No Shortcuts to Spirituality
By Acharya Mahapragyaji
Spiritual Observances : have meaning only when a person observes moral restraints. Whenever moral restraints are ignored and spiritual observances are put centre stage, religion loses its meaning. In Jainism, restraint means self-control. It requires self or personal management to awaken one's innate potentialities, develop oneself and guard against unwarranted obstacles. In Jain scriptures restraints are divided into 17 types, including controlling our senses and thoughts. For a harmonious and peaceful life, one should practice all type restraints, regardless of whether they are easy or difficult. The degree of control would naturally differ from person to person.
Search for the truth : Non violence, truth, non-stealing, restraints and non possession are the five great vows observed by Jain monks. The second vow - truth - is colossal and eternal. It is the greatest pursuit of life. Lord Mahavira said "Search truth yourself". The search for truth involves two things: the search for truth and the search for the self. The truth we search cannot be put to use by anyone else. Only the one who searches for truth can put it to use and enjoy the supreme bliss obtained through self-realisation. Man has highly developed brain and centres of super sensual knowledge. That is why he alone is capable of searching for the truth. The achievement of scientific researches is put for practical use for the entire society. The achievements of spiritual exertions, on the other hand, are personal achievements. One has to walk on the road that leads to truth and self realisation.
Successful practitioners have tried to communicate their experiences to others. But spiritual experiences cannot be transferred to others. Everyone has to exert himself independently to gain them. Whatever has been spoken or written by those who gained spiritual experiences became Sruti (Jainism literature). Sruti is useful because it prepares the background for sadhana. But this background serves no purpose unless the practitioner has exerted himself.
Spiritual experiences are not social experiences. There is no point citing the Agamas, Bhagavad-Gita or Koran to prove that there is unity of spiritual experiences. Only he who has experienced the truth can say, "This is truth & I have known perceived & experienced it". The field of self-discovery is like the field of scientific research, very particular will have to think & exert himself scientifically. A person cannot borrow the experience from another. Thus search for truth is a long and complicated process of scientific experiments. Unless one does sadhana, one cannot realize the truth & follow it.
Peace through Preksha Meditation : Both desirable & undesirable things are present in the world. Non-violence is strength, bravery & heroism. It has no relation with cowardice. The root of violence lies in hatred. All wars and acts of terrorism in the past or present are the direct outcome of hatred of those who train the people in carrying out terrorist acts. They instill hatred in their hearts against the intended target, so that there remains no hesitation in killing and destroying. Thus changing hatred into love and friendship is of utmost importance. Where there is love, there can be no violence.
Physical & mental intolerance as the two major causes of violence. Once the attitude of intolerance is changed, non violence is automatically ensues. Modern education does not focus on developing compassion, sensitivity, love and friendship in people. Mere study cannot develop these qualities. Exercise like Preksha Meditation [concentration on the centres of enlightenment] can help to register an increase in universal compassion, love, friendship & sensuality.
Self-restraint is good. So is renunciation. To speak the truth is good & so is non-violence. Yet neither restraint nor is truth is spoken or non violence achieved. The reason for this is that man has no control over his mind. Without controlling the mind, neither can non-violence be practiced nor truth be attained. Only the right meditation techniques & the science of living can control the minds & lead the man towards the path of enlightenment.