The essence of reason & truth

Reason, it is rightly said, is a sightless guide. This is simply because it pulls and diverts our attention away from the truth, whatever there is to it, rather than towards it. This is, of course, relevant on the surface, not from one’s mindful inside out, because when we are keyed to cultivating a diligent foundation, or frame of divine faculty for reason, it brings us composure, serenity, and mental poise, while enabling us to happily, also optimistically, face difficulties and adversities of life, from which no one is exempt.

Our ancient philosophers believed that there is a higher luminosity, or radiance, other than reason in particular, or isolation, too. They called it the core of righteousness and truth itself — for which there’s no need for anyone to apply the tenets, or essentials, of reason. Reason, like truth, they also said, is akin to holding the moonbeam in your hand. This is next to impossible — although they can be deciphered, or comprehended, in one’s own perimeter of thought. To cull the opposite exemplar — when one is reluctant to embrace the “light” called reason, they would never be able to perceive the language of truth and vice versa. What does this signify? The light of reason is nothing but a mirror image of truth, rectitude, virtue and morality.

While one may agree, albeit grudgingly, that reason is nothing more than a typical, abstract quality, it is, in effect, more than something that resides in the vast precincts of our conscious awareness. It is a divine article of faith that leads us from gloom to light. It distils and filters whatever negative thoughts, or casings of self-centred reference, we may carry, notwithstanding our best efforts. In the process, it associates our soul with the Supreme — be it god, or divine entity, or the “Absolute” — that all of us, each in our own unique mode, connect to as being as distinctive as our signature, or fingerprint.

The philosopher Plato described reason as being the natural monarch, or sovereign. He believed that it ought to rule over other components, such as duplicity and excess desires. He categorised his observation into a classical triad of precepts: 1) the individual dominated by reason seeks rational knowledge; 2), the individual dominated by the spirit/will/emotion is far too keyed towards winning, or earning a reputation, and 3) the individual dominated by a craving for profit yearns for tangible material gain.

Plato thought of a “perfect and splendid feast of reason.” He related to it as a “sacred and golden cord.” This cord, he articulated, exists in each of us; it pulls us in the direction of truth. He appealed that each of us should grasp this cord and steadfastly “hold it” against all the “other cords” within us and never ever let it go. “Other cords,” he suggested, when left to themselves, pull us in the direction of untruth, deceit and ignorance. 

Plato also viewed our elemental idea — a practical plan in the course of life, for example — that made health a priority, primarily because it represents a state in which other necessities, external to reason, are fulfilled. This is in consonance with our modern “take” on health as being more than a state in which the body fulfils its natural function; Plato believed that such a state is good, not just for the individual, but for the community too. You’d, therefore, any which way you may look at it, deduce that a desire for optimal health, as one precise expression of yearning for the good, and to being good, is a foremost, also inherent, wellspring of reason.

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)