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”.

A World at the Crossroads

The loss of traditional religion and of the sense of the sacred have sunk the West —and gradually, the world— in an unprecedented existential crisis. Science, the source of new knowledge, is incapable of presenting a comprehensive worldview given its epistemological limitations. Implicitly or explicitly, an image is presented of a universe devoid of meaning and purpose where man has come about by accident.

The author calls for the return of the mystical meaning of existence sustained by the philosophia perennis—the metaphysical doctrine upheld everywhere and always—a foundation for surpassing oneself.


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Modern science arose following Descartes’ philosophy which separated the world into a knowing subject and an objective world independent of the former. Science studies the world by abstracting from it the subject that knows. Its system captures what is measurable, but misses the entire qualitative world. Modern science, whose findings have made possible a gigantic technical revolution, has become a veritable mythology.   Departing from its area of jurisdiction, it claims to take up all knowledge space; such is scientism, the ideology that gives science the monopoly over knowledge.

Quantum physics has revolutionized this simplistic world: the existence of a knower is now imperative in order to understand things, and events can have “non-local” causes.  However, it has not produced the revolution of thought implied by this concept, and the scientific world continues to operate in practically all of its branches within a Newtonian world where the subject and object are completely separate and independent of one another.

We have need of a new science, conscious of its limits, which can contribute to the development of the human being without putting forth an impoverished image of man. A more organic science, one which conceives of the universe as a Whole instead of a collection of separate parts that interact with one another.



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Evolution, Creation, Manifestation

Darwinism and later Neo-Darwinism have been elevated to the status of dogma in the contemporary world. However, rather than being based on definitive proofs, Darwinian evolution is based on a concept of the world in which, for example, no force outside that of the sensible world is admitted. The forces of chance and natural selection alone are thought to be sufficient to set into motion a fantastic world of beings in continuous movement, capable for example of producing birds from reptiles or man from the ape. And this in spite of the fossil record which shows a completely different image from what is required by the evolutionist theory.

To adjudicate the power of creation to chance and a vague natural selection is irrational in the highest degree. On the other hand, how could the rise of consciousness have been produced through small physical changes? Given the degree to which it has penetrated the mentality of society, Darwinism is a veritable mythology more than a scientific law. But unknown to the general public, more and more scientists today put the bases of Neo-Darwinism into question and propose other alternatives.

The chapter concludes by explaining the traditional doctrines of creation or emanation —which are a great deal more sophisticated than those put forth by a literal reading of Genesis in the Bible.


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Subjectivity, the Mind, Consciousness

Existence is composed of two parts: the outer world and the inner world. The latter, being the first piece of information we have, cannot be ignored in any worldview that lays claim to being the correct one. Yet, in the scientistic vision of the universe, the inner world is completely overlooked.

Many neuroscientists pretend to reduce the mind and consciousness to an “emergence” of neuron activity, forgetting that their “substance” is entirely different. How can something physical produce something non-physical?

The study of the mind and consciousness requires a study in the “first person” (for this is how the two are presented) and not a scientific study in the “third person” which could only discover secondary facts.

The “scientific vision of the world” tends to ignore the subject, forgetting that quantum physics has given it an honourable place in the conception of reality, and that many physicists believe that it is really consciousness which creates the world. This is also the traditional belief held by humanity as a whole.


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Consciousness in Indian Thought

Consciousness in India has been systematically studied for millennia. A fundamental difference between it and the western conception is that in India the “mind” and “consciousness” are considered radically different. Consciousness is the sun, the light which permits us to see everything else; the mind is a content of consciousness in the same way as the exterior world.

Pure consciousness is identified with the Atman, man’s true being, the nucleus that represents his real nature.  But man identifies himself with his shifting mind and his ego, an “uncentred” centre that personally appropriates what it perceives, while in fact the entire universe is a Unity.

The purpose of such a “psychology” is the radical transformation of the human being, leading him from an alienated and false life to the identification with his true nature.


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Spiritual Knowledge

At all times and in all places, it has been known that a knowledge surpassing reason is possible. This knowledge issues forth from the “intellect”, or pure intelligence, which contemplates in an in-mediate way things as they are. But such knowledge demands a thorough purification of the mind so that the latter, now tranquil, allows for contemplation. Spiritual knowledge has always been known and has been forgotten only in recent centuries in the West when the attention of society has turned to the world outside.

The chapter also speaks of ecstasy: a familiar phenomenon in the mysticism of all religions, and of paranormal phenomena which often accompany mystics (showing that these are lesser phenomena that have nothing to do with authentic mysticism). 

Throughout history of every civilization, many men and women have left the world to devote themselves to contemplation. Should we assume that they did so only to divest themselves of their responsibilities, obtaining nothing in exchange?


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The Testimony of the Sages

In the contemporary world there is a striking absence of the archetypal figure which heretofore always existed: the sage, the saint, who incarnated the higher possibilities of man. Such men and women were the most highly respected people in every past civilization. The best minds of each generation were dedicated to spiritual knowledge. The vast amount of testimonies to this make it impossible for us to ignore what they say. 

The sage, although outwardly similar to the rest, is inwardly very different. Having ceased to identify himself with his body and mind, he identifies with the divinity, heart of the universe. Why believe what they say? In addition to being persons of impeccable character, if we follow their lead we will be able to verify the truth of their statements.

In all religions there is the notion of the “extinction” of the little personality and “union” with God. The sages present us with a vision of the world wherein God (the Centre of the universe, the ultimate state of the sage), which cannot be expressed in rational terms, is the only overarching Reality.

To ignore their message and dedicate ourselves to frivolous, insignificant activities is to immensely debase human dignity. It means behaving as a beggar who does not know that under the ground where he sits lies a vast treasure.

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Religion, the Religions

There is no human society without religion. In spite of recent attempts to explain it using absurd reasons, its origin is to be found in mystical experience, and in the discovery that the physical visible world is permeated by a superior reality.

Institutionalized religion arose out of the attempt to give the entire world access to a part of what the saints have understood. It inevitably degenerates due to the defects of its leaders and the society in which it is found.

Every religion is its own world, distinct from the others. However (and in spite of the exclusivity claimed by many of them), all of them arrive at the same point: the final Silence where all words and concepts fail. The experience of saints such as Ramakrishna bear testimony to this. 

In the West today religion is presented in a childish, impoverished form. Ignoring the teachings of mystics and the possibility of a radical interior transformation, the former becomes increasingly unconvincing and superfluous. A return to mysticism as the basis of all religion is necessary.



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Death is concealed nowadays because it represents the only challenge modern man is unable to meet. While believed to be the end of all consciousness, so-called “Near Death Experiences” have nevertheless put this concept into question. Exhaustively documented, such experiences are undeniable, and materialistic explanations ultimately fail to provide an answer. 

In accord with what has been believed in all times and places, the journey of man does not end at death. Beyond it lie worlds in which the human being finds his true nature: those who are luminous will abide in a luminous world, while those who are obscure will live in a world of obscurity.

This chapter elaborates on the conceptions of the post-mortem world according to various traditions and discusses transmigration and the apocatastasis.


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God is good, is He not? Why has He made a world in which there is so much evil? This philosophical question has often been debated and has been used as an argument against the existence of God. In this chapter various moral, cosmological and metaphysical responses are given for the problem, and what saints have said regarding the existence of evil is set forth.  The Buddha said that this world necessarily comprises evil, and showed the way to overcome it.


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Getting out of the Labyrinth

The contemporary world is a veritable labyrinth where confusion and a lack of clear solutions reign. The scientific vision of a uniquely material and blind universe, where everything happens by the action of blind laws and consciousness is a foreign guest, is untenable.  But atheism and agnosticism have conquered the world of education and “official” information.

An urgent task before us is the re-sacralization of the world: to stop seeing it as made up exclusively of material forces and particles, and to contemplate it—as had always been done up to the present—as something sacred, a reflection of spiritual worlds.

And following this, to sincerely seek a spiritual path that permits us to overcome ourselves and advance towards the realm of the spirit, as present and accessible today as it was thousands of years ago. Listen to the testimony of the sages and follow in their footsteps.


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Persons Cited

The book closes with detailed biographical notes, for it contains an enormous number of quotes from scientists, thinkers and saints from every tradition, along with an index of the proper names and religious scriptures quoted.

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