I And Mine: [03.02.01] - 8 Formulas For Making Individual Efforts To Attain Liberation - 2. Purifying the Senses (1)

Published: 07.12.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015

Many people are heard complaining that their resolution (will-power) does not endure. It is repeatedly defeated. We have to think as to why it happens so.

Deeply deliberating over the causes of the defeat of resolution Acharya Shubh Chandra has written:

Those people's resolution is defeated who have not controlled their sensual urges, who have not subjugated the senses, who have not practised mortification and who have not overcome mental distractions.

Today, we have to deliberate on the first cause.

  • How should one control or subjugate the sensual urges?

According to human physiology man is bestowed with five senses - those of

  1. touch (skin)
  2. taste (tongue)
  3. smell (nose)
  4. sight (eyes)
  5. hearing (ears)

When it comes to using them, man becomes a single-sense person in as much as only one sensation is felt at any one time.

There are two types of senses:

  • perceptive and
  • sensory.

Two of the senses - the ears and the eyes - are not sensory; they are only perceptive. The remaining three are sensory.

That the mango is sweet and the lemon sour is perception (knowledge derived through the senses). This experience is possible only through eating. Sensation is impossible without direct relationship. On the other hand, perceptive senses can also register their subject from after. Sensory senses have to create a direct contact with their subjects.

Senses are neither good nor bad in themselves. They become one or the other in association with the mind. Senses perceive the present, while the mind perceives all the three - past, present and future.

If the mind is not associated with the eye, nothing is registered even when the eye is open. Senses become dynamic only when related to the mind. Therefore, cleanness of the senses is automatically derived from the cleanness of the mind.

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In ancient literature there is a mention of repressing the senses. Today repression is regarded as a bad word because repression is taken to mean tyranny. This represents corruption of the meaning of the word. On the other hand, subduing the passions has a positive connotation, But in Sanskrit the two words 'repression' and 'subduing do not differ in meaning. - both words have the same meaning. Sprinkling of a few drops of water 'subdues' the boiling over of milk. Similarly the intense drives of the senses are repressed or subdued. Repression does not mean oppression or tyranny.

The senses are oriented externally. Repressing them means bringing them back inside and depositing them firmly in their respective containers. To subject them to discomfort and prevent them from functioning amounts to escapism. There is no room for religion where there exists a feeling of pain and suffering. Religion means a feeling of bliss and it is possible only when one is totally absorbed in one's self.


Is there no sense of suffering in leading the life of a monk?


I don't think there is.


Is there no possibility of a monk facing pain and suffering?


While undergoing surgery a patient was anaesthetized. His abdomen was ripped open. A person was standing there. He began shaking at the very thought of the pain he imagined the patient should be suffering. But the patient had no feeling of pain. The instrument of his sensation of pain had been neutralized. Under the circumstances the impression of pain lies in the onlooker not in the patient.
Similarly, the intensity of the suffering encountered by Lord Mahavira was felt by the onlookers not by him. Suffering unless felt will have no being. It is because it is felt.


If absorption in one' s self is a state similar to that of anaesthesia, I cannot persuade myself into liking it. It lacks the dynamic of consciousness. And in my opinion there can be no spirituality in the absence of the dynamic of consciousness.

Muni Shree:

I am not saying that absorption in the self is anaesthesia of consciousness. What I am saying is that when absorption in the self becomes deeply concentrated, consciousness grows so puissant that it automatically gets insulated from external stimuli.


Some people regard the use of intoxicants as part of practising spiritual accomplishment: Why are they wrong?

Muni Shree:

They are wrong because by the use of intoxicants consciousness is stupefied.


Do you not like the stupefaction of consciousness?

Muni Shree:

No, not at all.


O.K., then please carry on.

Muni Shree:

In my opinion absorption in the self is not a state in which consciousness is divested of puissance by insulating it from external stimuli. Absorption in the self is that state in which external stimuli become destitute (infructuous) in the face of the puissance of consciousness.
The body, the senses and the mind are not inimical to the soul. They lack consciousness while the soul is conscious. Both of them have their separate existence. Both are possessed of their own characteristics. To consider them antagonistic will be a wrong notion. When senses orient themselves towards the external world, desire is born.
When desire is born man starts treating senses as inimical. Let us try to know why they orient towards the external world. Simply because we are not deeply attached to the soul. We are attached to the external world.
Doctors and parents repeatedly stop the child from eating certain things when he is not healthy. They would not prohibit him if he had no attachment to eating. Since he has a strong urge to eat, doctors and parents have to stop him. As the doctor's prohibition is related to the child's attachment, in the same way restraint is related to the individual's attachment. The child is ignorant. Therefore, it is stopped by others. But wise men themselves stop themselves from succumbing to attachment. It is this that is called restraint.


Is restraint altogether absolute?


It is not absolute but relative.


How long is restraint required?


Restraint is required so long as there is attachment. As soon as attachment loses its force, restraint has accomplished its purpose. It is one' s existence that has an absolute value. It alone lasts. Restraint is not bondage. It is liberation, liberation whose source is love.

- This is the principle of restraint. If we love something, we automatically develop aversion to its opposite. Love for the inner self (soul) leads to aversion to the external world; love for the external world leads to aversion to the inner self. And aversion to the external world means restraint.
Likewise, aversion to the inner self means non-restraint. No control is exercised from the side of love; it comes from the side of aversion.
As spirituality, gains in strength, restraint grows too and the need for regulations decreases. As spirituality loses its strength, restraint decreases and the need for regulations increases. The wide gap between restraint and regulations is explained, thus, in Acharang Sutra .

One who has accepted regulations but has not renounced sensuality is neither 'far' nor ‘near'. Being bound to external regulations, he is not in a state to indulge in sensual pleasures and being not free from desires he is not in a state to renounce sensual pleasure. Therefore, he is neither away from sensuality nor close to it.

Religion has two forms: conventional and self generated. Religion is in reality born of the soul. The situation is comparable to the wellwater being undesirable and unacceptable, and the rainwater being desirable and acceptable. Religion has a natural effect. Regulations can form banks; they cannot be the main source of water.


Does renunciation cause abnegation or does abnegation cause renunciation? Similarly, does restraint cause regulation or does regulation cause restraint?


I find it difficult to say that abnegation results in renunciation and regulation leads to restraint. The basis of renunciation and restraint is love - this I have said earlier. Deep love for one and aversion to or renunciation of another. Love of self, renunciation of non-self. Love of religion, aversion to irreligion. Everyone can practise renunciation and everything can be renounced. Renunciation in love (the two being two sides of the same coin) is the only principle capable of purifying the senses.

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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  1. Acharang
  2. Acharya
  3. Body
  4. Consciousness
  5. Mahavira
  6. Muni
  7. Sanskrit
  8. Soul
  9. Sutra
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