I And Mine: [01.06] - I And My Mind - Question Troubling The Intellect

Published: 20.10.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

I have been a student of philosophy; I used to think that without it truth could not be known. Having read both eastern and western philosophy, I am convinced that it is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. It cannot be denied that it is only through intelligence that man's development can take place. Science has made unimaginable progress. Space flights are now a common feature. With clockwork efficiency one space ship takes off and another lands after completing the mission. Anti-aircraft guns pinpoint their targets in the distant skies and bring them down. Pilotless aircrafts do the intended bombing through remote control. The example can be infinitely multiplied. Can anyone who is wide-awake deny the truth of these achievements of human intelligence? And yet our philosophers keep harping on the theme of the visible being unreal, and the invisible being real. That which is accessible to human intelligence is according to them not real, while that which is beyond its grasp is real.

The human intellect is a wonderful actor. It keeps playing diverse roles. Even though it is the prime agent of knowledge, it has taken a back-stage position and has fancied a line of thinking totally unrelated to man. I keep wondering whether that man was truly intelligent or unintelligent who said that real knowledge begins where the reach of the intellect ends. If he was intelligent, he displayed the power of intelligence in making that statement. And if he was unintelligent, then he had not basis to make the statement. Whatever one asserts - whether in favour of something or against it - one does only on the basis of one 's intelligence. All proof or disproof has its origin in our intelligence. From whatever point, therefore, one might begin, one gets back to recognising the supremacy of the intellect. By denying the importance of the intellect, we get into an unenviable position where the very basis of accepting or rejecting a proposition is knocked out.

When I look at my body, my natural understanding tells me that it is in essence physical and material, something different from me, for I am not matter but soul, not physical body but pure consciousness. The body is ephemeral. I am immortal. Belief in the body-mind dichotomy is regarded not only as crucial to philosophy but is also necessary for ultimate deliverance.

Every time such natural understanding gets active I repeat the formula of body-mind dichotomy. But there are times when I think to the contrary. Can the soul have a separate existence from the body? lf yes, is it outside the body or inside it? Since no consciousness can exist outside the body, external soul-consciousness is simply beyond the pale experience. If the soul is inside the body, what enables us to experience it? At any rate who has drawn this eternal dividing line between the soul and the body. Is it not merely subservience to formal logic, which dictates the contradictoriness of that which lacks consciousness and that which has it? Some of our philosophers have likened the body to a chariot and the soul to a charioteer. The chariot is for everyone to see and be sure about. What is in doubt is the existence of the charioteer. Those who affirm its existence have not seen it, nor have those who negate its existence seen or perceived its non-existence. However, the battle lines have been drawn with the two armies - the believers and the non-believers - confronting each other and armed with their own darts of reason. Who will win is yet to be seen.

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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  1. Body
  2. Consciousness
  3. Science
  4. Soul
  5. Space
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