Why Meditate?: [06.03] Stress Management & Preksha Meditation (3)

Published: 27.02.2008
Updated: 06.10.2008

We have literature handed down to us from 2500 years ago. If you read the biographies of great personalities and seers, you will see how much tolerance they had. They were often abused and criticized. Sometimes, they were even punished or assaulted, yet they never got stressed or tense. If tension is the nature of the man, then we could say Bhagwan Mahavir's life would have been the most stressful. History recounts that many people insulted him, used bad words in his presence, and made him suffer - yet he kept himself free of tension. See the life of Krishna, Rama, Nanak, Samarth Ramdas, etc. How much abuse and uncultured behaviour they had to face! Did they ever react by losing their peace of mind? A person who has held his emotions in check does not get agitated because of others' misbehaviour. Who are those who get tense? It can be said that those whose emotions are not in control get tension.

In the present generation, it is commonplace for one's mood to go awry. Even a small child will say, “I am not in a good mood.” Both men and women face this problem. You will find very few people whose mood does not go off. Why is this so? This happens because they have no control over their passions. The very first step in Preksha Meditation is to learn how to control our emotions. After the session of Preksha Meditation, in general, people would say that they got peace of mind, happiness and goodness. That this happens is a sure fact, but these are mere formal truths. In fact, the point, which we need to focus on, is to gain control over our emotions and passions. If we do not aspire to reach this point, it is worthless to practice Preksha Meditation.

Nowadays, there are many ways to manage stress. Many seminars and workshops are held for stress management. It is good to think over ways to manage our stress, but before that, should we not see how stress arises in the first place? That it should arise time and again, and that we should keep on managing it: how long can this go on? It seems like every time we fall down, we must put a bandage on the injured part. Should we not try to increase our alertness to the extent that we do not get hurt at all, so that there is no need to tie a bandage? Is it worthwhile to repeatedly get tense and then to make efforts to relieve tension, again and again? Would it not be better to try not to get tense in any situation? We need to distinguish between two points: the first is getting tense and then releasing the tension, while the second is to awaken that inner consciousness which will not allow tension to arise, in the first place.

Physical stress is not a very complex problem. By simple practices physical stress can be relieved. We should progress in the direction of mental and emotional tensions not arising at all. Our spiritual practice should be such that mental tension is not created at all. By hearing some words, if mental tension is created, our approach towards it has to be changed and we should develop the right perspective. The right perspective can be used to prevent the development of mental and emotional tensions. Three paths have been enumerated for attaining moksha (liberation). Acharya Umaswati has described the process of attaining emancipation (Moksha). He has written, there is only one path leading towards emancipation. It has three constituents:

  • Right Perspective,
  • Right Knowledge
  • Right Conduct

In my opinion, if the word 'Right Speech' is added to perspective and knowledge, the question of falling into tension (either mental or emotional) would never arise as enlightenment would be attained. Tension occurs only in the absence of Right Knowledge. By adding the word 'Right Speech' to knowledge, our perspective would surely change leaving no scope for tension.

There is an important incident concerning Acharya Bikshu. Acharya Bikshu’s Chaturmas (a period of 4 months stay in one place during the rainy season) was held in one of Rajasthan's famous cities called Pali. With the permission of the owner, they stayed in a shop. It takes all sorts to make a world. Some mischievous people told the owner that these monks would stay put in that shop. They may never leave it. So it would be better to get rid of them before they settled down there. The owner did as he was told. Acharya Bikshu left the shop. Although there was good reason to react, Acharya Bikshu’s enlightened perspective was so strong that he did not flare up. It was the rainy season. The shop collapsed due to heavy rains. Acharya Bikshu said, “Such a kind person he was! He told us to leave before the shop collapsed. Had we been there today, and the shop had collapsed, what would have happened to us?!”

How did he gain such complete acceptance? It happened because of right perspective. We should not blame any one for anything. If we see the incident in the right way, and go into it deeply, tension will never arise. Otherwise, there is enough frivolous talk around us to cause agitation and make us fall prey to tension, without any concrete reason.

There was once an innocent person who did not have any views of his own. He would do whatever other people asked him to do. He did not have his own knowledge, vision or thinking power. It is usually the case that such innocent people are teased by others. One day, some youngsters thought, “Let's outwit him today.” Two or three young boys came up to him and said, “You sleep soundly in the night, while your wife keeps wandering around town. It is not right that you are heedless of this.” Night fell, and the man sat in front of his door holding a stick. He thought, “If she comes today, I will strike her on her head.” He could not sleep throughout the night. The sun was about to rise. A passer-by asked him, “Why are you sitting here with a stick?” He replied, “My wife is wayward. She comes home late in the night. I want to strike her on her head.” The passer-by said, “'But you are not yet married, from where did this wife come?”

Man gets overwhelmed by his emotions. It is not by facts, but only by sheer imagination, that man gets filled with stress. When someone comes and says - 'So-and-so is speaking such-and-such about you'- we do not know for a fact whether that person actually said anything. But we will be swayed by the emotions that result from such an exchange. If we analyse our lives deeply, we will come to know that many tension-wrought situations are created by sheer imaginations and unreal doubts. This point needs deep thought. We can escape from tension through right perspective. A person with right perspective, right knowledge and right conduct does not experience tension.

Until his last breathe, Acharya Tulsi kept on saying, “I do not know what tension is.” A man of 83 says he didn't have tension throughout his life! It means either he did not live his life, or perhaps there is some secret. We need to discover that secret. One whose emotions are pacified does not fall into tension. A person gets tense only when he is buffeted by his emotions. Through the practice of Preksha Meditation, we can practice the special technique of pacifying our emotions. We can see that they are not provoked. This, in itself, is adequate spiritual practice (Sadhana).

If someone asks you for the essence of Preksha meditation, your answer should be, “Subsiding of emotions.” This is the core of Preksha Meditation, the formula for a stress-free life.

Sources
Copyright by Acharya Mahaprajna ©2005
Compiled by Muni Dhananjay Kumar
Published by Jain Vishva Barati Institute, Ladnun, India
Translated by Samani Charitra Pragya, Neeraja Raghavan & Sudhamahi Regunathan

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bikshu
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Acharya Umaswati
  5. Chaturmas
  6. Consciousness
  7. Krishna
  8. Meditation
  9. Moksha
  10. Pali
  11. Preksha
  12. Preksha Meditation
  13. Rama
  14. Sadhana
  15. Tolerance
  16. Tulsi
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