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The Mirror Of The Self: [03] Mindfulness

Published: 19.01.2009
Updated: 19.01.2009

Samaadhi (Deep Concentration) And Success

The pupil, filled with the spirit of enquiry, says to the teacher, "Gurudev! Every man wants to succeed in life. Some men succeed, others do not. What is it that will ensure success? No one wants to fail; yet one fails. Why?"

The guru said briefly, "Success means samaadhi [deep concentration] and samaadhi is success." The two connote one and the same thing. It may be the field of religion, of education or of business; only that man succeeds who has achieved samaadi.. One, who has failed to achieve samaadhi, will not succeed anywhere.

Unmindfulness: Mindfulness

In the meditational technique of Jain philosophy, two most significant words are - dravya (virtual) and bhaava (real). Both these words have various connotations. In the present context, however, they have a different meaning altogether. I do something full consciously  - this is bhaava. I act unconsciously, absent-min­dedly, mechanically  - this is dravya. Mechanical, absent-minded action constitutes unmindfulness, whereas action performed with full concentration denotes mindfulness.

Where consciousness and action are indivisibly merged with each other, we have bhaava. When these two  - conscious­ness and action move in the same direction, when these are integrated with each other, we have mindfulness. When these move in different directions, we have unmindfulness.

The Secret Of Success

What Ls the secret oI success? And what causes unsucccss? These questions can be answered thus: The secret of success is mindfulness and the cause of failure is unmindfulness.

Bhaava denotes the union of action and consciousness. The disunion of consciousness and action is dravya. The foot goes forward, but consciousness lags behind  - it means unsuccess. Success is possible only when consciousness also moves forward with the advancing foot.   Not only does the body move, but consciousness also moves with it. Not only does the tongue speak, but consciousness also speaks with it. Not only does the ear hear, but consciousness also hears with it. It often happens that only the ear hears. A man seems to give ear to what is being said, but his mind is stuck up elsewhere. This constitutes the biggest cause of failure. It only leads to delusion and to complete absence of effort, independence and receptivity.  In such a state, the question of mindfulness does not arise at all. That is why it is said that an action performed negligently, does not succeed. How can an undertaking in which the mind is not wholly involved, be ever crowned with success?

Mindful Action Alone Is Vital Action

The secret of success is mindfulness. It is the first principle of initiation into preksha meditation. Mindful action means vital action and mindless action has little life in it. It is consciousness, which fills one with power. That action with which consciousness is allied, is vital action; whereas an action which is not allied with consciousness, grows effete. It Ls a mere skeleton without the breath of life instilled in it. There lies the entire framework of the body, with hands, feet and all other limbs intact, with no part putrefying, covered with ice and treated with chemicals. Il lies there as before, without any visible change, but it has no life and without life it is utterly useless. The mummies of Egyptian kings have been lying preserved in the pyramids for thousands of years. Even today they look as they did a thousand years ago. But they have no life. It is the characteristic of a pyramid that milk placed in it will not go sour, nor jam rot therein. Everything keeps its appearance as before but they are devoid of any consciousness or life.

What are really important are consciousness and life. An action, which is not allied with consciousness, has in it no vitality. Until an idol is properly installed with due ceremony, it commands no worship. Those who believe in idol-worship, worship only that idol which is duly installed. Whatever we do, we must do it consciously. It is consciousness, which invests an action with power. Success accompanies vitality. Apart from vitality, there can be no success. Vital action is mindfulness whereas lifeless action constitutes mindlessness.

Two Kinds Of Meditation

The disciple said, "Gurudev! During the whole day, I meditate for half an hour. Sometimes I sit in meditation for an hour. The remaining 23 hours are devoted to other works. How can one hour of meditation influence the remaining 23 hours? How do we assess their respective merits? Assessment means the deter­mination of their relative strength or weakness. Which action is endowed with greater power? What commands greater force? Twenty-three hours or one hour? Twenty-three hours constitute a long period of time as compared to one hour. One continues in meditation for an hour, with one's attention concentrated, but remains fickle-minded for 23 hours. How will such a one succeed in his aim?"

The guru said, "Let not your meditation be bound to time. Meditation is of two kinds - one time-bound, the other free, un­bound, eternal. One should be in meditation all the time. Then bondage to time dissolves. To sit in meditation for half an hour or for an hour, is a special exercise. You must learn to meditate aj all hours. Then the question that you have raised will not arise at all; fickleness will never become a problem."

Movement And Pause

How many times do we eat in a day? Twice, or at the most thrice. More than that, one must not eat. He who eats live or seven times a day, one who is eating all the time, lives not for himself, but for the doctors. Eating loo often creates a number of problems,. The teeth get no rest, nor the intestines, nor the stomach, let alone the liver and the spleen. We just do not know how to take or give rest. If you overtax a person with work, he starts avoiding you. We should take only as much work out of a person which he can easily give. It is necessary to keep within limits. There is a pause to every movement; each exercise should be followed by relaxation; work and leisure go together.

Word, Meaning And Consciousness

If consciousness is allied with every activity, our life is irradiated by mindfulness. While taking our meals, the whole of our consciousness is allied with eating.  Eating then becomes mindful action. Similarly with walking, speaking, hearing and seeing. If the entire functioning of the five sense organs is invested with mindfulness, the practice of perpetual meditation becomes a distinct possibility.  The Vedic people recited hymns in their evening prayers; the Jains do pratikraman (retrospection). Ob­serve a man doing pratikraman. He articulates the prescribed words all right but does not know what they mean. Another person articulates them well and at the same time knows what they mean, but his mind is not wholly allied with his utterance; his consciousness is not fully involved.  So the whole performance becomes inert, lifeless. Such pratikraman is dravya (unmindfulness), not bhaava (mindfulness). People often say, "We have been reciting the Navkar mantra for years, yet our mind is never wholly in it. We perform pratikraman, but we experience no joy in doing so. Why? How is it that it excites little interest in us? The labour of years has produced no fruit! That there has been no fruition, no development of interest, means something is wrong somewhere. Firstly, we may not be well acquainted with the words or our articulation may be imperfect. Secondly, we may not comprehend their meaning. We go on iterating them, without knowing what we are saying. Thirdly, it may be a mechanical performance, with our mind wholly uninvolved and no sense of utility whatever!

The Problem Of Communication

An old tale! The mother-in-law said to the daughter-in-law, "Let me know when, after you have churned the curd, the makhan (the Hindi word for 'butter') rises to the surface!" The daughter-in-law started churning. After a while, the butter duly surfaced. Now a problem arose: How to inform the mother-in-law? What words to use? For her father-in-law's name was Makhan Lal, makhan, as given earlier, being the Hindi word for butter, and in olden times it was considered impolite and hence forbidden for a wife to utter not only her husband's name, but also the name of her father-in-law. At last, the daughter-in-law thought of a way of informing her mother-in-law that the butter had surfaced, without using the Hindi word, makhan, which custom forbade her to pronounce. She said, "0 Mother! Come at once, for respected father-in-law is skimming on the surface of butter-oil!" The mother-in-law rushed to her daughter-in-law in panic and demanded of her, "What are you talking about?  Your father-in-law sailing on the surface! Where?" The daughter-in-law pointed to the butter that had col­lected on the surface, and said, "There!"

When we are handicapped in communication, the word, 'father-in- law' is made to do service for 'butter', giving rise to a ridiculous situation! In the absence of correspondence between the word and its meaning, there can be no mindful action, without which no success is possible.

The Cause Of Failure

Mindfulness is necessary for success in life and mindfulness requires word-comprehension, comprehension of meaning and utilization of consciousness. It is only when all these three condi­tions are fulfilled that a man achieves success in life. The great industrialists, who have succeeded in the field of business, have all worked with great concentration and devotion. Their concentra­tion was like the concentration of a yogi rapt in meditation. All their attention was focussed on one point and thus they reached the summit of success.   In the absence of concentration and mindfulness, there can be no success. It is surprising that in the Olympic games organised recently, participants from some very small Countries won 5-10 gold medals, whereas a big country like India failed to secure a single gold medal. The reason is very clear  - we are just incapable of mindful action.

Mindfulness is not only the principle of religion. It is the secret of success in every field. Take the case of a student. How can he achieve success in the field of education? How can he develop and go far in his field? If he wants to know the secret of progress, he will have to achieve samadhi (deep concentration) first and foremost, he will have to live a life of mindfulness.

Mindfulness: Three Dimensions

Mindfulness has three dimensions  - to keep awake forever, to live in the present and to act consciously. One important maxim of life is wakefulness. A little negligence and the problem gets complicated. Wakefulness is the great secret of success.

The second dimension of mindfulness is to live in the present. A man hardly knows how to live in the present. Of course, one cannot completely cut oneself off from the past and the future. The past and the future, too, must be lived. The memory of the past and imagined future have both their own importance, but one must steer clear of inessential memory, and imagination. The man, who learns to live in the present, does not get involved unnecessarily with the past and the future. The practice of living in the present is essential for success.

The third dimension of mindfulness is that whatever we do, we do it consciously. When we are eating, we must know that we are eating; taking food then becomes a yoga. If we walk, we must be aware that we are walking; it is the yoga of walking. If we speak, we exercise self-restraint; we speak after full deliberation; it becomes the yoga of speech.

Fickleness And Suffering

Maharshi Patanjali gives us a very significant dictum: "Fickleness is accompanied by four things  - suffering, ill-will, trembling and shallow respiration.  He who is fickle will ex­perience greater suffering. He who is incapable of mindfulness, undergoes much pain. The greater the restlessness, the greater will be the feeling of pain. On the other hand, the deeper the meditation and integration, the lesser one's suffering. It is sensation, which forms the basis of pain. The pain is not caused by some particular hurt. Take the case of a thorn-prick in the foot. As soon as the thorn pricks, our sensory nerves carry the message to the brain. The moment, the brain registers the sensation, pain is felt. Then the motor nerves are directed to remove the pain. The finger lifts up of itself, pulls out the thorn and the pain is relieved. If the message about the thorn-prick does not reach the brain, no pain or suffering will be felt. The pain is caused by fickleness. If fickle­ness is forestalled, there would be no pain. Suffering is caused by perplexity, fickleness and absence of deep absorption. Remove perplexity, and the pain is gone.

Fickleness: Ill-Will

Many desires are born in a man's mind. One feels within oneself a desire for something. If one cannot get it, one feels hurt. The anguish created in consciousness by that hurt is ill-will. The greater the fickleness, the greater the ill-will. One man makes a mountain of a molehill while to another even a mountain appears as a molehill. What accounts for the difference is the degree of fickleness, more or less, found in the two men.

Restlessness: Vibration

Wherever there is restlessness, there is vibration. A man does not know how to keep still. It is not possible for him to sit still even for two minutes. When there is restlessness within, in the mind, it will manifest itself in the body. If a man learns to keep still for twenty minutes, it would mean that inner perplexity has somewhat decreased. People attending a meditation camp for the first time, feel somewhat odd for a few days. They feel so restless that during one hour of meditation they are obliged to change their position 25-30 times. But after practising meditation for 5-6 days, it so happens that a man does not change his posture even once during one hour. This becomes possible because of the stilling of restlessness.

Restlessness And The Pace Of Breathing

With an increase in restlessness, the movement of breath grows faster. Generally, a man takes 15-16 breaths per minute. With the awakening of lust, restlessness increases and the rate of breathing goes up to 50-60 breaths per minute. 50-60 breaths instead of the usual 15-16! How can life go on under such conditions? How much vital power is consumed? All this hap­pens because of excitement. He who has practised concentration, has grasped the secret of mindfulness, will experience no pain, nor ill-will, nor any trembling. His breathing grows mild.

Meditation Not Bound With Time

Mindfulness is perpetual meditation. It is not bound to time. There is a kind of food, which is taken 2-3 times a day; there is another kind of nutrition, which is consumed all the time, 24 hours, day and night.

A man cannot take meals through the mouth too many times, but he receives nutrition through the pores of his body ceaselessly. The man who does not receive such nutrition 24 hours of the day, cannot survive. If nutrition through the pores stopped for an hour or even for 10 minutes, a man begins to writhe in pain. Similarly, time-bound meditation can be practised 2-3 times a day. But mindfulness is a kind of meditation which can be practised 24 hours of the day and night. Whenever we speak, we do it con­sciously and then speaking becomes meditation. If we walk or hear, we do so with full awareness. Thus, speaking, walking, hearing and eating all become meditation. Reading and writing, too. Then, every action of ours is meditation.

Mindfulness, Samaadhi (Intense Meditation) And Religion

Acharya Haribhadra has written that the whole business of religion is yoga. It is a round-the-clock practice of meditation. Mindfulness means the union of the mind with the action of the moment. We find it difficult to effect this union. We do some­thing and our mind is elsewhere. While counting the beads, we keep thinking of the breakfast. While listening to the discourse, the mind is preoccupied with some matter of business. Tne mind wanders all the time. It is not disposed to accompany the body. Though bound together, the mind and the body run contrary to each other and this contrariety never comes to an end. The mind moves in one direction and the body moves in a different direction. This keeping apart  - the breach between the mind and the body constitutes irreligion. This is the opposite of samadhi; it is rest­lessness. The union of the mind and the body constitutes mind­fulness, samadhi and religion.

The Doctrine Of Ayurveda

The practice of concentration is necessary for ending restlessness. Time-bound meditation serves to lessen restlessness. This one-hour meditation is an initiatory exercise. The ultimate objective is to enter a state of mind when every activity is suffused with consciousness, a condition of perpetual awareness. Therein lies the secret of success. The Acharyas of Ayurveda, loo, have laid bare this secret. Charak says, "While taking food, put your whole mind into it!" An experiment has been started in preksha meditation camps. At meal time, one of the sadhaks continually repeats the direction, "Eat with mindfulness!" This serves to alert all the sadhaks. They keep fully aware of each movement in the course of eating. "Here, I put a morsel into my mouth; it is in the mouth; it is going down!" The conscious mind is kept allied with the functioning of the voluntary nervous system. When the con­scious mind enters the sphere of autonomous action, the body functions efficiently of itself.

Consciousness And Action Moving In One Direction

Charak says, "When the conscious mind is allied with the functioning of the voluntary system, the digestive system also functions properly. While taking food, we might chew it and send it down, but if our mind is preoccupied with something else, our digestive system will not work properly. The hand is engaged in putting food into the mouth, but the mind is stuck up with some business deal, or preoccupied with the making of a poem or an article. The brain and the stomach are functioning in contrary directions. This is bound to lead to disorder. Why disorder? We must understand it well. If the stomach is to fulfil its function of digesting the food fed into it, it must have the requisite quantity of blood. Similarly, the brain engaged in thinking requires its full quota of blood. There is not so much blood in the body that the blood-circulatory system should cater to the needs of both all at once. The body so functions as to turn the flow of the blood towards that part of the body, which requires it most. For the food to be properly digested, the stomach and the duodenum must have their full supply of blood. If at that time a man starts thinking, The flow of the blood will turn in the direction of the brain. The stomach and the duodenum will be starved of their share of blood and the digestive system will not function properly. The stomach would rebel. If this state continues for 10-20 days, the digestive system would go out of order. This is the culmination of con­sciousness and action moving in contrary directions. Only when consciousness is identified with action, will the action be right. Mindfulness is the secret of success.


3rd Edition 1995

Jain Vishva Bharati Institute
Ladnun -341 306 (Rajasthan)

Muni Dhananjay Kumar (Hindi)
Muni Mahendra Kumar (English)

Translated by:
Late Prof. R.K. Seth

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Haribhadra
  3. Acharyas
  4. Ayurveda
  5. Bhaava
  6. Body
  7. Brain
  8. Concentration
  9. Consciousness
  10. Dravya
  11. Guru
  12. Gurudev
  13. Haribhadra
  14. Jain Philosophy
  15. Mantra
  16. Meditation
  17. Navkar Mantra
  18. Patanjali
  19. Pratikraman
  20. Preksha
  21. Preksha Meditation
  22. Preksha Meditation Camps
  23. Sadhaks
  24. Samaadhi
  25. Samadhi
  26. Vedic
  27. Yoga
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