I And Mine: [01.03] - I And My Mind - Relative Norms of Naturalness

Published: 17.10.2005
Updated: 24.08.2010

One evening even as the sun was about to set the sky became suddenly overcast. Droplets began to fall and soon it started pouring accompanied by f1ashes of lightening and hailstorm. I noticed that a monkey sitting in a nearby tree was shivering with cold. My mind wandered in the remote past and the thought came to me that man too would have met the same fate had it not been for his inventiveness, courage, and valour. Creative man has always held out a challenge to the vacuity in nature. The skyscrapers symbolize his victory over nature.

Another incident I witnessed was that of milk boiling over a stove. Every time the temperature raised the milk boiled over and the young woman beside the stove sprinkled a few drops of water and the effusion subsided. It happened several times before the pot was taken off the stove. Another trail of thought started. Man always challenges nature, as in his attempt to defeat the milk's effusion. Does that mean that his creativity and courage cannot be kindled without challenging that which is natural? An inner voice seemed to tell me that without such a challenge there would be no creativity.

Both the events reveal the same truth - only that is natural in the physical world that has not suffered any intervention from and has not faced the challenge of man' s creativity. In other words, creativity divides being from becoming. It is of the essence of man to bridge the gap between being and becoming. To be human is to prefer becoming to being; that is why the eternal human refrain has been:

Man! Be ever a creative adventure!

Once I was sitting on the seashore and was intensely watching the sea's spirit hidden somewhere in its fathomless depths. The undulating waves came right up to my shadow in the seawaters and receded. Are sea waves not natural? A sea without waves is like sunrise without daylight.

Analogically it is impossible to concede the presence of emotions and deny the existence of sexual desire, anger, and fear. A mere denial of this fact will not be a guarantee of spiritual exaltation. I am interested in unravelling the truth and not in covering it up.

I would like to recall another incident. Wrapped in a blanket I was sitting in a corner of a room. The windows were closed but one of the doors was open. Icy winds from the north had chilled the air. The newspaper in my hand announced the complete freezing of the Arctic. My imagination became active and I saw that there were no waves in the frozen waters. I wondered if I should accept the fact that the nature of the ocean had undergone a basic change. And by admitting it would I be able to uncover the truth? The absence of waves bore the same relation to the frozen ocean, as did the presence of the sun of the daylight. Should I liken the body to an ocean and the passions of sex, anger, and fear to waves, and admit the fact that the freezing of the former has resulted in the cessation of the latter. In fact, these two things are but two styles of stating the same fact. With the intensification of the process of concentrating on the centre of the inner being, 'endocentering', the passions calm down and bow out. At this point, I am not going to discuss the above process but am merely hinting at the fact that man's courage and creativity simply inhere in his ability to change, that which is natural. And it is for this reason that the eternal voice keeps echoing in the atmosphere.

Man! Be ever a creative adventurer!

It is in this creative adventure that man' s greatness lays and the importance of the former is solely due to its power to change that, which is natural. An enlightened and morally valorous man is never satisfied with 'being' and is always actively pursuing ‘becoming'. The change of the natural into the unnatural and vice versa is fully due to this active pursuit. Naturalness is a context-bound experience and its context-free experience is beyond our capacity for direct apprehension.

On being questioned why he was scratching his skin and wounding himself, the man who was doing so replied that it gave him immense pleasure to do so. I was not convinced by his answer. How could scratching the skin be a source of pleasure? However, a little deeper thinking made me agree with him. Only he can know the pleasure of scratching who is infested with the itch-causing bacteria. Being myself free from them, how can I experience the pleasure of scratching?

The same is true of a person deriving pleasure out of copulation because he too is infested with the desire for sex.

Could then one say that eating to satiate hunger is pleasure? Not to my way of thinking. For me hunger is a disease. Hunger is nothing but abdominal pangs. It being a daily occurrence, we do not regard it as a disease. Only infrequent afflictions are treated as a disease. A man taking medicine because he is suffering from fever cannot be said to be deriving pleasure. It is merely an antidote to the disease. On the same analogy, I would like to assert that eating also far from being a pleasure is merely an antidote to a disease. If it is true that man is attracted towards pleasure, it is equally true that very often he mistakes displeasure for pleasure.

With the advances in the development of consciousness, such misapprehension starts disappearing. The norms governing our misunderstanding of the natural and the pleasing also undergo a change. A new centre of attraction comes into being. The same eternal voice strikes the ears.

Man! Be ever a creative adventurer!

Such an adventure brings about a change not only in the apprehension of the physical objects but also in the world of consciousness. If we predicate naturalness to what is, to 'being' our development will be hindered. With the growth in development, the context-bound or relative norms of naturalness also change. By embarking upon such a course of development, man overcomes the aggression of the immediate and heads towards the understanding of the remote and the invisible. Ultimately he can attain a stage when his real nature having been revealed to him he becomes totally immune to other forms of naturalness. This self-realization is the direct apprehension of which becomes an everlasting experience.

  • 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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