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Abstract Thinking: [25.03] - Anupreksha of Mental Equilibrium - The Training of the Mind

Published: 03.07.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

One of the dimensions of philosophy is - the training of the mind. By training the mind, by rendering it more subtle, we come to perceive things which lie beyond the range of a gross mind. There are many principles of mental training. One of them is mindful action, which means harmony of thought and action. Both action and thought go together. When the mind is divorced from action, it leads to incoherence. The only way to train the mind is meditation. As meditation matures, the mind stands tamed. While doing anything, one should be fully aware of doing it. While eating, one must put one's whole mind into the act of eating. While walking, one must walk with perfect mindfulness. Similarly, while speaking, one must be aware of doing so, and when engaged in thought, one's whole mind should be associated with the process of thinking. This constitutes the harmony of thought and action. Mindful action is an important dimension of philosophy. When mindfulness matures, meditation no longer remains a matter of sitting down for an hour; it embraces the whole of one's life. It continues undisturbed through every kind of activity. It one sweeps the floor, one does it with full attention. The hand moves with the broom and the mind moves with it, too. It is not that the hand is engaged in sweeping, while the mind wanders elsewhere. There would be no split of personality, no division. Whatever activity the body is engaged in, the mind is engaged in it, too. It is not that the mind issues a command and goes on a spree while the poor body is left alone to implement it. There is no room for a master-and-servant relationship in mindful action. What subsists there is a relationship between two comrades. Both the mind and the body work together. Also rest together. If the mind works, the body also works. If the mind rests, the body also rests. There is perfect harmony between the two.

Mindful action constitutes the first principle in the training of the mind. Through it the mind grows dexterous and refined so as to apprehend the subtle.

The second principle of mental training is-the evolution of imaginative power along with the development of will-power. The mind should be so trained as to be able to draw a clear picture - the creation of an image through the imaginative faculty and the actualisation of that image through will-power. Through autosuggestion, we can transform out sentiment into will-power and through will-power we can realize whatever goal we choose for ourselves. We become what we want to become and we move in the direction we wish to take.

The third principle of mental training is - concentration. The mind is fickle by nature. It does not stay at one place. Not to stay at one place, to be unsteady, is the nature of the mind. If the mind becomes stable, we should take it that it has transcended its own nature. The mind may be compared to mercury, which cannot be grasped. How to catch hold of the mind is a question that has been discussed for thousands of years. Man is very enterprising. He has aid bare many obscure truths. Mercury is so flickering: yet man has been able to bring it in pellets. Thus it is possible to hold it now. If mercury can be so held, why can the mind not be made stable? Through various processes, mercury can be bound. So can the mind through the technique of meditation.

One method of holding the mind is - concentration. The mind should be accustomed to stay at one point, to concentrate on one goal. If the mind can concentrate on one subject for three hours, innumerable powers are awakened. It is not easy to stay with one subject for three hours. It requires a lot of practice and patience. If the mind can remain concentrated on a point even for an hour, the sadhak will experience a tremendous explosion within himself and see for himself what powers are being awakened in him. What to speak of keeping still for an hour, if an individual can concentrate on a subject even for 5-10 minutes, he will experience an explosion of energy within his body.

The fourth rule of mental training is-the practice of preksha meditation. The practice of preksha means - perceiving. The mind must practise observing. It knows very well how to think-that is what it has been trained to do. And the mind is quite proficient therein-it is continually thinking. We have to train the mind so that it can observe. The mind is quite capable of observing. Thinking is the mind's superficial function. There is greater depth in observing or perceiving. When the mind starts observing, seeing or perceiving, thinking is relegated to the background. At all times, perception is far more important than thought. Observing, seeing is the primary thing; thinking is subsidiary, when we think about something, we do not directly experience the reality of it. Thought is an intellectual process and truth lies beyond the intellect. But when we see or observe a thing as it is, without the mediation of thought, we immediately come to perceive the truth thereof. Then there is clarity without a shadow of doubt.

The exercise of deep breathing is an exercise in non-intellectualisation. It is an exercise to confine thought to its own sphere, so that it does not interfere with seeing. With practice, we can initiate or stop thinking at will. There are some people who do a lot of preparation before they deliver their lecture. Their speech is the outcome of thought. And even after the lecture is over, thinking about it continues. "It would have been better if I had said this or that!" So there are three lectures - one actually presented before the public, the other two continuing in the brain. Mostly we come across people with 'three lectures'. Such people are rare who indulge in no thinking before and after-all their thinking is done in the very moment of speaking. Nothing is left to do after the speech is over. I devised for myself a maxim, so as to be completely free from care. 'There is no residue left. Whatever we undertake-some serious study or research-the moment we are finished with it, we say to ourselves, 'There is no residue left!" It is finished! There is nothing more to do. Tomorrow I am going to begin a new chapter, a new life. I am going to embark upon a new enterprise!" If we end the day with the burden of the vast undone, wondering whether we would be able to finish it ever, the energy of the brain is altogether misspent, our mind will be filled with tension, and our thinking transformed into anxiety, and our work left unfinished. Even such a powerful person as Ravana said at the time of his death, "A great many works of mine are left unfinished!" Is there a man who does not talk in this vein? Yet a spiritual person engaged in sadhana can say, "Nothing is left unfinished! All stands fulfilled!" His thinking will ever be free from care. If we can distinguish between 'thinking' and 'care', no confusion would ever arise. Once somebody approached Acharya Sri and said, "A violent crowd is coming this way. Anything could happen!" He displayed great fear and was beside himself with terror. Acharya Sri made a brief but beautiful answer, "The situation requires mature thinking, not worry: right action, no anguish!"

To be anguished about something is one thing; to face the challenge, to meet it adequately is quite another. To be lost in worry is one thing, and to reflect, to deliberate quite another. Neither anguish nor worry: but reflection should be in moderation, so as not to turn into affliction and anxiety. Everything within limits! To understand one's limitations and to keep within bounds is very necessary. In order to preserve mental balance, it is necessary to limit thinking. With the help of the breathing exercise, suggested here, it is possible to forestall the cycle of thought. When we breathe and our attention is centred upon the act of breathing, all other options lapse, reflection ceases, thinking comes to an end. If, while practising deep breathing, one finds that there is too much interference of thought, one should try holding one's breathe from time to time. The moment breathing is stopped, all thinking would cease. Kumbhaka, i.e., holding one's breath, is the best way of stilling thought.

There is another way to go about it. When it seems that too many thoughts are arising, one should still one's tongue by pressing it with one's teeth. With the stilling of the tongue, thoughts, too, grow still. Thoughts and the tongue are intimately related.

Still another way is to twist the tongue so that its tip touches the palate. The moment it touches the palate, the flow of thoughts would cease of itself.

There are little exercises, small experiments. They help to prevent our thinking from becoming morbid, from turning into anxiety. When there is no worry, the mind maintains its equilibrium.

  • Abstract Thinking
    by Acharya Mahaprajna, © 1988
  • Edited by  Muni Dulheraj
  • Translated by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • Published by Jain Vishva Barati
  • Edition 1999 compiled by Samani Stith Pragya

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Body
  3. Brain
  4. Concentration
  5. Fear
  6. Kumbhaka
  7. Meditation
  8. Preksha
  9. Preksha Meditation
  10. Sadhak
  11. Sadhana
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