On Scientific Temper
Firstly the wisdom that one learns from life's experiences is sometimes beyond Science. Secondly 'miracles' rarely repeat themselves or at least do not seem to be repeatable on call. Just because there are frauds in the religious world ( the proportion does not seem to be larger than in the secular world) let not the scientist be arrogant enough to assume that he should be able to explain everything. A scientific 'Theory of Everything' is still in the future. Even if it is properly formulated and accepted as law, scientific research will still continue to improve it and polish it for being applied for the benefit of mankind (or for the destruction of 'the enemy'!). This itself means there would be something still unexplained. Yes, it is an infinite regress. When the scientist sees a miracle 'happen' right before his eyes, the most scientific statement that he can truly make is: 'It is difficult to believe it; I do not understand it'. That would be the right scientific temper.
Saint Ramakrishna, the Spiritual Scientist.
During his years of spiritual discipline, Ramakrishna adopted methods which were thoroughly rational and experimental. What was the sculptured stone image he was worshipping? Was it really Kali herself, the Divine Mother, living and breathing, or was it just an inert stone? With that divine confidence so characteristic of Ramakrishna, he held his hand before Kali's nose to find out whether or not she breathed. And lo, she breathed!. 'I actually felt her breath in my hand,' says Ramakrishna. Do you call this scientific or not? Maybe you are saying, I can't believe it until I hold my hand before Kali's nose and she breathes in my hand'. Good enough. Until you can repeat the experiment and get the same results you will not believe it. That is the true scientific spirit. But at least you should hold your judgement until you make the experiment. So to the question 'Will Kali breathe in my hand?' Hinduism ventures to answer YES -- provided of course you fulfill all the conditions which Sri Ramakrishna did. Are you ready? Ramakrishna loved Kali so much that he was ready to kill himself because he had not seen her. Bring that intensity of love coursing through your entire being, forget the world entirely in that one absorption and then hold your hand before Kali's nose. Hinduism dares say that the result will be the same for the same experiment.
I can smell the flaw in this logic, says the critic.
February 2, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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