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Handbook of Jainism

Jain Books

SIXTH TO FOURTEENTH STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT

In the progress of the soul to freedom, the first five of the successive changes in its state have now been dealt with and these successive changes have been called stages of development of the qualities of the soul or real self. The development of right belief, faith, or conviction, is the fourth stage; when we reach a stage where we take ourselves in hand, and to some extent guide our conduct rightly, i.e., when we take the twelve previously mentioned vows, we are in the fifth stage.

The remaining stages are greater and greater degrees of development of the soul's own natural qualities, the details of which stages are not of much use to a layman, and they are contained in manuscripts and books not yet translated into English, except a little instruction in Prof. H. Jacobi's translations of 4 Angas in the Sacred Books of the East, Vols. XXII and XLV.

The things done in the sixth stage are among others the practice of the first five vows in a strict and literal way, i.e., the vows of a religious teacher, in contradistinction to the five lesser vows of a layman.

In the seventh stage, there are no transgressions of the vows (aparamatta).

In stages eight to ten inclusive, the mildest degree of anger, pride, deceitfulness, and greed, is in the process of disappearing.

In the eleventh stage, the intoxicating energies (mohaniya-karmas) are entirely under control (suppressed) , but not removed.

In the twelfth, they are removed.

In the thirteenth, permanent omniscience is reached, and the first, second, fourth, and eighth classes of foreign energies (karmas) have disappeared.

In the fourteenth stage, the last cause of foreign energies (yoga) disappears; it is only a momentary stage, and the individual reaches liberation ("ascends up to his native seat").

As a rule, one has to go through the monk life before reaching liberation; but there are, it is said, instances of laymen going through the sixth to the fourteenth stages of development. And there is a case recorded of a man, I understand, who went from the first to the fourteenth stage and thence to liberation, in the space of about half an hour. He had just committed a murder, was walking through a wood carrying the head he had cut off; met a meditating monk, asked the monk what the right course of action was for him now; the monk replied in three words: self-control, concentration and stopping the inflow of "Karma",; the man stood still and meditated; ants smelled the blood, crawled to the man's body and eat into it; the man continued in his concentration; all the "karmas" were worked out, and he was liberated and a pure soul for ever, in the course of half an hour. This shows the spirit of the Jain philosophy; we have but clean up, by removing the dirt of "karma", which is the same as withdrawing ourselves from matter.

Rules of life for ascetics are to be found in Prof. H. Jacobi's translations of four of the Jain Sutras in English., But I would not recommend these for a first acquaintance with Jainism.

We have now reached the end of Section 4, the means of bringing out our natural qualities. The means is summed up into two Sanskrit work's, which signify 1) to stop the influx of matter and 2) to remove the matter which is actually already in combination with the soul (samvara and nirjara). And, as already mentioned, this possibility shows that fatalism is a false belief, or is a superstition. It is a tenet in Jainism that man alone is responsible for his own condition of weal or woe; he is his own punisher and rewarder, his weal (punya) or woe (papa) being the result of the reciprocal interaction between himself and the rest of the world. And one way of producing weal is to relieve suffering, even when we know the person brought it on himself (or herself); though a person who has developed kindness of heart will, by reason of his kind-heartedness, relieve such misery, and not by reason of knowing, it will bring him future weal; and only the hard-hearted will use the false argument that the sufferer brought it on himself and that we need not trouble about his suffering, that he deserves all he gets.