The Spiritual Progress

It is said that the man is a social animal. People always stay involved into the social and the worldly affairs regardless of the direct concern or not. Their ambitions and desires run as high as the sky. They spend more time in the material enjoyments but a very little in the spiritual activities. The materialistic and the scientific achievements rather than the religious beliefs motivate their decisions and actions. They believe materialistic science as everything and overlook the spiritual science. There is nothing wrong in giving science such a priority, but we forget that the science itself is evolving and has its own limitations. It can’t explain every phenomenon happening around us. If certain things can’t be explained by the science, we should be open to the other ways of the explanations. We should respect spiritual science, which developed far before the present science did. There were Jina, Arihants, or Tirthankars who explained or answered all the questions or unexplained phenomenon.

Lord Mahavira and the other Tirthankars have shown the effectiveness of the spiritual progress by putting it into the practice in their own lives. The prominent Monk, Umasvati, around 4th or 5th century, reminded us again in the very first verse of his Tattvarth Sootra. It reads:

Samyagdarshanjnancharitrani Mokshmargah“.

That means ABC are: A) Samyag Darshan (Right faith), B) Samyag Jnan (Right knowledge), and C) Samyag Charitra (Right practice) are all required to achieve the spiritual progress which would lead us to the ultimate liberation (moksha or Nirvan). Let us learn more about them so that our vision and actions can get better for our drive for the spiritual path.

Samyag Darshan (Right faith)

Samyag Darshan (Right faith) means having faith in the nine fundamentals (Tattvas) as explained by the Jina or Tirthankar. These Tattvas are 1) Jiva (Living being – Soul), 2) Ajiva (Non-Living things), 3) Punya (good deeds), 4) Pap (Bad deeds), 5) Ashrav (Inflow of the karmas), 6) Bandh (Bondage of the karmas), 7) Samvar (Stopage of the karmas), 8) Nirjara (Eradication of the karmas), and 9) Moksha (Liberation or Nirvan). Some scriptures describe 7 Tattvas considering punya and pap as the part of Ashrav. The soul is the living being while our body itself is a non-living thing. But because of the presence of the soul and its activities we mistakenly recognize the body as the living being. Therefore this should be clear to us as well as we shall have a faith in this fact that the soul and the body are two separate entities and this becomes the starting point of our spiritual journey. Knowing this, we should do what is good for the soul rather than the body. This step in right direction is the Samyag Darshan and the nucleus of the beginning of the process of the spiritual progress.

It is not easy to gain samyagdarshan under the influence of the Mithyatva (wrong faith producing) Mohniya karma and Anantanubandhi kashayas [very severe passions (like anger, ego, deceit, and greed) producing] karma. The mithyatva Mohniya karma and anantanubandhi Mohniya karmas are like buddies. Mithyatva Mohniya karma would attract us to enjoy the worldly life and push us to do the things for the comfort of our physical body while Anantanubandhi kashayas would give helping hand by developing an attachment towards the body and materialistic things. Our passions, anger, ego, deceit and greed play various roles in our life to keep us involved in enjoying the worldly life. This way the time passes by and before we realize the truth our eyes may close or we may get crippled before we can do anything good for our soul. Therefore, it is very critical that at some point we decide to pacify our passions and we take a stand that this is enough and now it is the time to do good for the soul. This kind of stand only will overcome Mithyatva Mohniya karma and put the soul in the driver’s seat. Therefore right faith (samyag darshan) comes first in the progress of the spiritual pursuit.

Some people are fortunate enough from the imprints of the good karmas of the previous life and may automatically develop samyag darshan from the self-intuition, while others may be motivated by the right preceptors and the spiritual readings, etc.

Process of acquiring samyaktva

The soul had been wandering through many many lives of various types and experiencing various kinds of miseries as well as happiness due to the effects of various karmas. The influence of these karmas is so high that the soul cannot exhibit its true nature. Therefore, instead of living in reality it may live in false beliefs. Just as the rugged stone rocking down the stream of water shapes itself into a nice round stone, the soul that was tinted with the wrong beliefs comes across the worthy activities like compassion, charity, and forgiveness and turns to be a good soul. This happens only when the time factors for all the karmas except Ayushya karma is reduced to less than one krodakrodi sagaropam. At this point many souls break the knot of the severe attachment and severe hatred (Anantanubandhy Kashay) which is suffocating it and attain samyakatva but many fail to do so and fall back to the earlier level. Once the soul has broken this knot the spiritual uplift starts by its further pure activities.

There are five types of samyakatva.

  1. Aupshamik samyakatva: Aupshamik means suppression. This samyakatva happens due to the suppression of passions (kashayas).

  2. Kshayik samyakatva: Kshayik means destruction. This samyakatva is due to the destruction of passions.

  3. Kshayopshamik samyakatva: Kshayopshamik means the mixer of suppression and destruction. This samyakatva is due to the partial suppression and partial destruction of passions.

  4. Vedak samyaktva: Vedak means to destroy. During this samyakatva suppressed samyag-mithyatva is destroyed and the soul is now in kshayik samyaktva. This happens in 8th, 9th, or 10th Gunasthanaks.

  5. Sasvadan samyaktva: Sasvadan means to taste. This samyaktva is very transient and happens while the soul has fallen down from 4th Gunasthanak to 2nd Gunasthanak and still falling down to 1st Gunasthanak. During this state the soul feels the residual taste of going away samyakatva. This happens in the second Gunasthanak.

When someone has developed the samyag darshan, he/she is said to be in a samyakatva (righteousness). The samyakatva has the following five qualities:

1) Sham (pacification)

2) Samveg (desire for moksha)

3) Nirved (disliking towards the worldly activities)

4) Anukampa (selfless compassion)

5) Astikya (total faith in the words of Jina)

Samyagjnan (Right Knowledge)

Samyagjnan means right knowledge about the nine fundamentals as described by the Jina or Tirthankars. This samyagjnan help us to maintain the basic precept that the soul and the body are two separate entities and it also molds our lives in such a way that our activities lead us to the ultimate goal of the liberation.

Knowledge (Jnan) is derived either by the senses and the mind together or directly by the soul. As per Jain philosophy the knowledge derived straight by the soul is considered the direct knowledge (Pratyaksha) while that through the senses and the mind is called indirect (Paroksha) knowledge. The knowledge is divided into five types. They are:

1) Mati Jnan

Mati jnan is obtained with the help of the senses and the mind.

2) Shrut Jnan

Shrut Jnan is obtained by listening of the scriptures.

3) Avadhi Jnan

The soul by its own inherent power to know without the help of the senses or the mind can see the objets faraway upto some distance. This is known as Avadhi-Jnan.

4) Manahparyay Jnan

The soul by its own inherent power to know without the help of the senses or the mind can read the thoughts of the others. This is known as Manahparyay-Jnan.

5) Keval Jnan (Total Knowledge)

The soul by its own inherent power to know everything without the help of the senses or the mind knows what is going on throughout the whole universe at all the time (present, past and future). It know about everything that exists now, existed in the past and would exist in the future. This is known as Keval-Jnan.

Samyagcharitra (Right Conduct)

Samyagcharitra means right conduct, which is built on the basis of the right faith and the right knowledge. If we did not know what is right and wrong then it would be difficult to practice what is good for our soul and to stop new karmas from coming in (samvar) or getting rid of the accumulated karmas (nirjara). In short if these were done in the right way then our target of salvation would be easily within our reach. The right conduct is the result of many activities ranging from controlling our desires to performing activities in the right perspective of Ahimsa. They have been described in different manners. In short they would involve observing; 1) five samitis (carefulness), 2) three guptis (restrains), 3) sadhudharma, 4) Mahavrats (five major vows of the monks and the nuns) and Anuvrats (twelve minor vows of the householders), and 5) other austerities, etc.

The knowledge of samyagdarshan, samyagjnan, and samyagcharitra itself is not good enough to take us anywhere but we would have to apply them in real practice to their full capacities to get the actual results. It should also be remembered that we would have to follow all three, samyagdarshan, samyagjnan and samyagcharitra, at the same time because if we follow only one or two of them then that will also not take us too far on spiritual pursuit.

In conclusion, we must observe A) samyagdarshan, B) samyagjnan and C) samyagcharitra simultaneously to achieve liberation, moksha or nirvan for sure.