Invitation To Health: 42 ►Mental Health And Spirituality

Published: 09.05.2017

Mental Health And Spirituality

It is a natural expectation of every human being that both body and mind are healthy. If body is healthy but not the mind, then one has to go to mental asylum. If mind is healthy but not the body, then one must go to hospital. Both of these take away from home. More painful and troublesome are the mental diseases. Mind troubles a lot. Two bases of disease are accepted and they are body and mind. On this basis diseases are classified in two types as physical and mental. Mental diseases are more related to dharma or adhyātma. There is one maxim that ca dispassionate (vītarāga) person has no mental disease'. Since there is no mental disease there is no physical disease also. The impact of mind on body and the resultant disease are much more intense than the original disease in the mind. The bodily disease first influences body and then influences mind. The main influence of each is distinct. Body influences body and mind influences mind. After a long time, or subsequently, body and mind influence each other.

Result of adhyātma

The principle of dharma or adhyātma is vītarāgatā (dispassionateness). Perhaps in our world there is no more meaningful word than vītarāga. There is no bigger (more majestic) word than this for development of life. To become vītarāgā means a person has reached to the pinnacle. No peak is left where climbing or ascent is to be done. Vītarāgatā is the highest peak or penultimate point. Result of adhyātma is vītarāgatā. Adhyātma is adored so that vītarāgatā is obtained. A person proceeds towards vītarāgatā for him question of mental disease does not arise. Mental disease is not at all in vītarāga. The sādhanā of meditation is to proceed towards vītarāgatā. A person meditates for purification of consciousness (citta) Purification of consciousness means proceeding towards vītarāgatā. As the purity of consciousness would increase the goal of vītarāgatā will approximate. Passion and malice both produce impurities. We may come to know the impurity of malice but we do not know the impurity of passion. Really speaking both are like poisonous chemicals of factories that make our consciousness dirty and poisonous.

View point of adhyātma and Ayurveda

This is an established view of adhyātma that a vītarāga has no distortions in mind, has no disease or a person practicing vītarāgatā has no mental ailment. But question may arise, is it true? How do we ascertain it? Does the science of medicine regard it correct? There are two theories of health—ancient and contemporary. Ancient is Ayurveda and contemporary is science of medicine. Ayurveda has been the ancient Indian system of health. What the Ācārya (preceptors) of Ayurveda thought about mental health? What finding they had? What was their view about this? If we search for this, we find that the ācāryas of Ayurveda have classified mental diseases in several parts. They pointed out anger, greed, fear, infatuation, desire and more than fifty such mental diseases. In their view anger, etc. are mental diseases. If a human being indulges in anger, then he should feel that he is not mentally healthy. One who is mentally healthy he will never have anger. All great saints have been calm and quiet. In household, also those who have been sādhaka (spiritual practitioners) they have been calm and quiet. Many a times attempts were made to make saints angry but there was no success. In our ancient literature, there are hundreds of such events and there can be no account of many unwritten events.

There are more sick people than healthy

A Sufi saint was returning after taking bath in a river. He was passing through a lane then someone from above turned upside down a sack of ashes and coal and threw them on him all at once. People accompanying him got agitated with anger. The saint calmed them. He smilingly told them, "Oh simple people! My fault might have been that someone would have thrown fire on me, but this fellow has been kind to me that instead of fire he threw damped coals and extinguished ashes. How gentle is he!"

This voice can come from the mouth of only such a person who is mentally healthy. A person is very angry by temperament, and greedy. He thinks that this is not wrong. But if he thinks with cool mind he will find that greed is also mental disease. Today it has been believed that ambition is a mark of development. If ambition is only for livelihood, then it is regarded as proper but when it becomes limitless then it is to be called a disease. He himself should be great, his son should also be great, and grandson should also be great, if this ambition arises then the discrimination of proper and improper means will also be finished. The fast spreading nepotism (favouritism for kids and kin) today also is a result of mental ill-health. If we analyze the social and psychological fields then we shall find more mentally sick persons than healthy persons. Most people do not go by their intellect or by prudence. The number of people using one's intelligence or sense of discrimination is less.

Reason is ambition

Ambition is the main cause of mental disease. That is why in this age of competition the number of healthy people is less and sick people are more. Infatuation, anger, greed, attachment these all are mental diseases. Just as there is a long list of physical diseases like headache, stomach pain, pain in knees, fever etc. likewise there is a long list of mental diseases also. tvurveda has a long list of these. If we compare this with the field of adhyātma there also we shall find the same list. This is such a point where science of health and science of spirituality come to the same platform. There is a principle of Ayurveda, "Do not have anger. Anger is a disease." The principle of dharma is, "Do not have anger. Anger is bondage." Difference is only in language. At one place the word is 'bondage' and at other place the word is 'disease'. Their may be difference in background but in meaning there is no difference. That is why it has been said that if you have to be healthy renouncing of anger and greed is absolutely necessary.

Get hold of root cause

If we have a little study of adhyātma then we shall find what is the root cause of disease or bondage? We should attend to this. If we go to a long list it will create problems. It is difficult to remember it and there are problems in escaping from it. If we shorten the table, make it short, and then core of truth will be understood. The ācāryas of adhyātma have said, “Rago ya doso biya kammabiyam " What is the seed of karma? What is the root cause of bondage? There are only two elements—attachment and malice. These two are the seeds of karma, of bondage. The ācāryas of Ayurveda also have reached to this point. They said, "We have enumerated many diseases of mind. To say in short, all these diseases are due to two causes. One cause is desire and the other cause is malice or hatred. Desire means liking and malice means dislike. Likes and dislikes, endearing sensation and non-endearing sensation are the causes.

Cause of madness

Today in the world there is excessive madness, what is its cause? -Causes are two-unlimited desire and unlimited malice. There is too much of like and too much of dislike. Some time back in the newspaper I read news. In Rajasthan, mental hospitals are very few but the number of mad persons is increasing too much. It was recommended that the government should open more mental hospitals and appoint psychiatrists. We may believe that government will increase the number of hospitals and psychiatrists but is this proper remedy of the problem? So long as the causes for madness are present by just increasing the number of mental hospitals how can the problem be solved? Hospitals and psychiatrists treat the disease, how can they give treatment for prevention of disease? Our attention does not go to this as to how disease arises? Why it arises? The most interesting thing is the  treatment of madness but no care is taken that there no madness.

Maxims of dharma: maxims of mental health

The entire endeavour of dhyāna-sādhanā is for this purpose that no one becomes mad, does not at all become mentally sick. For this, two means were suggested—restraint of desire and restraint of malice. This means control on passion and control on hatred. This is the maxim of mental health and this is the maxim of dharma. If you want to be mentally happy control desires, reduce hatred. The essence of adhyātma-sādhanā is control of passions and hatred. Dhyāna is for reducing the consciousness of the sensations of pleasant and unpleasant, from getting out of labyrinth created by ourselves. A person undertaking dhyāna must be aware of this that by undertaking dhyāna his pleasant sensations are reduced or not? Hatred is reduced or not? This is the criterion of dhyāna. If while doing dhyāna the sensations of pleasant and unpleasant are getting reduced, then it should be understood that dhyāna is in order. If it is not so then it should be believed that the direction and mode of dhyāna are not proper.

Question of an old lady

There is no bigger problem than passion and hatred. There was a magnificent palace of a king. Near it there was a hut of a poor person. One day the king thought that the broken hut near his palace did not look nice. It spoiled the glamour of the palace. Unpleasant feeling developed in his mind. He ordered the officers to remove the hut. The officers went there and asked the old lady staying in the hut to go elsewhere as they were removing the hut. The old lady was very wise, calm and patient. She said that she will go away but before going she should be taken to the king for meeting. Officers accepted her request. They took her to the king. The old lady saluted the king and said, "Oh majesty! I have lived so long in your neighbourhood. Now I am going but I have one question." The king was very much surprised at her solemnity and firmness and permitted her to ask. The king said, "Ask, what do you want to ask?" The old lady said, "Oh king! You have been staying for so long here. Your ancestors also stayed here. Since then my hut has been here. I have been tolerating your magnificent royal palace but why have you not been able to tolerate my small and ruined hut? I wanted to know the answer of this question only." The king was answer less and he ordered that she be allowed to stay there. Her hut should not be destroyed.

Let us begin the journey

Human being cannot tolerate. When pleasant and unpleasant sensations get, awakened human being cannot remain stable. Capable and strong person cannot tolerate at all. Whether a person is common or distinguished whenever these sensations are awakened human being enters into a strange condition. The greatest achievement of dhyāna is that we may develop such consciousness, may have such vision, that we may analyze what is pleasant and what is unpleasant and escape from them. It is a very difficult task but we should try to move in this direction. Like a child gradually standing, walking and speaking this phenomenon will also gradually develop. If by means of dhyāna we can even move ahead one or two steps then sooner or later we shall be able to complete this long journey.

Let us be laboratory ourselves

This journey of dhyāna-sādhanā will not be complete just in one or two days but even in one life also. It is a long journey but if we start moving, moving with determination, then the goal will appear approximating. If we can develop the capacity to tolerate then we may know that we have got one criterion. We may continue evaluating us by this criterion and we shall come to know whether meditation is in order or not. Some people say that there should be a laboratory so that it may be measured whether there is concentration in meditation or not. The instrument put in the laboratory can measure how much resisting power of skin has been reduced? Where has blood pressure reached? In what condition is the heart beat? The instrument will measure all these things. If we use E.C.G. then activities of heart and brain will be known. But it will not be known whether passion has been reduced or not, hatred has been reduced or not. Till today no such instrument has been evolved which can measure these things. A person himself can know these things. If a laboratory is constructed near meditation center, then along with it the person meditating should also develop a laboratory inside. If the person who meditates can develop that laboratory, then it can be known whether concentration has been developed or not.

Best Maxim of health

So far as the question of health is concerned science of health and adhyātma śāstra reach to a common point. Let us think from both the perspectives, if we have faith in religion let us think from the point of view of religion. If we have aspiration for health, then let us think from the point of view of health. If a person has to remain mentally healthy then he will have to extinguish kaṣayas (passions). One maxim of mental health is minimization of passions, minimization of attachment and hatred. For mental health, no bigger maxim than this can be provided by the science of medicine. This maxim is available by meditation and that is why the dhyāna sādhanā becomes the greatest sādhanā, becomes the greatest sādhanā for health, disease-less-ness, and for joy.

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. Adhyātma
  2. Anger
  3. Ayurveda
  4. Body
  5. Brain
  6. Citta
  7. Concentration
  8. Consciousness
  9. Dharma
  10. Dhyāna
  11. Fear
  12. Greed
  13. Karma
  14. Meditation
  15. Rajasthan
  16. Science
  17. Sādhaka
  18. Sādhanā
  19. Ācārya
  20. ācāryas
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