We can make a distinction between intellectual exercises of logic and reasoning, and the living and inspired understanding that arises from experience. The intellect revels in abstraction and in many cases, the logical argument seems to be totally divorced from the realities of life; in some cases to such a degree that it becomes hard to follow and contradictory to what our deepest intuition reveals to us. Philosophy may tend to the dry and pedantic, to hair-splitting and sophistry. None of this appears to advance the development of wisdom and true insight to the nature and meaning of life. The Upanishads represent a different approach, one enlivened by spiritual experience, and thereby exhibiting the passion and energy of real, not abstract, understanding.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The great formulations of philosophic truth with which they abound are not abstract intellectual generalisations, things that may shine and enlighten the mind but do not live and move the soul to ascension, but are ardours as well as lights of an intuitive and revelatory illumination, reachings as well as seeings of the one Existence, the transcendent Godhead, the divine and universal Self and discoveries of his relation with things and creatures in this great cosmic manifestation. Chants of inspired knowledge, they breathe like all hymns a tone of religious aspiration and ecstasy, not of the narrowly intense kind proper to a lesser religious feeling, but raised beyond cult and special forms of devotion to the universal Ananda of the Divine which comes to us by approach to and oneness with the self-existent and universal Spirit.”
“And though mainly concerned with an inner vision and not directly with outward human action, all the highest ethics of Buddhism and later Hinduism are still emergences of the very life and significance of the truths to which they give expressive form and force, — and there is something greater than any ethical precept and mental rule of virtue, the supreme ideal of a spiritual action founded on oneness with God and all living beings. Therefore even when the life of the forms of the Vedic cult had passed away, the Upanishads still remained alive and creative and could generate the great devotional religions and motive the persistent Indian idea of the Dharma.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Introduction, pg. 4