The Art Of Positive Thinking: How To Think (2)

Published: 17.12.2009
Updated: 30.07.2015

The sweltering summer! The scorching sun! In the hot season, one's brain too gets heated up. For right thinking, however, one must have a cool brain; a fervid brain hinders thinking. It also creates a number of unnecessary problems, which invariably result in immoderate action. One chief sign of good health is that one's feet remain warm and the brain cool. But with most people the reverse is the case: the brain gets heated up and the feet grow cold. If the brain keeps tranquil, a man can live for a long time. Established in peace, he lives with zest. One objective of deep breathing is to keep the brain cool.

Today's scientists are busy developing a new technique, which would enable man to live for 500 or even 1000 years. This is the technique of refrigeration, of deep freezing. A man is frozen cold. For 10 years he remains inert. Then he is exposed to heat and he gets up alive. The scientists experimented on ants and froze them alive. All the ants became dead and cold. After 10 minutes they were warmed up and they returned to life. They restarted their activity. We often see flies and ants falling into cold water and appearing as dead. But a little application of heat resurrects them to life.

If a man could be so frozen, he could live for a long time. Not to speak of the whole body, if only the brain can be kept cool, main's longevity would greatly increase. Untimely death occurs most often in youth, the chief reason being the frequent heating up of the brain. A young man flares up too soon and too often: the frequent heating-up destroys the brain cells.

Our brain cells constitute the basis of our life. As long as these cells are alive and active, a man does not die even if his heart stops beating. It has been observed that a man declared dead by the doctors, was found to be alive after some time. Occasionally, a 'dead' man carried on a bier to the funeral ground and laid down on earth for cremation, with firewood ranged all round ready to be ignited, comes to life and rises yawning on the pyre making the piled blocks go scattering. People mistake him for a ghost. But in fact he never died.. He was alive all the time. Only the doctor had declared him dead. Actually his brain was active - it had not died, and as long as the brain does not die, a man cannot be said to be dead, despite heart- or pulse-failure.

The brain is the seat, the fundamental basis of life. The cooler the brain, the more wholesome one's life, and the more constructive one's thinking. Indeed, a cool brain is the essential pre-requisite for wholesome, constructive and balanced thinking. From this point of view, the second criterion for right thinking is whether thinking is being done in a state of frenzy or in a state of tranquillity. Agitation renders thinking defective. Thinking done in a state of turmoil can never be wholesome, right, balanced or constructive. It can be constructive only when the mind is not agitated. Thinking must be based upon facts for only factual thinking has any utility. Where the fact becomes secondary and emotion reigns supreme, thinking can never be practical or sane. The thinking of an individual who does not practise meditation and who has no control over his mind, whose mind is not tranquil and balanced, is ever abrupt and emotional - such a person is incapable of right thinking.

A politician's friend said to him, "I met such and such person today and he was abusing you." On hearing this, the politician flared up. He said, "Let me win this election and become a minister, and then I'll teach that man a lesson for abusing me."

This is what emotional thinking leads to. That politician should have first confirmed whether the person alleged to have abused him, actually did so. Otherwise one hears a canard and gets heated up for nothing. Who has not witnessed terrible fits of anger or pride? And we are also acquainted with the ill effects of these. The servant does not immediately carry out our order - our pride is hurt. In a highly wrought state we sometimes say and do abominable things. We indulge in abuse and give the servant a beating, and sometimes even dismiss him from service. All this is done in a frenzy of hurt pride. We never stop to consider for a moment as to why one man must always obey another. It is not always obligatory after all. To obey is good, but sometimes not to obey is better. The master is endowed with the faculty of thinking; so is the servant.

A master said to the servant, "Go and irrigate the garden.'; The servant said, "Master! it is raining like cats and dogs. Why irrigate now?" The master said, "You are a fool! If it is raining, why don't you take an umbrella with you?" Now, what is the servant to do? The master who commands him does not even stop to consider that irrigating the plants in rain is utterly pointless. Why should the servant obey such a foolish command?

All those who give commands are not necessarily wise and many foolish orders are given. Sometimes these orders may result in great injustice. And yet the master becomes indignant if any of his commands is not immediately carried out. Later, of course, he has to face the music too. In a state of frenzy, all thinking becomes perverted. There is then little understanding between man and man. An overcharged brain is mainly responsible for deterioration in relationship between husband and wife, between brother and brother and between master and servant. With this wall of frenzy between them, one man can never fully understand another, nor can he see the other person as he is; his frenzy colours all that he sees. The man in front will appear to be the very image of his wrath. Frenzied thinking can never be right. Hence one of the criteria for balanced thinking is the practice of non-attachment. How is it possible? Is it possible to obviate wrath and pride? Most people never think in terms of obviating or mitigating pride. They think anger is natural; pride is man's second nature; these cannot be obviated. So man does not change, and pride and anger continue. Many people think that man cannot change, so the question of ending pride and anger, which are part of human nature, does not arise. The man who is engaged in the practice of meditation frees himself first of all from this false assumption; he who is not so freed cannot be a good spiritual practitioner. The first lesson that a spiritual practitioner has to learn is that man is capable of changing, that his nature can be changed. If man cannot be transformed, if his nature cannot change, it is better to abandon meditation altogether, for meditation then has no utility whatsoever. The significance of meditation lays in this that through it consciousness becomes so concentrated and pure as to wash away the long-accumulated dirt. When consciousness is unveiled, all habitual action disappears of itself. Habits have their breeding ground in impurity. Consciousness is so encrusted with layer after layer of impurities, that all kinds of habits take root there. One is often asked since the soul or consciousness is always pure, why should it be ever polluted?

Consciousness is ever pure. If we persevere in the practice of meditation, it will certainly become revealed, but the fact is that it is not so at present. Whatever is non-existent at the moment must be seen as being non-existent. What is only a future probability must not be imposed upon the present, nor should a projection of the past be imposed on the future. Most of the time people project things, which are not there at all. Imposition creates innumerable difficulties. The gold burnt in fire becomes purified; it is yellow and lustrous. But looking at the earth-incrusted ore dug out of the mine, one could never imagine gold to have such lustre. At that time it appears to be no more than a clod of earth. There is a great deal of difference between raw ore and the finished ingot. There is absolutely no comparison between lustrous gold that comes out of the fire and the metal mixed with clay in the ore. The sparkle of the finished ingot purified of all dirt and refuse is stupendous indeed. Similarly, the clarity and purity of a consciousness well tempered in the oven of meditation is simply unimaginable in a consciousness vitiated by passion-dominated lust and desire. Wrath, pride, cunning, deception, hypocrisy, greed, hatred, fear, envy, approbation and condemnation, like and dislike - consciousness riddled with these emotions can never be accessible. What is it that is so riddled, so attracted by strong emotions? Not the inanimate, the unconscious. Wrath never descends upon the inanimate. Does the wall ever take offence? It the walls of our rooms were to be moved by anger, man's plight would be pitiable beyond thought. The coarse cloth upon which we sit is never hurt. We place our feet on it, and it says nothing. Just try to place your feet on another man's head! The bare touch would make the victim flare up. But the poor piece of cloth is never angry, never exhibits pride.

The inanimate displays no anger or pride, neither deceit nor hypocrisy. But man cheats man; the animate being deceives its fellows. That the inanimate should cheat the animate has never been seen or heard of. All the circumventions and deceits are conscious man's creation and man alone perpetuates them. It is the sentient, the animate which harbours all the vices; the inanimate, the insentient contains no evil. In the inanimate world, there is only what is - neither good nor bad. The 'good' and the 'bad' are the creations of a conscious mind. As long as the mind does not realize its true nature, evil is bound to continue.

Meditation is a process of realizing one's conscious self. It is a process of awakening awareness. As long as the true nature of consciousness is not seen, all the evils harbour in the mind, in it they find their base and support. In such a congenial atmosphere, they grow uninhibited. All the wickedness and the sins have their breeding ground in the mind; it is here that they find their nurture. Provided with a solid foundation, these grow even though the conscious being providing this support continues in pain. A queer situation! The landlord suffers hardship while the tenant prospers. It is not easy to evict the tenant. To free consciousness of all impurities is an arduous task. The general conception that one's nature is unchangeable is not altogether wrong. The conditioning of centuries cannot be easily done away with. However, meditation is a process, which gradually washes away all accumulated grease, and as the grease gets cleansed away, the elements sticking to it are also got rid of. The tenant enjoys certain rights by law. He cannot be evicted. But a house which is decayed gets demolished by heavy rain and storm and in that case all the tenants have to seek shelter elsewhere. The house stands evacuated by nature, meditation is such a potential downpour, such a terrific storm that razes the house of ignorance to the ground and then all the tenants - the evils and impurities - are obliged to fly. Everything stands changed. This is the transformation sought for.

In this world, there are some things, which can be changed, and others, which cannot. All that is unchangeable and eternal must be left alone. However, every state of mind is changeable. There is no state which is permanent. The condition of wrath, for example, is transitory; likewise that of pride, of greed, of like and dislike and a thousand other passions which are forever fleeting. All these are changeable. All attachments and all actions are subject to change, and it is therefore possible to change them. Of course, the funda­mental elements remain constant. There are two such elements - the sentient and the insentient, these abide. The sentient cannot become the insentient and vice versa. The states of mind change continually. When this truth is clearly understood, all irrelevant impressions by themselves fall off. This dissolution of irrelevant impressions is the beginning of transformation. The consciousness of a spiritual practitioner transcends all conditioning. His conduct then may appear to be somewhat strange though as a matter of fact all his interests undergo a sea-change, all his attachments die with the experiencing of Supreme Bliss; small pleasures become insig­nificant and lose their charm for him. Interest in material things lasts only as long as one has not experienced that state which transcends the previous one. Meditation marks the beginning of that supra sensuous state of complete non-identification. Matter is then seen as simply matter and consciousness reveals its purity. Attach­ment is the thread that binds the two, but meditation cuts off that bondage. Then matter is prized only for its utility. Breathing is vital to life, food and water are necessary for its sustenance, likewise clothing and shelter. Their procurement becomes purely a matter of utility, without any undue attachment. Thus comes into being an entirely new state of mind.

It is to meditation that thought owes the development of its creative power. Tranquillity is the means thereto - that is, the absence of emotional excitement.

Deceit gives rise to suspicion. Without deceit there can be no suspicion, The social atmosphere today has been so polluted that man has lost faith altogether. He does not trust anybody. The son does not trust his own father; nor the father his son. Napoleon once said, "There is no such word as 'impossible' in my dictionary." Similarly, the word "faith" has no place in a modern man's dictio­nary. Doubt and suspicion stalk the land. Nothing can be taken on trust. Distrust constitutes one of the flaws in thinking. A man is inclined to doubt. He feels threatened and therefore doubts. There is a saying that a burnt child dreads the fire. Once caught, twice shy. If society were free from deceit, a man would have no cause for suspicion.

A merchant was travelling with his consignment. On the way lay an octroi[1] post. The merchant contrived to slip away without paying his dues. The in charge of the post came to know of it later and resolved to be more alert in future. Such an evasion had not occurred before. The merchants used to come to him and pay their dues by themselves. But when one of the merchants played foul and got away, the officer-in-charge began to suspect all the merchants that passed by his octroi post. He subjected them all to a rigorous search. No search was conducted earlier because no one had deceived before. One man deceived and now all were suspect. All thinking without faith is faulty and destructive. It can never be balanced or constructive.

Faith has a great significance in life. A life without faith has no foundation whatever. There can be no fulfilment in it. Faith rests on three pillars - capacity, accomplishment and knowledge of the universal laws.

The first element is capacity. Each man must have faith; he must experience the truth that he is endowed with limitless capac­ity. The second element is accomplishment. Each man must have faith in his power to accomplish whatever he undertakes to do. The third element is knowledge of the universal laws. Each man must know and abide by these.

To have faith does not imply dependence upon others. It only means that a man must depend upon himself. One cannot depend upon another; one can only depend upon oneself. A man may be said to have complete faith only when he believes in his own boundless capacity, in his power of accomplishing whatever he undertakes to do, and when he knows and abides by the universal laws.

We know that we have infinite capacity in ourselves. We also know that through right endeavour man can achieve what appears to be impossible. Self-exertion and effort are ever fruitful. However, there is a limit to what is possible. So one must understand the universal laws. If a man should say to himself, "I am going to exercise my will-power, and my power of concentration and the power of meditation and I'll never die," he is living in a fool's paradise. All his determination and will-power will be of little avail. In time, the man is bound to die. Only abysmal ignorance of the universal laws makes him assert otherwise. Death is inevitable; nothing endures. That is a universal law.

Change is the law of nature. One mode gives way to another. There may be an interval between birth and death - 10 years, a thousand, or a hundred thousand, but ultimately there is dissolution and change; nothing endures. Let us take an atom. It may be black today but after some time it would change its colour. The transformation takes place of itself. There is no outside agency to bring it about. That is the universal law. It is so decreed. One colour gives place to another, one birth leads to another, everything changes and nothing endures. Nothing is everlasting. It cannot be otherwise. Birth and death are interchangeable. Whatever is born is bound to die.

Books on hath yoga repeatedly refer to a substance whose use would make one immortal. Such references are also found in books on ayurved. A particular substance is recommended whose use, they say, would keep one eternally young and immortal. It is possible that the man using it might keep young all his life, but that he should never die is altogether impossible. It is not necessary that every man should die of old age; one can die young or keep young for a long time. The talk of keeping young is intelligible but that of keeping alive for ever makes little sense. There is nothing, which is eternal, which does not perish in course of time. The occurrence of such a reference in ancient texts along with details of experiments performed has created a misunderstanding that a man can live for ever. On that basis some people have gone to the extent of declaring publicly that they have conquered death through meditation. How­ever, it remains an illusion. What the ancient writers wrote must be read in a specific context. "Eternally young and deathless" probably meant that a man would be healthy and not die prematurely. But the spirit was overlooked and the mere letter cherished, leading to a monstrous misunderstanding.

To doubt means to repudiate a probability. A sceptic rejects a probability outright; we must cultivate faith so as not to deny it blindly. Let us understand once for all the one great flaw in thinking: an original, an altogether new idea is presented, and the man immediately reacts by saying 'it's impossible!'

Today we see an aeroplane flying high in the sky. None can deny it. Nobody doubts. But in the days before the invention of the aeroplane, the principal of an American college is reported to have said to a parish priest, "It is not far when man would fly high in the sky." And the priest immediately retorted, "It's impossible! What rot you talk!" What an irony that after 35 years it was the two sons of the same priest who first flew in the air.

To deny a probability is the greatest flaw.

Some scientists today are reported to be busy developing genes. They have made some progress and it is quite possible that in course of time they are able to create synthetic genes. Yet many people today ridicule it as an impossibility. "How can genes be created?" they ask.

It is sheer prejudice that stands in the way of our accepting something entirely new. Why should a probability be discounted after all? All development has been based upon recognizing a new possibility.

A Jain classic entitled Yoniprabhrit records in detail all possible combinations and permutations of the animate and the inanimate in various forms of existence. It is surprising that despite extraordinary advances in modern scientific research, the technique of developing an embryo in the test-tube has not been entirely successful. However, in Yoniprabhrit we come across the possibility of creating all kinds of living beings. There occurs a mention of this or that individual having created a thousand he-buffaloes, horses, etc. A particular instance is that of a king-disciple who knelt before his guru. "Master!" said the king, "The enemy has assaulted our town. I am not in a position to halt the adversary. You alone may do something to save us." The guru's heart was filled with pity at the plight of his devoted disciple. He made use of the knowledge gained from his study of Yoniprabhrit, and threw a bit of powder into the pond from where thousands of horsemen instantly emerged. It was an unending stream. The aggressors were quite baffled by the spectacle of a huge cavalry advancing to annihilate them and they took to their heels.

On another occasion the acharya was reading to his pupils from Yoniprabhrit. The subject was, "The Technique of Fish Production". A fisherman happened to be passing that way. His attention was arrested and he stopped to listen carefully to the whole account of the technique. The very next day he experimented with it. Soon his pond swarmed with fish.

The modern word for this technique would be genetic engineering; it is an ancient technique.

The point to be emphasized is that we should never shut the door on any probability. The cultivation of faith means openness to various possibilities. Wherever there is this openness, there is right thinking. There is then no prejudice. Prejudice exists only where there is no open-mindedness.

Wrong thinking has its breeding ground in impulsiveness. A king was walking bare-footed. A thorn-prick caused him much pain. He called his minister and told him, "See, what pain a thorn-prick gives! Many of my subjects walk bare-footed. They are subject to this suffering. Why don't you cover the whole area of my kingdom with leather so that no one ever suffers a thorn-prick?" This order was the outcome of an impulse. In his irrational enthusiasm it did not occur to the king that if the whole earth was covered with leather where would the wheat grow and what would people and animals eat?

There is the tale of King Midas of Greece who prayed to God that whatever he touched might be turned into gold. His prayer was granted. Whatever he touched turned into gold. All food and drink, the moment he laid his hand on these, turned into gold, leaving him hungry and thirsty. His daughter came running to him and the king embraced her; instantly she too turned into gold. Thereupon the king realized how foolish he had been. He prayed to God again, desiring Him to take back His gift.

All passions lead to perverted thinking. No right decision is possible in a state of frenzy. If people come to see the truth thereof, many lawyers and judges would become superfluous. Men go to court when they are highly wrought. If their agitation could be somehow resolved, 75% of the cases in the law-courts would stand resolved too.

I am told that in West Germany an experiment is on. The man who goes to file a criminal case there, is made to sit quietly in a vacant room for 5-6 hours. Only then do consultations begin. It has been found that 70% of the would-be litigants return without filing a case, because what brought them to court was a highly wrought condition, and as soon as their agitation subsided they were at peace and disinclined to pursue the matter any further.

We have gone into some aspects of constructive and destructive thinking. There are other aspects too. To ensure constructive thinking, it is necessary to change one's circumstances and the only way to change one's condition of life is through an integrated and pure mind.


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Title: The Art Of Positive Thinking
B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Reprint Edition:
R.K. Seth

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Anger
  3. Body
  4. Brain
  5. Concentration
  6. Consciousness
  7. Deceit
  8. Fear
  9. Genes
  10. Greed
  11. Guru
  12. Meditation
  13. Pride
  14. Soul
  15. Yoga
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