Chapter 12: What Is Mysticism?
Eddington has written that “First we used to believe that thought is just a by-product” - just as Karl Marx says that consciousness is just a by-product of social situations - “a by-product, an epiphenomenon of matter, a shadow of matter. Matter is substance; consciousness is just a shadow, very insubstantial.”
Eddington says, “I was also perfectly convinced,” because that was the climate of those days. For three centuries in the West, science had been growing the climate. Eddington had grown up in that climate, but finally, ultimately, in his last days, he said, “Now things have changed. The more I went into inquiries, the more I became convinced that the world does not consist of things, but consists of thoughts - and existence appears less like matter and more like consciousness.”
This is good news; science is coming to a great understanding. That understanding is arising out of its failure to demystify existence.
But I don’t see a similar understanding arising in the so-called religious people. They are lagging far behind; they are all talking in old, stupid ways. They are still obsessed with the Vedas and the Koran and the Bible. And not that the Vedas are wrong, or the Koran or the Bible are wrong - they are perfectly right - but they are expressed in a very, very ancient, primitive way. They are not capable of meeting modern science.
We need contemporary religious mystics of the same caliber as Albert Einstein and Eddington and Planck. That’s my effort here, to create contemporary mystics, not only scholars who can talk like a parrot about the Upanishads and the Vedas. No, scholars won’t do. We need contemporary mystics; we need people in whose hearts new Upanishads can arise. We need people who can talk the way Jesus talked, on their own authority. We need courageous mystics who can say they have experienced God, not because the scriptures say God is, but because they have known God; not just learned people, knowledgeable people, but people of wisdom.
Enough of scholarship. Scholarship is just very mediocre; scholarship cannot bridge modern science with mysticism. We need buddhas, not people who know about Buddha. We need meditators, lovers, experiencers. And then the day is ripe, the time has come, when science and religion can meet and mingle, can be welded together. And that day will be one of the greatest days of the whole of human history; it will be a great day of rejoicing, incomparable, unique, because from that day, the schizophrenia, the split humanity will disappear from the world. Then we need not have two things, science and religion; one thing will do.
For the outer it will use scientific methodology, for the inner it will we religious methodology. And “mysticism” is a beautiful word; it can be used for that one science or one religion, whatsoever you call it. “Mysticism” will be a beautiful name. Then science will search for the outer mystery, and religion will search for the inner mystery; they will be the two wings of mysticism. “Mysticism” can become the word that denotes both. Mysticism can be the synthesis of both.