Peace Through Dialog 2007 - Samani Rohit Pragya : The Root Of Misery

Posted: 19.02.2008
Updated on: 23.03.2017

JAINA Convention 2007
Federation of Jain Associations In North America

 

The Root Of Misery


Samani Rohit Pragya
jvbnj(at)yahoo.com
 
Samani Rohit Pragya is M.A. in Jain Philosophy Comparative Religions, and M. Phil. In Jainology. She has participated in several seminars and conferences. A disciple of Acharya Mahapragya, she was initiated in to the Saman order in 2002.

Strange is the fact that the only entity that can experience pleasures and bliss stays entangled in the whirlpool of misery. When all crave for happiness and want to keep away from misery, then the problem arises why misery? Answer is that good goal is achieved only through good means. The means and goal should be equally revered. After sowing the seed of misery if one wants to get the fruit of happiness then how is it possible? Impure means never yield a pure end.

Where is the Peace?
Man has many beliefs and one of the strongest beliefs is More-is-better. It is the root of all ills. "More is better" is a twentieth century disease. This belief becomes a part of man's daily life. Man spends a lot of life energy on "More is better." Some of the signs for "more is better is the foundation of human life" are the following:

  1. He must be busy to be fulfilled.
  2. He must make more money than he currently is making.
  3. He must get a promotion to prove his worth.
  4. He must need to have more of every thing.

'More is better' keeps a man exclusively in the physical domain. Man's inner energy is concentrated on accumulations, acquisitions, rewards, trophies, approval and money. He does not know, there is no peace in this pursuit. The feeling of peace is there when we are facing away from 'More is better'.
In Uttaradhyayan sutra Lord Mahavir says:
He who is indifferent to the material world has no grief. He is not affected by the miseries of the world. He is like an unsullied lotus which rises above muddy water.

According to Mahavir's philosophy, happiness neither lies in the material objects nor in its enjoyment. Happiness lies in the individual's own attitude. If man learns to live within himself, he can find the greatest happiness available in the world. More desires mean more poverty. The poor is one who has lack and an ambitious person always has lack. On the other hand, the person who is satisfied in every way is the richest of all. This distinction of poor and wealthy person makes clear that poverty and prosperity are not related to the wealth but to a person's attitude. Unfortunately, in the blind race to make money for comforts and enjoyments, the distinction between the proper and improper means is also forgotten. These are the views of some spiritual or religious people. But some people are of the opposite view. They say that money alone is the root of all human ends. They make the money being inspired by such ideology.

Is wealth everything?

So far economics is concerned, it says that man is a social animal and in society wealth is very important. If wants are limited economic progress does not get its impetus. That's why for economical progress unlimited nature of wants is essential. "Man is a social animal" against the backdrop of this thought it is not unjustified for economics to adopt the policy of unlimited wants. But is man only a social animal? Is he not a person? Does he not experience the sensation of pain and pleasure? Do unlimited wants not cause him stress physical and mental? Does the desire, hidden behind the vast ocean of wants, not upset hormonal balance and cause perversions of the mind? If not so, only then we can accept implicitly, the vastness of wants. When we see a man with a human perspective we can not accept, implicitly the unlimited nature of wants. So, not only religious but also from the human perspective, it is essential to control wants.

Lord Mahavir never talked of non-possessiveness for a social man. This is possible only for a monk. He postulated the limitation of cravings for a householder. Economics gives more importance for consumption of luxury items because it fosters social and economic development; it improves the standard of living. On the other hand it is also a fact that the more consumption increases inequality in the society; it gives negative effect on the poor and intensifies the instincts of aversion and hatred in the poor. So wealth is something but not everything. Main thing is the humanity which can build a beautiful peaceful and harmonious society.

Root of other ills

In Jainism we find the principle of triple "A". It means Ahimsa, Aparigrah, and Anekant. Universal love for all living beings, minimizing wants and possession and respecting all view points, these are the key elements of Jainism. Practice of ahimsa is not possible without practicing aparigrah. Man with excess possession cannot lead non-violent life because the possession themselves are made through violent means. Greed is one which prods man in to the activities of earning money. With the expansion of these activities greed also grows. The more wealthy the person is, the greater his desire for wealth. While satisfying his own desires he does not care if he ruins the happiness of others. He forgets the fact that just as he likes happiness and loathes sufferings, others also do so. Everybody wants to live an independent life. Nobody likes domination by others. But, nevertheless a person, attached to a possession, takes hold of the other poor people and accumulates fortune, engaging them forcibly in his service. Not only killing but hurting other beings and snatching other's independence is also a kind of violence. Thus it is fact that the cause of violence is also possession or greed. Defining the parigrah Lord says " muccha pariggaho vutto" means attachment is the parigrah. On the basis of this definition anekant is also not possible without aparigrah because Anekant means attitudinal non attachment. So in logical language we can say that conjunction of these three (A.A.A) is equal to Jainism. Sigmund Freud said sex is the basic instinct but it is a partial truth. The whole truth is that behind each and every evil greed works. The passions like anger, pride and deceit are also the sub production of greed. It is considered to be a major vice that leads one to other dangerous vices. In spite of being aware of all these undesirable consequences, in sway of attachment to material things and wealth, one can not renounce them. As a result of this infatuation, he is afflicted with fear. He is also tormented by the lust for living and the fear of death. It is this state which is responsible for mutual conflicts in social life. Not only this much but many physical and mental diseases are also the result of greed. Uncontrolled desires are the cause for ecological pollution too. For his own comforts and for the satisfaction of his needs man builds big industries and houses, uses many vehicles. The three principal elements of living, earth, water and air are getting excessively polluted by misuse of them.

In conclusion it can be said that violence, anger, pride, deceit, fear, social conflicts ecological loss, and the physical and mental diseases are the bitter fruits of that tree whose seed is greed or possessiveness or the belief "More is better". So limiting one's desires not only leads to a life of contentment and happiness but also makes one a friend of the environment and good citizen of the universe.

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