The Process of Change
THE PROCESS OF CHANGE
Some there are whose life is quite transformed
When they perceive by themselves the errors they make.
Pure natural faith, resolution ever strong;
Long practice, smooth and unhindered;
A disciplined, restrained, unattached mind,
Most excellent base for shivir-sadhana!
Q.A systematic programme of shivir-sadhana is being carried out for the practice of preksha dhyana. In the shivirs, a sadhak finds the right kind of atmosphere, proper guidance and all material requirements conducive to sadhana. With all these facilities, is a sadhak able to bring about a change in his life?
Ans. Change is the fundamental principle of life. No individual remains the same for long. Nor should he? A child grows into an adolescent, a youngman, attains maturity and enters old age. Every individual has to pass through this process of change. That is the inevitable sequence. Change does not relate only to a situation; it can be inner as well as outer. Outwardly, the skin of the body changes; within, all the elements of the body undergo a change. With the chemical changes occurring inside the body, a corresponding change occurs in one’s thoughts, in one’s habits and in one’s character, too. These changes mould an individual’s personality.
The individual seeks intellectual development. He wants to develop courtesy in conformity with the age. He is also eager to reform his habits. How to change one’s habits has become a great problem. In order to establish harmony between the family and society, it is very necessary to understand and use some psychological technique of bringing about a change in character; otherwise, so much malice accumulates between the members of the same family that life becomes impossible. Mutual suspicion is created, misunderstandings grow. The non-removal of these factors results in increasing acrimony which gives rise to mental conflicts. To maintain a balanced outlook under these circumstances, it is necessary to change one’s habits.
Some people are addicted to being intoxicated. The use of intoxicants strengthens this habit. Once this habit is confirmed, there is excessive use of intoxicating drugs. Too much of a dose and too frequent, makes a man so dependent on the drug that it is no longer in his power to abandon it. Addiction to intoxicants creates all kinds of problems—physical, mental and financial. The disintegration of the bodily system has a direct influence on the mind. Similarly, financial imbalance adversely affects the mind. Mental disequilibrium gives rise to strife in the family. Irascibility and excitement increase it. Thus, one problem appears after another. All these problems can be resolved through meditation.
Q.That meditation is an infallible method of bringing about an inner change, is true. But how can an individual surrounded by problems prepare his mind for undertaking meditation? Even if the right mentality is created, how can inveterate habits, nourished for years, be changed?
Ans. Tension is at the root of some habits. The individual continually afflicted with one problem or the other becomes a victim of tension. In order to mitigate that tension; he takes to intoxicating drugs. This affords some superficial relief, but the inner tension becomes more pronounced. That inner turmoil no intoxicants or drugs can remove. Scientific experiments conducted at various places have proved that hypertension which medicines failed to alleviate, was quite resolved through meditation. Our experiences during the shivir period have also established that the individual undergoes a great change while practising meditation. Many people given to excessive use of intoxicants, and others suffering from causeless excitability have been found to change greatly after attending a dhyana shivir.
It is an indisputable fact that the more tense a man is, the more stubborn he becomes. In a state of obstinacy, he cannot realize his error. The psychology of dhyana can create a state of non-insistence. Meditation, in itself, is an exercise of humility, of non-prejudice. During meditation, the ego dissolves, pertinacity disappears, gentleness grows and pliability develops. The reason is clear the practitioner of meditation makes progress in the direction of direct experiencing of truth. When truth is realized there can be no obstinacy of any kind. Only one who knows truth by hearsay may be importunate, but the man who perceives truth directly, surrenders himself completely to it, and in such a situation there is no room for any kind of obduracy to develop. It does not require any effort to bring about a change in a non-assertive individual; the change there occurs spontaneously. Through meditation, the whole structure of tension is shattered. One’s vision grows clear. Wilfulness ends, and a pliable mind can spontaneously give up any wrong habit.
The doctrine of Non-absolutisrn, Anekantvad or Syadvad (the jain doctrine of multisided perception) propounded by Lord Mahavir was the fruit of his rneditation. How can a sadhak who does not practise meditation, apply the doctrine of Anekant in his life? Also it is only in moments of dhyana that a non-assertive doctrine like Anekant can manifest itself.
Now the question is: how can an individual be widered by his problems, go into meditation? It does present some difficulty. But no difficulty can survive the clarity of vision and high will-power. When a man is so abundantly clear that he can change every habit through meditation, he becomes determined to practise it. With will-power, a man can mould his mind to proceed in any direction whatsoever.
Q.Can an individual achieve self-transformation by sheer will-power?
Ans. Transformation through meditation is possible only when one has deep faith in the practice of meditation. Without such faith, one would not be able to go into meditation. Some people’s faith is spontaneous; in others it has to be created. If faith is seasoned with will-power and continuity of practice is maintained, the way to progress is opened wide. Practice is an element which keeps the chain of sadhana intact. If this chain is broken, success becomes doubtful. The combination of faith, determination and practice leads to the development of self discipline in a sadhak. This discipline is not imposed, it evolves naturally. It inevitably leads to the development of self-control. By self-control we mean complete identification and absorption. This total identification is mindfulness in action. Self-control does not mature through mere renunciation or repudiation. Renunciation is also a kind of sadhana, but it is not perfect. For perfection in sadhana it is absolutely necessary to combine control with emotional identification.
Perfect control is possible when the mind is detached from material objects. Or we may put it differently by saying that attachment to self-control leads to disillusionment with matter. The change from attachment to disillusionment is a psychological fact. In order to take away something held by a child in his grasp, his attention is diverted to a more attractive toy or article. Otherwise he would not relinquish it. Disaffection with material objects also occurs when contact is established with the soul or the spirit of awareness. Patanjali has described this state as dharana (full concentration). The non-stop current of dharana is dhyana, and total engrossment in dhyana (trance) is samadhi. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi—-all three are necessary for the perfection of self-control. By the process of shivir-sadhana, dhyana-sadhana is consummated.