By George A. Boyd ©2018
Q: Is it possible to find truth with the intellect?
A: The intellect can provide us conceptual models of the truth, but remains removed from the essence of spiritual reality. To find spiritual truth requires that you unite your attention with your immortal spiritual essences and your objects of meditation.
What can the intellect contribute to the quest for truth? There are several strategies that the intellect uses to search for truths that lie beyond its level of immediate comprehension:
- Frame – A frame establishes what are the relevant factors to consider. If you want to know about God, you may wish to exclude information about chimpanzees.
- Meaning – The quest for meaning seeks to uncover the connotation and implications of a conceptual idea. For example, you might seek to understand what the word God means to a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew, and look for their common and dissimilar beliefs about what God is like.
- Associations – Associations form the basis of knowing how two factors correlate with each other, and how multiple factors inter-correlate with each item in a matrix or array. Participation in religious rituals, engaging in prayer, and attending worship ceremonies appears to highly correlate with belief in God.
- Apparent causation – This strategy identified an outcome and traces back the associated factors to an event or actor that appears to have been their cause. The universe appears to have originated from a immensely tiny point from which emerged the Big Bang. In some cosmologies, there was a Creator that planned and manifested the universe—in these viewpoints, God is the Power that created the universe.
- Historical, anthropological, and philological analysis – This strategy looks for the historical background of an idea, how it expresses in culture, and how the concept changes as it appears in new languages. You might explore how the Hindu God Shiva, who first is identified in the archaeological excavations of the Indus Valley civilization, about 3500 BCE—and mentioned in the Vedas that were written in the Sanskrit language—this same phrase, Shiva, appears in the Hebrew language, and means to sit in remembrance of someone who has died.
- Looking to an expert or authoritative source – You may believe that a particular person or a book is an authoritative source, and you derive your belief that something is true based on that source. You may believe that The Holy Bible or The Koran is the true revelation of God, and you will look to that scripture as your touchstone of truth.
- Model – Here you create a synthesis that ties together all factors and how they inter-correlate, assign appropriate causation, and develop an explanatory theory that accounts for the relationships of all factors.
The intellect presents information in writing, through speech, via mathematical formulae, graphics, visual images, or symbols. While it can communicate spiritual ideas, it remains ever disconnected from the actual essence it is describing in words and pictures.
Knowing this, the meditator lets the intellectual concept indicate the essence that is the object of meditation. Through depth meditation, the aspirant gains union with this object upon which he contemplates, and knows the truth of it beyond the words that describe it.