The Mirror Of The Self: [05] Friendliness

Published: 21.01.2009

Freedom From Reaction And Friendliness

There is an intimate relationship between freedom from reaction and friendliness. If one is free from reaction, the spirit of friendliness would grow and in the absence of such freedom, reaction would grow and there would be no end to animosity. Wherever there is reaction, wherever there is the feeling of enmity, the mind is filled with ill thoughts and ill feelings. The minds of most people are full of malice. They always think in terms of retaliation. "That man has done this or that harm to me!" Each man groans under a tremendous burden of God knows how many blighted relationships! There are some people who do not carry any burden at all. Something happens. The man says to himself, "Well, it's over! Why should I think about it any further?" And he ends the whole thing then and there!

Spirit Of Brotherhood

The feeling of brotherhood forestalls a hostile reaction. The development of a sense of brotherhood is the need of the day. A sweet tranquil spirit lays a great stress on it:

"You should meditate on friendliness.
All living beings in this world are your kinsfolk.
None is your enemy.
Let not your mind be infected by strife, for strife destroys all merit."

Such a contemplation of brotherhood serves to still the passions. In a man filled with tranquillity, reaction gives place to non- reaction and this consummates in friendship.

One of the causes of reaction is the predominance of self-interest. Selfishness ever gives rise to reaction.

A government operative went to a man's house to defray a refund due to him. A servant stood at the gate. The operative asked the servant if the master of the house was in.

The servant said, "Well, what is it you want?"

The operative said he had come to defray a bill.

The servant grew wary at the very mention of a bill. He misunderstood the operative and thought the master would not be very pleased to see who had come to collect something. So he said, "The master is out!"

The operative said, "What a bother! I'll have to come again. Please tell me when will your master return. I have only to make some payment to him. I am not here to take anything from him."

Whereupon the servant changed his tune. "Oh! You want to make a payment! Well, I'll go in and find out if the master has since returned." And he fetched his master immediately.

When the master is required to pay a bill, he is out. When he has to receive a payment, he is in.

Two Kinds Of Reaction

The passions raging within stand in the way of a person coming to terms with circumstance. On account of these passions, a man indulges in strange kinds of behaviour. His conduct is extroversive; it is not easy to explain all that he does.

Man is so complex that it is not possible to define him adequately. That is why reactionary conduct has been divided into various types. A question arose as to the time taken in reacting. It was said that a simple response takes less time whereas a complex reaction takes longer. Take the case of a moving proces­sion. It is told to stop at the red sign. As soon as a red Hag is waved, the procession would stop. Now add this much to the instruction: "Do not stop if a blue or green flag is waved!" You will immediately notice a difference in the time taken to react. "Pay back in the same coin!" constitutes a simple reaction. One does not have to think about it. Tit for tat! This principle of retaliation is deeply entrenched within us. A man hardly considers what he should say and what he should not. We have come to believe that if somebody calls us a fool, we should immediately retaliate by calling him a greater fool. Such a response requires no deliberation. If, on the other hand, a man says to himself, "The other person has called me a fool. Now, what am I going to do about it?" The lime to react is extended thereby. With the lengthening of the interval between action and reaction, the urge to call the other person a greater fool, subsides.

The Principle Of Freedom From Reaction

Here is one exercise for practising will-power. Whenever you are assayed by anger, make it a point to observe silence for ten minutes. Do not speak: Someone might object, "Well, if I have to keep mum for len minutes, why should I open my lips later? There would be no occasion for it then. If I speak at all, I must do it now in the heat of the moment. Someone calls me a fool; I would call him a damned fool. After ten minutes, the whole pleasure of instant retort will be lost!" As a matter of fact, the secret of friendliness or freedom from reaction lies in prolonging the interval between action and reaction. The principle of freedom from reaction is - "If you cannot exterminate passions altogether, do not at least react immediately." In the absence of instant reaction, many problems get resolved of themselves. All controversies, disputes, mutual recrimination and conflicts arise from instant reaction. If there is a pause, if the interval between action and reaction is prolonged, all strife is stilled, leading to the estab­lishment of cordial relationship.

Evolution Of Friendliness

The basic principle of life is to keep cheerful. Some people are always happy; there are others whose faces never display a trace of joy. Why so? Happiness constitutes the great secret of living. A man who keeps cheerful crosses many hurdles effort­lessly. But is such happiness possible? It is possible with the evolution of a spirit of goodwill and friendliness. The man, whose mind is filled with enmity, cannot be happy. Such a person says to himself, "This man has done me ill; that man has insulted me. Such and such people I must take revenge upon." The man who is pervaded by the spirit of revenge has before him a long list of enemies. He is totally preoccupied with the ways and means of avenging insults and harms done to him. All his energy is spent therein. Under these conditions, how can he be happy? He does not give happiness a chance to visit him. The practice of goodwill and friendliness is a great exercise. It is the secret of a happy life. The physicians tell their patients, "Be happy and keep hundreds of diseases at bay!" To continue in sadness is to invite disease. The development of a spirit of friendliness constitutes in itself the great secret of a healthy and happy life.

Friendliness: Self-Realisation

Friendliness means to realise oneself in all; to regard others as one regards oneself. One of the aphorisms of meditation is - "Observe the soul through the soul!" One is required to observe the soul in oneself as well as in others. He who becomes capable of observing one soul, becomes capable of observing all other souls. Friendliness does not only mean - that we do not quarrel with another. Friendliness also means - to realise oneself in others. Just as we experience the soul in ourselves, we also experience it in another. "Just as I have a soul, this man, loo, has a soul; the Supreme Spirit bides in him, loo." With the strengthening of this realisation, a man's whole outlook undergoes a change. When our experience is confined to the surface, we entertain different ideas about a person. "He is good; he is bad; he is black; he is a cheat, a fool, etc." Our behaviour at this superficial level will be different; it will not be based upon self-realisation. Friendliness means that we have a glimpse in others of the self­same Supreme Power, which bides within us. This experience of equating others with oneself is real friendliness.

The House Of Meditation

We should make an effort to be free from reaction and to develop friendliness. This proves very helpful' in the practice of meditation; Meditation otherwise remains an isolated endeavour. But there is a complete household of meditation. The head of a family has a household of his own. Take any constellation in the solar system. Each constellation constitutes a complete household in itself. Similarly, the head of an Order has a household of his own - his disciples constitute his household. Some people com­plain, "We did practise meditation, but nothing happened!" Now, if one practises meditation alone but ignores the household of meditation, it will not yield the desired result. We should adopt not only meditation but the entire household of meditation. Mind­fulness, freedom from reaction, friendliness, moderation in food and speech - all these constitute the household of meditation. For good results, along with meditation, we must own the entire household.  Then shall we witness a change in our life, feel a growing interest in meditation and experience bliss.


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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  1. Anger
  2. Contemplation
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