|The Jain path
Liberation from the Cycle of
Birth and Death
To make room in our heart for truth, we have to clear
away the clutter of false thinking. For that we need guidance,
reflections. With introspection, we are able to see what is real, genuine,
lasting. Using our inner eye, we are able to come out from under the
domination of distorted thinking.
Why do we live in a world of make-believe? Why do we
create so many fantasies? To protect ourselves from fear. Why are we
afraid? Because something in us knows that the mind is weak and has the
nature to disintegrate. The mind tends to scatter and jump from subject to
subject, from form to form. Subconsciously, it has fear of its own
In order not to be diffused or disintegrated, the mind
seeks protection--in the husband and wife, lover and beloved, parent and
savior. It relaxes under this false sense of security. It does not realize
that this kind of outer protection is merely a prop. In search of some
kind of shelter, we create a fence around ourselves. We may call this
fence love, but in reality it is attachment. It is attachment covered up
and decorated with beautiful outer wrappings of papery-thin love.
In each person's life the time comes when the mind
scatters like a castle of cards. It stands firm so long as a gust of wind
does not blow it down. When the reality of a crisis strikes, mind dips
down. You feel depressed rejected, and lonely. Life appears dismal and
dark. You experience a state of hopelessness.
Wise people know that the shelter created by fantasy
and outside props will not last. This kind of shelter is too fragile. What
to do when you are again out in the open naked, and without a roof over
That is why we meditate on the bhavanas. They are a
preparation. We build inner muscles with our awareness. Just as an athlete
builds his muscles lifting weights, we build our inner strength with
special tools. These tools are reflections, meaningful words, and
You prepare yourself to know how to stand alone. And
when you really know how to stand alone, you are all one. You have only to
go into the depth of aloneness to know the meaning of all-oneness.
Not everyone is ready to do this. These facets are
given only to those who are ready. Truth is dazzling. It has so much
brilliance that weak eyes are not able to stand it. In the face of that
brilliance, those with weak eyes do one of two things--either they turn
away and change direction, or they cover their eyes with dark glasses.
But there are those who do want to see the truth. They
say, "Let us see what may come." And ultimately what appears bitter turns
out to be sweet honey. As you go on building inner strength, when the time
comes for the support to go away, you won't tumble down.
Those who are eager to face truth reflect on the
difference between attachment and love. In reflection, they see that
attachment always comes with demands or conditions. Those who know how to
stand back can notice it. Using their insight, they ask themselves, "Is
what I am calling love really attachment thriving under the shelter of
beautiful words? Do I have any demand on the person whom I love? Is it a
kind of bargain? Is it a business?"
When we put love in the category of business, it is not
love. In business, we see where we get profit. There is no feeling of
giving, offering, accepting, only seeing who gets more. Both parties are
watching out for themselves. If this is the case in a relationship, then
are we not deluding ourselves?
So when you understand this truth, you understand your
relationships. Your awareness becomes different. Your perception changes.
You know how to give- space, how to give room. Relationships become
sweeter, more meaningful. Then the other party starts learning from you.
Love is vast. When you encompass that vastness, then you love all. When
you love all, then you really love the one whom you love.
It may not happen overnight. It is a slow movement, a
gradual growth, not an instant answer or a temporary satisfaction. You
need to have patience. My teacher told me: "First you have to learn how to
stand on the ground of reality, of truth. That ground has no route. You
have to make your own track. It's a vast territory before you. All
directions are open. So don't tread the well-worn path. That only becomes
a rut. Select your way over fresh open ground. Then you will be making a
new track, fresh footprints. "
Feel the newness. Tell yourself, "I am taking each step
according to my insight." You can do it when you have faith in your feet
and trust in your strength.
The third facet on which to reflect is called samsara,
which means to move constantly up and down, down and up, in a smooth,
circular, and rhythmical motion, like a Ferris wheel. It is a continuous
process. When a person is motivated by greed for pleasure and power, he
gets caught up in this perpetual motion and ends up where he began, like
an ox circling around a treadmill. But the person with awareness of the
purposeful direction of life can use each turn of the wheel for moving
forward into evolution, for freeing himself from the need to rush after
things which are on the periphery of life. So what is a cause of bondage
to one can be used as a cause of freedom to another; it depends on the
depth of one's understanding and approach. That is why this bhavana
teaches the aspirant to watch the Ferris wheel of life, but not to
identify with it.
We have all heard of prosperous famous families whose
children lose everything and are forgotten. We have also observed those
who, according to worldly standards, were "nobody" become "somebody." This
wheel is always turning. It is an endless cycle. Sometimes we have days in
which life is heavenly. Sometimes we have days in which life feels like a
hell. The person you greet in the morning is not the same by evening.
There are so many fluctuations in moods.
So the initiates watch the Ferris wheel. They see that
the down will not remain down. It will go up. It will go on. Through
watching, the initiate learns not to take the downs and ups seriously. "It
is the wheel which is moving, not me," he observes. "I am sitting in the
same seat. What is going up and down is the wheel, but I am here --steady
Once you have this experience, you will see the game of
life. The seriousness, the rejection, the clouds which cover your inner
peace will be gone. And you will start enjoying life. Wherever you are and
whomever you are with you experience and enjoy.
In this way, you slowly free yourself from identifying
with the ups and downs of samsara. The wheel is always moving smoothly in
order to bring change. With your awareness, you observe how it is moving
purposefully to bring something beautiful, something fresh for you. The
motion of the wheel is giving you a challenge. Without change, life
becomes stagnant. If there is no test, there is no progress.
By identifying with the changeless beneath all the
changes, you are transcending them. In this way, you experience the
purpose of samsara--to transform your-self from lower to higher, and
ultimately to reach moksha, complete freedom from the cycle of birth and
In meditating on this bhavana, we observe our whole
cycle. We say, "When I was born, my mother was in pain, crying. Then she
saw my face and was happy. The pain was gone." What the mother suffered
for nine months was gone in one minute. At the same time, we look at those
close to us in our lives- -a brother, sister, parent, or partner--and see
that some have gone and some are still here. The dearest people whom we
love and who love us come and go. They don't remain permanently. The
people who hate and are hated also come and go. This is the Ferris wheel;
this is the process.
The reflection continues in this way: "Why do I only
think of others? I also will go. I will move on, and when I do, I will
separate from others as others have separated from me. So why am I upset
when others depart? I too will depart. Perhaps I don't think of that
because of the mental fright it causes."
But the aspirant is not frightened. His mind is not
shattered at the prospect of his own departure. Why? Because he or she is
completely convinced that what is permanent is not going to become
impermanent. And what is impermanent is not going to become permanent.
Each has its own nature. The seeker knows, "What I have at the center of
myself is permanent. Only the house, the place, the dress, the form, will
change. They are the persona, the mask, but the individual flame that I
am, does not change."
What confidence to know that! When it happens, for the
first time you are realizing the difference between the husk and the
grain. You see how deeply you have identified the grain with the husk. You
observe how you have seen your own friends in this fixed, static light--as
their persona instead of their essence.
If we relate only to the persona of an individual, the
friendship is shallow. It is built on material gain. The person with a
spiritual outlook sees things from a different vantage point. He sees that
those things on which he once placed so much value are not truly valuable.
They are tokens for use in a certain period, in a certain place. If you
take a subway token to Russia, it cannot be used. It is meant to be used
here. Similarly, the things of the world are to be used as tokens; they
take you from one place to another. Beyond that they have no meaning.
Friendship based on the spiritual level remains
permanent. Why? Because it has an inner connection, above and beyond its
outside connection. In The Last Days of Pompeii, a volcano was about to
erupt. An old man of greed and covetousness had jewels and gold coins
hidden away in his house. There was scarcely enough time for him to run
for his life; nevertheless, he went back to take his box of jewels. It was
heavy, and his son, who was also greedy, said,
"Father, let me carry the box for you. It is too heavy
and you will not be able to run fast."
The old man did not trust his son even during that last
moment. And the son became impatient and struck his father with a stick,
grabbed the box, and ran. At that moment, the volcano erupted and the
whole village was buried, father and son as well. Their relationship was
superficial, based on need and greed. Their mutual protection was only to
get material gain.
So become a spectator. See how the rich become poor,
the young become old, the great become small. It is a joy to watch. The
ornament changes but the gold remains.
Observe your form. It is beautiful. See who is in the
center of your form, who animates all this. Who gives feeling to the body,
allowing it to sense and to feel? Who gives voice to the throat and taste
to the tongue? Who gives the sense of smell to the nose? Who gives light
and sight to the eyes and hearing to the cars? Who gives awareness to the
mind? When you realize that you are the one animating all your senses, you
will stop accepting false beliefs and outside supports. You will have
persuaded your doorkeeper mind to open the door and let you in--to see
your own reality. Once you experience this changeless center of yourself,
you exclaim, " That reality is here! That reality is I!"
Now you watch the circumference from the center. You
observe life from that point which views all points. You are in a state of
equanimity. You are not caught up with each turn of the wheel. In this
way, you are free, not from past karmas which continue to move the wheel
of samsara round and round, but from the ignorance which formerly made you
cling to the changing elements themselves. Freed from the swings of mood,
you glimpse the real freedom of moksha. 2
With this glimpse, you have the power to use your will
to make decisions, to change what you want to change, even to heal your
body. You know that you have at your disposal the energy which is your
life force itself. It is the energy which animates this body, its senses
and brain. Knowing it in your meditative experience, with patience and
persistent practice you can mobilize this energy to erase your karmas and
stop the cycle of birth and rebirth. With awareness, you can change wrong
kinds of eating, thinking, and living. You can get rid of heavy negative
vibrations which you have absorbed and which have turned into mental
disturbance or physical disease. For one who realizes how such vibrations
came and how they can be removed, the process of self- healing can be
There is a story of a woman whose husband was
constantly gambling and getting drunk. He used to come home late at night,
knock on the door, and wait for his wife to open it. She would do so at
whatever hour he came home. Always she remained peaceful, patient.
Eventually, he grew tired of his own vices and ran
away. After five years, with spoiled health, he returned home. His wife
had known that one day he would. Meanwhile, during the five years in which
he had been absent, she had not lost her peace nor had she turned to vices
herself. She had used her time to build her inner muscles.
She was so strong that the evening he returned and
stood at the door, she only said, "Come in, please!" He could not believe
that after five years, after having run away, he could be hearing these
gentle words. Then she said, "You must be hungry. Have some dinner."
Hearing these sweetly spoken words, he began to melt
inside. He started to cry. The tears kept on rolling down his cheeks.
Gently his wife said, "Have I not told you--you are not bad. It was the
company you kept. And don't these tears show that the core of your heart
is good and soft?" He felt like bowing at her feet. "I have heard about
saints," he said, "but if I had not seen you, I would never have believed.
Now I know that I have no need to go away again." He then began moving
forward into a purposeful life.
It is knowing your permanent reality which gives
meaning to life. So meditate on your evolution and unite the world with
your deep understanding of this. Let your real essence emerge and let
outer superficiality melt away. This ground of truth has many routes; you
create your own track. To reach your reality and feel your freedom, take a
step which is full of positive feeling, radiant with light, and vibrant
SEED-THOUGHTS FOR MEDITATION
The ever moving is a continuous cycle of change, moving
in a smooth and rhythmic motion. I am in the center, steady, aware.
Let me watch the circumference from the center. Let me
observe the kaleidoscope of changes from that point which views all
Each turn of the wheel can be either a cause of my
bondage or a cause of my freedom. With awareness, I can use each turn as a
challenge, to free myself from karmas, to bring out transformation, to
feel new life, and to lead me closer to my reality.