Following as it does the Greek school of logic, Western science can never reach a final conclusion. All its conclusions are therefore tentative, temporary, and based on the knowledge acquired up to the present time. If something new is discovered tomorrow, there will be a change in the conclusion. That is why no truth arrived at by the West is absolute. It is not total. All its truths and conclusions are imperfect. But truth can never be imperfect or incomplete, and whatever is imperfect will be untruth. The conclusion we are required to alter tomorrow is in reality not the truth even today! It simply appears to be the truth. That alone can be truth which we never need to change. So the conclusions which are declared as truths by the West are really untruths based on the knowledge acquired so far and needing alteration according to the knowledge obtained tomorrow.
The Indian system of reasoning is not like investigating truth with the help of a lamp. It is like investigating the dark night in the dazzling brilliance of a lightning flash, when everything becomes visible simultaneously. Not that something – a part – is seen now, sometime later another part, later again something more, and so on; no, the Indian way is not like that. In the Indian system of investigation, the revelation of truth takes place all at once; everything is discovered at one and the same time. All the roads extend to the horizon, and all – whatsoever – is seen simultaneously in the flash of lightning. There is no scope for any change in the future because the whole has been seen.
The Western method called logic investigates truth by the process of thinking. The Indian way, which we call experience or wisdom, discloses all things at one time like the lightning flash, with the result that truth comes out as it is, in its totality, leaving no room for change or alteration. As a result there is no potential for change in what Buddha or Mahavira or Krishna has said. But Western thinkers – inclined to doubt and worry – question whether what Mahavira said twenty-five hundred years ago can still be true today. It is reasonable for them to raise such doubts; over such a period of time we should expect twenty-five thousand changes if we have been looking for truth with a torch! New facts will appear every day, and we will be compelled to alter or transform the old ones. But the truths declared by Mahavira, Krishna or Buddha are revelations. They are not truths found by lamplight; they have been seen and known and revealed in the dazzling lightning flash of a still mind – a mind devoid of thoughts. The truth which Mahavira knew was not discovered by him step by step; otherwise he could not have known the total truth. He knew it in its totality in a single moment.
What I want to tell you is that everything revealed in its totality through the wisdom of the East is included in this short sutra. It is there in its totality. This is why we in India declare that the conclusion is first and the inquiry follows. The announcement of the truth is made in the beginning, then we discuss how the truth can be known, how it has been known, and how that can be explained. This sutra is an announcement – a proclamation. The rest of the book is not essential for those who can comprehend the full meaning from the announcement. Nothing new will be stated in the entire Upanishad: the truth will be retold again and again in various ways. The remainder of the book is for those who are blind to the dazzling flash of lightning, and stubbornly insist on searching for truth with the help of a lamp. By the light of this lamp, the truth can be picked out line by line in the Ishavasya sutra; but first the subject is presented in its entirety in this great sutra. That is why I told you this sutra is so unique: it says everything. Now let us try to understand it.