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The Mysteries Of Mind: [28.01] Spiritualism And Ethics (1)

Published: 28.07.2006
Updated: 06.08.2008

The conduct of the man who lives in the world of the spirit is different from that of the man who lives an ordinary life of give and take. Both of them conduct themselves in the world. They cannot remain idle. The Acaranga says that a man given spiritual life must act of his own free will. The man who lives in the ordi­nary life of give and take does not act of his own free will. He simply reacts. He does unto others what they do unto him. Such a reaction negates free will and the sense of values.

Modern ethics has considered the question of moral conduct at length. The philosopher Kant, for example, holds the view that our actions should be governed by the sense of duty rather than by the feelings of pity and compassion or by the idea of doing good to others. Action based on such feelings is not moral action. Only actions inspired by man's free will can be said to be moral. Our conduct should be on the sense of duty only.

Kant's view is a correct view. The feeling of pity and com­passion is a reaction conditioned by the miserable plight of the man whom we pity or for whom we show compassion. Friendli­ness, on the other hand, is not a reaction. It is based on the convic­tion that every living being possesses a soul like us, and therefore, we should be friendly towards it.

To be pleased by praise and annoyed by blame is a reaction. There is no philosophy or conviction behind reaction. What the Acaranga insists on is Anyatha Vyavahara or conduct inspired by free will. Such conduct is creative and not reactionary. The spiri­tual man's actions are creative actions inspired by the sense of duty. He does not think in terms of the give and take of ordinary life. He does not help others because they have helped him nor does he harm them because they have harmed him.

Once there were two monks who did not see eye to eye with each other. One of them went to the other and offered an apology to him for his own conduct. The other heard the apology but kept silent. On this he who had offered an apology went to his precep­tor and complained that in spite of his apology the muni did not speak even a single word to him. The preceptor remarked. "It does not matter whether he accepts your apology or not. If you had offered an apology with the expectation of regaining his friend­ship, it was not a sincere apology but a pragmatic move."

The conduct of a spiritual man is not a reaction. He does not compromise but behaves in a magnanimous way. He does not ex­pect returns. He acts with a sense of duty, Anyatha Vyavahara is a duty which must be done irrespective of its consequences.

The man who simply reacts remains unbalanced. A balanced mind does not take sides. He is above favouritism, likes and dis­likes and sweetness and bitterness.

  • The Mysteries Of Mind © by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Translated by K.L. Goswami
  • Compiled by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • Published by Jain Vishva Barati
  • 2nd Edition, 2002

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  1. Acaranga
  2. Kant
  3. Muni
  4. Soul
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