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I And Mine: [02.07] - A Religious Revolution - The Touchstone of Religion

Published: 08.11.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015

Three words are swimming into my ken today

  • observing (Preksha)
  • testing (Pariksha) and
  • experimenting (Prayog).
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The first is related to philosophy, the second to logic and the third to science. Preksha is the philosophy of experiencing the self. One whose inner consciousness has been awakened can see the subtle, the real and the remote scenes.
In today' s language, philosophy is a kind of intellectual exercise. But in reality it is not so. Knowledge derived through the observance of invariable concomitance or logical rules cannot be termed as philosophy. In philosophy there is a direct contact between the seer and the seen. No instrumentality is involved. Why is it so? It is only when its interpretation is attempted that we find ourselves in the realm of logic. In the world of philosophy there is knowledge as well as experience but no use of language. Language is a medium and it is used only in the world of indirect experience. The scope of logic is mediated knowledge or knowledge derived through indirect experience. Logic and science can be taught, but philosophy cannot be taught. It is accessible only as a result of one' s purity of bare awareness. In this context, I should perhaps say only this much that both the knowledge and interpretation of Preksha can be i.1d only by dedicated practice. How very relevant is the following saying here!

Philosophy becomes explicit only when both the guru's exposition and the disciple' s adoration are speechless. It was this very experience which Lord Mahavira spoke about: 'He who sees/observes has no use for words.' The same thing I will like to put differently, 'Words are meant only for those who have no direct contact with truth.' Today we want to know truth through the medium of words, the reason being that we lack Preksha. At present, we have only two areas: testing and experimenting. But it is not impossible for us to operate in the area of Preksha. It looks impossible because we lack the prerequisites, dedicated practice and energetic effort. Once we successfully undertake meditation, the doors of Preksha get automatically opened.

Testing is a logical procedure. Its main basis is the individual. Co-occurrence of smoke and fire was first observed by one individual and then by countless others. It became a universal observation, true of all people, places and times. Therefore, the principle was laid down that where there is smoke there is fire too. This is called generalization. On its basis we came to know the imperceptible target through perceptible means. The perceptible smoke enables us to know the imperceptible fire.

Experimentation is a scientific procedure. In it testing is also used, but testing is not its sole constituent. It also analyses the process of change and its causes through experiments.

At present the two processes of testing and experimenting arc not in use in the field of religion. Religious conduct is often based on certain assumptions. I am not suggesting that assumptions have no use at all. They have a place both in logic and science. Within the realm of logic in the absence of an assumption it is impossible to start the round of assertion and refutation. Similarly, in the realm of science, no experimentation is possible without a starting assumption. However, a logician cannot cling to the assumption forever. Once the means have enabled him to attain the end, he abandons the world of alternatives and enters the realm of verified truth.

Similarly, once something has been experimentally proved, the scientist abandons the assumption he began with. Crutches are not a constituent of the human body. They are tools only. People use them only when they cannot use their legs. Is it necessary to use them even after the strength of the legs has been restored? We cannot give assumptions greater importance than what is given to the crutches. We have accepted religion as an assumption and it cannot be termed unwise either, but to continue to accept it forever as an assumption is nothing short of unwisdom. Religion holds no attraction to intellectuals precisely because it has not been validated by the touchstone of logic. It holds no attraction to scientists because it has not been experimentally verified. Religion has become a plaything in the hands of people who are non-intellectual and unscientific. That is why the younger generation treats religion as something antique. Really religion has become antiquated in the sense in which an old man, a worn out piece of cloth and a palace in ruins become antiquated. But is it not surprising that religion, which is said to be perennial, is being treated as antiquated. It is only to things ephemeral that the attributes 'new' and 'old' apply.

That which is perennial can be neither new nor old. But is religion perennial? It is its inner form - spirituality - which is perennial. Its external or outer form is not perennial. Religious dictates, rites and ceremonies are not perennial. Since that, which is non-perennial, is not being revitalized by the perennial, it is becoming antiquated.

Religion revitalized by spirituality developed the power to sustain and protect. Today even a religious person does not believe that religion can protect him. On the other hand, he is seeking how to protect religion. Once a person came to meet Acharya (now Ganadhipati Gurudeva) Tulsi and said, 'I want to bury the Gita underground.' Acharyashree asked, 'Why?' He said, 'it is an age of nuclear bombs. It kept underground it will remain safe despite atom bombs. ' Acharyashree said, 'But who win read it if the human race is exterminated?' In fact, it is a serious question. Some people are worried about the fate of religion fearing a communist takeover; others are worried fearing people' s loss of faith in religion in the light of newer and newer revelations by science. Religion appears to be helpless in the background of such worries. But if religion is indeed so weak and feeble, we hardly need have it. It has not right to survive as a global influence if it does not have the inner strength to save itself.

Why did religion become so vulnerable and antiquated? Three points emerge in answering the above question:

  1. Determining the existence of religion through the authority of the scriptures.
  2. Establishing religion solely on the basis of the hereafter.
  3. Supporting the one-sided view of fatalism.

Why is it that non-violence as well as non-possession is the greatest religion? An easy answer is: This is what the Uttaradhyayan Sutra says, what the Gita says and what the Dhammapada says. Because these scriptures say so, non-violence and non-possession are a great religion. Does every religious person have the experience of their greatness as religion? If he has, he can establish the greatness of non-violence and non-possession without citing the authority of the scriptures. If he lacks the personal experience, he cannot derive any benefit from them despite his citing the authority. Acharya Siddhasen has said, 'Truth not accessible through the assignment of cause should be endorsed by scriptures, but truth accessible through the assignment of cause should be endorsed by that cause. One who does so is the proper interpreter of truth. One who does the reverse is not a proper interpreter.'

The above proposition was put forward by Acharya Siddhasen on logical grounds. I would like to restate it in experiential terms thus: Subtle truths should be endorsed by scriptures and truth that can be practised in everyday life should be endorsed by experience. One who does so interprets truth properly. He who interprets experiential truth on the authority of the scriptures, hides the perceptible under the cover of imperceptible, Religion does not concern itself with this world the way it does with the other world. A religious person does not see the relevance of religion as much now and here as he does in the hereafter. He values the future higher than the present. He is proving the dictum, (seeing the distant is better than the near.)

It is not improper to seek solution to the problems in the otherworld context of religion. But it betrays a one-sided approach to seek the solution in the above context by ignoring the context of the present-day problems.

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The principle upholding the accountability of one ' s action is quite scientific. Every action has a reaction. It cannot be gainsaid. But the above principle of Karmavad should be the fountain-spring

of determined effort. But it is not so. One of the causes of the present-day India's poverty and misery is the fatalistic outlook. The lamp of determined effort has been extinguished by the typhoon of fatalism. Even our religious atmosphere has lost all its glory by the one-sided support given to fatalism. Since we want a religious revolution, we would like to see the perennial form of religion to gain ascendancy. It cannot be brought about without changing the outlook of the religious people. In the present scientific age it is expected of a religious person that:

  1. he should try to understand religion more in the context of experimentation and less in that of scriptures.
  2. he should give up the desire to gain happiness in the other world and try to cleanse and refine the present life.
  3. while accepting fatalism, he should not allow it to eclipse determined effort.
  4. he should substitute faith in religion by testing and experimenting in the field of religion.

Let it be remembered that rubbing gold on touchstone does not diminish its value and the burning of incense-sticks will result in permeating the atmosphere with fragrance.

Sources
  • 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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhammapada
  5. Gita
  6. Mahavira
  7. Meditation
  8. Non-violence
  9. Preksha
  10. Science
  11. Sutra
  12. Tulsi
  13. Uttaradhyayan
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