The Head and the Heart [2]

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The Head and the Heart [2]

Post02 Jun 2008

The Head and the Heart [2] - posted by: Isabel on July 5, 2004

What is the role of the doubting, logical mind on the spiritual journey? David Harvey, one of the gurus of critical geography, related an interesting story in the introducation to one of his books. He was at a conference - some critical/post-modern/progressive/fill-in-the-blank-latest-’ist’ event. Sharing the conference hotel were a number of Christian Pentacostals (or similar denomination) gathered there for a convocation of their own. David Harvey was struck by how happy the Pentacostals appeared next to the brooding intellectuals.

How could the years of schooling and deliberate study of efforts to make the world a better place have only lead to a sense of inefficacy and hopelessness among these academics, he wondered? Of course I, a whole-hearted Brahmin at the time of my initial reading of this, thought I had all the answers.

Our intellect seems so useless sometimes. Gyaniwasi asked, who is Shiv Baba? Yet do we even have the capacity to figure that out in a way that would put to rest the doubts of a logical mind? It is sometimes frustrating to be able only to get an occasional peek under the curtain of that dazzling greater spiritual realm. Faith is the hand that can lift that curtain, but it is also a force that leaves us deeply vulnerable. Could the middle ground possibly be to take things on board; not because our logical mind tells us they are true, but because our logical mind tells us our lives and the lives of those around us are better if we believe? For example, taking on a fundamental belief in human equality - that we are all beautiful, good souls - leads to respect, greater justice in the world, and more love. Yet, patterns of crime, conflict and other social pathologies would seem to counter this to the logical mind.

By contrast, on this basis we could reject the notion that the spiritual path we are on is looked upon more favorably by God than any other. This is because even if this seemed the case to our logical mind (we wouldn’t follow a path if it wasn’t the best one, right?), we would reject the notion because of the arrogance and disrespect for others it breeds. Of course, this is in many ways an un-Brahmin approach because what business do we have filtering the teachings of God? On the other hand, because I do think the greater part of the Brahmin teachings would pass this test, perhaps it is a reasonable way to negotiate our faith.

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