Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  Vairagya Bhavana




     In dealing with the subject of Dhyana, it is necessary to bear in mind the fact that it is the one most difficult thing to practice, and that all kinds of mental and bodily distractions have to be overcome before anything approaching steadiness can be acquired by the beginner. It is, therefore, necessary to know the nature of the causes, which interfere with the fixing of concentration, and lead to unsteadiness of mind. These causes naturally fall under three different head, viz.,


(a) Those that concern belief, or faith,

(b) Those which spring from the activity of an uncontrolled mind, and

(c) Those that arise from bodily unsteadiness.


     In respect of the first kind of these causes of obstruction to Dhyana, it is sufficient to point out that no one is likely to apply himself to the practicing of holy concentration, who is not convinced of the truth. It is, therefore, the first duty of the aspirant after emancipation to acquire the knowledge of truth, which can be done by study and meditation.


     For this purpose one should cultivate the habit of thinking for oneself on lines of cause and effect, that is scientifically. Naturally, those whose early training has given them a scientific turn of mind would find it easier to arrive at the exact truth. The importance of imparting the proper kind of education to little children, cannot be overrated for this reason; for while no one whose mind is stuffed with superstition and myth can possibly grasp the truth without unlearning the 'wisdom' that was hammered into his mind in his infancy-- and many become too prejudiced against truth to undergo the unwinding process-- he who has received the right kind of training has all the advantages, which open-mindedness, freedom from bias and high intellectualism combine to put at the service of every true student of nature. No one certainly is at all likely to know the truth, who allows prejudice or bigotry to obscure his intellect. Another thing to bear in mind is that knowledge and belief are two different things, and have to be distinguished from one another. Many people profess to believe in a thing, but their actions only show them to be hypocrites, for the test of belief is that it should begin to actuate one from within as far as the circumstances would permit. It is not meant that purity of conduct can be acquired all at once, but that regret is felt at each wrong step taken, and there is a longing to repair the damage done. Self-chastisement and the actual undoing of the injury inflicted upon another are the characteristics of a firm belief, while perfect faith leads to the avoidance of sinful actions altogether.


     The causes, which interfere with the acquisition of truth, may also be briefly pointed out. They are three-fold in their nature, and consist in want of respect for the true Deva (God), the true guru (teacher) and the true shastra (Scripture); for these are the only sources of right knowledge from without, and it requires no great familiarly with logic to predict that he who ridicules any or all of them necessarily denies the truth of their Word, and is thereby debarred from the acquisition of truth. It is also worth while to understand the true functions of these three objects of worship. God is worshipped, because He has realized the Ideal of the soul, because he is a living example for every aspiring Jiva, and because he is the true source of religion; the guru is revered because he imparts true instruction and because without his practical help it would be exceedingly difficult, though not impossible, to tread the thorny path of Self-realization; and the claim of the Sastras to worship rests on the ground that it is the last resort in case of doubt, and the only authority on matters which fall outside the domain of intellect, such as the description of heavens and hells and the like. The Scripture might, no doubt appear at times to be in conflict with the conclusions arrived at by modern science, but it is necessary to bear in mind the important fact that the dictum of science on those points on which it conflicts with the Scriptural text is not based on anything approaching the omniscience of the Arihanta, and is admittedly grounded on nothing more certain than the weight of probability. Above all, the opinion of ill-trained men, and even of scientists formed as the result of the demolition of mysticism and misunderstood theology, is to be accepted with the greatest caution. These gentlemen, finding the dogmatic preaching of certain obscure and incomplete systems of theology unreasonable and opposed to the healthy voice of common sense, are apt to make sweeping assertions about religion, holding every form of it to be devoid of sense without properly studying the subject. If the seeker after truth would not allow his mind to be swayed by imperfect or non- exhaustive research, or one-sided statements of fact, and retain his composure in the midst of the Babel of voices, he would, ere long, discover that there is nothing intrinsically absurd in the Scripture of Truth even in respect of matters not ascertainable with the intellect-- descriptions of heavens and hells, the past history of saints and Saviors of mankind and the like. He would find that intellect can neither prove nor disprove the Scriptural text in respect of these matters with conclusive effect, so that he has to fall back upon the testimony of the authors of the Scripture till the manifestation of the Avadhi, mnahparyaya or Kevala Jnana puts an end to the controversy by enabling him to directly perceive the truth for himself. The absolute accuracy of the text with regard to all matters determinable by reason is a guarantee of its truthfulness even in respect of those which fall beyond its legitimate province, and suffices to form the basis of faith for the laity. In practice it will be seen that the more the Scriptural text is found to be in agreement with the conclusions of an unbiased mind, the greater is the respect, and, consequently, also, faith, which it will engender in the heart.


     The layman should begin by harnessing into service study and meditation, which would speedily enable him to discern truth from falsehood, and prevent him from falling into wrong and unworthy company. He must then adopt the truth the moment it is discovered, and worship the true trinity of God, guru and Sastras till he can stand on his own legs, that is to say till he can manage to become absorbed in the contemplation of the own Atma. Neither the fear of public opinion, the sense of ridicule not any other personal or private motive should be allowed to stand in the way of adopting the right faith or to constitute an excuse for a policy of procrastination, which not only delays and retards one's own progress, but also misleads those others-- dependents, friends and the like-- who naturally follow one's lead in matters pertaining to religion and morality.


     We come now to the second class of causes, which interfere with the steadiness of Dhyana. These comprise all those tendencies and traits, including passions and emotions which have their root in desire. Whenever the mind is engrossed in the pursuit of desire it displays tendency to wander away after its objects, thus robbing the soul of serenity and peace and the body of ease and restfulness. The remedy for this kind of disturbance consists in the development of the spirit of renunciation, which will engender the state of no desires.


     The third type of causes of distraction have reference to the unsteadiness of body, end a rise from want of control over the bodily limbs, ill health, the habit of luxury i.e., inability to bear hardships, and the like. The observance of rules, which directly aim at imparting health and strength to the body, and the avoidance of the habits of luxury would be generally found sufficient to bring the physical tabernacle of gross matter under the control of will, and to render it capable of bearing the constantly increasing strain of trials and hardships involved in the severest forms of self-denial. Food, it should be clearly understood, plays the most important part in the physical training for asceticism, since it directly affects the constitution of the body and the condition of nerves which have to be purified of their grossness before they can respond to the impulses of will in the desired manner. Hence, where impure food is allowed to coarsen the brain and nerves, it is idle to expect any happy results from the practicing of yoga (asceticism). The aspirant after immortality and bliss must, therefore, make up his mind to exclude from its daily menu, all those articles which augment the prostration of nerves together with those that do not increase the vitality of the system. Meat and wine, which not only tend to coarsen the nerves, but which also excite unholy passions and desires, at once fall in the category of things to be avoided, and the same is the case with foods that are hot, excessively sour, pungent, putrid, stale, unwholesome and those which become tolerable after a time, such as tobacco, and the like cereals, vegetables, fruits and nuts, along with milk and its different preparations (clarified butter, sour-milk and the like), sugar and certain wholesome condiments, go to build up a healthy body, and being delicious, bland and nutritious in their nature, form the best articles of food. It should also be observed here that the best results only follow an early attention to the rules of diet and nervous hygiene, and that delay is not advisable in putting them into practice.