Invitation To Health: 29 ►Faith In Non-Violence

Published: 13.04.2017

Comfort-loving outlook and violence

These days it is being heard that violence is increasing very much. If we search for causes and dive deep into the situation we shall find that violence is increasing due to comfort-loving outlook. The connection between comfort-loving and violence may seem very remote; what is the relation between the two? But sometimes very remote things become very close.

In fact, there is a very close relation between comfort-loving mentality and violence. As our capacity to bear hardship will decrease, we shall have to take help of violence. We cannot tolerate. Today the entire environment is such that no one tolerates the other, no one tolerates anything. Intolerance has accelerated violence very far. Physical intolerance and mental intolerance, not to bear hardship, not to put up with mental feelings and emotions all these become great factors for violence.

A person cannot stand an event and goes to the extent of suicide. Any undesirable situation created by others is not tolerated by a person; physical pains cannot at all be endured. In that situation, we cannot think of non-violence.

Non-violence and cowardice

Ahimsa is a power, a valour, a strength. By mistake it is believed that non-violence is for coward. This is a great error. There is no relation between cowardice and non-violence. Non-violence cannot touch a coward and a coward cannot touch non-violence. Between the two there is as if a relation of untouchables. Non-violence is a development of internal energy. Only a very valiant person can think of non-violence and practice it. When there is change of vision valour springs up spontaneously and non-violence is displayed. If we think of non-violence leaving aside tolerance of suffering, then it will be only our delusion. These two can never be separated. There is very close relation between the two.

Demonstration of stability

There is an incident of olden time. A person had deep yearning for knowledge. He had acquired lot of knowledge. Even then he had deep yearning. He learnt that at the distance forty 'kosas' (a measurement of land distance) there lived an ironsmith. He was very learned. That person went to him and prayed that he had come to acquire knowledge. The ironsmith said, "Please sit down. Catch hold of the rope of this bellows." The ironsmith was working at the bellows and that person was holding the rope. He kept on sitting. The day passed. The ironsmith did not tell anything. Second day passed, third day passed. Not only days passed, one year passed. That person was saying again and again that he had not come for blowing the bellows but to quench his thirst for knowledge. The ironsmith would pay no heed to the matter. Ten years passed. One day the ironsmith patted his back and said, "You go to your home. Whatever you were to get, you got. Your examination is over. You are a fit person. You have so much of forbearance that you could spend ten years for getting knowledge. Nothing is left for you to learn, you got whatever you should have got."

This appears to be a matter of imagination. Today if any teacher tells a student to take the broom and clean for ten years then what to talk of ten years even ten hours would be difficult. He would think that the whole day was wasted and nothing was taught. Today so much of fickleness is there in human being.

Modern outlook

When an outlook gets firmly established a person does not see whether it is heaven or hell (i.e., good or bad). He only wants money. Exactly this is the situation. A human being of today does not feel the necessity to think where goodness is and where is badness. He knows only this much that where there are maximum amenities and maximum enjoyment there alone is wellbeing. Such an outlook has been formed. In such circumstance, what else can be thought of? Even no possibility can be thought of.

Non-violence and love for comfort

We should not take both these together. There cannot be ride on two horses at a time. Only on one there can be ride. If we go for love of comfort, then we have to accept the violence that results since that is its necessary consequence. Then why should we be perturbed and why should we suffer? If we want that there should be maximum non-violence or peace in social life, and no turmoil, no crime, no belligerent tendencies, no terror then we shall have to change the outlook of love for comfort. Both the things cannot go together. We shall have to choose one. Oscillation or to be in suspense is a position of Triśanku (swinging in between). This is the time for selection. I am not saying that comforts should not be enjoyed. How can this be said? A social being, one who lives in society, should not enjoy comforts, how can this be possible? To enjoy comforts is one thing and to have the attitude of love for comforts is another thing. Whatever comforts are available in enjoying them I do not find any harm but when an outlook is formed to acquire comforts by hook or crook then problems crop up.

Scientific age

This age of science has provided many means of comfort for human being. There is no difficulty in accepting it. Science has provided means of comforts but along with this it has also provided means of impertinence, brazenness, and crime; both the things are going on simultaneously.

One person has fridge, fan, air conditioning etc. He has all these amenities. If one person has motor car, radio, television and everything then another person will also be allured. He will think that this person has this much of facilities then why should I not have it. There was a time when a noble person got any amenity he would think that he will not enjoy it till it becomes available to everyone. One who is occupying high position, who has everything, if he makes sacrifice and keeps restraint then in the minds of others respect and faith will develop.

Context is that of Prime Minister Cāakya

Let us take the context of Māhatmā Cāakya. The description of Cāṇakya given in Mudrārākśasa is heart-touching and heart-piercing. It is as follows:

Uplashakalametad bhedakam gomayanam vatabhirupahrtanam barhisam stoma eshah sharanapi samidbhih shusyamanabhirabhi rupanatapatalanam drsyate jirnakudyam.

Cāṇakya lived in a cottage. Some cow dung was lying. There were some stones. Some other things were there. So, simple was the cottage, so simple were the other articles that it cannot be imagined. He was the Prime Minister of a big empire, whole and sole in charge, the manager. He can live in such a simple condition, this cannot be imagined.

It was the situation of famine. Winter advanced. Due to cold poor people were in a very bad condition. People collected blankets. Heap of blankets was near the cottage and Māhatmā Cāṇakya was sleeping in his cottage. Thieves were allured to steal the blankets. They thought that it was a good opportunity to steal. It would not be wise to lose the opportunity. Some thieves came and picked up a few blankets. Then they peeped inside the cottage and saw that Māhatmā Cāṇakya was sleeping inside covering with an old used blanket. Seeing this, the heart of thieves changed. They thought that even though so many blankets are lying there the Prime Minister is sleeping using only an old used blanket and we people are stealing the blankets. Their hearts changed. They left the blankets there only and went away.

Such matters appear like stories. Today we cannot understand that such things may happen. Such things do not (it in today's thinking. We shall have to prepare some (mental) frame so that these may fit into the window of our thinking.

Question is that of faith in non-violence

Today there is change in our cultural values and this change has come because of our outlook only. Let us think again in the context of such incidents that if we have to live in happiness and peace then we shall have to cultivate the habit of faith in non-violence. If we have to cultivate faith in non-violence, then we shall have to change our comfort-loving and materialistic attitude. We may enjoy material goods and amenities but our outlook should not be comfort-loving and materialistic. We shall have to pass through this 'narrow lane'. It is very narrow but without going through it we cannot talk of development of social values or living a peaceful existence. Therefore, we shall have to develop tolerance of suffering or general tolerance.

Non-violence: self-control

The chief element of non-violence is self-control, control on one's own self. Without controlling our impulses, we cannot think of non-violence. Our unrestrained impulses alone are making our attitudes and tendencies violent.

The employment of Jīvana vijñāna (Science of Life) is for self- control; by this an individual can learn the art of controlling one's impulses. The benefit of self-control is to be non-violent towards one’s self.

I think for a while we should give up the talk of cosmic non-violence or absolute non-violence. Our immediate effort should be for world peace and world fraternity. We should first think whether we have in us peace and fraternity. We do not have feeling of brotherhood with our brother and we repeat the verse, 'Udāracaritānām tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam' (for large-hearted people the whole world is a family). How big is this travesty! This is un-understandable. We very much believe in this talk that our non-violence should come first. It is necessary that there should be the faith that 'I should be non-violent to myself before I become non-violent to others.'

Danger is with our own self

We have not to get entangled in big talks. The problem of the entire nation', 'the problem of the world', 'the problem of humanity' these pronouncements are felt very good, dear to ears, for a while shake the brain, but are not very much meaningful. For us most meaningful thing would be that we become non-violent to ourselves. A person who is non-violent to oneself he is not terrible to others and also to one’s own self. He is not dangerous to anyone. 'Atom bomb is dangerous' in accepting this also we should not forget that it cannot be said as to when it will a danger. If it will become a danger, then it will be for the whole world. And then why should we worry? But dander is from our own self.

Important thing is self-control

The principle of non-violence was given a new turn in the context of Jīvana Vijñāna (Science of Life) that 'you live the case of others and be non-violent to one’s own self. If you become non-violent to your own self, then its first consequence will be that you will be saved from suicide.'

If a student fails, he thinks of committing suicide. If there is slight family problem, he thinks of suicide. If it does not happen what he wants he runs away from home, even commits suicide. All this happens because of no control on one’s own self and therefore self-control is very important. It is very valuable that we can control our own self, control our impulses. One who has learnt to control one’s impulses he becomes non-violent to one’s own self. One who has become non-violent towards one’s self he will become non-violent towards others as well. If we try to make him non-violent only towards others he cannot be so. Because inside fire is burning, the hearth is having flames and we talk of peace from outside, how can this be possible? First, we have to put out the fire within, that hearth is to be extinguished. When it gets extinguished then automatically peace will come. For peace, no separate efforts will be required.

Obstacle is preconception

The obstacles in generating faith in non-violence are not weak, they are very strong. So long as we do not think of those obstacles mere talk of generating faith will not be much meaningful. The first obstacle is our preconception. We have taken it for granted that in this adverse social situation, in adverse atmosphere, in the atmosphere of economic disparity how can we think of non-violence? How long can it be thought? And that is why in some political systems violence was approved.

Violence can be resorted to bring about a social order, an egalitarian social order, a social order of economic equality. This thought current has attracted many people but as the time passed it became very clear that without developing self-control, a social system controlled by violence cannot be very good and its form has also been witnessed. Under this control also human being could not be moulded as he should have been. They are facing problems and there are such remarks that in spite of such controls human heart has not changed, human mind has not changed. The reason is that the change has to be within and control is from outside. A person can be tied from outside but it will have no effect inside. As soon as the hands are untied he would be ready to do what he was doing earlier. This is not a situation of change. This is a situation of check only. If someone is put in jail how can he do theft? But in the jail, there are many such people who reach  there again and again after committing crime. In them change is not visible.

Who is powerful?

One question is whether circumstance is powerful or consciousness is powerful? If circumstance is powerful then (here are no means to change it. As the situation is it will remain the same. We cannot change it. But consciousness is very powerful. Who changes the circumstance and who creates the circumstance? Human consciousness alone has created the circumstance and human consciousness alone has changed it. It is clear that our consciousness is more powerful. Question is from where should we begin change? We begin with consciousness. In consciousness, the seed of faith is to be sown. And I have great faith in it. If in a child faith can be generated properly then in spite adverse circumstance he can go on a right path. Such incidents come to us many a times that the conduct of parents is unethical. The father does business unethically but his child cherishes great faith in morality and tells his father clearly that "By deceiving others by deceitful conduct, you are earning so much, but will you carry this wealth with you? I do not want such wealth. Why for do you do so?' Why is this difference? This is the difference in consciousness. It is true that in adverse circumstance also consciousness can be developed.

As is the faith so is individual

Our commitment should not be that 'as is the circumstance so will be human.' Our proclamation should be that 'as is the faith so should human being. As is resolve so becomes human being.' A maxim of Sociology was formed, 'As is circumstance so becomes human being. Human being is a product of circumstance' I feel that this maxim has created many misconceptions.

The principle of spirituality or of Indian thought is that as is the faith, as is the resolve, so becomes human being. Had it not been so, in adverse circumstance also honest human would not have been born. No effort would have been made to change him. There is a need to take a resolve, there is a need to generate faith and before that there is a need to clear our conceptions.

Question is that of the past impressions of violence

In the cessation of violence and in the development of non-violence the greatest obstacle are false notions and misconceptions. Second obstacle is past impressions (samsara). Non-violence has its own past impressions. We think of change and transformation but we are not unaware that every individual has his/her own karma-generated past impressions. It is not a play of magic that something is done and all are changed. There is no wand of magic that is moved round and everything is changed. Violence has its own past impressions. In one person, there are strong past impressions of violence and in another individual, they are weak. There is balance and proportion among the past impressions so much of these that we cannot imagine about them. Every individual has balance and proportion of one’s own respective capability. We cannot do this that there is promulgation of an ordinance of a government officer or president and it is implemented. We shall have to concede this truth that everyone has individual peculiarities. Everyone has one’s own past impressions and therefore we cannot hope that in every one this faith will be generated. Even then we should not feel despaired. Our faith should be that by application, by effort, by practice past impressions could be purified.

Let us sow the seeds of faith

We are not absolutely dependent. There are past impressions, let us accept this and we cannot deny that the impressions are controlling us, but let us also accept this that we are not merely dependent, we are not puppet of past impressions by effort, by practice, we can change past impressions, bring about transformation in them. This capability is within us. What is expected is that a new determination and a new faith be cultivated and this should be done from childhood itself, in the field of education, in the field of religion, and by teacher or by religious preceptor. I have a feeling that today there are only two places from which there can be some hope. One is the field of religion and other is the field of education. Apart from these there is no third field being seen. But compared to the field of religion the field of education has become more valuable and from this point of view the student of today is not so much connected with religion as with education. Earlier parents used to teach the lessons of religion in the environment of home but today that also is left out. Therefore, it was thought that if in the field of education only some seeds of faith are sown then perhaps the matter of developing social values can be advanced and good result may come out.

Title: Invitation To Health
Author: Acharya Mahaprajna
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
HN4U Digital Edition: Ratna & Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahimsa
  2. Brain
  3. Consciousness
  4. Environment
  5. Jīvana
  6. Non-violence
  7. Samsara
  8. Science
  9. Tolerance
  10. Violence
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