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I And Mine: [01.04] - I And My Mind - What is Truth ?

Published: 18.10.2005
Updated: 30.07.2015

You are surprised that I do not believe in the soul and I am surprised that you believe in it even though you do not know what it is. Have you ever seen the soul? Can anyone believe in it without seeing it? Seeing is believing. One who knows does not believe in it and the one who believes in it does not know it.

In spite of your belief in the soul, could you see any light? You could have seen it if you had known the soul's existence. I am convinced that there is no soul. When did this conviction plunge me into darkness?

I would have been plunged into darkness only if I could have known that the soul does not exist. In your case as well as in mine, it is just believing, and believing is not knowing. Let me tell you a story.

The mistress told the servant to go and buy some butter oil from the market. He evinced unwillingness, as he was afraid of going out in the dark. The mistress insisted on her believing that there was nothing to fear. The poor fellow walked down a few steps but soon returned. The mistress repeated her prescription, but the servant despite his effort could go no further. On being asked to go a third time he rushed downstairs and in a couple of minutes came back with a full container and put it before his mistress. She said, “Have you brought the butter oil?” The servant answered, "Yes, I have."

She smelt it and burst into anger, “Is this what you call butter oil? This is donkey's urine.” Quick came the reply from the servant, “Why don 't you believe it to be butter oil?” She returned, “How can I believe something that is not butter oil to be butter oil?” - “This is precisely the question,” observed the servant. “When I feel afraid how can I believe that there is nothing to fear!"

This is argument, counter-argument. What else can there be when it comes to believing? Arguments, counter-arguments, counter-counter-arguments, and so on, until the belief is shattered. I believe that religion is not a natural need of life, you believe that it is so. In both cases, it is a question of belief. What the truth indeed is, neither you know, nor do I.

Whenever I think of the instruments or means of knowledge, I feel that our philosophers are utterly confused. Their idea of the truth is no better than a mirage. They say that the truth is transcendental and cannot be pursued by the senses. Let me, however, tell you that we have two means of knowing the truth: the senses and the intellect.

For, if there are no means of knowing what the truth is, how could the philosophers know that the truth is transcendental? Some of our philosophers regard all those things illusory, which are grasped through the intellect. For them only those things are real which are beyond the reach of the intellect. Knowledge gained through the senses and the intellect, they argue, being prone to doubt and error, can never be true and authentic. The function of the eye is to see, but it fails to perform it under adverse circumstances caused by either haze or distance. The rays of the sun falling on the mother-of-pearl create the illusion of silver. Excess of phlegm makes everything taste better and to a man bitten by a snake even the bitterest thing tastes sweet. Every one of the five senses is governed too much by external circumstances to be capable o perceiving the truth. Likewise, the intellect is also full of uncertainty and misapprehension. On the other hand, it is equally true that to earn admiration a man can go even hungry, and that meeting abuse by abuse and looking down upon others, afford great pleasure.

Such is their line of reasoning, and on its basis, they assert the impossibility of knowing the truth through the senses or the intellect. Again, it is the same conviction, which denies the reality of the happiness derived from these two sources. However, I would like to ask them if they know of any unfailing norm by which the reality can be correctly assessed.

We simply do not have the means of knowing any transcendental reality even if were to exist. The only instruments of knowledge we have are the senses and the intellect. Is it not a blunder to treat the available instruments as undependable and, therefore, the knowledge revealed by them as false and to believe in the means which are non-existent?

  • 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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