The Mirror Of The Self: [21] Leshya: The Current Of Feeling

Published: 03.03.2009

What is your will? What spirit actuates you? What kind of thoughts do you entertain? These three exercises manifest three levels of our consciousness. There arc many levels of consciousness. On the basis of these have been developed different uses of language. "What is your will?" This sentence signifies no thinking; the mind remains uninvolved. ll is something beyond the mind. Will-power functions at a deep level, whereas the mind functions at a very superficial level.

The Level Of Desire

One man went to a tailor for getting a jacket made for himself. A few days elapsed. The man asked the tailor if his coat was ready and when he (the tailor) was going to deliver it. The tailor said, "Whenever God wills!" The man went back to the tailor after a few days, put the same question, which fetched the same reply. When the tailor gave the same answer for the third time, the man said, "Please stop this chant about God's will. I want to know your will. When are you going to deliver my coat?"

The Level Of Feeling

A man usually functions on the basis of the consciousness of desire. The consciousness of feeling works at a deeper level. What really matters is one's motive, one's inner attitude. Whatever comes to pass happens of itself.  No effort is involved there. It is some inner force or inspiration, which makes everything clinch. That is the level of feeling. Nothing is visible from outside; all is actuated from within.

A Fire Is Burning Inside

Kabir's famous line comes to the mind:

"Nothing is discernible from outside, but inside a fire is burning."

The flame is covered by the ashes. It is not apparent. Nevertheless, the fire is burning underneath. Similarly, our feeling constitutes that level of consciousness which is not visible outwardly, but which is constantly functioning from within. A fire is perpetually burning inside. Often we ask people, "What is your motive in doing what you are doing?" Such a question is invariably asked: What is the inner urge behind your action? It means that there is a deeper level - the level of the underlying spirit - to every action.

The Monkey's Cleverness

There grew up a friendship between a crocodile and a monkey. It was the mango season. There stood a gigantic mango tree beside the stream. The monkey would pick up a mango and put it in the crocodile's mouth. The crocodile very much relished its taste. He grew to be very fond of eating mangoes. One day, the she-crocodile said to her husband, "You return home very late these days. What's the matter?" The crocodile said, "There lives a friend of mine on the bank of the stream. He gives me sweet mangoes to eat. The mangoes are so delicious, that I cannot help eating them. That is how I get late." The she-crocodile said, "You have such a repast every day, but you never bring any mangoes for me!" And an altogether different idea crossed her mind, 'The monkey consumes so many sweet mangoes every day. How delectably delicious such a monkey's flesh would be!' So she said to her husband, "No, I don't wish for mangoes; I wish for the monkey that eats such mangoes. You must get me the monkey for my repast. I would relish eating the monkey's heart. Please get me that!" The crocodile said, "What are you talking about? The monkey is my friend. I haven't the heart to kill him for your pleasure." But the crocodile's mate continued adamant. The crocodile was not an ungrateful brute, but he could not but yield before his wife's importunity. He said to himself, "If I do not fulfil her desire, it would result in a family quarrel, causing me great unrest." So, the next day, he said to the monkey, "My dear friend, my wife is desirous of meeting you. Won't you like to be acquainted with her? She is very eager to see you." The monkey said, "But how may I visit her? I can't go deep into the water!" The crocodile offered to resolve that problem. He said, "Get on to my back; I'll take you there." So the monkey sat on the crocodile's back. The crocodile grew very sentimental and let out the secret that the she-crocodile wanted to eat the monkey's heart. Thereupon, the monkey acted with great cunning. He said, "You're a fool! Why didn't you tell me of it before? You see, we monkeys go leaping from one tree to another; so we do not carry, our heart with us. Had you told me before, I would have brought my heart with me. So let us get back to my tree and fetch the heart!" The crocodile started back towards the monkey's domicile. When they reached the bank of the stream, the monkey jumped off the crocodile's back and went up the tree.

The crocodile acted on the level of sentiment, without any deep thinking. As the monkey climbed up the tree to safety, the crocodile kept staring at him blankly. Much too late did he realize that he had been outwitted.

Sentiment And Thought

Every living being is carried away by feeling. The cow, the buffalo, the elephant, the horse - these have no capacity for thinking. They have a mind, but it is very limited. 'The mind partakes of a deeper consciousness.' Such a description of the mind does not apply to the beasts; it is only applicable to human beings, and not to all human beings at that. There are idiots, who are devoid of forethought and can hardly remember what transpired an hour ago. They have little memory or imagination. Nor are they capable of any planning or thought. Not to speak of animals, many men, too, though possessed of a mind, act thoughtlessly.

In The Language Of Psychology

The function of the mind is to reflect, to think. The mind and the psyche are not one and the same. Leshya is not the mind. The psyche constitutes a deeper level of our consciousness; in psychological terms it may be called the sub-conscious. In psychology are to be found three terms - the conscious, the sub-conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious perhaps corresponds with adhyavasaya. Here the unconscious does not mean 'inanimate'. When the conscious mind lies dormant, the inner consciousness functions still. And it is this consciousness, which constitutes the unconscious mind.

In Terms Of Jain Philosophy

In terms of Jain philosophy, adhyavasaya (the field of primal drives) constitutes our subtlemost consciousness. Our urges and impulses or leshyas constitute our subtle consciousness and chitta (the psyche) constitutes our gross consciousness. The level of leshya is the level of being, a level of subtle consciousness, where something is happening every moment; the wheel of inner impulses is perpetually turning. During sleep, our conscious mind does not function, but the cycle of urges and impulses goes on. Even in sleep, a man continues to be driven by his inner urges. These never cease. They may or may not utilize the mind. A man makes use of his mind while awake, but during sleep, the mind grows inert. Only when the conscious mind functions, may we give ourselves to work wholeheartedly. This constitutes a gross level of consciousness.

Philological Analysis Of The Terms 'Leshya'

Leshya is the radiation of our consciousness. It is an intricate word, which has created a lot of confusion. It has been interpreted as "radiation of light". Just as there are the rays of the sun, there are also the rays of our consciousness. Consciousness bides within us but its beams radiate outwards. There occurs a special mention of it in Nandi's commentary. The original word was rassi; later it became lassi, turning still later to lessa and ultimately leshya. The etymological metamorphosis may be stated as:

Rassi ►lassi ►lessa ►leshya

Rassi also meant rajju (a rope).

Conduct Governed By Inward Nature

Our conduct, behaviour, is not governed by the mind, but by a consciousness beyond the mind. A man may be very intelligent and capable of thought, yet he may possess a crooked nature. Thought is associated with the mind, but perversity is not. Sometimes it is said of a particular person that he has a crooked mind. But the mind is neither crooked nor straight; it has a different function altogether. Now, where does crookedness, perversity, originate from? It is the product of one's inner spirit. A man may be hard and cruel. The question arises as to where this cruelty and hardness spring from. Not from the mind, but from one's inward nature.

It has been said that one of the consequences of black leshya is cruelty. Similarly, the person who is given to five kinds of sinful activities is engaged in extreme violence, is unrestrained, mean-hearted, slave to his passions, and who acts thoughtlessly - such a person is transformed into black leshya. The series of actions associated with intoxication, attachment, covetousness, infatuation, etc. is not actuated by the mind; it materializes on the level of feeling and proceeds from the psyche.

The Psyche Is Also Present In Animals

The psyche is to be found in every living being. Can a dog be said to possess the power of the mind? A dog does have a capacity for imagination and planning, but it is on the instinctive level. When the clouds gather, the lapwing takes to twittering. It lays eggs, does not build its nest in the open. It resorts to security measures to an extent that man can hardly imagine.' On what basis does it plan its security? On the basis of instinct. The force of instinct is also very strong in a beast.

A man went hunting in the forest. He espied a she-deer and aimed his arrow at her. The she-deer cried out with great feeling, "O hunter! You take away every bit of my flesh, excepting the udders. I wish to go to my calves because they are yet very young and cannot graze. They are waiting for me, thinking, 'When will our mother come and give us a suck?' Therefore, O hunter! Do kindly spare me for a little while."

Such a spirit can only arise at the level of feeling, not at the level of the intellect.

The Evolution Of A New Discipline

Let us get hold of the truth that our conduct and behaviour are not linked with the mind. It is often said that the mind is very fickle and that it is difficult to grasp it. Here, we are imputing to the mind something, which does not belong to it. We must go beyond the mind to the level of leshya, the level of feeling. Only on that level can the issue be resolved. The whole science of behaviour can be properly explained and understood on the level of bhavana. Today, we have evolved a completely new branch of science - psychology. This word, psychology, has caused a lot of confusion. Our conduct and behaviour cannot be wholly explained on the intellectual level, the level of the mind. If we try to do so, we shall find ourselves caught in the quagmire of confusion. Like psychology, there is need for evolving an altogether new branch of science.

Leshya Is The Science Of Feeling

Leshya means the science of feeling. It should have precedence over psychology. If we try to analyse our personality on the basis of psychology, instead of on the science of feeling, we shall find ourselves caught in a great many illusions. Should we blindly accept the goings-on in the field of psychology? That would not be right. We own a great heritage of knowledge and thought, which we must fully utilize. And we should lay bare this truth before the practitioners of psychology that any analysis or treatment of personality on the basis of psychology will not be successful unless it is allied with leshya. For the success of psychology, it is essential to properly appraise and utilize the science of feeling.

The Marvel Of Bhavana

One lay-follower of Rajaldesar said, "Sir! My 12-year old son continued very ill for six months. No treatment did him any good. What to speak of walking, he could not even get up. A preksha instructor made him undertake some bhavana exercises and the exercise of will-power. Just after 5-6 days, we witnessed in him marvellous improvement. The boy, who could not even get up on his own, has now come travelling from Rajaldesar to Ladnun for your darshan.

Such is the miracle of bhavana. The exercise of bhavana is a most significant exercise. The suggestions, which we give, touch not the mind, but the psyche. He who keeps merely on the intellectual level, the level of the mind, does not succeed, whereas if we can go beyond the mind and touch the level of bhavana, a transformation takes place. This requires a deep study of the science of feeling along with that of psychology. The 33rd chapter on leshya in Uttaradhyayana pertains to the science of bhavana, the science of feeling. A deep study of it could be very helpful in breaking the vicious circle of illusion to lead us to eternal truth.


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. Adhyavasaya
  2. Bhavana
  3. Chitta
  4. Consciousness
  5. Darshan
  6. Discipline
  7. Jain Philosophy
  8. Ladnun
  9. Leshya
  10. Leshyas
  11. Preksha
  12. Rajaldesar
  13. Rajju
  14. Science
  15. Uttaradhyayana
  16. Violence
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