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.

Thought: The Informer

With the wind, fragrance comes and so does foul smell.In reality there is neither fragrance with the wind nor foul smell.Now let us observe an example of a real situation-A lot of good thoughts are coming in someone’s mind. He is happy, thinking what a good day today, such good thoughts my way.In the evening the same man is experiencing a rush of bad thoughts in his mind, making him feel sad. He wonders whose face did he encounter that such thoughts are coming his way.

The fact is that a thought is neither good nor bad. It is like the wind. The function of wind is just to send out. A thought is an informer. It informs us of the emotions within. Just as the fragrance of flower or the foul smell of garbage is spread through the wind, similarly bad or good emotions within ourselves are carried through thoughts. It is just a messenger who sends us the message.

A thought is also an informer of external influences. The effect of planets influences minds. Without a  reason one may experience despair or anger.Feelings of lack and egoism may also come up. Effect of environment , planets, things and people influence the mind.The mind has to bear the burden of the external as well as the internal (ie the emotional reactions which come from within).To bear burdens has become mind’s job.

A Messenger/Informer Cannot Be Killed

If we hold onto a thought, we won’t be able to solve the problem of having to bear burdens. The Acharyas of spirituality understood this long ago.Therefore, they said “Do not put excessive burden on thoughts. Nothing will come out of doing so.”Keep peeling the layers of an onion and nothing will be left. Neither be angry nor be happy at the informer. Just understand that it is simply doing the work of transmission. In Sanskrit literature, it is clearly said – a messenger cannot be killed. In ancient times, a king used to send his message to another king through messengers. That was the only medium of communication, then. Even if a messenger said something terrible, he could not be punished. He was always forgiven. Nobody could break this rule, despite the king having to face insults from the informer belonging to the other side.

A thought is also a messenger.If we we get angry or happy at a thought, we unconsciously start holding it, giving rise to delusions (ie bhranti). Neither get stuck in the world of thoughts  and neither wander in it.Just know that you have been given a message through a thought and now, you must become alert.If you have been given a good message in the form of a good thought, then resolve to go ahead with it.If a bad thought comes up, resolve to refine it.

How to Change Thoughts?

The question would be how to make such resolutions possible?For this we need to focus on a principle-‘Learn to change your thoughts.’Meditation helps us in this.A principle purpose of meditation is to change thoughts.We have already discussed that thoughts come from within and are like the wind.How can we change the smell, a wind carries?We can never change the result.In this condition how can we change our thoughts?

The implication of changing thoughts is changing emotions.Emotions are like the smell, a wind carries.If an emotion is like a fragrance then the thought must be developed and if an emotion is like a foul smell, then it must be refined.

Search for the Truth

The acharyas of meditation have suggested that searching for the truth is the way  towards changing emotions.Let us not get stuck at the gross and instead, go deeper.A person living in the gross world and regarding it as the only reality cannot change his life.Only one who ponders upon the subtle level of existence, can change his concepts, thought process and life.

I’m reminded of an old and poignant story.2500 years ago, there lived the king Shrainik who one day, sat in his court.All courtiers were present.A discussion was being held.The subject of the discussion was “What is the most valuable thing?”Somebody stated diamonds are the most valuable thing.Someone said emerald.Someone said gold. Everybody presented an answer in accordance with their concepts.In the end, the noble courtier Abhaykumar presented his stand.Preceding with a silence of two minutes, he replied “the most valuable thing is meat.”Listening to this, courtiers in the court laughed within themselves, thinking how can something costing a quarter be the most valuable.The king also could not accept this answer and therefore asked him to prove his statement or take it back. Abhaykumar replied that he will definitely prove his point.The king gave him a time of one week.The assembly dispersed.

Three days passed away.On the fourth day, Abhaykumar made an announcement to the public- the king is diseased and the doctors have said that the medicine to be given to him must be given along with a piece of flesh of a human heart.Therefore, anyone giving a pound of flesh of their heart will be given one lakh gold coins.The members of the court, hearing this immediately rejected the proposal.Who would accept death in exchange of gold coins?

On the eighth day, the announcement of the king becoming healthy without needing human flesh, was made.Meanwhile the king was unaware of the sequence of announcements or even his own health requiring someone’s flesh. Abhaykumar told the king about the events and the king’s own requirement of flesh for his wellbeing.He told him despite best efforts and a hefty amount being promised, nobody was ready to give a pound of flesh of their heart.The king was a bit surprised and asked “even at such a hefty amount, nobody was ready to give a piece of flesh?”

Abhaykumar replied -“My lord! how could have been this possible?I already told you that the most valuable thing on this planet is flesh”

He went on to say “it is so uncanny that all our high-ranking courtiers are consumers of meat but do not have the strength to take out a pound of meat from their own bodies.They cannot even think of the pain which innocent animals have to go through.”

Hearing this, everybody in the assembly had their heads bent in shame.

The Sequence of Finding the Truth

When a person moves in the direction of searching the truth and goes within its depth, then the secret which he finds, changes emotions.It is important to understand that thoughts are not the root.The root is emotions and going towards the truth can gradually change emotions and associated patterns.It is difficult to purify thoughts of people who talk a lot at the surface.This is because of apparent lack of opportunity to purify one’s emotions.

Meditation is a prelude to the search of truth.The truth starts showing up for the one who meditates.Emotions, thoughts, concepts and life all change for the better .The one who goes into the depths of existence, his life changes.



Source of Happiness

(The following is a translated part of Acharya shree’s book sukh ka stotra kahan)

In our world, there is no one who has not experienced happiness and sadness. People want the former.Nobody  wants  the latter. If we get a desirable thing or situation, then its okay but when we get an undesirable thing, sorrow comes up and the question arises – from where did it come forth? From where happiness comes , from there sorrow also comes.The source of both these is the same.The doorway is the same.From a single doorway, a man can also come.So can a dog.So can a donkey.Then the question arises that despite man’s best efforts to gain joy, he gets pain too.Why?

The answer to this question is one’s soul is the creator of both, happiness and sorrow.

There is no other who is creating these.There is no creator of the basis of existence.Neither soul nor  sumpreme soul/god.Happiness and sorrow are not the basis of existence.Nor is human body.These are just temporary states.The basis of existence or the root element is soul  and atom.There is no creator of an atom.But there are states of an atom.The doer/creator of these states is the atom itself.Similarly, there is no creator of the soul.There are just states of the soul which are created by itself.Soul is consciousness, knowledge.That is why, it creates happiness and sorrow when it desires to create them.Question would be – does anbody desire for the latter?According to jain darshan, someone wanting happiness is wanting sorrow as well.The one who desires to live, desires to die as well.Happiness and sorrow are twins.So are life-death.If there is a desire, both will come.

Gautam swami asked Mahaveer – dear, who creates sorrow ?God replied – Our soul.The whole responsibility of being in a certain state lies on ourselves.Nobody else is responsible.

It is seen that people do not take responsibility for a work gone wrong.They like to wear the responsibility of a good work – that is something they don’t like to give others.According to jain darshan for every work of either good or bad quality, the person him/her self is responsible.Nobody else.

In this state of knowledge, a new state of consciousness is developed. If everything is our doing, then who can be blamed?Instruments do exist.The universe provides ample of them for the manifestation of our own karma.For example, an unfavorable situation such as an illness comes up in life, the man becomes sad.Here the situation of illness is an instrument.But happiness or sorrow is not experienced by a situation.They are felt by a person.

The Doer of Happiness & Sorrow

Suppose an anger inducing incident occurs.You feel you should get angry.But there is a system in the brain which will direct you to not get angry.It will suggest that its is not the right time to get angry.If this controlling mechanism was not in place, man would lose himself.

The knowledge of such a controlling mechanism has been given to us by modern science.The science of karma suggests on a similar note- we have two types of karma in function – one is shata vedaniye karma* and the other is ashata vedaniye karma* .The former causes happiness.The latter causes sorrow.Both these opposing forces are not active together.When one is active, the other is silent and vice a versa.

In our consciousness, there is wakefulness and inertia both.Within us there is a tendency to be in delusion and the ability to silence it. When moha or delusion is silent, we live with a righteous conduct  while when it is active , we live with an unrighteous conduct.A good naam karma causes good particles to be experienced and a bad one causes bad particles to be experienced.We receive respect sometimes and we receive disrespect some other times. Sometimes a person is good to us and the same person is not good to us at some other time.A man has been a thief sometime and has been a saint some other time.This duality is within us. Therefore, we are the doers of both, happiness and sorrow.

The Rules Of Karma & Happiness

We have three mediums for expression – mind , speech and body.The way we express ourselves through these mediums decides the nature of karma particles we collect.These karma particles induce emotions of happiness or sorrow in us.Let us see how.

Science tells us that a certain biochemical is responsible for a certain emotion which in turn causes a certain type of conduct, which influences a person’s behavior. So a  person ‘s violent behavior is a result of a certain biochemical.This is exactly the kind of mechanism in place in our subtle bodies.The kind of impressions we form causes the creation of similar biochemicals in our body , which create emotions.This is a sequence.We have three bodies- a gross body which is visible to us (in which biochemicals are released), a subtle body which collects karma and the subtlest body which remains untainted.

So there exists rules but there is no ruler.Rain poured.Grass grew.This happened because of a law of nature.Who is the ruler here?No one.Our whole world is run by such laws.

Two kinds of laws exist – a universal law and a temporal law (based on a time frame) Temporal laws are made by humans and are temporary. Universal laws are applicable in all time frames.A child is born.He gets old.Who made him old?Nobody.Everything in the world gets old and finishes in accordance with time.This is a universal law. The meaning of finding the truth is  finding the laws. The development of science is attributed to discovery of laws.The development of a darshan  or branch of philosophy is also attributed to discovery of laws.Who ever has found out a law has unlocked a dimension of existential truth.

The supporting material for the workings of rules is the entire creation. Matter, space , time etc. become instruments. For example, the instrument for arousing anger can be many – somebody saying something bitter or something which does not fall in one’s framework of rightness , somebody not following your instructions.But the person getting angry is himself alone.He can either be a doer or a ruler. He can either get angry (and in the process spoil his happiness) or rule over his anger. According to jain darshana a person is him/her self responsible for his fate. So neither beg anyone nor blame anyone.Do not think that a certain person is going to build your life nor think a certain person has ruined it.When this principle is understood, a person stands on his/her own feet. His/her attention goes towards his/her conduct.Is my conduct and behavior making my life miserable? This is an important question.

It is essential to know that following certain rules can make one happy or sad. Meritful karma follows a rule.Unmeritful karma follows a rule.And so does liberation.

*Causes for Shätä  vedaniya – 1. To show compassion to two, three and four sense living beings, 2. To show compassion to “plant” living beings, 3. To show compassion five sense living beings, 4. To show compassion to other four one-sense living beings, 5. Not to make any living beings sad, 6. Not to cause sorrow to any living beings, 7. Not to harass any living beings, 8. Not to make anyone cry, 9. Not to hurt any living beings, and 10. Not to give hard time to anyone.

* Causes for Ashätä vedaniya: 1. sadness, 2. sorrow, 3. regretting, 4. crying, 5. violence and 6. causing hardship