The Composite Path Of Faith

Posted: 05.11.2009

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The kernel of a fruit always remains within its shell. To think of the development of the kernel outside the shell is to close our eyes to reality. One kilogram of oranges contain half a kilogram of shells. We purchase oranges knowing that half of the weight of them will be that of the shells. And the kernel cannot develop except within the shell.

The outward forms of religion are like the shell of a fruit. The essence of religion which is the joy of self-realization is like the kernel. No one can experience the joy of self-realization in a vacuum. Self-realization comes as a culmination of a long process of spiritual practice which is given a support, as it were, by the prescribed routine of conduct. It is wrong to think that a prescribed routine of conduct is antithetical to the realization of the self and bliss. It is like a boat which we abandon on reaching the shore. A voyager cannot cross the ocean without a boat, nor can he afford to abandon it in the middle of the voyage.

We should try to assess the value of the outward form of religion from the relativist point of view. The outward form of a religion is discarded only when we have attained the goal of selfrealization.

Celebacy or Brahmacharya is like the shell of a fruit and the joy of self-realization is like its essence or kernel. It is true that the two are not identical. But it is also true that the one leads to the other. Once the self has been realized there remains no more need of Brahmacharya.

Consciousness is composed of knowledge, bliss and strength. It remains hidden in the beginning and unfolds itself through sadhana or spiritual exertion. Sadhana consists of right perception, right knowledgs and right conduct. The central thing is right perception which is a condition of the development of the remaining two. Right knowledge and right conduct can be achieved only through right perception. There is, however, one point to note. Right perception is not right knowledge. Which takes a long time to develop. Right perception destroys the false appearances or illusions of the mind which we wrongly take to be knowledge. Similarly, right perception does not produce right knowledge all of a sudden. It simply removes the curtain which hides right conduct. Unobstructed knowledge paves the way to right conduct.

Similarly, right conduct does not automatically flow from right perception. It is the outcome of self-realization. It ensues from that state in which the self becomes centred into itself. Right perception by itself does not lead to self-realization.

The veils and passions which surround the glory of the soul will disappear only when the self has been realized. Right perception by itself does not destroy the veils and passions. If such a thing were possible, there will be no need of a prolonged Sadhana which is necessary even after the attainment of right perception. Moreover, right perception by itself does not produce right knowledge. Right perception by itself does not stop the influx of karma-particles in the soul. To sum up, the stoppage of the influx of karma particles in the soul comes after right knowledge and right knowledge comes after right perception. There is no short-cut. A prolonged practice in spiritual exertion is separately needed for the attainment of all the three ideals.

Bhagwan Mahavira possessed right perception. He practised a long penance of twelve and a half years even after he had attained right conduct.

There are some who say that there is no need of fasting, the daily Samayika, etc. after one has achieved right perception. They also assert that tradition and scriptures have no meaning for the who has attained right perception. Such people create only distrust in tradition and the scriptures. They cannot inspire the creativity of the soul or consciousness.

A combined pursuit of right perception, right knowledge and right conduct is necessary for the development of a creative consciousness. For the attainment of this ideal the sadhana or spiritual practitioner has to go beyond the outer forms of religion towards the blissful stage of self-realization. But, anyhow, he will have to pass through the outer forms which are necessary steps leading to self-realization. They are, however, not the ends in themselves.

The pragmatists think that events are produced by instrumental causes only and that the manifestations of the soul are the only reality. They do not admit the necessity of efficient causes and of the self. The realists do not attach any importance to both the efficient causes and the self. For them the instrumental causes and the manifestations of the self have no meaning. Both the views are extremist views. As there is no coordination between them they stand as points of view or doctrines only. The truth is that instrumental causes do influence everything including the efficient causes so far as they enter into the field of operation of the former. Things which remain outside this field are not at all influenced by instrumental causes. The whole confusion arises due to identifying the two stages. The stage of the observance of the outer forms of religion is the ground where the instrumental and efficient causes on the one hand and the pure self and its material and mental manifestations meet each other. When the stage of self-realization has been arrived at, which is a natural stage, the spirit begins to shine in its own glory where it does not meet with anything else other than itself. This stage is an ideal stage. No instrumental cause will operate at this stage. The instrumental causes operate only at the first stage.

Man reacts to situations. The common man finds it difficult to attain the subtle, and therefore, he remains attached to gross things only. One who desires self-development looks to and remains dissatisfied with gross things. Too much devotion to subtle things breeds aversion which brings us back to the gross and viceversa.

This is the natural consequence of a one-side or doctrinaire philosophy. What we, therefore, need is a balanced pursuit of gross and subtle ideals. The end always remains beyond the means and is difficult to achieve. What is needed is to pass trough the grossest to the grosser and from the grosser to the gross. This leads us to the threshold of the subtle.

A man who warms himself by sitting before a fire does not feel cold. Heat and cold are mutually opposed entities. One who likes to live in darkness cannot get light because the two are opposed to each other. The pure soul lives in a state of inactivity. This sate is our ideal. Activity is the opposite of inactivity. We cannot be active by remaining inactive. Every end requires its appropriate means. The end and the means are qualitatively one.

In the last analysis the two ideals are not mutually opposed. Inactivity is not a negative thing. It means the passing of a thing from one activity to another. If there is no activity, we are not left in a state of vacuum. An inactive thing does not cease to exist. Similarly, that which exists must be active. Reality is active. It cannot be explained except in terms of activity. A liberated soul continues to be active. Of course, it ceases to perform a few kinds of actions. It is said to be inactive in this sense only. It ceases to perform acts like eating, but as it possesses knowledge, it remains active. It may not enjoy material objects, but it remains in bliss.

Our existence implies activity and it will always do so. It is the nature of man to be active. In the course of our being active one action is succeeded by another and so on. The former action, when it is over and has been replaced by another, is said to be inaction, because it is already over.

We therefore, come to the conclusion that actions create bondage as well as enable us to achieve freedom from bondage. In other words, a particular kind of freedom can be achieved by a particular kind of activity only. We go on passing from one activity to another, As such it simply recommends one kind of activity as against another. Activity, when it reaches a subtle stage, ceases to be gross activity. But it would be suicidal to give up gross actions before we have reached the accomplishment of subtle action

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