The Inability of the Reason to Comprehend the Religious and Spiritual Experience

The human faculty of reason relies on a limited and linear development of ideas based on an underlying basis of the perceptions of the senses in the external world.  Reason, the great power of the scientific temperament, has helped humanity transform the outer life and has led to discoveries of the working of the external world which remain marvels even today.  One field of endeavour, however, has remained outside the scope within which Reason can perform, and that is the field of the Spirit, the domain of religion and spirituality.  Spiritual truth is understood, not be the action of the Reason, but by an inner intuition of Truth through the experience of Oneness.  The validity of this method of knowing, knowledge by identity of oneness, is so powerfully experienced by those who open to the religious or spiritual experience, that there can be no doubt or questioning of the reality.  The power of reason simply cannot function outside its limited range of activity, and becomes befuddled by experiences that are not subject to its logical, mental approach.  Reason functions best when it is analytical, dividing and classifying what it experiences.  The spiritual experience is unifying and synthetical, joining together diverse elements into their inherent Oneness.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The attempts of the positive critical reason to dissect the phenomena of the religious life sound to men of spiritual experience like the prattle of a child who is trying to shape into the mould of his own habitual notions the life of adults or the blunders of an ignorant mind which thinks fit to criticise patronisingly or adversely the labours of a profound thinker or a great scientist.  At the best even this futile labour can extract, can account for only the externals of the things it attempts to explain; the spirit is missed, the inner matter is left out, and as a result of that capital omission even the account of the externals is left without real truth and has only an apparent correctness.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 13,  Reason and Religion, pg. 129