What man needs is not philosophy or religion in the academic or formalistic sense of the term, but ability to think rightly. The malady of the age is not absence of philosophy or even irreligion but wrong thinking and a vanity which passes for knowledge. Though it is difficult to define right thinking, it cannot be denied that it is the goal of the aspirations of everyone. It is not that anyone would deliberately wish to think wrongly, and wrong thinking, is that attitude of the mind, where the false is mistaken for the true. This is a deep-rooted prejudice which it is hard for most people to eradicate. Error has become so much a part of man's thinking that there seems to be no one in position to point it out. One cannot, at the same time, be a judge and also a party summoned for examination. It is necessary that some effort has to be put forth in tackling the problem in its core.
There is often a complaint that today the world has lost all philosophical or religious consciousness and that there is no receptivity to higher values. In this connection it is always forgotten that the higher values do not suddenly fall from the skies and they have to be inculcated into the mind with some care. It is impossible that consciousness can reject truth, for the two are inseparably related to each other, and, in their highest states, the two are one. What is needed is the presentation of truth in a proper form, fitted to the particular stage in which human consciousness finds itself. What is said should be neither too much nor too little, but suitably adapted to a given situation of the human mind.
This means that the educational method varies for the different levels and, though the same truth can be taught to all, it cannot be taught to everyone in the same way. Methods of instruction differ, though the truth does not vary. Our present-day education has become a failure because of the wrong methods adopted in stuffing the student's mind with information that cannot be easily digested. Education is not accumulation of information but assimilation of reality by degrees. When educationists forget this fundamental truth behind the educational process, education becomes a travesty and life a meaningless adventure. This is exactly the condition in which most people find themselves today and there cannot be a remedy unless a vigorous attempt is made to come face to face with the main point in question.
There is also a complaint that life is very busy and there is no time for philosophy or religion. But philosophy and religion are not activities which require time,-they are not works to be done but identical with right thinking, which does not require of one time. Just as one does not require time to exist, though time may be needed for doing something, the question of lack of time does not arise in the case of an effort to think rightly. It is like maintenance of health, which is more a natural condition to be aspired for than a business to be dealt with or executed.
Teachers of philosophy and religion have been persistently making the mistake of suddenly commencing to teach the outer forms rather than the essence of this knowledge. What the students require to be told in the beginning is not Plato, Kant or Sankara; Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, but the rationality behind the structure of existence and life as a whole, a systematic envisagement of the actual facts of life in their completeness and their ultimateness, so that the real problem before us is faced both inwardly and outwardly, at a single grasp. It may be called, if we would so like it, the philosophy and psychology of religion, understood in its proper sense, and not in terms of the schools of thought in the history of philosophy or the forms of practice in the history of religion. It should always be remembered that the student's mind is to be approached with caution, for it rejects what it cannot understand or absorb into its constitution.
To be rational is not to be dogmatic but sympathetic and tolerant. Toleration is the mark of real religion. It is impossible to have one religion for the whole world in its outer form, though its essence and content are one, even as we cannot have a common form of diet for the whole world, though it is true that everyone needs food. Religion is not so much practice of form as living of its essence. When this is achieved, true culture emerges.
It is my intention to present to modern students certain broad outlines of the fundamental principles that can pave the way for world-understanding and conduce not only to social prosperity but also personal solace and real freedom which everyone seeks. I have attempted to lay in this book the foundations of that impersonal meaning on which the personal forms of philosophy and religion are constructed. I shall regard myself as amply rewarded if the student world finds here profound suggestions for deep thinking and research.