Our Choice for a Better Future: Vedic Worldview Vs. Atheism?

Once we start reflecting on some of the basic, in some sense childish, yet very fundamental questions such as Why do we exist, What is our purpose of life, What happens after we die – we would notice that there are 2 distinct schools of thoughts that attempt to provide possible answers to these questions. One of them is the Atheistic School of thought that doesn’t believe in a creator while the other camp is the Theistic group that does believe in a creator.

We all must be either believing a theistic or an atheistic world-view or may be undecided. However, since these are critical questions for spiritual evolution – we must ask them and must also seek answers.

Whatever school of thought we align with would not just impact our way of thinking, our way of living but would also decide what impact do we have on the rest of the world.

Prior to agreeing & aligning with the Vedic life-philosophy, I have traversed between both these camps to find logical, satisfactory answers to my questions. Typically, there are select arguments around which both schools debate. I have summarised in brief those arguments and my take on that for your perusal. These arguments are made from a Vedic perspective as I have limited knowledge about other theistic cultures.

1.) Atheism (Science) Vs. Theism (Faith): During my inquisitions, I found that the Atheists typically pit their ideology & philosophy against that of Theistic school as a case of Science (Atheism) Vs. Faith (Theism). While in my naivety, I initially found it to be an appropriate positioning and comparison but as I read more about the Vedic philosophy and principles I found this to be an absurd and misleading argument. I found especially the public debates of John Lennox against leading atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens around this topic to be very incisive.

Its evident that there are scientists on both sides of the debate – there are scientists, noble laureates who believe in God and there are scientists who do not believe in God. So how can one side claim to be more scientific than the other?

This is clearly a case of 2 competing and conflicting worldview rather than a case of science against theism. There are many gaps even in Darwin’s theory of evolution that basing a worldview on a not so grounded theory is as much a matter of blind faith as some of the regressive religious superstitions practiced in the name of religion.

2.) Intelligent Design: The Atheists vehemently deny the argument of Intelligent Design, a principle which states that there is coherence, structure and an apparent design in our universe and our living ecosystem and that this intelligent design marks the presence of a designer, a creator and a law-maker.

Now if there is no design, structure and if this entire cosmic manifestation is just a mere coincidence, as the atheists say, then what is the logic behind our scientific pursuit to discover laws that govern the working of our cosmos – micro & macro.

Why would we expect any kind of laws, principles if it is all just a random arrangement where life just happened from matter. Thus the atheistic logic of refuting intelligent design negates itself.

In a parallel argument, if the atheistic brain that produces all these arguments against presence of a God is just a bio-chemical lump that just operates, without any governing framework, design then what weight does the arguments of such a randomly operating machine carry. The atheists find it difficult to address these basic premises.

3.) Humanitarian Grounds: Since the wave of new atheism originated in west, most of the atheists cite the atrocities committed by Church in the name of religion. While those are undeniable facts and the Church has also undergone significant transformation since then – it is difficult to draw similar parallels with Varna-Ashrama Dharma where no mass forceful conversions were carried out or progress of science and education was hindered in the name of religion.

However, parallels are easy to draw with atheistic communists such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot who ruthlessly and without remorse killed millions of people in the very recent past. It is only likely that had these communists believed in the cycle of Karma, presence of an all-seeing God they would have thought twice about their conduct and most likely not gone ahead with their evil plans.

4.) Social & Emotional Stability: To ensure social stability, the society & its members need to guide & govern themselves with ethical & moral principle to avoid suppression and ensure fair treatment to all. However, as the Atheist ideology suggest, if a human being is just a bio-chemical lump governed by our genes and evolutionary process has primed it only for a ruthless & selfish task of survival, then, how can we expect any notion of compassion, empathy towards fellow humans and especially for those who are in a situation of disadvantage. In a society of scarce resources, its more likely that a selfish gene would compel us to eliminate others to ensure its own sustenance.

Chemicals don’t possess & express emotions. Such an ecosystem without a conscience is bound to collapse, disintegrate.

On a more individual level, a lack of purpose definitely is far much more unsettling. Atheistic philosophy is nihilistic in nature. Its stress upon the human being nothing more than a unique collation of dead matter doesn’t give us any reason to continue facing challenging circumstances to survive.

Atheistic worldview miserably fails to answer the questions that while Survival is the driving instinct but why is survival important? If we are just matter, why is it better to be in this human form than a rock?

In my case, the utter failure of atheists to give satisfactory answers to some of these aspects has led me to favour a more scientific, balanced, wholesome Vedic worldview than an incomplete, annihilistic, atheistic worldview. Rather, I have found many famous atheists such as Dawkins to be high on rhetorics and insinuatory remarks than scientific and rational arguments. While claiming to be a scientist, he seems to be completely against allowing any space for exploration & deliberation of another(theistic) worldview which i believe is totally against what the philosophy of science is. That further highlights the flimsy ethical or moral high ground that many of these atheists take.

I would urge you to think and choose your worldview wisely for it has potential to shape up your future life and that of our world.

Life – the missing narrative (1)

It is difficult to ignore the tear-jerking, message-oriented advertisements of trivial products like detergents that make these product brands come across as something more than what they are – a simple solution to wash our dirty laundry. These brands are striving to acquire more mind-space than what such a daily use object deserves. Not just that, they are out there to prove how a detergent is not just a chemical product but signifies something much bigger and serves a higher purpose in our life and society.

While the narrative around such trivial products is becoming grander, most of our grand institutions are failing to find a story that articulates their identity, purpose, reason for existence. 

This is a phenomenon that is consistently observed for our schools, relationships, businesses and even for our country. For mundane product categories, these stories have to be crafted and then pushed by intelligent people in brand & marketing teams. However, the situation was different for the important social institutions. They had always had a very compelling narrative that established their need, utility and importance for a well-functioning society.

Each of these social institutions had an inherent purpose; a narrative that however, for most, seems to have got lost, diluted or forgotten. And, in absence of that narrative these institutions are loosing their relevance.

One of the most important entities that seems to be have veered away from its intended course & completely lost on the narrative front is the “Human Life”.

Before getting into what was or should be the narrative, it is critical to examine why do we even need a narrative in the first place and what’s the current narrative. A narrative is defined as something that is narrated :  a story or an account. In context of social institutions, the narrative can be taken as a simpler, easy to understand articulation of its binding paradigm, guiding philosophy and reason of existence. A narrative helps in reminding, reinforcing the underlying tenets and principles and works as a casual compass to align the movement.

In our today’s utilitarian society, every entity has to serve a very functional, practical purpose and economic gain seems to be the biggest practical purpose that any entity can serve – be it our forests, animals or even humans.

Unfortunately, for human life the narrative seems to have been reduced to serve the man-made economic system. To live for work is apparently the code of conduct and the motto guiding everyone from teenagers to adults.

The stress and pressure to prove your worth in the market is immense – starting right from the campus placements upto retirement. The facade of professional success – reaching the pinnacle- is so alluring and enamouring that women are fearing to tend to their children as their careers may be jeopardised; 12 year olds in school are doing start-ups and designing customer acquisition strategies; men are clocking 80-100 hours/week in their cubicles making grand designs & PPTs to fuel the fire of consumerism.

This unspoken narrative seems to be taking a shape of its own and now has a natural extension– To live for work, at the cost of everything else. Everything other than maximising our economic output seems to be not important and rather an impediment in this holy economic pursuit.

In our bid to create larger companies and improving our profits, we are crippling our environment at an alarming & unsustainable rate. To cope up with stressful working conditions more women are sticking to the stick – India registered highest growth rate of women smokers; to escape from mental drudgery our bars & pubs are all too crowded on a Friday evening or for that matter even on weekdays now. Strong messaging of self-centred indulgence from commercial brands, a shallow sense of independence triggered by monthly salaries, high stress and demands at workplace are also testing & affecting the ability to pay attention, make adjustments or to improvise at home thus seriously affecting the relationships between husband-wife, parents-children. Divorce rates have shot up by 300% in many metro cities while the strain between relationship of teenagers with their parents is evident every where.

Certainly, this narrative built around professional success and economic productivity alone seems to be failing both the individual & institutions but we are too slow to realise and react to the imminent danger.

What we do need is a fresh perspective and for that we can seek inspiration from our great civilisation that stood test of time for thousands of years keeping not just intact all institutions but exhibiting an extraordinary sense of accomplishment across the spectrum – be it social, commercial or spiritual.

We need to find some other more meaningful and less destructive parameter of expressing our self-worth, our purpose than the current notion of economic output or productivity.

My graphic life-manual

Life in human form is one of the most interesting and valuable gifts that we can expect to receive from the creator. The degree of freedom, potential and opportunity that we get in human form makes it nothing like anything else. At the death bed, most people perceive human life as an all alluring and irresistible possession that they wouldn’t want to let go; very much like the J R R Tolkien’ magical ring of The Lord of the Rings. In a way, it is actually “precious”.

However, during our youth and active life we ignorantly & conveniently squander away most of the precious 30,000 days that an average human being gets for him/herself on this planet. You may note that even a cheap Chinese toy worth almost nothing comes with a manual but we manage our life without any such manual or a guiding map. Isn’t that too big a risk?

While we spend our pennies & dollars so cautiously, we don’t mind spending this irrecoverable, precious resource of time in human form in the most useless and wasteful way and will probably feel guilty only when its too late.


Having read & thought about this and after a due reflection upon my own journey so far, i found that, to operate at maximum efficiency & with highest fulfilment, I need to be mindful of 3 key things/ideas. 

I have etched them in my mental notes – and hope you will find them handy too. These 3  things/ideas can be very well represented by

1.) Yoda     2.) Coin     3.) Blackhole

1. Yoda: Like the old and wise character from StarWars, we all need to have a guide, mentor who can share with us the wisdom, knowledge to lead a meaningful life.

This guide or mentor can be a person or it could be a text/book or a meditative technique that parts you with valuable insights about spiritual and material aspects of our world. 

Unfortunately, teachers at majority of our schools, colleges fail to fill this role and the elderly at  disjointed families are struggling to connect with youth. Given the scenario it becomes even more critical and urgent for us to have a mentor, guide to help navigate our journey.

Yoda helps sharpen our consciousness and enables us to assess our real position in this boundless universe and how even with such minute presence can we make a big impact. This mentor helps us shape up our operating philosophy basis which we take key decisions in our professional, personal & social life.


However, we must be very cautious in choosing a mentor, guide. We must not just pick or follow a popular or trending cult or school of thought but carefully examine their philosophical & scientific base to assess if it can help solve both the material & spiritual concerns. A yoda should not be just a professional expert but must have adequate knowledge to improve our consciousness and to move forward on our spiritual pursuit. The other easy test is to figure out how much of what they preach, do they practice themselves.

I have found my Spiritual mentor and the ancient text of Bhagavad Gita to be my Yoda who have helped me with a context and a foundation to better my life. I hope you find yours soon if you haven’t yet.

2. Coin: Similar to a coin, our human experience & identity has 2 sides/facets to it – material & spiritual. For a long time, I was stuck with a false coin and had limited my exploration, experiences and enjoyment to only the gross, more apparent material dimension. I fear that its also the case with many more like me. 

We have to be mindful of our true position: a spiritual entity with a material body as cover.


Unfortunately, since all the frenzied communication on internet, tv, print talks only of how to please and give pleasure to our body, mind, senses it’s very easy to slip into a shell and dampen our consciousness with material cover. Only a humble recognition & acceptance of our true identity has the power to complete our worldview and as soon as we become cognisant of this spiritual identity we start seeing our life, activities, relationships and role in this world in a new light. 

Imagine how the idea of being immortal can suddenly change how we treat death and how the fact that our human body is just a temporary cover would suddenly render so many sensory pleasures useless. This understanding of our spiritual nature helps put a control on pursuit of  unrestricted sense gratification and to retain a balance.

I believe the partial, incomplete & inaccurate understanding of our true nature was probably the biggest impediment that I experienced to leading a blissful and meaningful life.

3. Black hole: We all need a purpose, destination to direct our energies. When I thought of Blackhole as a metaphor for the all absorbing, all powerful purpose that pulls our energies, thought, actions towards itself with all its might – I was elated. It is probably one of the most powerful metaphors that I have personally experienced.

Black hole gives you a reference to identify if a thought or an objective is qualified to be THE goal of your life.


A black hole can not be seen because of the strong gravity that is pulling all of the light into the black hole’s centre. However, scientists can see the effects of its strong gravity on the stars and gases around it & study the star’s motion to find out if it is orbiting a black hole.

Just like blackhole, this purpose may not be very easy to spot and we may at times confuse it with other temporary phenomenon, interests or hobbies. We would need special instruments and indications such as help from Yoda to critically analyse our own frame of mind, emotions to see what they are attracted or attached most to.

It has to be an idea that on one hand is inspiring and on the other its magnitude should scare you, compelling you to question your abilities and potential to match its intensity, scale. 


Once identified this blackhole does the magic for us – the attraction, the pull of this overarching life goal is so powerful that it directs and aligns our energies, potential towards itself. So the trick is in identifying the blackhole that will bring the best out of us.

One thing certain about this blackhole is that it can’t & will not be a very trivial pursuit – it has to be beyond money, beyond a venture to boost our own ego, or a shot at short-lived fame. To be so powerful, it has to have a higher dimension; has to be a level above the mundane. 


So what is this irresistible idea, cause or goal that is capable of extracting the best out of you, 100% out of you?

Not better Technology but better Human-beings will save the world.

Today, we have guided missiles but unguided men.

Its interesting to note that in almost every second article, every conference, every gathering, technology is considered to be the Holy Grail and is projected as the silver bullet for all kind of social, economic, environmental and human psychological problems. Each one of us young or old is being religiously encouraged to code, to learn how to design apps, to invent something or the other.

Being an engineer myself, I don’t want to underplay or undervalue the role of technology in any way. But in awe of the latest technological accomplishments, I also wouldn’t want to miss the fact that almost of our problems or crisis(environmental, geo-political conflicts, terrorism, financial crisis, racism)are man-made and NOT due to lack of technology. Technology to a large degree is able to address the symptoms of these man-made problems or can provide a reactive solution but has severe limitations in addressing the root cause — the human nature.

We need technology to play a role in the interim and win the battle but the war can be won only if we concentrate on the human nature.

Few very simple observations will illustrate the point further  —

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year old Americans. and is the 4th leading cause of death for adults ages 18–65.(CDC) US is arguably leading on the technological innovation front and has some of the most promising tech startups and scientific institutions but still someone gives up his/her life every 12.3 minutes in the country. While technology can and is playing a role in preventing these suicides but a large part of success depends on strengthening social fabric, our human network and our emotional engagements.


  • Increasing instances of terrorist attacks and related casualties again point out to a human crisis with religious and political origin. The western world is no more insulated from the curse of terrorism and is feeling the burnt with more attacks and deadlier attacks being planned targeting innocent civilians in those countries.

Global Deaths from Terrorism.png

Jihadi terrorims in Western Countries.png

The underlying cause of these terrorist attacks is not lack of technology but a decline in empathy and rise of fundamentalism. This radicalism is led by humans and only aided by technology to certain degree. Same principle would be applicable to the solution as well — we need to transform the human being with or without technology.


  • Another crisis brewing in form of healthcare and social burden is heavy consumption of Tobacco/Alcohol and even substance abuse. Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States and counter-intuitively is not restricted to poor or young only. 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older. Also, it is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes. In 2010, Binge drinking was responsible for a loss of $191 billion in US alone in the form of losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses. (1) While Cigarette consumption in India is falling steadily, the number of women smokers is rising, making it home to the second largest number of female smokers after the United States. The Tobacco Atlas estimates that lung cancer is now killing more women than breast cancer (2) and smoking rates are particularly increasing among young girls in many countries.


To address all these challenges Technology will play a key role but the approach needs to be Human-centric.


Better leaders at home, schools and other institutions with a systemic understanding of how to lead a balanced, healthy and cheerful life can help this world become a better place. With more thoughtful and considerate population, the world would have far fewer crisis in the first place and we may have a more stable, happy and sustainable world.

Art of Discipline

To be disciplined is to put into practice the only kind of control that God ever puts into our hands — Self Control. (anonymous)

Upon observing some of the accomplished souls that I have had good fortune to interact with, I have come to realise that the one trait that is most needed to become successful, individually and collectively, and to stay successful is Discipline.

What is Discipline?

Discipline is probably the most boring virtue/quality with no glamour attached to it unlike empathy or good oratory skills but holds immense weightage in the equation of success.

Webster defines discipline as control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behaviour.

For many, discipline connotes following a routine, a regimen and is most of the times forced by external rules and regulations devised to maintain order and ensure smooth operations. Administrative guidelines such as office timings, school rules and instructions for commuters in public-transport ensure that people follow a prescribed pattern and large systems operate smoothly owing to those predictable behaviour. These very explicit and external guidelines, with penalties on non-compliance, drive discipline.

Unfortunately, in absence of these external enforcers of discipline we have seen systems perform poorly — be it massive traffic jams when signals stop working on busy streets or high incidence of failures in college in the first year after students move from a high discipline environment of school to a more lax system of college.

Degree of rules and regulations also indicate how evolved the participants or members of a society, a group or an organisation are or are assumed to be by law-makers.
A highly regulated environment indicates that either stakes are very high or people’s intelligence or intentions are not trusted. Hence elaborate and specific rules are laid out to micro-manage the participants. We have seen this in prisons, schools, in certain highly regulated industries such as defence, pharma. Even in case of heinous crimes such as rapes, murder strict laws indicate that in absence of such stern laws people are unable to exercise control and exhibit intelligent, rational behaviour.

Effective self-governance or self-discipline can be a good proxy of a more evolved and mature participants in ecosystem.

Context of Discipline

Mundane tasks and ordinary activities do not require us to think about the rules. It can be safely asserted that most of the times when we act disciplined, under day-to-day conditions, we are in an auto-pilot mode; following the rules of the game, doing what is prescribed without thinking too much about it.

We rarely give much thought to why and how should we follow those rules and are the rules adequate and appropriate?

Most of the rules are designed keeping in mind — the masses and normal circumstances. Majority of our life is also spent under these normal circumstances, average conditions, and we can follow the not-so-pinching rules by default without having to give much thought and having to put in much effort. Such average situations do not demand scrutiny and extra-constitutional efforts but an extra-ordinary pursuit does demand that we need a different than usual set of rules to direct our behaviour.

It is in the context of demanding circumstances, empowering aspirations and with the best of people that Discipline acquires a new meaning.

True Discipline

The real test happens when we operate in pressing conditions and we need to choose what we can and should do.

Such situations can appear in almost every realm – when an athlete decides to aim for a medal or when someone want to become a successful entrepreneur or spiritual pursuit of a monk. Each of these deserving endeavours demands rigour and unfaltering commitment from us and while there would be coaches, mentors, guides to help us, a large part of responsibility to make things happen rest on our own shoulders. This is where the true notion of discipline, of self-control, of self-restraint comes into picture.

To single-mindedly focus on one aspiration, putting in long hours when you don’t want to and consciously avoiding the alluring distractions is easier said than done.

It is only with a trained mind that we can keep our energies and intentions focused and channelize them towards our chosen endeavour rather than trivial affairs.

Mental discipline manifests into those long, boring and repetitive but most critical acts of coding, of making sales pitches, of meditation, of redesigning products, of training that are essential to achieve rare feats that are meant to be accomplished by only a select few; those who can create for themselves the most stringent of rules and yet exhibit highest order of compliance with least degree of external supervision. They use their intelligence to guide their mind and body into achieving the most difficult.

For such achievers, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Discipline is a marvellous exhibition of the unrelenting control of intelligence on mind.

If we start perceiving discipline as an endeavour to exercise our intelligence to control our mind, then it can be the most exhilarating and fulfilling practise that will unlock new realms of human potential.

I am hopeful that in an age of impulse driven by You live Only Once philosophy, we will be able to see through the benefits of discipline and try to benefit as much as we can.

How to start your spiritual journey?

There is a simple 3 step process to kick start your journey –



Athāto brahma jijñāsā – “
Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth”

If not for a major life threatening incident, the fast-pace of our life doesn’t allow us to to introspect on our own true identity. And this is perhaps disturbing and alarming.

We value a human life so much and loss of every single human life is lamented. Though very few of us give a thought on what it means to be human and why is a human life more valuable than that of any other species? Vedic texts and commentaries stress that compared to other animal species, a human life is precious only for the reason that it offers an opportunity to reflect upon our true nature and identity.

Human form of life offers the capability to analyse and understand that we are not material but spiritual beings. Spirit soul is separate from mind, intelligence and false ego that makes us falsely believe that we are this material body.

To help understand the notion of (jiva) spirit soul, Vedic texts highlight that while our material body keeps changing from birth to death, the presence of a single experiencer within these material bodies gives the impression of a coherent, single life-time. This experiencer is the spirit soul – our true self – that continues this journey through other material bodies even beyond destruction of our current material body.

Bhagavad-gita 2.13

dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.  The self- realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.”

While the notion of  our true identity being spiritual and not material is opposite to the more dominant materialistic world view, this is what Eminent French microbiologist Louis Pasteur (1822-95) had to say: “You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter?  You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life?”


We are all hard-wired for achieving material success – more money, bigger houses, better cars – as these define the typical success. This is the purpose or goal for a majority of our population. However, multiple researches indicate that people with all these things are still unhappy and feel emptiness in their lives.

So are we running the wrong race? Is material success not the true purpose?

While material pursuits are essential for survival but they can’t be and are not the summum bonum. Discovering our purpose is probably the most deserving pursuit for each one of us and Vedic texts highlight that our singular purpose is governed by our Dharma.

Dharma refers to the original nature or inherent character of something or someone. Discovery of our Dharma keeps us connected to our original identity and becomes the guiding compass that directs us how to lead our life.

Every thing or being has its own unalterable natural characteristic. For example sweetness is the inherent characteristic of sugar, so being sweet is its dharma. The moment sugar ceases to be sweet, it cannot be called sugar. It may be white and looking very much like sugar, but if it has a different taste, it may likely be salt. Similarly, brightness and heat are the fundamental, defining characteristics of fire and a fire without warmth and light would not be fire.

Similarly, the one characteristic which is common to all human beings is that each one of us is always serving someone – ourselves, our children, parents, employer, community.

Therefore, service is the dharma and guiding purpose which is common and universal to all human race.  By virtue of being a spirit soul, not just any kind of service but spiritual service is what our Dharma is.

We should engage and act not to endlessly serve our material senses or those of our kins, family but utilize the opportunity of human form to advance forward on our spiritual journey. The intent behind our action should not be to accumulate material possessions but to enable ourselves and people around us to realize their own spiritual position & identity.  This is the only way in which we can extend real and lasting help to people and do a true service to the Supreme Spirit Soul and our fellow human beings.

“Just imagine that the purpose of life is happinesss only- then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing.You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity,your intellect and your heart tell you: that the meaning of life is to serve the force that sent you into the world.Then life becomes a joy.”– Leo Tolstoy


The Bhagavad-gita explains that spiritual life is not about stillness and contemplation; understanding should give rise to vigorous and practical activities dedicated to spiritual advancement.

Spirit soul manifests Consciousness. When we begin our spiritual journey and sharpen our consciousness, which was covered by materialism so far, we become more aware and mindful of how and for what purpose should we utilize our time and energy.

Vedic texts and commentaries guide us how to max out the advantageous opportunity of this human form. The wisdom captured in these ancient texts is often referred to as  Jnana-dipena – ‘the lamp of knowledge’The lamp of knowledge illuminates our path and warns us of the possible obstacles and impediments that we may encounter on our spiritual journey. Amidst many pressing demands, the shining lamp of knowledge keeps our consciousness awake to the ultimate goal of life, ensuring that we make decisions which will advance us towards fulfilling our Dharma, our purpose – Spiritual Service.


However, owing to the grip and illusion of material world we may find ourself floating between 3 modes of being & doing –

Mode of Ignorance(Tamas), one that attracts us to all kind of destructive habits/addiction; Mode of Passion(Rajas), one that get us hooked on to fame, money and keeps us busy in the never ending rat race; Mode of Goodness(Satva), one where we tend to dislike gross materialism and are inclined to materially help others.

With help of vedic knowledge and self-discipline, we need to gradually transition our activities and service from these material modes to our spiritual mode. Even though Mode of Goodness is the best material state, however service in this mode is also still material is nature and the benefits are also temporary and likely to create other material complications. Hence, the Vedic texts recommend aspiring for spiritual state of being where all activities assume spiritual nature.

With a firm resolution, we need to commit ourselves to a lifestyle oriented to our true identity. We must act to ensure spiritual elevation and protect ourselves from falling in the ocean of nescience. Our mindful lifestyle should aid spiritual growth and discourage wasting our limited, valuable time in this human form in chasing fleeting and momentary material pleasures.

Who can receive spiritual knowledge?


In his insightful book – A guide for the perplexed – E.F.Schumacher is able to pin down the pre-requisite for deciphering, unlocking and understanding any kind of knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. I have attempted to summarize his discourse


He borrows the concept of adaequatio (adequateness) from Plotinus who said –

“Knowing demands the organ fitted(suitable) to the object”.

We are capable to discover, receive, decipher, comprehend only the knowledge for which we are adequately equipped. We can not safely assume that all human beings at all times are adequate to all kind of knowledge.

With all our scientific advancements and material tools, we are becoming more and more ‘adequate’ to receive knowledge about dead matter but the same can not be said true for knowledge about non-matter such as consciousness, spirit-soul.

Our bodily senses are able to take note of the material facts/features however it fails to unlock any soft, non-material features for which we are reliant on the capability of our higher faculties such as mind, intelligence.  Schumacher quotes an illustration by G.N.M Tyrrell –

“Take a book, for example. To an animal a book is merely a coloured shape. Any higher significance a book may hold lies above the level of its thought. And the book is a coloured shape; the animal is not wrong. To go a step higher, an uneducated savage may regard a book as a series of marks on paper. This is the book as seen on a higher level of significance than the animal’s, one which corresponds to the savage’s level of thought. Again it is not wrong, only the book can mean more. It may mean a series of letters arranged according to certain rules. This is the book on a higher level of significance than the savage’s….Or finallly, on a still higher level, the book may be an expression of meaning..”

This illustration highlights how the same phenomenon can be interpreted in different ways depending on the observer’s state of adequacy. The same illustration is carried forward by Tyrrell:

“A book, we will suppose, has fallen into the hands of intelligent beings who know nothing of what writing and printing mean, but they are accustomed to dealing with the external relationship of things. They try to find out the ‘laws’ of the book, which for them mean the principles governing the order in which the letter are arranged.. They will think they have discovered the laws of the book when they have formulated certain rules governing the external relationships of the letters. That each word and each sentence expresses a meaning will never dawn on them because their background of thought is made up of concepts which deal only with external relationships, and explanation to them means solving the puzzle of these external relationships…Their methods will never reach the grade ( of significance) which contains the idea of meanings.”

While not all human beings would have similar faculties but more critical is the background of thought.

The intelligent beings of the illustration lacked adaequatio with respect to the meaning contained in the book as their world view was dominated and rather restricted to the ‘external relationships of letters. In case of analyzing world beyond matter, we can either follow materialistic scientistism that propagates a belief that entire microcosm (individual) and macrocosm(universe) is nothing but a random schematic of atoms and that reality is confined to only that which can be materially observed through our five material senses OR we could operate from a standpoint that there is a meaningfulness attached to our life, our universe and we try to explore and understand that meaning.

So how does one ascertain the level/grade of significance to which we need to decrypt and analyse? 

Schumacher says “It is by an act of faith that I choose the level of my investigation; hence the saying ‘Credo ut intelligam’ – I have faith so as to be able to understand.” The choice of adaequatio or level is governed by observer’s faith rather than his/her intelligence.


When dealing with something superior which is non-matter, all levels will anyways give us factually correct/intelligent material observation, as in the case of book, however the real meaning comes to light only when we look for it with an adequate non-material lens. The choice of this lens will be governed by our faith. If we don’t have faith in the superior level of meaning then no objective assessment can help us from missing the point of whole thing. We would personify – ‘They seeing, see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.’

Schumacher states – “Faith is not in conflict with reason, nor is it a substitute for reason. Faith chooses the grade of significance or Level of Being at which the search for knowledge and understanding is to aim. There is reasonable faith and there is unreasonable faith. To look for meaning and purpose at the level of inanimate matter would be as unreasonable an act of faith as an attempt to “explain” the masterpieces of human genius as nothing but the outcome of economic interests or sexual frustration. The faith of agnostic is perhaps the most unreasonable of all, because, unless it is mere camouflage, it is a decision to treat the question of significance as insignificant, like saying:’I am not willing to decide where a book is merely a coloured shape, a series of marks on paper, a series of letters arranged according to certain rules or a n expression of meaning”

“The possession through faith of a hidden but certain truth is the very thing which will impel the mind to penetrate its content, and to give the formula, ‘Believe that you may understand’ (Crede ut intelligas), its full meaning.”

John Smith the Platonist in his own ways reiterates the same – ” We must shut the eyes of sense, and open that brighter eye of our understandings, that other eye of the soul, as the philosopher calls our intellectual faculty, ” which indeed all have, but few make use of it”‘


Thus to summarize – the Spiritual Knowledge becomes knowable only to people who have faith in a higher order of meaning and those who channelize this faith to go beyond their material senses and engage their intellectual faculty to understand the true meaning with the help of Aacharyas and Scriptures.

What are the key stages of spiritual advancement?

Advancement means Progress. It means Positive Movement or Displacement from one point to another.

To answer the question – what is Spiritual advancement? – we need to to understand our current spiritual situation and then logically realize what would a positive movement from this starting point be.

In absence of guidance by a Guru, Aacharya – most of us unfortunately tend to be stuck in the material conception of life. We identify our self with our material body and are not very comfortable with the notion that we are a spirit soul and our current body is only a temporary abode for us.

Starting from such a platform, Spiritual Advancement would entail

a.) Find Direction: Developing an understanding about our true-self.

Using the help of scriptures, genuine Aacharyas and our own logic and intelligence to reach the realization that our true identity is spiritual and our true nature is ‘Sat’, ‘Chitta’, ‘Anand’ – eternal, full of knowledge and blissful.

We just need to ask ourselves few very basic, fundamental child-like questions such as why were we born? what happens after death? as our body changes from infancy to old age what helps us maintain a single identity? Vedic texts such as Bhagavad Gita provide rational answers to all these questions that would satisfy our intellect and offer us a world-view that is scientific, meaningful and TRUE.

b.) Pursue the Right Direction: Practicing spiritual attachment and  material detachment.

Once we come to understand that our true identity is spiritual, we would notice that material objects can’t make or keep us happy and only spiritual engagement can provide us a fulfilling experience. However, due to material nature of our brain and senses they tempt us to engage with inferior material energy. Our intelligence would need some time to overcome this material conditioning from years of consistent consumptive messaging from sources all around us. Hence, we need to gradually and consciously practice material detachment and enhance spiritual engagement of our senses – Acquiring Spiritual knowledge, Mantra Meditation, Devotional Service.

Our heightened positive experiences inspite of lesser material fulfilment of our senses shall soon reinforce that our realization was true and that we must strive for simple living and high thinking.

c.) Avoid Distractions: Keeping our mirror like consciousness free from dust of materialism.

Consciousness is manifestation of Spirit Soul. The more vibrant our spiritual state of being, the more conscious, alert, mindful we are. In a materialistic conception of life, our consciousness is in a kind of mild hibernation and we lead our life in an auto-pilot mode without giving much thought to purpose of life.

Due to our strong conditioning and unbalanced lifestyles, even after having once realized our true identity we run the risk of falling back into the material trap. If we do not continuously sharpen our intelligence, our senses can drag us back into the dark corners of material indulgence. We need to keep bathing our intellect in the knowledge offered by scriptures and using those insights to keep our consciousness clean and bright.

d.) Enjoy the Journey: Transforming each act, each moment on this material planet into a spiritual phenomenon.

We need to align our interests, skills, activities to ensure that eventually every moment of our life-time is spent fulfilling our true Dharma – Spiritual Service. We must use our vocational skills, wealth, intellect to help ourselves and others to get out of material nescience and experience spiritual bliss.

Work towards creating a truly sustainable society where people realize the importance of our human life-form and live not just as a consumer but as a conscious spiritual being striving for perfection.

This is the stage when we begin experiencing spiritual bliss even in this material world as our every activity acquires a transcendental nature.