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Abstract Thinking: [29.02] - Anupreksha of Co-Existence - Co-Existence and Coordination

Published: 02.08.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

In recent times, the idea of co-existence has been mooted from the political front. Co-existence has been debated in an international forum like the U.N.O. But if we want to know who propounded first of all the doctrine of co-existence, the name of Lord Mahavira comes to the mind foremost. An extensive exposition of co-existence is to be found only in syadvada (the Jain doctrine of relativity), and anekantvada (the Jain doctrine of non-absolutism).

The most desirable path is - to forbear, to synthesize and to develop the spirit of co-existence.

How long will a man strive against diversity? How long will he struggle? There is no end to conflict. Conflict will end only with the annihilation of the human race. When all are wiped out, war will come to an end of itself. But this is no solution to the problem. If mankind is to survive, if man has to live, some other alternative must be sought, a new way must be found. The only alternative is - the development of the spirit of co-existence and harmony. Only through the development of such a spirit, can intolerance be ended.

Pandit Nehru stressed the need for co-existence of one country with another. We will not elaborate upon it here. But is not co-existence also necessary for family life? It is an urgent necessity. Only when the spirit of co-existence prevails, is it possible to live peacefully. Peaceful co-existence is the greatest achievement of life. To live together and to live in amity is a great thing. Two persons may become deeply attached to each other, but when they come to live together, their love evaporates. Let two lovers live together for some time and see how their intimate love disintegrates. As long as they have not lived together, the rapport continues. The moment they come to live together, all intimacy is gone. To live together and to maintain the rapport for a long time is a great achievement. Because a man comes into conflict with another at every step. The collision may be because of self-interest or on account of ideas and beliefs. In such a situation, tension or conflict can only be ended through the spirit of co-existence and harmony.

The art of living involves a proper synthesis of tension and release. Both tension and relaxation are necessary for coexistence. Along with tension, we must also learn the art of relaxation. One thing is very clear. Wherever there is discrimination, there is tension and a situation of conflict arises. Why does it happen so? Even very intimate relationship is no exception to the rule. With the least sign of discrimination, consciousness undergoes a change. Why does consciousness change?

When a man seeks to resolve a problem with the spirit of cooperation, even a difficult task becomes easy. Every problem can be resolved. Where there is a problem, there is also a solution to it. There is no problem which cannot be resolved. With the development of the spirit of harmony, with the awakening of the consciousness of relativity, nothing is impossible. One finger needs another. There is diversity everywhere. Let us look at our hand - the thumb stands in opposition to the four fingers. They extend in different directions. The whole of the human race has developed on the basis of such polarization. Had the thumb been situated exactly like the fingers, one along the other, mankind would not have developed. Culture and civilization would not have evolved. They have evolved primarily because of an inherent opposition - the placement of the thumb in opposition to the fingers is responsible for the development of writing, painting and sculpture. The thumb and the fingers are differently placed, but we know how to coordinate their movements and therefore there is no conflict. The thumb does not quarrel with the fingers nor do the fingers quarrel with the thumb. Because of need, they establish a harmonious relationship among themselves. If some writing is to be done, the fingers unite with the thumb. For the execution of any work, they come together.

The question arises as to how to develop this harmonising consciousness. The man who controls his selfishness, bigotry and intolerance, is able to develop in himself a spirit of harmony. On the other hand, the man who is dominated by self-interest, bigotry and intolerance, is incapable of awakening in himself such a spirit. Selfishness has to be neutralized.

In olden times there were found two kinds of conflict - communal and racial. Today, another kind of conflict has come to the fore - class conflict. Politics has given birth to it. This class-conflict also cannot be eradicated until there is a levelling of self-interest. The interests of a particular class come into conflict with those of another class. The interests of the mill-owners clash with those of the labourers. The interests of a rich man collide with those of a poor man. This conflict is inevitable until there is a levelling of interests.

A potter had two daughters. One of them was married to a farmer and the other to a potter. One day the father paid them a visit. First he went to the farmer's house. His daughter said, "O father! We are in trouble. The sowing is over, but there are no rains. The sky continues bare, without a cloud. All our labour is lost. Kindly pray for the rains!" Later, the father visited his other daughter at the potter's house. She said, "O father! All the earthen pots are yet in the kiln. Pray that there may be no rain yet! The father was in a quandary. For whom should he pray?

The father went back to his daughter, the farmer's wife and said, "Look! If the rains come, and you have a good crop, please share it with your sister." She accepted the proposal. Later he went to the potter's wife and said, "If there are no rains and the field yields no crop, but the pots in the kiln are well set, please share your income with your sister." She, too, accepted the proposal. This equation pleased them both.

Maharaj Jai Singh and Siddharaj have been two famous rulers of Gujarat. They were harmonisers/synthesisers. Acharya Hamchandra was like a guru to them. Once Maharaj Sidhharaj visited the temple of Lord Shiva, along with Acharya Hemchandra. Someone remarked, "You are accompanied by Acharya Hemchandra, but he does not worship Lord Shiva." Maharaj said, "Acharyavar!" Can you worship Lord Shiva?" The Acharya answered, "Of course, I can, why not?" And he immediately recited 40 verses in honour of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). In the first verse, he said:

I am not enamoured of any particular name. I am not attached to shape. The souls in whom attachment and aversion, the creators of the bond of existence, of the cycle of birth and death, have ended, irrespective of what they are called, whether Brahma, Vishnu or Mahadev or Jin - I salute them all!'

The whole thing revolves around adjustment. Let our spirit of accommodation awaken! Out of division, let us discover the principle of unity: out of discord let us create harmony, and through adjustment let us avoid confrontation! If we can develop within ourselves the spirit of co-existence and accommodation, we shall create a beautiful and healthy society. Without it, social health is unimaginable. It is very necessary for would-be administrators to strive to awaken in themselves the spirit of co-existence and adjustment.
  • Abstract Thinking
    by Acharya Mahaprajna, © 1988
  • Edited by  Muni Dulheraj
  • Translated by Muni Mahendra Kumar
  • Published by Jain Vishva Barati
  • Edition 1999 compiled by Samani Stith Pragya

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Hemchandra
  3. Anekantvada
  4. Brahma
  5. Consciousness
  6. Cooperation
  7. Gujarat
  8. Guru
  9. Jin
  10. Mahavira
  11. Non-absolutism
  12. Pandit
  13. Syadvada
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