The Vision Of A New Society: 22 ►Mental Health: Second Component of Healthy Life

Published: 27.10.2019

The mind and the body are closely related to each other. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. This is one view. It is also believed that mental calm keeps the body healthy. By combining these two views, it can be concluded that physical and mental health affects each other. Even if no symptoms of any illness are discovered through the physical examination, a mentally harassed person may feel unwell. Similarly, in spite of the mind being free from anxiety and the circumstances being perfect, the sudden attack of some physical illness can make man's mind restless.

Chanakya was a very able statesman. Politics was his main mental concern, but he did not keep philosophy and practical life deprived of his excellence. About the mind he said, "It is only man's mind that binds and also sets him free.[1] "If this view is accepted, the entire responsibility of man's development or his downfall lies only with his mind. In that case, it cannot be free from the responsibility of good or bad health.

According to the Jain philosophy, the mind has the same place in the body as the five senses. The only difference is that the scope of success is limited and that of the mind is wide. It may also be said that the mind directs and the senses are directed by it. But is there something that directs the mind? This question is being disregarded and the mental health is being made the subject of discussion.

Is the Mind Fickle or Are the Instincts?

The general conception about the mind is that it misguides man. What misguided someone must be misguided too. I wrote a song about controlling the mind: "The mind flies far without the wings. Even the telescope probably cannot see as far as it can see. It has no legs with which to move, still it roams. Looking at its fickleness it is only proper to keep it in check.[2]"

There is a new concept prevailing about the mind that it is not fickle. It is man's instincts that make it fickle. The reflections in the mirror are not of the mirror itself. Anything, that comes before the mirror, good or bad, gets reflected in it. Similarly, mental fickleness is not action, but reaction. The fickleness of one's instincts is revealed through the mind. From that point of view, it is not right to blame the mind.

Looking at it from another point of view, it reflects the difference between man's thinking and expression. How can the mind be, if it does not wander? Its unsteady character is universally known. The more the attempts to steady it, the more it wanders. There is a very peculiar technique to keep it under control. Only some people are able to discipline the mind. Only a few individuals can keep it under control. Most people are victims to the vagaries of the mind. So long as man does not free himself the slavery to his mind he cannot make mind healthy.

Sick is Someone, Treatment for Someone Else

It is the function of the mind to think continuously or contemplate. One needs to have matters to think about. If there are good things to contemplate about, there is no scope for mind to divert in many directions. The mind of the person who is engaged in activities like study, meditation, recitation, service, benevolence be­comes steady. But the mind that does not find proper subjects for thinking, races towards intense physical desires. These physical desires have many forms. All the subjects of the senses become the subjects both of intense desire and worship. The main role is played in it by the healthy or unhealthy state of mind. If the mind is unhealthy, it would affect the senses and the body, in turn, would become unhealthy. The healthy mind can move forward towards worship. But who tries to keep the mind healthy?

A camel got sick. The vaidya said, "It is suffering from gastric trouble. It must be branded on the back with a red-hot iron rod." The owner of the camel went home and started branding the back of his bullock. By chance, the vaidya arrived there. Seeing that man branding the bullock he said, "You told me the camel is sick. Why are you branding the bullock?" "Of course, it is the camel that is sick. But my hand does not reach up to its back. That is why I am branding the bullock."

But branding the bullock would not restore the camel to its health. Similarly, the mind cannot become healthy by treating physical illness. It cannot be denied that the body and the speech together may lead to unhealthy mental state. Whenever the body responds, the mental flaw becomes evident. No person becomes a criminal because of bad thoughts in the mind. He becomes a criminal when his thoughts find expression through the active response of the body. That way, the body and the mind are closely related.

Refining and Tranquillizing the Mind

The body and the mind both play their role in man's good and evil actions. Still, he usually pays more attention to the body. What does a man do from the time he wakes up in the morning, till he retires to bed at night? Is it the body or the mind that is related to his activities like bathing, washing, combing his hair, brushing his teeth, eating and drinking, sleeping, etc.? As far as I have been able to understand, most people do these things more for the sake of the body. Would the mind be anything but unhealthy, when it is neglected to that extent? It is necessary to understand the mind before talking about preventing it from being unhealthy. So long as one does not properly understand the nature of the mind, he would not be able to refine it. Refining the mind is an achievement, but the ultimate goal lies beyond it. The moment man attains the tranquillity of mind; he can sing the tune of peace and be calm.

Mental concentration and development of will power are two ways of refining the mind. Memories of the past, thoughts about the future, material allurements, aimless life etc, are obstacles in mental concentration. Living in the present and managing time are the unfailing ways to be free from these obstructing factors. Proper manage­ment of time keeps the mind linked with actions. An empty mind is the devil's workshop. That is why we must attempt to keep the mind under check with the help of will power.

Treatment of the Mind

Two words occur in the Jain Agamas: Samiti and gupti. Samiti means the appropriate activity and gupti means refraining from it and both are applicable to the mind. If the gupti of the mind is not possible, the samiti can be used as a means to keep it on the right track. With the preventive prowess, the mind ceases to be the mind. That is, it reaches the state beyond itself. But this is not easily done. Till such time that the state of non-thinking is not created, countless problems could be avoided by striking a balance between thinking and non-thinking.

Man considers himself very powerful. There is no doubt at all that he has an immense store of energy. But so long as the mind is not conquered, the conquest in-other fields is incomplete. The result of conquering the mind means ending its unsteadiness. An unsteady mind should be regarded as the biggest defeat and therefore, steadiness of the mind should be given the highest priority.

Some people say, "Our mind is restless and dis­turbed. How to make it steady?" At one time, there were no mental clinics. There were no psychiatrists and no medicines for such mental disturbances. With growing mental illnesses, the science of psychology developed and psychiatrists were trained. Psychiatric clinics came into being. But the problem was not solved. Till the people who run those clinics do not train their minds, how would they be able to cure the patients?

People belonging to all classes come to me. Doctors also come with their problems. They say that their minds are unsteady and they feel tense. They want me to show some way out. Lawyers also come. They say that they are required to think too much, and they live with tension day and night. How could they find relief from it? Professors face similar problems. Indiscipline prevailing in colleges and universities is proving too much for them. What should we say about ordinary people when even such persons feel restless and find their trouble incur­able? What would happen if the mental clinics mushroom all over which are incapable of dealing with mental illnesses?

Example of Firm Resolve

"A single panacea is enough for a hundred diseases," is not a mere proverb. There seems to be some truth in it too. It is possible to treat all mental illnesses with prekshadhyan. It is from this point of view that the idea of setting up a Prekshadhyan Clinic is being considered. Firm resolve is needed for steady thinking. The task cannot be accomplished if the resolve too is unsteady like the mind.

Sthulibhadra's example can be cited with regard to the firmness of resolve. King Nanda of Pataliputra had a minister called Shakedal. He had two sons name Sthulibhadra and Shriyaka.  Sthulibhadra was disinterested in the world right from his childhood. To arouse his interest in the worldly life, he was sent to courtesan called Kosha. In his infatuation for that courtesan, he even forgot his parents. When his father expired, with great difficulty he was brought home. The king wanted to appoint him minister. But his mind once again became disinterested. He got himself initiated by the Jain monk Sambhutavijayagani. He became an ascetic and started his sadhana. His sadhana was further strengthened by his penance, meditation and study of the scriptures.

Once, some of Sambhutagani's disciples got his sanction to spend Chaturmasa in particular places in order to do special sadhana. One of them was the monk Sthulibhadra. He decided to spend his Chaturmasa period in the picture-gallery of the courtesan Kosha. With his guru's permission, he went to the courtesan. Kosha was extremely delighted. She tried her utmost to attract him towards the worldly life, but she did not succeed. Kosha was very disappointed. The monk gave a sermon to Kosha. She had been highly impressed by the monk's firm resolve. She learnt from him the subtle points of Jain philosophy. She embraced Jainism and became a sravika.

After completing his Chaturmasa stay, Muni Sthulibhadra returned to his guru, who welcomed his disciple enthusiastically for having attained that ex­tremely difficult goal of staying for long in the picture-gallery of that courtesan who had been attached to him and not swaying from his resolve even for a moment. Muni Sthulibhadra had provided an example of purity of mind and firmness of resolve. Examples of fickleness of mind and laxity of resolve can be found anywhere. But how many individuals can we find who have the noble character and firm resolve that Sthulibhadra had?

One may ask how he acquired such firmness. My own conclusion is that he had most certainly practiced very deep meditation, without meditation, it is difficult even to imagine such purity, calm and steadfastness.

Footnotes
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2:

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Sources

Title:  The Vision Of New Society
Author:  Acharya Tulsi
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 
2013
Digital Publishing: 
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. Agamas
  2. Body
  3. Chanakya
  4. Chaturmasa
  5. Concentration
  6. Discipline
  7. Gupti
  8. Guru
  9. Jain Philosophy
  10. Jainism
  11. Meditation
  12. Muni
  13. Prekshadhyan
  14. Sadhana
  15. Samiti
  16. Science
  17. Sravika
  18. Vaidya
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