Metaphilosophy of Spirit
Dr. N. V. Kulkarni
This is a grand subject. It encompasses the whole of creation and the creator. By saying creator, I am not propagating any dogma. Name it Ultimate Reality or in Stephen Hawking’s words the breather of fire in the equations.
Exactly 70 years back, in the 13th session of the Indian Philosophical Congress held at Nagpur (December 1937), my spiritual Master, Prof. R. D. Ranade, in his presidential address, took stock of recent discoveries in Physics, Biology, Neurology, and so forth and explained, how they all tend to prove that Spirit is the only Reality, and how Western thought can be brought into harmony with the conclusions of the great Indian sages and philosophers. (An abstract of this the original Presidential address is included at the end of this article for reference).
This article proposes to supplement his thoughts with the developments as of date, and to show how a Metaphilosophy of Spirit is emerging for a better future.
We will first define the keywords of the Seminar Theme (Science, Philosophy and Religion), and then take a survey of ancient times, come to the year 1937 and juxtapose the present status thereon. In conclusion, we will try to outline the emerging Metaphilosophy.
Science is a generic term. Science is divided into multiple disciplines, each of which separates off a part of nature for consideration.
In his book, Greek Science in Antiquity, M. Clagett enumerates two criteria by which any activity can be designated as science: a) the orderly and systematic comprehension and/or explanation of a natural phenomenon b) the tools necessary for undertaking such a project, including, especially, logic and mathematics.
“….. It (science) examines the objective world and describes how actual objects work….. Science is descriptive and hypothetical (the concepts, employed to explain phenomena, which are taken for granted and assumed).
Philosophy does deal with matter but in different ways. It concerns itself with hypotheses used by science to explain the facts of experience. It deals with subjects and their relations to objects.
“The world of objects appear to the subject and its main features are determined by the forms of the subject’s understanding. The a posteriori (understanding in this case) exists through the condition of the a priori (here ‘thought’ which is prior to all experiences.)
Metaphysics explains the necessity that attach to the laws of physics. Let us take an example – mathematics. Here judgments are reached which are to be universally and necessarily true. This appearance of necessity has somehow or other to be justified. Kant has an answer in his ‘a priori’ philosophy.
“The nature of science is shown to be a product of great categories as casualty and reciprocality. Philosophy then sets itself to the task of determining the ultimate meaning of nature as seen to higher principles. It turns the lower universe of understanding to the higher universe of reason.”
Thus a dualism between being and knowing sets in. This leads us to recognition of inconsistencies and contradictions, the realization of which is the beginning of philosophical quest.
This quest leads the philosopher to “the belief that there is an unseen order and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto. This belief and this adjustment are the religious attitude in the soul.”
The human soul eternally cries for rest, to cease altogether from Self and be at one with its creator Religion, therefore, I consider (to quote William James), as ‘the feeling, acts and experiences of the Self in its solitude, so far as it apprehends itself to stand in relation to whatever it may consider the divine. Philosophical quest transcends into religious quest.’
So far then with the definitions. We will now see how these three things stood in Ancient times, viz; Vedic period.
Vedic seers while talking of cosmos, consider it as an ordered creation, talk about man and his relationship with the cosmos. Vedic thought deals with celestial as well as terrestrial forms. For them, science had two aspects – a) knowledge of the ultimate live principle – Brahmavijnana – and obeying its laws by the knowledge of the objective world and its utilization for the wellbeing of all – Yajnavijnana.
“Brahmavijnana” is the support of the physical sciences. “Physical sciences, grasped in the light of Brahmavijnana, achieve well-being of all, creating conflict-free, confusion-free and misery-free society. This is the gift of ancient Indian thought to humanity.” This thought is nearly 6 millennia old.
Here we will not see in detail Vedic contributions to cosmographical, cosmological theories, mathematics, astronomy, metals and alloys and so forth. Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage, at Thiruvananthpuram is engaged in the daunting task of establishing our Scientific achievements which will instill a feeling of rededication to rebuild our glorious past again.
However, to have the taste of the pudding, I will quote one example. Sayana (1315-1387), prime minister in the court of Emperor Bukka I, and Vedic Scholar, in his commentary on the fourth verse of the hymn 1.50 of the Rigveda on the Sun says,
Tatha ch smaryate
Yajananam sahasre dve dve sate
Ekena mimisardhana kramamana
तथा च स्मर्यते
यजनानम सहस्त्रे द्वे द्वे सते
द्वे च योजने
एकेन मिमिसर्धन क्रममाण
“This is remembered: (O Sun) you who have traversed 2202 yojanas in half a nimisa.” Converting the yojanas and nimisa in modern units, we get very close to the figure of 1,86,000 miles per second.
We will cite one example. The Vedic thinkers are the pioneers in giving to posterity the lofty concepts of One God, One World and One Humanity. We will further see how the Metaphilosophy of the spirit is emerging towards this ideal.
- 1.164.46 gives concepts of One God:
एकं सत विप्रा बहुदा वदन्ति |
meaning, Reality is one, though the wise speak of it variously.
- Yaj XXXII.8 hymn. States “Vena beheld that deeply hidden Being where the world makes its home in a single nest.
वेन स्तत पश्यन्निहीतं गुहा
सद्द्यन्न विश्वं भवत्येकनीeम|
Expressing the idea of one common home or one world.
- Rg mantra X.191.4 – a valedictory mantra (farewell) expresses nothing but singleness of purpose, and hence, the exhortation (Strong/earnest advice) to work in unison.
समानी व आकुतिः |
Common be your aim
समाना हृदयानि वः|
United by your hearts.
समानमस्तु वो मनो |
Of one accord be your minds
यथा वः सुसहासति |
So that all of you may live together
Happily and peacefully.
We will see more about this lofty ideal as we shall proceed further into the subject.
In Vedic times, attainment of God was not merely theoretically prescribed. Spirituality was the way of life and what was to be attained had become incumbent on every one to attain.
अनु प्रत्नास आयवः|
Go in search of the Sun
पदं नवीयो अक्रमुः|
and in case you do not find him
सके जनन्त सूर्यम|
create one Rg. IX 23.2
What bold advice!
The Vedic Rsis had insight enough to realize that, while it is vainglorious to aim at assimilation with Brahman without displaying any benevolence to fellowmen, it is suicidal to keep human society as the only end and the supreme object of love without a spirit of loyalty to a kingdom, which is not of this world.
In his presidential address delivered at the 13th Session of the Indian Philosophical Congress held at Nagpur in December 1937, Prof. R. D. Ranade said, “I will at the commencement, take a general survey of the recent discoveries in modern physics, biology, neurology, and so forth, and explain how they all tend to prove that Spirit is the only Reality, and how Western thoughts can be brought into harmony with the conclusion of the great Indian sages and philosophers.”
Sir James Jeans while discussing particle and wave nature of particles said that Nature is nothing more than waves of our knowledge or waves of imperfection of our knowledge. This, he pointed out to be in consonance with the Spirit of philosophical idealism – that governs modern physical theories. Then he questioned, supposing Nature is only one’s own knowledge, how was that all of us perceived the same Sun, Moon and Stars?
Sir James Jeans answered, “this was so because there was one continuous stream of life that ran through the whole of Nature and that this was in harmony with the spiritual idealism preached by philosophers from Plato to Berkley.”
After bringing out this, Prof. Ranade commented that, “there was no distant step from this theory of idealism to a theory of Spirit, which is imminent in the whole universe.
Prof. Ranade then cited experiments carried out by Driesch on the sea urchins eggs (he found that if one portion of the cleavage-cell is removed the remaining part develops not half of the embryo, but a complete embryo of half the size. He carried out this at four-cell stage as well as to the blastule – which has about 1000 cells.) Driesch has concluded that life is an autonomous principle, and names it ‘entelechy’.
At this juncture, I would like to mention a recent paper ‘Bacteria as Tools for studies of Consciousness’, by Victor Norris. It was found that bacteria growing on one plate are allegedly able to stimulate the germination of spores on another plate by a non-chemical form of signaling, a sort of Psychic phenomenon.
This principle of ‘entelechy’ as per Driesch has no chemical basis, not any location in space. It governs all vital processes such as assimilation, circulation, reproduction and so forth. Further, it cannot be divided or cut into pieces, reminding us of Bhagvadgita verse –
नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि |
At a recent international conference in January 2006, Mr. Bill Kepins called a single cell as a theomorphic creature and very aptly so. Consider for example, what Roger Penrose said about the humble paramecium – she can negotiate obstructions by swimming around them, can even learn from her past experiences other than her normal functions.
Driesch then suggested that in the case of the higher animals, and especially in man, it may be called a ‘Psychoid’.
Prof. Ranade concluded that, “if we may be allowed to coin a new word for it, may be called a ‘Spiritoid’”, or a ‘Spiriton’, corresponding to the ‘Bindule’, used by Jnanesvara and other mystics. Leibnitz called it a ‘Monad’.
His Holiness Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (T.D. Singh, Ph.D) in his book, ‘Life and Origin of the Universe’ states, “….. matter as such is inactive but by the presence of the Spirit, it gets animated just like a live bird. The bird can fly because jiva or atman, the spiritual spark, ‘Spiriton’s is within.”
So far then about 1937. We will come to the end of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st.
In one way or another, we have been exploring our world and contemplating the cosmos for thousands of years. Newton planted the flag of modern scientific inquiry, and we had not to turn back. We are now trying for a union between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
“From General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, we know that we live in a space time with quantum properties: a quantum spacetime. But ‘what is quantum spacetime?’ poses Carlo Rovelli, in his article, Quantum Spacetime: ‘What do we know?’ For this purpose, he suggests, “I am convinced of a dialogue between physics and philosophy ….. on the one hand a more acute philosophical awareness, would greatly help physicists engaged in fundamental research; on the other hand, I wish that contemporary philosophers concerned with science, would be more interested in the foundational problems that science faces today. It is here, I believe, that stimulating, and vital issues lie.” An emerging metaphilosophy of physics and philosophy.
Simultaneously, since Wolfgang and Pauli, physicists are experiencing the need for a new dialogue between Science and Religion, “It is time, we suggest, for the religious imagination and religious experience to engage the complementary truths of science in filling that silence with meaning” conclude Menas Kafatos and Robert Nodeau in their book – The Conscious Universe. This is because the question of belief in ontology remains what it has always been, a question, and the physical universe on the most basic level remains what it has always been, a riddle. Further the Universe more closely resembles a great thought than a great machine, and human consciousness may be one of its grander manifestations.
Parallel currents of great thoughts have always run concurrently in history.
At Tucson Arizona, three conferences on ‘Towards a Science of Consciousness’, have already taken place. The first in 1994, second in 1996, third in April, 1998. The fourth was scheduled in August, 2005. Its proceedings are awaited. Two main decisions are of importance.
- Though it was only in 1980, that Brian Josephson had observed, “mystical experiences are not at the moment considered by the majority of scientists to be a matter worthy of scientific attention …..” In 1996, the second Tucson conference opened their doors to another source of knowledge about consciousness, viz, mysticism, and what it can teach. Robert K. C. Forman was the speaker on this issue.
- In third conference, Jonathan Shear concluded in his speech, “….. pure consciousness experience, widely discussed in Eastern (he quoted from Mandukya upanishad), but not in Western philosophical traditions – will resolve some major Western issues about Self …..”
Thus we see a need for coming together with Eastern thought emerging in West in various disciplines.
There are some interesting facets and happenings.
No other notion so expresses the Self-image and the hopes of the modern age as does the concept of progress. A Conference was held in Austria, in 1994, to discuss the idea of progress. Three kinds of progresses were identified. First progress in science and technology, second in improvement of the material well being of individuals and societies, the third as moral perfection. A synthesis of the three can be succinctly given in Alistair Crombie’s words :
“The concept of progress expresses an attitude to man’s place in time and history, to the relation of his past to his future, that is both descriptive and prescriptive. It involves insights both into the progress of knowledge and its uses and into the possibilities and sources of knowledge, and also into the sources and progress or regress of happiness, power or moral virtue. The concept implies a desirable direction, hence the possibility of deviation, and value judgments about what ought and ought not to have been, and to be, done in man’s dealings with nature, with himself and his fellow creatures, or with God. In other words, the concept of progress is at once profane and sacred, at once epistemological, cosmological and religious, in that it implies belief about knowledge, about what exists, and about man’s origins, expectations and responsibilities within whatever is accepted as the scheme of knowledge and existence.”
Progress entails growth of knowledge and where does growth of knowledge take place? Two philosophers of science state vehemently that growth of knowledge takes place in the third world of Plato. Roger Penrose is a great believer in this hypothesis. The three worlds are the physical, the mental and the Platonic. The physical world exists and thoughts exist.
The third world of Plato is where pure ideas, mathematical truths, laws, relationships, aesthetics and ethics, i.e. our senses of beauty and morality exist.
When some scientific truth is found out, or great ideas emerge in other walks of life, this happens as a result of the subject’s direct contact with the third world.
Penrose then wonders if the truths in the third world are uncoded at the Planck Scale. For Penrose, human thought is non-computable. This trail of non-computability in human thought has led Roger Penrose to a collaborative model which portrays consciousness as a Self-organizing quantum brain process reconfiguring Planck Scale spacetime geometry. Stuart Hameroff comments, “If experience is fundamental (as David Chalmers says, consciousness has to be treated as a separate entity), the basic field must exist at the most fundamental level of reality”, and further compares fundamental spacetime volumes and configuration with (Liebnitz’) monads. He then says, to understand consciousness, innovation in the area of philosophy, physics and biology are needed. In philosophy, a fundamental pan experiential view in which primitive experience exists at the Planck Scale spacetime geometry (e.g. spin networks).
A mystic, however, experiences his existence simultaneously in all these three worlds.
This all is idealism. Will it so happen that conditions of our physical world in the near future make all humanity come together for a common purpose? The answer is positive.
Michio Kaku in his book, Visions discusses how the three pillars of the 20th Century, viz., quantum revolution, biomolecular revolution and computer revolution will dramatically revolutionise the science of tomorrow. Simultaneously, energy consumption will increase thereby exhausting available energy supplies. At present, we use dead plants (coal and oil) to energize our machines. We have started exploring space like children, taking first and clumsy steps.
But by the close of the 21st Century, the sheer power of the three scientific revolutions, will force the nations of the earth to cooperate on a scale never seen before in history. For then, our energy needs will grow to such an extent that we will be forced to harness the potential resources of the entire planet. Harnessing and managing resources (mastery of all forms of terrestrial energy, such as, modifying the weather, mine the ocean, or extract energy from the centre of the earth) on this gigantic scale will mean a sophistical degree of cooperation among individuals with elaborate planetary communication. This can happen when entire civilization will put to rest most of the factional, religious, sectarian and nationalistic struggles that typify their origin.
Thus, our progress, growth of knowledge, scientific and technological revolutions will bring all humanity together through the emerging metaphilosophy of spirit, the central thread, i.e., guiding slowly but surely towards the Millennium or the Kingdom of God upon earth.
- N.V. Kulkarni
- Philosophical and Other Essays, Part I, R. D. Ranade. Shri Gurudev Ranade Satkar Samiti, Jamkhandi 1956.
- Essays and Reflections, R. D. Ranade, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1964.
- Unpublished Notes of R. D. Ranade.
- Pathway to God in Vedas, K. D. Sangoram, editor and publisher, B. R. Kulkarni, 1995.
- The Idea of Progress – de Gruyter, Berlin, 1997.
- The Conscious Universe – Menas Kafatos and Robert Nodeau – Springer, New York, 2000.
- Physics, Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale, editor, Craig Collender and Nick Huggett, Cambridge, U.K. 2001.
- The Geometric Universe – editor, S. S. Huggett et al, Oxford, 1998.
- Religious Phenomena in a World of Science – editor Job Kazhamthadam, ASSR, Pune, 2004.
- Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, editor, Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave, Cambridge, 1999.
- Toward a Science of Consciousness II and III – Bradford Book, MIT Press, London, 1997,1999.
- Visions – Michio Kaku, Achor Books, London, 1997.
A Philosophy of Spirit
An abstract of the Presidential Address delivered at the 13th Session of the Indian Philosophical Congress held at Nagpur in Dec, 1937.
‘Your Excellency, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Rajasaheb of Aundh, Sir Radhakrishnan, Ladies and Gentlemen, – The honour which has been bestowed upon me by the working committee of the Philosophical Congress is too much for me. I am a man humbly working in my own way. I am indeed very much indebted to the organizers of the Philosophical Congress for inviting me to preside at this XIIIth session of the Indian Philosophical Congress. The honor goes round, and I am a participant in that round for this year. It is only in that capacity that I stand before you to-day.
‘You all know how times are fast changing in India. According to the advent of the new age, we shall have to take account of our own Indian philosophic thought, and to see the place which it might occupy in the national life of India. Before we can collate Western thought with Indian thought, we shall utilize the knowledge that has been given to us by the great researches in the various departments of philosophic thought in the West so as to support and broadcast the message which Indian philosophic thought gives to us, and through us to the world.
‘It is only too true, as Sir Hari Singh Gour has just now told us, that philosophy is beset with difficulties, subtleties, obscurantisms, and so on. I do not deny that these things exist. But I beg to submit that the kernel of philosophy is not the difficulties or the obscurantisms, but a metaphysical and moral pith which constitutes the essence of all philosophy whatsoever.
‘I will, at the commencement, take a general survey of the recent discoveries in modern Physics, Biology, Neurology, and so forth, and explain how they all tend to prove that Spirit is the only reality, and how Western thought can be brought into harmony with the conclusions of the great Indian sages and philosophers.
‘I will first take up the contribution which has been made by Sir James Jeans to the development of modern Physics, because that will help very much an interpretation of philosophy in terms of spiritualistic idealism. I would particularly draw your attention to the presidential address to the British Association for the advancement of Science which he delivered in 1934, and I hope that as President of the Indian Science Congress to be held in Calcutta very shortly, he will give further support to the doctrines he enunciated in his earlier address. When Sir James Jeans addressed the British Association, he said that space and time were merely mental constructs, and he postulated a theory of these in terms of seven dimensions, as he said that two independently moving electrons required six dimensions of space, and one of time. Sir James then mentioned two parables, the particle-parable and the wave-parable, as the governing principles of all physical thought hitherto. Photons, protons, positrons, negatrons, gravitrons – all these come under the first heading. If Sir James Jeans may be regarded as sympathetic to either of these theories, he may be supposed to sympathise with the second, namely the wave-parable, even though he thinks that that itself does not give us a final explanation of reality. Nature, he says, is thus nothing more than waves of our knowledge, or waves of imperfections of our knowledge. All this is in consonance with the spirit of philosophical idealism, which, he says, governs modern physical theories. The next question that he asks is, supposing Nature is only one’s own knowledge, how is it that all of us perceive the same Sun, Moon, and Stars? And the answer that Sir James Jeans gives is, that this is so because there is one continuous stream of life which runs through the whole of Nature, and which permeates us all. This line of thought, he says, is in harmony with the spiritual idealism preached by philosophers from Plato to Berkeley. All this is good enough, and there is no very distant step from this theory of Idealism to a theory of Spirit which is immanent in the whole universe.
‘Coming to Biology, we find the researches of Driesch most interesting from the philosophical point of view. Roux had disbelieved in the autonomy of life on the basis of his experiment consisting in the destruction of one of the two cleavage-cells of a frog’s egg immediately after the first cleavage had been completed, because, he said, in such cases the remaining cell develops only the left or the right side of the embryo. Driesch approaches the problem by a different method, based on his experiments on the sea-urchin’s egg, where the remaining cleavage-cell develops not half of the embryo, but a complete embryo of half the size. Driesch applies the method also at the four-cell stage, as well as to the blastula, which is a hollow sphere built up of about a thousand cells. He also applies the method in the case of the Ascidian Clavellina, whose branchial apparatus is the very type of an equi-potential system. From his experiments, Driesch concludes that life is an autonomous principle, which he calls the “entelechy”. Disarrange a part of a sea-urchin’s egg, and it will tight itself. Injure a part, and the injury will be made good. Take only a fragment, and it will develop a complete embryo. All this points, he says, to the existence of the “entelechy,” which, according to him, has no chemical basis, nor any location in space. It governs all vital processes such as assimilation, circulation, reproduction, and so forth. Further, it cannot be divided or cut into pieces. Driesch suggests that in the case of the higher animals, and especially in man, it may be called a “psychoid”. This principle, however, if we may be allowed to coin a new word for it, may be called a “spiritoid”, or a “spiriton,” corresponding to the “Bindule” used by Jnanesvara and other mystics.
‘I want now to call your attention to certain contemporary researches in the field of Neurology, and particularly, to the researches of Mr. Head on the function of the “Thalamus”, which has been proved to be the seat of emotions. By the application of the three methods of (1) the study of lesions, (2) the study of pathological cases, and (3) the extirpation method practiced especially on higher animals, we arrive, says Head, at the conclusion that the Thalamus is the seat of the emotions. It has been for a long time admitted that the cortex is the seat of intellection. Now, cut below the cortex, and there is exaggerated emotion, e.g., excessive weeping, excessive hilarity, excessive sexuality, and so on. Again, cut below the Thalamus, and we find that there is mere automatism. Thus, says Mr. Head, the Thalamus may be regarded as the seat of emotions. The Significance of the discovery of the function of the Thalamus for philosophy is that we clearly see how the intellect is meant to “control” the emotions, following the idea of the control of the higher over the lower in Sherrington and Hughlings Jackson. But, at the same time, emotions are more internal; they are “antaratara,” that is to say, nearer reality. Thus neurological discoveries bring to light the problems concerning the conflict and cooperation, the inhibition and summation-to use Sherrington’s phraseology-of intellect and emotion, or of Jnana and Bhakti. The ideal would be a perfect harmony and co-operation between intellect and emotion.
‘We now come to a discussion of the significance of the analysis of moral and religious consciousness by Bergson in his recent work-“The Two Sources of Morality and Religion”. According to Bergson, intellect and intuition are the two sources of moral and religious consciousness, and action is superior to contemplation. A contemplative, he says, is an arrest of Nature. Bergson’s dimorphism, however, is ultimately unacceptable, because there are not two sources of morality and religion, but only one, viz., intuition as may be seen most clearly by reference to his earlier works; and the exclusive stress laid on action ignores the temperamental differences among mystics. Bergson’s elan again, is a biological principle, and not a spiritual principle. Ultimately, however, in the analysis of religious consciousness, the Christian in Bergson asserts himself, and he says that true mystical experience is to be found not in Plato or Plotinus, in the Buddha or the Hindu sages, but in Paul and Augustine. Buddhism, he says, following the usual traditional interpretation, reels on the edge of Nothingness.
Among the existing historical religions, Buddhism is often supposed to be advocating the view that Nothingness is the only reality. I have continuously thought through the last quarter of a century, though I was not able hitherto to substantiate it by a detailed study of the Sources, that a great religion like Buddhism cannot be based upon the foundation of No-spirit. This line of thought has found remarkable corroboration in the contributions which Mrs. Rhys Davids has lately made to the interpretation of Buddhism during the last 8 or 10 years, entirely contradicting her original views about Buddhism, a result which has been highly approved of by such critical scholars as Prof. Keith. Buddhism has thus to be interpreted anew on the lines of Mrs. Rhys Davids, who says that the negative side was due to the development of Canonical Buddhism, which was separated from the original doctrines of the Buddha by a period of three long centuries. The question which confronts us in connection with the Buddha is whether his spiritual illumination consists only in (1) an uncommon insight of moral comprehension, or (2) a discovery of the law of casualty, or (3) an actual mystical experience. If we just cast a glance at the Buddha’s soliloquy immediately after his spiritual illumination, we shall see that he refers to the Soul, the Builder of the body, whom he has found out, but whose house he has entirely demolished. This passage which occurs in the Dhammapada is really in Majjhima, which is a fairly old collection, and may give us the words of the Buddha himself. “Gahakaraka ditthosi….. sabba te phasuka bhagga” might really be the spiritual experience of the Buddha in the very manner in which Trisanku in the Upanishads tells us what he felt when he had reached a mystical apprehension of reality. Then again in the Alagaddupama-sutta, which is a very old record, we are told that in reply to a critic who has charged the Buddha as having been mistaken in denying the existence of the soul, Buddha said that what he meant by preaching a doctrine of No-soul or Anatta was that the body or the mind or the senses were not the Soul, but that it would be a sacrilege to deny the existence of a spiritual principle. Further, in the Mahaparinibbanaa-sutta we are told how there were two occasions of light or nimbus in the case of the Buddha, one at the time of his spiritual illumination, and the other at the time of his passing away. These facts point unmistakably to the Buddha’s teaching about the reality of the Self, as well as to the mystical experience which the Buddha enjoyed.
‘Coming to a so-called spiritual philosopher of the present day, Croce, we find that he believes in an ever-evolving ever-changing never-ending Absolute. And though he repudiates the Hegelian dialectic, his system could legitimately be described as a hybrid of Hegelism and Bergsonism. His intuition is nothing more than imagination, and his view that a philosophy of history and a history of philosophy are both impossible is falsified by the logic of the Sciences. Croce’s is a bastard spiritualism; his spirit is nothing but mind or thought. Both Croce and Gentile decry religion, and elevate moralism and infinite progress; and their doctrine of approximation, though true of the individual, is false about the whole. Croce’s ever-evolving absolute is the very philosophical prototype of Mussolini’s never-ending political ambition. Mussolini’s Fascism, might well be regarded as rooted in Croce’s philosophy of the never-ending Absolute.
As we look at history, we see that all politics is determined by the prevailing philosophy of a nation. It was Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot who paved the way for the French Revolution. It was Hegel, Nietzsche, and Treitschke who paved the way for the great World- War of 1914. It is the new philosophy of an ever-evolving Absolute which is responsible for modern Fascism, whose ambition is never-ending. As against these theories, we have a theory of politics based upon the principles of non-violence and truth, resuscitated by Mahatma Gandhi from our ancient lore. Non-violence and Truth are not new principles, but have been advocated from very ancient times. It is to be remembered, however, that our politics cannot succeed without a spiritual basis. When the teacher of Krishna told him to make Ahimsa and Satyavachana his initial mottoes, he said that they were merely the alms that he was to give. “Akshitamasi, Achyutamasi …..” – Thou art the imperishable, Thou are the unchangeable-indicated verily the Spiritual Principle that governed all moral action whatsoever. Non-violence has been the basic principle of Christianity, Jainism, and Buddhism. It has also been preached by the Bhagavadgita in many a context; but these have been made to repose there definitely on a spiritual foundation. Non-violence and Truth are merely the flower of which the root is Spirit. Let us beware that in our modern political ambitions we do not follow the irreligious Soviet ideal. I entirely agree with His Excellency Sir Hyde Gowan that universal brotherhood should be the foundation of our politics during times to come. But this brotherhood, I submit, should and could repose only upon a spiritual basis. A study of the Philosophy of Religion would contribute greatly to the bringing together of all creeds and faiths and races. Hindus and Muslims, Nazis and Jews, Communists and Fascist could never be reconciled by any political or moral theories. It is only when all humanity comes to recognize the one Spiritual Principle which underlies all things, that we can bring about a harmony between different creeds, nations and races. Sir Radhakrishnan is such an ambassador of Indian Thought to Western Culture. One could wish that chairs of Philosophy of Religion, as at Oxford, were established at all the Universities in order that all humanity might meet in the Philosophy of Spirit. It is not by an appeal to the dogmas of the different faiths that we can bring together the warring sects. It is only by bringing them to a common consciousness of spiritual life that we can realize the end which we are striving for. The Philosopher’s work is not done when he has realized within himself the peace of mind about which Mr. Joseph speaks, and to which His Excellency refers. His supreme business is to bring about peace and harmony in the Society, the State, and the World at large. From this point of view, it may be said, without exaggeration, that the future of the world rests with the Philosophers.’