Abstract Thinking: [21.01] - Anupreksha Of Synthesis (1)

Published: 27.04.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Men are divers. Diversity gives rise to independence; independence to conflict, and conflict to synthesis. Lord Mahavira was a great seer and promoter of synthesis. The principle of synthesis did not end diversity; it only manifested unity in diversity which means that unity without diversity and diversity without unity is nowhere to be found - the two go together. One, who is only concerned with absolute independence, creates conflict. Conflict fills man with dread, and man wants to end fear, which, however, cannot be ended without the synthesis of unity and diversity. Mahavira never said that diversity has no value; nor did he say that unity has no value. He said that the value of both can be assessed in relation to each other; neither of them has an absolute value in itself. Diversity-in-unity does not create conflict. Similarly, unity-in-diversity is not destructive of utility.

There is conflict between man and man. Man conducts himself on the basis of caste, language, sect, regionalism, etc. Wherever there is drawn a dividing line, conflict begins. Given an occasion, the serpent of attachment and aversion latent within us, starts hissing.

In the background of the principle of synthesis lies the philosophy of veetaragata (dispassion). Only after one has properly understood the importance of abating attachment and aversion and the value of non-violence and friendship, can one really appreciate the principle of synthesis.

There is a natural antipathy between fire and water - the two cannot subsist together. Fire is hot and the water cold. Coldness destroys heat, water extinguishes fire. How can any relationship be established between the two? On the other hand, water is matter, and so is fire. It sounds odd that one kind of matter can have no relationship with another. The bridge of synthesis was sought to cross the distance between the two ends of the problem. Synthesis obviates the hindrance between two relationships. It is the principle of harmony. Lord Mahavira established harmony between the hot and the cold. According to his doctrine, the hot does not contain within itself the element of heat alone: it also contains the element of coldness. Likewise the cold does not contain within itself the element of coldness alone; it also contains the element of heat. Both, heat and coldness are relative. The heat of the fire which melts butter is not hot enough to melt iron.

All the elements constituting the world are in some way connected with one another. Neither two things in the world are exactly similar nor are they altogether dissimilar. We see a resemblance between certain things and no resemblance at all between certain other things. The cause thereof lies not in the reality of the things themselves, but in our way of looking at them. Two things appear to us to resemble each other when we are seeking resemblance, and when we are seeking non-resemblance, they appear to us to be quite different. Both resemblance and non-resemblance lie in a thing and we naturally find what we seek.

  • 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. Fear
  2. Mahavira
  3. Non-violence
  4. Veetaragata
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