The Art Of Positive Thinking: Positive Thinking

Published: 13.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Hitherto we have been discussing ways and means of bringing about a complete change of heart. There is nothing in this world which is constant; everything is liable to change. The heart also undergoes a transformation. The question arises as to the validity of a long discussion on the subject. However, intelligent discussion has its own significance. "Change of heart!"—we are here conducting an experiment with a particular end in view. By "change of heart" we do not mean mere replacement of one heart by another. This transplanting is the surgeon's job. They transplant an artificial heart in place of the defective organ and help a man live longer.

A man and his wife paid a visit to the doctor. The husband suffered from heart disease; he had strokes from time to time. After examination, the doctor said, "The heart will have to be operated upon. I'll put a strong heart in place of the damaged one."

The operation was performed. The diseased heart was replaced. The man was restored to health.

After some days, the wife visited the doctor again. The doctor asked, 'How is your husband? Quite well, I hope? The heart is working smoothly, is it?" The wife said, "Doctor! My husband is in good health. The heart is functioning all right. But he is certainly somewhat changed. He makes false promises, which he never keeps. He never did so before!" The doctor exclaimed, "Oh, I'm sorry I acted in a hurry. After taking out your husband's heart I replaced it with that of a politician!—the one that was immediately available."

Mere replacement of one organ by another is not what we mean by heart-change. By change of heart here, we mean the ending of negative emotions and awakening of positive thinking. Inside every man flow two streams of thought—negative-destructive and positive-constructive. Hatred, envy, malice and attachment are all negative emotions. A stream of these emotions is flowing within. Friendship, non-violence, tolerance, straightforwardness and com­passion are all positive feelings and a stream of these emotions also flows within. Both these streams are to be found in every man. However, in the world as it is, negative emotions have more oppor­tunities to manifest themselves than the positive ones. Having innumerable contributory factors, negative emotions arise almost effortlessly. Our actions are not casual or abrupt. If someone is assailed by anger, we think it is a mere accident. But no emotion descends upon us suddenly. If someone is consumed by hatred, it cannot be said to be accidental. All these emotions abide within us constantly. A stream of these emotions is flowing within us for ever. As soon as an occasion offers itself, these emotions manifest themselves. It is not a question of fresh creation; only a manifesta­tion of something which is already there. There is manifestation, no origination. Negative emotions already exist within, though they manifest themselves only when some occasion offers itself.

Everything is invested with two meanings—express and inef­fable; the obvious and the occult. The ineffable becomes effable and what is obvious is sometimes not manifested. The stream of passions is invisible, subtle. But when an occasion offers itself, it stands manifested. This manifestation we call conduct. No conduct or behaviour can be fully explained in terms of its manifestation. It can be adequately explained only on the basis of feeling underlying it. One's conduct indicates what kind of feeling is flowing within. A person who flares up every minute, who becomes easily excited, is fearful or ridden by pride, may be said to be dominated by negative thinking. Another person who is tolerant, forgiving and humble, who is disciplined and free from pride, who is full of affection and goodwill, is clearly impelled by positive, constructive thinking. It is no mere accident. Behind each positive, constructive approach there is conscious and creative effort. It is surprising how different manifestations occur sometimes in total disregard of the occasion. Manifestations conforming to a prevailing occasion cause no sur­prise. But manifestations incompatible with and even contrary to the occasion do. For example, the arising of anger in the context of forgiveness or the manifestation of forgiveness when confronted with anger. It does indeed cause surprise.

There is a tale relating to the temple of Goddess Sheetla. A crow alighted on the temple and settled down. The Goddess said, "How are you, friend? What brings you here?" The crow cantankerously rejoined, "Why, can't one come and sit here? Is this ground your sole property?" A little later the crow started filling the spot with dung. The Goddess said, "Friend crow, your dung drops today are rather cold." The crow instantly flared up and said, "You befriend a bird that sheds warm dung. I've no wish to stay here any longer." And the crow flew away.

There is absolutely no offence in Goddess Sheetla's talk. She was perfectly tranquil. But the crow was full of offence and felt affronted for no cause whatsoever. Even when addressed affably, he flared up. Thus we see forgiveness and charity giving rise to anger. We also witness at times forgiveness welling up in the face of growing indignation. Efforts arc made to excite anger, but no anger manifests itself. There are numerous instances of sages and seers keeping their balance and meeting gross anger and insult with perfect grace and forgiveness. They never react or display anger despite repeated provocation.

A great saint of Maharashtra called Eknath went to take his bath in the stream. As he came out of the stream, a miscreant spat on him. The saint went back for a dip in the stream to wash off the defilement. But as soon as he started on his way back home, the miscreant repeated his act of desecration and the saint was obliged to have a bath again. This went on for a while. For twentyone times, the man spat on the saint as soon as the latter came out of the stream and each time the saint went back for a purificatory bath. At last the man gave up in despair and prostrated himself before the saint, seeking forgiveness for his misconduct. The saint took him up in his arms and embraced him and said, "Brother! You are a great friend of mine. Usually I have a dip in the bosom of Mother Godavari once a day, but today with your cooperation, I had the good fortune to renew myself in the sacred waters twentyone times. I feel blessed. You are my benefactor!"

How is it that certain things come to pass despite factors which are not conducive to them? That certain things happen despite apparently unfavourable circumstances only goes to prove that irresistible inward feeling manifests itself in outside behaviour. Other factors become secondary and ineffective. The first cause reigns supreme. Inward feeling is the primary thing, the first cause. As long as the individual docs not get within himself through meditation, as long as he does not delve deep so as to touch his innermost being, the outer influences play a disproportionate role and the man is dominated by these. But the man who, through meditation, comes to know his inner being, who is intimately acquainted with the moving spirit within, transcends outside influences.

In ancient literature are mentioned ten kinds of dharma, four or twelve kinds of concentrated observation and countless ways of enlightenment. These multiple expositions serve to help the seeker to establish direct contact with the inner spirit, the inmost being, so as to awaken pure and concentrated consciousness.

What distinguishes a meditator from a non-meditator, the man of religion from the non-religious, is the fact that a meditator, through self-observation, is ever activating and intensifying his constructive vision. The one who does not do so and instead wallows in the stream of negative emotions is rightly called irreligious. That is the only distinction between the religious and the non-religious, between a meditator and a non-meditator. Only on that basis can a man's behaviour and conduct be truly explained.

Thoughtful people all over the world arc concerned over the incidents of growing violence, untruth, envy and malice and con­tinual increase in the number of thefts and dacoities, rapes and debaucheries. Crime is increasing day by day, lawlessness and aggression grow unchecked, imperialistic mentality is spreading far and wide. They wonder what is behind it all. Considering the prevailing mentality, it can be safely asserted that man's life today is more dominated by negative emotions. Within each individual two streams flow for ever—positive-constructive and negative-destruc­tive. However, if negative emotions are more active, it leads to greater violence in society, and the question arises as to what is more predominant in man—the positive approach or the negative one, constructive or destructive feeling. It is a complex problem requir­ing a patient enquiry.

There is the story of Shukraj (the Parrot-Chief) going to meet the King. The two held a dialogue, and the King was greatly awed by Shukraj's wisdom. On the King's enquiring about the reason for his late arrival, Shukraj told him how he had got involved in a case brought before him by two members of his race.

Two parrots had approached Shukraj with a problem. One of them held that there were more anuses than mouths in the world, while the other asserted that there were as many anuses as mouths - neither more nor less. What was the truth? Shukraj argued all those who have mouths have also anuses, and vice versa. However, there are men who go back on their word, deny what they themselves have uttered with their own tongue. Such people cannot be said to have a tongue or a mouth at all; they have only an anus; they have no virtue in them, only vile refuse. So one might affirm there are more anuses in the world than mouths.

Similarly there are more negative emotions prevailing in the world today. Actually it should have been the other way round. The more desirable thing would have been to have more of positive and constructive thinking or at least some worthwhile equation between the positive and the negative approach. However, the stream of negative emotions is more powerful and more active. Consequently, we find in the world a great deal of incongruity of speech, feeling and conduct. In the face of strong negative emotions, constructive feelings cannot survive. That is precisely man's great problem. It requires a serious effort on the part of each individual to bring about a complete change of heart. That effort implies a willing acceptance of beliefs and practices which further the development of a constructive outlook before which negative emotions pale into insignificance.

Nothing can be abruptly wiped out. It is not easy to root out what has become long established.   We see this principle in operation in everyday life. Gazetted officers cannot be retired before their tenure is over. If the government attempts to do so, the law courts come to the rescue of the affected officer. The service of a suspended officer is restored. The government is bound by the decision of the court. The government cannot suspend an officer arbitrarily; it can only transfer a person to a place where, without being actually suspended, he strongly feels the taste of suspension.

Similar is the condition of negative emotions. These have been so long established that it is not easy to dislodge them or suspend them altogether. However, these can be deprived of their primacy and relegated to a subordinate position. When the positive vision is strong, the negative approach loses its potency. The only way to strengthen the constructive approach is through impartial observa­tion, by seeing things as they are. In calm observation, the stream of positive thinking regains its primacy of itself and negative thinking becomes a thing of little importance.

Acharya Vagbhat defined health and illness as follows: "The evenness of humours constitutes health whereas their incongruity makes for ill-health." There are three humours in the body: the wind, the bile and the phlegm. The mind has two flaws - intemper­ance and ignorance. To annihilate them altogether is to court death itself. Generally, a man thinks in terms of annihilation. One who suffers from the wind, dreams of doing away with the wind alto­gether; likewise the man suffering from the bile or the phlegm. However, divested of the wind, the bile and the phlegm, the body cannot survive. All the three humours are necessary for life. There is no need to work for the removal of any one of them. What is required is to maintain them in an even degree. The disparity between them is what constitutes disorder. The excess of wind gives rise to one kind of disease, and the excess of bile or phlegm produces another kind. Likewise their deficiency gives rise to a still another set of maladies. The excess or deficiency of any one of the humours leads to disorder. The disproportion between these humours consti­tutes disease, but their existence in the body in right proportion, their equilibrium, is health itself. Health means, perfect balance - nothing in excess or deficient, the maintenance of all that is necessary for life. According to Acharya Sri Tulsi, life is nothing but humours in perfect equilibrium.

Regarding psychological disorders, one might safely assert that as we are constituted today, the state of complete detachment is for the time being unimaginable. If attachment goes, life would not be as we live it now; it would be a different kind of life altogether. Life, as we know it, cannot go on without attachment. And with 'attachment', with 'like', goes 'dislike' and 'aversion'.   Like and dislike, love and hatred may be described in the language of Charak or in terms of Sankhya philosophy as rajas [1] and tamas [2]. The attribute of rajas is equivalent to 'like', and that of tamas to 'dislike'. These two attributes are the motivating principles of our life; without these, life would be impossible. A person totally free from the passions and affections will never be able to run a shop. Whether the goods arc pilfered from the shop or duly sold to the customer is all the same to him. In course of time, the business will have to be wound up.

If a kevali (a person freed from passions) becomes the leader of the government, that government would pass into other hands in no time. The kevali is impartial—he is not attached; nor does he entertain any malice towards any person. He is above like and dislike. Such a person cannot run the government. He is not troubled by thoughts of foreign aggression, nor is he worried about the territorial rights. If someone occupies the Himalayas, he is not disturbed, and the usurpation of whole parts by someone leaves him indifferent. He transcends all limitations. The whole of life on earth and in society is directed by two humours - like and dislike. It might surprise you to hear mo declare a kevali unfit to govern a state. But I am presenting before you a bare fact. Recognising this fact, the Jain Masters coined phrases such as 'auspicious attachment' and 'in­auspicious attachment", 'auspicious aversion' and 'inauspicious aversion'. Gautam was greatly attached to Mahavir. Who could find fault with such attachment? Where the object of attachment is a person like Mahavir, it could not be called bad. So the Acharya called it 'auspicious or purified attachment'. This would be acceptable; it could not be repudiated, for without it life could not go on. Devotion is essential for life to be meaningful. Love and attachment are a source of inspiration. These must not be denied. So the agamas lay down that the mind of a religious person is imbued with love and devotion. A person so attached cannot be said to be a kevali. But such attachment has been recognized as 'auspicious attachment'.

So both attachment and aversion can be auspicious. A master was reprimanding his disciple. The disciple had done something wrong. And the master scowled at him, his eyes red with anger. The disciple was trembling. Here is a condition of 'auspicious aversion'.

Thus both attachment and aversion can be auspicious or inauspicious. Someone imbued by hatred or contempt administers a reproof. Another's love is totally dominated by lust.  There are innumerable ways in which love and hatred, like and dislike reflect themselves. It is difficult to give up auspicious attachment or auspicious aversion; almost impossible. I am not here talking of making possible the impossible. I am not asking you to evolve a different kind of consciousness through meditation, in which all like and dislike is dissolved. Such dissolution is possible; but only at a very advanced stage. Total freedom from like and dislike is possible in due course, but we are talking of the present. At present, constituted as we are, it is not possible to be totally free from attachment or aversion.

Many people wonder if all became emancipated through medi­tation, how could life go on? I say, don't worry about that right now. The more important thing at the moment is to observe how the wind and the bile and the phlegm have grown out of proportion and our malady has become acute. How to control it? How to restore the balance? How to keep the humours in a state of equilibrium so as to maintain good health? That is the challenge of the moment. Because of attachment, all our psychological problems are multiply­ing. How to get rid of them should be our chief concern. There are two kinds of diseases: physical and psychological Physical dis­eases flow from the incongruity of the wind, the bile and the phlegm in the organism. There are other diseases whose source is the psyche. Lust, anger, envy, etc. are psychological perversions that cause much harm.

We talk of spiritual practices of meditation, the transformation of the mind and evolution of a positive and constructive approach, because the human mind today is in a state of disequilibrium, oppressed by countless problems. There is the imbalance caused by attachment and aversion—we are too much attached to certain things, and too much repelled by others. There are impurities caused by attachment and those caused by aversion. The imbalance thereof is the root cause of psychological fear and mental perver­sions. It is essential to restore equilibrium here. This is possible through meditation.

Let us make use of the above-mentioned ways to bring about an equation between attachment and aversion, so as to maintain good health; so that we may attain mental peace at least. We may or may not become kevalis—full freedom from passions is just not possible under the present circumstances; it requires an altogether different background—let us forget complete emancipation for the moment. A spiritual practitioner has to procure sustenance for himself and to ensure the welfare of society and the nation. He is attached to himself, to society and the country at large. And as long as he is so attached, there is no possibility of freedom from passions. This is also true that people who come here for meditation have no intention whatsoever of becoming kevalis though salvation contin­ues to be the ultimate goal. But we are just now going through the initial stage.

If all those attending Preksha meditation camps come here with the intention of becoming Veetarags (sages who have subdued their passions), it might produce a stalemate. The entire organisation of society will be upset. Parents would hesitate to send their sons and daughters to Preksha Meditation camps. If their wards returned home as Veetarags, indifferent to participation in the activities of everyday life, attending camps would be a profitless undertaking. The husband, the wife, mothers and fathers, and sons and daugh­ters would be of no use to the family. People would stop attending Preksha Meditation camps. Those who attend these camps have no intention of becoming Veetarags. They are primarily interested in getting rid of their physical and mental diseases, so as to maintain themselves in perfect health. Let all incongruity dissolve, let there be balance, let diseases fly, let there be perfect health—that is the only objective of the practitioners of Preksha Meditation.

What is called health, or freedom from diseases, in the language of ayurved is known as equanimity in the language of spirituality. They are one and the same. The masters of ayurved have given a beautiful definition of health: 'The equilibrium of humours is good health', they say. But how to achieve equableness? The only means lies through ceaseless attention, through the evolution of a mind given for ever to positive and constructive thinking. The elements of positive and constructive approach are - truth, forgiveness, tender­ness and sincerity. But these are mere aphorisms, words. Will mere reiteration of these words make a man tender or sincere? Will cruelty or illusion vanish of itself? Such an expectation is bound to fail. The word is a convenient symbol for the thing, not the thing itself. The right choice of words has great psychological significance. The words no longer remain words but represent a positive and constructive vision. Positive attitudes which lie buried deep in the subconscious are not palpable; they cannot be known. Words like truth, forgiveness, etc. serve as a link to establish contact with the reality within. The Master's expositions are perfectly valid. If one gets down to the feeling inherent in the word 'truth', it would awaken in one the constructive vision. Similarly, a descent into the depths of words like 'sweetness' and 'sincerity' will help awaken the positive attitudes latent therein. Here let me share with you an important fact. The Master's saying is for ever a kind of spell, an incantation. An Acharya is a magician. He initiates his followers into an eternal secret.  A spell is something occult, mysterious. Something about it remains hidden, unrevealed. It is never wholly clear. The whole truth about it is known by the Master alone. He alone may communicate the whole truth to another. At times it seems everything has been revealed, but later one finds that nothing is really intelligible. The key to the secret remains with the Master.

We learn about the attitudes. We also know the words representing those attitudes, but we do not know how to establish contact between the two. One who practises Preksha Meditation becomes acquainted with this secret—which is wakefulness, an emotional rapport, unceasing awareness, constant mindfulness. The manifestation of a particular quality or humour demands constant practice, eternal vigilance. Working by fits and starts, remembering it now and letting it slumber for long periods, would not be conducive to its manifestation.

Ceaseless and total attention is important. A drop here and there would not do, what is required is an unceasing flow. Generally a spiritual practitioner would practise meditation spasmodically, devoting himself to it now and then, sitting down to meditation when the mood takes him, and abstaining from it for months together. Such intermittent practice yields no fruit. For success, continuity of practice is essential. Whatever quality we wish to manifest, or develop, we must give it our alert and incessant attention. Only constant endeavour will bring about the needed transformation.

Incessant awareness, eternal wakefulness is the spell that takes us directly to the inner world of the spirit.

A word is like a spell. Every word is a charm. To negate fate, the Jain Masters have spelled out different kinds of charms. For weakening the effect of actions hindering full knowledge, they have given us the incantation anantgianibhyonam (i.e. Obeisance to the possessors of infinite knowledge!), for actions hindering direct experiencing, the incantation, anantdarshanibhyonam (Obeisance to endless experiencing!) and for the removal of all kinds of ob­stacles, the incantation, anantviryabhyonam (Obeisance to inex­haustible power!). There does not seem to be any mystery in these maxims, yet all these reperesent knowledge, direct experience and power. If we can be, at all times, open to limitless knowledge, endless experience and inexhaustible power, the resulting spell would become so powerful as to inculcate all these qualities within us.

Today hypnotherapists and psychiatrists give some words to the patient for continuous reiteration. The patient is required to repeat those words at all times, awake and asleep, eating and drinking. The idea behind it is that by constant repetition, you are ever mindful and the disease is likely to reach its culmination sooner and dissolve, thus marking the beginning of freedom from disease, and of good health. One ayurvedic aphorism runs as follows: "Time gradually reaches its point of culmination." That marks the begin­ning of a timeless state.

In order to evolve a constructive approach, ceaseless awareness is essential. By observing continually, by constant watchfulness, we can strengthen the positive and constructive urges within us and reduce the force of negative and destructive thinking.

Footnotes
1:

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2:

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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. Acharya
  2. Agamas
  3. Anger
  4. Ayurvedic
  5. Body
  6. Consciousness
  7. Cooperation
  8. Dharma
  9. Equanimity
  10. Fear
  11. Kevali
  12. Kevalis
  13. Maharashtra
  14. Mahavir
  15. Meditation
  16. Non-violence
  17. Preksha
  18. Preksha Meditation
  19. Preksha Meditation Camps
  20. Pride
  21. Rajas
  22. Sankhya
  23. Tamas
  24. Tolerance
  25. Tulsi
  26. Violence
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