Science & Spirituality|Jan 14, 2009 10:09 AM| by:

Is Man Truly Great?

Legends speak of the three strides of Vishnu*. The first two strides cover the sky and the earth. Yet, these two outer conquests remain incomplete without the third stride. It is the stride of God that conquers man. Or shall we say, fulfils God in man.

The last three decades have seen man’s growing conquest over material nature and the biophysical forces that move him. His gaze has extended far and wide into outer space. He can determine the lifespan of a star. Yet what eludes him still is his own destiny. What escapes his grasp are the unseen forces that possess and move him. What remains for him to explore are the inner spaces of his soul.

We have learnt the power of the spoken word. But the unspoken word still eludes us. The mystery of the silence behind life lies hidden by the clamour and noise of our surface mind.

We have learnt the science of defining things but not the art of experiencing them. We have amassed information but missed the wisdom that truly knows. We have craftily manipulated the surface of man but his depths remain unfathomed. We have been taught about the maladies that afflict his body but know little about the fevers that rage in his mind and ravish his soul.

Our textbooks are satisfied with defining health and normalcy but who will give us the experience of health? There is an abundant description of the normal and the abnormal. The supernormal is still a fantasy and a myth, because it is not common. Just as an ape would not have recognized himself in the forthcoming man so too, in man the superman lurks unseen. The greatness of man is not in his superiority over other animals. It is in his capacity to surpass himself.

 * Hindu tradition has it that Vamana, the fifth Avatara of Vishnu, arrives at the court of the mighty King Bali just as he is about to perform a sacrifice for the conquest of the three worlds.  Having extracted a promise from the great king to offer land worth three strides, Vamana, the dwarf, goes on to measure the three strides. With the first, he covers the earth; the second covers the skies and heavens.  As he looks for a place to take his third stride, Bali offers his head.