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I And Mine: [01.16] - I And My Mind - The Meaning Of Non-violence

Published: 30.10.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

When I take an overview of my life, I come down and tread on the earth, relinquishing the world of imagination. I find that one day I had resolved to follow non-violence. At that time, non-violence meant to me not killing sentient beings, and it was unthinkable for me to concede the possibility of violence, despite non-killing of sentient beings.

Compassion to living creatures indeed carries a highly respected meaning. It gives infinite joy to see the fulfilment of what one considers good and desirable. From time to time, I experienced such joy. As I grew and encountered fellow seekers, I realised that my understanding of non-violence was imperfect. I grew restless to understand it in totality, I came to realise that non-violence meant not to be stung by the oppressive cruelty of circumstances. There is nobody in this world who would not be enraptured by favourable circumstances and hurt by adverse circumstances. I felt, one cannot follow non-violence, by choosing to swim with the current of circumstances. The delusion, torn of favourable circumstances incapacitates consciousness, while the vexatiousness caused by adversity renders it blunt.

Non-violence is the independent state of consciousness. Whatever can be subdued by heat or cold (one condition or the other) cannot be independent. Only that can be independent which cannot be subdued by anything at all. This is the lighthouse of my non-violence now. I am now more sensitive to living creatures' need for compassion and I feel the pangs of others' pain more sharply. I would not have been constantly sensitive to others' plight, if I had remained a prisoner to circumstances.

Circumstances do not always remain uniform. Consciousness, reflecting these circumstances, also cannot remain uniform. Some people regard me practical others do not. Some people think I am spiritual, others think I am playing politics. There are many balances and as many evaluative criteria. I am capable of being weighed, so I am weighed. I am capable of being measured, so I am measured. My non-violence would have been the non-violence of the lifeless world of stones, and my peace of mind would have been the peace of mind of the cemetery, if I had not been weighable and measurable.

My non-violence belongs to the living world of consciousness, and my peace of mind is one, attested to hold in the midst of the rear of the battle. It is testified by the fact that I fully examine the personality attributed to me by the evaluation of others, but finally recognize only that personality which is the product of self-evaluation. My criterion too is my own. This is not the voice of my ego. It is the awareness of my existence, which is not countered by another existence. This unopposed, unsoiled state of existence alone is my present non-violence.

Non-violence has two dimensions, resistance and retaliation or countering. Violence too has these two dimensions. Resistance is self-defence, and retaliation is fighting the circumstances. If non-violence were to lose resistance and retaliation, its practitioner would become powerless, and the balance of power would be in the hands of violent people.

The misunderstanding of the common man about non-violence should be removed. People should know that non-violence is not powerless. It has much stronger power than resistance and retaliation. One, who believes in violence, resists and counters it, being influenced by it and having accepted it. Violence on either side belongs to the same class. Therefore, violence does not end violence, it inflames it, and it causes it successively.

One, who believes in non-violence, resists and counters violence by being uninfluenced by it, by rejecting violence. Violence and non-violence belong to different classes. That is why non-violence puts an end to violence and absorbs its recurrence. The emergence of an independent consciousness constitutes the power of resistance of non-violence and an expansive love. Leaving no room for bitterness is its countering or retaliatory power.

I have an untainted attitude. If I had accorded place in my mind to a consciousness enslaved to circumstances, my puissance would have been stillborn.

I have repeated the following maxim innumerable times: 'One who reacts and refuses to act courts defeat.'

Expanding love is my action. In it lays the independent activity of my consciousness. Mortally struck by it, violence meets its own death. If I were to counter violence by violence, I would be reacting. It will be reaction because it will be governed not by me, but by the circumstances facing me. Such a reaction does not strengthen me.

On the contrary, it robs me of my strength. It means my adversity becomes more lethal by drawing on my own strength. Can there be a better example of my foolishness than my strengthening the very thing that aims at making me totally impotent. I have been benefited enough to be able to find my way out of darkness having been enlightened by the maxim, 'Circumstances gain strength in proportion to the loss of self-confidence.'

For many years, I have been trying to ensure the drying up of the source of bitterness in me. The source, which does not let happiness grow in me, in fact, which dries it up. I consider having dedicated myself to the deity of non-violence the day I realized the truth, that bitterness returns and harms its source without reaching its target. I am not baring my conscience. I am trying to read it under the illumination of the above eternal truth.

He alone is above the polarities of happiness and sorrow, who is immune to heat and cold. He alone is capable of destroying bondage, who is not swayed by circumstances. The world of image and its reflection is the world of reaction. In its dictionary, the word independence is not found.

In it, there is neither spontaneous activity, nor any outcome of one's own self; neither one's own power, nor one's own happiness. Whatever is there is mere reflection and impression, just regret and ennui, and it will stay there as long as the theatre of violence continues to be the centre of attraction.
  • 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. Consciousness
  2. Non-violence
  3. Violence
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