Chapter 2: LIFE
What is life? It is the conflict between mutually opposing typhoons. One who remains firm in this conflict and marches ahead without going astray is a tiger. All others are vultures.
March ahead! Don’t stop! Life is nothing but a march, to stop is death. Be it an individual or a society, one who stops is finished, while one who continues to march gets a new life every day.
The stream surged ahead, met other streams along the way to become a river and benefiting the people along the course reached the ocean and became ocean. But the village pond rotted remaining in the same place, became filthy, a breeding ground for mosquitoes, polluting the surroundings, an object of disgust for all and finally dried.
Can it be called a life where one has to ever move about like a sick dog with tail between the legs, crawling, frightened? Bowing to a wrong thing is a sign of weakness. A frightened man cannot fight the battle of life. That pliant person will be always busy trying to please others and will breathe his last while surrendering to somebody.
Can you call that also life where one goes on growling every moment like a hungry wolf with interest neither in coming near nor in going away? Fire may rain on all sides of life. Let there not be even a drop of water. It is not proper to become hard like a stone. There must also be softness of love in life. Hardness and softness are both part of life.
Human life is not just for accumulating things. It is also for distributing the accumulated things in appropriately.
Why does your work become uninteresting, unsuccessful, worthless and remains incomplete? Have you ever pondered over this problem? If not, do so now. Your work remains worthless and incomplete because you are not putting enough confidence, love and intelligence into it. These three qualities are the basic, essential requirements for possessing all the virtues, wealth, success and splendour.
People who undertake a task half-heartedly without interest and flashes of inspiration are not worthy of occupying any responsible position. There is an old saying that says, “He who goes away crying always returns with the news of death.” So do not set out for duty crying. Definitely not! Go laughing! This alone is the fundamental mantra of success. Please never forget it.
What is the difference between the brave and the coward? Only of a step. A brave person’s steps march forward while the coward’s steps retreat in reverse.
The greatest mistake a man makes is that he doesn’t strive as much for accomplishment as he does for publicity and fame. You cannot get fame without accomplishment first. And even if you do by some mischance, it cannot last for long. Such a short-lived thing it is! Therefore, one must accomplish first in order to be successful in life. Why bother about publicity and fame? You become famous anyway once you accomplish.
If you have light in your eyes then go by yourself carefully and straight like an arrow. Why wait to hold somebody’s finger? If there is no light in your eyes then gratify somebody who has and follow him with your hands on his shoulders. But move forward. Don’t stand. It is only when you walk that the journey can be finished. Whether you walk as a Guru or as a disciple depends only on your worth.
In the Jain culture there are many stories about how spike turns into a throne, but that is only a figure of speech, a metaphor for life. Whatever one gains in life e.g. money, wealth, relatives, friends, honour etc. are all like a spike. Only he who knows how to turn that spike into a throne will be able to enjoy and derive happiness from the spike that has pierced the core of life. Mount onto the spike of life like the divine discus (Sudarshan Chakra) and turn the spike into a throne. Break the sharp needles of affection. Sacrifice all your available powers for the benefit of people. The life is like a spike wherever there is “I” and “mine” and it is like a throne wherever there is “we” and “ours”.
What kind of life is that if it doesn’t double its enthusiasm and its pace after getting a knock? A stream doubles its speed after hitting a stone. Look how high a rubber ball rebounds after hitting the ground! Every impediment and blow is intended for raising man higher. Will man ever understand this secret of life?
When I climbed up on the last stage of Qutabminar in Delhi, the different sounds from horse-carts, cars and people that had sounded as if they clashed among each other downstairs, blended together to sound like an unbroken sweet song. Then a philosophical realisation occurred to me, that the mutually conflicting mental struggles of a spiritual seeker would reduce and he would be able to enjoy the bliss of unbroken concentration and steadiness as he raises his mind above the earthly problems separating it from them. We experience disparity when we descend lower and equability if we ascend higher.
Why are you afraid if misery strikes? Let it strike and with force. A drum does not sound by itself. It sounds only when stuck. As soon as the stick strikes, the grave sound of the drum reaches people afar. If the drum of life is strong then even the strongest blow of misery causes the grave sound of success resonate in all directions.
Dry grass is afraid of fire. Just a touch of fire and it will turn into ash. But why should real gold be afraid? Fire does not reduce the sheen of gold; on the other hand it shines more. Oh man, become gold, not grass. Then the fire of misery, however bad, will make you shine, not burn.
Status and honour in society is meant for those who come forward, engage themselves in serving others and do not feel weighed down even in conflicts. But there is no welcome or reward anywhere for those who lag behind and hide in corners. Elephants live on battlefield and mosquitoes in the dark dirty corners of a room.
You took an oath and gave up evil but if you broke that oath and went back to the evil again then it is as if you first spat and then licked it. This sounds bitter. But this bitter medicine saves you from drinking deadly poison. Sati Rajmati had said the same thing to Rathanemi, “Do you wish to eat the vomited food again? That is for dogs, not for men. Death is better than despicable life.” Really speaking, life of pleasure without a pledge is as good as death.
The story of Rajmati is very famous in Jain literature. Her marriage was arranged with Bhagwan Neminath, the 22nd Tirthankar. Unable to listen to the pitiable cries of the animals and birds that were going to be killed at the time of welcoming the marriage procession, Tirthankar Neminath returned without getting married and left the house to become a Muni (renunciate). Rajmati also thought it fit to follow the path of her proposed husband and she too became a Parivrajika (renunciate) rather than marry another person. Once she was going from the city to Revachal Mountain. On the way it started raining and drenched her. She entered a nearby cave and began to dry her clothes. In the same cave, Rathanemi, the younger brother of Neminath was standing in meditation. Due to a lightening flash his eyes fell on the naked body of Rajamati. His mind became disturbed and he proposed to Rajamati regarding enjoying the worldly life. At that time, Rajamati, comparing the once-renounced enjoyment to vomit, brought him back to his senses and made him remain steady on the path of Self-Control.
As long as man lives in this world he is compelled to accumulate food and clothes through business or profession and gather the means for managing the affairs of life. He has to extract something or other from the society around him. But that extraction should be accompanied by support also. It should be like the cow that is fed, watered and serviced before milking. Whatever she eats and drinks turns into milk that is extracted in proper proportions. In the same way man also should support and serve the surrounding society first and only then obtain food and clothes from it in proper proportions for his own sustenance. Extraction with sustenance is like milking the cow, without sustenance it is like sucking the blood.
If man wants to be hard he should be like a coconut. Coconut is dry and hard from outside, but from inside it is soft, sweet and full of life sustaining water. What is the use of adopting a life that is hard both from outside and inside?
A great man is described as one who is hard like a diamond and soft like butter. A sweet mixture of hardness and softness is really the music of a great man’s life.
Breathing for a few days is not what life is and stoppage of the heartbeat is not what death is. Life means making the world experience your existence. Not by piling up bricks and stones or by exploiting others but by sacrificing your life for others. Learn to take every breath for the sake of others. The day you begin to breathe only for yourself is the day of death.
If a tiny thing is made grossly big then that is the end of its soul and energy. It is the same with non-violence. Non-violence is not just the Do’s and Don’ts in the outward behaviour. It is a tiny aspect of the inner consciousness (Chetana). But unfortunately, this tiny aspect became steadily weaker and weaker and it has been given the decorative gross form of Do’s and Don’ts in outward behaviour. As a result, the power of non-violence has ended in a way.
If non-violence has to be rejuvenated then it should be extended by first freeing from the trivial, limiting perimeter and then made to descend into the subtle experience of life and to the depths of heart.
Man is standing at the crossroads of the world. He can go where he wants. He can become what he wants. He who becomes and remains human will progress towards heaven and liberation, and he who falls from humanness will take the path to hell and be reborn as an animal.
One who is a slave to passions is an animal. One who is in the process of conquering passions is a human being. One who has conquered passions to a large extent is a god, and one who has conquered passions completely and permanently becomes, even as a human being, God of Gods, the Supreme God, the conqueror of the universe.
According to the principle of Bhagwan Mahavir, every individual is God, The Supreme soul (Paramatma), Brahman, a Siddha, Buddha, a Jin, only if he is able to know himself, take care of himself, purify himself and make himself perfect.
Oh human being! Do you know yourself? If the answer is yes then tell who you are? Are you the gross body or the soul that pervades in every little bit of it? One who marches towards the soul is a human being and one who is bound in the confines of the body and is not going forward is an animal in the form of a human body. The centre of humanity is really the soul, not the body.
Oh human being! Your right extends only up to doing your duty - not to its fruits. Why don’t you worry as much about duty as you worry for fruits? A farmer can plough and make his field ready, can sow the seeds, can make arrangements for irrigation, can put fertiliser, can guard it but the work of making the seeds sprout and make them grow gradually belongs to the nature. Can you not adopt this universal and inevitable principle in the fulfilment of your duty?
When judging the worth of a person, do not look at his wealth or his family members or his high position. A man’s actual worth lies in the honest performance of whatever duty comes to his lot. More a person carries out his responsibilities with capability and loyalty, lives and dies for his duty, more worthy he becomes.
Highest aim of human life is not enjoyment but sacrifice and excellence - not instability. The ideal of lust and enjoyment is always dangerous and will continue to remain so.
Human life is meant for establishing peace and happiness for every creature in the world, not for getting involved in pleasure and lust and to struggle for them.
Is good eating humanness? Even cats and dogs in a rich man’s house eat well. Is living in tall and vast mansions humanness? Birds build their nests and insects live in such mansions. Does humanness lie in reading books in languages like Sanskrit and Prakrit? Even parrots and mynahs can recite Sanskrit verses. Does humanness lie in bravery and strength? Even a tiger in the jungle has bravery and strength and that makes him very cruel. Then where does humanness lie? Humanness lies in high thinking and high conduct.
I have seen difficult mountain ranges with green grass and trees growing on them. I have seen founts, with cool and clean crystal-like water flowing out of the hard boulders in the hills. Is man harder than a mountain, so hard that the fount of love, sympathy and kindness cannot flow out from him and greenery does not grow?
Oceans flow underneath the layers of the earth. Streams spring out from below the boulders. It is just a matter of removing the upper layers and then you have immense quantities of water. Below the selfish human mind too lies the vast ocean of humanness, kindness and compassion. The secret of the success of human life is hidden only in breaking away the layers of human mind to make the life-giving fountains of humanness flow.
If you are a god then come down a little and if you are a beast then raise yourself a little. The role of human life lies in between the roles of beastliness and godliness. It is only from here that the straight path to liberation starts. A beast is in a fallen state and a god is in the elevated state. But liberation and spiritual uplift are not places. They are situated within the human life, that is, if anyone wants he may tread on the path of humanness in order to get it.
The vision of an ordinary man is limited only up to the pleasures of his own body and organs. His consciousness is confined to within his own “I”. It does not spread beyond. Such a person, by falling in the trap of self-protection is compelled to do the most terrible injustice, atrocity and sinful behaviour. The deity he worships is only in his own insignificant “I”.
When man progresses, he is inspired by the compulsion of protecting of his family instead of self-protection. His goal in life extends to his family. After that comes the turn of protecting the society and then of protecting the nation. But development of the sense of protection does not stop here. Its ultimate development extends to the protection of the world. A person who keeps a large-hearted nature towards protection of the world and acts accordingly for its benefit can alone be called a true worshipper of humanity, because in the grand tendency of protecting this perishable universe lies the highest transformation of humanity. Changing the attitude of self-protection to that of the protection of all is the best and clear direction to take.
Man is not meant to remain restricted within the limits of only “I”. Greatness of man lies in the development of the attitude of benevolence towards others. Therefore every string of the Veena of heart should vibrate every moment with the sound of pure feelings of universal friendship. The basic mantra for the success of human life is to dedicate oneself to the welfare of every creature. This immortal principle is not something that should be forgotten.
Man is not just a body or just a mind or just a soul. The combination of all the three makes a man. Therefore man’s uppermost duty is to keep all three i.e. the body, the mind and the soul equally in balance, not disturbing them in any way.
Do not get frightened by difficulties and calamities. They are all meant to test the real quality of man. And it must be remembered that it is gold that is tested, not iron or brass.
He whose life is balanced and regular is a man. And one whose life is not balanced and is not regular is a beast if he is weak and a demon if he is strong.
He whose heart speaks first and tongue later is a great man
He whose tongue speaks first and heart later is a medium type of man.
He whose tongue only speaks, both first and later but heart never speaks is a very mean type of person.
In this vast world, capacity of an ordinary person is very small. He can give little service. But the success of life does not depend upon whether the capacity is small or big. The individual who makes use of his small capacity is a successful person, no matter how small it is.
If a drop is able to quench the thirst of even a tiny particle then its life is a success and it can be considered to be fortunate.
In this world there are three grades of persons: low, medium and best. Acharya Bhartrahari has said that those who do not even start work fearing impediments are low class of persons. Medium persons are those who start work bravely but they stop trying if difficulties come later, leave everything and run away. Best persons are those who do not give up while trying to complete the destined work, may any number of difficulties and calamities come, and take it to its successful end. Best persons, when they consider a particular thing to be just and must be done, become determined to do it and do not stop trying until it is successfully done. Always progressing towards the goal, pushing away the mountains of difficulties, is the immortal ideal of great persons.
There is a great difference between the actions and words of a man and those of a great man. A man goes by the motto of talking ten times more about the actions than actually doing them. Sometimes there is only talk, no action. And the motto of a great man is great action and little talk. Sometimes there is no talk at all, only actions. Matching talk with actions is the first sign of greatness.
Are circumstances more important or man? Are circumstances more powerful or man? It is said that the famous philosopher and historian Carlisle had raised this question. Whoever might have raised this question, it is not a question of today, it is question coming from the beginning of mankind.
The answer to the above question is customarily given in two ways. “We men are dependent and helpless. Does our existence mean anything? Only circumstances make and break a man. Man is a slave to circumstances. You say that that insignificant man has become great? May be he has. He must have encountered good circumstances. Oh! I am ruined! What could I do? Circumstances did not cooperate.” This is one answer.
Second answer is “Circumstances are nothing, man is everything. Can circumstances force a man to rise and fall? No! Man is independent. He is not a puppet in the hands of circumstances. A capable man keeps circumstances under his own control, turns unfavourable circumstances into favourable ones and succeeds in changing them to his liking. Man is a master of the circumstances, not their slave. Circumstances rule only such people as have already forgotten the tremendous strength of their manliness.
It is the second answer that is the answer from Shraman culture. In Shraman culture it is the man who is great, not the circumstances. The maker of one’s fortunes, centre of endless powers, conqueror of world is only man, no one else!
Ordinary people are shaped by environment but great people make the environment. Time and circumstances can never create great people but great people can create time and circumstances. A great man means “creator of an era”.
On one hand man wants to become great, on the other he is afraid of difficulties. Calamities frighten him. He wants to be saved from storms. This is a strange contradiction of life. The path of greatness does not pass through the garden filled with flowers and fruits. It passes through thorny shrubbery, over the hills and through storms. It is the path where death, failures and horrible torture challenge every moment. And when you reach your goal, may be what you get is only thorns. A philosopher has said that every great man is meant to be stoned. That is what is written in his destiny.
Great man is the one for whom public service without expectations of any returns is the soul of his life. Public is the deity he worships. The foundation of his life is to live as a servant. History of his life is brightened by nothing but the righteous practice of non-violence and truth. Such a great man is that glowing pillar of truth who, even after thousands of years of his death, illuminates the humanity that has gone astray and is wandering in darkness. He is the greatest sculptor of people. Just as a skilled sculptor shapes a beautiful lifelike statue from an ugly piece of stone, in the same way, this sculptor of humanity brings into light the undeveloped, uncultured humanity surrounded by bad customs and cultural training and raises it from a level of beast to level of god. Such person is a great man higher than all and is the greatest of all.
Perfect man is one who has transcended the feelings of anger and hate and reached the peak of humanity, who is full of divine fragrance of the soul after saving himself from the foul atmosphere of lust.
Do you want to become great? If yes, then control your desires. Do not let them grow unchecked and go astray. Greatness of man lies in controlling the desires, not becoming their slave. It is necessary to control one’s lust and desires before coming on the path of greatness.
All people are worried about drinking nectar. But I wish to have eternal youth and become immortal by taking a sip of poison. I don’t want a bed of flowers but a path of thorns. I can walk better in darkness than in light. Means of pleasure will make me go astray from the path therefore I am afraid of them. I want sorrow raging like a storm and flaring like a forest fire. The sorrows met during the march of life will not let you sleep. It will always signal you to remain awake.
God is he who can fight with his passions. Not just fight but be victorious too. And that victory also be such that it will never turn into defeat.
God is he who, while wandering in the dark lanes of the world, has become at some time a human being. And having become a human being has completely developed his humanness. A complete, healthy development of humanness is the highest level of God.
Can one who has taken birth to destroy not only the evilness of evil people but evil people themselves be called God? Destroying the evil people first in order to destroy the evil is what all people are doing. What is so special about God in this? God is he who destroys not the evil people but evil itself. To transform evil into good, poison into nectar, is the real and only godliness of God.
Only a renunciate is without fear in this world. He is really the emperor of emperors. What does he care about? What is he worried about? A saint has written about such a poor but happy renunciate.Desire has gone, worry is over and mind is without care,
Either follow others or let others follow you. You have to do one of the two. If you do not like to follow others and if you do not have the capability to make others follow you then what should you feel sorry about?
Great man does not become great through learning or training. That immortal stream of greatness is hidden inside himself and springs out by itself at proper time. Who teaches a rose to bloom? Who teaches a cuckoo to sing? Nobody!
Importance of man does not lie in greatness of wealth but in the greatness of heart. Therefore those who praise Indian culture have said, ”Oh man, your mind should be great.”
Ordinary men remain in search of an opportunity to show their own importance. Their whole life passes thus but they do not get that opportunity for doing and showing some important work.
But in the case of great people opportunities come to them by themselves. Not only that, they use even the smallest, unimportant opportunity by turning it into a big one. Every moment of life is an important opportunity if you are able to use it for some important work.
In order to remain ever young it is essential that no kind of weakness, frustration, lack of vigour are ever brought in the mind. Weakness of mind is more horrible than that of the body. Youth is nothing but the ever-new waves of joy and those occur in the mind and not in the body.
If storms are coming, let them. Who is afraid? I am not a flickering wick of a lamp that will extinguish just by whiff of breath. I am that burning ember, which, after being hit by a storm, flares high, spreads, burns itself and burns others too. I welcome troubles and misfortunes from my heart. It does not matter how many troubles, pains, calamities, failures come, with proper opportunity I shall only progress, not retreat
Industry is everything. Accomplishment is the greatest power of all. Bread does not go by itself to the mouth - a deer does not enter lion’s mouth. A sleeping man is like a dead body. Waking, rising and going ahead is nothing but a victory procession. One who searches, finds -- “One who enters deep waters finds the treasure.”
Today’s human society is badly crushed in the mill of fatalism. Whoever you meet says, “It was written in destiny that I should suffer so I am suffering. What can I do?” Destiny makes you useless. It signals frustration.
I have noticed that thousands of people are afraid to get out of their homes. They hesitate and they cry. There is the urge to enjoy in their subconscious mind but no urge for action. There is no thrill in their life, nor any new ideas. When people hide their weakness under the name of patriotism then I ask them, --- Which is the country of the sun, the moon and the stars and which is the foreign country for them? For those progressive people who know how to march ahead every moment in the sun, in shade, in cold, in heat, the whole world is their country.Which is the foreign country for Jnanayogis? None!
Sons drinking saline water from their father’s well cannot be called good sons. Good sons are those who drink sweet water no matter from how far and under what difficulties they have to bring it.
What is the difference between the brave and the coward? Only of a step. A brave person’s steps march forward while the coward’s steps retreat in the reverse. A brave leaves behind him on the battlefield his ideal. He becomes immortal even after death. A coward turns his face from the battlefield, runs away and dies a dog’s death.
Are you an accomplisher? If you are then why this laziness? Why this yawning? For you Himalayas are not too high nor the ocean too deep. If you awaken the forces within you then the whole world is within one step. If you want you can change hate into love, enmity into friendship, darkness into light, death into life. In other words you can transform hell into heaven.