The Art Of Positive Thinking: Transmutation Of The Mind (1)

Published: 06.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

The evolution of the world, of culture and civilization may be said to be an evolution of change. If things remain static, no evolution is possible. The people sitting before me are wearing clothes. Now, cotton is obtained from the cotton plant. Raw cotton is changed into threads, from which cloth is woven, and out of that whole cloth people make garments for themselves. Garments could not be made out of raw cotton. Nor could one wear bare threads. It is only when threads arc woven into cloth that garment-making becomes a possibility, affording protection to people from the cold, the heat and the hurricane and the rain. Behind it all is the story of eternal change. We eat chappaties but do not swallow unground wheat. Similarly we make chappaties from gram flour, not regularly masticate whole grams. A total change is involved. We have also to exert ourselves a great deal for obtaining ghee and butter from milk. Milk is coagulated into dahi (curd); curd is churned and out of that churning butter flows; ghee is made from butter. The whole course of our living is a process of change. Nothing remains static; everything is continually changing.

Man changes his circumstances; also his surroundings. He does not leave his environment, his situation untouched; rather he tries to mould it in a particular way. The whole of man's effort is directed towards bringing about a change and he has made a good deal of progress. Outer circumstances, if not properly moulded, create a lot of difficulties. Man has, therefore, tried to alter his outer environment. There can be no light if darkness continues. But if there is light, even night turns into day. Man can turn even a dark night into a splendid festival of lights. Behind this capacity lies an infinity of diligent effort. There was a time when man ignited light from stones, or by rubbing together two pieces of wood. Now he just presses a button and there is light. Because of the extraordinary changes wrought in the means of procuring light; he can now turn darkness into light. Living in darkness, man sought light and found it. Thanks to human efforts to change the outer environment, man can to-day provide a cool retreat in the midst of great heat. The coolers and the fans were specifically created to banish heat.

Likewise, electric heaters were created to banish cold by providing warmth. Air-conditioners were invented for the same purpose - to modify the atmosphere and make it conform to man's comfort. The whole of this process is a process of change. Man has laboured hard to change the outer environment and he has achieved remarkable success in moulding it to his heart's desire. Thanks to his persever­ance, he has performed unimaginable feats in this direction and is still progressing ahead.

Man has also attempted to change the inner environment. However, unlike his achievements in the outer field, he has not been able to make much progress in the direction of inner change. The chemistry of the body can be altered. The secretions from the endocrine glands can also be changed though doctors have not yet succeeded in bringing it about. Medical science has not yet perfected the technique thereof. As a result, the character of endocrine secretions remains unchanged. Nor can one's inward feelings or thoughts be altered at will. A great many difficulties are encountered. Man finds himself incapable of changing the inner climate. He is puzzled by the fact, and does not know how to meet the challenge. Evil thoughts assail the mind and man finds himself utterly powerless to withstand them. He seeks consolation in fate. "One can do nothing," he says. It is not possible to keep the evil out. Man has no control over the mind. He feels helpless. And fatalism comes in very handy. "Whatever happens, happens because it is so destined. One can do nothing about it." Why then blame a poor t hief, or a dacoit for his actions? He does what his inner voice prompts him to do. The chemistry of his body determines his behaviour and conduct. If so, why find fault with him? He is a helpless victim of his passion; he cannot control it! Man can coin innumerable excuses to justify his conduct.

A man sat watching the construction of the village temple. The village folk had decided to construct the temple themselves, without hiring any labourers from outside. The entire population of the village was at work while one man sat idle. Some folk approached him and said, "What a shame! All the people are working and you are sitting idle! Come, let's get busy with the construction of the temple!" He said, "What do you expect me to do? The stomachs of other people you see at work are full while my stomach is empty. How can a famished person work? How shall he get his energy without food?" Someone said, "He's right. We can't expect him to work on an empty stomach. A labouring person needs food, more not less." So they brought him plenty of food and he ate up everything they brought him. After he had finished, they asked him to accompany them to work. He replied, "Oh, how do you expect me to work now? My stomach is too full. I am not in a position to exert myself!"

Man is good at making excuses. He cannot work if his stomach is empty. He also cannot work when his stomach is too full. He is not at all interested in working, so he finds excuses right and left. The man who wants to evolve further, never resorts to excuses; he enjoys working and puts in his best effort. There are very few who are intent upon doing their best. A verse from the Gita reads, "Only one man in ten thousand really works for fulfilment." One must not, however, imagine that fulfilment is rare or difficult to attain. Each man can find fulfilment. We have the goal before us, and also the means to achieve that goal. Success is certain. The end, the means, and fulfilment are inevitably linked together. Any man who chooses a particular goal and acquires the right means thereto, is bound to succeed. One does not have to bother about success. What one must attend to is the right end and the right means. Fulfilment comes of itself. It is foolish to be preoccupied with the result. We need not bother about it at all. Only a little while ago, a man came and said, "I'm suffering from a particular disease. Is it possible to get rid of the disease through meditation?" This sort of question invariably crops up. I feel and often declare openly that the place you have come to is no hospital. Still, I concede that most diseases get cured here of themselves. If the mind is healthy and in order, the process of healing is set in motion. Diseases start losing their virulence, and often get cured. All this is possible. The first essential is to bring order in the mind, to change the inner environment. If the inner environment under­goes a transformation, the atoms of the outer environment also begin to change. The real problem is to change the inner condition, where the cause often lies buried. The inner overcomes the outer.

A man saw a dog and fled from it in fear. He went running and the dog chased him. On investigation it has been found that the man flees in fear. He is afraid of the dog. When in a state of fear, the adrenal gland becomes very active. Profuse secretions from the adrenal gland fill the air with their odour. The dog's sense of smell being very acute, it smells the adrenal from far. It is because of its acute sense of smell that a dog is used in chasing murderers and other criminals. A dog does what a man cannot do. It can take hold of the scent of a man and pursue this smell for miles together, till it apprehends the man himself and starts circling round him. As a man flees, his adrenal gland becomes very active and secretes more profusely. The more profuse the secretion, the intenser the smell it gives off, and the dog takes hold of this smell. Outwardly it may appear that the dog chases a man to bite him, but the real cause is the dog's attraction for the smell. The man is running because of fear; the dog runs for the sake of the smell which it finds very pleasant. One is in the grip of fear, the other simply allured.

Indeed, allurement and fear are the two basic offences. One man acts out of fear, the other out of temptation. All our urges, all our social motivations,.lie within the orbit of fear and temptation. There is the action of fear and there is the action of greed. If fear and greed come to an end, human action, as it is at present, will also come to an end.

We shall have to explore the hidden causes behind appear­ances. The real cause of all human action lies within. One man is swayed by anger, the other by love. Still another is dominated by fear. Someone indulges in back-biting or abuse. Still another is utterly restless - restless without a cause; he finds himself in the grip of a strange melancholy and despair. All these various moods cannot be adequately explained in terms of the external situation alone; it is also necessary to delve deeper and be fully acquainted with the inner condition of a man's mind. If anything, it is even much more important, for the inner overcomes the outer. Every man longs for a change; he wants to get rid of his restlessness. He wants to be happy; to free himself from all kinds of tensions and frustration. Nobody wants to live in fear. A man confided to me that when he was in a state of fear, all his dreams were coloured by fear. He saw a leopard or a lion, or a wild bear. Or he would find himself near the edge of a stream and see himself drowning in it. He had such terrible dreams that he did not know what to do with himself. He wanted to get rid of fear altogether. It was not at all a very pleasant state to be in. He wanted to get rid of his deficiencies. He wanted his morale to be high, and not so inhibited by fear as to imagine calamities everywhere. Even a little problem appeared to be very acute and irresolvable in a state of fear; one then created mountains out of mole hills. So to change oneself was a dire necessity. But how to change? The first essential is to comprehend the inner compulsions. What motives are at work inside, creating a particular situation. Only then something could be done. First insight, then action.

Change in attitude, change in thinking, change in the body chemistry - these are the three inner changes. First of all there has to be a change in attitude. When the attitude undergoes a change, thinking, too, is transformed. Thought does not create attitude; it is the other way round - it is attitude that shapes thought. Some people give out wrong interpretations. Even today I came across an exegesis that what arises first is thought and that in turn creates attitude. It is like saying that the son is born first and then the father! How can thought create attitude? It is always attitude first and then thought. Attitude is the fountain that springs from the inmost recesses of our being; it springs from within. Good attitude, bad attitude, attitude springing from dark leshya (psychic colour); it all comes from within. The mind receives what comes from within and thought is moulded accordingly. Attitude is the creator of thought. A change in attitude is a precursor of change in the inmost being, then thought, too, changes, the mind is transformed, and the inner chemistry of the body too alters. For a change in the body-chemistry, a change in attitude and thought is a must. The three are inevitably linked with one another. The pineal gland and the pitutary gland give out particular kinds of secretions. With a change in attitude and thought, the nature of the secretions also changes. It is not that the secretions from all the glands arc of the same character. The secretions change from individual to individual. All human organisms are equipped with glands—there are five to seven predominant glands in each human being—the adrenals, the thyroid, the pituitary, the pineal, the gonads, etc. There are different kinds of glands and the secretions therefrom are different too. Each person gives out individual secretions which mould his attitude and thought. The secretions taking place in one man arc different from those in another. Not only are the secretions of two individuals different, but the secretions of the same person vary from time to time. Lord Mahavir, in an important exposition of the doctrine of leshya[*] says, "Leshya's origination is legion!" Not one, not two, not a thousand, not a million or trillion, but legion, beyond count, innumerable. An interminable rise and fall! Our secretions vary in accordance with our diverse attitudes. Doctors have tried to classify these. They have even laid down the precise number of secretions from the pituitary gland. The enumeration is of course incomplete. Medical science also recognizes the inadequacy thereof—the secre­tions are much more. In Lord Mahavir's exposition, the number of these secretions is given out as 'legion'. The chemical secretions in the body conform to and are determined by changes in attitude. A change in the body-chemicals requires a change in thinking and a change in thinking requires a change in attitude. Once we have acquired the key to the change in attitude, we may be said to have embarked upon a rapid inner change.

The important question is: How to bring about an attitudinal change? It is easy to talk about the necessity of change, but how is one to accomplish it? Every body says one should be good, honest, authentic; that one should uphold the truth, be happy. The exposition of good principles is the easiest thing in the world - easier than cooking food. In the cooking of food, one may still encounter various difficulties. But in laying down a doctrine, in repeating it endlessly, there is no difficulty whatsoever. A computer or a tape-recorder can do it as well. Nothing is required but reiteration. It is the easiest tiring in the world. But the accomplishment of a change is no easy task. It is a very complicated problem. To effect inner change, one has to delve deep into the mind. For changing the chemical composition of the hormones from the endocrine glands (which influence our conduct), we shall have to undergo a definite course, a whole series of precise actions. In the ancient language it was called the method of 'purifying the stream". Without purifying the stream of life, there could be no change in attitude. The vocabulary of the ancient language has undergone a complete change during the course of two to three thousand years, so that it is not easily intelligible. Man is very well acquainted with the modern language; he understands the modern vocabulary quite well. But the old texts are not so amenable to his understanding. Through meditation one must explore the truth hidden in the ancient texts, and to present it in a form accessible to the modern reader. It is very clear that meditation is one powerful medium of research, of inner exploration, so as to bring the hidden elements to light. Whatever remains hidden, becomes intricate, gets lost. To unravel the hidden truth requires a serious effort. The truth that has been lost has to be rediscovered. How? Through the body, the tongue and the mind, a body that is still and steady, a tongue that is still and silent, a mind that is still, emptied of the noise of thought—all three divested of restlessness, and in a state of alertness, fully concentrated. No truth can be found by an unsteady body, tongue or mind. It is only when all wavering has come to an end and the body, the tongue and the mind are still and receptive that truth is revealed. It may be the scientific or the philosophic truth, or it may relate to the world of business. Whoever has discovered the truth, experienced reality, has done so in a state of aloneness, in a state of mind where thought has come to an end, in perfect silence. The great scientific truths have been all discovered in a state of total concentration.

Einstein was asked, "How did you discover the theory of relativity?" He said, "I don't know. One day I was strolling in the garden. All of a sudden I felt something descending upon my mind." Did Newton discover the theory of gravitation through exercising his intellect? It was certinaly not the result of an intellectual exercise! It was a case of direct vision. He was just watching—he saw the apple fall and instantly conceived the theory of gravitation. The great truths come upon a man when least looked for, never through thought. Too much thinking tires the brain, puzzles the mind. All thought creates tension and a man who is full of tension can never find the truth. Only when a man is totally free from tension, there is a sudden awakening of inner consciousness and the great truths are effortlessly perceived.

The first principle of changing the inner environment is: Do away with restlessness! It is an inveterate defect of far-reaching consequences. An illusion might dissolve in the course of time, furious passions recede, like and dislike disappear, yet the fickleness of the mind remains.

Gautam put a very interesting question to Lord Mahavir. He asked: "Sir, the man on his way to salvation, who is fully awake, has freed himself from passions,, from like and dislike, who knows everything—can he place his hand on the same spot twice?"

The Lord answered, "No".

How strange! The man who is familiar with each tiny bit of the courtyard, not an atom of whose own hand is hidden from him, who is fully awake—such a man places his hand on a particular spot, but he cannot touch that point again! A stupendous question calls forth an equally stupendous answer. Lord Mahavir said, "No, he cannot touch that point again!"

Gautam said, "How is it, Sir? Why cannot an awakened person touch the same point again? A pseudo-saint, the one who does not know, who is not dispassionate, who has not been able to free himself from passions and affections, one caught in illusion, will certainly go wrong; he is not fully alert, he cannot remember; due to ignorance and negligence, he cannot find the spot. But why can't the awakened one do it?"

Lord Mahavir said, "He knows it all right, but he has not yet attained perfect tranquillity; he is not totally free from restlessness. There is the body, and it is fickle; it wavers. There is unsteadiness. Therefore, though he is wide awake and knows everything, yet he cannot touch the same point again."

Movement remains with us till the very last. All conditions pass away. All obstacles are removed. The right approach replaces the false one. Dissatisfactions cease, attachment dissolves, no more passion, no more like and dislike, no more good or bad. And yet until the restlessness of the body ends, tire goal is not reached, there is no fulfilment The goal may be clearly outlined, the means thereto readily available, but as long as movement persists, the highest achievement is not possible.

If we want to change the inner environment, we shall have to clearly determine our aim, and the means that we are going to adopt. There is no need to worry about fulfilment; it will come of itself. Our aim is transformation—that is, changing the circumstances, the inner environment and consciousness. With a change of circum­stances consciousness already stands modified. All imperfections of consciousness are the result of outward circumstances. With a change in the outer situation, consciousness is established in its perfection. As a matter of fact, there is nothing which requires to be changed. Consciousness remains what it is. However, whatever came to pass because of a particular motive stands altered. Without cause, there is no effect. If the motive changes, the state of mind resulting from the original motive also undergoes a change.

Our aim is the transformation of consciousness, of inner motives. That means: freedom from fickleness. The first move is the establishment of steadiness, of full concentration. One starts practising Preksha Meditation, but if the body is unsteady, the tongue wavers and the mind is restless as before, if there is absolutely no change there, it would mean that the reality of meditation has not yet been fully grasped. If at all there had been true meditation, a change would have occurred. Not that one would attain full composure just in a day, yet a slight change should be discernible. The mind that was totally incapable of concentration before, should be able to concentrate at least for 5-10 seconds. After ten days, it should be able to keep steady for a minute or two at least. Likewise, there should be a corresponding change in the tongue; it was continually wagging before, now it is comparatively quieter. The uncomfortable feeling experienced before when confronted by si­lence, the restlessness of unaccustomed quietness, should grow less acute.

The second step is to lessen the frequency of sensations of like and dislike. It is a very important step. Is it possible to undergo an experience, whether it is eating, or sleeping, in all its purity, without attachment, without identification? One may relish sugar, or salt too much; one may derive a vast, secret satisfaction from quarrels and excitements of all sorts. The man who is seeking gratification will find meditation a bore; he would be all for eating, drinking, sleeping, quarrelling and fighting. He would find immense gratifi­cation in sensation. All this has to be changed. To keep indifferent in the face of sensual gratification, and to awaken interest in the hit her to ungratifying practice of meditation, to change the very pivot of mental attraction, is an extremely important step.

Two men were quarrelling. People gathered round them. They enquired as to what the matter was. One of them said he had been cheated by the other of a penny. The other asserted he had paid back the full amount. It was incredible—this quarrel over a penny! The close combat, the bad language, the beating, hundreds of onlookers gathered around them. A sensible man advanced towards one of the brawlers and said, "Good man, why fight so furiously just for a penny?" The brawler replied, "You don't understand! It's not really the question of a penny or two; rather of gratification. Of the immense satisfaction I derive from owning a penny and the excite­ment of the scuffle. It requires a connoisseur to fully appreciate the irresistible flavour of identification with an object!"

The question is how much attached a man is to an object and what gratification he derives therefrom. Unless we fully understand this phenomenon of identification, no progress towards equanimity is possible.

Footnotes
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Sources
Title: The Art Of Positive Thinking
Publisher:
B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Reprint Edition:
2007
Translator:
R.K. Seth

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Adrenal Gland
  2. Anger
  3. Body
  4. Brain
  5. Concentration
  6. Consciousness
  7. Einstein
  8. Environment
  9. Equanimity
  10. Fear
  11. Ghee
  12. Gita
  13. Gonads
  14. Greed
  15. Leshya
  16. Mahavir
  17. Meditation
  18. Newton
  19. Pineal Gland
  20. Pituitary Gland
  21. Preksha
  22. Preksha Meditation
  23. Science
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