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The school primer defines man as a rational animal. The little scholar grows up in the belief that he is superior to the rest of the animal world because of his reason. He can think out complicated sums in arithmetic and write essays on the cow and the hare.


The Heart Sees Further Than the Head

The school primer defines man as a rational animal. The little scholar grows up in the belief that he is superior to the rest of the animal world because of his reason. He can think out complicated sums in arithmetic and write essays on the cow and the hare. His simple trust in reason does not leave him as he grows up. Contentious young men often appeal to logic and reason when in dispute with other contentious young men. The word science is dragged in, and the authority of science-that vast mass of ill-assorted knowledge, discoveries, and inventions-is regarded as final in all mundane affairs. Religion is not spared. The hollowness of all religions is proved by the simple argument that the data on which they are based are not Indeed they were often misguided by reason. If man was an omniscient being, if the man had in his possession all the facts about any and every subject, only then could he have trusted in the infallibilit%0f his reason. His reason does no more than establish relations between different things or evaluate the merit of one thing about another. But man is not omniscient. Far from it, his knowledge is. confined to the modest area assigned to Newton to his own knowledge. His reason is no more than a ray of light in the superincumbent darkness of his ignorance. As far as it goes, it lights up things. But how far does it go? The schoolman's logic indulges in meaningless sophistries when the peasant's mother-wit hits the nail on the head. The scientist's reason carries him far, but at every step, he is •distressed by the uncertainty of his data or its insufficiency. Human life is a three-dimensional mystery, and reason can work only in. two-dimensional plane.

Man has to trust his heart and listen to its language. Our affections and sentiments often tell us the truth when our reason is mute or diffident. Man has domestic affections, friendships love, and likes, and dislikes not because he has reasoned everything out but because these things have priority or claim on him. Even before the little Child with his shining morning face creeps like a snail to school, he loves his mother, and that love is his salvation. If man had to reason at every step, his life would be unbearable. We leave our logic in the schoolroom or in the offices when we go home. For happiness depends to a great extent on, our non-logical behavior in daily life. The warm friendliness of a trusted comrade gives us greater assurance of safety and happiness than any cautious policy ever can.

In the higher sphere, we meet with a quality that we call' genius.' The reason is not able to explain it and describes it as 'Unaccountable,' and it's working as, the ' vagaries of genius.' Now genius is often nothing more than an instinctive understanding of the truth, an ability to grasp a situation with all its complications in the flash of inspiration. Where the laws of reason fail, genius operates.

Clive showed such inspiration before the Battle of Plassey. In Napoleon's life, there are many examples of such inspirations. such moments of inspiration come to poets too when they seem to write in a style not their own, in a mood more exalted than any they have ever felt before. How little of the true poetic faculty is really 'rational'!

"An administrator or ruler who has to guide the destinies of many under him cannot always listen to the voice of reason. Justice is often leagued with mercy in the affairs of the state; punishment is often followed by pardon. And where policy dictates one course, often it is seen that charity and benevolence sway the ruler in another direction. It is good that the ruler does not listen to reason all the time for he has to deal with human beings who are only partly rational.

The reason is a poor substitute for instinct. In the animal world, the meanest Creature has a clearer perception of safety and enger than man has. Instinct may be called a kind of higher reason. For it tells us the truth in a flash while reason lags far behind. We see this in our instinctive likes and dislikes for certain people. Children who are not great reasoners know their friends and avoid their enemies instinctively.

The reason is no substitute for faith. The eye of faith sees much farther than reason does or can ever do. There are many things which we have to take on trust, and believing them, we create them or make them real to us. When we distrust them, we only destroy them- We may not believe in miracles, but certainly, we should believe what the mystics and prophets tell us. The truths they announce derive from their intimate experience. They do not reason about God, •they know God.

The heart then is to be trusted, and its language carefully listened to. Not that the voice of reason should be distrusted in normal cases. The schoolboy's definition of man as a rational animal remains. It is a good definition as far as it goes. But we should realize that it does not go very far and that if accepted without any reservation, it might even prove dangerous: Man is not always rational, there are instances where man should not be rational in the narrow sense but must exercise faculties higher than reason.


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