My good friend, you are an Athenian, a citizen of a city which is the greatest and most famous in the world for its wisdom and power. Are you not ashamed that you give your attention to acquiring as much wealth, reputation and honour as possible, and give no attention or thought to Truth and wisdom, and the perfection of your soul?

Following the rejection of the religious worldview, the perception of the world and life in the West has become implicitly based on what “science” says (and leaves unsaid). It is the almost irrefutable measure for determining what is true and what is not. However, the latter only studies the quantitative and measurable, leaving the rest out (which, by action or omission, is deemed non-existent or “unproven”), and (in spite of the discoveries of quantum physics), sets out from the premise that there is an exterior material world made up of objects which are independent of each other—and, what is more, independent of the subject that perceives them—which can be “objectively” investigated, that is, without giving a prominent place to the consciousness used to study them. A consciousness regarding whose nature science has, suddenly, nothing to say.

The scientistic mentality (the ideology which affirms that science has a monopoly on knowledge) contains, often unconsciously, many philosophical and metaphysical dogmas. At the same time, “science” does not constitute a unified entity: different sciences do not converge to make a unified image of man and the universe. The sciences—of varying levels of precision and reliability, and continually changing theories and speculations—discover many truths from their own standpoint, but they do not have the capacity to delineate a coherent and true worldview, given the multitude of factors that fall through their nets. The image presented to us, explicitly or implicitly, is that of a blind universe, exclusively material, where everything happens by accident and consciousness is a foreign guest; it is simply a philosophical extrapolation gleaned from a few pieces of scientific data corresponding to the kinds of questions asked about nature.

In the same way as “science”, “religion” cannot be spoken of as a unified entity. What exists are various religions that are manifested, adapting themselves to the diverse sensitivities and socio-cultural circumstances of human beings; their followers subsequently reflect or distort the message to varying degrees. 

Science, religion, politics, all these are human activities with their inevitable lights and shadows, responsible for great goods as well as great evils. It is not a matter of eradicating such natural human activities—which would inevitably reappear in different forms—in the attempt to avoid the damage they cause; it is a question of practicing good politics, good science, good religion.

On the other hand, at all times and in all places, a long chain of sages and saints have asserted their knowledge of the heart of the universe, of ultimate reality. Such men and women, often the best minds of every generation, were, until recently, the most highly venerated and considered to be the most trustworthy; it is they who formed the contemplative heart of religions. Though widely diverse, their testimonies are yet astonishingly coincidental, or at least convergent. How can we ignore what they tell us? Is it conceivable that each of them, first to last, was hallucinating?

The meaning of life cannot be found through the study of the outer world, but by a deepening of consciousness, in man’s inner being: the path of contemplation, distinct from reason but not irrational. Such is the world in which the sages and saints were immersed. This book is a call to the interior dimension, to the mysticism that reflects the heart and the deepest meaning of every religion. It also shows the contribution that Indian thought could make to help find a way out of the confusion and lack of direction in today’s world.

Containing within its pages an impressive number of quotes from a wide array of scientists, thinkers and saints from all traditions, this book, written from a position of conviction and dealing with topics of immediate relevance, is an indispensable work to be able to begin to unravel of the challenges faced by the modern world. A book for reflexion.

Avinash Chandra, learned in Indian and European cultures, expounds herein that the new cosmovision so urgently needed can be nothing other than what has been called the “perennial philosophy”, the teachings of all the sages, everywhere and throughout the ages.

Avinash Chandra
The Scientist and the Saint
The limits of science and the testimony of the sages