Mental Health and Preksha Meditation

Published: 03.07.2006
Updated: 02.07.2015

The objects that are visual and tangible are evident to us and the objects which are imperceptible are not apparent. Emotions and psyche are both imperceptible to us. The mind is obvious and hence it is given a great deal of attention. Most people know about the mind. Even in the field of meditation, less work is done on emotions and the psyche. Maharshi Patanjali did not attach too much importance to mind. His “Yoga-Sutra” starts with the control of the activation of the psyche. Psyche is our inner consciousness. This regulates the intellectual aspect of the mind.

The two dimensions of mind are: intellectual and emotional. The intellectual dimension of the mind is controlled by the psyche. The active dimension is controlled by emotions. The mind represents both the psyche as well as the emotions. Mind lacks consciousness while the psyche is conscious. Even our body is not conscious but because it is linked with consciousness, it performs conscious acts. In the same way, the mind, too, is unconscious. All the three: mind, speech, and body are themselves devoid of consciousness but because they are linked to consciousness, they perform conscious acts. Our mind takes in material particles called Pudgala. One of our potential properties is “Manparyapti” through which the absorption of particles is possible. Then the mind takes on a form and becomes active. The function of the mind extends from arguing to inferring.

The senses take in their subjects but do not have the capacity to discriminate good or bad, useful or ­useless, worthy or unworthy. The eyes see something and there is an awareness of the object. But whether or not that thing is useful is not something metered by the eyes. This job is to be performed by the mind only. In Jain philosophy, knowledge acquisition has a definite technique. They have talked about a certain process of acquiring knowledge, whose first limb is “Avagraha” i.e. to absorb. To absorb is the job of the senses. Each of the five senses absorbs its specific subject. Their job is accomplished here: they have nothing further to do. The senses hand over the next job to the mind. The following are the functions of the mind:

  1. Eha- Arguing
  2. Avay- Deciding
  3. Dharna- F ormation of images and imprints
  4. Smriti- Memory
  5. Pratyabhigya- Recognition
  6. Tark- Logical arguments
  7. To find out about the relation between cause and effect
  8. Anuman- Anticipation & inference to know the unknown world

Now we can understand that the working field of mind is very vast. It regulates the complete behavioral pattern of our lives; this is the knowledgeable dimension of the mind. The complete process from ‘Eha’ to ‘Anuman’ is conducted by the mind.

There are two types of creatures in the world: those with mind and those without mind. Those creatures who do not possess the power of mind are ‘Amanask’ and those who possess it are ‘Samanask’. The system of our development is that those creatures having only senses cannot progress. They remain as they are. The creatures possessing the power of mind can progress a great deal. “Mind” is an inevitable medium for our progress through which we can perform a great deal of work.

The three functions of the mind memory, imagination, and thinking are very useful in our lives. One of the functions of the mind is memory, i.e. to memorize. Without this power, one cannot progress at all. Memory is the greatest practice of development. It is because of memory that we can maintain our contact with the past. In the absence of memory the past would have lost its existence for us. A man walks from his house and reaches here. If he does not remember where he has to go, where his house is, he cannot reach home. Memory is thus very essential. In the absence of memory, all order gets completely disturbed. Memory is thus an immense power of ours.

The second function of mind is imagination. Whatever progress has occurred has happened through the medium of imagination. We wish to build a house. We first imagine it and then the house would be ready accordingly. But even after collecting the complete material, if we have not imagined the design of house, then what is the point? We are always imaging before commencing any work. Imagination leads to creation. This has been stated very beautifully in the Upanishads: The creation of the world was done by a resolve. Initially it was imagined and the world was created! Thus, imagination is a very powerful function of mind.

The third function of our mind is “thinking,” and “reasoning.” This is the most powerful function of our mind. Thinking plays a very important role in whatever progress we make.

The above three are the vital functions of the mind.

The question presented to us today is “What is mental health?” It is important to pay attention to mental health. Let us start our consideration with thought. If our thoughts are positive, then the mind will benefit us. And if the thoughts are not positive, then the mind will create problems. “Anugraha” (to oblige or to benefit) and “Upghat” (to create problems) are oft-used terms from the Jain Aagamas and we may consider them as the two dimensions of the mind. When a person indulges in negative thinking, he takes in inauspicious particles, which produce diseases and suffering in the body. Acharya Malayagirie, in the commentary of Nandisutra, has clearly described that acceptance of inauspicious particles leads to heart diseases. Unhealthy thoughts and improper use of the imagination leads to acceptance of inauspicious particles. These particles cause harm to the heart. More and more people are suffering from heart problems, and this is increasing day to day creating global malady. While diagnosing the cause of heart disease, treatment should not be limited to blood pressure and food habits alone. Negative thoughts are also a major cause of heart disease.

The second dimension of the mind is “Anugraha. ” If our thoughts are creative, the mind will accept auspicious particles which help us to cure our ailments. This benefits us and we can solve many of our problems.
In the context of mental problems that are linked to health, the principle of “Self-restraint” is very useful. Acharya Tulsi launched the Anuvrat Movement. Its slogan is “self-restraint is life.” If we understand this principle well, many problems of our life will be resolved.

Uncontrolled memory and over-imagination also result in mental illness. Imagination, too, should be within limits.

If there is no control over one’s imagination, it can create big problems. If we think deeply, we will realize that imagination has played an important role in causing wars and quarrels. Imagination may lead to mental illness as well as quarrels.

The third function of the mind is to think. Thinking, too, should be done within limits. It is.not considered to be good. Dharma and Shukla Dhyan are beneficial and lead us to spiritual upliftment. Arta Dhyan occurs in the loss of loved ones and gain of disliked ones. The concentration at the time of the loss of loved ones (i.e. in the form of crying, weeping, remembering, etc.) is Arta Dhyan. The meditation of the crane is very significant. The crane preys on fish by standing on one leg. It is so stable that it is taken as an illustration of ‘Ekagrata’ (concentration). What exemplifies concentration? The crane. Why is that concentration considered bad? Because its motive is not good. Its concentration is just for the sake of preying fish. Hence, we should not consider mere concentration to be good, but also take into consideration the motive. This is a test—if the motive is good, concentration for the same is good. If not, then the concentration is bad.

The concentration upon the loss of loved ones or cherished things is very intense. But such concentration leads to Arta Dhyan and becomes the cause of illness. A great Acharya of Ayurveda, Charak wrote “Ishtalabhat Anishtalabhat Manaso Rogah” meaning: there are two causes of mental illness 1) loss of loved ones, or not getting a desired thing 2) gain of the disliked. Comparing these two reasons, described by Charak, with the Agamas, we find that ‘Arta Dhyan’ is the principal cause of mental illness. The loss of a loved object or the death of a beloved person makes a man engrossed in ‘Arta Dhyan’. Similarly, on meeting a disliked person (be it a disliked servant, colleague or partner), the state of our mind becomes strange and fragile.

Meditation can produce as well as destroy diseases. ‘Arta Dhyan’ leads to bad health while ‘Dharma Dhyan’ leads to good health. In presence of Arta Dhyan there will be a kind of uneasiness and frustration would give rise to illness.

How to deal with the illness and suffering is an art. If we meet our difficulties with equanimity, then our karmas will fall off and new illnesses will not arise. If, however, we cry in the face of suffering, then we are inviting new diseases as well as disharmony.

A person was suffering from acute cancer. Acharya Tulsi once went to bless him. He asked the man: “How much are you suffering?” The man answered: “I am not suffering at all.” Acharya Tulsi enquired “How is that? Cancer is, after all, very painful.” He replied, “Whenever I feel pain, I play the cassette of your songs and as I listen to them, no pain is left.” This is progress in meditation. In painful periods if you direct all your concentration on that pain, then you will indulge in Arta Dhyan. If we re-channelize our concentration from pain to another subject, the pain left is less and, further, we would be saved from bondages of new Karmas. This is the art of facing suffering. If a man can learn the art of facing disease, then he can be free of it.

Arta Dhyan is the principal cause of mental illness. Dharma Dhyan is a very good tool for curing mental illness. So practice Dharma Dhyan. Concentrate to know the Ultimate Truth.

The inner causes of mental illness are lust, anger, fear, etc. These are described in Agamic and Ayurvedic literature. Even in medical science this fact has been described. Lust, anger, and fear are emotions. With an increase in their intensity, mental illness is produced. The common man has the feeling of lust in him but if this feeling is present to an abnormally high degree, then he will be prone to mental illness. Similarly, excess of anger may cause mental ill-health. Our brain is arranged in such a manner as to allow for two types of systems. Working hand in hand with each other are one system that excites and another which pacifies. Both these systems are recognized by Psychology as well as Neuroscience. There is a zone of agitation as well as of forgiveness in our brain. The zone of forgiveness commands the zone of agitation not to get over excited. If not controlled thus, God knows what kind of catastrophe would befall man! Excess of anger would make a man fall sick physically and mentally.

On loss of loved ones, man would become unhappy. Excess unhappiness can drive a man to mental disturbance. As explained in Ayurveda unbounded lust, unhappiness and fear distort the flow of air into the body and give rise to illness.

Similarly, emotions should not be excessive. Controlling of passions is a very important part of Preksha Meditation. Control your emotions/passions. Feeling good during meditation should not be the only result of meditation. The true outcome of Preksha Meditation is gaining the power to control our emotions/passions.

The Inner Light, April-June 2006 [Vol.12, No.2]
Jain Vishwa Bharati USA for Non-violence, Preksha Meditation, and Yoga

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          Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
          1. Aagamas
          2. Acharya
          3. Acharya Tulsi
          4. Agamas
          5. Anger
          6. Anuvrat
          7. Anuvrat Movement
          8. Ayurveda
          9. Ayurvedic
          10. Body
          11. Brain
          12. Concentration
          13. Consciousness
          14. Dharma
          15. Dhyan
          16. Equanimity
          17. Fear
          18. Jain Philosophy
          19. Jain Vishwa Bharati
          20. Karmas
          21. Meditation
          22. Non-violence
          23. Patanjali
          24. Preksha
          25. Preksha Meditation
          26. Pudgala
          27. Science
          28. Shukla
          29. Tulsi
          30. Upanishads
          31. Yoga
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