Jainism: The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment ► 06.2 Procedures for Purification of Soul (2)

Posted: 29.09.2011

Aparigraha and Achorya

Minimising one's requirement is the prime requirement of realizing the transient nature of worldly possessions. Aparigraha and Achorya are the two sides of the same coin. One really does not need much to survive and possession is a bandh, a kind of hurdle in spiritual progress. Again, aparigrah (or non-hoarding) should be practiced at various levels; Possessing only those things which are needed and minimizing one's requirement is only the first step. At a deeper level, when one realizes that all the souls are one, and the whole of the universe is manifestation of the Self, the whole universe belongs to him. It becomes meaningless to possess anything, much less steal it, if the whole universe belongs to one. If one is indulging in stealing, the one thought which should come to mind is that if the same thing is stolen from him, how much hurt will he feel. According to laws of Karma, if one steals something from others, the same is bound to happen to him one day or the other. This is reason enough to refrain from stealing. Not for the fear of loss, but the main reason to refrain from excessive possession and stealing is that they bind one very tightly to mohaniya karma.

The Essentials

Once a seeker has decided that the path of the Mokṣa is to be pursued his attitude towards himself and others changes and he becomes inclined to practice the five Mahāvrats. For a true seeker, the five Mahāvrats mentioned above, are to be observed lifelong but it is difficult to practice them rigorously due to various reasons we encounter in our daily life. It is therefore essential to review our behaviour and correct it. For this reason a few daily rituals are prescribed as "Essentials" (Āvashyak). These rituals include sāmāyik and pratikraman. Sāmāyik is a word derived from samayika which means attaining a state of equanimity. One must sit in a stable, motionless posture and meditate or devote time for dharma-dhyān. It entails physical control of body accompanied by mental control, seeking forgiveness for any violations of any mahāvrats or for any hurt caused to any living being. It is prescribed to be practiced for 48 minutes, a muhurt determined from a day of 24 hours divided in 30 parts based on biorhythms, but one can mentally stay in that mode, while conducting other duties, as long as one desires.

Pratikraman (returning to self) is usually performed in morning or evening, withdrawing your energy inwards from various activities performed during the night and day and asking for forgiveness for any acts of commission and omission. It is essentially opposite or reverse of ākraman, meaning attack.

In both these activities seeking mangal (wellbeing) of everyone and seeking forgiveness from those who have been hurt by your actions are the main objectives. This helps dissolving jnānāvarniya and darśanāvarniya karmas.

Prayers

Prayer connects the self to the cosmic energy. Psychological effects of prayers are immense. It is the first step towards acquiring mental peace and samyakatva. They prepare one better to face the worldly situations, especially if they are adverse, with confidence and optimism. Prayers should not be ritualistic and should be performed in the simplest possible way, bearing in mind that the wish to pray is prayer itself. It should however be noted that prayers cannot dissolve the karmas which one has earned, no matter how intense the prayers are. Even Arihants have no powers to absolve one of his past karmas, good or bad. All they can do is to show the right path and thus refrain one from acquiring fresh binding karmas. One should therefore pray only to get the right direction and for conviction for right action and not for some worldly benefits. Demanding or expecting material or even spiritual benefits by praying to anyone binds one to mohaniya karma and therefore prayer should only be made for purifying the self.


Yoga

Yoga literally means union. A system can be strengthened by union with other systems, by addition of other faculties or we can say by the process of Yoga. It can be applied in different contexts. For example when mind, speech, body and soul can act in an additive mode, i.e. in unison, it makes one of the most powerful systems and can lead to emancipation (Mokṣa). Even when the process is applied to anyone of them, say body, and all the cells of the body work in an additive mode, i.e. in unison (or resonance), it can become an extremely powerful agent for achieving a goal. Yoga of body cells can be achieved by Tapa or Bhakti. Similarly when all the neurons in the brain can be joined together or work in unison, the mind can become very powerful. Likewise, when conscious, subconscious and superconscious minds are united by yoga or meditation, a new insight in to the functioning of the universe is attained. Yoga consists of several practices (yama, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and samadhi).Yama is designed for mental purification and consists of ahimsa, satya, asteya, Brahmacharya, aparigrah, the five Mahāvrats discussed above. Niyam is designed for purification of the body, and includes shauch (cleanliness), santosh (satisfaction), tapa, swādhyāya, prānidhan (total dedication to the cosmic power). Once body and mind are purified, the third aspect of yoga, Yogasanas can help establish connection between body and mind through nervous system. Some of the asanas recommended for this purpose are Bhujangāsan, sarvāngāsan, halāsan, shavāsan and padmāsan. Goduhāsan increases the virya and provides energy required for difficult physical, mental and spiritual goals. The idea of various yogāsans is to increase the flow of blood in the corresponding points of various chakras. Yogasans must be accompanied by pranayam (enhancement and control of prāna shakti). Some aspects of the other stages of yoga i.e. pratyāhar, dhāranā, dhyān and Samādhi will be discussed later on. The yoga thus provides a path to achieve Mokṣa. Cultivating spiritual consciousness requires activation of Kundalini, which is the Vagus tenth cranial nerve, lying dormant in the Manipur chakra. Meditation in various postures can activate the Kundalini by flow of blood and energy. Thus it is essential to sit in padmāsan, vajrāsan or sukhāsan with erect spinal cord, as straight as an arrow, to enter in to meditation.

Tapa (penance)

Tapa is the practice of austerity or penance. The main goal of these austerities is to awaken the dormant powers of the body and to break various habits which are formed because of the bonds between various sensory organs (indriyas) and conscious and subconscious mind (mana and chetanā) and to dissolve past karmas. Habits create obstructions in keeping the mind alert. It is the first step towards purifying body and mind. Simple mortification of body may not be of much help and the essential requirement is that tapas should be practiced with the purpose of meditation on the ātmā. Tapas are of two types: external and internal. External tapas are of six types (anshan, unodari, vrittisankshep, rasparityāg, sanyam and sanleentā). All these tapas are equally applicable to all the indriyas and are not just confined to food. Because of the fast and continuing mental evolution of the human mind (mana), which is not yet fully mature, the requirement of all the indriyas is controlled by mind and not by actual physical need. The requirements assessed by mind is therefore virtual and not real. Mind thus acts as an undesirable and interfering agency between requirement and fulfilment of the physical needs of various indriyas. Anshan helps in assessing the actual physical need of each indriya i.e. hunger, sex, speech, vision, smell etc. Jainism firmly believes that state of mind depends on food one takes. No food can lead to the state of no-mind. Anshan begins with eating sātvik food, fasting at various levels, from eating only once a day to observing fast for one day (Apvās: Appā means ātmā and Vās means to stay with it) or more (two, three, eight or ten days) and then to a month and beyond. Contrary to the general belief, it is not only possible but quite easy to fast for days together. At physical level, this helps all the cells of the body to unite and act in unison, hunger or want of nourishment being the uniting motivation; on mental level, it unites the brain and body, on consciousness level, it helps one to live worry free and meditate, because food is a distraction in meditation. The other forms of tapa are taking salt and oil free food for a day (Āyambil) or more (Oli) and there are many forms varying from a month to a year of taking meals of a particular type with a particular schedule Varshitapa,Vardhmān tapa etc). Fasting unto death (Sanlekhanā or Santhārā is the extreme tapa which completely removes fear of death.

Death has a special significance in Jainism because it is the doorway to another life. It should not be considered as an end in itself but a beginning of next life. One should meditate and watch oneself dying rather than make efforts to continue it beyond its utility. Sanlekhanā is a sure way to witness one's own death. The last state of mind has much to do with the next birth. Fear of death and any form of grasping, yearning, longing and any trace of attachment to physical and mental relationships (worldly possessions and near and dear relatives) must be totally dissolved.

For best results, fasting of various types must be accompanied by various practices of meditations. In fact meditation itself automatically leads to various types of tapas. Unodari tapa, i.e. providing little less than the physical requirement of each indriya then controls each of them and in turn leads to abolish the control of the mind on them. Vrittisankshep, focuses on each centre i.e. Kendra (indriya) and contracts it to its core, avoiding interference with the function of the other. Rasparityāg is to break the links between mana and chetanā because mana cannot control the indriyas without the support of chetanā. Mana and indriyas both die out at death but chetana reincarnates them again in the next birth. They have physiological effects on various body parameters as well as psychological effects. When one realises that kāyā is the source of all kleshas, and accepts the body as it is and the mind does not get affected when the body is subjected to pain, one attains the state of kāyāklesha. After connecting to the cosmic energy, channelizing it towards the goal of Mokṣa is sanyam. To turn the energy inwards and not to be distracted from the chosen path, happen what may, such that no good or bad karmas can produce any vibrations in the mind is the state of stithipragya, attained by sanyam. The ultimate state attained by practicing all these Bahyāntar tapas is sanleentā when no part of the body or mind moves or acts without the consent or direction of the consciousness and then all act in consonance.

Internal Tapas (Abhayantar tapa) involve prāyaschit (repentance or atonement for bad deeds), vinay (humility or politeness), vaiyāvacha (service to others for dissolving the effects of past bad karmas), Svadhyaya (study of self), Dhyāna (meditation) and Kayotsarga (separation ofbody and self). Dhyan involves remembering (smriti), returning (pratikraman) and reliving the past lives (jātismaran) etc. With the practice of various tapas, the bonds between body and mind as well as mind and consciousness are broken and inflow of karmas is stopped.

Dhyān (meditation)

Dhyān is the prime requirement for mental, spiritual and physical unity of self. It is the least understood of all practices and is made out to be difficult to accomplish, whereas in practice it is very easy. In fact one is meditating all the time, because mind cannot stay without thought. It is only necessary to channelize the thinking. What then is dhyān? It begins as a kind ofself-hypnosis. It is certainly not thinking, but it is convincing oneself (acquiring correct darshan) and then it takes one beyond mind. The conscious mind has multi-dimensional capability. It can think parallelly on a large number of topics at the same time. With thoughts, the mind is ever changing and wandering to different objects, phenomena, events, expectations, apprehensions etc in time (past and future) and space. To use the whole capability of mind on one topic is concentration. Channelizing this concentration on soul is Dhyān. Firstly the ever changing, wandering, conscious mind is to become one mind by meditation, then the conscious and subconscious minds have to be integrated and thereafter one has to attain the state of no-mind. Any unaltered state of mind is dhyān. Since subconscious mind is mostly unutilised, a bridge between conscious and subconscious mind opens up immense possibilities. No-mind is the only permanent state of mind; once attained, can always be attained at will. And then one is able to "see" the soul as an observer. In a nut shell, seeing the ātmā (soul) with the ātmā (soul) is dhyān. Dhyān physically means activating the pineal gland, the third eye, which is an interface between mind and ātmā. There are many types of Dhyāns and innumerable ways of achieving it; some of which are listed in Table 6.2. The fact that it can be achieved in innumerable ways implies that it is easy to accomplish.

Basically Dhyān is of four types: Ārta Dhyān, Raudra Dhyān, Dharma Dhyān and Shukla Dhyān. ĀrtaDhyān is when the mind is engaged in criticizing some thing or somebody and complain about it. Our mind gets so engrossed in this activity that we forget everything, including our self. Raudra Dhyān is about cursing some event or a person whom we think may be responsible for our miseries. When we do not consider ourselves responsible for an unpleasant event, we hold others responsible and blame him. In this activity again we get so engrossed that we forget our goal and even our self. Thus we have seen that it needs no special efforts to get into Ārta or Raudra Dhyān. The mind is engaged in them all the time, with intense feeling and involvement. But these two types of Dhyāns are energy consuming and lead us away from our objective of moving to higher Gunsthāṇs. Nothing is achieved by practicing them, except more misery.

Dharma Dhyān is channeling our attention and energy in a positive mode, leading us to accumulation of energy. It is only a matter of channelizing our ability of Ārta and Raudra Dhyān in a positive way to enter into Dharma Dhyān. Shukla Dhyān is the ultimate goal, when one does not think either ill or wellbeing of others. One's mind becomes totally empty and its energy is not dissipated.

The various methods of meditation are based on three basic techniques: concentration on an object, mantra or prāna (breath). Besides concentrating on breathing (inhalation and exhalation), or on a statue or image (Istadev, symbol, chakra etc.), Dhyān can be attained by focusing the mind on a sound (japa), a thought, or soul. Some practical methods proposed for attaining Dhyān are listed in Table 6.1 and one has to select one which will suit an individual best. One practice is to let all thoughts, bad and good, pass by till they are exhausted. The mind always desires change. When all the ill feelings, leading to ārta and raudra Dhyān are exhausted, the mind itself will turn to Dharma or Shukla Dhyān. But this takes time if we are full of bad feelings about others and hold them responsible for our ills, whereas the truth is that we are ourselves responsible for our fate. When this is realised, meditation will turn to Shukla Dhyān. Shukla Dhyān is the primary requirement for achieving Samādhi.

We do not discuss the various procedures of meditation here except to mention that dhyan needs to be cultivated by continuous practice, preferably at the same place, at the same time. Irrespective of the procedure adopted, initially the two parts of the conscious mind have to be activated, the one which concentrates (on Istadev or breathing, for example) and the other which monitors the concentration and brings it back to the object of concentration, whenever it goes adrift. The period of distraction reduces with practice. When it becomes zero, that is complete and continuous concentration for long period (minutes to hours) is attained, both the parts, the concentrating mind and the monitoring mind become united in to one. At that point, one can concentrate on any object or thought at will. Then comes the stage of no mind or thoughtlessness. When thoughtlessness is achieved, that is one can bypass the mind and go directly to consciousness, one has to activate the analytical part of the mind and learn everything about the object of thought. This leads to new insight in to nature of the object. In advance stage of meditation, one should not make any effort by body, neither recite anything, nor think anything by mind. Essentially one should become like a mountain, immovable, determined and unconcerned. This way one will stabilize and the soul will be immersed in the soul. This is the ultimate meditation.

There are three prerequisites of attaining the state of meditation: Devotion (full faith in the method one is employing to attain Samādhi), Determination (that I will attain Samādhi in this sitting, no matter how much time and effort it takes) and Dedication (put everything at stake, your whole world to attain Samādhi).

Intense meditation can be done for a short period of time to orient the mind but meditation must go on in the background all the time of day or night irrespective of what one is engaged in, to achieve substantial results. The first step is to observe one's own mind, its behavior, its response (anger, greed, attachment, pride, ego etc) to various situations and persons, and to evaluate and classify one's own mind. By observing one's mind, one can soon come to the conclusion that mind forms its opinion on flimsy ground, is always fluctuating, inconsistent, mean, dominated by negative aspects more than by positive aspects, cannot be relied upon and is worthy of discarding. After the strengths and weaknesses of one's mind is evaluated, the next step is to channelize the thoughts.

The best course is to concentrate on one's "īstadev" knowing very well that the "īstadev" is only a projection of its mind and play of one's own consciousness. The Tantra method of Jainism is so powerful that it can animate the īstadev, put life in to it and feel it as real, bringing it out from the virtual realm to the realm of real existence. Intense contemplation on the image of Istadev in a mirror can animate the īstadev, substantial enough to touch, feel and talk to.

Several experiential milestones on the path to meditation have been mentioned in the texts. Once continuous meditation on Istdevis attained, the next stage is to feel, without any shadow of doubt one ness with "Him", i.e. "I am Istadev" (So-ham or Aham Brahmāsmi). This leads to the attainment of non-duality (Advaita) and the power of the diety is achieved. Psychic heat, i.e. a kind of inner fire is thus produced which is a kind of psychic force. Controlled respiration and intense mental concentration causes an illumination that fills the body, which then expands to fill the whole universe. This Contemplation on one's image in a mirror enables one to recognize the illusory nature of the body and then of all objects in the Universe. It leads to the realization that mental perception is not trustworthy. One can also meditate on Dream whence one can enter dream state at will and return to wakeful state without break, thus realizing illusory state of wakefulness, sleep and dream. This is the "fourth" state (Turyā) of mind. One can also meditate on divine light and then achieve a state of transference of consciousness from one body to another body or from one place to another place. All these practices eventually lead to immaculate mind, state of time-less-ness or Samādhi, beyond past and future, which is the final goal.

Table 6.1: Methods of meditation

#

Type of meditation

#

Type of meditation

1

Preksha Dhyān

7

Nidrā Dhyān

2

Kayotsarg

8

Spand Dhyān

3

Vipassanā

9

Yoga Nidrā

4

Transcendental Meditation

10

Mantra Dhyān

5

Pātanjali Dhyān

11

Swapna Dhyān

6

Sahaj Dhyān

12

Mrityu Dhyān

Two points must be mentioned to conclude the discussion on meditation. Firstly it should be borne in mind that process of mediation is not meditation. Therefore some tests must be applied to confirm one's state of meditation. On outer aspects, change of attitude (towards being more kind and compassionate to others, of anger, jealousy, desire, pride etc.), behaviour (tranquility, quality of dreams, lessening frequency of distraction etc.) can be a measure of the state of success. The real confirmation of meditation is that even when the meditator leaves meditation, meditation does not leave the meditator. It continues all the time.

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Jainism - The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment - Narendra Bhandari- jainismbook_final_28-5-2011.pdf

Edited by:
Acharya Vijay Nandi Ghosh Sūri

Published by:
Research Institute of Scientific Secrets from Indian Oriental Scriptures (RISSIOS), Ahmedabad

Online Edition 2011: HN4U

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