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Towards Inner Harmony: Dhyana, The Ultimate Good

Published: 18.05.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

A social scientist and an economist met and gave expression to their anxiety. "Religion is responsible, it they said, "for making the whole country inert. For centuries together, the religious people have given up all exertion putting their trust in fate. They do not labour, make no effort, whatsoever. They shirk work. 'Whatever fate ordains, shall transpire' they seem to say. All their heroism has vanished. The lamp of their duty is almost extinguished. Religion has created the present situation and on the top of it now we have this dhyana crusade. The people are likely to get even more indolent. As the campaign for dhyana progresses, people will shut their eyes and sit in cross legged abstraction; they shall become good-for-nothings. He who sits still, with closed eyes, 'experiences peace, feels comfortable, knows joy'. All this produces laziness. With growing idleness, poverty is bound to increase; our problems will multiply. This will not be good or useful for society and for the country at large. We must nip this evil tendency in the bud."

I heard them. In view of their deep concern, their talk did not seem to be artificial. They had seen a truth and were making it known with great anguish. Under the circumstances, to carry on the programme of spiritual meditation becomes problematic. The doubt in the mind of the two scientists is not confined to them alone. Such a doubt may arise in the mind of any intelligent person. To sit idle for hours together with eyes closed, not to engage in any productive work - does it not constitute high injustice to a poor country like ours? Are spiritual discussions in the interest of the country? Can these be of any use to society?

It is very natural to pose questions like these? And such questions will continue to be posed as long as our approach is partial and one-sided. All questions and doubts touching reality, or even otherwise, owe their existence to the fact that they are being viewed in isolation, in complete separation from one another, as if there were no relationship between them.

Scientists took it for granted that biology, botany, chemistry and ecology constituted in themselves separate disciplines. That is why they have been studied independently of one another. Conclusions arrived at on the basis of this isolated study, were valid enough in their limited sphere, but they failed to provide a completely satisfactory solution to the overall human problem. Since then there has been a change in the scientists' outlook: today they recognise that all the branches of science are inter-connected, and only an interdisciplinary approach will yield the whole truth. All the conclusions originating from a partial one-sided approach have been proved to be invalid. The present age is the age of inter-disciplinary study. Syadvad (the non-absolutist doctrine of the jains), embodying the spirit of free enquiry, is today pervading the field of science. Syadvad says, "Do not perceive things in isolation. Everything has myriad aspects. As far as possible, view each aspect in relation to the whole. Isolated Observation of each aspect may yield certain conclusions, but these will not be wholly valid, because they are inadequate. Such conclusions will not be really genuine, not far-reaching enough so as to pierce a particular problem and go beyond. In order to fully resolve a problem, our study must be comprehensive, embracing all aspects at once. Only then could we hope to arrive at the right solution

The sociologist arrives at one conclusion, the economist at another; the spiritualis and the psychologist at still different conclusions. If all these results are divided and separated from one another, with an impenetrable wall in-between, they are all bound to be unsound. No single conclusion would be valid as a whole. All of them would be partial and biased. Only when the dividing wall is pulled down and all the conclusions are strung together with the thread of relativity, do they hold true: only then do they make a rosary. The single beads are different and separate, but if one thread passes through them all, it makes a garland. In the absence of a unifying element, the beads remain separate and divided, and there is no garland or rosary. For a wreath to be a common thread is essential; different conclusions must be well-coordinated to yield truth.

Because of the partial view, one may look upon the practice of dhyana as a sheer waste of time, and dhyana itself as a factor which encourages indolence. He who is a student of sociology or economics alone, may entertain such a view. It is not unnatural; on the contrary, quite natural and real. Being only a sociologist, or only an economist, one cannot fathom the essence of spirituality. However, a sociologist or an economist must needs be a spiritualist as well; and likewise it is absolutely essential for a spiritualist to be a sociologist and an economist as well. If he is not conversant with economics, he sometimes makes such baseless claims respecting religion which have no relevance, whatsoever, to society. His talk then becomes highly illusory, idealistic; without any basis in everyday conduct. There are various aspects of anything; it is necessary to be acquainted with every aspect. That is why a sage, a direct perceiver of truth, is often visualized as having innumerable eyes. One eye is not adequate; not even two; nor is the opening of the third eye of any great advantage. Only when a thousand eyes are opened, may one realise the truth. Nothing yields its full significance in isolation-neither economics nor sociology. They all stand incorporated in truth; nothing else remains. So a doctrine is established: the knowable is all what matters. There is nothing in this world which is not knowable. Nothing is beyond the bounds of the knowable. From the realm of the knowable nothing is excluded; there is no difference there of white and non-white, of good and bad, of profit and loss. Consciousness and matter have equal value under the aspect of the knowable. The atom is knowable, so is the soul. The soul in heaven and the soul burning in hell-fire are both worth-knowing; likewise the spectacular and the unspectacular. There is no difference. It is the limited notions of the good and the bad, of what is beneficial and what is not, which create division.

Dhyana makes a man indolent, a fatalist - this is one viewpoint. A sadhak, who sits in meditation for an hour, does no productive work. He does not cultivate the fields, nor does he weave cloth. This is one aspect. But there is another aspect, too. A man is able to work because of energy in him. In the absence of energy, he can accomplish nothing. Any accomplishment demands concentration. A fickle-minded person can never be successful. Concentration and energy are essential requirements for efficiency in work. To plod on is one thing, and to do efficient work is quite another. Today's science lays stress on the development of efficiency. This is its invaluable gift. Work was somehow accomplished before, but the development of efficiency is a modem phenomenon: a job which required 10 hours to be accomplished in former times, can now be accomplished within 10 minutes.

It is said that Japan has made great progress. The question arises as to what is at the root of Japan 's phenomenal development. There has been a change of perspective; their whole approach has undergone a transformation. The basic factor is, of course, concentration. The Japanese have benefited greatly from dhyana. They have themselves acknowledged that ever since they started practising dhyana, they have been endowed with tremendous energy, physical as well as psychological.

Many experiments are on. He who has done special exercises in dhyana, grips two bricks between his hands and - lo! - the bricks are pulverised. This art has developed through dhyana. There has been a similar development in the art of fighting. A completely unarmed person can fight and conquer an armed one. This, too, is a gift of dhyana

The Japanese have found great moral strength through dhyana; also great discipline. They are so disciplined as to lay down their life for a cause without a moment's hesitation; so disciplined that they never stop work. They go on a strike, but never stop working. Just a black band on the wrist is the symbol of their "strike"! Sometimes the strike continues for 10 days, but the work is never stopped. What brought about this extraordinary discipline? Wherefrom did they imbibe this indomitable urge to work? Undoubtedly, through concentration and dhyana.

The people of a country, who do not practise dhyana, can never be strong and energetic. Every modern scientist who delves deep into nature's secrets, is no less a dhyani (a practitioner of dhyana). As a matter of fact, without dhyana or concentration, no new facts come to light. Dhyana has no single mode or pattern. There are many systems in vogue. Some of them can be mastered through practice, others can be acquired almost effortlessly, depending upon an individuals conditioning.

Newton was a very great scientist. Once he went riding. Coming to an up-slope, he got down from his horse and walked on with the rein in his hand. His brain was preoccupied with a problem and he was lost in thought. The man's pace was too slow for the horse that, getting tired of it shook its head and the strap broke loose. The horse sped back home, leaving the rein in Newton 's hand. Newton himself never knew; he went on as if he still led his horse. On reaching home he mechanically turned to fasten the horse to its post, and only then did he come to himself. He found that though he held the rein in his hand, the horse was not there. Later he found the horse had already reached the stable.

What shall we call it, if not concentration? Newton 's mind was wholly occupied with one object, to the exclusion of everything else. This is concentration - the movement of the whole of consciousness into one particular direction. Every individual deeply involved with some problem, directly enters the state of dhyana. Without the capacity for deep concentration, which only comes through practice, one can never know the subtle truth of life.

The development of energy and concentration is possible through dhyana alone. Man is endowed with two powers - the power of knowledge and the power of action. One is knowledge-oriented power, the other action-oriented. Both these powers can be developed through dhyana. There are three impediments to this development the physical sickness, mental sickness and evil environmental influences. The body falls sick, the powers pertaining to knowledge and action go to sleep - are dulled. The sickness - of the mind is still more dangerous. When the mind is hurt and is in a state of shock, the feet come to a halt. A man is doing good work. Someone finds fault with him and says, "You are a fool a nincompoop! Is this the way you go about your work?" And instantly the man flares up, his urge to work is destroyed; he experiences a loss of power.

The great war of Mahabharata was on. On one side stood Arjuna and his charioteer, Krishna. On the other side stood Karan and his charioteer, Shalay. Yudhishtra said to Shalay, "You might join the war against us, but kindly do me a favour. Whenever Karan makes an assault, say to him, 'What kind of stroke is that? You just don't know how to strike a blow!' Go on repeating it ad nauseam. "Shalay did as he was told. As the fighting started, Karna's assaults, each one of them, elicited from Shalay the same deprecatory response, "Do you call it a blow? You just don't know how to make an assault?" On the other hand, Krishna lauded every blow which Arjun struck, "O wonderful! What a stroke! How it hits the mark!" At every stroke, Karan was discouraged and he grew impotent. Arjun's spirits rose, his strength increased and he felt more powerful than before.

When the mind is hurt, a power goes out of oneself Men of action lose their very urge to act To have a mind that is hurt, is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man. For then his whole vitality is laid waste and he becomes incapable of doing anything.

Evil environmental influences constitute the third impediment. Such influences are cast by the movements of the planets of the solar system.
The man who-has practised meditation upon the psychic centres and colours, can regulate his bodily health, remove mental deficiencies, do away with psychological hurts and be free of his complexes. Many an intractable knot is resolved through dhyana. Through meditation, man can range the planetary influences also.

A person practising dhyana is not idle or indolent or inert. In him burns a kind of fire; a flame is ignited. In the lot of that flame he can look in the right direction. He can rightly employ his powers. An activity which sucks man's full energy, giving insignificant results, is not commendable. Commendable activity is that in which minimum of energy is utilized, yielding abundant fruit. Such boundless energy is released in the man who practises dhyana. He indulges in as much labour as is necessary for his own maintenance, the maintenance of his family, society and country. He will not indulge in unnecessary activity. He will not waste his energies in the production of gases which can destroy the whole world in a matter of minutes. Does one call that work? Thousands of scientists today are employed in producing viruses of various kinds. It so chanced that a box of virus lying in an office got opened. The germs spread all round killing hundreds of people. That virus was produced not for utilization in war, but for a different purpose. However, nowadays, thousands of scientists and labourers are employed in factories with the sole aim of producing such horrible viruses that can wipe out the whole of the human race in a very short time. The next great war will not be fought with nuclear weapons, it will be fought with gases and germs. Various kinds of germs are bred, which would produce all kinds of diseases. There will be a sort of explosion of a particular kind of germ on the battle-field and all the soldiers will instantly be afflicted with frightful catarrh and shall not be able to wield their lethal weapons; they will be too preoccupied with wiping their noses clean. No one knows how many kinds of viruses are being evolved-viruses that produce unconsciousness, that cause diarrhoea or other diseases. These viruses are meant to be used in war, and thousands of scientists are busy producing them.

Is this what you call action? What kind of employment is that? Any work which does not forward human welfare is no true work; it is not right action.

Bodhidharma visited China. The Chinese emperor sad to him, “In accordance with Lord Buddha's teaching I have undertaken many works of public welfare. I have got many wells dug, created many gardens, set up water-booths, and have laboured to remove the hardships encountered by the people. What do you sir? Are not all these good works that I have accomplished?”

Bodhidharma said, “Worthy Sir! All these works are highly gratifying, not good. Good works mean piety. Practise piety, do meditation, awaken wisdom. All this is good. Only such action is truly beneficial. What you have done merely serves to gratify; it cannot be said to be good.”

In today's world, destructive action is the order of the day. It is because people have given up practising dhyana. They have abandoned that which makes the heart pure and holy. Dhyana is not mere concentration. The objective of dhyana is to purify the mind; to wash the heart clean of the accumulated filth of passions; to make the heart so clear as to leave there no vestige of ill-will, no trace of differences, no image or argument - the mind-heart becomes so clean as to be completely free from impurity of any kind.

The practice of dhyana stands abandoned. Energy is employed in ways merely destructive or gratifying, not really beneficial. Truly beneficial labour, good works and right employment are just not there.

Through dhyana, the power of action is awakened; there is an awakening of consciousness and the direction of one's life is changed. The individual then gives priority to right action. He will indulge in gratifying works to the extent necessary for living. He will not indulge in destructive action at all. Until there pervades in society a natural urge for practising dhyana, until the technique of mind-heart purification is available, and that of washing the heart clean of all passions, of all filth born of social conflicts, reactions, controversies, and frustrations, right and good action will be rare. There will be a great deal of pleasure-oriented action, but for the most part destructive action will prevail. When the direction is clear, it will become self-evident whether the dhyani grows up to be lazy or indolent, or is it that through dhyana, he develops special consciousness and power.


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. Body
  2. Brain
  3. Concentration
  4. Consciousness
  5. Dhyana
  6. Discipline
  7. Ecology
  8. Krishna
  9. Mahabharata
  10. Meditation
  11. Newton
  12. Psychic Centres
  13. Sadhak
  14. Science
  15. Soul
  16. Syadvad
  17. Third Eye
  18. Truth Of Life
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