I And Mine: [01.13] - I And My Mind - Plurality In The Midst Of Collectivity

Published: 27.10.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

Superficially everyone strikes different from others; looked deeply no one appears different. 'My competence is superior to that of others' this thought carves me out as an individual, as a completely autonomous being.

We make a great show of cooperation and sympathy as part of group living and pretend to share one another's joys and sorrows. However, we remain disparate and many and refuse to have a sense of unity. It is because of our 'maniness' that there are social mores and conventions as well as social norms. Where there is oneness, the need for these conventions and norms disappears. Moreover, we have no universal criteria and norms. We simply apply our own to others.

My multiple contacts with others reflect as many images of mine into others' eyes. Surely, this does not mean that I have multiple beings. I know that I am one and this is the truth. The feeling of disparateness is at best an imposition; it is not a characteristic of my own being. It is this imposed feeling which gives rise to mutual distrust and faultfinding. This feeling is caused by the awareness of the independence of one's being, and by one's ignorance of others.

We should get rid of this ignorance, and not of our individual independence. Inadequate acquaintance breaks mutual misunderstanding. True knowledge saves us from such a misunderstanding. The feeling that we are different from one another is the direct result of our ignorance or tack of proper knowledge. If we want to bring about social unity and cohesion, it can be possible mainly through the removal of ignorance and wrong understanding.

According to me, mutual understanding and knowledge between individuals is perfectly possible. There are three obstacles or hindrances in achieving it:

  • Ignorance

    Some people believe that knowledge causes unhappiness. I will oppose them not by saying that ignorance causes unhappiness, but that ignorance itself is unhappiness.
  • Distrust

    Some prudent people vehemently oppose the tendency to trust others. I disagree. Distrust leads to infinite regress. Moreover, while unsuspecting trust may sometimes prove dangerous, there is nothing more dangerous than distrust. The former can be dealt with by being alert; the latter is simply incurable.
  • Self-delusion

    One should not delude oneself into believing in the maxim, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'. My guru has taught me, to treat the virtuous and the wicked alike. One might object and say how light and darkness can be equated. But wisdom refuses to accept the dichotomy. At the bottom of all darkness lies light, and all light is surrounded by darkness. My handling of both has a common aim, to free light from the covering of darkness.
Sources
  • 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. Cooperation
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