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I And Mine: [01.14] - I And My Mind - Am I Independent?

Published: 28.10.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

I am not at all surprised not to be independent. Not to speak of me alone, no one endowed with life is independent. The vital breath is coursing through me and I am living. Grain is growing and I am eating. It is raining and I am drinking water. My life span depends on vital breath. Living means willing acceptance of all kinds of dependence.

I see a lamp, and the lamp is giving light. It is doing so by being dependent on an earthen vessel, oil, wick, air, and fire. I see a seed sprouting. It is doing so being dependent on a piece of fertile soil, water, ­sunlight, as well as heat and air. Can the lamp be said to be independent in giving light or the seed in sprouting? No one is free from the chains of time, nature of being, fixed order of happening, destiny, and effort. Consequently, no one is independent.

There is a suspended cage with a parrot inside it. The cage is unlatched, and the parrot flies away. I ask myself why that innocent bird has left its home and gone away into a forest, why it has preferred the dry trees to the wholesome food consisting of dry fruits lying in the cage.

An unknown voice answers: The cage means slavery. How can a parrot used to unhindered flights into infinite space prefer the life of slavery? I interpreted it thus: infinity is 'enclosed' by void; therefore, enclosure abhors void.

Can water 'enclosed' by endless flow ever recognize a dam? A dam represents water's helplessness. Water recognizes the supremacy of motion; therefore, it abhors stagnation. What I want to say is that slavery or bondage means a behind-the-scene confluence of indispensable dependence and dispensable dependence. Moreover, independence means the remnants of indispensable occurrences of dependence. How can anyone assert that man likes independence and does not like dependence, that he does not like walking on his feet so much as walking being aided by others?

I see the highways of Delhi swarming with cars, with people in thousands moving about here and there. They would not have sat inside their cars if they had been unaware of the power of enclosure. They know it very well that one can walk at best three to four miles an hour.

I would not have been a part of tradition if I had been unaware of the power of enclosure. Tradition, sects, castes, and nations are all enclosures, bounded and circumscribed. If they had not been powerful, they would have all vanished. They continue to exist for the simple reason that electric current can give light only after being enclosed within a bulb. A wind enclosed by clouds is more effective than that blowing in a clear sky. A bullet becomes powerful only when it is fired from barrel. An arrow becomes powerful only when shot from a bow.

Man has accepted dependence not out of foIly. He is bound up with language, and so is able to think and communicate. He is bound up with senses and the mind, and so is active. He is bound up with hunger, and so is engaged in professional activities. All interpersonal relations are made possible through body, language, senses, mind, and hunger. Their field of operation is society. If the self had remained just self, I would have been fully independent. A man with healthy legs does not need crutches.

My imperfections have inclined me to relativism. What I want to say is that I am imperfect, and for that reason I am dependent. Since I am dependent, I am enlightened by the question: Am I independent? He, who is independent, rises above. He, who is dependent, goes down. One who/that is attached or connected goes down; one not attached or connected rises upwards. One who/that is light goes up; one who/that is heavy goes down.

A tumba (pot made from dried gourd) after being plastered with mud sinks in water. When the mud plaster is removed, it comes up float on water. Smoke rises precisely because it is light. A stone falls down because it is heavy.

Going up denotes dependence on lightness, and going down denotes dependence on heaviness. Attachment makes it possible to experience detachment, and degradation makes it possible to experience exaltation.

If there had been no darkness, light would not have had the importance it has. Health, happiness, and peace have value only when seen against disease, unhappiness, and perturbation. It means that that, which is independent, is beyond evaluation, which means that it is independent of time. Since I am manifest, I am independent on time and therefore subject to the limitations of past, present, and future. Is it possible for a man, subject to limitations, to ask if he is independent?

The potter's wheel was a little while ago rotating under the impulse of his finger. Now it is rotating because of the earlier momentum. Sometimes the motion is dependent on the finger, and sometimes on the momentum. Some sort of independence governs all mobility.

Once, a controversy arose between a king and his minister. The minister said: “All men are governed by their wives.” The king refuted it. Finally, the time to test the truth arrived. Two camps were set up. The one meant for supporters of dependence on wives was filled to capacity. The other had just one man. When questioned by the king, he said that he was standing alone because his wife had asked him to avoid crowds. Thus, there was not a single person in the whole town who was not governed by his wife. Likewise, there is not a single individual in this world, who is not led by countless expectations.

Once I was sitting in the midst of wild kidney bean plants. It was midday. The sun was raying intense heat on the beans, and its pods were crackling. With wonder in the eyes, I saw the beans cracking and the pods leaping. This leaping conveyed a feeling of the joy of freedom. It taught me that the can accepts its independence on the beans, if the latter is ready to let the former go after it has ripened. The fruit can accept its dependence on the stem, provided the latter is ready to let the former go after it has ripened. After the above discussion I am no longer seized of the question: 'Am I independent?' On the other hand, a new belief is growing that I am dependent so that I may become independent.
  • 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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