|The Jain path
The Nature of the Universe
We are standing on the platform of human life From here
we have a choice. We can either go up with awareness or down with
dependency. We have to decide between these two directions. It is our own
decision. No body compels us to do this or that. There is no outside force
which determines our course. We have to know that the deciding force
resides within us
Once we know this truth, we stop groping for things
outside of us, and we start working from within. We determine what we want
to do. If we have a longing to go up with awareness, this life becomes
precious and meaningful to us. If we don't have this quest, life appears
to be boring or meaningless.
Regardless of what one gives to this body, it is going
to disintegrate. One day, it is going to go. If one doesn't use this body
for moving toward higher awareness, then one will use it for temporary
pleasure, gratification, or satisfaction. If one doesn't have an inner
quest, then one can live for enjoying as much as one can, and doing
whatever one wants. But in this case, there is no need to have a human
body. To enjoy sex, to indulge in food, to accumulate things, to sleep a
long time, to live in inertia ear, aggression, one can have an animal form
just as well as a human form. It does not matter.
Look at the animal kingdom. They are all doing the same
thing. A bull can enjoy as much sexual pleasure as a human being. A bear
can sleep for hours and hours with no one to disturb him. Compared to what
an elephant can eat, what can a man eat? If you peer into the home of an
ant colony, you can see their huge accumulation of food. Through all the
seasons, they go on collecting. Think of the bees. They spend their lives
in collection. There are human beings who do the same thing. They spend
their whole time on earth collecting money, property, things, wealth, only
to leave them behind when they depart. And sometimes the children who
inherit this wealth call their parents fools and use the hard-earned money
to finance their destructive habits and vices.
If this human life matters to you, you have to be very
careful. You must know that this life can serve a great purpose. To serve
this purpose, there is no better vehicle than this human body. You have to
be very clear about what direction you want to take. That clarity of
thinking will determine your course, your condition, your way. From this
platform of human life, you will see that you have to move either upward
or downward. The two are entirely different directions. They should not be
To move upward, we need awareness. To go downward, we
need attachment. What is attachment? It is clinging to things. Someone has
mentioned that in attachment four things come: a little crying, a little
sighing, a little lying, and a little dying. You cry because you want
something. You sigh when you don't get it. To get it, you have to lie a
little, and, ultimately, inside you die a little. From your own self you
die, you separate. So when you notice these elements arising in you, say,
"My goodness! Why am I crying? It is because of attachment!"
There is some confusion on this point. Many people ask,
"Why should we run away from life? Should we not have joy? Can we not
enjoy companionship with our friends? Is it not all right to have a good
car, a house?" The teaching does not tell you not to enjoy life. On the
contrary, it does tell you to enjoy your living. Only it objects to your
crying, sighing, lying, and dying.
In fact, you can only enjoy all if you are not clinging
or bound to anything. When you are not weighed down by dependency, you see
things as they are. If something is here now, it will stay only as long as
it has the nature to stay. So you enjoy, and when it goes, let it go. That
is its nature--to go.
When you go to a florist, do you make a business deal
with him? Do you agree to pay only if he can promise that the flowers will
last for so many days? No, you select the best flowers, and they remain as
long as they remain. That is all. When they wither, what do you do? Do you
cry? Or do you accept, thinking, "For three days they have been
beautifying the atmosphere, spreading a delightful fragrance"?
This is the approach of the enlightened person. You see
as it is. You know that the flower is going to wither. At the same time,
you are aware of the beauty and the fragrance of the flower. You have
double awareness. You do not become sad and lose the joy of the moment
Because of the awareness of withering, you don't cry and say, 'What will
happen after three days?" The moment you see the flowers you are happy.
You know that their living presence is offering joy to all, whether they
are your friends or complete strangers. So you are not focusing on the
withering at the moment that the flowers are in full bloom, although in
your double awareness you know they will wither.
In this tenth reflection, the aspirant understands the
nature of loka--this universe in which we all move. In this universe we
all are permanent as well as transient. There are two standpoints. From
the standpoint of essence, we are permanent. From the stand point of form,
we are transient.
As we grow, we see with double awareness two qualities:
dravya, or substance, and paryaya, or modification. Dravya is essence and
is by nature permanent. Paryaya is form, that which revolves or alters
around the essence, and is by nature transient. We see in the same moment
both the essence and form. we experience both the flower in bloom and its
This deep awareness which comes from meditation makes
you live in this moment of the present, not in the worry of tomorrow. What
is to be gained by running to a palmist or astrologer and asking her to
tell you how long you will live? If some one tells you, you are going to
live eighty years, what do you do? Perhaps you say, "Well, I have a long
time to live, but are you happy? What do you do with the eighty years if
they go in sickness, in the hospital, in distorted thinking, in bed? What
if someone told you, you have only one year to live? You would become
anxious and say, "After one year, I am gone. What shall I do?"
You may know how long you will live, but do you know
how to live? What are we to do with the few years we have? Are we here to
vegetate? If we know how to live, one year can surpass one hundred years.
It is not how many years we live which bring us happiness. Joy is not
counted with years- it is counted with moments.
Can we learn the art of living in the present moment
and get in touch with our dravya, our essence? We are always thinking of
the future We worry about the future. We don't live in the present. That
is our problem.
There was a retired gentleman who used to be president
of a large steel mill and who was a millionaire. He had no reason to worry
about his bank account, but he used to complain and fret about the
devaluation of the dollar. I asked him, "What is the matter? You don't
have money?" He answered, "Oh yes, I do, but if the dollar goes on melting
like snow, what will happen to me?" This kind of mind is completely
distorted. The worry is so big that the millions appear as nothing to him.
The person becomes frightened by his own fear.
There is really no fear except the fear you have
created. Once fear takes root in your mind, it will take you in thousands
of different directions. Those distorted mental creations which we call
black magic are nothing but the products of fear. When you have a fear,
there are people who know how to capitalize on it and manipulate you.
That is why Mahavir spoke directly to the initiates,
saying, "Anything you do out of fear has no meaning. You have to reach
that state in which you see what the whole world is. Then what you do, you
do out of fearlessness." When you are not under the shadow of fear, then
you are able to enjoy the moment. A person who is under fear is not going
to enjoy life. For example, if a prisoner is told, "Tomorrow you will be
hanged, so today eat as much as you want and go wherever you want to go,"
he will not be able to enjoy food or anything. He will be trembling at the
prospect of tomorrow.
In the same way, fear does not allow you to be
spiritual. Even to remember God out of fear is nothing but a kind of
bribery; it is not spirituality. Spirituality is always aware; whatever
you do, do it out of awareness.
How do you transcend fear? The only way is to know the
world as it is, to know what you are, to know your relationship with the
world. You are here for what? When you know your real nature, you will
know why you are here. When you can discriminate between your essence and
your transient nature, then you will be able to transcend fear.
In this bhavana, there are two reflections: loka and
aloka. This galaxy, this cosmos, this universe is loka. Knowing its
elements, you know what was once unknown to you. Knowing the unknown, you
will be free from fear of the unknown. You will feel at home in this
universe and move to your goal in fearlessness and conviction.
The constituents of loka are these six: jiva, soul;
ajiva, matter, dharma, the law of motion; adharma, the law of rest; akasha,
space; and kala, time. Space is the container of all the contained. What
does it contain? Form. What is form? It is another container. Contained in
form, like a bird in a cage, is jiva, conscious energy.
Loka is also a place in which two laws function, the
law of motion and the law of rest. Owing to the existence of these two
laws, the two energies called soul and matter are moving from place to
place, alternating between movement and rest. Because of the functioning
of these two laws, loka is that place where the atoms of matter compose
and decompose. Matter is continually forming and unforming. Because this
process occurs in a sequence, time can be perceived. The soul too,
relatively speaking, is taking time to make its way out of its cage.
Relative to the conditions or forms-- physical, emotional,
psychological--which surround it, a soul's journey can be measured in
time. If there were no forms, a soul would be in its limitless nature.
Then, from the height of this vantage point, time would not exist.
The opposite of loka is aloka. We can call it the void,
because nothing exists here; it is only space without existence, without
At the frontier between loka and aloka, Enlightened
Ones find their ultimate resting place, their height of consciousness.
Until they reach this point, souls are in a process, on a journey, subject
to certain limitations. Moksha is freedom, limitlessness. Once the soul
drops all of its karmas, sheds every particle of matter encasing it, it
finds uninterrupted peacefulness. There is no fight, no movement, no
journey, no need. There is no desire to go anywhere because the soul has
now reached a state in which it experiences life in completion,
perfection, and desirelessness, which is fulfillment. Jiva dwells here in
its own nature radiating its qualities of soothing peace and bliss,
infinite love, and perfect knowledge.
The souls who reach this frontier are Siddhas, or
Perfect Ones. Those who have freed themselves from all limitations and
inner weaknesses come to rest here. From all religions, from all cultures,
from all time periods, they ascend to this place where there is no
duality, only unity. This ultimate quenching of the soul's quest is moksha.
When we take a look at loka from another perspective,
we see that there are two aspects: the outer and the inner. The outer
universe is the universe of fact. It is a constantly changing process. The
forms it takes are a construction of ever-changing material elements. The
inner universe is the universe of fantasy. It is composed of thoughts and
First let us see the outer universe as it is. Like the
bits and pieces of a kaleidoscope, it is nothing but the combination and
permutation of forms of matter ceaselessly building innumerable designs.
Its main elements are earth, water, fire, and air. These elements combine
and come apart, combine and come apart. According to the various stages of
this process, the outer appearances are also constantly changing.
Mahavir used a vivid word for matter: pudgala. Pud
means to fill and gala means to empty or dissolve. Our body is filling and
dissolving every minute. Old cells are dropped and new cells replace them.
The process of cell-building and cell-disintegration is constantly active.
Twenty-four hours a day this process goes on, even while we are asleep.
When we understand the body's pudgala nature, we become
aware of how to take care of it. We learn to empty it properly before we
fill it up again. Yoga postures are practiced to eliminate toxins from the
body. We exhale fully so as to discard all carbon dioxide from the body.
To keep the body clean and healthy, we must know how to eliminate waste.
Then we are ready to fill it with the proper nutrients in food and water,
and with fresh air.
We see the body as a process. We understand the nature
of its insentient energy. It is different from jiva, conscious energy.
There is no reason to identify with it. There is no reason to praise or
blame it. We see the body as it is.
The process of pudgala is true of our inner universe as
well. Just as our cells are constantly changing, our emotions and thoughts
are continually renewing themselves as well. Emotions and thoughts are
fine forms of matter. They are the constructions of our inner loka.
Thoughts are the bricks of the mind; emotions are the plaster cementing
the bricks together.
You can transcend this process and see that whatever
forms you create in your mind are capable of being dislodged, removed, or
transmuted. Once you know this, you don't hold on to an old opinion of
yourself or of any person. You are not the same now as you were a moment
ago, a year ago, a lifetime of awarenesses ago. The old bitterness of the
past can be dissolved within minutes. He or she whom you knew in one way
may be a completely different person today.
There are examples of people who change the entire
structure of their inner world when they catch a glimpse of themselves.
Within minutes they transform their lives. How is this possible? The soul
has tremendous power. Its light is more intense than the laser beam. In
meditation, focus that light on a particular inner structure, and a
miracle can happen. In a flash of insight, karmas can be dissolved. The
cumulative effect of focusing your awareness on any undesirable element is
to remove it once and for all and to lift a lifetime's burden.
You may ask why we call emotions and thoughts a fine
form of matter. The soul or conscious energy is meant to flow in a steady
stream toward the awareness of itself --as an immortal blissful energy of
love and truth. It longs to experience universal consciousness and join
the company of the Siddhas.
But from beginningless time, it has been in the company
of matter. Its flow has been limited by certain kinds of particles which
have been around it, acting as coverings. These particles of matter are
ajiva, inanimate energy. They are the conditions in which the soul finds
itself. As the soul perceives the outer universe through the senses and
the inner world through the mind, it is continually influenced and
conditioned by the presence of particles of matter. It is in what may be
called a matter-dominated state, and it attracts additional karmic
vibrations or particles. These karmic formations become what we call
emotions and thoughts.
In this way, your inner universe becomes a complex
structure of biases, demands, expectations, projections. They are nothing
but the accumulation of vibrations which have become crystallized as
thought forms and emotional blocks. Their presence in you blocks the pure
flow of sentient energy. If you allow yourself to be attracted or
repelled, to act, react and be acted upon, without checking the process,
then your soul becomes laden with layers and layers of matter. They are
like coats of armor obscuring your direct experience of Self.
When you become aware of your pure formless nature and
stop identifying with matter--physical, mental, and emotional-- you can
stop attracting matter. But if you continue to be swayed to and fro, you
will not be able to unburden your soul to let the steady, radiant,
flickerless flame come out.
Once we know the construction of the universe, we
realize that there is only one among the six substances which is
aware--that is jiva, the Self. Time does not know anything. Space does not
know anything. Matter is incapable of awareness. The laws of motion and
rest are not aware. They are all inanimate. Truly, awareness pertains to
the Self only. Our Self knows everything. When we know this, we are not
confused. We focus on the inside universe which has the key to all the
puzzles in our life.
Everybody has an inner universe. Look at your universe
and ask, "What do I depend on? How can I depend on ever-changing change?
What is this desire to hold on to things? Is it not ignorance? Am I not
bumping up against mental walls, opinions, concepts, and expectations
instead of being free in my universe? How can I hold on to that which is
Someone can stand in back of a train, chain his feet to
the ground, and hold the train with his arms to stop it from going. He can
use all his strength to keep it from moving. If he does, what will happen?
He will be split. In the same way, you are split inside. You are clinging
to things, to shadows, to transient elements, while life is passing by.
You are putting yourself into a box by saying, "No. I want this to stay.
It must not move. I want it to be permanent." You are focusing on the
wrong thing. You are trying to make the impermanent permanent instead of
seeing that only the permanent is permanent. You have a fear that it will
go away. Even if you deny the fear, how can you stop the change? There is
no device in the world with which to stop it. That is the main point.
As soon as you try to stop someone or something from
changing, you kill its nature. You block its life force. And when you have
destroyed its nature, you no longer like it. Why? Because it is not
natural, not spontaneous. The life inside departs, and the form starts to
dry up and wither.
Just like a corpse, its disintegrating form starts to
give off an unbearable odor. And when you don't let someone else's nature
flow, whose life stops flowing first? Your own.
So one has to stop jumping from point to point; one has
to focus. Focus on what? On the limiting structures in one's inner
universe. On one's addictions and their source, fear of change. Ask
yourself, "How can I stop my fear, my anxiety? How can I stop expecting
people to do as I want? How can I stop desiring to have a promise
If you are truly aware, you will know that no one can
promise you anything. From moment to moment, there are so many changes--in
situations, in emotions, in the body chemistry. All one can do is to be
open and receptive to the moment itself and say to oneself, "This is the
moment!" Give yourself wholly to the moment, so that when conditions
change and someone may not be able to keep his word, you retain the
essence of the moment rather than the form it took. To depend on a promise
is to invite sadness, for though it may be given in good faith, it may
lose its validity with the changes which occur in time.
So let go of the moment and remember its essence.
Realize, "My addiction to hold on to something or someone is my
ignorance." It is difficult to accept one's own ignorant state of mind. If
someone tells you that you don't know something, you become a little
angry. "What do you think I am, a fool?" you ask. You do not want to hear
Addiction makes you angry, bitter, irritated,
resentful. What happens is that you alienate the person to whom you are
clinging. When he or she goes away, you become bitter. Why carry
bitterness? Why sulk? There are those who recommend that you express your
anger and show it openly. Instead, I say--vomit it; throw it out! The
person you are crying for is gone; why continue to carry him around?
This can only come from inner understanding. As an
initiate, you neither suppress nor depress. For you, it is a different
direction. You cast out. You say to yourself, "I don't want to hold this
unpleasant feeling; it will spoil the rest of the day, and I don't know
when this day is going to come back." Every precious day which goes from
our life cannot be bought back by any means. There is no currency in the
world which can buy back the day which is going from our life. So if we
cannot afford to buy the day, how can we afford to spoil it? This main
awareness must permeate all parts of our consciousness. It must settle in.
Then, in the heat of anger, you will not be ready to
spoil your day. No matter how angry you are, you don't throw your
ten-thousand-dollar ring from a moving train. You know its value, so you
preserve it. In the same way, when you know the value of the day, you
don't spoil it at any cost, not for any lover, not for any boss, not for
any business, not for anyone who comes into your life. It is more precious
than anything in the world. It is not going to come back.
This is called examining one's inner universe. You
begin noticing any condition which makes you upset. You bring that
condition before your inner eye and ask, "Why does this condition make me
unhappy? Why does this habit spoil my day?" As you start discovering which
conditions trigger an unbalanced state of mind, then you are using double
awareness to watch the process.
So you see that you have become upset. That is the
first awareness. Second, you watch yourself being upset. That is double
awareness. In this way, you are both the observed and the observer. You
are both the patient and the doctor. You are the patient because you are
angry, and you are the doctor because you are curing. Your mind is the
patient; your soul is the doctor.
Seeing with double awareness, you take each occasion as
an experiment. You say to yourself, "This is my laboratory. Now I am going
to find out why this disease has come." Each event provides you an
opportunity to learn something more and to remove additional layers of
pudgal. - ossified mental or emotional blocks.
When we live within the confines of limited perception,
we exist in a very small inner universe. We color the outer universe with
these limitations and perceive it as a hindrance. When we break those
inner confines, our universe expands with our awareness. We dance through
the universe, connecting with each hand as we go. Communicating and
sharing with sentient beings wherever we are, we perceive the universe of
motion, rest, space, time, and matter as a means to help us celebrate
reverence for life, to help us reveal our inner power.
You are jiva, a limitless, infinite soul! There is
nothing to fight for, to compete for. Know what is your world and use it!
From this platform of human life, you can see your present condition.
Clear away the obstacles and forms cluttering your inner universe by
becoming aware of their cause and their nature! Open the windows of your
heart and mind and feel the spacious space inside! Meditate on this:
"I am living, conscious energy. Let me melt away my
inner walls of fear, greed, possessiveness, anger, and ignorance. I want
to free myself from all the forms and live beyond."
SEED-THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
The constituents of this universe are soul, matter,
motion, rest, space, and time. Of these six, only soul is aware. I have to
reach that state in which I know these unknowns. Then what I do I will do
out of fearlessness.
A flash of insight can lift a lifetime's burden.
When I know the value of the day, I won't spoil it at
Joy is not counted with years, it is counted with
Soul is the doctor; mind is the patient. With double
awareness I can heal my mind and make myself whole.