|The Jain path
The Rare Occasion
The mind is a ladder. If we are aware, it can help us
move upward. If we are not aware, it can cause us to fall. This ladder has
both potentialities--to be a help or to be a hazard. In its aware state,
our mind is a beautiful instrument. It can receive and transmit truth. It
can inspire and uplift us. But in its unrefined, unaware state it works
against us. It can trick us into thinking that what we want is right, when
it may not be. We use it to rationalize that what we are doing is not
wrong, when in fact it is.
When a person depends upon his intellect alone, he
doesn't know whether he is rising or falling. He cannot tell because he
does not rise above its particular bias. By allowing the intellect alone
to judge, he manages to justify even an injustice. He will perceive as an
ascent what is in reality a descent.
For example, a young man received his salary at the end
of the week and started home with three hundred dollars in his pocket. By
mistake he dropped his wallet. It landed on the sidewalk, but he did not
notice. It happened that someone walking behind him saw the wallet fall.
He picked it up, opened it, and saw the money. He was a good man and his
first thought was to give it back. He pictured himself running up to the
man, shaking him, and saying, "You silly young boy! Don't you know how to
protect your money? Here it is!"
Then a new set of thoughts entered his mind. "For many
days I have been out of a job," he thought, "and I have heard that 'God
helps those who help themselves!' He helps us in many unseen ways. This
must be one of the ways; otherwise, why should I have happened to be here
when that man dropped his money? I did not have any theft in mind. I have
not actually stolen anything. God has thrown a wallet before my eyes. It
is a divine gift. How can I ignore it? It would be an insult to God! There
is a reason behind everything, and this is a sign for me." In this way, he
rationalized keeping the money and went home happily.
Waiting for him at home was his beautiful and serene
wife. When he walked in the door, a whiskey bottle in hand, he announced
to her, "Tonight we are going to celebrate!
"How is that possible?" she asked. "We have no money."
"When you trust in God, He helps you," he explained.
"The human mind cannot conceive of what God had in store for us today; He
gave me three hundred dollars."
Again, she asked, "How did you get it?"
"A young man was going along and dropped his wallet,"
he told her. "So I picked it up. I did not do anything. It just fell into
my path, a divine gift."
She spoke to him gently. "Don't you think that when he
goes home smiling, full of hope and happiness because he has just received
his week's pay, that someone like me is waiting for him just as I wait for
you? Can you imagine his sorrow when he says, 'See, I have brought my
pay!' and then finds out that his pockets are empty? Can you imagine his
depression? What will he feel when he sees that a whole week's labor is
lost? We can enjoy a dinner and a night of celebration, but what about the
person who goes with hope and ends with hopelessness? Can you not think of
The intellect is a sword with two edges. It can cut
from either side. It can be used by a person for growth or it can be used
to justify questionable things by saying that there IS some divine hand
behind it all. That is the kind of reasoning which has led people to
justify even animal sacrifice as offerings to God. In the name of God,
animals are killed. God does not eat their flesh, but the priests do while
murmuring "Thanks." Thanks to whom? To the intellect which distorts,
manipulates, and justifies even killing in the name of an unknown and
Anything can be justified in that manner. Promiscuity
is justified by calling it Tantra art. When you speak against it, you
appear out of date, and people say you don't know what you are talking
about. Others burn out their brain cells with drugs, yet justify it by
saying, "I am in heaven, I see so many different colors." If you explain
that it is merely hallucination, they laugh at you. If you tell them that
what they see has no meaning, they say "How do you know? You have not
taken drugs." These are some of the ways the intellect can act as a ladder
to take you downhill.
That is why the masters tell the initiates to purify
their mind. It is raw; it is crude like oil. It needs to be refined. If
you put crude oil in an airplane, what will happen? It will not take you
up. Before it can be used, it has to go through the process of becoming
gasoline. Once it has been refined, It can be used in a plane. You can
depend on It. You are in the sky and you put your life in its hands. So
refined gasoline is the right fuel with which to fly a plane.
In the same way, this mind, this intellect. in its
crude form can be dangerous. What we are learning here is how to refine
it. It takes time. We don't want to discard it, abolish it, or blow it
off. It is very precious. Imagine what power our mind has--it takes
hundreds of people into the sky in a single jumbo jet. What is that which
lifts the plane? Not the plane itself, but a human mind. If the human mind
were not responsible for this feat, then the plane would not budge from
the ground. Try throwing a stone into the air; it comes down. Even a
feather does not stay in the sky. Here hundreds of thousands of tons are
lifted into the sky for fourteen hours at a time! And we all trust it. The
trust is based on what? Not on the inanimate plane, but on the human mind
which created such a marvelous machine, and on another one that flies it.
Your life is more precious than any airplane. You
cannot afford to waste it by stagnating, by keeping this intellect in a
crude form. Engage yourself in refining it, and it will help you harness
your energy, create beauty and harmony in your life, and move in the
direction of evolution. How to refine the intellect? You take on a process
of training, of awareness, of meditation. As you go on purifying, gross
elements accumulated in the mind are dropped and it becomes clearer and
clearer. That in you which is pure, subtle, and beautiful emerges. When
you become subtle, even your thoughts become transparent, no longer heavy
and crude. Thoughts no longer drive you in various directions. They begin
to take you in the right direction.
For the initiates, this right direction, this
refinement, this insight is called bodhi. Bodhi means to know, to be
aware. It is the knowledge which comes from an inner opening, from inner
experience. Bodhi has many more meanings. From this word is derived
Buddha, meaning one who knows.
The eleventh bhavana is called bodhidurlabha, which
means the rarity and difficulty of achieving such a deep knowledge. The
path to Enlightenment takes time and energy to discover. In this
reflection, the student marvels and rejoices at the fact that he or she
has been able to seek out and walk this path. In fact, bodhi is such a
rare and precious treasure that it has been compared to a unique radiant
diamond. The lustrous diamond which Indian monarchs used to wear in their
crowns was called the Kohinur diamond. Such a diamond was not available to
everyone; it was reserved only for special persons. In the same way, when
we think of bodhidurlabha, we observe that inner awareness is a rare
treasure that "common" people cannot afford. What is meant by "common"? It
has nothing to do with post, position, wealth, or status. The common
person is he or she who is living without inner richness.
How can you describe this inner treasure? Let us say
that there comes a moment in your life, in your experience, when you
realize that what dies is every body, not every soul. It may come from
meditation, from hearing the words of the right teacher, from remaining in
the company of the right person. Slowly it unfolds in you. You realize, "I
am not a body. I am living in a body. I am unborn." So though you are
born, you are unborn. It appears a little paradoxical. You might think,
"How can I say I am unborn? I was born. I have a birth date." You know
that which has a birth certificate will have a death certificate. That is
a fact. And it is horrifying to think that all of our efforts end in a
graveyard. It is such a sad, tasteless thought.
So we go deeper. We go beyond intellectualization. We
begin to have the experience that something in us does not believe in
death. If we truly believed in death, we would not get up in the morning.
When we hear of somebody who has died, we feel a little sad, we inform
someone else, and then we go on our way. Even though we hear of someone
else's death, we do not think about our own death.
Why do we not think, "Death is coming. I had better
take precaution"? When we sense danger coming, we take the necessary
precaution. Is not death the biggest danger? And yet we enjoy life. Think
for a while. Does it mean that we don't believe in death? Are we skeptics?
Do we think it is only an illusion? If it were real to us, we would be
serious about it, and yet we are not serious. That shows that we see, yet
we don't believe in our seeing. We don't trust our eyes. Like a mirage, it
is seen, but we know it is not water. Knowing that it is not water, we
don't run after that mirage.
In the same way, we see death, and yet we are not
afraid. There is a real meaning to this. The secret is this: the Inside
Dweller knows that he has no death, because he has no birth. The Inside
Dweller is unborn. Inside life is authentic. We realize, "What dies is the
body, not me. The senses will die. I am not the senses, I am beyond them.
I am using the senses as windows and taking care to keep them clean while
I live in this house, the body." The Indweller does not identify with the
house or with the windows. They are separate from the seer.
If the windows and the one who sees are one, then there
will be no seeing, no seen, no process of seeing. So here we realize that
when a person becomes old and closes the eyes, still he can see inside.
The Indweller experiences what he or she has seen at another time. When
you experience this kind of knowledge, you don't say, "I am the possessor
of knowledge." Instead, you say, "I am knowledge. Before, I was covered by
ignorance. Now I am uncovering myself. I was hidden. Now I am coming out.
I am removing the veils, the curtains until the reality of my Self is
revealed." When you believe in you, you start experiencing inner richness.
That gives you such a deep confidence that insights start coming and
doubts drop away. Doubts which came from the outside stay outside; they
don't belong in your inner world.
Before we begin to unfold our inner treasure of bodhi,
we are covered with mithyathva, ignorance. Because of ignorance, we take
one thing for another. Our main mistake is this: we take the body for the
soul and the soul for the body. In this confusion, there is pain because
of being unable to discriminate between the two. When something happens to
the body, immediately we allow the soul to become identified with it. From
this, our moods, fears, depressions, and projections begin.
Because of mithvathva, we do not see that the longing
of the soul is an entirely different thing from the desire of the body.
When these two are mixed up, then love is taken for lust, and lust is
taken for love. We need one thing, but we take another thing instead. So
we must ask ourselves, "What is my longing for soul companionship? What is
the desire of my body to get gratification?"
We need love. It is the food of the soul, we cannot
live without it. Love is not planning, it is not remembering. It exists
only in the present moment. In love, there is no desire to hold, possess,
or bind. To hold on to someone or something else is to disconnect from
oneself. In disconnecting from yourself, you disconnect from the present
moment, because your energy is used on the future. In this way, the
experience of life, of love is slipping through your fingers. When you
begin to see this very subtle point, you come to know that love has
nothing to do with the past or the future.
Love is to just be. It means to be in communion. You
can be in communion with any being that communicates and builds some kind
of feeling and harmony with you. You can be in love with a plant, a child,
an animal, a grandmother, a villager, a simpleton. It is possessing
nothing, only being present in that moment, feeling and communicating with
life in different forms.
In the same way, you experience this unconditional love
with your own Self. You are in tune with yourself. When a person is in
love, he does not hold anything back. He pours all his treasure without
reserve. He does not say, "If I keep it, it will be useful one day." No,
he says, "Here is the day, let me live it." You create this experience
each day and turn it into your life style. In this way, you will no longer
sadden your day with future thoughts and worries. Your living will be here
and now with love.
The initiates are taught to live as brothers. The monks
live together, yet they retain their individuality. The word "retain"
usually implies that there is a plan behind what is being done. In this
practice, individuality is retained without a plan or intention to retain
it. How is this possible? It's a very subtle point; it is precisely
because you don't have any intention to retain your individuality that you
are able to retain it.
This approach is difficult to conceive, because you
have been taught that you must make a plan, identify with something,
attach to something. But here you don't have any tie; what you have is
you! When you understand this, you separate from the past, you step away
from the future, and you ask,
"What does remain when I disconnect myself from
everything? What remains is myself. What remains is my life. This is what
is communicating in this moment." It is here and now, continually in
This eleventh facet, bodhidurlabha, helps you eliminate
the gross elements from your intellect. You make it so fine that it
becomes your ally. You come to understand that you are nothing but soul.
And the soul has no mission other than just to be in communion. From here
let the idea of achievement drop.
We are all oriented to the idea of achievement. Many
people ask, "What did you achieve in your life?" If you continue to ponder
this question, you may conclude that you are a failure. You may think,
"What did I achieve? Nothing. All my life is in vain." I have heard these-
same words from people of all walks of life. They say, "I feel I have been
a failure. I wanted to be a doctor, but I failed in school. I wanted to be
a lawyer, but I did not get the proper credits. I wanted to be an actress,
but I did not get a good chance. I wanted to find a good partner in life,
but they all cheated me." I have seen clerks who wanted to be managers,
and managers who wanted to be owners. It reflects the way in which people
live and act with the thought of failure.
What is achievement? In my college days, I witnessed
the second richest and most powerful king in India, the Maharaj of Mysore,
Krishnarajvadiar, turn into a heap of ashes on his funeral pyre.
Afterward, I saw all the elephants, horses, and army return to the palace.
He who had so many possessions, a huge palace, was lying alone in the
wilderness, reduced to a handful of ash. Billions and billions of rupees,
name and fame, what did it all mean? Is this achievement?
But this mind is not ready to understand. This mind is
always making you unhappy, giving you the thought that you have not
achieved anything. It mocks you. In this inner mockery, you are unhappy.
No matter what you do during your day, when that thought comes, "What did
you achieve?" all is in vain. The mind puts down even the good deeds you
have done. It compares you to this person and to that. And this failure
bites you, saddens you, weighs on you. You become so heavy that you don't
derive any joy from life. And there will always be someone somewhere in
the world who has more or who has done more than you.
So the master tells the initiate, "Your achievement is
bodhidurlabha. Your achievement is to be aware of the real and the unreal,
to be aware of your inner wealth living inside your outer garments." There
is neither right nor wrong, only the real and the unreal. They have become
confused. It is meaningless to blame anyone for this mistake; it is
important only to see the way in which conditioning and unawareness have
kept us from distinguishing between the two.
This allegory points out the confusion. One day truth
and untruth both went to take a bath in the river. It was summer, so they
took off their clothes and dived in. They were swimming happily until
untruth got an idea. She came out from the river first and put on truth's
dress. When truth came out and saw that her dress was gone, she said, "It
is not good to go naked in society, so let me wear the dress which is left
over." Since that day, the two have been moving in society and people
don't know which is which because of their outer appearances.
See the reality rather than only the outside dress.
Don't be deceived by appearance. See exactly who is wearing the dress.
What we see with our eyes is deceptive because the real is inside. It
can't be seen only with our eyes or heard with our ears or touched with
our hands. It is beyond all the senses. It resides in our very central
core. Because of its intangible presence, we can perceive the tangible
What you see is outside of you, but the real seer is
inside. This soul is not born nor is it going to die. When you realize
this in your deep experience, this is your greatest achievement. All other
achievements are outer. They remain outside, becoming ashes on the
cremation ground. But in this achievement, nothing leaves you, because you
are your awareness.
That is why it is meaningful to meditate on the rarity
of this occasion. We realize, "This rare insight, more rare than any
sparkling gem, I have received into my heart. It is not going to go away
from me. It is here and now, making me whole and complete. It is my inner
divinity. That is why I can say I have achieved." Whenever you feel the
lack of worldly achievement, remind yourself of this incomparable
treasure, this precious inner wealth. Continue to remind yourself each day
until you have completely convinced your mind.
That is your work--to purify your mind, your intellect,
through and through. Once it is refined, it will be a useful ladder, a
means by which to lift yourself up rather than a reason for you to fall
down. When you ascend to the height, the clarity within, you will be ready
to realize the last facet of reality: dharma, spiritual essence, inner
SEED-THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
I do not possess knowledge ; I am knowledge, Removing
the veils, I am revealing myself.
When I confuse the desire of body with the longing of
soul, I don't see what love is. Love is the nourishment of soul.
It is to just be and not to possess. It is to be in
Let me celebrate the unique moment when I realize that
I am eternal , unborn, imperishable. When I experience this rare inner
treasure, this will be my greatest achievement.