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Swami Krishnananda in Conversation
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

7. Beyond Mere Reason

It is Sunday. Swami Krishnananda does not give a morning Darshan to visitors, devotees and ashramites on Sundays. But this Sunday, being the last day of the All India Philosophical Conference, which was held in the sacred hall of the Samadhistan of Sri Gurudev Swami Sivananda Maharaj, some delegates to that conference came to meet Revered Swamiji. Such of us as took the chance to see if there could be a morning darshan were lucky to join them and have a delightful informal conversation on the deeper aspects of life—philosophy and metaphysics. Revered Swamiji had been requested not only to inaugurate the conference but also to deliver the valedictory address later that day. The conference had been held in the Rastra Bhasha. Swamiji spoke on both occasions in his usual effortless and artful way in English, conveying the subtlest or most intuitive facts. Swamiji was pinning down some delegates to a point.

Swamiji: You had some rare and interesting objectives. You are trying to find out, investigate into the nature of experience for the purpose of finding out some content. Though in the beginning you may feel you are finding nothing, how can you have a contentless experience?

A delegate: No experience is without content.

Swamiji: Experience without content is a meaningless word. It cannot stand. Immanuel Kant said metaphysics cannot help in the search for reality because of the defects of the instrument being used.

Delegate: Kant has said that not only rational metaphysics but also rational psychology is empirical.

Swamiji: Well, anything that is rational according to Kant, is empirical. So the charge Kant brought against metaphysics is the charge against science also. Where do you stand finally? (Delegate laughs.) We have cut the ground from under your feet! Neither can you define truth nor philosophy.

Delegate: We have agreed that science has as many limitations as philosophy. As philosophy is identified with ratiocination, it will have limitations. The same is the case with science also. Both have limitations in regard to the methodology they adopt.

Swamiji: Now let us argue from the opposite side. There is something in philosophy.

Delegate: Yes, yes (laughs).

Swamiji: Philosophy is not as poor as it is made to appear by Immanuel Kant. It has a tremendous strength within it, which can be brought out by a proper advocate of it. A case looks weak when it does not have a good advocate. But when it has a capable advocate to handle it, he will bring out the strength of the case. Kant was not a good advocate of philosophy. He could only find out the flaws but not the good points in it. Unless there were good points in it, people would not be running after it. Let us see what are the good points in philosophy which you do not find in science. Dr. Radhakrishnan has brought out some of these ideas in his Idealistic View of Life. Kant's charge against antonymical arguments are unfounded though they look reasonable. There is something in your reason which is beyond reason. Otherwise, you will not even exist. The fact that you are existing shows that reason is not the ultimate factor.

There is something intuitive transcending your own reason. You are happy. Who makes you happy? It is not reason that makes you happy. Reason is a frail instrument. It is conditioned by the 'category', as you say, a tricky thing, which can't make you happy. And if you are not happy, you cannot exist in this world even for a few minutes. It is joy that keeps you alive. And why are you happy? It is not rationality, it is something else in you that keeps you going. Kant cannot help you here! Only Swami Sivananda Maharaj can. (Both laugh heartily.) It is a total revolution—a self-revolution—where you are totally revolutionised. Well, you are holding a big conference. It must have some impact on human life. Tell me what the impact is.

Delegate: (Laughs) It is not such a strong thing perhaps as to make its effect felt by me.

An ashramite: I don't agree that there is no outcome after all the effort and the good intentions. The concrete outcome may be only very subjective. But it is bound to be there. How can it be that a huge wave dashes at you and nothing happens to you? Only we are not aware of its impact in any appreciable measure—at the moment, we should not expect this impact to be felt as quickly as, for instance, you get light the moment you put on the switch.

Delegate: You see, this is the ideal we have; but the impact is not palpable or manifest. Immediately the impact should be on your students and if no student has been touched by it, then only the professors will be chewing the cud.

Swamiji: Why should it be so, it all depends on the professors. They should see that the effect is felt by the students.

Ashramite: The whole effort is to make teachers influence the students.

Swamiji: The teacher's personality is expected to be such that it permeates the sensitivity of the students. And if the professor's knowledge is solid, it is bound to have impact upon the student.

Ashramite: If you are a self-realised being, the students will feel the impact automatically—your presence would be enough. And this is the supreme type of inspiration.

Swamiji: Time for luncheon and your next session. Thank you all for giving me darshan. God bless you.