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..)

Creation Of A New Mind

The following post is based on Acharya Shree’s hindi book naye mastishk ka nirmaan

Everyone today wants a new world. The current world does not seem to give happiness. The formation of a new world, however, requires  the formation of a new brain. With the kind of brains we have today, a new world cannot be conceived.

In the words of psychology, our brain is a conditioned mind. It works on the basis of some present notions. Unless the force of beliefs and notions does not break, formation of a new society cannot even be thought of.

During the second stage of life, which spans from eleven years to twenty years, the brain is fully developed. Till fifteen years of age, the brain is fully developed. Afterwards, personality is developed, not the brain. Therefore, the brain can be changed till fifteen years of age. Afterwards, it is impossible.

There are many revolutions needed today, out of which the psychological revolution is the most important one. The meaning of a psychological revolution would be the formation of a new brain. One part of the brain is – animal brain. It is the most active today. And that is why society witnesses a lot of criminal activities.

The animal mind creates greed, which further creates selfishness. With selfishness, cruelty arises, which further creates a criminal mindset.

Greed is a basic tendency. It has been with us since eons. Changing our brain/mind means refining the tendency of greediness. Meditation is a prime mode through which this can be accomplished.

The world has just one root problem – that is, greed. All else are its accompaniments. And our brain is conditioned with greed. All our thoughts revolve around it. Every person first thinks about their self-interest.

Greed – The Cause Of Struggle Between Classes

Today there is struggle between classes. The root cause of this struggle is greed. Mill owners want to pay the labourers less and get more work done. And a labourer wants work less and get maximum payment. Can the mindsets of the two groups of people be changed? If the change does take place, then there would be no Marxism nor any violent activities would take place. But the struggle continues. The question is – can there be a solution?

Lord Mahaveer proposed a principle which can solve the problem. He proposed that one should not cut an individual’s livelihood. How much ever someone owes, that much should be given to him/her. Taking a portion of someone’s livelihood is an act of violence. The principle can only be developed when a new brain is created.

A relationship can be based upon two bases – selfishness or idealism. In the present era, relationships are formed on the basis of selfishness. Idealism is absent or minimum. The basis of an ideal relationship is truth. A mill owner would say, this much is mine and so, I’ll take only this much. And a labourer would say, this much is mine and so, I’ll take only this much. This is only possible when the minds of individuals change.

Changing Of  Minds

Everybody wants others and the society to become better. Parents want their children to be good. Children want their parents to be good. Expectations are in everybody. The fulfilment of these expectations can only be achieved with a new mind. However, no one is prepared to carry a change on their own mind.

Refining the mind requires meditation. When we begin to observe our own selves, then beliefs start changing. The notions upon which life runs change. When beliefs change, human relationships also change. Inside us, there are several beliefs. All of these must come out one by one. The more deeply we look within ourselves, beliefs will weaken to that extent.

The weight of beliefs which a man carries, even a donkey does not carry. Beliefs are very weird. Once, Acharya shree was leaving a village. A widow came in sight. A sister started shouting ” go away! go away! don’t be a bad omen.” The widow was bewildered. She moved to one side. Acharya shree asked – what happened? The sister replied ” You are leaving and the woman in front is a widow. Her coming on your way is considered a bad omen.” Acharya shree replied ” This is a wrong belief. We will leave with the good omen of this sister. A widow sister living with good conduct, is an individual of purity. How can she be a bad omen?”

Our beliefs make our minds narrow, which further disallows us to see the reality. When an individual steps within and looks at these beliefs, then the truth emerges, the mind becomes empty.

Meditation – The Way For Life Transformation

Meditation changes beliefs. And when beliefs change, the mind changes. When the mind changes, personality changes. When personalities change, the society changes for good.

In one sentence, for change to come, formation of a new mind is necessary.

 

 

Brain Training

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

Our brain is a store house of powers. Many people have strengths and abilities but they are not awakened, which is so because they haven’t practiced to awaken them.

The awakening of strengths is dependent on practice. Nothing can be learnt without practicing. Through practice, animals and birds can also be taught many things. All arts and studies have been made possible through practice. Through practice the impossible becomes possible. Practice holds great importance.

First principle is that the brain is very powerful. Second principle is that through practice mental abilities can be developed. And the third principle is that through awareness anything can be achieved.

Unawareness and sorrow are companions. With laxity/unawareness sorrow comes, energy dwindles.

When we have faith in our energy, know the importance of practice, and there is awareness, dormant energies can be awakened. To awaken our energies, the first thing to be practiced is – comprehension. There are two types of comprehension – comprehending many objects, and comprehending the nuances of one or more objects. Both are important principles of practice.

Our five sense organs comprehend corresponding sense objects. Their ability to comprehend can be developed. A single object is a mixture of many objects. After sharpening the ability of a sense organ, each of these objects can be comprehended. For instance, one’s hearing ability can be sharpened to such an extent that words from a single source in a cacophony can be heard and understood.

The ability of sense organs comes from the ability of our brain, which can be developed. Many can be seen, many can be heard, and many can be smelled.

In ancient times, training of detecting the source of sound (dhwanived) was famous. Acharya Kaalak was a famous acharya of our generation. His sister was once kidnapped. She was a saint and was very beautiful. The kidnapper king was skilled in gardbhi vidya, in whose effect wherever the sound of gardbhi reached, there doors would become so strong that nothing could destroy them. Kaalkacharya got to know about this. He thought of an idea. He readied his devotee kings. It was decided that when gardbhi’s mouth opens for speaking, his mouth be attacked with arrows, so that no sound comes out. This was only possible through dhwanivedh. Shooting an arrow on the basis of sound was its speciality.

This is just an example of how the brain can be trained. Bahuvidhgrahan or the ability to comprehend a variety of objects is also special. Prekshadhyan provides brain training in the forms of deerghashwas preksha and samvruttishwaas preksha. Breath comes in and goes out – knowing just this is not bahuvidhgrahan (comprehension of variety) But, knowing a variety of aspects about it is. A variety of aspects include, if the breath is cold or hot, dry or wet, strong or light, and if there are many or few atoms in the breath.

On the basis of sound and speed, many kinds of sciences have been developed. Svaroday vigyaan is based on the speed of breath. Through this science one develops the ability to know the past and the future. This was a miraculous science. The brain would become so trained and active, the gyantantu would become so sensitive that one would have the ability to sense the past and the future.

On the basis of speed of breath some principles were established, prophecies were made. The science is an example of bahuvidhgrahan.

Meditation is spiritual. With the purity of spirit, meditation also brings benefits in worldly aspects such as inter-personal skills, personality, focus, and etc. Through meditation, one can find success in many areas of life. Earlier there was a belief that one who wants liberation or wants spiritual development should meditate. But the reality is that meditation has benefits both in the worldly and otherworldly planes.

Meditation is a prime factor in training the brain and awakening its dormant energies.

Jain philosophy has a unique assertion of every object having many facets. Among these unlimited facets, if we understand fifty to hundred of them, it will be a miraculous learning. Through subtle understanding we can know about the colours of breath – when we breath in, its colour is red and when we breath out, its colour is black. This can be learnt through subtle practice.

There is a sequence of the development of five sense organs. First, the sense of touch, then taste and then smell. After these three senses are developed, eyes and ears are developed. Organisms in which the eye and ear is not developed, those organisms sense the world through the sense of smell. Smell is a very important feature. By discerning a person’s smell, one can know about their character, behaviour, and health.

An enlightened being can be identified through their smell. Their body and breath smells like lotus. A great yogi has a fragrance which is different from ordinary men and women.

The breath of every creature has a particular smell. And on the basis of a person’s smell, their personality can be analysed. There are instances when someone comes and sits near you and you wish that he leaves. Similarly, there are instances when someone sits near you and you wish that they stay. This change of feeling occurs on the basis of difference in smell.

The practice of identifying the breath’s smell, touch, colour is an idea of training the brain. The more trained the brain becomes, one’s comprehension ability increases, further making a person distinguished.