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Chapter 5: Right-Knowledge

But Patanjali says that if you know there is no need for inference, but if you don’t know then too it will be helpful to infer. For example, Descartes, one of the greatest thinkers of the West, started his philosophical quest through doubt. He took the standpoint from the very beginning that he will not believe in anything which is not indubitable. That which could be doubted, he would doubt. And he would try to find out a point which could not be doubted, and only on that point would he create the whole edifice of his thinking. A beautiful quest - honest, arduous, dangerous.

So he denied God, because you can doubt it. Many have doubted and no one has been able to answer their doubts. He went on denying. Whatsoever could be doubted, conceived to be dubitable, he denied. For years he was continuously in an inner turmoil. Then he fell upon the point which was indubitable: he couldn’t deny himself, that was impossible. You cannot say, “I am not.” If you say it, your very saying proves that you are. So this was the basic rock - “I cannot deny myself, I cannot say I am not. Who will say it? Even to doubt, I am needed.”

This is inference. This is not direct cognition. This is through logic and argument - but it gives a shadow, it gives a glimpse, it gives you a possibility, an opening. And then Descartes had the rock, and on this rock a great temple can be built. One indubitable fact and you can reach to the absolute truth. If you start with a doubtful thing you will never reach anywhere. In the very base, doubt remains.

Patanjali says, inference is the second source of right-knowledge. Right-logic, right-doubting, right-argument can give you something which can help towards real knowledge. That he calls inference, anuman. You have not seen directly, but everything proves it; it must be so. There are situational proofs that it must be so.

For example, you look around the vast universe. You may not be able to conceive that there is a God, but you cannot deny; even through simple inference you cannot deny that the whole world is a system, a coherent whole, a design. That cannot be denied. The design is so apparent, even science cannot deny it. Rather, on the contrary, science goes on finding more and more designs, more and more laws.

If the world is just an accident then science is impossible. But the world doesn’t seem to be an accident, it seems to be planned. And it is running according to certain laws and those laws are never broken.

Patanjali will say that design in the universe cannot be denied, and if once you feel there is design, the designer has entered. But that is an inference, you have not known him directly - but the design of the universe, the planning, the law, the order; and the order is so superb, it is so minute, so superb, so infinite - the order is there. Everything is humming with an order, a musical harmony of the whole universe. Someone seems to be hidden behind, but that’s an inference. Patanjali says inference can also be a help towards right-knowledge, but it has to be right-inference. Logic is dangerous, it is double-edged. You can use logic wrongly, then too you will reach conclusions.

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