The word preksa is derived from
the root iksa, which means 'to see'. When the prefix �pra'
is added, it becomes pra+iksa=preksa, which means 'to perceive
carefully and profoundly'
Here, 'seeing' does not mean external
vision, but careful concentration on subtle consciousness by mental
insight. Preksa Dhydna is the system of meditation engaging one's
mind fully in the perception of subtle internal and innate phenomena of
Sampikkhae appagamappaenam This
aphorism from the Jain canon Dasavealiyam forms the basic principle
for this system of meditation. It simply means : 'See you
thyself'-Perceive and realize the most subtle aspects of consciousness by
your conscious mind. Hence, "to see" is the fundamental principle of
meditation. The name Preksa Dhyana was therefore assigned to the
present technique; thus this technique is basically not concentration of
'thought' but concentration of perception'.
To know and to see are the
characteristics of the consciousness. In its mundane state, being
contaminated by Karmic matter, the faculty is not fully manifested, but it
can be developed.
The term dhyana (meditation) is
usually defined as the concentration of thinking on a particular subject
for a length of time. Now the mind is the instrument of 'thinking' as well
as 'perception'. And, therefore, when linked with Preksa Dhyana
becomes 'concentration of perception and not of thought. While it is
conceded that both thinking (conception) as well as seeing (perception)
assist in ascertaining and knowing the truth, the latter is more potent
than the former. In the tenets propounded by Bhagavan Mahavira 'perceive
and know' is given more prominence than 'think, contemplate and know'.
This is because perception is strictly concerned with the phenomena of the
present; it is neither a memory of the past nor an imagination of the
future; whatever is happening at the moment of perception must necessarily
be a reality. The process of perception, therefore, excludes a mere
One commences the practice of this
technique with the perception of the body. Body contains the soul.
Therefore, one must pierce the wall of the container to reach the content
(the soul). Again, 'breathing' is a part of the body and essence of life.
To breathe is to live; and so breath is naturally qualified to be the
first object of our perception, while the body itself would become the
next one. The vibrations, sensations and other physiological events are
worthy of our attention. Our conscious mind becomes sharpened to perceive
these internal realities in due course, and then it will be able to focus
itself on the minutest and the most subtle occurences within the body. The
direct perception of emotions, urges and other psychological events will
then be possible. And ultimately the envelope of karmic matter,
contaminating the consciousness could be clearly recognised.
As stated above, our conscious mind is
capable of two categories of functions viz. thinking and perceiving
conception and perception. But it is incapable of being engaged in both
the categories simultaneously. One either thinks or perceives. Exclusive
perception of a single object can thus become an efficient tool for
steadying the ever wandering mind. If one concentrates in perceiving any
external object, he finds that his mind has steadied and his train of
thoughts has almost halted. Similarly when one concentrate on the
perception of his own internal phenomena such as sensations, vibrations or
even thoughts, he will realize that the mind has stopped its usual
meandering and is fully engaged in perception. Continued concentrated
perception of intrinsic processes will ultimately enable one to perceive
the subtle bodies.
In 'preksa' perception always
means experience bereft of the duality of like and dislike. When the
experience is contaminated with pleasure or pain, like and dislike,
perception loses its primary position and becomes secondary.
Impartiality and equanimity are
synonymous with Preksa. Preksa is impartial perception, where there
is neither the emotion of attachment nor aversion, neither pleasure nor
displeasure. Both these states of emotion are closely and carefully
perceived but not experienced. And because both are perceived from close
quarters, it is not difficult to reject both of them and assume a neutral
position. Thus equanimity is essentially associated with preksa.
Our sense-organ of sight is merely an
instrument of perception of an object; it is neither responsible for its
existence nor does it derive pleasure (or pain) from it. The same applies
to the purely perceptive consciousness. He, whose 'perception' and
'knowledge' are pure, does neither attract new karmic matter nor
does he suffer the effect of the old accumulated karmas.