Logical Consistency and Intuitive Wideness – M.S. Srinivasan

I do not mind if you find inconsistencies in my statements. What people call consistency is usually a rigid or narrow-minded inability to see more than one side of the truth or more than their own narrow personal view or experience of things. Truth has many aspects and unless you look on all with a calm and equal eye, you will never have the real or the integral knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher said, “consistency is the hobgoblin of the mediocre mind”.

A free, flexible and progressive mind, advancing towards a deeper, higher, wider and a more holistic synthesis, can’t be consistent over time because what is regarded as the highest and entire truth at its earlier stage of development, may appear as a partial, secondary or distorted truth or even a falsehood at a later stage.

Similarly an intuitive mind which can see the many-sided complexity of life can not be consistent. The rigidly rationalistic mind which demands logical consistency may find intuitive thought inconsistent, contradictory and chaotic. Intuitive thought may stress on this or that aspect of life or truth depending on the context or situation, which may be contradictory. For example Swami Vivekananda used to stress on the intelligence or emotion depending on the context or the nature of the audience. While emphasizing on intelligence he will say: Wise man and the true man lives in reason, those who live in emotions and animals not yet men. But while stressing on emotions he would say: Your dry and heartless intellect will lead you nowhere. You must feel with your heart.

When we examine Vivekananda’s statements a little intuitively, we will find there is no contradiction. Each statement is valid under certain conditions and an intuitive mentor or teacher like Vivekananda will stress on the intellect or emotion depending on the inner condition or stage of development of the student or audience or the group. Someone who lives entirely in his lower emotional being is closer to animality than humanity. In such cases, the main emphasis has to be on reason and controlling the emotions by reason. But those who live exclusively on the intellect can’t progress if they don’t develop their emotions and arrive at a fine balance between their emotional and intellectual being. For such people, the predominant emphasis has to be on feeling.

Secondly, logical thought moves in a linear path moving from one bit of thought to another bit of thought with a strict and laborious reasoning. But intuitive thought is not linear but panoramic, seeing many sides of truth in a single glance and connecting them with a synthesizing link, moving in a cyclical and rhythmic swing. In a book of the logical mind, each chapter will cover a bit of the main theme without repeating the thoughts of the earlier chapter. But in the book of an intuitive mind each chapter is a unique synthesis of the main theme, and a whole, looking at the theme in different perspectives but at the same time progressing in thought by adding a new element to the synthesis in each chapter. Thus, the progress in intuitive thought is not linear but panoramic and cyclical, with a certain repetitive rhythm, with each chapter repeating or summarizing the discussion in the earlier chapter and at the same time imperceptibly adding a new thought and creating a new synthesis. We can see this in the Bhagavat Gita and more visibly in Sri Aurobindo’s writings.

Another example of such an intuitive synthesis is Tantra. Here we have a spiritual philosophy and practice which is not rigidly systemised, but thrown into a loose medley of ideas, symbols, legends, stories and practices, bewildering to the logical mind, but absorbingly fascinating and evocative to the intuitive mind.

Life is a complex, dynamic, interconnected and moving whole, where contradictions of reason coexist simultaneously linked together in a mutually complementing relationship in a deeper harmony and rhythm; it can not be rammed into a fixed or rigid mental or logical formula. Only an intuitive mind can comprehend this complexity of life. So intuitive thinkers like Sri Aurobindo or Vivekananda may not bother much about logical consistency or systemizing their thoughts. They express what they intuitively perceive in a loose and flexible rhythm bringing out the supralogical complexity of life or Truth as they see it through their intuitive mind. As Sri Aurobindo explains:

“Truth is an infinitely complex reality and he has best chance of arriving nearest to it who most recognizes but is not daunted by its immense complexity … Some minds, like Plato, like Vivekananda feel more than other this mighty complexity and give voice to it. They pour in thought in torrents or in rich and majestic streams. They are not logically careful of consistency, they cannot build up any coherent, yet comprehensive systems, but they quicken men’s minds and liberate them from religious, philosophic and scientific dogma and tradition. They leave the world not surer but freer than what they entered in.”


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