The Art Of Positive Thinking: Experiments In Heart-Purification

Published: 11.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

A man went to the provision merchant and asked, "Have you got flour?" The shopkeeper said, "Yes." The man asked, "And sugar?" The shopkeeper said, "Yes." The man asked, "And butter-oil?" The shopkeeeper once again replied in the affirmative. The man said, "Well, you've got all the ingredients, why don't you prepare sweet pudding to sell?"

The shopkeeper said, "Brother! All the ingredients for preparing sweet pudding I have, but I don't know how to prepare it. I have not the skill. If I start preparing the pudding without first acquiring the skill, all the ingredients will be spoiled. There would be no pudding, nor would their remain flour, sugar and butter-oil! It would all end in a mess."

All production requires skill. Without skill nothing can be produced.

We have been talking about a change of heart. Achange of heart is eminently desirable, but if we do not know how to go about it, if we are not acquainted with the process thereof, we shall never be able to achieve it.

Transformation of consciousness is not an easy task; it is the most important task though. A change in the psyche is in fact what we mean by a change of heart. When consciousness changes, a change of heart takes place of itself. If consciousness remains untransformed, nothing is changed. And no change in conscious­ness is possible without first mastering the technique thereof.

Two big tasks confront us—firstly to transform general con­sciousness and secondly to change human consciousness. Both are important. A number of laws have been discovered to govern the functioning of the material world, but to find out universal laws governing the world of consciousness is much more difficult. A material object has no consciousness. To discover the laws of the unconscious is easier, because an inert object does not change. However, the conscious is eternally changing, and it changes so fast that no one rule applies. All the rules framed go by the board because consciousness is never still. The smallest living creature makes use of its volition; it makes a leap and the rule is overthrown. There is no leap in the inanimate world; it is possible only in the animate. The former has no will; the latter has it. This freedom to act is a living being's most characteristic virtue. To find out laws governing conscious living beings is therefore a most difficult undertaking.

To change a living creature, which is possessed of an indepen­dent consciousness, is a complicated task. And to transform human consciousness is still more intricate, because a man is possessed of logic, intellect, and all other qualities of consciousness in their most developed form. To transform man is really a very complex affair. The transformation of human consciousness is just not possible without first learning the technique thereof. After all it is not a matter of merely changing one's circumstances. A man thinks in terms of changing his circumstances, he works for that, finds the right means and possibly does succeed in his aim. But to change one's consciousness which is inseparably connected with memory, with one's impressions, one's virtues and faults, is very difficult. One's mental impressions are deep-rooted; impressions from the distant past arise and infect the whole of one's life. To change all that is not easy.

Strange things happen in life. Quite inscrutable! We were told of a nun haunted by a phantom. Her agony was great; it continued for months. All remedies failed. Charms, iteration of the deity's name, and reverent worship were of no avail. Something would take hold of the nun and make her say, "We are taking revenge. In the last birth but two, she misappropriated our money. We kept this money with her as a pledge. When we demanded it back, she clean denied it. We are now avenging that lie. We shall make her suffer yet." When the apparition would go away for some time and the nun felt a little better, she would say, "Never should one purloin another's property. The consequences thereof are terrible."

For a few months, the nun suffered greatly. The phantom gave her no rest. One day, the phantom spoke thus: "We could have killed her. Our appetite for revenge is most keen. But this woman is continually praying to God and is very regular in her devotion. We couldn't kill her. But we have made her suffer greatly. Now we depart."

After the apparition left, the nun became perfectly normal.

We may explain this incident psychologically and dismiss it as an illustration of a feeble mind. But this is one aspect of the matter. There is another way of looking at it. Every living being reaps what he sows. All that one has accumulated - good or bad - yields fruit. Accumulations are also of two kinds—natural accumulation and acquired accumulation. Acquired accumulation of mental impres­sions goes on yielding fruit for a long time. One's hereditary acquisition of character and impressions over a thousand years matures in time and yields fruit and a man sometimes changes beyond recognition. He reveals hitherto unsuspected possibilities.

That is why it is said that the transformation of man's con­sciousness is not an easy task. Many restraining influences come to the fore. Even a passing acquaintance with truth leads some people to full realization. And in consequence they stand trans­formed. On the other hand, there are people who, despite repeated efforts, cannot accomplish any change. One naturally asks, "Why?" We find one man simple, straightforward and kindly. He avoids evil like the plague. Another man is crooked, cunning and cruel. He is such a hardened sinner that no evil, however great, can make him pause. To kill becomes an instinctive act for him.

Why are there such differences between man and man? Be­tween one man's conduct and behaviour and that of another? These differences cannot be explained in terms of circumstances alone. If the outer situation were responsible for these differences, then people belonging to the same background would all behave in the same way. But it does not happen so; people living in similar circumstances do not behave uniformly. There are differences between them too. We are thus compelled to look at things from an entirely different angle. We have to acknowledge that our circum­stances arc not everything; inner environment is also an important cause of differences between men. Perhaps more so, for the inner always overcomes the outer.

Karkandu was a prince. He is counted among the "Specially Enlightened Ones" i.e., those who are enlightened spontaneously at the sight of a specific object, whose consciousness is awakened under special circumstances. In time Karkandu ascended the throne. He was specially interested in cows. Once on a visit to the cow-asylum, he saw a very frail calf. His heart melted at the sight and he gave orders that the calf should be properly fed with the whole of his mother-cow's milk. And when it grew up, he should be fed with other cows' milk. The incharge of the cow-asylum did as instructed by the king.

The calf began to fill up. It grew up into a stout bull with mighty limbs. His horns were beautiful and all his limbs authentic and well-proportioned. He appeared to be the very image of energy. The king was greatly pleased at the sight. Every day he went to the cow-asylum and sat with the bull.

Thereafter, the king went on an expedition and was absent for a number of years. On his return to the capital, he remembered the bull and went to the cow-asylum to see how it was doing. He said to the manager of the cow-asylum, "Where is my bull?" He replied, "Sir, there, right in front of you!" The king was stunned, for the animal sitting in front of him was a lean, old creature, whose eyes had receded far into the sockets, whose gait was staggering and who cowered abjectly behind a host of other animals. The king said, "How robust was this bull once! Its shoulders were so powerful, its horns a beauty! Where are gone the power and the glory?   Am I too subject to such decay? Shall I too become old and weak?" The king was sorely disenchanted. He straight went to his palace, renounced his kingdom, and became a monk.

Old bulls are a common sight. But does everyone who sees them renounce the world? If the mere sight of an old bull awakened in men the desire for renunciation, all would become monks and there would not be left any householders. An old bull became the means for bringing about a change in the consciousness of King Karkandu; it cannot become a factor for change in everybody's consciousness. Some people are transformed by some happening which does not move others at all.

Thavachaputra was sitting beside his mother. A band was playing in the neighbourhood. He said, "Mother! Why are these bandmen playing? The mother said, "A son is born in the neighbour's house. They are celebrating the birth."

The next morning, a great hue and cry was on in the neighbour's house. Thavachaputra said, "Mother! yesterday they were singing songs which sounded pleasant. Today's songs are unpleasant. Why so?"

The mother said, "Son! This is no paean but an elegy. Yesterday, a son was born in the house. All were jubilant and celebrating. Today that son is dead. They are now lamenting his passing away."

Thavachaputra said: "Mother! What's it you're saying? A son was born yesterday and today he is no more! Shall I   too die?"

The mother said, "Son! That's the universal law. He who is born must someday die. Nobody lives for ever."

Thavachaputra said,"Is it so mother? Well, I don't want to live in a world haunted by death. I'd rather find immortality."

Thavachaputra renounced the world then and there and set forth in search of eternal life.

Not all people would be moved by songs of jubilation and mourning to set forth in search of immortality.

What is sought to be made clear here is that one man's inner state of mind may be different from another's and despite similarity in their outer circumstances. The inner climate is the chief differentiator among men and it is what makes them take to different paths. Some people turn towards violence, others take to non­violence. Those brought up in an atmosphere of non-violence become violent, and those bred in an atmosphere of extreme violence sometimes move towards non-violence.

Similarity of outer circumstances and dissimilarity of inner response - it is possible on that basis to move towards a complete psychological change. In ayurved are found two kinds of medicine: purificatory and suppressive. A disorder appears. It is cleaned out of the system. There is a definite process of purification which cures many diseases. This process is divided into three parts - vomiting, purgation, sweating - all serving to remove the disorder. The process of purification is an important process designed to uproot the disease altogether without any danger of a relapse.

The second process is that of suppression. In case of certain diseases it is not necessary to go in for a complete overhauling. These diseases are cured by sedatives. The intensity of the bile, for example, is diminished by the application of butter-oil. 'Giloi', 'gaduchi' are sedatives. Nothing is cleaned out of the system, but the disease stands allayed.

There are three kinds of bodily disorders caused by the excess of wind, of bile and of phlegm respectively. Similarly, the mind has its own disorders. According to Sankhya philosophy, Rajogun (luxuriousness, merry-making, exhibitionism, etc.) and Tamogun (darkness and ignorance) are two qualities of the mind which lead to a number of disorders.

These diseases of the mind are cured through purgation as well as sedation. To these two processes may be added that of dissolu­tion. So, from the spiritual point-of-view, three things are possible: cure by purgation or purification, by sedation or suppression, and by dissolution or decay. Diseases which are suppressed may re-emerge, but those dissolved are gone for ever.

Thus, the process of bringing about a change of heart may be divided into three parts. The first part is purgation or purification. We must learn how to purge our system of mental perversions. Let us learn the technique thereof. We want to change the mentality of violence. How do we go about it? We are convinced that the process of obviating restlessness leads to a transformation of conscious­ness. Yet the question remains as to how to end restlessness. What is the process, the precise method, the technique of it? When we talk of the technique, we have to go into the matter more deeply. There are innumerable truths around us, but we do not see any of them and we cannot even explain our conduct at any particular time.

A wife sat down to write a letter to her husband. She was completely fed up with being alone. Her husband had been away now for six months. She grew sentimental. Her eyes were filled with tears. She sat down to write. She had the pen in her hand and was writing on the pad. Tears were falling on the page. All her attention was fully concentrated on her writing. She was translating her feelings into words. It so happened that her husband returned just then. He saw his wife totally absorbed in writing and stood aside, watching silently. The wife went on writing, and the beloved whom she wrote to was standing near her. At last she finished writing, stitched the pages together and put them in an envelope. Then she put the address on the envelope and lifted her face in elation at having completed the task. It was only then that she saw her husband standing near her.

It happens like that quite often. The truths lie scattered all around, but man is so blurred in his vision that he sees nothing. He does not realise that the truth he is seeking, lies right in front of him.

Some men get their ears pierced. Women get ears and nose pierced. But they do not really know why. Getting the ears and the nose pierced is a common practice, but the background thereof is not known to many. The main reason behind getting women's ears and nose pierced was to control lust. So that desire might not become Licentiousness. It is all very scientific. At the points where piercing is done in the ear and the nose are situated subtle glands and these glands excite desire. The piercings serve to lessen the keenness of desire so as to keep it under control. But this scientific fact was quite lost sight of and it was commonly accepted that the ears are pierced for wearing tops, the nose is pierced to wear the nose-ring. The real purpose was forgotten.

A man's ears were pierced so as to restrain the activity of the testicles and that of the intestines. That was the main reason behind the custom of ear-piercing. But this was lost sight of and many men started getting their ears pierced so that they could wear ear-rings. Now-a-days of course men generally have dispensed with ear-piercing altogether.

A man follows a particular trend without understanding the reality behind it. There is a truth behind every custom and when that truth goes unperceived, the custom degenerates into a meaningless ritual.

All human beings breathe. Some take short breaths, others long. Some others' breath is even. These are three different situations. Long breath suggests one thing, short breath suggests something else, and even breathing something still different. We take breaths but we do not understand the significance thereof. So we never come to realize the truth about breathing. Breathing does not mean only sustaining life. Breath of course is life - but there is something more to it. The real significance of breath is that it serves as a means for establishing contact with both the outer and the inner world. The breath goes in, it also comes out. It is thus a part of the outer world, also a part of the inner world. Indeed, breath is probably the only thing in our make-up which is connected with both the inner and the outer world.

We want to do away with restlessness. The method thereof and the means lie before us. We need not look for these elsewhere. Let us learn the right technique of breathing.  As we proceed with perception of breath, we shall find our restlessness on the wane. Restlessness can thus be decreased by means of breath-perception. The man who starts observing his breath, gradually gets rid of restlessness altogether. As the practice of breath-perception grows more perfect, concentration increases. To say that one could completely get rid of one's disquiet by practising breath-perception for 4-5 days would be an idle exaggeration. But this can be truly asserted that breath-perception leads to greater control. About this there can be no doubt.

In the meditation camps various methods of breath-percep­tion are practised; the meditators practise these whole-heartedly. But if their practice is limited only to the duration of the camp, whatever gain they might have acquired during that period is soon lost. But if the practice is continued at home after the camp is over, self-realization is gradually attained until the devotee can rightly claim that he has full control over his restless mind, and that thought comes to him only if he invites it; it does not pester him otherwise. He is then able to utilize memory and imagination to good purpose in perfect freedom, without being in any way used by them. He enters a state of mind which transcends thought.

Breath-perception is one infallible method of ending the mind's restlessness.

I have no faith in mere doctrine. A doctrine without the technique of practising it is of little use. To talk about change without suggesting how to bring it about would be utterly futile. The man who does not want to be caught in futility has to discover the way. We talk about the necessity of change and we also suggest a method.

A saint delivered a long discourse on bringing about transfor­mation in oneself. He said, "We must speak the truth, we must shun anger, we must cultivate forgiveness, and we must be simple and non-acquisitive, etc." One of the audience said, "Sir! What you say is all very good. But how do we go about achieving it?" To this the saint had no answer. An uneasy silence prevailed.

There is a good deal of talk about changing oneself, but no method is suggested. It merely leads to hopelessness. I have no faith in such useless talk. Only when the path is clearly indicated, does the talk of bringing about a change become useful. Mere theory without practice leads nowhere.

We find ourselves in a muddle. But there is a way out of it. We must discover it and make use of it.

The question arises as to how we can diminish the effects of 'like and dislike' in everyday living. Our living is made up of these two elements - like and dislike - either we approve of a situation and want it to continue or we disapprove of it and want it to end. Each person is bound by this principle of pleasure and pain. It is not easy to get rid of it. But it is certainly not impossible. There is a way out.

He who wants to be free from both pleasant and unpleasant sensations, should concentrate on Jyoti Kendra (The Centre of Enlightenment). This is an important and well-tried device. The individual who has concentrated on Jyoti Kendra, with white, red or other colours as directed, invariably finds himself free from anger, pride, love and hate. He triumphs over the passions. Concentration on Prana Kendra (The Centre of Vitality) helps conquer negligence. Negligence leads to lack of enthusiasm, it deadens consciousness and renders it completely inactive. A panacea for all these ills is concentration on Prana Kendra. The man who achieves mastery over Prana Kendra through concentrated attention, becomes free from negligence. His mind is peaceful and free from restlessness. For him the materialistic impulses lose their vigour. Only that remains which is essential for life.

A meditator does not deny himself the necessities of life, but he steers clear of all superfluities. Let each one of us closely examine our life to find how much useful work we accomplish and how much time we spend in futilities. Let alone our whole lifetime, or even a year, let us take each day as it comes and note precisely how much work of real utility is done, and how much of our activity is utterly useless. It would not be an exaggeration to say that about 70 to 80 per cent of an average person's time is spent in doing things which are quite unnecessary.

To practise meditation does not mean that one becomes inactive and indolent—rather it means freedom from all that is futile and unnecessary, so that one can devote oneself to that which is essential with all one's energy unimpaired; so that the work in hand is accomplished more efficiently and with greater finesse and each succeeding work with still greater skill. Freedom from the unnec­essary and concentration on the necessary is the way to increasing dexterity. It is an indication of our proficiency, a sign of mental health.

The one important means of rooting out negligence and of achieving success is to concentrate one's attention on Prana Kendra (The Centre of Vitality) or Darshan Kendra (The Centre of Intuition).

There is still another problem—that of outward attraction, of temptation. Control of this is necessary and desirable. Attachment with material things must be counterbalanced with concern for inner development. What is required is a balanced approach, so that outward life proceeds smoothly without any inner turbulence. Man must not progress along a path which leads to certain destruc­tion. An achievement which threatens to annihilate mankind itself, cannot be said to be good or desirable.   The capacity to control destructive power is a must for the survival of mankind. The best means for restraining outward ambition, temptation and dissatisfaction is to concentrate on Vishuddhi Kendra (The Centre of Purity) and Anand Kendra (The Centre of Joy). Concentration on these two centres helps in the development of inner vision and in decreasing the force of outward temptation. Anand Kendra is the great door to inner felicity. The man who succeeds in activating this centre of joy, experiences for himself the great virtue of this centre as a powerful means of establishing contact between the outer and the inner world. By these means it becomes easier to enter the subtle world of the spirit.

I should like to conclude by re-emphasizing that to practise Preksha Meditation is not to become inert or futile. On the contrary, you will find at your disposal two swift horses—the truth of the doctrine and the truth of the practice. While expounding the doctrine, we also point out well-tried means towards mastering the truth thereof.

Title: The Art Of Positive Thinking
B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Reprint Edition:
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. Anand
  2. Anand Kendra
  3. Anger
  4. Centre of Enlightenment
  5. Centre of Intuition
  6. Centre of Purity
  7. Concentration
  8. Consciousness
  9. Darshan
  10. Darshan Kendra
  11. Environment
  12. Jyoti Kendra
  13. Kendra
  14. Meditation
  15. Non-violence
  16. Prana
  17. Prana Kendra
  18. Preksha
  19. Preksha Meditation
  20. Pride
  21. Sankhya
  22. Violence
  23. Vishuddhi Kendra
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