|The Jain path
The Art of the Full Stop
As seekers, you are like mountain climbers. Your climb
is to reach the height of your consciousness. Whether it is a mountain or
your own Self, to reach the peak you must climb in stages, one step at a
time. The higher you go, the more careful you have to be. The wind at the
top is very strong. If you are not well balanced, it can throw you back.
When we observe the lives of great people, we are moved by their
achievements, but we may not consider how much awareness and balance it
took for them to reach that height. On all sides, there were always
temptations and alluring things to divert he attention. At times there was
fear of falling into the valley below. Despite all the potential
deterrents, they went on steadily, because their whole intention was to
reach the top.
They always kept their purpose in front of their inner
eye. They had to be vigilant, careful, aware, and balanced. Why did they
want to reach the peak? Because from there one can experience the freshest
air, the panoramic view, the joy of seeing the beauty of the earth below
and the skies above.
No one on the ground can imagine what the person who
climbs Mount Everest has to go through. It is constant vigilance. Only
when you start climbing do you realize how steep the path is, how high the
peak. But if you have inside courage, conviction, and confidence, then you
are not afraid. "I am going to make it," you say to yourself.
And you are going to make it, because there is no agent
outside of you determining your life, making it prosperous or not. As a
seeker, you accept the responsibility for each act. You realize, "If I am
responsible for my own steps, then there is no danger. I am going to reach
my destination because I am here for that."
You may accept somebody's helping hand as you move
along the path, but that help is second to your own. Yours is first. In
this way, you are neither arrogant nor falsely modest; both attitudes are
extreme. Both mean pretension. A person who is trying to cut a figure in
society or make a name for himself may play the role of being as
submissive as a lapdog in order to draw some kind of attention. It is a
trick. When you are aware of being humble, you want people to notice how
simple you are. Why do you want to tell everybody? It means you need to
capitalize on that.
Be natural, be what you are! Only watch where you are!
Watching, you will become so subtle that you will know where you are at
all times. If you can know that, it is enough. Then you won't need to ask
approval from the world. When you finally don't need approval, that is
when the world is ready to give it to you. It appears a little
paradoxical. But people start sensing your genuineness. "Really this
person is not on a trip," they observe. "She is with herself."
The fact is we are here just to live, just to be, not
to collect trophies, degrees, and certificates. Our whole approach is to
be what we are. We are not here for some temporary height, for some false
inflated sense of who we are. Our aim is to return to that natural state
which is so balanced that we are neither down nor up. For that we have to
work in a wholehearted way. We can move toward that natural state only if
we refrain from despising, criticizing, and abusing ourselves. We stop the
craving to collect opinions, words of praise, and approval. When we put a
stop to the inflow of such old habits of thinking, how peacefully we start
There is no greater joy in the world than to have peace
with oneself. That is the real reason behind our seeking all kinds of joy.
We want to remain in a beautiful mood. But when we see that temporary joy
depends on outside stimulation and often brings sadness when its time is
over, then we realize that it is essential to learn how to be at home with
ourselves and discover permanent peace.
It does not mean that you reject the outside world. You
appreciate the beauty and bounty of the world. You have five beautiful
senses. In fact, your senses are kept so clear and clean that you can
appreciate more keenly than most people the many sights and sounds, tastes
and smells, feelings and perceptions. When something beautiful appears
before you, you see it as it is. The point is this: you are not dependent
solely on your senses. When you close your eyes, there also is beauty. So
you see both the beauty within and the beauty without.
The problem with most of us is that we see the beauty
without but not the loveliness within. Isn't it strange that after so many
years of seeing beauty without, still we are unable to retain it when we
close our eyes? As soon as we close our eyes, we see darkness. What is the
point of all those years of enjoying outer beauty if they have not given
us a clue to our inner beauty? It is wonderful to open the eyes and
appreciate the beauty of sunrise, springtime, children dancing, and mellow
faces whose wrinkles tell the story of joy and pain. But there is richness
within, our moving,
Without that moving spirit, the outer eyes would not
perceive even the outer world.
We have to know that moving spirit whose capacity it is
to experience, remember, and grow. Because of its presence, we are longing
to quench our inner thirst. It is our true identity. It is sitting inside
our outer shell. Meditating on this, we realize, "What I have been calling
'me' is only the shell. It is my instrument. The essence is inside. That
essence is me.
The initiate watches inside and climbs each step of
awareness until he reaches the core, the inner shrine. Ultimately, you
reach that shrine and sit on the throne which is waiting for you. People
call it God's throne. It is not reserved for only a few. It is waiting for
all. Each of us has that throne within. That is why we have a longing, a
dream, a quest. That archetype, that throne sometimes beckons to us, "Come
unto me!" So the initiate moves.
But in order to move and ascend to the peak you have to
be free from the load. If you have too much of a burden, you cannot carry
it along with you. Gravitational forces are there to pull you down. The
Buddha was not a foolish person to leave the palace and his beautiful wife
and child. He was not a dropout. He had a quest for truth. And Mahavir was
not a silly person when he talked to his wife, saying, "Where is our
kingdom, dear? Is it only on earth? This kind of kingdom will perish. This
kind of kingdom creates fights and wars. Can we not have that kingdom
which is eternal awareness?" In this way giving up becomes a receiving.
True renunciation is full awareness of the kingdom within.
That inner level will also bring deep meaning to
relationships. When husband and wife inspire each other, they become
beautiful company for one another. Their communication turns into an
eternal communion. The idea in marriage is to work out karmas and be a
complement to each other. When we live on that inner level, we communicate
and find out what is our mission. And when one feels low, the other is a
lifting spirit. "This will pass," he tells his partner. "We have to be
patient and wait for the sunrise." When one person is moody, there is no
need for the other to add to the misery. There is no permanent pain nor is
there any permanent bubbling happiness. What is permanent? Inner bliss,
tranquillity; all else comes and goes.
To see the nature of the outer world and to experience
the beauty of the inner world there is no need to go to a monastery. You
can turn your house into a monastery! After all, some monasteries
themselves have turned into political arenas for people to express their
I wish each family, each of you, could turn your small
house into a beautiful monastery and create a beautiful life there,
growing in understanding and meaning. Seventy or eighty years, our time on
earth, is such a short period. You can use it to be alone or to be with
people who share your thinking and understanding. You can use it to be
with friends or neighbors or to be with whomever you feel love and
compassion for. The world does not belong to anyone. There is no need for
pettiness or limitation. There is no restriction of caste, creed, age,
color, or language. We can all speak the same language --of eve and heart
Samvara means to stop the flow of ashrava. First we
meditated on ashrava, to know what the flow consists of, and where it is
coming from--without and within. Once we know how it works, we stop it.
When a rainstorm is coming, and you hear on the radio
that it is going to be a severe one, what do you do? Do you not become
careful and take precautions? Don't you get up and close the windows,
gather up any equipment lying outside on the lawn, bring it in, and stay
inside? If you don't close the windows, what will happen? The house will
be filled with dust and dirt and rainwater.
Samvara means to close the windows when the storm is
about to come. In life the storm is kashaya--anger, greed, pride, and
deceit. Anger is a storm. When it comes, first it upsets our own peace.
Then it destroys what is around it. Anger distorts, blinds, and prevents
clear vision. The person whose heart and eyes are burning with anger does
not like anything beautiful. Smile at the person, and you will see that
your smile is not tolerated. "Why are you smiling?" he will roar at you.
When you are angry, your child may come rushing over to
you. "Mummy!" he cries, but you say, "Go away," and you push him aside.
Your friend comes and you destroy ten years of friendship in ten minutes.
"I hate you those words can create a big impact on the consciousness. How
to erase them? You can say, "I am sorry," but that does not take away the
sting of the words. They pierce like an arrow, and someone's heart is
bleeding. The pain and the wound remain. Why do you use such harsh words?
I do not say that you should suppress anger, but watch from where it has
come. Feel the words you are throwing out. They are going to have
repercussions, both in you and in someone else. Every word has a vibration
which has an impact on your consciousness.
Once a woodcutter went into the forest and saw a lion.
He became frightened. The lion took pity on him and told him where to find
some ornaments which were buried in the forest. The woodcutter was very
happy, because he needed the money which the ornaments would bring for his
daughter's marriage feast. He invited the guests, and along with them, out
of gratitude to the lion, he invited the lion. The lion was not anxious to
go to the party, but the woodcutter convinced him.
When he arrived, all the guests were alarmed and
started to run away. "Don't worry," the woodcutter told them. "He won't
hurt you. This lion is just as tame as an old dog."
When the money from the ornaments ran out, the
woodcutter again went to the forest. This time the lion would not show him
where there were more ornaments. Instead, he told him, "Here, make a wound
on my paw with your knife."
The woodcutter asked, "What? You want me to make a cut
in your paw?"
"Yes," the lion answered. "Come back in one month and I
will talk to you then." He did as the lion requested, and one month later
returned to the forest.
The lion asked him, "Can you see the wound you made
with your knife?" The woodcutter saw that it was completely healed. The
lion continued, "The wound of the flesh can be healed, but the wound from
your words is still bleeding." The woodcutter had used the words "He is
just as tame as an old dog" in a hurry, and the lion was insulted at being
compared to a dog.
So when anger is about to come and you are about to
speak harsh words, say to yourself, "Let me close the window." The first
window to close is the mouth. It is better to close the mouth and open the
eyes and see who is standing before you. There is no need to repress the
anger. Watch the inside feeling and turn it into steam, into some creative
energy. Let there be space between you and the person with whom you are
angry. First you say to yourself, "I am angry. I don't like what
At the same time, you use samvara, you stop yourself
from speaking out. If you speak from a level of imbalance, when the anger
is giving too much energy, your words will be amplified. So tell yourself
to wait for your normal state to return.
Then ponder, "What is the cause of this anger? Did
someone else make the mistake or did I have a part in it? Are not two
hands needed to make a clap? Can it be avoided in the future? What are the
ways to prevent it?" When you have this spirit of inquiry, this space, you
don't allow the energy of anger to go out. You keep it in for the time
being like a pressure cooker. You let the steam out very slowly.
After that, instead of using a lot of words, you select
a few words and tell the person very gently, "This is what made me angry.
I would prefer this," or "This has spoiled my peace. I don't want to spoil
your peace with my anger." In this way, you stop the cycle of action
reaction, and interaction. You see the pain that anger has caused and you
do not want to evoke it in someone else. You want it to end here. With a
gentle feeling toward the other person, you can awaken his or her
consciousness. By shouting, what are you going to accomplish?
So follow these three steps when anger comes. First, be
aware of your feeling. What was your expectation which created the
sensations in your body, the increasing buildup of hot energy. Second,
retain the energy until your balance returns. Do not allow yourself to
speak. Third, when you are feeling calm, tell the person what has made you
unhappy, what has hurt your feelings. Your very gentle selective words
will start working on that person's consciousness if the person is
sensitive. If the person cannot understand you, even your shouting will
have no meaning.
Another storm is the storm of pride. When pride
inflates you like a balloon and you say, "I want to be greater than that
person," notice its cruel aspect. The ego makes you want to surpass and
make the other person feel inferior to you. If you were not cruel, you
would not do anything to make another feel beneath you. This inner cruelty
comes from complete unawareness of Self.
On the contrary, we must try to make a person feel at
home. Know that the things you have are for sharing, for peace, for
comfort, for communication; they are not for impressing others or for
creating a difference in levels. Find out how you really feel about
things. Things themselves are unimportant; it is your attitude which
counts. Ask yourself, "Am I playing a game? Am I really with people or am
I trying to be superior?" To be with people is excellent; to act superior
is a result of ignorance.
Pride or ego is not the same as self-respect. Ego has a
way of invading the whole cerebral area and causing a vicious circle of
behavior. Self-respect radiates from inner awareness, from inner balance.
Ego depends on the external situation; self-respect is steady on all
occasions. Ego acts like mercury in a thermometer, going up and down
according to the heat. Self-respect has its own poise, the outer climate
does not affect it. The aspirant is one who keeps balance.
The third inner enemy is greed. Once greed takes hold
of us, our needs continue to expand. We keep on changing our standards.
Greed tears people into pieces, and the inside pain that results cannot be
cured with any medicine. Many people who have reached the top of the
political, business, or religious hierarchy have torn themselves apart
with misery when forced to retire and pass their days in a small way.
They had lived from pomp, but when their situations
changed like the weather and their ego desires were no longer satisfied,
they felt utter frustration. For them, it was a mental torture.
Only if such people have a hobby can they survive.
Eliminating greed does not mean you should not earn a living. It involves
asking yourself this question: "Am I comparing myself with someone else or
am I happy with what I have?" Greed is like a powerful earthquake. It can
cause havoc in one's life. So you practice the art of the full stop and
When you have anger, ego, and greed, then the fourth
inner enemy comes--deceit. To maintain the first three you have to play a
role. You have to pretend to be what you are not. You always have to be on
your toes. You are not natural. You are always putting on a mask or
covering yourself with makeup. It is not easy to keep up the facade. One
day you will get up from your slumber and find yourself without any
makeup. It is far better to reflect on how to stop and see yourself, how
to be what you are.
As you practice samvara, you understand its purpose. It
is for your arogya--your spiritual health. If your longing to climb to the
height of yourself is genuine, you will want inner health. It will not be
to please or show any-body else; it will be for yourself. Just as you
brush your teeth to keep them clean and fresh for your own feeling of
well-being, so you cleanse your consciousness of impure elements. Just as
you wash your body to feel refreshed and not to show how soft your skin
is, in the same way you unclog the pores of your mind in order to think
clearly, without distortion. The highest soul uses meditation to keep
arogya. Practicing in this way, he or she has no need for any temporary
lift from the outer world. The aspirant does not want anything temporary;
he or she wants only that insight which is going to last forever.
So when the storm of anger, ego, greed, or deceit is
about to invade your consciousness, keep the word samvara in front of you.
Tell yourself, "No, let me stop. Let me keep quiet. Let me not react. Let
me not be cruel." Keeping a space between you and negative vibrations, you
are able to deflect the vibrations. They will evaporate into thin air
under the light of your ever-present awareness. In this way, you are able
to stop the continuous inflow of karmas into the waters of your
consciousness. You will be able to see clearly into your depths and remove
SEED THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
Close the windows when the storm is about to come. In
life the storm is anger, greed, ego, and deceit.
Let me see the pain anger has caused me so that I will
not want to evoke it in anyone else.
Let me see the inner cruelty of greed, how in taking
more than my share, someone else has to have less.
Let me see how the ego wants to put someone else down.
Let me see the pretension in deceit, how it is centered
on covering up the truth from myself and the world.
If I keep the purpose always in front of my inner eye,
I will make it to the peak. I am going to make it because there is no
outside agent determining my life. I am here for that purpose.