Monday, February 23, 2015

Modern Vedanta and Intellectual honesty – Swami Dayananda Saraswati

We say Modern Vedanta though there is no modern Vedanta. We say Modern Vedanta because there are a lot of these people, who teach Vedanta proclaiming themselves as teachers of Vedanta. And there is a certain truth about the teaching, and they teach Upanishads, they teach Gita, but say that ultimately it is to be experienced.

If it is ultimately to be experienced why should one study for so many years. They say ‘learn and then experience’. “You have to eliminate all thoughts, no thoughts should come”. After eliminating what will you get? This is modern Vedanta.

All over the spiritual world we have modern Vedanta which declares “You realize the self” – some kind of kriya yoga. The difference is obvious, they talk about experience and we (traditional Vedanta) say that every experience is Brahman. Brahman is not a matter of experiencing, it is a matter of knowing. All experiences are Brahman. If you want to experience Brahman like you experience a mango, Brahman becomes an object!!

In this, one must have intellectual honesty, when you find that what you have been thinking of as valid knowledge, is dismissed by this Swami. You had already invested emotionally, time wise, in a person and in his her teaching.  It is difficult to come out of that, because of investment. You may have had a great involvement in the projects of that person. That person may be having his own publications, propagations. So it is difficult for one to give up, unless one has intellectual honesty. It is very difficult to give up. That must be right, we have got a mechanism of making it right. How it can be wrong? That must be right.

When there is no intellectual honesty, you find you cannot give up. Within the organization you have got a name, you have got a power. So for name’s sake, for power’s sake, you belittle this knowledge.You side line this knowledge, you belittle it, you turn away, you show a “Nelson’s eye”.  That is what people do. That is what I didn’t to. Therefore I am here.

Intellectual honesty is so important. In purushartha nishcaya – ascertainment of the goal of life, intellectual honesty is important. Then you change certain things, your priorities change. It is all born of intellectual honesty. Priorities undergo change. For all of you priorities have undergone a change, that is why you are here.

Adapted from excerpts from Talks in AVG Annaikatti 2015