Destiny has placed me astride two continents, two cultures, two forms of perceiving the world and life: India and Europe. Between these two “planets” I have spent my life, without for that feeling foreign in either one. However, when I go to Europe after having spent long periods in India, I experience what might be called “culture shock.” It is not because of the customs or ways of life; these are very familiar to me, but rather the exclusively materialistic concept of existence and of the Universe. I do not pretend to claim by this that India is “spiritual”; in fact, in many aspects India can be more materialistic than the West. But there the vast majority of people do not consider the visible world as the only real one; although they may be immersed in the life of the material (maya, the world of appearances) they know that there are spiritual worlds and a superior intelligence upon which everything depends, and that when faced with this Ultimate Reality, visible reality pales. They know that sooner or later, they must return to the spiritual world, the origin and final destination of all human beings. Furthermore, in India the contemplative tradition has been reasonably well preserved, while in most of the world it has been lost. And it was this contemplative tradition that served as a solid base for philosophical, religious and metaphysical speculation.
The modern vision has confined consciousness and intelligence—a consciousness and intelligence which, moreover, it is assumed arose by “an evolutionary accident”—solely to man (and to a lesser degree, animals), and has eradicated them from any other place or level in the Universe: a Universe which, it seems, is ruled by blind laws, inert and indifferent to everything. However, the traditional vision has always situated consciousness and intelligence in the “centre”, in the very “heart” of reality. As the Aitareya Upanishad says: “Intelligence is the foundation”.