I And Mine: [03.15] - 8 Brief Rules of Group Spiritual Practice - 7. Understanding Circumstances

Published: 30.12.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

The atoms of darkness change into bright light the moment the rays of the sun touch a surface. If the world of matter did not have the capacity to change, things would have forever remained as they were. But this is not the case. Everything existent changes and changes every moment. Matter undergoes changes too subtle to be perceived by our gross eyes. Being subtle, we are hardly aware of the transformation brought about by the change. Changes brought about by gross causes are themselves gross and the causes too are evident. The effects of some causative factors are felt even after they are extinct, while those of others are felt only so long as they last. A piece of red cloth can make a crystal appear red so long as the latter is under its effect. Once the cloth is removed, its effect too disappears. Take another example. A man stumbles on a stone and gets hurt. The contact with the stone was momentary, but its effect lasts a long time. A thing receives a new formal look if the causes are adequately present. Since it is very clear and gross, we call it a change.

Change is born of two originals - the material cause and the instrumental cause.

Competence becomes operational by combining with favourable circumstances. Without the latter it will not be able to fructify. If competence is ab initio absent, circumstances can be of no avail. Change occurs only when both original competence and favourable circumstances combine properly. The heat of the sun makes the earth intensely hot, but it has not effect on the sky. Even the sun cannot heat that which has no capacity to absorb heat. The earth does have that capacity, but it cannot be hot without the sun.

Circumstances do not constitute merely an external environment. They are intertwined by both internal and external strands. Everything has its own natural characteristic. Chillies do not share the sweetness of grapes and grapes do not share the pungency of chillies. One strand in the texture of circumstances is the limitation of the natural characteristic.

Millet ripens in the rainy season, while gram ripens in winter. Gram is not sown in Asharh (the fourth month of the Hindu calendar) and millet is not sown in Migsar (the ninth month of the Hindu calendar).

The second strand in the texture of circumstances is the limitation of time.

A house has electricity. It is capable of lighting the house. But if there is no hand to press the switch, the house is not lighted. The third strand in the texture of circumstances is the limitation of human endeavour.

Man has in him the inherent instinct for light. That is why he wants the protection of light in the midst of darkness. The inherent instincts do not merely knock at the door of future achievements they even open it wide. The fourth strand in the texture of circumstances is the limitation of genetic traits or destiny.

The world is regulated by universal laws. They cannot be transgressed. One of the laws is constancy or eternality. Anything true is constant or eternal. The world was based and will continue to be based on this principle.

The second law of the world is changeability or variability. Anything true is variable. The world has changed or transformed and will continue to change on the basis of this law. Variability is an inevitable law of the world. Therefore, something changes and something becomes the cause of change. The fifth strand in the texture of circumstances is a fixed order of things of destiny - a universal law.

Many potentialities of a thing do not manifest themselves for want of proper circumstances. Even the karmas accumulated in the previous birth do not fully fructify in the absence of proper circumstances. Geographical environment affects the size, look and complexion of the body. Mental ups and downs are influenced by external contacts. Thoughts are affected by external contacts. No man is immune to the effects of circumstances, so long as he is within their zone of influence. Man starts shivering as chilly winds blow. The shivering is not without a cause. He starts sweating profusely under the scorching heat o r the sun. The sweating is not without a cause. Man gets enraged when he encounters anything contrary to his heart's desire. He becomes arrogant on getting something he had not even imagined. Happiness, elation, fear, and grief - all these sensations are expressed as a result of circumstances. They disturb the balance of the mind. As a result, the mind becomes restless.

It is impossible for the mind to remain unaffected by circumstances in whose sphere of influence it operates. But if animated and inspired by the right sentiment it can come out of the sphere of influences and then he is not longer a plaything in the hands of circumstances.

The mind firmed up by an understanding of transience does not get afflicted by the joys and sorrows of meeting and separation respectively. The mind firmed up with the knowledge of shelterlessness never feels helpless. The mind inspired by the feeling of oneness does not become sad in the face of social struggles. The mind animated by the feeling of friendliness is freed from the vicious circle of apprehension, mistrust, doubt, fear and malice. The mind given to mirth is not infested by jealousy. Cruelty disappears from the mind filled with compassion. The mind not given to extremes saves itself from anger and disappointment.

Not having favourable circumstances, having unfavourable circumstances, feeling of helplessness, conflict, doubt, fear, malice, jealousy, cruelty, anger, and disappointment create an imbalance in the mind. An unbalanced mind suffers from restlessness, which swallows up happiness. Contemplation, peace and happiness are causally related, The Gita says:

There is no peace without contemplation and nothing can happen in the absence of peace. Contemplation is the process of transforming inherited traits. Constant reflection, thinking and practice in accordance with life's objective cause the inherited traits to be undone and new traits to be formed.

No one can acquire peace without first destroying the inherited traits responsible for unrest. Circumstances do not always remain the same. Sometimes they are favourable and sometimes unfavourable. He who feels intensely happy in favourable circumstances cannot avoid being intensely and in unfavourable circumstances. That man remains unaffected by circumstances who consecrates his consciousness and dedicated efforts with the experience of truth. Untruth exercises a magnetic influence on the effect of circumstances. Truth lacks that magnetism. Therefore, it is unable to attract the effect of circumstances. Fire destroys many things, but it cannot destroy the non-existent. Only that mind is afflicted by circumstances, which has not been animated by the contemplation of truth.

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Contemplation
  5. Environment
  6. Fear
  7. Gita
  8. Karmas
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