|The Jain path
Our Protection in an
Just as we need food for our body to nourish it, so we
need food for the nourishment of our mind. When our mind does not get good
thoughts, positive ideas, which are its nutrition, it becomes weak. And
just as a weak body becomes the victim of any disease or virus, in the
same way a weak mind can become the victim of any influence. It becomes
impressionable, and wherever it goes, it takes on the color of that
influence. It doesn't have its own special way of thinking.
A weak mind is more dangerous than a weak body. If
somebody has a weak body, it is noticeable, and he can take vitamins,
proper food, or yoga postures to strengthen it. But if the mind becomes
weak, it is not so easily noticed.
Ultimately, the strength of the mind helps strengthen
the body; and together they help the soul on its journey. That is why
these twelve reflections are given--to use mind and body for the journey
of soul, to use meditation to uncover that which is permanent, to see life
as it is.
Meditation can be used also for only temporary things
--to feel good, to get wealth, to have pleasant relationships. If you
offer these reflections to those who want only the temporary, they will
reject them. Why? Because they are not ready to go deep. They want what
they can get immediately.
We are talking of something permanent, of long-term
things in which some people have no interest. Those whose quest for the
permanent has not yet awakened think, "Who knows what will happen later,
after fifty years? Let me enjoy now!"
So the twelve reflections are given to the initiates,
to people who are sincerely interested in life and the life to come; or,
let us say, in the flow of life. Those who have given us these bhavanas
saw the continuity of life, the eternal flow. They didn't start with birth
or end with death. For them birth is a wave and death is another wave. If
you ask, "Where is the first wave?" the wise ones answer, "It exists in
the second wave. Show me the first wave and see the second wave. The first
wave has created the second wave."
If you want to know the existence of the first wave,
then you have to know the second wave. If the first wave has not subsided,
then the second wave will not come. The coming of another wave itself
indicates that the previous wave has already merged. Something merges and
something emerges. This is the whole process--merge and emerge. So birth
is nothing but somewhere else a death. One wave merges in death, and
another wave emerges in birth.
These two waves are connected deeply with one another.
When we start experiencing this deep truth, this deep instinct, not only
in words or phrases but in our real experience, we are then able to live
in this world in the state of fearlessness. We can use all the techniques
to overcome fear, but as long as we remain on a level of quotations
without experience, the fear remains. Why do people have fear? Because
they see everything decaying, disappearing. They have not gone beyond this
level. That is why fear is always at the back of their mind.
This meditation helps us gradually experience another
approach, a space where fear does not exist. How is this possible? Because
the consciousness starts experiencing the permanent behind all the
impermanence. It starts seeing the merging of the wave in the emergence of
Someone may say, "'The thing has disappeared." The
person who has meditated will answer, "You talk of disappearing. Do you
not see something appearing? Why emphasize that which is lost? Why do you
not see that which is gained?" That is why our first meditation was on the
changeless behind the changes. The world you see is ever moving. It moves
and that is why it is new and fresh. But our ignorant mind wants to hold
on to the things as they were and keep them. The mind has the habit of
turning everything into an antique; it loves antiques !
When you have realized the difference between the
permanent and the transient exactly, then you are ready to come to the
second reflection--asharana, meaning unprotectedness. Beyond that is
sharana, meaning protection. The initiate thinks, "I am always trying to
seek some protection, some savior. My mind has been comfortable when
somebody was leading me, taking care of me. Now I know that what I cannot
do for myself nobody will do for me." This reflection gives a new
insight--not to be dependent.
Mental dependence is built from childhood. If the
mother goes away, the baby cries. It is natural. But even in their sixties
people are like babies crying when mother leaves. Why? Because they always
have that feeling of helplessness. They aren't ready to stand on their own
feet. When you see that on which you were leaning slipping away, watch the
fear arise. See how panic overtakes you. This second meditation helps us
see that other people, and things as well, are themselves helpless. How
can they help you when they too are helpless?
In reality, as long as you have the appropriate karmas
the person or thing will remain with you. You may do a hundred things to
hold on, but when the karmas are over, the thing will go. And if you are
not ready to see the truth, you may crumble completely. You find that it
was a prop, a support, or a crutch. When you completely lean upon a prop
or a crutch, what happens when it breaks? You tumble down. The idea is to
build your inner muscles. Meditation, if rightly digested, gives you great
strength. You start building inner power.
This does not mean you never accept anybody's help. It
means you don't depend on it. If any help comes, take it, appreciate it,
and be thankful for it. The difference is this: if you are not dependent,
and help does not come you do not mind; but if you are dependent, and help
does not come, you wait and build expectation. When your expectation is
not fulfilled, you feel fear and panic "What will happen now? Who is
There is a meaningful story in Jain tradition about a
young monk who had come to understand asharana in his life. One beautiful
morning, he was sitting under a tree meditating. In that era the king of
that area was Bimbisara, who was also in his youth, and very handsome. At
the time, he was full of ego, for he did not know anything about religion,
spirituality, or the inside world He gloried in his own youthful strength
and prosperity. He was the biggest king of Magadha, now known as Bihar.
ON this morning, as Bimbisara was riding along on his
horse, the birds were chirping, the flowers were blossoming, and nature
was in full bloom.
Riding by, he saw the monk sitting under the tree
meditating, and thought, "Why is this young man sitting and meditating
here? He must be engulfed in poverty. Let me help him." So he called out,
"Young man, what are you doing here? You appear like a mendicant."
"Yes, sir," answered the young monk.
"What is your name?" the king inquired.
"My name is Anatha, the unprotected one. I am
The king was shocked. "When a king like me is lord of
this whole province, how can you call yourself Anatha, kingless ?
"Sir," answered the monk, "shall I tell you my story?
Do you have patience?"
"Yes," said the king eagerly. "I would like to hear
This is the story he related. "I was in my twenties and
I had a beautiful wife, a big family, wealth, a beautiful house, plenty of
money, food, and jewelry. All loved me, and at that time I was in the full
bloom of youth. I became so egotistical and proud of myself I would not
look down. I thought that the world must be at my feet. 'Whatsoever I
desire, the world brings to me,' is the way I used to think.
"This ego I continued building inside. As a result, I
continued treating other people as nothing.
"Then one day I came home from a walk in the garden and
felt a little uncomfortable. I got a headache and fever. Slowly the fever
increased. By night I was in bed. My body was shivering. My mother, who
loved me, said, 'My darling son, what can I do for you? I am helpless. Let
me bring something.'
"Physicians came, the herbalist came--but nothing
"Here were so many people caring for me, but they could
not protect me. Each pore was burning like fire. I was crying. Sir,
Bimbisara, hear me! I was so helpless! And my wife, who loved me from her
heart, prepared and applied sandalwood paste to cool my body. But as soon
as it dried up, again the burning started. So it was applied for two,
three, and four hours at a time. And then even that was too much, and it
led to too much cold.
"Sir, will you believe it? In twenty-one days I became
a skeleton and I could not digest any food or medicine. At that time, I
thought, 'What shall I do?' I became desperate, and although my wife,
mother, and servants were there, I was alone in the bed, without any
refuge or strength to turn to.
"Then a thought came to my mind. Once when I was going
somewhere on my horse, the great sage Mahavir was speaking and I heard him
as I was passing by. He said, 'When you are helpless and there is no
protection, accept the protection of these four pure elements: Arihanta--those
who have conquered all inner weaknesses; Siddha--the Perfect Souls; Sadhu--the
Saints, whose energy is vibrating in the universe; Dharma-- the Pure
Teaching which comes from the Enlightened Ones. With pure feeling, move
toward that. When there is no protection, take the protection of these
"This idea came floating to my mind. I thought, 'Now
that nobody is able to protect me, let me surrender my-self to this.' My
mind became so engaged in repeating these blessed words that I started
absorbing the energy.
"Exactly at midnight, my eyes were so calm and clear
that I was able to sleep peacefully the whole night. In the morning when
my wife saw me, she thought, 'Last night I applied sandalwood paste
especially and now I see it has worked.' And the doctor thought, 'My
medicine is working now.' Another came and said, 'I gave roots and now the
juice from them is working on him.' Everyone was ready to take credit for
"In the afternoon, when I opened my eyes, everyone
started to tell me what they were thinking. I told them, 'Thank you for
what you have done for me. I appreciate your care and your help and your
feelings. But let me tell you the truth: in this world when a person
becomes protectionless, there is nevertheless one protection: the Higher
"I connected to that invisible inner force, which is
always there, and ultimately I became in tune with it. My mind which was
creating so many turbulent thoughts became calm. In the state of calmness,
I merged into that pure state, and I thought, 'I take protection of all
the Perfect Souls who became pure consciousness. I associate with their
vibrations. I take refuge in the Conquerors of inner weaknesses. I join
myself with the Saints of the universe wherever they are. And I merge in
that Teaching of Dharma, that flow which comes from the compassion, love,
and deep peace of the Omniscient Ones.
"That turned into medicine. It became a soothing balm
for my consciousness."
Then Bimbisara asked, "What did you do then?"
"After that," the monk continued, "when I became well,
I decided to take another path. I left my prosperous life. I have taken
the path of the unprotected. That is why I am Anatha, without any worldly
resort or master. But if you want to know the spiritual master, it is
"Who is Mahavir?" asked the king.
"Sir, fifteen miles from here, in your town of
Rajagruha, he is living a beautiful life. Go there and see for yourself. "
Because of the young man's word, Bimbisara went to
visit Mahavir and then and there became his disciple. He became his patron
as well, and throughout his life he supported both Mahavir and Buddha, who
also came to live and teach in the region at that time. Bimbisara de-voted
his life to supporting the teachings and all the good causes because he
felt it was his mission.
When we meditate on unprotectedness, we gain a
different level of understanding. We see that the real help comes from the
pure stream of consciousness. It is like a current that is always flowing.
When we need it, we will have it. It is always there. We have only to
remove the curtain and open ourselves to that energy whose nature is
infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite vision. We have only to
turn our consciousness inward to connect with life. It is our sharana, our
wellspring, our reserve strength, our invisible refuge, which will not
exhaust itself at any time.
If you are able to connect with this source, then you
are not helpless, for you are protected from within. As soon as you start
knowing this protection, you start lifting yourself. The sinking boat
begins to float.
Use this meditation as the young monk Anatha and King
Bimbisara did. Take time to go on watching and pondering. Whenever fear
comes, ask, "Why am I afraid? What is this anxiety? What is the cause of
the fear? The cause is that I am not connected to my invisible world."
Build inner strength and power by connecting to the
invisible world of these vibrations. Chant aloud or silently the entire
mantra as follows.
Cattari Mangalam are the Four Blessings .
Arihanta Conquerers of inner weaknesses are blessing.
Siddha Mangalum Perfect Souls are blessing.
Sahu Mangalum Saints are blessing.
Kevali Pannato Dhammo The Teaching which has come from
Mangalum Ones is blessing.
Cattari Loguttama These Four are supreme, unsurpassed.
Arihanta Loguttama Arihanta are supreme.
Siddha Loguttama Siddha are supreme.
Sahu Loguttama Saints are supreme.
Kevali Pannato Dhammo The Teaching which has come from
Loguttamo Ones is supreme.
Cattari Sharanum Pavajjami These are the four
Arihante Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of
Siddhe Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of the
Sahu Sharanum Pavajjami I go to the protection of the
Kevali Pannatum Dhammum I merge with the Pure Teaching-
Sharanum Pavajjami Peace, Love, Love, Compassion.
When your small self merges with these four
protections, the Higher Self, your reality, emerges.
SEED THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
I am becoming aware of unprotectedness. One by one, I
see that the things and persons on whom I depend are themselves helpless.
Let me turn my consciousness away from the temporary
dependencies and connect with the pure stream of life which is prevailing.
Merging with that consciousness, I find my everlasting protection, my
Let me experience the eternity of life, the eternal
flow. That one wave has come means another wave has subsided. Birth is
nothing but somewhere else a death. So this is the process-- something
merges so that something else may emerge.