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Intellect versus intuition

india Updated: Jul 31, 2006 13:44 IST
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Our lives would have a sense of purpose if we get an answer to the questions that trouble us, like, why are we born? What  happens to us after death? Does God exist?

Disturbed by such thoughts, we may be tempted to think that religion is bunk, especially because cunning and immoral people seem to get instant success, because godmen themselves may be immoral, because innocent people are killed in terrorist attacks.

As science relies on reasoning and religion stresses on intuition, it is presumed that there is a conflict between them. But is there really a conflict between science and religion? Albert Einstein in his investigations  relied not only on reasoning but also on intuition.

The intellect can take us to a certain point but beyond that we must rely on intuition, say spiritual masters.

Reasoning or thinking cannot provide an answer to questions like “What is the purpose of life?” At one stage, writer Leo Tolstoy was tormented by this question.

After trying to find an answer for several years, he came to the conclusion that logical reasoning could not provide an answer and realised the importance of faith. But it’s not blind faith. Faith is a prelude to experience, said the Buddha. One needs to have faith in the beginning and act accordingly.

With the passage of time, experience confirms that faith was based on Truth. When asked whether God exists, the Buddha remained silent because he felt that knowing the answer to this question was not essential for leading a spiritual life. Instead, he stressed on morality. Gandhi too felt that morality was the essence of religion. A spiritual person has to be a moral person by definition but a philosopher or scientist need not.

The spiritual person can work to remove superstition while the philosopher can learn the value of morality. A scientist can discover atomic power but science cannot tell him how to use it. Only the value system, born of the intuition of right and wrong, which faith inspires, can help us negotiate this baffling world.

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