THE GOAL OF CONSCIOUSNESS RESEARCH
This interviewwas conducted in New Delhi late in the 1970s by a reporter for a UNESCOpublication.
Q: For more than a decade now, you have been writing books on consciousness and evolution and about mystical experience. Could you restate your position in clear-cut terms and point out some of the reasons that might have stoodin the way of their acceptance by scientists so far?
A: The mainreason is that there is still a great deal of confusion about the phenomenon known as mystical ecstasy. The general impression is that it is just analtered state of awareness, comparable to the states brought about by intoxicants, mind-altering drugs, hypnosis, biofeedback, auto-suggestive conditions and the like. Even an authority like William James has been in error in the comparison he has made between mystical ecstasy and the states induced by wine and nitrous oxide.
Q: What is the reason for this?
A: The reasonis simple. The transcendental and transhuman nature of mystical experience are a still uncharted province for scholars. There is a wide gulf between scholarship and mystical vision. The staggering nature of the vision and the revolution it brings about in the life and thinking of one who is blessed with it, and the light it throws on the problems of existence, are all beyond the power of the intellect to grasp.
Q: Canyou explain this further?
A: Intellectual study is like the data gathered by a dreamer of the dream world in which he dwells for a while. The mystical vision is like the awareness gained by one when awake. I must make this clear, with all the emphasis at my command and in full conformity to what has been as emphatically statedby mystics of the past, that the objective world disappears, like a phantom,in the illuminating blaze of mystical consciousness. The Reality which is unveiled in the duration of the experience is beyond the grasp of theintellect and the power of language to describe.
Q: Since it is impossible to describe, how can you hope to convince scientists that there is still something beyond their comprehension?
A: It is the same as though the intellectual prodigies of the past, such as Shakespeare and Bacon, were expected to know of the awful force of the atom. Most ofthe present-day intellectuals believe that they are almost at the frontiers of knowledge, but they have no inkling that the real quest of man has yet to begin. All the knowledge and experience they have gained, all the discoveries they have made and all the inventions wrought, so far, have been but apreparation for the next step in his progress, which is the exploration of his own mind to answer the Riddle of his being.
Q: It seems to me that what you are saying points to a new direction for human effort and thought.
A: Exactly. It is entirely beyond the imagination of our contemporaries. Hence, itis but natural that many of them should consider what I say as incredible and fantastic. We cannot expect a more favorable response from the learned, because they are no more informed about the phenomenon, on which I dwell, than the ordinary class of human beings. The intellect, proud of her knowledge, is seldom ready to believe that there are worlds and regions beyond her reach.
Q: Butwhat about present-day research on consciousness? Isnít there someprogress being made in this area of science?
A: Research on consciousness, as it is being carried out today, can easily be compared to the investigation done by a dreamer of the mental condition of the personalities in his dream. For one who lacks the least awareness about himself, howevererudite he might be, the issue will always arise, and on what? How can one who is ignorant of his own minds talk forth to study the mind of another who is as ignorant of himself as he?
Written by: Gopi Krishna
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