Truth Of Life: [3.6] Truth Of Life - 22 - Quadrangle Of Spirituality

Published: 13.06.2008
Updated: 14.08.2008

The Art & Science Of Living

Chapter 3.

Truth Of Life


Quadrangle Of Spirituality

[There are basically two paths in life - materialism and spiritualism. As long as man does not form the right view about matter, he does not consider matter impermanent or transitory. He keeps seeking shelter in matter and cannot be truly spiritual. The fourfold truths of spirituality are contemplation of impermanence, non-sheltering, separation from body, and solitariness.

On attaining these fourfold truths, one becomes spiritual and experiences perpetual happiness and bliss in his life. We are not the body but the soul. Spirituality should be more socially acceptable. It should not include concepts, which are beyond human understanding]

There are two paths in life - materialism and spiritualism. Even spiritual people are not able to grasp the true meaning of spirituality. They too have formed some unnatural beliefs and understanding which are not beneficial. Mere words like "awareness of self existence", "awareness of the soul" will not help us in the long run, because as long as we continue to work through our conscious mind, we can never think of perfection at all.

We will have to understand spirituality from different aspects. Unless man forms the right view towards material objects, he cannot be truly spiritual. Unfortunately man treats material objects as permanent or eternal. He may speak about material objects as impermanent, but in deeds, in his inner feelings and practice he deals with them if they were permanent. That is why the loss of any material object gives him sorrow. Sorrow occurs because of attachment with the material; the feeling that material is not separate from one only breeds sorrow. As long as this attitude towards the material object does not reform, till then spiritual consciousness does not awaken and man keeps seeking shelter in materialism. This is the symptom of total surrender to material objects. Unless this illusion is completely shattered, spirituality cannot evolve. Unfortunately man has totally identified himself with his body. Until matter and consciousness are realised as different entities, till then there cannot be any spirituality. The belief that "I am beyond, different and separate from the body" and that "I am solitary" guides us towards spirituality.

There are fourfold steps to attaining spirituality:

  1. Contemplation of Impermanence
  2. Contemplation of non sheltering
  3. Contemplation of separation of self from the material body
  4. Contemplation of solitarines

One whose consciousness of impermanence, non-sheltering, separation from the material body and solitariness is awakened, becomes spiritual. Mere repetition of certain words or a chant does not make one spiritual. These words like "realise the soul" or "realise the consciousness", are all conservative words lacking depth and essence. The harsh reality is that with the present mental, physical and emotional conditions, we can never realise either our soul or our existence. By practising the fourfold spiritual process we can realise ourselves. The first step of realisation begins with the practice of impermanence of matter. As and when this practice starts maturing, gradually the happiness and sorrow associated with the object will start annihilating. Today in our present mental and, emotional state, an undesirable object gives sorrow, and a desirable object gives happiness. In the state of intense awareness of impermanence, there is no sorrow. When the truth about the acquisition and separation of an object is fully understood, then there is no sorrow. When this consciousness awakens with full realisation then there is no more fear and suffering of old age or death. Only a truly spiritual person can overcome this suffering. Merely a reader or preacher of spirituality cannot transcend these sufferings. A person who lives realistically and in spirituality with full realisation, can transcend these sufferings and enjoy the unobstructed and infinite bliss. One who is unable to realise this unhindered, infinite bliss at the present moment can never get it after his death. Moksha (emancipation) is obviously achieved by one who realises emancipation in the present moment. The practice and contemplation of impermanence is imperative for elevating to that realisation. The practice should be so vigorous that realisation occurs. Only that philosophy is considered perfect which is actually witnessed during realisation. You may be chanting hymns like Om, Arham etc, they cannot be considered perfect by your sheer chanting, until you have witnessed them during your realisation. Similarly, the witnessing of impermanence of matter is necessary.

What is sambodhi (enlightenment)? It is the witnessing of the awareness of impermanence. Witnessing means awakening of the consciousness of sambodhi (enlightenment). Basically, enlightenment is of three types - enlightenment of knowledge, enlightenment of vision and enlightenment of conduct. Intellect is also of three kinds - intellect of knowledge, intellect of vision and intellect of conduct. Witnessing is also of three kinds - witnessing of knowledge, witnessing of reality and witnessing of conduct.

The first step of spirituality is the witnessing of impermanence. If we have to define a spiritual person, it is "the one who has witnessed the impermanent". We will never define a spiritual person as one who has realised the soul, but as one who has realised the impermanent and is still living through that realisation.

The second element is non-sheltering. King Shrenik asked Anathi Muni, "How did you become a mystic in young age?" The mystic said, "I was insecure, I did not get refuge" Shrenik said, "Well, I shall become your refuge, come to me and live in my palace happily." The mystic said, "O king, you yourself are insecure and still you are sheltering in material. Then how will you become my refuge and guide me towards the true shelter?" The king was surprised and asked, "How am I insecure? In spite of being the owner of such a big empire, how can I be insecure? This seems impossible." The mystic said, "O king, I was the son of a wealthy father, there was no paucity of money and property for me. I had unbearable pain in my eye. Nobody was there to share that pain. That helpless state of sickness and intense pain has awakened the consciousness of non-sheltering in me. And I literally realised that there is no one in this world to give you shelter. I am born without a shelter. External materials cannot provide relief and shelter. Therefore I sought the shelter within myself, with determination, and the agony disappeared. The consciousness of non-shelter guided me towards the real path for seeking a true shelter and I became a mystic. Now I do not crave for anybody's shelter at all." A spiritual person is one whose consciousness of non-sheltering is awakened.

There are basically two kinds of persons - external seekers and internal seekers. A spiritual person is an internal seeker. An external seeker is materialistic because he is always inclined to seek externally. He searches for the solution of every problem in the material world. He always hankers after objects. It is natural that wherever you are inclined, you will always move in that direction only. If your tendency is to seek within, then you will surely seek the solution of every problem in your spirit. Internal seeking is to seek within the soul. This is a simple definition of spirituality. This is a practicable definition without any extremism or pure imagination. In the state of consciousness of impermanence, whenever any attachment or delusion awakens then it will be resolved automatically.

In Avanti Nagari, an affluent person named Dhan, had a daughter named Bhatta. She was the only sister of eight brothers. Her father directed everyone to address her always with due respect. In due course, her name became popular as Atukari Bhatta. She became very proud due to excessive affection. The discussion on her marriage started. She declared, "I shall marry only that man who will obey my orders." This message spread everywhere. Nobody was prepared to marry her. Finally a state minister of that town, Subudhi, came forward to marry her and they got married. Sometimes Subudhi used to come home late and Bhatta used to get enraged. Once the minister came home very late. Bhatta was extremely annoyed, and she left the house. When she was passing through the jungle, some thieves caught her and handed her over to their chief. The chief proposed to marry her but she would not consent. He sold her to a blood-seller. The blood-seller sold her blood, therefore shevbecame very weak. While undergoing this intense pain, her consciousness of forgiving awoke in her. Once one of her brothers found her. Now his sister had achieved total peacefulness. A deity disguised as a mystic descended on earth and came to test her. He asked for the lakshpak oil (an oil made from one lakh herbs;, which was extremely costly. Atukari told the maidservant to bring the container of lakshpak oil. As the maidservant was bringing the oil container, it slipped from her fingers and broke. She informed Atukari about the loss. Bhatta said, "Bring another lakshpak oil container." The maidservant again dropped it and broke it. The third time also the same thing happened. The mystic said, "Sister, it has been a big loss. Three containers of such costly oil have broken."The sister spoke, "Sire, I have realised and now know that matter is perishable and transitory. It cannot provide shelter. It creates happiness and sorrow. One day I got it, today I lost it, Where is the loss?" This is an illustration of the fruit of realisation of the impermanence and non-sheltering of matter.

Man has deep attachment to his physical body. Most of his time is spent in maintaining his body. His delusion is so profound and deep that he has accepted the body and soul to be the same. He always considers the body as his whole personality and existence. He cannot think and identify his existence as separate from the body. As long as this thinking persists, spirituality cannot materialise. The philosophy of "the contemplation of separation from the body" is that one's existence is different from the body. When the knowledge of the separation of the soul from the body awakens then spirituality starts taking root. Man accepts three traits of his personality - memory, imagination and thinking. All the three are mechanical and not related to the soul. Feeling is related to the soul. It cannot be mechanical. The one who realises happiness and sorrow exists. When the consciousness of the separation from the body awakens then only does spirituality commence.

It is ironical that the more man is possessed by material attachments, the more he considers himself capable, thinking possession is his strength. He does not want to be solitary, that is why he keeps complaining, "I have done so much for my brother, sister and relatives, and they all deceived me. I helped and cooperated but today they have become my worst enemy." I really pity them. In fact, these events keep happening, man experiences misery and restlessness only when he is attached and does not know the art of living alone. We may be practising any amount of good, altruism and philanthropy but we should never forget that eventually we are solitary. A person associated with the ultimate truth never experiences sorrow or misery.

Spirituality is based on the fourfold truths of impermanence, non-sheltering, separation of self from the material body, and solitariness. Those who have achieved the above said truth and realisations only can have a spiritual personality. They lead a life blessed with happiness and bliss.

The causes for mental tension arising in the family and community can be sought within these fourfold truths. Tension generally comes up when a man faces an unpleasant situation. A father expects that his son will take care of him in his old age. When he becomes old, the son cuts off relationship and separates from him. The father becomes tense and restless and his life becomes a burden.

The last step of spirituality is to be solitary. Mahavira has attached great importance to this state of solitariness. Meditation of solitariness was considered highly revered and important. A person who has learnt to feel solitary while living in a crowd, has learnt to lead a life free from tension. This is the truth and essence of spirituality. Spirituality does not approve of physical aloneness, which is achieved by renouncing society and sitting in a secluded place inside a cave or jungle. The biggest philosophy of a successful life is to realise solitude while living among people. Meditation may appear to be difficult but it is not impossible. On witnessing the truth, life becomes simple, pious and blissful.

We should not make spirituality socially unacceptable. We should avoid making statements which are beyond the understanding of human reasoning, such as, "to realise the consciousness", or "to perceive the soul", etc. All these are beyond human mind and reasoning. The practice of spirituality should be pragmatic and rational. These four contemplations are very practical. In the context of Prekshadhyana, we have accepted sixteen types of contemplations. Each contemplation is practised for months together and only then, are they assimilated in our life. The practice of contemplation is an infallible solution for all problems and it is also a superb divine step for achieving the pinnacle of spirituality.

Perception and contemplation should be practised together for the development of a blissful life. The practice of contemplation after the practice of perceiving and again the practice of perceiving after the practice of contemplation should go on relentlessly. The practice of perceiving is slightly difficult and the practice of contemplation is comparatively easier. The practice of contemplation is important for changing one's thoughts as it can result in the purification of mind.

Edited by Muni Dulharaj
Copyright by Pathfinder Trust, New Delhi, India ©2001
Published by Sterling Publishers Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi, India
Translated by Pathfinder Trust, New Delhi, India
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Arham
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Contemplation
  5. Fear
  6. Lakh
  7. Mahavira
  8. Meditation
  9. Moksha
  10. Muni
  11. Nagari
  12. OM
  13. Prekshadhyana
  14. Sambodhi
  15. Science
  16. Science Of Living
  17. Shrenik
  18. Soul
  19. Truth Of Life
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