SWAMI VIVEKANANDA explains the scientific basis of Yoga and the importance of observation in the process.

All our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential knowledge, in which we go from the less to the more general, or from the general to the particular, has experience as its basis. In what are called the exact sciences, people easily find the truth, because it appeals to the particular experiences of every human being. The scientist does not tell you to believe in anything, but he has certain results which come from his own experiences, and reasoning on them when he asks us to believe in his conclusions, he appeals to some universal experience of humanity.

In every exact science there is a basis which is common to all humanity, so that we can at once see the truth or the fallacy of the conclusions drawn therefrom. Now, the question is: Has religion any such basis or not? I shall have to answer the question both in the affirmative and in the negative.

Religion, as it is generally taught all over the world, is said to be based upon faith and belief, and, in most cases, consists only of different sets of theories, and that is the reason why we find all religions quarrelling with one another. These theories, again, are based upon belief. One man says there is a great Being sitting above the clouds and governing the whole universe, and he asks me to believe that solely on the authority of his assertion. In the same way, I may have my own ideas, which I am asking others to believe, and if they ask a reason, I cannot give them any.

This is why religion and metaphysical philosophy have a bad name nowadays. Every educated man seems to say,“Oh, these religions are only bundles of theories without any standard to judge them by, each man preaching his own pet ideas.” Nevertheless, there is a basis of universal belief in religion, governing all the different theories and all the varying ideas of different sects in different countries. Going to their basis we find that they also are based upon universal experiences.

We first observe facts,
then generalise, and
then draw conclusions
or principles.

Read the complete article in Issue 14


From Raja Yoga by VIVEKANANDA


Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda (1863-1902) was born as Narendranath Datta, and became the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He was an Indian monk, philosopher, author, teacher, and key person in introducing yoga and Vedanta to the Western world. Swam... Read More