Reason Driving Development

Hundreds of years ago, as we slowly emerged from the Dark and Middle Ages, reason became the engine for driving our development. From the 17th century onward, great strides were made in the sciences and mathematics. Modern philosophy was born, based on rational thought and logical methods of discovery. Rene Descartes declared from inspiration, “I think, therefore I am,” and we found in ourselves an expanded sense of self-worth and capability. We began to explore beneath the surface of what was apparent.

As old ways of seeing our world gave way to brighter ideas, reason was viewed as the means to solve whatever might be improved. And anyone could apply it. Reason was not restricted to a favored caste or upper class. To paraphrase Paramhansa Yogananda, the thoughts that lead us to reason are universally rooted. We access them according to our level of consciousness, regardless of our social station in life.

Unfortunately, however, reason comes with a weakness. It depends on us to agree that what is reasonable is the same for all, which it never is. Reason tends to be fluid. People see it in relation to their own ideals and conditions. Hindus, Muslims and Catholics, for instance, might find a number of each other’s religious views to be out of step with their own “reasonable” beliefs. And needless to say, the degree of difference can lead to all sorts of trouble, even war.

Reason Is a Fabulous Tool for Helping Good Things to Happen

If kept from the taint of egoic interference. We need reason to get from point A to B, to get value for what we spend, to get wisdom from what we experience, and just to get through the day. But reason follows feeling, which can lead it into peril.

Overindulgence in a favorite desire, for example—like eating too many sweets or buying more goodies than we can really afford—is going to result in being sorry that we didn’t stop at a reasonable point of enjoyment. We are all reasonable people, but I dare say not all the time. Delusion continues to outwit us until we learn self-control.

So, the Question Becomes…

Is there any other tool that is more reliable than reason at discerning what works and what doesn’t?

Meditators know of such a tool, which is intuition. But it comes with a caveat too. If you are going to act on intuition, you have to be sure it’s the real McCoy and not just what an underlying desire wants it to be?

Can reason lead us to intuition? It is not, after all, an intellectual process. But in one sense, yes it can, and Yogananda gave us the perfect prayer as we strive to acquire it. “I will reason, I will will, I will act; but guide Thou my reason, will and activity.”

Intuition is a two-way interaction. Our part is one of self-effort and surrender. We offer to do our best in whatever we pursue, taking care to evaluate what is right and dharmic to do in the first place. Then we ask God and Guru to show us the way, surrendering to them the result of our efforts, whether or not we manage to succeed as planned. Reason, combined with self-offering, thus becomes an invitation to bestow on us what reason alone cannot: access to higher guidance.

Everyone wants to be happy. We literally spend our lives in pursuit of that one goal. But who can keep it from drifting away? One moment we have it, and the next it is gone like sand through a sieve. Tune in to your intuition, the masters say. Stop looking under every rock for clues that reveal where to find what you are seeking. Those clues are right inside you, where the Source of them is waiting to show you the way. Tune in and listen. Intuition is there. God is there. Bliss is there. We should be there too.