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Jain View Of Life: 1.04 The Art of Living

Published: 22.11.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

The Art of Living

After twelve years studying in Varanasi, a young man was crossing a river in a boat on his journey home. He had great pride in his knowledge, but so far he had received theoretical knowledge only; his job performance was zero. During the crossing, the passenger asked the boatman, "Old man, do you know anything about sociology?" The sailor replied, "I was born and brought up in a village, so I have not heard of such a thing." The passenger told him, "If you do not know sociology, it means that you have lost 25% of your life into the water." After proceeding a little further, the passenger asked, "Do you know psychology" The boatman replied, "Please, listening to such a question is giving me a headache. I only know well how to carry people from one side of the river to the other." The passenger replied, "If you don't even know psychology, it means that you have lost 50% of your life into the water."

The boatman made no reply, but, with the arrogance which comes with knowledge, it was hard for the passenger to remain silent. Again he asked the boatman, "Do you know ecology?" The boatman replied, "I am well versed in earning a livelihood; other than that, I know nothing." The passenger replied,"This means that you have lost 75% of your life into the water." Suddenly a heavy squall came up and the boat began to rock violently and take in water. The heart of the young man beats rapidly in fear. The boatman then put a question to the young man, "Do you know ferriology?" The young man said to the boatman "I have never come across that word before." The boatman told him, "I may have lost 75% of my life, but you are going to lose 100% of your life into this water."

Living Artistically

We often come across the terms "living" and "living artistically". We all live, but the question is, what sort of a life do we lead? In Gandhi's words, "living is the best of all arts. He, who knows this, is the best artist. All our education, knowledge, money, and endless discussions come to naught if we do not know the real art of life."

To be born, fill the belly, accumulate material posses-sions, live a life of fawning and flattery, and finally die; is this life? A stray dog leads almost the same kind of life. But, we have the power of reasoning and can elect to make our life better and more sublime; we are superior to the animals which do not have this power of reasoning. We can choose to keep going forward in the right direction and lead an artistic life. Just as water must keep on flowing else it will become stagnant and polluted, we must continually move forward, striving to detach ourselves from the worldly life and making every effort to lead a peaceful, balanced, and even life; never being disappointed by strokes of misfortune. Just as a ball bounced upon the ground will rebound with double force, we must never stand still no matter what hardships and misfortunes we encounter. We must march on as straight as an arrow towards our goal. In the great soul's view, artistic life is described in three terms - physical health, mental health, and the awakening of the faculty of intuition.

Quality of Life

At present, humanity is experiencing a rapid deteriora¬tion in the biological, psychological, and spiritual quality of life, and this is reflected in an increased incidence of degenerative disease, both physical and mental, as well as inner disharmony. All this can be healed through following a comprehensive program of Yogasana, the technique of alternate breathing, while perceiving the bright red colour like the rising sun situated between the eye brows. All round good health and the awakening of intuition is the result of living in harmony with body, mind, and inner world, while sickness is the consequence of over activity, and thinking and living in a manner that is disharmonious. If we disharmonize ourselves in body, mind, and the subtle world, both physical and mental sickness and obscured intuition will occur as a natural process. Through Yogasana and the practice of Preksha meditation, balance is restored on the physical and mental level and awakening of intuition will be achieved.

Physical Health

Let us talk about physical health. The body has been regarded as a material entity subject to disease which must be combatted in order to acquire health. In order to be healthy, asanas should be practiced, namely Uttan padasana, Pavan muktasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Paschimottanasana, Tadasana, and Trikonasana. All these āsanas plus an erect posture will influence both the right and left side of the body, making the body as flexible as a baby's, who is easily able to put her toe in her mouth. To rectify physiological imbalances, āsanas must be performed while breathing slowly and steadily, and while increasing the time that the posture is retained. Asanas mainly work on the endocrine and the nervous systems which are interre¬lated to other systems of the body, so their effects are also reflected on these other systems.

Exercise and walking improve the function of all the viscera - the liver, stomach, intestines, spleen, etc. - which increases strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. A healthy body will remain energetic, vigorous, and active for the whole duration of life. Human health is influenced by many factors, some of which are beyond our control. The genes we are born with will not change, and may make us subject to certain ailments. However, by performing certain āsanas and walking, we can lead a disease free life and achieve a longer life span.

Mental Health

A person may enjoy good physical health, but suffers poor mental health. The question arises, how is it possible to have a sound mind. The habit pattern of the mind is to wander in the future and in the past, generating craving or aversion, pleasure or pain, positive or negative thinking; there are a few people who are able to stand firm against the negative forces and retain only the positive thoughts. As Abraham Lincoln was delivering his maiden speech, an envious senator remarked, "Mister President, do not forget that your father was a shoe maker." Lincoln replied, "You have reminded me of my father, and for this I give you thanks." Again the envious senator tried to insult Lincoln by saying, "Mister President, your father used to make my family's shoes." Once more Lincoln replied without anger, "Yes, sir, my father was an expert shoe maker; none could find fault with his work. I know I will never be able to perform the duties of the presidency as expertly as my father performed in the shoe making trade." The envious senator had failed miserably in his efforts to ruffle the president.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Who thinks in such a positive way? Only those who colour their thoughts with positive ideas of equanimity, balance, peace, courage, cheerfulness, confidence, and power. On the other hand, if they colour their thoughts with sadness, gloom, weakness, worry, and other negative thoughts, they will project this negativity into their mental atmosphere and this will be apparent to all their associates. Because thought vibrations and waves are a perfect force - illimitable, impersonal, but susceptible to the colouring influence of individual belief - the mental atmosphere of individuals is a direct result of their thoughts. We ourselves have been able to recognize this subtle and intangible condition in our friends and acquaintances. The presence of one person can be a blessing while the advent of another brings unhappiness, discord, and disquiet.

Healing Practice

Telepathic and psychic experiences have played a significant role in contacting far off people. Each and every thought firstly influences oneself, then others. Our mind is like a computer; if you feed it with false impressions and beliefs, you will get negative reactions and junk thoughts, and junk thoughts are the mother of psycho-emotional ailments and neurotic traits. On the other hand, if you feed it with affirmative ideas, it will surely bring affirmative results. The practices of alternate breathing and the cessa¬tion of thoughts will be helpful in achieving mental health. To practice alternate breathing, inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right, then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Continue inhaling and exhaling for ten minutes. This will be highly beneficial for people who are uneven, fickle, restless, and ridden with tension, and it will make their mind balanced and even. As a result, they will achieve sound mental health and will never suffer the opposite circumstances.

The Awakening of Intuition

The third fundamental aspect of sublime or artistic life is the awakening of intuition. The truth is that the essence of life is to visualize the self. The soul is indestructible, immortal, and perfect. To see within ourselves perfectly would be to lose all conception of negative conditions. As we begin to visualize the bright red colour like the rising sun while concentrating our conscious mind on the center of intuition between the eyebrows, a spiritual unfoldment occurs when intuitive power develops. Our attitude towards our whole life will have undergone a change. We see the inherent goodness of every manifestation of life, we cease to think and talk of our bodies and sensations, and we will live constantly in the full realization of the allness of the good. The darkness of ignorance is replaced by the light of divine wisdom, just as it occurred with Kalidas.

Spontaneous Knowledge

In earlier life, Kalidas used to go to the forest to earn his livelihood by cutting and selling wood. One time a minister who was in search of a silly man because he wanted a revenge on the princess saw Kalidas cutting the same branch on which he sat, and thought "who could be more foolish than him." The minister plotted to have the foolish young man to marry the princess.
The Art of Living 29

After marriage, the princess came to know that her husband was totally stupid, and she thought that it would be rather better to be a widow. One day when Kalidas was standing by an open window, the princess pushed him out. Kalidas was a devotee of the goddess Kali, and it seems he was blessed by Kali because he was unhurt by the fall. Directly, he came to Ranivas (the house of the queen) and addressed the queen in the Sanskrit language "Kapatamudghat" (which means open the door). The princess was frightened. "Who has come?" she thought, "might he be a scholar?" The next moment an idea popped up in her mind, "Has my husband become a ghost? If my father came to know of this fact, what will become of me?" "If he is a scholar, how is it that he comes to my home without notice?" The chain of worries floated on and on.

After a while, Kalidas addressed the worried princess. "O generous lady! Open the door, your husband, the poet Kalidas, is here." She opened the door and found that her silly husband now had an excellent mind. She was ashamed of ill-treating him and became full of repentance. This same illiterate Kalidas later wrote two great epics, Kumar Sambhava and Meghadoota. With the passage of time, both epics became renowned in Sanskrit literature.

On rare occasions, spontaneous knowledge occurs by striking something, but it is not common to all. The faculty of intuition is latent in all, sinner and saint alike, but most people have to practice to develop it. By practicing visualization of the center of intuition, we may develop the wisdom of insight. Intuition is called Panna in Prakrit. Panna purifies the mind, and without the wisdom of insight, the path remains incomplete.

To learn the art of living harmoniously and peacefully, all should practice āsanas, alternate breathing, and visualization of the center of intuition situated between the eyebrows, which enables everyone to live in a proper way fulfilling one's worldly responsibilities while maintaining a balanced mind, remaining peaceful and happy within oneself, and making others peaceful, balanced, and happy.


Jain View Of Life

Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh Edition: 1st Edition 2000

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Asanas
  3. Bhujangasana
  4. Body
  5. Center of Intuition
  6. Dhanurasana
  7. Ecology
  8. Equanimity
  9. Fear
  10. Genes
  11. Meditation
  12. Panna
  13. Prakrit
  14. Preksha
  15. Preksha Meditation
  16. Pride
  17. Sambhava
  18. Sanskrit
  19. Soul
  20. Tadasana
  21. Varanasi
  22. Yogasana
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