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Mind Beyond Mind: [13.02] Search for the Mysteries of the Soul (2)

Published: 23.05.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

There are beliefs in India regarding the direction of the head when you lie down to sleep. According to one of them, we should not sleep with the head facing the north. People lake such beliefs to be superstition and ridicule them. I recently came across a rational explanation of such beliefs A lot ol investigation has been done on this belief. We have positive and negative charges of electricity in our bodies. The upper part of the human body, including the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and head, emits positive currents of energy. The lower part, including the thighs and feet emits charges of negative energy. Then the body is a part and parcel of the environment it lives in. The North Pole is a source of enormous positive electrical energy. It contains a dazzle of several suns. We will not find darkness anywhere there. Similarly the South Pole contains negative charges of energy. If you slept with your head towards the North Pole, the positive currents of electrical energy issuing forth from the North Pole will collide with the currents of positive electricity issuing forth from your head. Similarly, the currents of negative energy coming from the South Pole will collide with the negative electrical currents issuing forth from your feet. When two currents of the same quality meet, they push each other in opposite directions. The collision of the negative currents of the body and the South Pole produces anxiety and hesitation in the mind of the person who sleeps with his feet towards the south. Many so-called superstitions may also be rationally explained in the same way. We should note that experimental verifications give us more confidence than simple belief or faith may give.

I should now take up the discussion on the secrets of spiritual life. Every religion prohibits us from committing sin. How can we avoid doing so? Our minds, tongues, and bodies are fickle and they make us commit sin consciously or unconsciously. We can avoid sin only after we have revealed the secrets of spiritual life. It is impossible to avoid sin when the world is full of sinful tendencies. Mahavira found a solution of this problem. He said that if you wanted to guard yourself against sin, anger, fitfulness, and subconscious tendencies, you should shield yourselves like the tortoise. When the tortoise feels an enemy arriving, it immediately enters into its shell. In ancient times warriors had shields made of the shell of the tortoise to contain the strokes of the enemy. Shielding ourselves like the tortoise means entering into the self. If you did so, you will be secure against all the agencies of sin. Subconscious desires, fitfulness, fear and anxieties will trouble you no more. There are two things: faith or belief and experience. You can have spiritual experience at any time you like. Turn your mind inwards whenever you feel disturbed in the mind. By doing so, you can get rid of all kinds of feelings, which disturb you. Spiritual life is not a life based on beliefs or faith. It is a life of living experiences. You will secure yourself by turning your mind inwards. This is the technique of Preksha meditation. This means beholding one's own self or self-perception.

I am speaking of spiritual life in the above context. We have become estranged from spiritual experiences, because there are no masters of the spiritual science these days. We have also lost sight of and forgotten the secrets of spiritual life. The methodology of spiritual practices has been lost.

Suppose you have trampled down and killed a small living being under your feet. Does this act of yours amount to Himsa? It is labelled Himsa or violence by those who are accustomed to living in the world outside themselves. They judge things according to the standards of the world outside them. Mahavira and the ancient Acaryas thought differently. They maintained that Bandha or sin derives its origin from Adhyavsaya (the unconscious). It does not mean an act. If you killed an animal by trampling on it, its death is immaterial. The material thing is whether you had the intention to cause death. Similarly you will not be called compassionate, by simply saving somebody's life. The saving of life is immaterial. It does not constitute compassion unless it is the result of an act of judgment on the plane of Adhyavsaya. What counts is the intention. When we consider things with reference to the inner world, there happens to be a radical change in our attitude towards things. Our attitude then becomes governed not by considerations of the external world, but by those of the inner world. Our judgments are governed by social considerations when we live a social life, that is, a life lived with those who are other than ourselves. Quite different considerations come in, if we live a life of the spirit, i.e. a life lived not with others, but in ourselves. The life of the spirit is a life of unity and uniformity. Diversity belongs to the life in the world outside ourselves. In the world outside us we are always considerate o\' others and think of our actions with reference to them.

Take for example dreams. Psychologists tell us that dreams are the manifestations of our suppressed desires. This is true to some extent. Sometimes things, which we wished to do just before we went to sleep remain unattended to and manifest themselves in dreams. I do not wish to discourage considerations of practical life. We have to live a practical social life, and therefore, have to conduct ourselves according to the norms of social life. I do not wish to underestimate administrative or organizational acumen and pressures. But in a discussion of spiritual matters a dividing line between spiritual and worldly life has got to be drawn.

Attachment and aversion are the root cause of all evils or Himsa. The reverse of this is called the Maha Vratas or the five great Vows propounded by Bhagawana Mahavira. All these vows can be compressed into the one vow of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the negation of attachment and aversions. Acts conceived in a state of Ahimsa should not be taken to be at par with acts of Himsa. They are governed by different standards. You cannot stop the consequences of the acts of Himsa. You should keep in mind the moment when you became seized by attachment. It is this moment when you have to be self-watchful and waking. You have to watch when the seeds of attachment are being sown. Once they have been sown, they will produce their own consequences in the natural course. You are often tempted to stop these conse­quences, thinking that you will by doing so escape from Himsa. That is a wrong thinking. It means hitting off the mark. It is the moment when attachment was born in your mind, which is the important moment. 'This moment is there before you. It may be called the moment present before you or 'just now'. The secret of spiritual life is this: The starting point of attachment is the starting point of Himsa, the starting point of aversion is the starting point of Himsa, the moment of detachment is the starting point of Ahimsa and the moment of non-aversion is the starting point of Ahimsa. You should be awake in such moments.

Repression of desires is called negligence. Once it takes place, it will produce its own consequences. People, who had risen to a high status, fall in no time owing to some negligence or other on their part. If they been waking and self-watchful at the moment, when the seeds of the fall were being sown, they would not have fallen. They fell because they did not do Prayascitta: Prayascitta means destroying the seeds of attachment, aversion etc. before they have begun to sprout. If you do not do Prayascitta, they will sprout. In course of time they will become your powerful enemies and you will not be able to save yourselves from them. The principle of not killing may be a good principle of life, but, by itself, it does not constitute Ahimsa.

It often happens that those who refrain from killing life entertain wrong notions about Himsa and Ahimsa. They have to be understood and appreciated with reference to attachment and aversion. There can be no Ahimsa unless they have been got rid of. You do not commit murder because you are afraid of its consequences and respect the law. The law will be indifferent to you so far as you abide by it. If you do not, it will take you to task. Law becomes operative only when you transgress it. Ahimsa, on the other hand, refers to Adhyavsaya, i.e. the intentional stage of an act, the moment when it begins in your mind. It consists in not allowing the intention to become active. All the thoughts and intentions leading to Himsa are to be put an end to. If you are negligent of such thoughts and resolutions, the intention to do Himsa will take root. In Ahimsa the act is immaterial. It is the source of acts, which counts. Adyavsaya is the source of intentions. Once you have understood this fact, we will come to know that you have not only to be wakeful and self-watchful when the act is being done, but also at those moments when the act is being conceived. That is the difference between the legal and spiritual views of life. Adhyatma refers to the source of our actions. Spiritual judgments are not judgments of acts, but of the mentality, which produces acts.

Bhagawana Mahavira held the soul to be responsible for all our actions. According to him there is no enemy outside us. We ourselves are our own enemies. It is the soul, which is responsible for its own freedom or bondage, happiness and misery. Usually we throw our own responsibilities on others and are restless until we have done so. This is simply a child's excuse. It is true that such an excuse relieves us of mental agony. The spiritual attitude is, however, different. In the last analysis, it is Adhyavsaya which is the source of all illegal and immoral acts.

The Tirthankaras and ancient Acaryas conducted a seri­ous investigation in the spiritual sources of life. What I have said above is a sample of their deep discoveries. My purpose is to inspire a faith, devotion and an urge to explore the sources from where all evils, physical and mental, spring.


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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acaryas
  2. Adhyatma
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anger
  5. Bandha
  6. Body
  7. Environment
  8. Fear
  9. Himsa
  10. Mahavira
  11. Meditation
  12. Preksha
  13. Preksha Meditation
  14. Science
  15. Soul
  16. Tirthankaras
  17. Violence
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