Faith and Reason.
16. Faith and Reason.
There are other differences and other ways of expressing them.
1. Christianity and Islam are religions of faith; Hinduism and its powerful offshoot, Buddhism, are religions of wisdom, gnosis, prajna.
2. The former deal with intensities of feelings, the latter aim at awakening the mind;
3. The former are based on a passionate idea, the latter on self-naughting.
4. The former emphasize faith with a strong tendency to deny philosophy and reason; the latter emphasize understanding—they do not deny faith but they give due place to reason and philosophy.
There is nothing wrong with faith. It has its place and utility in spiritual life. It provides certainty in -the midst of uncertainty; a cozy niche in a strange, wide world; a place of rest for the wandering mind. Therefore, something like Christianity and Islam have a natural appeal and have their utility in the spiritual economy. There is also a type of mind to which nothing else would suit.
But there are others to whom faith alone is not enough. They seek wider pastures of the soul. Such people have to go over to buddhi, or what the Greeks called nous, universal or divine reason. But this buddhi is very different from the ordinary reasoning mind that we generally know, the mind whose seeing is partial and uncertain, which is painfully trying to put two and two together, and which is a slave to a hundred desires, passions and preferences. True buddhi is direct in its seeing, spontaneous and free in its operation; it reflects reality as it is in its essence and universality.
In mystic tradition, faith and reason are united in a happy marriage. But when they stand apart, they fall both in worth and status. Faith lacking in philosophy becomes narrow, ignorant and intolerant; philosophy without faith ends in mere doubts and denials and makes a man footloose, spiritually speaking. Such philosophy is not wisdom or prajna of Yoga, but merely prajnavada, pretence to wisdom. This kind of philosophy lacks discrimination, will, strength, purpose. It becomes blind. It entertains every idea as equally valid without looking into its heart. It admits every claim or pretence backed by sufficient force. It cowers before any fanatic creed. It happened with the pagan religions of Greece and Rome; it happened and is still happening with Hinduism; on another level, it is happening with the democratic world. Liberal forces are in retreat before the onslaught of fanatic ideologies.