The Need to Transcend the Intellect in the Search for the Truth of Existence

Once we acknowledge that Truth cannot be ascertained through intellectual prowess alone, that the mind is not an instrument of truth, but rather an instrument for seeking, filled with doubt, confusion and limitation, we can no longer rely entirely on the mind to be the arbiter of what reality actually is, and what the significance of life is. We must either acknowledge that there is no way to truly find the meaning and purpose of our existence, or else, that there must be another faculty that can exceed the mind and provide the certainty and knowledge that we seek. The very fact of our seeking implies that there must be something beyond. While Western thinkers and philosophers have, by and large, used the logical intellect as the guide and standard for appraising knowledge, the East has taken the next step and sought for a means to transcend the intellect and find a new way of knowing.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “In the East, especially in India, the metaphysical thinkers have tried, as in the West, to determine the nature of the highest Truth by the intellect. But, in the first place, they have not given mental thinking the supreme rank as an instrument in the discovery of Truth, but only a secondary status. The first rank has always been given to spiritual intuition and illumination and spiritual experience; an intellectual conclusion that contradicts this supreme authority is held invalid. Secondly, each philosophy has armed itself with a practical way of reaching to the supreme state of consciousness, so that even when one begins with Thought, the aim is to arrive at a consciousness beyond mental thinking. Each philosophical founder (as also those who continued his work or school) has been a metaphysical thinker doubled with a yogi. Those who were only philosophic intellectuals were respected for their learning but never took rank as truth-discoverers. And the philosophies that lacked a sufficiently powerful means of spiritual experience died out and became things of the past because they were not dynamic for spiritual discovery and realisation….”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pg. 25

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