Anekanta: The Third Eye: [10.03] Optimistic Perspective - Two Routes

Published: 12.09.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

There are two routes. One route is that of comfort and the other of peace. One is within limits and the other is infinite. Nobody can travel infinitely in material development. But towards peace man can travel infinitely. He can go on that path till eternity. He will never face the need to move away or turn back.

The Indian people chose the second route or the one of peace.

It is definite that a poor man cannot choose the best path. A poor man cannot choose the path of restraint and renunciation. When poverty itself cannot be eradicated then how can man talk of big things? Only the man who has reached the peak of prosperity and wealth can talk of them. When after reaching there he finds nothing meaningful then he looks for another route. One cannot expect this from a poor man.

Today's Indian has once again become poor. If today we hope that he will have high moral values, will be honest, will be spiritual, will be logical, then we are wrong in wishing so. In this possibility there are many problems. These difficulties are not so for those who have reached the pinnacle of prosperity. As quickly as a westerner can become spiritual, gets drawn towards meditation, an Indian does not. The reason is very simple. The westerners have understood the world of materialism. They have been ruled by consumerism and have touched its peak and there they have realized that the road ahead is closed. This is the reason why they get drawn very easily into spirituality and choose a new path. How can a man who is still engaged with trifles talk of bigger things?

Ma Appenna lumpaha bahum
Do not lose more for less

An important sutra or rule for spiritual practice given by Mahavir is

Ma Appenna lumpaha bahum.
For little do not lose a lot.

This has become the most important moral of Indian philosophy. Kalidas has used this in his poetic compositions.
A question was asked: "Who is a pundit (a learned man)?"
The answer was that a man who does not lose more for less is the learned one.

A king went to a sage. He heard of the sage's fame. He went near and bowed. As he came close he saw the sage was truly a great seeker and impressed him a lot. Folding his hands in humility the king asked, "Praise be to you my lord. Praise be to your restraint and renunciation. Praise be to your penance. What a big sacrifice you have made! You have left your house, left your family and given up all your wealth. What a big sacrifice you have made." The king went on this way. The sage replied, "0 King! Do not waste the words of praise. Am I the one who has renounced or is it you? Is my sacrifice bigger or yours?"

The king was perplexed. "Sacrifice and me? I am enjoying such honour, property and happiness. I am continuously enjoying the prosperity of the material world. Where is my sacrifice? What is my sacrifice?"

Replied the sage, "What I said is true. Your sacrifice is greater than mine. Listen to the reason. Before me is the bliss of emancipation. Great bliss. The only bliss.

For this great happiness I gave up a small house, my family and a little wealth. But you are a great one who has sacrificed the pleasure of the Lord and are caught in the web of small happiness. Now tell me who has left or renounced greater bliss, you or me? Tell me who has sacrificed more, you or I?”

The two paths are very clear.

  • The first is to give up a lot for little and the second is to give up little for a lot.
    Materialism, that is even today called the hopeful perspective, involves giving up more for little. To sacrifice lots and gain little.

The second path is that of peace where you give up little for lots. It is to leave little and set off on the road to peace to gain more.

The route to peace is not one of despair.
The route to peace can never be the route of despair.
This is indeed not the route to despair.

This is the route of hope and man enters it with infinite hope, with the hope of reaching the ultimate, the Parmatma. This is not a small hope or feeling. This is a very major hope of becoming a Parmatma. If somebody says he wants to become Acharya Tulsi then it will sound like he is an egotist. If someone wishes to become the king, Prime Minister or minister then it will seem like he is thinking like an egotist or yearning for power.

If someone wishes to be a parmatma then there would be no objection, it does not harm anybody. Nobody will say that he is an egotist or an ambitious person. To become a parmatma is no mean task and in aspiring for it there is no objection. The ambition of reaching a small post is fraught with dangers, many problems are born. If you aspire to be Prime Minister then the one who is occupying the post currently will want to put an end to the aspirant because he will view him as an opponent. All posts come with conflict and oppositions. Those in small posts are always wary of others grabbing their posts. But the post of the paramatma is very large, expansive. Anybody who wants this post can aspire for it without creating any objection, jealousy or conflict.

The path to become the Parmatma is very clear. It is such a large pathway that all the small paths get contained in it. End in it. It is infinite and the travel along it is also infinite.

Is this perspective one of despair? Never. How can we accept this as one? It is a very very optimistic viewpoint.

Acharya Umasvati was the author of Tatvartha sutra, and a well-known writer and preacher. A disciple came to him and said, "Sir what is the truth in this world that is not bound but is freely accessible to all?" He replied, "Happiness." The disciple asked, "What kind of happiness?" The Acharya replied, "The happiness of moksha or liberation." Asked the disciple, "Sir, how can this happiness be attained?" The Acharya said, "The single solution to that is to follow right thinking (samyakdarshan), right knowledge (samyakgyan) and right conduct (samyak charitra)."

This solution does not endanger anybody. This great bliss does not endanger anybody. This infinite happiness, this unfettered bliss, this path to peace can never be called the path of despair. This is a path of great hope, a hope that is infinite. It is infinite and turns into the infinite itself. It never ends.

The path of spirituality, the path of meditation can never be seen as the path of despair. The desperate do not come to this path but only those come, who are satiated with the materialistic path. They then find peace. They set out in search of this path. Only they have tread this path who have become so disturbed with consumerism that even the sandalwood paste was not able to cool them or bring them any peace. Such a great fire was burning that even the waters of the ocean could not quench it. In such a state they searched for a new route.

This is a perspective of great hope, not of despair.

  • Anekanta: The Third Eye by Acharya Mahaprajna, © 2002
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Acharya Umasvati
  4. Charitra
  5. Consumerism
  6. Mahavir
  7. Meditation
  8. Moksha
  9. Paramatma
  10. Parmatma
  11. Samyak Charitra
  12. Sutra
  13. Tulsi
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