, as it were, a focusing7. This he feels is the meaning of the great text of the Upanishad, Tat tvam asi (That art Thou).
From logic we are left to metaphysics. "We generally identify ourselves without narrow limited selves and refer to spiritual experience as something given or revelled to us, as though it did not belong to us8. It is true that in mystical experience as such the polarity between the self and "the other" is felt to be real and valid. But in the higher order of mystical experience, which is here presented as integral experience, it will be transcended. Mystical experience posits the otherness of God, as it postulates the absolute contrariness to "the other" of the self. Here God is known as a mystery. The numinous experience of God as mystery postulates to the intellect the paradoxical proposition that the which is absolutely contrary to "the Other" somehow also knows "the other," Radhakrishnan maintains the position that all knowledge is through identity, in which the knower and the known are one. If this position is accepted, then, the apprehension of "the other" would require that which knows it must be identical with it, and so logically otherness cancels itself out. But mystical experience as such is not a state where non-paradoxical or positive identity of the knower and the known is possible. The paradoxical is transcended only in integral experience. In mystical experience the empirical state of the self is assumed. To the empirical, God is the "wholly other". As the Hindu mystic tradition sees it, intellectually, only the most negative descriptions can be given to it. "The negative account is intended to express the soul's sense of the transcendence of God, the wholly other", of whom naught may be predicated save in negatives. .......... When we call it nothing we mean that it is nothing that created beings can conceive and not that it is nothing absolutely9. Now the spirit alone can comprehend "the other" and the God of subjectivity in one.
The Religion of the Spirit: Integral experience as metaphysics of religion primarily aims at religious knowledge. It is essentially a theory of the religion of the sprit as against the religion of dogma or authority. A considerable part of Radhakrishnan's writings directly bears on this question. There is is a detailed discussion of it in "A Fragment of a Confession". It also deals with the cognate question of Religion as distinguished from religions, meaning universal religion as different from particular religious traditions.
The Inner Essence of Religion and the Formal structure: Radhakrishnan makes a significant distinction between the inner essence of religion and the out ware, formal structure of religion, which consist in beliefs, creeds, practices, rituals and codes. The distinction made here pervades all his thinking, not only on religion, but also on science, art, ethics etc.
Symbolism the Beginning of Formal Structure: In opposition to this, Radhakrishnan makes a distinction between "Sruti or the Vedas, which is independent of any purely human mode of thought, and Smrti or tradition, which is based on reasoning the interpretaion10". The idea is that Sruti expresses the inner essence of religion, while Smrti stands for the formal development of theology, cults, codes and the symbols of religious faith.
The former is direct expression of realized truth which proceeds exclusively from the self, which is uncreated and untreatable. These utterances are supra-individual, universal, divine. They are direct and not discursive. Anubhava or direct experience, active participation in the eternal truth, is distinguished from the indirect and passive participation in religious knowledge by belief. In the case of integral insight, the individual does not possess knowledge as an individual but participates in his innermost essence, which is not distinct from the divine principle. The metaphysical certitude is absolute because the knower and the known are identical. This janna the most perfect union between God and man11.
The religious scriptures of the world are all, like the Vedas, originally based on integral experience. Integral experience is not faith or revelation but higher knowledge. All scriptures are said to be timeless, meaning "That the insight into the one reality is timeless in origin and unaffected by the human need for diversity of expression12". The Vedas are said to be eternal; so are all the scriptures of making. But, "what are timeless are not the literary documents but the wisdom which is available to men of awareness at all times. This he feels is the truth behind the vedantic contention that the scriptures are apauruseya (impersonal). The impersonality stands for universality. "The inward appropriation of this wisdom may occur in place and time, which may have a great deal to do with the shaping in words of these insights". But, "spiritual tr4uth is far greater than the scriptures." "Godhead can be described and appropriated in various ways."But the important thing is the truth, not the way. For, "when the truth is attained, the way falls away." "The way" stands for the formal structures, both rational as well as technical; "the truth" stands for the inner essence.
1.       Fragments of a Confession, in Schil pp, p. 61.
2.       Radhakrishnan an Idealist view of Life, p. 92.
3.       Ibid, p. 93.
4.       Ibid, p. 93.
5.       Radhakrishnan an Idealist view of life, p. 95.
6.       Radhakrishnan an Idealist view of Life, p.110.
7.       Ibid, p. 103z
8.       Ibid, p. 103.
9.       Ibid, p. 110.
10.    Radhakrishnan recovery of faith, p. 151.
11.    Ibid, p. 151.
12.  Ibid, p. 151.                                                              Dr. Anoop Pati Tiwari
General Fellow, Dept. of Philosophy,

B.H.U. Varanasi.