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Monday, February 3, 2020

The Power of Philosophy

By Abhijeet Kislay 

A great Swami used to say time and again that: “Academic philosophers are puzzled by their books, but the Real Philosophers are puzzled by life that surrounds them.”

Philosophy achieves this because it is but a concentrated mixture of Principled Truths that have come into existence after deep realizations that humans have gotten over last thousands of centuries. (At least this definition of philosophy is the one that interests me and will be discussed in this post.) 

One way to test a statement as Truth (or Principle) vs. intellectual-jumble is to see if the same principle can hold true through the test of time and space. And when these truths are put into our lives, these gives us tools to rely on!

In this post, we will try to don the hat of a Real Philosopher and see some insights from this kind of philosophy.

Let me give you a simple example to make this more clear: 

Statement: The north star always point to north!

This statement has greater validity than other statements because:
  • It was true in the past and will remain so in the future. (Thus time doesn’t change the validity of the above statement.)         
  • Similarly, the north star is north regardless whether you are in India, or the USA or any other part of Earth. (Hence it has validity as long as you are anywhere on our planet; which is not an unreasonable assumption. Thus it remains to a great extent valid through the test of space.)

From the above two tests, we see that our statement is very close to a principle. Once a truth is known, we can rely on it knowing full well that it will never change. Thus a support system has been established. This is exactly what the sailors used to navigate their ships in the middle of ocean until magnetic compasses were invented.

Now let us take our spiritual lives. We as devotees know that the scriptures have existed for thousands of years (test of time) and have been known to contain spiritual Truths that have given rise to realized saints all over the world (test of space). Thus these very Gospels contain basically crystallized Truths. Even better is a person who has lived these Truths in their own life. And what better example than Sri Ramakrisha! He is the Real Philosopher. Thus his sayings are the Truths that we can rely on.

In the pre-modern world, none of the civilizations had an accurate understanding about why the north star stays at its own place. But it didn’t stop them from relying on it for navigation purposes. Once faith in the Truth comes, relying on it comes hand in hand, and it helped these sailors to navigate their journeys.

Similarly, I see us as spiritual-sailors. As we have ascertained that Sri Ramakrishna’s words are true, even if we don’t grasp the full meaning of hazy and difficult-to-explain concepts in spirituality, just having faith in his words and thus relying on him will save us from a lot of troubles that otherwise one would have to face!

Thus Sri Ramakrishna is our well-guiding north star, always directed towards the goal. Our job is to keep him in our sight and keep chugging in its direction!

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