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.

A Present Free Of Past

This is a translated part of Acharya Mahapragya’s book Ateet ko pado, bhavishye ko dekho

Who is free and who is bonded? We cannot say we are completely free. We can also not say we are completely bonded. Both are relative terms. We are both ,free and bonded.

Time, one’s nature, karma and destiny – these elements cause bondage while consciousness which is the basis of existence, makes us free.

A prani possesses consciousness. Where there is consciousness, there complete bondage  is impossible. The other point to be noted is that elements which cause bondage have limited power. People assume that karma is the most powerful. That everything happens because of it. This is a delusion which should be broken. If everything happened because of karma, liberation wouldn’t have been possible. Karma has a limitation to it. It bears fruit within that limit.

A person collects good and bad karma. They give fruits according to some limits or rules. These limitations are – dravya (i.e. matter) , chetra(ie place) , kaal(ie time) , and bhaav(ie emotion).Every action has a fruit or a result.It is assumed that darshanavarniye karma fructifies when one falls asleep. Now this karma is present in our entire lives but it needs mediums such as time and place to manifest or fructify. For example, during a specific kaal or time sleep is present (during night, for example) while during another time sleep disappears. The creatures of hell are unable to sleep. This is so because of the intense pain they go through. Does this mean darshanavarniye karma for them does not exist?-No, it does exist but the effect of place is such that it does not manifest.

Therefore every karma fructifies because of certain conditions. These are limitations to karma. Karma does not do everything. When a person is awake, even the impression of the karma just performed is erased. A karma goes through so much change, this needs to be understood. The darshan of karma given by Lord Mahaveer has not been understood fully. If this was not the case, so many false notions around karma would not have existed. Such false notions have caused people to suffer diseases, difficulties and poverty. A poor man thinks since it is written in fate, I shall have to live like this. People excuse their situations through their false notions and suffer misery.

Karma and fate have become big excuses. When one’s point of view, beliefs and concepts are false then nobody can overcome the resultant problems.

Karma does everything – this is a very false notion.

Time, one’s nature, destiny, purakrit (done by us) and purusharth – these are five elements. If we give prime importance to anyone of these, problems will arise. Time is an element of nature. Every matter has a unique behavior which gives it its nature .Destiny or law of nature applies to everyone in this world. Whatever a man does knowingly or unknowingly , through speech or thought, in a subtle or gross way- everything is written. Every doing is written and has a counteraction as well. Just as a sound wave has an echo. An image has a reflection. Actions of every person have results. Karma is performed by  the person himself and the result comes in the form of a krit or deed. Since it comes as a counter action it is called purakrit.It means what was done before. The fifth element is purusharth. Karma and purusharth are not different.The first moment of someone’s purusharth or self-effort is called purusharth and when this moment passes, it is called karma. Basically karma is the purusharth done in the past and self-effort done this moment is purusharth.

These are five elements. Neither of these is most powerful. Each of these have limitations. On this basis we can say that we are free as well as bonded. The second question is- Who is responsible? Time, one’s nature, destiny and karma – all of these affect us but neither of these can be held responsible for our lives. A person’s self effort or purusharth is responsible. A person cannot be free of his responsibility towards his conduct and behavior. This excuse cannot be made- ‘since it was karma/yog this happened.’ We need to accept our responsibility. We need to tell ourselves that all responsibility of conduct and behavior rests upon us.

Different people from different walks of life consider different elements as responsible. Psychologists, physicians and the philosophers of karma, according to their subject consider different elements as causal. But all answers are relative. The biochemicals in our body affect us and so does our environment and situation. All these affect us but none of them alone can be said  to be a responsible entity.

This is because time does not possess consciousness. Neither does matter. Neither karma.  Neither destiny. Neither our naditantra. Neither our surroundings. Neither our situation in life.The whole system is unconscious. Then who can be help responsible?The unconscious cannot be held responsible.It does not have the ability to know responsibility.The question of responsibility is conjoined with consciousness.Where there is knowledge, there the question of responsibility comes up.The ability to undertake responsibilities is where there is knowingness of consciousness.Our self effort is the rays from the consciousness with which the ability to know and fulfill our responsibility is also attached.

Our self effort in the present or purusharth is responsible.We cannot deny this.We should not hesitate to take responsibility for our conduct in life.Unless we don’t feel responsible we will not be able to refine our  behaviour and conduct.It will stay brutish and unrefined. It  will never be able to become free from the boundary of selfishness.

Ordinary man only knows that he is bound by karma or past.Mahaveer said-“One has to experience the fruits of karma performed by him.”This is an ordinary law.It has a remedy law as well. He also said –“Karma can be changed.It can be broken.If one’s  purusharth is active and awake then we can change karma in whatever way we want .”For example, if someone creates a bond for a demeritful action, but later if he does meritful self-effort (purusharth) ,the fruit for his previous demerit can change into a meritful fruit. A story can illustrate this fact clearly.

There were two brothers. Both went to an astrologer and asked about their future. The astrologer told the elder brother that he will be hung on the gallow while told the younger brother that he will get a kingdom to rule. After this incident the elder brother started living with awareness. He changed his behavior. Improved his conduct. He saw death in front of him. Everybody changes on seeing death. The younger brother thought – Oh, Since I’m going be a king shortly, what is there to worry?He filled himself with ego.One by one he developed several vices.The intoxicant of authority indeed makes many mad.

A few days passed.The elder brother was walking somewhere.His feet got injured by a pin while the younger brother found a bag of gold coins.

The brothers went to the astrologer after four months.Both said-“your foretellings never saw daylight.”The astrologer was a knowledgeable figure.He explained to the elder brother that his meritorious conduct caused the foretold gallow to be replaced with pin.He explained to the younger brother that his unmeritorius  conduct replaced the foretold kingdom to be replaced with a bag of coins.

This illustrates that collected merit is transformed into demerit by bad purusharth while collected demerit can be changed to merit by good purusharth.

We find a corroborating stance in the Sthanang sutra-

चउविहे कमे पण्णते तं जहा –

सुभ नाम मेगे सुभ विवागे,

सुभे नाम मेगे असुभ विवागे,

असुभे नाम मेगे सुभ विवागे,

असुभे नाम मेगे असुभ विवागे |

A meritful karma is bonded and its fruit is merit,

A meritful karma is bonded but its fruit is demerit,

A demeritful karma is bonded but its fruit is merit,

A demeritful karma is bonded and its fruit is demerit

The second and third lines give the principle of transformation.When one’s purusharth is as such that demerit turns into merit and vice-a-versa.

Once upon a time, a man asked Sukrat to show his birth chart.Sukrat replied- “The birth chart was prepared when I was born and now I have wronged it.What will you see now?”

Through self-effort or purusharth  one can change their birth chart and fate too. From this viewpoint only a person is responsible for her/himself. Mahaveer weighed on the principle of self-effort but did not establish a one-sided view. He accepted the influence of all the elements.

Self effort has its own importance. No one can excuse themselves in the name of destiny or niyati. We need to experience the truth. Let  our purusharth go in the right direction and let its propensity to go in the wrong direction break.