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“The Thinker” The Way of Reason

The Thinker within us needs to figure things out and to create a reasonable, conceptual foundation for all aspects of spiritual practice.

  • Do you need a good reason before beginning a spiritual endeavor?
  • Do you like to ponder the universal questions of existence?
  • Do you regard reason as a foundation for a spiritual practice?
  • Do you naturally ask the big ‘why?’ questions, rather than the more mechanical ‘how?’ questions?

We all have friends who just love to ponder such issues as the nature of human existence, the origin of the universe, the purpose of life, the possibility for life after death, the reasons for human suffering and the existence of God.  Whether they know it or not, these folks might be natural born metaphysicians whose spiritual archetype compels them to theorize and apply the universal truths that lie beyond the reach of direct empirical observation and scientific study.  Often, they cannot simply engage in prayer, ritual, faith, devotion or meditation without a well thought out reason for doing so.  But once convinced through reason, their practice can be unshakable.  The dark side of the way of reason is incurable skepticism and negative judgment toward those who engage in a spiritual practice without a solid intellectual foundation.

Albert Einstein is an example of how one of the greatest intellectuals of all times used his mathematics, science and music as integral parts of his personal religious practice.  It is Einstein who said: “science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.” He spoke of a “cosmic religious feeling” that inspired him to discover the laws of God that govern the universe.  He said: “ I am of the opinion that all finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling.” Regarding this feeling he wrote: “In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.” God, he said, “can be conceived only through the “rationality or intelligibility of the world which lies behind all scientific work of a higher order.”  Perhaps his most famous quote is: “God does not play dice with the universe.” More recently, the Dalai Lama has proposed that there is a shared underlying purpose for both scientists and spiritual practitioners. Both yearn to discover the deepest truths of existence. Indeed, the Dalai Lama’s own Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism provides a twenty-year long curriculum that blends rigorous intellectual study with serious spiritual practice. Their method has remarkable similarities to other spiritually inspired intellectual traditions, like the Habad Hasidic tradition of Judaism and the Jesuit Order of Catholic Christianity. The Way of the Reason was exemplified in the ancient academy of Plato who saw logical inquiry as a means to eternal wisdom, goodness and happiness. A seeker on the Way of Reason strives to use logical inference and empirical observation as the basis for determining realities that lie beyond our cognitive and sensory perception. It seeks certainty about a reality that transcends our transient world, that is the foundation for being, that connects all phenomena and gives meaning and purpose to our lives. The Way of Reason seeks to prove, for example, the existence of an immortal soul, life after death, the existence or non-existence of God. It seeks a rational basis for meditation, prayer, devotion, ritual, mystical intuition and social service. The Way of Reason seeks a rational foundation for spiritual practice, believing that, if one has good reasons to back up one’s spirituality and ethics, then it will be easier to pursue a spiritual life with rigor and consistency. For more on this, refer to the book Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Practice.