Non-Action Could Be As Valuable As Action

Published: 29.08.2007
Updated: 15.02.2008


29.08.2007

Looking at the tall trees standing in a garden, a visitor remarked: “These trees have grown very tall.“ The gardener replied, “They have nothing else to do except to grow tall.“

There is nothing, which does not do something. Everything - animate or inanimate, conscious or unconscious - is active. The thought that we are not idle makes us feel good. Society is not prepared to accept idleness as a virtue.

We have become too involved in relentless activity. The important man frets to stay dynamic. Caught in a vicious circle of activity, we think of renunciation as an empty ideal. But blind devotion to activity has destroyed peace of mind. We fail to appreciate non-action, because we stand committed to action.

We need to strike a balance between action and inaction in order to develop a realistic understanding of the philosophy of renunciation. Inaction is not less valuable than action. An appreciation of the value of inaction will enable us to understand the value of action better and avoid its harmful consequences. The Gita says that all our actions produce harmful results in the same way in which fire produces smoke. So learn to compromise.

All our actions spring from the body. In order to be inactive we will have to abandon the body, to render it completely idle, so that our instincts cease to function. This is called Kayotsarga in Jain Yoga, immobilisation of the body. Usually we abandon the body only when we die. Another kind of abandonment is abandoning the body even while we are living.

Gautama asked Mahavira, “What do we achieve by Kayagupti or the abandonment of the body?” The latter replied, “Kayagupti results in Samvara”. In Jain philosophy, Asrava means induction of foreign matter into the soul. The soul by its very nature is pure. It becomes contaminated when foreign matter enters it. Asrava can be stopped. We can preserve the pristine purity of the soul. By plugging off the sources of impurity, we produce a state of Samvara, a state in which nothing enters the soul from outside.

The soul receives foreign matter through the body. Heaps of atoms enter the soul through mental action, speech and breathing. All this infiltration will stop if the body is immobilised. A state of total inactivity of the body is the state of meditation. It is not exclusively a mental state. Jain Yoga has conceived of three kinds of meditation: of body, word and mind. Meditation is a state of mental and physical equilibrium. It is a state of equipoise.

Meditation literally means contemplation. The meanings of words undergo contractions and extensions in the course of time. The extended meaning of a term is much more than its etymological significance. In the same way the extended meaning of the term meditation is much more than contemplation. It means fixing the body, mind and speech. A fixed mind enters into a state of meditation. Fixed speech becomes word meditation.

Physical meditation is the base of all other meditations. Word meditation must invariably be preceded by physical meditation. Mental meditation comes only after word meditation has been mastered. There can be no breath control without fixing the body, and meditation on the mental plane is impossible until respiration has been controlled. In this way Kayotsarga or Kayagupti is the base of meditation.

Sources

Times Of India, by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg.

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  1. Asrava
  2. Body
  3. Contemplation
  4. Gautama
  5. Gita
  6. Jain Philosophy
  7. Jain Yoga
  8. Kayotsarga
  9. Lalit Garg
  10. Mahavira
  11. Meditation
  12. Samvara
  13. Soul
  14. Times Of India
  15. Yoga
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