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Truth Of Life: [4.3] Awakening - 25 - Art Of Perceiving

Published: 16.06.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

The Art & Science Of Living

Chapter 4.



Art Of Perceiving

[The practice ofawakening is to see things as they are, to perceive with an equanimous view one's likes and dislikes. Life cannot go without society, and sadhana cannot be performed without solitariness. Both life and sadhana are important as they collectively bringfulfilment in life.

Non-attachment initially leads to the state of oneness with the Absolute Being and then to liberation. Solitude can be practised even while living in society by the practice of awareness.

Awakening is a very big necessity to practise art and sadhana. Unfortunately, few people prefer to practise it, most opt to lead an infatuated life. It is difficult to awaken them. They remain indecisive and unaware of their duties and responsibilities. Meditation can be a blessing and beneficialfor the whole society.]

Whatever we confront, we see. No practice is required to see anything. A child is born, it opens its eyes and after some time, it starts seeing. We have the ability to see from birth, then what is the need to practise seeing again? Generally, a thing which has not been learnt needs practice. In this situation, we have to grasp the secret of seeing and perceiving. We do not see by the naked eye only, behind that there is a power and impulse of likes and dislikes. We should perceive the truth without any reactions. The practice of awareness is to perceive the object as it is. A person who cannot perceive in relation to likes and dislikes cannot be aware. The one who is aware is able to perceive the object as it is. He will be able to crush the power of reactions of likes and dislikes behind his act of perceiving.

Basically man is social by nature. He cannot live without society. Even a meditator or a monk cannot live without society. He wants food, house, clothes and medicines in case of sickness. All the necessities of life are obtained from society. Even a person, sitting in the caves of the Himalayas or in a jungle, requires fruits, flowers, etc., for sustenance. All these things belong to society or a nation.

The general perception of living means to live with society, in the environment of society, using the heritage of society. Heritages like Himalayas, forests etc., also belong to a country or society. No one can sustain life without social heritage or society. In such a situation, how can one think of solitariness? From the point of view of meditation, the practice of solitariness is very important. So there is a struggle between being solitary or living in a society. Mahavira has given a beautiful description in this context. He preached, "Every matter should be perceived from two points of views. One is the empirical view and the other is the transcendental view." Forms keep changing. Situations go on changing. This is also a reality. We should not accept it as a misconception or an illusion. Transcendentality is also a reality and empiricism is also a reality. The major problem of the world is the one­sided outlook No one can live without society and nobody can practice meditation without being solitary. Mahavira harmonised both of them. The beliefs of empiricism and transcendentality have to be harmonised. Both should be perceived inseparably. The world is run by empiricism and the life of the meditator is also run by empiricism. Transcendentality cannot run life. In transcendentality, the soul and its realisation are the only reality. Reality is neither food nor drink But the world cannot be run by reality alone; as long as there is life, it has to be nourished.

If we think from the perspective of physiology, then the mind must get nutrition in accordance with its needs, only then can it think, contemplate and practise meditation. A person with a powerful and healthy mind can only think about the soul or ultimate reality. A weak or unhealthy mind becomes tired after thinking for a while, and it has to either stop its thinking process, or its thinking process itself gets disturbed and hindered. That is how the nourishing of a body is an empirical necessity.

There is an anecdote from Bhagavati Sutra (a Jain canonical text) Mahavira lived a tough life of meditation for twelve and a half years. His body became a skeleton as he practised hard penance. After achieving the state of oneness with the Absolute Being, he ate averyday and his body became highly energetic. He started looking handsome. On getting nutrition, the body becomes handsome, healthy and energetic. Lack of nutrition decays the beauty of a person and impairs his health. Though all these facts are physical, this is also a reality.

Man can still practise solitariness even while leading a social life. Meditation means the practice of solitariness. In the state of realisation, Mahavira said, "Sadhana can be practised in a village and in a forest also." This statement creates a dualism, a contradiction. It actually emphasizes, "If you have given up attachment and hatred, you are no more a slave to attachment and hatred so there is no use of going to the jungle as the very purpose of renouncing society was to give up attachment and hatred."

In case you have not given up all attachments then there is no use of renouncing society and going to the forest as you will still be pursuing and carrying hatred and attachment with you to the forest. The main philosophy is to give up attachment and hatred. Mahavira preached a broad, universal view of meditation. He enunciated fifteen types of perfections or liberations.

In this context, we have to assimilate the fact that man can be solitary even while living in society. In the sojourn of life, society can never be renounced. Neither Budhha, Mahavira nor Shankara renounced society. Most of the meditators have remained among the people and society and maintained the state of solitariness.

A householder, a person in the garb of a Jain ascetic, or any other ascetic, can be liberated. This envisages the cosmic and universal view of religion. We can get liberation even while living in society and family. Superficially, the liberated people may look different but spiritually, the reason for the liberation of all of them is one of non-attachment. All of them became non-attached, so they got liberated. Though all of them had different roles, backgrounds and interests yet they had the same non-attachment feelings. After accomplishing non-attachment, one achieves the state of oneness with the Absolute Being before achieving liberation.

This philosophy of Acharya Bhikshu is very appealing and important. It states "I shall live in groups but I shall maintain my solitariness." This is a real solution. This is the panacea for all the disharmonies and dualities existing within.

The question arises, "How can we maintain the state of solitariness even while living in society?" Its solution is to practise the perception of solitariness of the soul. Actually, our bonds are formed through the body, family and wealth power. We extend our bonds in the universe through these three sources.

Man cannot be solitary as long as his body and mind keep wandering. Even if he sits in the caves of the Himalayas still he will be affected by the contaminated thoughts of the the ninety crore people of India. In fact, thoughts pervade the whole space, cosmos, even the caves of the Himalayas cannot be without them. Therefore the man sitting in the cave cannot remain unaffected by thoughts. Today, when a nuclear explosion takes place, it affects everybody. Can a man in India be unaffected by its consequences? Will the caves of Himalaya be without the nuclear dust and pollution? It is a transitional world; the action at one place leads to a reaction everywhere.

The purpose of sadhana is to reform one's attitude and practise awareness. We must learn to perceive. There may be two different attitudes in perception. A farmer was going to sow seeds in his field. He met an ascetic on the way. The farmer was disturbed by the sight of the ascetic. He exclaimed "Oh! This is an ill omen." He grumbled at the ascetic, stating, "The head of the ascetic is big but there is no hair at all. It means this time my crop will be bitter, there will be ears of corn without grains."

The ascetic went a little ahead. Another farmer was coming out of his house to sow seeds in his field. He was immensely delighted to see the ascetic. He said, "Oh! This is an extremely good omen. It appears that this time the ears of corn will be very big, like his head, and full of grains."

Though the ascetic was one, two different people perceived him differently. The rain fell. The crop prospered in accordance with different attitudes and feelings. The crop of the first farmer became bitter and grainless, whereas the crop of the other farmer was abundant with grains. Many conclusions can be drawn from a single incident. A single word can give several meanings.

Our attitude should be such that we can assimilate the truth. It develops only after the culmination of meditation, but we should try to practise from the very beginning. Unfortunately man gets entangled in the beginning itself and is hardly inclined in this direction. One who thinks and perceives transcendentally and empirically is blessed with the state of solitariness while living in society. This is true that a social being has to pass through different situations, low and high, and upheavals. He has to interact with people of different interests, idiosyncrasies and behaviours. In such circumstances it is very important and necessary to maintain the balance in order to perpetuate the state of solitariness.

Gurdieff practised solitariness while living in groups. Mahavira also practised the contemplation of separation from the body and the contemplation of solitariness while living in groups. Once Gosalak said, accusing Mahavira, "Initially, Mahavira was alone, now he lives comfortably in society. Formerly he used to practise asceticism and penance now he takes meals daily." And there were many different kinds of accusations but Mahavira was not affected by these accusations. At the beginning of meditation, some restrictions and controls are suggested, which facilitate and become conducive to develop the state of meditation.

After the culmination of meditation, it becomes immaterial what the meditator eats.There are many attitudes of perception. The meditator should not underestimate others. He should not develop the ego that others are guided by delusion, whereas he is in the state of awareness. Thinking in such a perspective is not entirely correct, fruitful or helpful for meditation. Every man has a part of delusion and awareness in him.This is also not equally true that a meditator becomes totally free from delusion. As long as the state of culmination of non-attachment is not achieved, till then every man has some delusion and imperfection in him. On elevation to the unerring state, non-attachment sets in. Only on attainment of non-attachment does the man become free from delusion. The lesser the delusion in man, the lesser will he be impressed by the ups and downs of life. Mantri Muni was a distinguished mystic in our association. He had a very thoughtful and deep insight. He used to listen to and know everything but he was neither influenced nor did he ever react. If anybody asked him, he would cite a couplet and stress that one should react minimally.

There is an anecdote from the Agam (Jain canonical text). An ascetic was roaming in a lonely forest. In loneliness, meditation can be practised or an unethical act also can be done. The ascetic observed that a youngster was misbehaving with a young lady. He overlooked that and advanced further. The youngster thought that the mystic had seen him doing this unethical act, now he would be defamed in the village. It was better to kill him here itself. He ran and stood in his way and asked the ascetic, "Tell me, what did you see on the way just now?" The ascetic remained silent. The youngster excitedly asked, "Tell the truth, otherwise I shall kill you here." The ascetic replied, "Gentleman, an ascetic hears many things and sees many kinds of happenings but a meditator never conveys it to anyone or reacts to that. He remains engrossed within him." The youngster became relieved and freed the ascetic. A person, who lives in society witnesses many incidents. In case he gets affected by them it means that he is not solitary but still in duality. The state of solitariness means to introspect, know the truth and be detached. Introspection is not bad. Introspection itself becomes enlightenment.

Samudrapal was looking out from a small window. Guards were dragging a handcuffed criminal forcibly. He was wearing red clothes and a garland of red flowers. Samudrapal was apprised that the prisoner was an oppressive tyrant and thief so he was being taken to the slaughterhouse. Samudrapal heard, introspected and then concluded that the consequences of unrighteous actions have to be faced here and after death too. His feelings got purified and he learnt the lesson for guidance and direction.

The meditator should not hate a poor and weak person. He should learn from weaknesses but hating the weak is not good or worthwhile. Ardhkumar was going to Mahavira. On the way he met teachers of different religions. Somebody pointed out to him, "You indulge in criticism of others." Ardhkumar clarified, "I am criticising the outlook, I am not detesting any particular person." Mahatma Gandhi also used to say, "Hate the sin, not the sinner." We should definitely investigate all events, only then will we know how strange the fruition of action is. All varieties, differences and dissimilarities in the world are due to the fruition of action. A simple method is to perceive, follow the right path and control oneself by contemplating fruitful actions. On development of this outlook, one is able to perceive properly. The meaning of awakening is the practice of awareness. It is to perceive reality from both points of views - empirical and transcendental - and to understand the backgrounds of both separately. On fulfilling empirical needs, one should practise transcendentalism and realise the solitariness within. On acquiring that state, awareness goes on deepening. Awareness is a very important art of meditation. Unfortunately, few people move in this direction. Most prefer to continue to be in the state of delusion. It becomes very difficult to awaken them. In the state of delusion, truth has no room and it hardly surfaces. Man is unable to differentiate between righteousness and unrighteousness. The state of sleep is delusion and the state of awakening is awareness. In order to practise awakening, empiricism has to be understood and appreciated at its level and transcendentalism has to be grasped at its level, only then can meditation prove to be a blessing for society.

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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Agam
  4. Bhagavati Sutra
  5. Bhikshu
  6. Body
  7. Contemplation
  8. Crore
  9. Environment
  10. Gandhi
  11. Mahatma
  12. Mahatma Gandhi
  13. Mahavira
  14. Mantri
  15. Meditation
  16. Muni
  17. Sadhana
  18. Science
  19. Science Of Living
  20. Soul
  21. Space
  22. Sutra
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