Quadrangle of Spirituality

Posted: 25.08.2009

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[The Jains are celebrating their spiritual Festival called "Paryushan Parva" all over the country. Jainism itself is essentially a "Spiritual Religion" considering Spiritual Good to be the highest goal of life. Observing long fasts upto 30 days, vow of silence, practice of meditation, and the like are the spiritual practices undertaken by thousands of people collectively. The author depicts the philosophy behind the Paryushan Parva by expounding the universal truths like impermanence of life.]

There are two paths in life - materialism and spiritualism. Even spiritual people are not able to grasp the true meaning of spirituality. They too have formed some unnatural beliefs and understanding which are not beneficial. Mere words like "awareness of self existence", "awareness of the soul" will not help us in the long run, because as long as we continue to work through our conscious mind, we can never think of perfection at all. There are four-fold steps to attaining spirituality:

  1. Contemplation of Impermanence
  2. Contemplation of non-sheltering
  3. Contemplation of separation of self from the material body
  4. Contemplation of Solitariness One, whose consciousness of impermanence, non-sheltering, separation from the meterial body and solitariness is awakened, become spiritual. Mere repetition of certain world or a chant does not make one spiritual.

These words like "realize the soul" or "realize the consciousness", are all conservative words lacking depth and essence. The harsh reality is that with the present mental, physical and emotional conditions, we can never realize either our soul or our existence. By practising the four-fold spiritual process we can realize ourselves. The first step towards realization begins with the practice of impermanence of matter. As and when this practice starts maturing, gradually the happiness and sorrow associated with the object will start annihilating. Today, in our present mental and emotional state, an undesirable object gives sorrow, and a desirable object gives happiness. In the state of intense awareness of impermanence, there is no sorrow. When the truth about the acquisition and separation of an object is fully understood, then there is no sorrow. When this consciousness awakens with full realization then there is no more fear and suffering of old age or death. Only a truly spiritual person can overcome this suffering. Merely a reader or preacher of spirituality cannot transcend these suffereings. A person who lives realistically and in spirituality with full realization, can transcend these sufferings and enjoy unobstructed and infinite bliss. One who is unable to realize this unhindered, infinite bliss at the present moment can never get it after his death.

What is sambodhi (enlightenment)? It is the witnessing of the awarness of impermanence. Witnessing means awakening of the consciousness of sambodhi (enlightenment). Basically, enlightenment is three types - enlightenment of knowledge, enlightenment of vision and enlightenment of conduct. Intellect is also of three kinds - intellect of knowledge, intellect of vision and intellect of conduct. Witnessing is also of three kinds—witnessing of knowledge, witnessing of reality and witnessing of conduct. The first step of spirituality is the witnessing of impermanence. If we have to define a spiritual person, it is "the one who has witnessed the impermanent". The second element is non-sheltering. The helpless state of sickness and intense pain can awaken the consciousness of non-sheltering in any one. And he would literally realize the there is no one in this world to give him shelter, he is born without a shelter. External materials cannot provide relief and shelter. Therefore he shoule seek for shelter within himself.

There are basically two kinds of persons - external seekers and internal seekers. A spiritual person is an internal seeker. An external seeker is materialistic bacause he is always inclined to seek externally. He searches for the solution of every problem in the material world. He always hankers after objects. It is natural that wherever you are inclined, you will always move in the direction only. If your tendency is to seek within, then you will surely seek the solution of every problem in your spirit.

Man has deep attachment to his physical body. Most of his time is spent in maintaining his body. His delusion is so profound and deep that he has accepted the body and soul to be the same. He always considers the body as his whole personality and existence. He cannot think and identify his existence as separate from the body. As long as this thinking persists, spirituality cannot materialize. The philosophy of contemplation of separation from the body is that, when knowledge of the separation of the soul from the body awakens then spirituality starts taking root. Man accepts three traits of his personality - memory, imagination and thinking. All the three are mechanical and not related to the soul. Feeling is related to the soul. It cannot be mechanical. The one who realizes happiness and sorrow exists. When the consciousness of the separtion from the body awakens, then only does spirituality commence.

We may be practising any amount of good, altruism and philanthropy but we should never forget that eventually we are solitary. A person associated with the ultimate truth never experiences sorrow or misery.

Spirituality is based on the fourfold truths of impermanence, non-sheltering, separation of self from the material body, and solitariness. Those who have achieved the above said truths and realizations only can have a spiritual personality. They lead a life blessed with happiness and bliss. The last step of spirituality is to be solitary. Mahavira has attached great importance to this state of solitariness. Meditation of solitariness was considered highly revered and important. A person who has learnt to feel solitary while living in a crowd, has learnt to lead a life free from tension.

The practice of spirituality should be pragmatic and rational. These four contemplations are very practical. In the context of Prekshdhyana, we have accepted sixteen types of contemplations. Each contemplation is practiced for months together and only then are they assimilated in our life. The practice of contemplation is an infallible solution for all problems and it is also superb divine step for achieving the pinnacle of spirituality.

Perception and contemplation should be practiced together for the development of a blissful life. The practice of contemplation after the practice of perceiving and again the practice of perceiving after the practice of contemplation should go on relentlessly. The practice of perceiving is slightly difficult and the practice of contemplation is comparatively easier. The practice of contemplation is important for changing one's thoughts as it can result in the purification of mind.

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South Asia Mail - by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg