I And Mine: [02.06] - A Religious Revolution - Sorrow : Assurance of Liberation

Published: 07.11.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

Human nature seeks but one goal: deliverance from suffering or, in formal language, attainment of happiness. Every religious book assures deliverance from sorrow. People cannot be attracted by a method that does not give such an assurance. But one might ask the question whether the assurance is being fulfilled or not? If it is being fulfilled, the light of religion cannot be extinguished even by the fiercest storm. But if it is not being fulfilled, it is worth investigating whether the fault lies in (1) the remedy, (2) the physician, (3) the method of using the remedy, or (4) the patient himself.

  1. If the fault lies in the remedy, another remedy will have to be tried.
  2. If the fault lies in the physician, another physician will have to be approached.
  3. If the fault lies in the method, it will have to be changed.
  4. If the fault lies in the patient himself, his nature will have to be refined.

Let us take up these possibilities one by one.

  1. There does not seem to be any deficiency in the spiritual form of religion. Being one-sided its aspect as a cult or form of worship has totally disintegrated. Chanting the name of God may help attaining concentration. So also listening to the scriptures and other forms of worship.
    But can a mind not intimately interrelated with the experience of unity (non-violence) ever attain concentration?
    Can it attain concentration without having truth enshrined in it?
    Can a man not opposed to robbing others of their existence have concentration?
    Can a mind not full of innate happiness (brahmcharya) achieve concentration?
    Can a mind not free from the affliction of desires attain concentration?
    Only that mind can concentrate which is endowed with the ability to perform a meritorious act of devotion, such as a vow or penance. The present disability of religion lies in its instrumental aspect becoming stronger than the material or substantive aspect. It can be remedied by giving the first place to the substantive aspect and only the second place to the instrumental aspect of religion.
  2. Most religious preceptors are not as much dedicated to religion as they are to a particular sect. That is why the exposition of religion is more a reinforcement of tradition than an investigation of truth. A man of the world can accept his incompleteness, but it is difficult for a religious guru to do so. A sociologist can change his old opinion in the light of new revelation of facts, but a religious guru hesitates to do so. The difficulty of the religious exponent is that he is over influenced by indirect realization. What is expected is that he serves only such fare to his followers as has been baked in the fire of self-realization.
  3. Pillars erected too close to each other do not permit the expansion of the building. At the same time they should not be so far apart that it becomes impossible to thatch them. It is natural that there be some distance between thought and practice. In its absence there would be ho scope for dedicated practice. Religion is a process whereby the distance between thought and practice is reduced. Religious thoughts have their spring in the inner being. It cleanses the outer world and goes back to the inner one. The inner world is one of non-acceptance; the outer world is one of acceptance. Bridging the gulf between thoughts and deeds means going from acceptance to non-acceptance or from synthetic approach to analytical approach. The first step of this procedure is the desire to seek release from suffering; the second step is nonattachment to material goods and their consumption; and the third step is restraint in relation to material goods and their consumption.
    In the world of religion also there is the desire to seek release from suffering, but there is no corresponding practice of non-attachment and restraint, which alone enables us to attain the release. That is why religion is not proving fruitful. It is not reducing suffering. The main causes of suffering are attachment and lack of restraint. No results can accrue without removing the cause(s). Therefore, the centrality of practising non-attachment and restraint in religious conduct is obligatory.
  4. Religion has acquired a hereditary character. Consequently, a religious person does not adopt religion through independent prudence or discrimination but through hereditary means. In older times the son of a Vaishya and the son of a Kshatriya followed the occupation of their respective fathers. Similarly, a religious person practises the religion of his father. Now the tradition of hereditary occupation has changed. The son of a businessman becomes a doctor or an engineer or can choose any other profession. There is yet no such choice in the field of religion, or people are not exercising the choice. I am not propounding the thesis that only that person is religious who adopts a religion other than that of his forefathers. But I do like to propound the thesis that a religious person should adopt his hereditary religion only after testing it in the light of his discrimination and experience.

Religious revolution requires cleansing religion of the dross and bringing about pre-requisite and context-bound changes in religion itself, in its exponents, in its practitioners. Only after such a revolution can religion fulfil its promise of relieving suffering.

  • 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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  1. Brahmcharya
  2. Concentration
  3. Guru
  4. Non-violence
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