In 1616 Galileo maintained that Faith and Reason, Fides et Ratio, can never contradict each other; for holding such a view he had to suffer and pay a heavy price. Marx loudly proclaimed that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed class”, and a whole section of the society fell prey to its logic. True, creedal religion is a monstrosity and “excessive legalism of the Roman Catholic Church” is anti-spiritual; same is the story with other forms of orthodoxy and fundamentalism, classical or modern, even with scientific and materialistic philosophies with all their stubbornness and arrogance, their irrational denials. With the least hesitation all such retrograde impositions must be removed, dismissed at once. Jean-Paul Sartre’s is a godless universe and he tells us that in such a universe the only meaning or purpose of life is to set the goals for oneself and achieve them. But then these existential notions or ideas make the universe a stopped-up system, closing on itself, without the occurrence of further openings or prospects.
But there are also noble and elevating thoughts and feelings and deeds in various branches of human activity, with its conquests and triumphs which must be duly acknowledged. There is the religio-mystical experience of seeing God in the world and the world in God. There is the fine perception that “Logos is the blueprint and exemplar of the created universe.” Indeed, Jalalu’d-din Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian Sufi poet, has the intuition of a unique dawn breaking in our skies, of the happy naissance to new-shape our life:
… to-night this world is heavy and in travail,
Striving to give birth to an eternal world.
In the possibility of such a birth here is the wonderful perception of a genuine mystic. Yet the question is:
- will that eternal world’s birth occur at all? And how will it happen?
- Or is it just a small vulnerable imagination, feeble, flickering, a longing and an anticipation of a dreamy poet to escape sorrow and suffering that to-night characterise heaviness and anguish of this transient world?
- And then will this to-night’s struggling world by itself, by its own effort, its own propulsion, bring about a world of undecaying and deathless happiness?
Even granting for a moment that in its deepest secrecy there is something remarkable, something truly magnificent, yet a misgiving remains whether this to-night’s world with its own endeavour, by its own labour and struggle can give rise to the eternal world.
- Is it in a position to assert itself against all opposition?
- Can man play any pivotal role in this respect and, if he can, will he? Is he capable to do this at all? ...
In spite of his diffidence and refusal and opposition, in spite of his dumbness, man’s hope and longing and aspiration lead him on to nobler heights, to bluer and brighter skies, to the gold-hued empyrean. The psychic flame within him continues to burn, and leap. His spirit climbs the ascending slopes of heaven. He crosses the Upanishadic gates of the sun to live in immortality of the Self. He certainly has an inkling that this creation’s bliss is in truth, as much as its truth is in bliss. There is even the revelation that God’s glory shines throughout the universe.
“Dante informs us that he has been to paradise, and has seen things so extraordinary that he cannot possibly hope to tell about them. Nevertheless, he determines to make this final song his crowning achievement as a poet, and he calls on the Muses for inspiration as he focuses on his journey heavenward. At noon on the spring equinox, Dante, still in the Earthly Paradise, sees Beatrice gazing into the sun, and he imitates her gaze. In so doing, he becomes aware of an extraordinary brightness, as though God had placed in the heavens a second sun, and feels himself being ‘transhumanised’ in preparation for his experience of Paradise. He then finds himself soaring heavenward through God’s grace, although he is uncertain whether it is his soul or his corporeal self that rises. As Dante and Beatrice pass out of the earth’s atmosphere into a sphere of fire that lies above it, Dante hears the music of the spheres. This music fills him with wonderment and perplexity, but before he can question Beatrice about it, she explains to him the teleological order of the universe, and how it is only natural that, having been purified, he should now rise heavenward.”