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Reason/Rationality

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Reason/Rationality

Cognitive Development of Reason is Important for Spiritual Maturation

An aspect of this cognitive development is that the soul learns how to use reason and logic. This is the application, in the process of thinking, of abstract rules to our concepts. These rules help guarantee that our conclusions do not contradict basic knowledge, direct observation. We will see in chapter 20 that these rules of logic reflect invariant patterns in basic knowledge as it unfolds through the dynamism of Being.

This cognitive development is clearly important and useful for the experience, life, and development of the soul. We already know how it is useful in our ordinary life, and its usefulness is amply demonstrated in the development of science and technology. In fact, most of the achievements of modern Western civilization are direct consequences of this cognitive development.

However, this achievement is also necessary for the eventual spiritual maturation of the soul. The cognitive achievements contribute to our capacity for discrimination and reason, and our ability to relate and synthesize in general. We ordinarily apply this capacity for discrimination and synthesis only to our ordinary knowledge. However, there is no reason why we could or should not apply it to our basic knowledge itself. We only need to be in touch with the ground of this knowledge, essential presence, to do that. In fact, we believe this is the next stage of our cognitive development. Our cognitive achievements can be seen not only as the creation and expansion of ordinary knowledge, but basically as the development of our intellect to new heights of discrimination and synthesis that can now be integrated with basic knowledge on a higher level of understanding. 

Diamond Approach Inquiry Does Not Dissociate Rationality and Spirituality

Recognizing how thought, reason, and logic on the one hand, and mystical revelations and spiritual transcendence on the other, are both related to basic knowledge can help us move toward a new integration of knowledge. We have the possibility of recognizing the ground that unifies mystical perception with rational thought, a unification that is not simply an addition or sequential application, but a coemergent operation. Some Greek philosophy and Christian philosophy in the West, and various Eastern philosophers, have appreciated this unified nature of the various dimensions of consciousness composing our soul. Yet it is clear that modern thought has developed in the context of emphasizing abstract thought as increasingly removed from direct experience, allowing new heights in the abstracted operation of reason. The integration of this thought with a return to attention on basic knowledge, on the understanding of actual present experience of self and world, will take this understanding of unity to a higher level of integration on the evolutionary spiral.

This integration of the cognitive faculty allows us to approach our experience and perception with rationality and reason functioning as part of basic knowledge to inquire into the various forms that knowledge manifests. Since reason reflects objective patterns of the field of knowledge, this kind of inquiry can penetrate these forms and disclose how they conform to these general principles of basic knowledge. And since reason here is not dissociated from its ground, the presence of consciousness, it becomes a tremendous aid in investigating experience and perception and leading us toward new and more harmonious knowledge. Applying rational thought to direct experience can become a more balanced and complete method of scientific investigation.

Our particular method of inquiry, the Diamond Approach, is one such development. This method of inquiry unifies reason with its ground of basic knowledge to explore the inner experience of the soul, both psychological and spiritual. And since this method originates in a dimension of knowing in which reason and pure consciousness are not dissociated, the approach does not dissociate rationality and spirituality. 

Logic and Reason Are Compatible with Direct Experience

The functioning of this thinking capacity evolves various rules and principles that we call logic and reason. Although knowledge is not static, but is always in a state of change and transformation, these transformations are not chaotic or haphazard; they follow fundamental patterns that reflect the self-organizing intelligence of the soul. In fact, as we will see in later chapters, they reflect basic patterns of Reality, including Being and universe and their relationship to the soul. The recognition and abstraction of such fundamental invariant patterns develop into our rules and principles of logic and reason. We leave a more complete treatment of this interesting subject to chapter 20, but it is important to realize that logic and reason are not contrary to direct experience; they arise from and reflect its inherent patterns. The difficulty tends to arise when they become estranged from their source and ground, and are applied in an abstracted and rigid way. When the patterns of our thought are not informed by basic knowledge, they can stray from Reality. 

Ordinary Reason Reflects the Order of the Flow of the Logos

It is interesting to observe that while reason originally referred to the natural order of the flowing pattern of manifestation as basic knowledge or noesis we have come to know it through the dissociation of the basic triad only as the orderly flow of ordinary knowledge, or representational knowledge. Yet, this points to the correspondence between ordinary knowledge and basic knowledge. As we have seen in chapter 18, ordinary knowledge is a reflection of basic knowledge in the discursive mind. We see now the same correspondence in relation to reason; ordinary reason is a reflection of original or basic reason, which is the order of the flow of the pattern of the logos, in the discursive mind. By recognizing this correspondence we may be able to redeem reason by reconnecting it with its ground of dynamic presence.

Reason is Originally the Order of the Logos

The manifestation and evolution of the world is the flow of basic knowledge, knowing inseparable from dynamic unfoldment. And since this flow is orderly and patterned, the flow of knowledge is orderly and harmonious. In other words, the flow of basic knowledge follows the pattern of the logos. The Greeks equated logos with reason, because the logos has an order, or a rule, that steers its unfoldment. Reason is originally the order of the logos, the principle or principles that order its pattern. In other words, the flow of basic knowledge is reasonable, makes perfect sense. We may refer to this as basic reason, differentiating it from ordinary reason, in correspondence with ordinary and basic knowledge. 

The Nous Can Use Reason to Unfold Spiritual Potentials

The essential intellect or nous operates not only with the enhanced intellectual capacities of discrimination and synthesis, but even though it is essential presence it can operate in conjunction with the soul’s normal intellect, with its logic, reason, and ordinary knowledge. Here, instead of ordinary knowledge obscuring our basic knowledge, the nous uses it to reveal and unfold the infinite potentials of basic knowledge. The essential nous can also operate in conjunction with reason and logic, applied to spiritual experience in all its dimensions and subtlety. 

The Nous Can Use Thinking In a Way That Becomes Objective and Truly Rational

We can mention one more thing about the functioning of the nous: it can combine with ordinary thinking to the extent that thinking becomes the flow of essence and its aspects, in a stream that scintillates with insight and understanding. Thinking becomes objective thinking, intentional, truly rational, steady, focused, and to the point. It is the operation of true nature in the process of discerning wisdom. 

The Universe Experienced as Flow of Luminous Rational Thought

We experience the whole unfoldment and flow of phenomena and events as thinking, as rational thought. This may sound like a dry intellectual experience, but in fact it is a powerful and beautiful perception. The whole universe appears luminous and transparent, composed of luminous forms of variegated colors, qualities, and flavors. This whole amazing and enchantingly beautiful panorama is unfolding with intelligence that imbues the flow with a glittering brilliance. At the same time it flows in patterns that are clear, precise, and discernable. The clarity and precision give the experience an exquisite aesthetic sense that is inseparable from the amazing insights that constitute the basic knowing of the forms. The forms are like words, discernible concepts, and the process of flow feels like thinking. This thinking is rational thought, for it is the orderly flow of knowledge, a knowledge inseparable from the intimate directness and richness of presence. The experience is that God/Being is creating the world by thinking it. The thinking occurs in all the sense modalities, for each concept is a noetic form in the multidimensional manifold of the logos. 

Thinking Can Become Objective Thinking with Orderly Flow of Insight

We may term this basic thinking, contrasting it with ordinary thinking. This may help us realize that ordinary thinking is a reflection of the flow of the logos. In other words, our thinking mind is a reflection of the logos, creating new thoughts and concepts similar to the creative logos. Such understanding may lead us to the recognition that our thinking can arrive at objective thinking, where it is not only the rational flow of mental thoughts, but the orderly flow of insight. This is a possible realization in the inner journey, where our thinking mind becomes connected with its essential ground, and hence thinks not only rationally, but with the universal concepts of noetic forms. This is similar to Gurdjieff’s concept of objective mentation, but also to Kuhlewind’s pure thinking, which he sees as an approach to investigating spiritual realities and to realizing presence:

“Such pure thinking, if applied to other fields, could create the possibility of thinking with mathematical precision about spiritual realities. Thereby the activity of the Spirit in man would truly begin. Awareness of the Logos could be kindled by pure thinking about the light of consciousness. Perceiving the Logos, the spirit could assume its true function: to investigate the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing consciousness-in-the-present, and to develop methods for removing these.” (George Kuhlewind, Becoming Aware of the Logos, p. 90.) 

Western Thought Can Be Redeemed by Recognizing the Roots of Knowing and Reason in True Nature

Heraclitus thought of reason as the way to live the spiritual life, but Western thought has developed by dissociating the original triad to the extent that reason became divorced from its true source, the creative reality that Heraclitus called logos. Through this dissociation reason became the governing principle of mental thought, divorced from the living qualities of dynamic presence and creativity of the logos. This development aided Western thought in evolving the scientific method whose aim is to find the laws of the universe, which means to discern and understand the natural order of things. It is obvious that the ancient Greek’s concept of logos as order and reason is one of the main sources of Western science’s interest in finding the laws of the universe. In other words, the idea that the universe follows natural laws is of Greek origin, and it is the concept of logos.

At the same time, by becoming dissociated from its roots in the living divine logos, reason has lost its spiritual power. In fact, through this development reason has become, for many of the religious traditions of the West, the enemy of the spirit. The spiritual gradually became the domain not available to reason, but accessible only by transcending reason, through faith or love.

Our study in this book is partly an attempt to redeem Western thought by redeeming knowing and reason. We discussed in chapter 19 how knowing can be redeemed by understanding the dimension of pure presence, where being and knowing are not separate, understood by the ancient Greeks in the concept of nous. We see in this chapter how the Greek concept of logos corresponds to the dimension of dynamic presence, and how by understanding the characteristics of this dimension of true nature we can see one way reason can be redeemed: we can recognize it as a reflection of the order through which the logos unfolds the universe. We see in Heraclitus’ concept of logos a direction for this redemption. By recognizing reason to be a reflection of the order created by the logos, we can use it to reconnect with the ordering dynamism of the logos, and this way realize the dynamic presence of true nature. We can do this without having to cast out reason in its entirety. In fact, we can do this while embracing the advantages that reason has given to our scientific and logical thought.

Science is a way to study the logos, but it is a partial way. It studies the order of the natural universe, but not the source of order. At the same time, spiritual understanding also studies the logos, but it also tends to be partial in this study. It studies the dynamic force behind the existence of the universe, but tends not to value the order, or laws, that govern all manifestations, not just the physical.

There is no necessity for such dissociation. Scientific and spiritual understanding can be complementary and, in fact, mutually helpful. There is no reason why we cannot understand reason in such a way that supports both scientific research and spiritual realization, for reason is ultimately the order of the logos. The logos is the fashioner of all manifestation, both physical and spiritual, and its order patterns both. We discuss more aspects of this point later in the present chapter.  

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