Towards Inner Harmony: I Want To Become Something

Published: 27.05.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

'I am a man'- we have briefly analysed this proposition. 'I want to become something' is the subject of our discussion today. Because I am a man, I do not want to be an animal; nor do I want to belong to the vegetable kingdom. No one likes to move from a superior to an inferior position. Who would want demotion after being promoted? None whatever. Every individual wants progressive growth. Man wants to become a god. Or he wants freedom. However, to be a god is no great achievement. The gods themselves want to be human beings. In the tradition of Indian literature, it has been repeatedly shown that gods themselves want to be born as men; in their human career, they aspire to certain special achievements, which are possible only to human beings, and not to non-humans. The development of spiritual consciousness is only possible in human life; it is not possible in other living beings. Elsewhere there may be greater prosperity or magnificence, greater pleasure and enjoyment, and greater supernatural power, but the continuing evolution of consciousness, the growth of non-violence, the realization of a unique individuality and a sense of identity with every other being - these are possible only in human life and nowhere else. Hence the common prayer: "Let us be born as men so as to achieve spiritual excellence."

"What do you want to become?" "I am a man and I want to be a man in the true sense of the word." To be born a man and to be a man in the true sense of the word are two different things. I am a man by birth and shape, but without the development of humanity in me, the problem of becoming a human being remains.

It is symbolic of us, human beings, that unless an object shows its distinctive feature, it does not qualify for the name. Lineage determines the caste. Only through humaneness can a man become a human being. In the absence of the essential humanity, mere shape and size do not entitle a man to be called a human being.

There are two kinds of attributes - general and particular. The general cannot become the distinctive trait; only the specific quality is entitled to be so. The distinguishing feature of man is humanity; this is what makes him a man. If there is no humanity, a man himself becomes equivocal. A man wants to be a man in the true sense of the word. He wants refinement in

  • behaviour,
  • conduct, and
  • mental impressions and character.

We are social beings, therefore behaviour comes before conduct. How we treat another is very important. Man wants refinement in behaviour. Conduct can be in relation to oneself or another, and man wants refinement in that. Character is ever personal and man wants refinement in character too.

There are found in man three weaknesses - cruelty, inequity and perversity. These are the three big foibles. The first is cruelty. 'I want refinement in behaviour' implies that my behaviour is crude, brutal; instead I want my behaviour to be informed with sweetness and tenderness, and with compassion so that I behave towards people sympathetically; so that the element of ruthlessness is completely wiped out, so that all unkindness comes to an end. The many incongruities, paradoxes and problems afflicting us today - whether in the economic, political or social field - owe their origin to man's ruthlessness. Economic hardships are the result of one man's cruelty and in difference to another. Cruelty or indifference is at the root of all economic problems. Is it possible for anyone to deceive another without cruelty? Or to rob another? To adulterate foodstuffs? To take bribes? All these are not possible without cruelty. It is cruelty that makes us resort to all kinds of evils. We do not even have time to think about the implications. There is a patient at the point of death, but until the officials in charge are duly bribed, it is difficult to get him admitted into a hospital. Someone has to go urgently on a journey, but it would be difficult for him to procure railway accommodation without offering a bribe. A dealer in fodder can cause the death of many cows and buffaloes before their time; he adulterates the feed with things that are so poisonous that the poor cattle die the moment they consume the fodder. Is it possible without cruelty? Is the adulteration of flour, spices, and pulses possible without cruelty? Never. All this tale of economic corruption is the tale of cruelty.

Our behaviour should be clean. The Anuvrat movement is a movement of purification of conduct and behaviour. Our conduct towards another should be free of cruelty. And if it is free from cruelty, innumerable problems get resolved of themselves. There is then no further need to look for a solution.

Secondly, there should be no inequity in conduct. Today, the whole society suffers from inequity. There are extremes of riches and poverty. One man is prosperous beyond measure; the other's destitution knows no limit. We know well enough that no living being can do without food. Man also cannot live without food. But because of inequity, man is faced with such hardships that all his life-energy is expended in overcoming these. All energy is lost, leaving a void. How is one to start anew? There is no energy left. From morning till evening all one's energy is spent in worry.

The cattle go out to graze. They go out in the morning and graze their fill, till 3 to 4 in the afternoon. Afterwards they are quite free and content. But man is never free. The problem of a livelihood troubles him even during sleep. He is utterly restless; can neither stand nor sit. He worries endlessly as to what the day might bring. Man's iniquitous conduct has created this problem. Refinement in conduct implies equitable conduct.

Acharya Som Dev says, "Equity characterizes right conduct."The secret of right conduct is -

  • equity,
  • community feeling,
  • equality.

This is not only the principle of socialism or communism. It is the activating principle of every good philosophy. Where the approach is equitable, society progresses, and where iniquitous, it goes down. Refinement in conduct means - the development of equity, the extension of equality.

Thirdly, I want a transformation of character, a complete change of mental impressions. That character which causes me physical mental and spiritual harm, which damages the body, gives it pain, occasions mental anguish, so that the mind is warped and inner feelings are hurt - I want freedom from that character! It is due to the complexity of character that man passes through conflict as if through a hot furnace by whose fire he is constantly scorched. One who sits before the oven, the cook, is exposed to much heat. He experiences discomfort only when he sits before the oven. But inside us many furnaces are burning - of anger, of pride, of sensuality and of fear. There is no telling how many. What terrible heat they produce! Because of that intolerable heat, one's nature is perverted and it affects the body and the body gets sick; it affects the mind and the mind becomes ill; it affects the emotions which become morbid; inner impulses become perverted I want to refine all these. I want to purify the feelings, which implies that I want to exercise control over my passions; I want to regulate them, I want to moderate my emotions, so as to create pleasant and equable conditions of living.

A doctor said to the patient, "Give up smoking! "A bystander asked, "Doctor! If he gives up smoking, will he make a complete recovery?" The doctor said, "I can't say whether he will recover or not, but he will certainly be in a position to defray my bills - that much at least he will be able to do." Our whole energy is being smoked away; we too are not in a position to pay our bills.

These are the three requisite purifications - of behaviour, conduct and character. The practice of preksha dhyana is designed to bring about a change in a man's attitude and behaviour. In other words, cruelty must end and compassion take its place; inequity must give place to equity; agitation to a spirit of forbearance and mental peace. This is indeed what the dictum, "I want to become something" implies. "I want to be a man who has fully assimilated these facts. The stream of tenderness, the stream of equity, the stream of tranquillity - I want to be such a supremely conscious person in whom this trinity is flowing". We are setting out on a new journey, ours is an experimental voyage. However, many of us indulge in a great deal of theoretical discussion, we take great joy in it, (because intellectual exercise has its own relish), more so than in action itself. Intellectual gymnastics appeals to us greatly. It is so very comfortable; no effort is involved. Two men sit together - chat for a while, then get up and go. There is no effort involved; one does not have to do anything. Only, the tongue moves, now here now there. It is primarily an exercise of the tongue. Only the larynx is put to work; no other exertion is required. In an experiment, on the other hand, one has to put in a lot of work. To act, to conduct an experiment involves labour whereas mere conversation and verbal exchange are easy. What we are concerned with is action, experimental observation, transformation, journeying in the direction of wholeness. Without action, without experimenting, we can make no progress. Our consciousness is functioning simultaneously at three different angles. There is a point of consciousness where a man sheds tears, makes lamentations, experiences much anguish. There is another point where a man feels gratified, sorts out his problems to his satisfaction, and experiences pleasure. And the third point is the point of departure in the direction of completeness, where utmost valour is awakened, a great flame ignited, and the supreme light manifests itself. This is the point which we are aiming at.

There were three brothers. The mother said to one of them, "Go and bring some oil“. He took a bottle and had it filled with oil and started back home. It so chanced that the bottle slipped through his fingers. It was made of glass and broke into pieces as it fell. The oil was all spilt. He started crying. "What shall I do now? Mother would take me to task." So he went home, pulled a long face and said, "Mother, the bottle slipped through my fingers. The oil was all spilt and the money lost." He started weeping. The mother said to the other son, "You go and get it. The oil is urgently needed." The second son went, bought the oil and started on his way back home. Certain accidental happenings are difficult to account for. It so chanced that the bottle slipped through his hands also. However, the bottle did not break, though some oil was spilt. He picked up the bottle and heaved a sigh of relief. Then he went running to his mother and said, "Look, mother! What a coincidence! However, it is a matter of satisfaction that though I dropped the bottle, it did not break; the oil was spilt, but not the whole of it; half of it is retained in the bottle." And he started laughing. The mother said, "This won't do. More oil is needed," and she said to the third son, "You go and get more oil. Be careful that you don't drop the bottle as your brothers have done." The third son went and bought the oil. But, as ill luck would have it, on his way back home, he too dropped the bottle. The bottle did not break, but it fell so that the whole of the oil was split. He said to himself, "What a strange coincidence! Mother asked me to fetch oil and I have placed her in a quandary! Anyway, I shan't go back till I have the bottle filled with oil" He looked for some job in the bazaar, worked as a labourer, collected enough money by evenfall, purchased oil and on his return home placed the filled bottle before his mother. "You took a long time, son?" she asked. He replied, "It takes time to light a candle. I have also kindled a flame; that's how I was delayed."

Our consciousness has three aspects -

  • the weeping consciousness, i.e., the pessimistic consciousness;
  • the laughing consciousness, i.e., the optimistic consciousness; and
  • the consciousness moving in the direction of wholeness, the perfected consciousness.

A man who does not probe the depths of consciousness, who does not practise dhyana is always complaining. Some little problem arises, and he makes a mountain of a mole-hill. He feels unhappy and vexed all day long and through the night. He feels utterly restless, loses his appetite and cannot sleep. It appears to him as if all is lost. He turns a little misshape into a tragedy. Many casual incidents take place in life which, due to our feebleness of character, overwhelm us quite and assume significance out of all proportion to their true nature. This exaggeration is quite common in life. However, no incident is too important to absorb us wholly, and cause us prolonged anguish. Our mutual quarrels, conflicts, disputes, struggles, spreading sparks all round, all proceed from trifles. There is really no fundamental difference between man and man, but strife continues because of the frailty of character, the feebleness of consciousness, the weakening of attention. And unless one attains the state of dhyana thereby calming strong emotions and passions, this feebleness of consciousness continues for ever, and it is this enfeebled consciousness that turns everything into an insoluble problem, and gives rise to a condition of lamentation.

It happens at times that a man finds joy in pain; also pain in joy. He brings out despair from hope, and discovers boredom in the brightest surroundings. A careful survey would reveal that those who discover joy in pain are very few; whereas those who spot something to be disgruntled about in the most joyful state are many, innumerable. They discover a calamity in whatever happens. Just as a fly, disregarding all that is good, seeks excrement to settle down upon, similarly these people always discover something to find fault with. They spot a wrong immediately, and are completely absorbed by it. They always look at the dark side of a picture; the bright side is just not visible to them. They can never find any good in anything. On the contrary, they find plenty of evil in everything. This is one kind of consciousness - the weeping consciousness.

Opposed to the weeping consciousness is the mirthful consciousness in which there is a feeling of gladness, of delight. As one perceives the greatness of another, a feeling of joy is awakened in one; there is never any inferiority complex and the other's uniqueness only reminds one of one's own. This may be called the laughing consciousness - a consciousness which discovers a solution in the problem itself and finds happiness in the very midst of sorrow. Here is a different aspect of consciousness. There are many who develop this consciousness and live in happiness and joy for ever; they are never burdened with sorrow. For the ignorant, for those possessed of the weeping consciousness, the whole world-ocean is full of poison; for those endowed with the laughing consciousness, the world-ocean is full of nectar; for such people find bliss everywhere, in everything.

The third kind of consciousness is that moving in the direction of wholeness. It moves from the incomplete to the complete. "Where there is incompleteness," it says to itself, “I'll exert, make efforts to complete it. I shall fill in the pits and the cavities and make it all smooth." And the effort is made accordingly. This is creative consciousness - a constructive viewpoint. All man's progress owes itself to this consciousness; all productive work, all original endeavours in whatever field, whether literary, devotional or cultural has been made possible through the medium of this creative consciousness.

The practice of dhyana is an endeavour to awaken this consciousness. Consciousness can be awakened through consciousness itself. The awakening of consciousness through the experiencing of it has been the accepted procedure. Metallurgy is a complete process. Metal purification plays an important role in the construction and development of modem space ships; it also commanded a premier position in ancient India. But metal purification can be effected only through the medium of pure metal; in no other way. A stick of pure metal is evolved, all foreign particles removed therefrom. You turn this stick round and round in a pot of melted metal and the impure stuff below would become purified of itself, the heterogeneous particles would get separated and removed. As long as foreign particles subsist, the metal is not purified; the purification can only be effected through the medium of pure metal itself. That also is the process of our consciousness. Pure consciousness cannot be reached through the medium of imperfect consciousness. As long as our consciousness is convulsed by discordance of like and dislike, as long as it is ruffled by ripples of love and hate, there can be no inner harmony, and without harmony there can be no purification. Dhyana is a process by which heterogeneous substances are eliminated. Attachment and malevolence, anger, pride, illusion, greed, passion - all these heterogeneous elements pollute our consciousness. As the practice of dhyana, of preksha freed from like and dislike, continues, the foreign elements get excreted.

Preksha means seeing, experiencing. No love, no hate, no like or dislike. Perceive consciousness through consciousness freed from love and hate. This is purification of consciousness through pure consciousness - as in metallurgy.

This is the great ceremony of the science of living, a solemn undertaking for progress in life. Here is an exercise through which behaviour is purified, attitude and character refined. The refinement of these three implies the refinement of the individual, the purification of society.

Here is a dream, and what a lovely dream! How very marvellous! And it is possible to make this dream come true! There is no dream which cannot be fulfilled with sustained effort. Whatever the assumption or the dream, tireless industry can turn it into concrete reality. It can be done. What is needed is the dream and the right endeavour.


Published by: Kuldeep Jain for "HEALTH & HARMONY" An imprint of: Jain Pubilishers (P) Ltd, New Delhi

Reprint 2006

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Anger
  3. Anuvrat
  4. Anuvrat Movement
  5. Body
  6. Consciousness
  7. Dhyana
  8. Fear
  9. Greed
  10. Non-violence
  11. Preksha
  12. Preksha Dhyana
  13. Pride
  14. Science
  15. Science Of Living
  16. Space
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