Fear

(This is a translated part of Acharya Mahapragya’s book kaise soche)

A mind infested with fear always creates negative thoughts. Fear constricts the mind. Thus, a fearful person can never think right. The first condition for healthy, life-supporting thoughts is to become fearless.

But, what makes a person fearful? The answer is quite surprising. A person reels in fear because of his own notions. Personality develops on the basis of one’s thoughts and beliefs. And people develop such beliefs that as soon as a certain situation crops up in their life, they become fearful.

The first outcome of a person’s encounter with spirituality is fearlessness. The one who is not fearless is not spiritual. And he is neither disease-free. The root cause of diseases is fear. So is the root cause of strife and non-spirituality. Unless fear doesn’t leave the mind, how can a person experience their inner selves?

People talk about the soul and the supreme soul. Discussion about these subtle elements is useless if you have fears:  fear of disease, old-age, death, losing your dear objects, losing your beloved. You are paralyzing your consciousness with so many fears and then you want to talk about God.

We all know Lord Mahaveer emphasized on non-violence. However, there is something which many of us not know: he gave the same weight on fearlessness as he gave onto non-violence. Unless the feeling of fearlessness doesn’t strengthen, non-violence cannot exist. A fearful person cannot be non-violent.

People have fear of dying. If you die, the world will not become empty. Even the kith and kin who would cry on your death are not many.  For a few days, they’ll remember you and then move on with life. But, we are still attached to our life. Unless the attachment to life and death doesn’t slip away, constructive, positive thoughts do not make a firm position in our consciousness.

How to clear a mind of dualities?

  • The following post is a translated excerpt from acharya shree’s book, kaise soche

    Thought (vichaar in hindi) means the one which moves ( in hindi, char means walk) . How can one that moves be permanent? The one that is temporary cannot be permanent and the one that is permanent cannot be temporary. Every dravya or substance has both facets- permanence and impermanence. Thoughts always remain impermanent.

    Some are astonished at a change in opinions. But, what is so surprising? If thoughts do not change, that is surprising. The nature of thoughts is to change. If one thought stays an entire lifetime, the person should be thought of as a very rigid person, closed to new ideas. A person often experiences pride at having clung to a thought tightly. He thinks he is strong. But, it, in reality, is foolishness.

    When bones become too rigid, it is an alarm of bad health. Bones should remain flexible. That is why, getting stuck at one thought is not something special. But, men and women sometimes assume a foolish act to be special. When the mind is not stable, even the wrong seems right.

    The field of thoughts is unique. Here, thoughts which oppose one another are nurtured. Beneath the veil of right understanding, foolishness is nurtured.

    In the field of thoughts, opposite thoughts cannot be ignored. There cannot be a thought which only produces harmony. Thoughts produce duality, because the nature of thoughts is to move and change. In this dual world of thoughts, thinking something should happen this way or that way, something will happen or wont happen, is illusionary- there is no reality to it.

    We are contemplating on how to think because we sometimes, have positive life-building thoughts and sometimes, destructive thoughts.We want the latter to be less. This can be achieved if we could refine our thoughts.

    And thoughts can be refined by achieving a balance of thoughtlessness and the state of thoughtfulness. Clear thoughts cannot be achieved by just thinking as there is struggle in the field of thoughts. More we experience thoughtlessness, more our thoughts become clear and positive.

    Intellect cannot clean thoughts. Only thoughtlessness can. From it, comes positivity, faith, will-power, the ability for self-effort, and the radiance of light which is within us.

    But what is thoughtlessness? It is the state of meditation. In this state, there are no thoughts and no imagination. Doors of all kinds of thoughts are closed. That consciousness arises which is beyond the senses, the mind, and the intellect. One only experiences the pure soul. The state is entirely a subject of experience. It cannot be discussed in words.

Faith & Doubt

A translated excerpt from Acharya Mahapragya’s book, kaise soche

Today, people do not find perfectly believable facts as believable. Nobody trusts each other. Today, the word, ‘trust’ not exist in the dictionary. Doubts exist everywhere. Doubt is a flaw of the mind. A thought cannot be called flawless, if it has been formed on the basis of a doubt. It cannot be called a balanced point of view.

Faith holds a high pedestal in life. A life that lacks faith, is a baseless life- a life with no support. It cannot be a successful life.

There are three pillars of faith :
-knowledge of and faith in the universal laws, which includes the law of change and law of death
-faith in your ability to do a particular work
– faith that you have immense potential.

You don’t have to trust someone else to have faith. Rather you must have faith in yourself. And faith in the above pillars constitute a strong faith in oneself.

Doubt

The meaning of doubt is denying possibilities. A doubtful person remains closed to possibilities. We must understand when do our thoughts become flawed with doubt. When one encounters a new idea, he is immediately inclined towards rejecting its possibility.

Today, aeroplanes fly at great heights. However, there was a time when people denied the possibility of such an invention.

Rejecting possibilities is a big flaw. Establishing faith means- accepting possibilities. When we accept possibilities, we gain samyak chintan or to say, an equanimous mind. Duality ceases to exist, then.

 

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The Art Of Thinking

The following post is a translated part of  Acharya shree’s book kaise soche

Thinking is an art. And not everybody is accomplished in it. Only a few are. Those who do know the art, they are blessed with a clear path.

A saint during a discussion exclaimed that he has learnt something from everyone. Somebody asked “What have you learnt from a thief?” To this he replied “Once I had stayed with a thief. He’d go everyday to steal and come empty-handed.” And everyday he’d say that he might get something tomorrow. The thief had immense patience.

Human nature is complex. A person doing good work is saddened easily and a person doing bad work isn’t.

This is a fact. People have a deper faith in evil than in goodness. Establishing faith in goodness requires a lot more practice of sadhna.

Now, someone with a negative viewpoint is also likely to reject every truth. Whereas someone with a positive viewpoint comes closer to the truth and is able to solve many problems.

The outcomes of thinking with a negative viepoint are sorrow, aggression, non-enthusiasm, and abstinence from work. So in one word, the result is – failure in life.

The most important principle of a successful life is a positive viewpoint. There are a few tests for a positive and negative viewpoint.

The first test is – thinking with integrity or thinking with anxiety or agitation. Someone thinking with integrity or totality in mind is one with a positive direction in thinking. And the one thinking with anxiety gets stuck at an argument making his contemplation distorted.

When one is not aware of an event or a thing’s full picture, the thinkers draws an inappropriate or incomplete conclusion. The conclusion drawn cannot be correct. To have a balanced thought process, one needs to be aware of the complete information and then think.

Once, soldiers were being recruited on a basis of compulsion. A man approached Maotsay Tung and said – your leg is broken. Good for you. You’ve been saved from the soldier life. Maotsay replied – you can say that it’s a good thing. I can’t because I don’t have the complete picture in front of me. I cannot say whether a good thing has happened or a bad thing.

When a man or a woman takes a decision on the basis of incomplete thoughts or feelings, then stuggle arises. That is why it is necessary to think with totality.

 

 

The State Of Thinking & Seeing

The following post is a translated excerpt from Acharya Shree’s book kaise soche (How to think)

The famous philosopher, Descartes proclaimed – I think and therefore I am. That is, the proof of my existence is that I think.

If I had to say this, I would say, “I am, and since I am a being with a developed brain, I also think.”

Thinking is not a characteristic of the brain. It is an expression. Our existence and consciousness is beyond thinking. Thinking is a spark of the light the consciousness is. When we’re not thinking – the light is in its full form.

Through meditation we want to reach that state, where thinking finishes, and witnessing becomes possible. Where there is witnessing, there, thinking is not needed. A fruit is placed in our palm. Whatever it is, we can see it. We don’t need to think about it. Wherever there is seeing, thinking is not present and where there is thinking, seeing is not present.

We experience three states – waking, seeing, and thinking. A man asked “did your servant do that task? The man replied – I don’t know. I’ll tell you after I know” In this situation, there is no need to think.

Consider another instance. Someone asks “Do you have this thing in your house?” In such a situation, the most usual reply would be “I’ll see and let you know.”

In one instance, the reply is “I’ll find out and tell you” and in another instance, the reply is “I’ll see and let you know.” Where there is knowing and seeing, there thinking is not needed. When one is not in a state of seeing or knowing, one is in the state of thinking.

Thinking is needed when we don’t know clearly about a subject – when nothing absolute can be said about it.

Thinking is a component of our consciousness. Therefore, it is just a spark. However, it is not the full form of consciousness. When one achieves the state of witness consciousness, thinking ends.

The goal of meditation is to reach the state of witness consciousness. When witnessing is present, then thoughts disappear and seamless knowledge surfaces above. Till the time when one is bound to the body and his imperceptible consciousness doesn’t awaken, thinking is necessary. Till that time thinking cannot be done away with.

Two kinds of people are devoid of thinking – an enlightened being, the one who is a direct perceptor, and the one who is incapable of thinking, a fool in simple words.

Thinking is an essential part of our life’s journey. On one hand we attribute importance to thinking and on another hand, we practice meditation to reach thoughtlessness. This may seem contradictory. But, we must know that the state cannot be reached in a single day.

It will be a huge mistake to assume that one reaches the state of thoughtlessness as soon as he begins his meditation practice. In fact, during meditation, the influx of thoughts increases. At the time of meditation, even forgotten thoughts come rushing to the mind. Experiencing this, many think of quitting the practice. But, it is important to know that when one is relaxed, thoughts actually get a beautiful chance to come. Otherwise, they are driven away by the force of tension.

Meditation is a method by which the hold over thoughts lessen. During the meditative state, the space for thoughts to enter is as wide as the space for thoughts to exit. A meditator welcomes everybody – the ones entering and the ones leaving. A non-meditator establishes a hold over thoughts and facts for a duration as long as a lifetime.

A meditator should not be scared of thoughts. He should become a witness to thoughts. Observe and let go. The more the witness consciousness strengthens, the influx of thoughts will weaken. But, it will be impossible for no thoughts to come in the first session of meditation.

The Four Solutions

The following post is based on Acharya shree’s hindi book, mastishk ka prashikshan

Post continued from ‘Developing control on our brain’

The four solutions of emotional refinement are:

Swadhyaya

Swadhyaya  is a method by which emotions can be changed. Cultivating conducive thoughts, reading and contemplating quality literature can help in changing vruttis. This is one idea for refinement. It is difficult to say how effective this method is. It is effective if practised in the right way. Today the meaning of swadhyaya has been reduced to just reading, which doesn’t bear quality results. Along with reading, the practise also requires contemplation.

The man of today reads a lot but does not change. He listens to spiritual talks but does not transform. This is because just reading and listening is not enough. Eating  a meal takes just fifteen minutes. However, digesting it takes three hours. Similarly, reading a piece of text needs a few minutes but digesting it needs a lot more time. If one page has been read, then digesting it requires the time needed to read fifty pages. What is obtained after contemplation or manan proves instrumental in changing emotions.

Ancient belief says – “One prahar (morning /afternoon/ evening) must be reserved for reading and another must be reserved for reflecting upon what one has read.” This stands true for all kinds of studies, be it spiritual or non-spiritual.

Meditation

The second factor is meditation. Through meditation we directly influence our prana or vital force. During the meditation process*, we direct our focus at particular centres. Focusing implies a union of the consciousness and prana.  Wherever the consciousness is focused, there the flow of prana increases. The increase in the flow of prana destroys any kind of blockage at that point – be it a blockage at the physical plane, mental plane or emotional plane.

The ordinary meaning of preksha is observing. But observing does not mean observing with the eyes. Rather it implies a special method of observing, which is experiencing with equanimity – a state of mind that is devoid of craving and aversion. This is a powerful method which purifies emotions.

Someone who learns the art of observing, (s)he becomes active in changing oneself. If thoughts come, observe them. In a few minutes, thoughts will disappear.

Carl Jung is one of the pioneers of modern psychology. He wrote – when I was ill, I went to a psychotherapist. The therapist asked mr to lie down, relax, and asked what is it that you’re thinking. The moment I observed my thoughts, they disappeared.

Imagination, memory, and thoughts produce aggravation. Only through observation, all kinds of aggravations silence down. That is why, whatever is happening in the body, brain, and emotional plane, observe. When the focus on observing increases, the mind will become peaceful.

Emotional Purity

It is not possible for a continuous flow of good emotions.  Emotions are so unique that one is unable to understand them. Emotions stay pure – this is not so simple.  It is necessary to support all the different kinds of reactions within us. There are several supports declared for the same. With these supports, we reach a state where pure emotions flow. Our goal is to reach a state devoid of impure emotions. As soon as we reach this goal, supports are not needed, just like a boat becomes stationary as soon it reaches the shore.

Tapasya

Simply put, the meaning of tapasya is developing endurance. Anybody who doesn’t work hard and cannot endure pain, cannot progress.

When an individual is capable to endure all kinds of  situations, change shall take place.

Conclusion

The above four are the mediums of change. They are not a pathway to suppression but a pathway of refinement of negative emotions.  And when negative tendencies are improved, the flow of life changes.

These four instruments are related to meditation. If we centre our lives around meditation, I think our lives can progress to a great extent.

*It is recommended to learn any meditation process by trained professionals. Practicing without supervision is not advisable.

Developing Control On Our Brain

The following post is a translated part of Acharya Shree’s hindi book, mastishk prashikshan

Our brain is driven by electric current and chemicals. Which chemical creates which kind of reaction and putting an electrode in which part of the brain can create which kind of reaction – these facts are very clear today. In our body, there are centres for the creation and control of emotions and reactions. There are centres which produce emotions and disturbances and there are centres which control them. This is an internal process which continues naturally.

There are two divisions of our nadi sansthan (system of blood vessels)- self-driven, and the other is facultative. Through the self-driven system of blood vessels , internal activities happen on their own. If there is a centre for the generation of anger, then there is a centre which can subdue the anger. Both faculties are present.

Modern psychology says that the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, hypothalamus, and some parts of the brain and nadi sansthan – these parts are responsible for controlling impulsive emotions. However, yoga and spirituality indicate factors other than body systems to control emotions. And these factors have a direct relation with god. Through emotion- centric processes a transformation can be brought in these centres.

It is important to note that a transformation brought with chemicals or with the use of electrodes cannot be permanent. Injecting an appropriate chemical may silence anger but the effect cannot be long-lasting. Same with the use of electrodes.

And this is where meditation plays a role. Many question what is the purpose of long-term meditation practices? If with injections, external medicines, and electrodes emotions can be controlled within a second, why to meditate? The answer is that meditation unlike these things is more of a permanent solution to the disturbances of our mind.

Physicians have found solutions only on the basis of the body while psychiatrists have found solutions only on the basis of the brain and mind. They haven’t found the true source of emotions and the reason for their production. This is a very subtle secret. That is why sometimes research findings happen to be contradictory.

The path of spirituality is a path free from contradictions. It is a path of clarity. It is a process of refinement. Today many have this delusion that Indian philosophy teaches the process of suppressing emotions. A religious philosophy teaching suppression cannot be religion. It can be something else. Whether it’s sex, anger or any other emotion, Indian philosophy does not teach suppressing them.

The purpose of religious philosophy is refining emotions. The four establishments of psychology to refine emotions are – suppression, sublimation, voluntary decision and intellectual decision. And the four establishments of Indian religious philosophy for refining emotions are – self-study, meditation, emotional purity and tapasya or endurance.

(To be continued..)