Preksha Dhyana: Contemplation And Auto-Suggestion: [1] Philosophical Version

Published: 25.01.2010
Updated: 25.01.2010

Self-study (Svādhyāya) is an important tool for developing one's intelligence as well as character. It is five-fold, viz. (i) study (by reading), (ii) inquiry (by asking questions) (iii) revision (by regular recitation), (iv) contemplation and (v) dissertation. Recitation of a syllable as well as concentrated reflection are also branches of self-study.

In Prekṣā system of meditation, the technique which is more often used is concentration of perception and not that of thought. Concentration of thought, i.e. contemplation however, is not excluded as a technique of meditation from this system. It fact, it is considered as an important means of realising the Truth. Thoughts are not always looked upon as hindrance or interference. They are, no doubt, unproductive when the mind keeps on wandering and does not concentrate. Concentrated profound thinking can result in discovering and establishing important philosophical as well as scientific doctrines and principles. Process of canalised deep thinking has always been a powerful means of discovering various facets of Reality. In Jaina literature, it is called Vichaya Dhyāna i.e. thought-oriented or conceptual meditation. With a wandering mind, thoughts are scattered: when the mental faculty is concentrated and canalised in a single thought-process, it becomes meditation. Thus concentration of perception and concentration of thought-both qualify as valuable techniques of meditation. Whenever the former techniques of meditation, thought is, undoubtedly, considered a distraction and is banished. But when thoughts are canalised and concentrated on a single theme, they comprise an exercise in meditation.

In Prekṣā system, there is scope for both types of meditational practice. The word Prekṣā means profound perception (sans conception.) Here, the practitioner's full attention is engaged in perception of an object or phenomenon. For instance, perception of body [1] is an exercise of becoming mentally aware of the functioning of one's own body. In this exercise, the practitioner concentrates his full attention, inturn, on various parts and organs of the body, and becomes aware of their functioning. Starting from the outermost layers (of consciousness), he has to mentally penetrate inside. First, he perceives the superficial sensations of the skin such as contact with cloth, warmth, perspiration, itching etc. Then he becomes aware of the sensations produced by the muscular system. Next, he experiences the awareness of the functioning of inner organs- he 'hears' the heart-beats, perceives the contraction and expansion of the lungs, peristalsis of the gastro-intestinal tract, coursing of the blood in the blood vessels and exchange of nutrients and waste-products. With practice, as his mind becomes sharpened, he becomes aware of the subtle vibrations caused by the chemical reactance of the metabolic processes as well as the electro-magnetic impulses criss-crossing the nervous system. Finally, he is able to perceive the flow of vital energy which activates the entire organism. There is incessant motion producing agitation, sensation and vibrations everywhere and nothing is static. The practitioner just perceives them all without indulging in emotion and thought. Undoubtedly, he must develop his perceptual ability and intensify his concentration on the organ under observation. But the process is mostly without conceptual activity of the mind. Thus Prekṣā is concentration of perception.

The other branch of prekṣā system is Anuprekṣā i.e. Contemplation-objective reflection of what has been perceived during the exercise of Prekṣā. For instance, it has been revealed that there is incessant agitation within the body-food-materials are being broken-down into their simpler constituents and then resynthesized; waste products are constantly being excreted, millions of molecules of oxygen enter the body and those of carbon dioxide are expelled. Having perceived these continuous processes of fissions and fusion, one contemplates and reflects that this organism is surely not eternal. He reasons with himself- ' This body which I consider to be 'myself is in fact the product of the processes of metabolism-catabolism and anabolism. It can never be permanent or eternal and therefore cannot be my true SELF.' Thus one realises the truth that the body is perishable and ultimately experiences the separateness of his eternal conscious SELF and the perishable material shed that is body. In other words, the basic vulnerability of the material body is realised by exercise of contemplation which has followed that of perception. This is an instance of discursive meditation where the result of direct perception leads one to the actual experiencing of an eternal truth viz, the perishablel material body is separate from one's eternal conscious self. Hence, prekṣā and Anuprekṣā-perception and contemplation- are concomitant. One cannot continue perception alone for ever nor can one continue to contemplate for ever. Contemplation precedes as well as succeeds perception. Perceive first and then reflect on the findings of the perceptual exercise. The objective of Prekṣā Dhyāna is to realise the Truth by utilising both mental functions-perception and conception.

In Prekṣā system, contemplative meditation is practiced to eliminate false traditions, myths, legends and superstitions. With the prefix 'Anu', Prekṣā means - perceive only what is really true. That means-perceive without the prejudice of preconceived opinion, false tradition or mythical and fictitious ideas: perceive the reality as it is. A practitioner of Anu prekṣā transcends the dogma of superstitious traditions and acquires eternal wisdom.

Some examples of contemplation:

  1. Transitoriness;—One's deep attachment to one's body is a delusion. It is an eternal truth that man is mortal. One has to die and leave the dead body behind. The nature of the body is, therefore, perishable, impermanent and transient Even during one's life-span, the body is vulnerable to the degenerative processes and passes through various stages. The transitory nature of the body, irrefutable, proves that it can never be one's true SELF (which is eternal). Although apparently possessed by 'ME', it is only a material shell and not the self. Similarly, the transitory nature of other material possessions can be contemplated and one's delusive attachment to them is terminated or at least reduced.
  2. Helplessness:—The eternal truth is that when one dies he leaves behind not only one's body but also one's family, estate and all other material possessions. Noting can save one from the jaws of death, be one a sovereign, a minister or a rich tycoon. One has to seek refuge in divine help.
  3. Mundaneness:—The eternal truth is that one's mundane existence is utterly miserable. One is born, dies and is reborn: sometimes as a human being but more often as a sub-human organism. The worldly existence is, thus, a vicious circle of birth, death and rebirth. During one's life-time there is more misery and suffering than pleasure or peace. One has only to contemplate calmly on this eternal wisdom to realise the miserable nature of one's mundane existence.
  4. Sultriness:—The truth is that one's existence is utterly solitary. One enters the world alone and leaves it alone. It is one's delusive attachment that makes one feel otherwise. One is really solitary in health and solitary in sickness. By contemplation of this reality, one realises that one is alone, single and separate from all others, one's instincts and impulses, emotions and passions are essentially subjective.
  5. Separateness:—In reality, one is separate from everything and everybody. One's own material body is but a transitory association and not one's real self. Hence anything material is also transitorily associated. Pleasure and pain, health and sickness, emotions and passions are separate from one's self. Carnal desires and sensual pleasures are also separate in reality.
  6. Uncleanliness:—(of one's body). In reality, one's body is a dirty, filthy and unclean organism. It needs continuous cleaning as it constantly excretes filthy waste products of metabolism. Perspiration, urine and excreta all give out obnoxious smell and one has to use nicely-scented cosmetics to hide the adore. The best dinner instantly becomes foulsmelling if vomit is thrown up even within few minutes after its indigestion. Such contemplation makes one to realise the eternal truth and frees one from the delusive attachment.

Auto-Suggestion (Bhāvanā)

One uses a ferry-boat to cross the river and reach the other side. Similarly, one can ride the ferry-boat of auto-suggestion (Bhāvanā) to cross the river of mundane existence and reach the opposite bank, however distant it may appear to be.

Bhāvanā means frequent and prolonged repetition of an idea Just as the efficacy of a herbal medicine can be raised manifold by applying repeated thin layers [1] of a precious mineral, repetition of an idea can bring about a radical attitudinal reform and bring one nearer to his goal.

Maharshi Patanjali, in his Aṣṭaṅga (eightfold) yoga, has prescribed three stages of meditational practice viz. Dhāranā (single-point thinking), Dhyāna (meditation) and Samādhi (euphoric meditation). Prekṣā system of meditation also prescribes three phases viz. Bhāvanā, Dhyāna and Samādhi. There is no basic difference between, dhyāna and bhavand. Dhāranā means a fully controlled mental exercise concentration one single object or idea. When such an exercise is prolonged and profound, it becomes meditation and when it takes the form of a euphoric trance, it is called Samādhi. Thus the same process is prescribed as a threetiered exercise, Bhāvanā means conceptual concentration i.e. when one a single object or idea, it becomes bhāvanā. Thus bhāvanā may be defined as intense concentration of mind on a single object or idea.

The mental faculty or function which is directed to conscious and intentional action is called will. If one applies one's will-power with a resolute determination that some thing shall be done or shall happen, it will happen. Full concentration of mental faculty coupled with intense willing results in the fulfillment of the desired objective. In other words, repeated willing by auto suggestion by a practitioner of anuprekṣhā enables him to achieve a desired objective. His objective is to effect an attitudinal change (e.g. from negative to positive), he does bring about the change. Whether one's goal is spiritual or hot, the exercise of autosuggestion positively accomplished the desired transformation.

Suggestion can also be transmitted to others i.e. another person could be profoundly influenced by a practitioner's suggestion. By using the technique of hypnogenesis one can alleviate (other's) suffering, cure diseases, bring about a mental or an emotional change. Thus bhāvanā is a multiform therapy-it can take the form of auto suggestion of self hypnosis and effect one's own transformation or it can be projected and bring about a desired change in a person or in the environment. It can take various other forms.

Practice of bhāvanā has significant application in the ethical field. As stated earlier, one can achive permanent attitudinal change by this practice. Negative attitudes such as jealousy or pessimism can be replaced by positive ones: hastily instincts such as cruelty, retaliation, deceit, fear, lust etc. can be eradicated and human virtues such as compassion, forbearance, honesty, freedom from irrational fear, comtinence etc. can be developed.

Two conditions are essential for the success of the exercise. viz(i) totally relaxed and motionless body-posture with canalised mental concentration and (ii) intense willing in the form of steady repetition of the desired aim. Repeated auto-suggestion reinforces the will-power and brings about desired result.

Footnotes
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Sources
Published:
Jain Vishva Bharati
Ladnun-3 41 306 (Rajasthan) Editor: Muni Mahendra Kumar © Jain Vishva Bharati Edition: January, 2009 Printed by:  
S.M. Printers
Uldhanpur, Delhi-32

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anu
  2. Anuprekṣā
  3. Bhāvanā
  4. Body
  5. Concentration
  6. Consciousness
  7. Contemplation
  8. Deceit
  9. Dhyāna
  10. Environment
  11. Fear
  12. JAINA
  13. Jaina
  14. Meditation
  15. Patanjali
  16. Perception Of Body
  17. Prekṣā
  18. Prekṣā Dhyāna
  19. Svādhyāya
  20. Yoga
  21. samādhi
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