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The Mirror Of The Self: [30] The Anupreksha Of Otherness

Published: 12.03.2009
Updated: 12.03.2009

A bucket of cold water. Into it is thrown a red-hot ball of iron. The water gets warmed and the bucket, too. Now take a pail of boiling water. Put into it a ball of cold iron. The ball gets warmed. This serves to illustrate the relationship between the body and the mind. The hot ball of iron warms up the water, and the hot water warms up the cold iron ball. Similarly, if the mind is troubled, the body too gets distressed, and when the body is distressed, the mind is tormented. Thus, we should be careful in connection with both.

The Anupreksha of Otherness

We must ensure that neither the body nor the mind is distressed. For success in life, the relationship between the two must be peaceful and healthy. The problem is that we are so much acquainted with the body that we do not know how to distinguish it from consciousness. We endure much suffering, yet we do not wish to separate the body from consciousness. One formula of the anupreksha of otherness, of separation is: "The soul and the body are two distinct entities." The anupreksha of otherness implies being permeated by this truth. We do iterate it, but this is something gross; the practice of the anupreksha of otherness goes far deeper. But we have paid little attention to the exercises linked with its different stages.

The Impact Of The Body

Firstly, we must consider how much we are influenced by the body. If we are too much affected by the body, the wisdom of separateness of body and soul loses all meaning for us. The three flaws of the body, viz. the three humours—the wind, the bile and the phlegm - greatly affect us. On the one hand, we may continually iterate that the body and the soul are different from each other, but, if on the other hand, we are afflicted by an irate wind, all sense of distinction flags. The humour of wind is the biggest factor governing our activities. It is the originator and controller. A just appreciation of the role of the wind amounts to a proper understanding of bodily and mental activities. The wind is enraged by lust, sorrow and fear. Similarly, to understand the role of the bile is to come to know a great deal about various states. The bile is enraged by anger. On one side we have our psychical emotions, on the other side we have the body with its defilements. All impediments and obstacles in the path of religion or action arise there from. In modern concept, the flaw of the bile is called adrenaline. The secretion from the adrenal gland greatly affects our organism. The phlegm is enraged by greed and it creates all kinds of problems.

Figurative Language

In all these contexts, let us comprehend the contemplation of otherness. The basic problem is how we can detach our consciousness from all kinds of transformations and bio-chemical changes. Imagine three persons, each afflicted with an ulcer in his index finger. The type of the ulcer is the same in each case. The question arises if the pain experienced by each of these three persons is exactly similar. One of them is an idler and good-for-nothing. He will sit inert all the day long, lamenting the suffering caused by the ulcer. He will experience the maximum of pain cent per cent. The second person is a labourer. He has before him the problem of earning his daily bread. He works to earn his living and experiences pain up to 50 per cent only. The third person practises the contemplation of otherness. He would experience pain hardly up to 10 per cent.

The Secret Principle

The point is that a man, who has linked his consciousness exclusively with pain, will experience nothing but pain. On the other hand, the man who is able to focus his attention elsewhere, succeeds a good deal in avoiding the feeling of pain. He has to earn his living. How can he afford to talk of pain all the time?

Lastly, the man who regularly practises the anupreksha of otherness is able to shift his attention from the painful spot and focus his consciousness on a different psychic centre, whereupon the painful spot ceases to receive any encouragement or the energy of consciousness. Such a sadhaka will not feel any pain at all.

Freedom From Suffering

The contemplation of otherness is a very important exercise for attaining freedom from suffering. It is no mere blind reiteration of the principle of separateness, but a method of achieving freedom from various problems. Where do the waves of lust, anger, fear, greed, etc. arise from? To come to know this subtle science constitutes in itself a great spiritual practice. The anupreksha of otherness means in effect the mastery of the keyboard of all these emotions. It has been said in the Agamas: ''During his sadhana, Lord Mahavir would stand in the posture of noble statues, his attention all concentred on the tip of the nose." The tip of the nose is a kind of switchboard where you can switch the button on and off. There are many such switchboards all over the body. These are known as psychic centres.

Wisdom Of Discrimination: Discovery Of Junctions

While undertaking the contemplation of solitariness, a man stands alone, but the anupreksha of otherness is meant for discovering the secrets of the body. By separating oneself from one's body, one finds out the meeting point of the body and the soul. Where and how do the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saras-wati meet? The wisdom of discrimination implies a knowledge of where the difference or non-difference lies in. Which is the meeting point of the gross and subtle bodies?

Contemplation Of Otherness: Discovery Of Bodily Secrets

The man, who wishes to practise contemplation of otherness, must first of all understand the body, apprehend the qualities of the soul and also grasp the secrets of the body. Thereafter, he must discover the governing principle behind the union of the body and the soul. He will have to comprehend the impact of one upon the other. What are the points where this impact manifests itself? There are some characteristic points and chemicals in our body, which influence us; also some unique passions we must comprehend them all.

How To Break The Cycle?

There is a cycle going on. A particular feeling comes to the fore and creates a special kind of chemical, which in turn creates a new feeling. We are caught in a cycle of action and reaction. How do we break it? This requires long, continuous, sadhana. All these things are not easily apprehensible. But, this much is certain that a man who undertakes the contemplation of otherness and practises it diligently for three months, will learn the art of tackling any bodily problems that might arise and to divert his consciousness from physical pain. Similarly, the anupreksha of otherness can be practised for getting rid of psychological problems. As soon as some mental wave comes to the fore, start practising the contemplation of otherness. Your consciousness will be immediately diverted and the emotions grow quiescent. All this is possible, but it requires deep meditation.

The Practical Side Of Dharma

Let us make dharma practical and experimental. Dharma is no mere ritual, it constitutes a philosophy of life. A religion, which offers no solution to our everyday problems, has little utility. Only that religion is beneficial for us which suggests a way out of our present-day problems. Let us resolve our problems through practice of dharma. In this context, various contemplations play an important role. Many techniques of meditation are in vogue, but such techniques are rare which, along with perception, include the exercise of contemplation as well. The Jain Acharyas have greatly developed various contemplations. The use of these exercises will be very helpful in spiritual development, also in the transformation of personality. It would also greatly contribute to the resolution of physical, mental and familial problems. Let us seriously consider various contemplations and make an effort to grasp their vital significance. We would not then feel that religion is being imposed upon us. On the contrary, we shall realize the truth that religion is our most beneficial companion that never forsakes us till the end.


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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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharyas
  2. Adrenal Gland
  3. Agamas
  4. Anger
  5. Body
  6. Consciousness
  7. Contemplation
  8. Dharma
  9. Fear
  10. Greed
  11. Mahavir
  12. Meditation
  13. Psychic Centre
  14. Psychic Centres
  15. Sadhaka
  16. Sadhana
  17. Science
  18. Soul
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