|The Jain path
The Nature of Our Nature
Life is an ocean in which the waves and ripples are
constantly moving. There is not a moment in which they are still or
steady. Continuously there is ebb and flow. In this ocean we too are
moving along with the waves. Because of the ripples our minds are not
When we are not certain about ourselves, there arises
in US great confusion. We don't know what we need or where to go. We do
not even know why we are here Ultimately, the only thing which remains for
us is to fill the empty days with trivial and meaningless activities. But
such old, worn-out elements in our life must be thrown out like trash.
Otherwise, we remain like children, creating make-believe and holding on
to small toys. Our life remains on the surface, playing at fantasy instead
of revealing the real depth of our being.
So we ask ourselves, "In this restlessness and
unsteadiness, what is permanent?" The waves and ripples are not lasting;
emotions and thought forms are ever-changing. Then the last step comes to
the initiates--to come out of the tossing sea onto the island of dharma
your reality. Dharma has many meanings: reality, religion, truth and
The first meaning of dharma is reality. When you reach
a deep experience of your reality, you are able to remain steady. If you
do not reach that steady island, then you will always be in a state of
action, reaction, and interaction, continually dealing with the senses,
desires, emotions, and thoughts. There is no end to them! No sooner is one
desire fulfilled than another desire arises, like the ripples in the
ocean. As the tide draws one out, it sends another one in.
How many ripples are you willing to stand and count?
How many times are you willing to be pushed and pulled by the waves? Think
of your life. Do you recall ever having said to yourself, "If I fulfill
this objective, I will be happy"? That may have been five years ago, and
that objective may have been fulfilled, but still you are not happy. One
desire has subsided, but another has emerged. This is the nature of the
mind when it does not discriminate desires and demands for objects and
How can you be contented unless you reach some steady
place in your life? Your dharma is that place. The experience of the joy
of being with yourself is greater than any other joy in the world. There
is no other experience which can surpass this inner peace and tranquillity.
It is your desires which have not allowed you to reach
that core, that center, that reality. That is why you may not know the joy
of calmness you can experience in contentment. Desires constantly take you
away from your core. Even when you sit in meditation, there are ripples
disturbing you. You may tell yourself that meditation is boring or tiring.
You may say, "I sat for two hours and got nothing but exhaustion." That is
because you were not really meditating. You were wrestling with your mind.
Where was there room for meditation?
When you reach that seat of consciousness where nothing
disturbs you, you become so calm. Before you reach it, you have to drop
many, many things. As yet, you may not be ready to drop them. You hold on
and think that someday they will be useful! That is why even in meditation
you don't enjoy tranquillity, serenity, and peace. I tell you once you
reach that center in you, you will not want to come out. To come out would
be painful. You reach such a deep, deep peace that you do not want to move
from that peace. No desire pesters you. Nothing bothers you. You are with
However, at that time, you recognize your body's needs
when they arise. When your body needs some support, you give it what it
truly needs. When it needs some rest, you give it rest. When it needs some
nourishment, you give it food. The body is not a burden nor is it
dependent on an addiction. What you do for it you do out of a recognition
of its basic needs in order to maintain it as a fresh and healthy vehicle.
Above all, your inner life is so full, so rich, that you feel you are
getting nourishment and fulfillment from within.
When you reach that inner nourishment, you don't crave
any temporary fulfillment which comes and goes You see that temporary
fulfillment never goes without leaving behind a scar; it carves out some
small line of pain in you Here in meditation there is no pain, no scar
only being in tune with reality. This is the first meaning of dharma.
Another meaning of dharma is religion. What is
religion? It means to join or bind together. Separation is pain; union is
peace. You have separated from your Higher Self; that is why you feel
pain. Religion is a place Inside where you are joining, uniting with your
Higher Self. Ultimately, one has to come together. There comes a time in a
person's life when all outer attractions appear tasteless. When a person
is in his eighties and you offer him what he may have liked at eighteen
years of age, he says, "No, I don't want anything. It has had its own
time. Now it is over. I want health and peace."
The word dharma in Sanskrit comes from dhru, meaning to
hold or to lift. Anything which holds you or lifts you when you are about
to fall into the valley is called dharma. That quality, that insight, that
dharma is within us. Once we know it, we will not be able to fall. We must
know this. Otherwise, friends, in each step there is danger; in each step
there is the possibility of succumbing to so many temptations. There are
not only physical and sensual temptations, but also the temptations of
inside hatred, inside bitterness, inside anger, inside rejection.
Once you succumb to sorrow, depression, or bitterness,
what happens? As you go on thinking, the emotions go on increasing.
Bitterness becomes more and more bitter. Sadness becomes thicker and
thicker. Observe your mind when you hold bitterness toward someone. Even
when that person is gone, the bitterness remains. The person may not know
how you feel toward him, but the bitterness rots inside you, besmears your
mind, and pollutes your sweetness. In this way, life becomes heavy. You
don't know where such negativity will lead you. It takes time to wash it
out, to clean the mind. That is why in each step one has to be watchful
A person clinging to bitterness does not like himself.
Because of this self-hatred, he sees others as his enemies and feels that
the world is conspiring against him. Psychologically, these distortions
are called projections. They all come because one is not watching oneself.
It is easy to fall into hatred, bitterness, sorrow, negativity, it is
difficult to lift oneself out.
Drug addiction comes from this kind of negativism. Some
may say that taking drugs is for getting high; really that is
self-deception. The person who takes drugs does not want to be with
himself. He wants to forget himself and hide the truth from himself.
Unfortunately, by taking drugs, the person is slowly destroying his own
brain cells. Brain cells which are naturally active no longer function,
and the person wallows in a kind of slow motion. When these cells are
burned, the intelligence, awareness, and keenness of thinking cannot shine
forth. The mechanism by which they come out has been destroyed.
In this bhavana, you have to watch what you are doing
and remember to meditate constantly on your reality. Meditate on your
inner unity and say, "I am I. Why should I worry about the opinions of
other people? If I am not with myself, who will be? I will be I. That is
all." All of the problems arise from not remembering the Self. It must
become your habit day and night to remember it as you remember your own
name. Your name is merely a tag, yet think how deeply this tag has gone.
Even in sleep, you remember your name. If someone mentions it when you are
asleep, you will open your eyes and say, "Hello!" If your name, which was
given before you had a chance to approve of it, has gone so deep, why
should not your own reality be as deep?
When one thing is taken for another, when a lie is
taken for truth, when unreality is taken for reality, when the temporary
is taken for the permanent, that is called mithyathva, or wrong belief. It
is the most dangerous element in the path of a spiritual aspirant. It is
this lack of clarity which causes us to take our name, which is temporary,
to be permanent, and to think of our reality, which is permanent, as
impermanent. So we have to be clear and know what is dharma, or the real,
and what is adharma, or unreality.
Day and night, go on telling yourself over and over, "I
am Atma. So-hum. I am That. Nothing else matters. Whether someone speaks
in favor of me or against me, I don't care. I don't want to be restless,
sad, or bitter. I want to be me." Hammer this into your consciousness!
Then you will see how courageously you will be able to drop old habits,
addictions, and needs. You will no longer be easily tempted or influenced.
Even when we constantly remember our reality and remain
in tune with ourselves, we cannot remove temptations from the world. These
things will remain; the difference is this: we don't identify with them.
You may ask, "There are so many temptations. How can we remain in peace?"
The answer lies in being vigilant. You have to know the nature of a thing
before you take it in. You reserve the right to take it or leave it. Some
one may offer you a sweet drink in a crystal glass. The fragrance promises
sweetness to the tongue, but if you know that it has a drop of poison in
it, you will not take it. In the same way, when you know that some idea or
thing is not good for you, you make an inner decision not to take it into
Let us look at this process in more detail. We have
four elements in our life--our body, mind, intelligence, and spirit. When
these four are working together, life becomes meaningful. If we follow
only one or two, there is some danger of imbalance. Suppose someone offers
you an almond cake and you know that it has marijuana in it. The first
reaction is the body's response. The eyes are attracted to the pleasing
shape of the cake, the beautiful dish it is on. The nostrils enjoy the
sweet fragrance. The tongue anticipates the delicious taste. Secondly, the
mind wants it, thinking, "If I eat it, for two or three hours I will get
some rest from this world and roam in the world of fantasy. I can enjoy a
high." The mind wants that world of fantasy. That is why Disneyland is
dear to children, and mythology is attractive to adults. The mind wants
The third reaction comes from the intellect. If the
intellect is pulled over to the side of body and mind, then you will in
some way rationalize eating the cake. When the intellect, body, and mind
join together, it is three against one. The soul is in slumber, and the
majority rules. There is danger because you have not taken the consensus
of all, and where there is no consensus there is no harmony.
When the mind gets light from the spirit, you act
intelligently. You know how to wait. When you have awareness of dharma,
then, though the body and mind want the cake, your intelligence tells you,
"Yes, I hear you, body and mind. I know you want it, but once I get the
habit I will want it a second time. The chemicals will enter my
bloodstream and create more and more need." Awareness of your inner
reality guides you to make an intelligent choice, and the body and mind
One must know the psychology of the vibrations of the
body. Once you allow the chemicals in, you become a slave to them. They
turn into desires and cravings. They enter slowly as humble guests, and
you think, "Oh, it is only one or two drinks," but ultimately the drinks
drink the whole human being. That is called alcoholism. Drugs also take
over the whole system. There is a chemical influence in one's addiction to
sex also. Even if the partner is full of negativities and a hindrance to
one's growth, the person justifies the relationship because of the strong
chemical influence. The person is not free from these physical and
emotional bindings. The demand of chemicals is so strong that all
spiritual ideas may go with the wind.
That is why there is so much pain, suffering, and
misery in the world. That is why there are so many hospitals, so many
mental institutions, so many drug addicts and alcoholics. They have missed
a step. Ultimately, they end up being institutionalized because they
cannot control themselves.
These habits have not come from birth. They come later
on in life. They start with one weak moment, and enter the blood. If one
wants to live long, happily, and healthily, one has to live very
No one is commanding you; you are commanding yourself.
It is not somebody else's life; it is your life. There is no god
controlling your life, it is you. If a person knows how to lift himself or
herself, outside control is not necessary. No one has any power over us
when we are with ourselves. In this way, we are all kings and queens.
Dharma bhavana means to take a stand in yourself. Know
that you are responsible for yourself. If you don't take care of yourself,
no one will. And no one has the power to rule your life unless you do that
which is out-side the law, out of harmony. So when your eyes, nostrils,
and tongue want the cake, and your brain is ready to enjoy the fantasy,
let your intellect align itself with your spirit and say, "No, it is not
good for me. As long as I keep it out of my system, I have power. Once I
accept it into my bloodstream, it has power over me."
In this way, dharma is the lifting element in you.
There are moments in which you are on the rim, on the edge, of to do or
not to do. In these subtle moments, who protects you? No friend is there.
No outside element is there. It is you alone. You have to decide what you
want to do. If you experience this conviction in your life, you will be
strong in all circumstances. You will stop yourself from doing that which
would hurt you or take you away from yourself: If you can save yourself in
such moments then you are permanently saved.
The third meaning of dharma is truth. When you first
discover and then begin to live by inner truth, it becomes your
measurement for everything. If an action fits with this truth, then you do
it. If it does not, you reject it. It is not justifying; it is acting in
accordance with your inner measuring rod. Truth becomes your permanent
inner companion .
When you carry this within you, you don't have any
fear, and when you are fearless, Your energy flows naturally. Energy is
dissipated by untruth. When you are false, you become unsteady, and your
energy subsides. The body even begins to tremble; it is unnatural. With
dharma, you move in the world with ease, without a hidden fear of being
found out, because you live in truth. The whole world is available to you.
The world is your home. Everyone you meet loves you. You have no need to
hide. You are not seeing the world according to outside opinions and
measurements. Your measurement is inside truth, inside authenticity.
The fourth meaning of dharma is nature. Everything has
its own nature. The nature of candy is to be sweet. A thorn's nature is to
prick. Salt is salty, and a rose's nature is to be fragrant. When you
meditate, realize that everything is working in accordance with its own
nature. The body, mind, and spirit are following their own dharma. Realize
that there is no reason to blame or praise any form. See things as they
When you see things in this undistorted way, you can
decide for yourself what you want. When you know the nature of people, you
know how to deal with them. To be hurtful is a person's condition, not his
nature. If someone seems to have a hurtful condition, you know that it is
because of some previous experience, and he is trying to throw it off on
someone outside of himself. But our nature is to be loving, compassionate,
truthful, and uplifting. Knowing this, we will be patient with one
another, and with ourselves. We have to know how to wait and give space
before becoming involved in a new relationship or a new endeavor. First,
allow the nature of the person, the place, or the thing to reveal itself
Once a saint was staying near a river. He saw a
scorpion fall in the water. Seeing that it would drown, he picked it up
and put it on land. No sooner did he pick it up than the scorpion bit him.
He felt the pain and covered his wound with a piece of cloth.
The scorpion went down to the river again and plunged
in. Again it was drowning. "Silly scorpion," thought the monk. Compassion
moved him again. There happened to be a man nearby who was watching this
scene. He went over to the saint and asked, "What are you doing? Don't you
have common sense? The scorpion bit you the first time, and still you let
him bite you a second time?"
The monk smiled and said, "Even the scorpion at the
moment of drowning is not ready to give up its nature to bite. How can I
forget my nature of compassion? I can't be less than the scorpion. I must
be I. This is my nature. Everything has its own nature."
This reflection brings you to your island of reality
your unifying strength, your inner measurement of truth, the innate nature
of your nature. In this world where the waves are constantly moving, you
do not have to be moving constantly with the ripples. If there is any
steady place, that is the island of dharma. That is you. When you live on
that island, you know, "Though turbulence may come, I shall not fall down.
Though the winds of temptation may come, I shall hold my own. All else is
temporary. Reality is here."
With this experience, you don't have bitterness or
hatred for anyone. Praise and blame fall away from your life. You are
careful about how you live in the world and about what you take into your
life. You maintain your balance. What is the nature of your nature? To be
loving compassionate, truthful, blissful, and aware. To care share, and
dare--to care for life, to share with life, and to dare to achieve
godhood, the height of your Self.
You know that everything in the universe will go away
from you except this dharma, this truth. It is your ever-lasting
companion. Experiencing this, you will never feel lonely. What comes and
goes is the world, samsara, the ever-moving.
When feelings of loneliness come over you and you feel
that there is nothingness, think instead, "There is somethingness; it is
within me. It is dharma. It is the awakening of soul awareness." Feel it
again and again until ultimately you never feel alone.
When you have this awareness, you are your own teacher
The purpose of the outer teacher is to remind you of this: whether you are
in the wilderness or in the city on top of the mountain ,in a forest or a
cave , you are never alone. You are with your inner teacher, your dharma,
your reality, your oneness.
SEED THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
Let me stop being tossed and turned by the waves of
unreality and step up onto my steady island, my dharma.
Separation is pain. Unity is peace. I separated from my
Higher Self , that is why I feel pain. When I join myself nothing
disturbs; I am in peace. This inside unity fulfills and nourishes.
No one is commanding my life. I am commanding myself I
have only to decide to be strong and not weak.
Whether some one speaks against dharma I stand and keep
my footing. All else is temporary; reality is here.