Towards Inner Harmony: I Am A Man (II)

Published: 26.05.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

What makes man unique is his perception that human consciousness is capable of development and its realization in action. Consciousness does exist in the animal kingdom, but animals have no sense of conscious development. They have neither the ability, nor the means to develop their limited consciousness. But human consciousness has developed through the ages without any interruption. Man is conscious that he is conscious, and he also possesses means to develop his conscious­ness still further.

There are two levels - the level of instinct, and the level of reasoning. Animals are predominantly creatures of instinct; they live mainly by instinct. More instinct and less reason. But man has both instinct and reason. The ability to control instincts and to develop a reasoning mind is his unique characteristic. An animal is limited to instinct. It feels pleasure and pain, but it has no capacity for knowledge; so it cannot go beyond pleasure or pain. Its consciousness is not capable of any further develop­ment. There is in the animal innate restraint, but it is not conscious of that, nor has it any capacity for voluntary control. Fodder is placed before an animal. If it is hungry, it will eat, if it is not hungry, it will not eat. However, not to eat even when it is hungry is beyond animal consciousness. To eat when hungry, not to eat when not hungry. and not to eat even when hungry - are three different things. The animal is not capable of the third possibility. It is a fact that animals eat only when hungry; if not hungry, they would not eat. But man's consciousness has developed to an extent that he may not eat even when hungry, and may eat even when not hungry.

A doctor held a dinner which was attended by distinguished citizens. At the commencement of the dinner, the doctor said: "Food has been laid before each person. Before we start, let us determine whether we are going to eat like a man or like an animal." Everyone present was nonplussed. They could not perceive w hat the doctor was driving at. So the doctor explained, "Eating like an animal means to eat as much as is necessary to satisfy one's hunger; eating like a man means to go on eating even when the hunger is satiated."

Not to eat even when hungry, is the special characteristic of man. The evolution of fasting owes itself to this very funda­mental peculiarity of man. Even though hungry, a man can observe a fast for two days, for 5-10 days or even for 40-50 days. He takes nothing, exercising full self-control. Self-discipline is a factor in the development of consciousness. In his progressive development, man has extended his consciousness of control; he has also developed his reasoning mind and rational judgement.

To will, to desire, is the attribute of a living being. When we enquire into the chief characteristic of a living being from a philosophical point of view, it becomes evident that thought, memory and imagination cannot be its distinguishing trait. It cannot be said that whatever is capable of thought, or memory and imagination, is essentially a living being. The unconscious contains all these - memory, thought and imagination; the computer being a direct proof thereof. The modern computer is a wonderful example of artificial intelligence. People, nowadays, prefer not to involve themselves in memorising facts and figures. They put all the facts and figures into the computer and when they need these, they just press a button and the computer prints out the information desired - the precise facts and figures as they are. No danger of memory-lapse, or of losing the facts! Everything in perfect order!

The faculty of imagination is also present in the computer. Not only will the computer iagnose disease, but also it will prescribe the medicine. It will give out all the pros and cons of a possible line of treatment. Not only does it make a diagnosis, it also suggests a cure.

The computer is capable of thinking or writing a poem, or an article.

Memory, thought and imagination cannot be the distin­guishing characteristic of a living being. The distinctive mark is implicit in the subject itself not beyond it. Whatever is found in other than the subject cannot be its distinguishing mark.

The distinguishing quality of a living being is the capacity to will, to desire. This trait is found only in the animate, not in the inanimate. There are many qualities to be found in the inanimate, but wi1ling or desiring is not one of them. Desire originates only in a conscious being.

Man is a living being. He has desire. The animals and the birds are also living beings; they too have desires. As conscious­ness gradually developed man learnt the principle of desire­-control. He acquired insight; he learnt discretion. The two words 'desire' and 'discretion' lie on the different ends of the spectrum. To desire is one thing, to exercise discretion is quite another. Discretion itself is of two kinds. The discretion which knows, and the discretion which renounces. To have knowledge is good, but to renounce, to give up, implies a greater development of consciousness. He who is capable of knowledge, comes to know what passes. To know what goes on is one thing, but not to be totally absorbed in an event not to be attached to it, is quite another. Here is a new dimension of consciousness, a great extension thereof.

Men are of two kinds - those who know and those who suffer. Some  people are knowers as well as sufferers; others are knowers but not  sufferers. To know and to suffer is the general characteristic of a  living being.

If one assaults an animal, strikes it a blow,  the animal would get enraged, because it too knows and suffers. So it  reacts. Animals possess a fierce instinct for revenge. The camel and  the buffalo are extremely vengeful; they have been known to avenge an  insult years later. This feeling is born in them because they are  capable of knowing and suffering.

To know and to suffer is  the common characteristic of a living being. However those living  beings who have undergone a greater development of consciousness, have  progressed in the direction of knowing without suffering. Only to be a  knower, not a sufferer! This is a significant development. A new  dimension was added to consciousness through sadhna - not to be swept along the stream of occurrence; only to know an event, not to be overwhelmed by it!

The purport of dhyana, vision or perception is to know an event, to experience it in all its immediacy.

Through preksha dhyana we practise perception of body. One might ask what is there to see in  the body. We are not so concerned with the outward form or shape of the  body; rather we wish to perceive what goes on inside. Our body is a  material object. In this matter various kinds of events take place.  There are chemical changes going on in the body. Many kinds of  trans­formations take place through the energy generated in the  body. Various processes emerge in succession. There is the rise and  fall of temperature. And there are many other similar changes. To know  these changes, to be aware of them, implies a great development of  consciousness.

We have two objects - the outer world, that is  the world of matter and the inner world, that is the world of  conscious­ness, We know the outer world and perceive the  changes taking place there. Similarly, we can know the changes  occurring in the inner world. But the man who does not practise dhyana, will always be confined to changes taking place in the outer world; he  will never know the changes taking place inside. When the outer world  is the only object of one's interest, extroversion prevails. We may put  it differently by saying that as long as an individual is an extrovert,  the world of matter remains his sole preoccupation. The inner world  cannot become an object of interest, without introversion. One  objective of dhyana is to make the inner world also a centre of  interest along with the outer world. To know the changes induced by  breathing, to become acquainted with the successive changes inside-  this is the process of preksha dhyana. It makes further evolution easier. All these techniques were once the valued inheritance of Bhartiya-yoga. Later, people allowed this great inheritance to be consigned to  oblivion. Today, the Western people are making efforts to know their  inner world through various instruments. Through bio-feedback  technology they are trying to know the events and changes taking place  inside themselves, with a view to modifying these if necessary. To  raise or lower the temperature, to increase or decrease the pulse-rate  has become easier for them. After knowing the precise location of pain,  it becomes possible to alleviate it. Numberless processes go on in the  body; it is not possible to know them without dhyana. It is  true to say that man does not perceive, dos not know the things that  happen very near. There is a saying that man can see the fire on a  remote hill but remains unconscious of the fire at his very feet. Man  is familiar with events of the outer world, but is not so familiar with  what goes on in the inner world. He is not aware of his own essence; he  does not know himself.

It is, however, possible for man to  establish contact with his inner being. There is a technique for it.  Without undergoing the requisite process, one cannot know one's inner  essence, no matter how much one may try. Breath is the first step  towards that realization. It goes out and it goes in; it is a  double-faced medium, the intermediary between the outer and the inner.  The man who wants to enter the inner world, will have to use this  intermediary link.

The second medium of entry into one's inner world is one's body. To perceive the body, to know it, is an important process. Body-perception does not mean that one should stand before and look at one's reflection in the mirror; it does not imply perceiving only the colour and shape of the body. These can be seen with 'open' eyes. whereas body-perception is a process accomplished with eyes closed. However we are all accustomed to perceiving things with open eyes. Having been used to perceiving images. our consciousness has become a conscious­ness of images. The real consciousness is lost; it has been supplanted by a consciousness of mere images and shadows. We are concerned only with the shadow. Generally speaking. the shadow cannot be grasped. There are. however. methods of grasping it.

A child stood in the sun. He saw his shadow on the ground and was filled with curiosity. He ran to grasp the lock of hair on the top of his head reflected on the ground. The shadow also started running. The boy kept chasing it, but could not grasp the shadow. He was completely exhausted. At this moment his father saw him. He came and asked the child what he was about. The child said, "I want to catch hold of that lock of hair on the ground, but the shadow keeps moving and I cannot get to it." The father said to him assuring, "Don't you worry, you'll get to it presently. But stop running. Stay where you are." The child stood still. The father took hold of the child's hand and made him touch the lock of hair on his own head. And the child looked at the shadow and saw that the lock of hair on the top of the shadow' s head lay in his hand.

You cannot directly grasp an image or a shadow. When a man's consciousness becomes the consciousness of images, it gives rise to many illusions and misunderstandings.

The acceptance of dhyana is the acceptance of what is. It is an endeavour to go beyond the images. Let us not be lost in images; rather we must try to arrive at the root. The problems of everyday life, whether social or economic, collective or indi­vidual, revolve round images! If only we could grasp the real, innumerable problems will stand resolved. Today, however, the basic fact stands discounted, while the image has become extra­ordinarily important.

An artist made a portrait of a village maiden. Years later, he displayed that portrait at an exhibition of his paintings. A man purchased the portrait for Rs. 10,000/-. As he came out of the exhibition-hall with the portrait in his hand, he met a beggar woman who solicited a coin of him. He pushed her aside and went his way. The woman happened to look at the portrait. It was she who had stood as a model for that picture. The real woman was being rejected, and her image sold for Rs. 10,000!

Dhyana means experiencing of what is, the real. There is no room in it for imagination. During breath-perception, we perceive the breath, which is something real, actual; no imagina­tion, whatsoever. In body-perception, we perceive the move­ments taking place inside the body. This again is something actual. and there is no place for imagination here. During dhyana, you have to move with what is. Imagination has its own role to play. but to lose sight of the actual and live in imagination instead, is not right. Then imagination becomes a terrible thing a gross misrepresentation, an escape from what is. In the back­ground of the real, imagination has some value. With reality firmly established at the centre, imagination has its utility. But imagination must never supplant reality.

Man has developed both his capacity for knowledge and his capacity for renunciation. The whole of philosophy is based on this. Today, however, the very meaning of philosophy stands altered. Nowadays it means only to know. Philosophy has turned into mere book knowledge, which denies altogether the validity of direct experience.

The development of philosophical thought in India was based upon discipline, non-violence, existential unity and equality, which constitute in themselves the greatness of philo­sophy. In the absence of existential unity or realisation of equality, philosophy has become mere intellectual gymnastics for a system of logic. Today. I cannot see philosophy as something different from logic. Indeed. philosophy has become logic. The student of philosophy today knows that after abandoning logic, there is nothing left in philosophy. Nothing but argumentation from beginning to end, assertion and denial, affirmation and refutation, all based on argument.

The foremost point made in discussions these days is that intellect or logic should be the touchstone of religion. A religion which does not pass the test of intellect or logic, cannot be said to be true, This sounds quite reasonable. A man accepts some­thing as true only on the basis of reason and intellect. On that basis, one can travel a little way on the path of religion. Reason and intellect can serve as ladders to scale a part of the ascent, but they cannot take one to the top. They end somewhere in the middle. With the help of steps. one can go up 3-4 storeys. But if one has to ascend a 100-storied house, it becomes extremely difficult to do so by the stairs; one gets totally exhausted. Things today have come to such a pass that a man is usually disinclined to use the staircase even for ascending a 2-3 storied house. He prefers to use the lift. When the lift is out of order, it becomes difficult to go up. The stairs are only a medium of ascending. A medium is after all a medium. No one medium can be universal; it cannot even be acceptable in all countries or at all times.

Logic and intellect are the medium of ascent. With their support we can go up. We can ascend many storeys, transcend many levels through these, but they cannot lead us to the ultimate goal. It is just not possible. As we ascend higher, logic and intellect, having fulfilled their role, remain below. Alone do we have the direct experiencing of what lies beyond. The man who, disdaining direct experience, depends upon the conscious­ness of logic and intellect, does advance a little distance, but he never can reach the Ultimate; the door remains locked. The lock of ultimate consciousness opens only to the key of experience.

We are confronted with two different conditions. One relates to the development of intellect and logic; the other to the development of inner consciousness. Without dhyana there can be no development of inner consciousness or intelligence. Without the development of inner consciousness or intelligence, there can be no development of philosophy in the true sense of the word. The departments of philosophy in today's educational institutions merely serve to whet the intellect and to develop reasoning capacity. The work of the intellect is to sharpen memory and reasoning power. To sharpen an instrument is one thing, and to know when and where to use the sharpened instru­ment is quite another. The importance of the instrument depends upon its use. A sharp instrument can be employed in performing an operation; it can also be used for murdering someone. Thus, the sharpened instrument can be utilized to save as well as to kill. Consider that the instrument has been properly whetted, but if there is no change in the performing consciousness, that instru­ment becomes lethal and murderous. The whole history or armaments is a witness to the fact that mere knowledge, mere development of more and more sophisticated weapons only pushes humanity to the edge of doom. Until man develops in himself the intelligence to renounce, the capacity to yield, until the consciousness of discipline, of control, of restraint awakens in him, he cannot escape disaster. Philosophy, therefore, must synthesize the two consciousnesses - the consciousness of logic and the consciousness of experience. A philosophy which only develops the intellect and the reasoning power is no philosophy at all. True philosophy is that which along with the development of intellectual and reasoning power, can also develop the ability to exercise control over their effects. Only then does the development of our consciousness become meaningful.

The practice of dhyana is an experiment for the develop­ment of consciousness; it is a philosophical experiment. It is very essential that today's philosophers look at philosophy in a new perspective. Old customs would not do. The ancient dictums do fall in the sphere of philosophy; however, the same could not be said of the philosophy of the Middle Ages; this philosophy remained dryly intellectual. It was no longer animated by experience. It developed argumentation to a fine degree. Our ancient philosophers may not have been very intellectual or possessed of great skill in logic, but they were true sages. As a matter of fact, only a sage can be said to be a philosopher. A sage has been defined as one who is capable of philosophic vision. He who is not a seer, who is not capable of vision, cannot be called a sage. Such a person cannot be a devout soul or an ascetic. A true sage must be capable of experiencing reality, of pursuing philosophy to the very end.

The technique of direct perception is the pivot on which Indian devotional system moves. The sadhaks in India believe more in direct perception than the indirect. In the Middle Ages, it was the reverse. The philosophers of that time, setting aside direct experience, began to invent facts on the basis of reason. They no longer believed in direct realisation; rather they depended wholly upon reason and intellect. This was one of the causes of India 's backwardness. In the developed countries today, the super-structure of development is largely based upon direct observation and experimentation. Direct realisation is possible through transcendental consciousness, and also through sophisticated appliances. The Western people did not develop their transcendental consciousness through spiritual endeavour, but they evolved such sophisticated devices through which they succeeded in obtaining knowledge of supra-sensible substances and elements. Today's sophisticated machines are a substitute for transcendental knowledge. When the principal is away, a substi­tute takes his place. Today's ultra-subtle mechanical devices are officiating in place of transcendental knowledge. With the help of these superfine instruments, the scientists are discovering ever-new facts to the world's increasing admiration.

The world of philosophy today is lagging far behind the world of science. Philosophy has lost its ancient lustre, because it has abandoned the method of direct realisation. Indeed, science has become the centre of interest today because it has not forsaken the technique of direct observation. Without direct experiencing, merely on the basis of conjecture, one cannot advance very far or grasp the most subtle truths. Ultra-subtle truths can only be grasped and understood through direct experiencing; these are not subject to logic and argument. If philosophy is once again allied to direct experiencing, the distance between philosophy and science will disappear in no time.

Philosophy is the father and science the son. However, the son, science, has become today so brilliant, so powerful and so renowned that people have quite forgotten the father, philo­sophy. The father sits weeping in a corner, and the son is most autocratically lording it over the whole world.

The practice of dhyana is an experiment designed to restore philosophy to its rightful place. Philosophy can once again occupy its rightful throne, regain its lost lustre, if it adopts the method of direct observation and experience. Dhyana is the invaluable medium of direct experiencing. Without practising dhyana, direct realisation cannot come to pass.

In the beginning of dhyana-practice, the sadhak feels somewhat out of his depth; he finds himself in a maze. This, of course, is not unnatural, rather quite natural. Because, to the man who has not learnt how to go into the depths of conscious­ness, the whole process of dhyana will appear to be absurd. This feeling of incongruity is quite natural on the level of consciousness on which modern man lives. Let us never forget that a man living on the superficial level of consciousness, will never achieve self-realization even if he lives for a thousand years. The basic tenet of self-realization is: To turn from the gross world into the subtle; from the world of matter into the world of spirit. Those who have never gone on a spiritual pilgrimage, those who have not experienced the spiritual truths, and those who have not been properly initiated for entry into the world of spirit, ever ride a wooden horse that takes them nowhere; they will never be able to experience the Unknown.

What is necessary is that the teacher's allegiance should not be confined to books or to the merely gross. He must come to recognize that there is a source of knowledge besides the books, a spiritual source besides the material. It is his faith in the material as well as the spiritual which takes a man forward; one sided faith hinders development.

We are discussing the dimensions of consciousness and its development, and it is in this context that we are analysing the role of philosophy. True philosophy implies a synthesis of direct realization and intellectual and logical development. Both are necessary: The development of intellect and logic, as well as direct experiencing. They are necessary because an individual is not an individual alone, but also a society - he is indissolubly linked with society, is a factor thereof. The individual is not himself alone, he is also the other. From this point of view, direct experience for oneself and intellect and logic for the other. Imagine that a particular individual has the capacity for self-realization, that he has himself seen the truth face to face, and yet he does not possess enough intellectual power or capacity for argument; in that case his knowledge will be confined to himself. He will not be able to impart it to another. He cannot communicate to others what he knows; for logic and intellect are absolutely necessary for communication. On the other hand, a merely intellectual person or a clever argumentator can never reach the truth. In order to grasp the truth, direct experiencing is essential. Mere intellectuality or capacity for argumentation without the truth, does little good to oneself or the other. Logic reigns supreme in the world of philosophy and religion today, completely divorced from direct experience. Hence endless conflict and controversy. Given direct experiencing of reality, there would never be so many dissensions; so much contention and conflict.

For the realization of truth, direct experiencing of reality is necessary, and for communicating this experience to others, one must possess intellectual and reasoning power.

To enunciate a truth is one thing and to make another grasp it fully, quite another. In order to help another to assimilate what is said, one must develop one's intellectual and reasoning capacity. Mere enunciation would not do; the thing must be reasoned out for a man to grasp it fully and become one with it.

The pupil asked the guru, "Sir! A great many people take to religious worship, attend religious discussions and listen to spiritual discourses. But there does not appear to be any change in their life and conduct. Why so?"
It was a tremendous question, indeed. It was very pertinent at the moment, but it also applies to the present. It seems to be an all-time question. The same situation exists in the religious world today; people go on practising religion, but their lives remain untransformed.

The guru was a realised soul. He went deep into the question and said to the pupil, "It is a good question. Please do me a favour; bring me a pitcher of wine." The pupil stood non­plussed and kept looking at the master's face. He could not understand how a pitcher of wine could have anything to do with his question. Still, he carried out the master's order and fetched a pitcher of wine. The guru said, "Call all the other pupils here." All the pupi1s collected there. The guru directed that each pupil should take a mouthful of wine from the pitcher and spew it instantly. All did as directed. The pitcher was emptied. The guru asked, "Did anyone feel intoxicated?" All of them spoke simultaneously, "0 master! What a question! There would have been intoxication if the wine had descended below our throats. We only kept it in the mouth for a moment and then spewed it out? It never went down the throat. How could there be any intoxication?"
The guru said to the pupil, "Is your question answered?"
The pupil said, "It is not clear."

The guru explained, "Today religion is being taken up in a big way and it is being instantly disgorged. It never goes down the throat; it never touches the heart. What results do you expect then? How is transformation of life to take place? Religion has its own intoxication. How to disperse it? As long as the edict of religion does not descend the throat, it cannot produce any effect. In order to make the wine of religion go down the throat, it is necessary to develop intellectual and reasoning power; a coordination of the two is necessary. A close coordination of direct insight with intellectual and reasoning power characterizes both philosophy and the philosopher.

Human consciousness has developed in various directions.

For continued development, life and science - both aspects are important. Man is not merely a living being; he is not merely possessed of the quality of animation. Along with life, he is also endowed with a scientific sensibility, a capacity for experience and intelligence, and with the capacity for renunciation. The science of living has been specially evolved for man; it is not meant for animals or birds.

It seems very necessary today that the educators take up dhyana, and that there should also be close coordination between dhyana and the science of living. Shri A.K. Bhatnagar, the Commissioner for Education, Rajasthan, has recently returned from Bangkok. He said that the question of setting up a compre­hensive organisation for popularising dhyana among government servants, is under the active consideration of the government there. All countries evince a general interest as to how to bring about a change in man's daily conduct and behaviour. The Com­missioner was very glad to see teachers participating in dhyana shivirs and acknowledged the urgent necessity of this kind of work. With a view to resolving various problems confronting the individual, the society and the country at large, we need a new thinking, a new philosophy. That new thinking and new philosophy can only come through a close coordination of dhyana and action; through a harmonious combination of the science of living and book-knowledge.

I regard it as a very good omen that the Department of Education, Rajasthan, has taken a step in this direction. It is bound to show good results.


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

Reprint 2006

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bangkok
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhyana
  5. Discipline
  6. Fasting
  7. Guru
  8. Non-violence
  9. Perception Of Body
  10. Preksha
  11. Preksha Dhyana
  12. Rajasthan
  13. Sadhak
  14. Sadhaks
  15. Sadhna
  16. Science
  17. Science Of Living
  18. Soul
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