I was born in Poona, Maharashtra-India, the 6th child and 3rd female.
I grew up in a family with ancestors on both sides of Jain religious
heritage. My forefathers were from Rajasthan and my grandfather
had immigrated to the southern Maharastra. They were all business
people. As far as I know none of my ancestors was an academic achiever-scholar
or a doctor. Life was simple and content for the most part.
When I was sixteen, my mother died very suddenly, leaving behind
a motherless family. Her sudden death was both a surprise and shock.
Due to infection she would vomit a lot so she was admitted to the
hospital, where she was well taken care of. She was about to be
released from the hospital when her symptoms recurred. It was during
this time that I witnessed my dad holding my mother's hand and chanting
the Namokar mantra*.
Jain nuns were also invited to give blessings to my mother; they
also chanted the Namokar mantra along with other mantras. Although
I chanted the Namokar mantra every morning and at bedtime as a family
norm, seeing my dad and the nuns chant at this moment had a whole
different meaning. I remember chanting day and night praying for
my mom's recovery. She died in a couple of days. This was my first
encounter with death. My mother was a very kind and loving woman,
piously dedicated to her family. This was the family's first major
loss and we missed mom a lot. For the first time I saw my father
and older siblings cry profusely.
According to the traditions, on the third day we were taken to the
Jain monks for consolation and advised to stop mourning and return
to daily life. It was then I remember very distinctly that Shree
Acharya Anandrishiji Maharaja looked most compassionately at each
of us, as if drinking up all the sorrow we were in. The memories
of his compassionate look and caring words still bring peace to
me. The whole family was ordained as his disciples and he became
our Spiritual Guru. We were given certain vows and revised instructions
on being Jains. I remember returning with a sense of strength; there
were smiles on our faces and a renewed sense of bonding. The power
of the Guru was an aid in the healing process because the guru was
a powerful and spiritually evolved being.
This was my first memorable and intimate encounter with the Jain
guru, after which we visited him and other Jain nuns and monks (saints)
for darshan* and discourses on several occasions.It has been interesting
to learn how one's relationship with a more spiritually powerful
being can bring healing just by remembering his presence long after
my Guru's death.
The death of my mother was a major turning point in my life. The
sense of being a child, a youngster was lost. I suddenly felt much
older and mature, self reliant and self confident. I thought of
myself as a person who could make things happen. I was suddenly
the responsible child in the family. I had the notion that I could
remove every one's pain.
The family was held together by a determined father with a reputation
for uncommon sense and a great respect for education. He encouraged
and provided each one of us siblings opportunities to obtain advanced
professional degrees. Jain education and spiritual practices were
equally encouraged and demonstrated by him.
Over the years I have understood Jainism to be about abstaining
from violence as a way of life and to extend love and respect toward
all forms of life. Non-injury from a very cellular level to a global
level in words, thoughts and action based on self-restraint. Every
form of life is revered and encouraged and allowed to live; the
Jain motto being 'Live and Let Live'.
Growing up in a classical Jain environment, I was among Jain saints
who practiced nonviolence and asceticism, to extreme limits. For
example, they covered their mouth with a fine cloth mask to ensure
that they did not involuntarily "kill" any living organism
in the air around them while breathing. They carried a cotton broom
called Ogha with which they cleared their path before stepping forward.
Other classical Jain ways included no use of electrical energy.
Most of the activities like dinner were taken care of before sunset
to avoid harming any living thing that may not be visible in the
dark. Most of the saints practiced silence and performed evening
meditation called pratikraman, which is a time and ritual for reflection
and confession, considered an essential form of self care.
Growing up I enjoyed being in the company of the nuns and monks.
I travelled with them on foot. I served them by inviting them for
food, running small errands for them and helping them learn english.
These were my ways of enjoying their company and guidance. I relished
being in their company and witnessing their way of compassion towards
life. I very much liked their white clothing and their equinamity.
Both the monks and the nuns had a special liking for me. Many would
be eager to teach me different mantras and shlokas or simply hand
me a rosary and have me repeat Namokar Mantra and other Jain prayers.
While I recited my mantras on the rosary I was to breathe with awareness
At the monastary the saints encouraged me to practice the Jain form
of meditation called Samayika. Samayika is an exercise in attaining
equanimity, in which the individual engages with the true self through
increasing detachment from all external objects and passions. The
detachment entails a temporary renunciation of all possessions before
sitting in meditation. The ritual included forgiving, and begging
forgiveness of, the entire world of beings. Sometimes Samayika was
performed in the form of silent meditation; it could also be performed
while studying a religious text, repeating sacred phrases (mantra)
or hymns or listening to a sermon.
As a part of this ritual, different Jain prayers were recited. Meri
Bhavana was one of the prayers and has been one of my favorite prayer.
Its essence is:
May I be friendly towards all beings,
May I delight in the qualities of the virtuous ones,
May I practice utmost compassion for afflicted beings,
May I be equinamous towards those who are not well- disposed towards
May my soul have such dispositions as these forever.
I learnt Jains are the followers of "Jina". Jina are spiritual
victors-human teachers who have attained infinite knowledge and
professed that there is eternal liberation (moksha) from worldly
suffering after the bonds of spiritual ignorance are broken. The
very word Jain is derived from jina, meaning conqueror. Conquest
over ones passions was the goal in life. Particularly important
are anger, pride, deceit and greed. Since these are sources resulting
from individual and collective violence in thought, word and action,
these are the most dangerous enemies of personal and world peace.
Jains live by the theme of self-conquest which is supremely important
to them. I learnt that Mahavira, although usually accepted as the
founder of the faith in the context of history, is said to be the
last of a line of 24 Jina. All of them are said to have attained
perfect wisdom (Kaivalya) by vanquishing their desires and breaking
their bonds with the material world. The Jinas are known as Tirthankara
("crossing-makers"). The "crossing" refers to
the passage from the material to the spiritual realm, from bondage
According to Jainism there is no personal God which is assumed by
most religions, nor a single impersonal absolute reality. Jainism
does not believe in a creator-God, that controls the destinies of
men. Man is not dependent on any external force. Jainism emphasises
that one's karma or actions alone are responsible for one's bondage.
It regards each living being as an independent jiva (soul). The
fundamental principle of life is based on the fact that there exists
a spiritual and physical symbiosis and that cause and effect have
profound impact on life. The Jain path of purification to liberate
oneself is by choosing the right Faith, acquiring the right Knowledge
and finally observing the right Conduct.
One of the important aspects of Jainism is the concept of anekaantvaad,
or the principle of plurality of viewpoints. It is central to the
ideas of tolerance and mutual respect. And that each person has
a perception of the world which is a mixture of truth and ignorance.
All perceptions are valid but incomplete views of reality. This
concept was usually explained with the aid of the parable of seven
blind men and an elephant* . Demonstrating that truth can be visualized
from seven angles and are mere additions to the human knowledge.
When viewed together, they present the picture of universal reality.
I recently read that Mahatma Gandhi agreed with this, saying, "It
has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view,
and often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know
we are both right from our respective points of view."
Practising Jainism meant undertaking religious practices involving
various self-imposed restraints while adhering to the commitment
to nonviolence. Eating vegetarian meals is the norm, as is also
following a life long code of conduct which is spelled out negatively
as the rejection of falsehood, theft, lust, greed and violence.
The highest virtue is the total abjuration of any thought or action
which can hurt a living being.
We as Jains observed a very special annual rite called Samvastsari.
This is the last of the eight day period known as Paryusana-parva
during which we abstained from various foods, and activities to
minimize violence and spend time in meditation re-examining our
actions over the year. We also would go through confessions and
admissions of any wrong doings accompanying pleas for forgiveness
to both family and friends and extending forgiveness to all beings.
Much of the time was spent practicing different forms of meditation,
chanting or reading religious books for all eight days.
Teachings of peace, love and forgiveness were instilled in me both
at home and at the convent school where I was educated. Since we
lived in a small apartment, collecting or accumulating possessions
beyond what was needed was not practical. Non-accumulation or possession
beyond immediate need is another Jain norm.
So living by the basic tenants of Jainism: non-violence, truth,
non-possession, non-stealing, and celibacy, was very easy for the
most part while I was growing up. Being the second youngest in the
family, I was taken care of by my older siblings and father. There
was another Jain family norm to tolerate pain and inconvenience
in life. Anger had no obvious place. The feeling of brotherhood,
the spirit of sharing with others and the quality of self reliance
were the values to be cultivated and nourished. Needs and desires
beyond the basics were not to be fulfilled. Education was the top
priority. Life was easy.
TO THE UNITED STATES
In 1985 I left for the US to pursue doctoral studies in biochemistry.
I was thousands of miles away from home and family. This was a critical
phase of my development-I was
challenged to change structures and my way of life. I found myself
in the midst of a cultural milieu which provided little in the way
of reinforcement for a non-violent way of life. My major culture
shock included the prevalence of sex and violence. I was surrounded
by people and places where meat eating was a way of life. In India
I had never been at a table where meat was served or eaten.
I was surrounded by material abundance leading to wastage or accumulation.
My first day at the graduate assistant meeting I was shocked when
the supervisor threw a bundle of white paper in the trashcan because
of a typographical error. In India we never threw paper in the trash
not even the newspaper. It was recycled by taking it back to places
where it was taken in exchange for money.
I was to establish a sense of personal identity. I missed home.
I missed family, I missed being taken care of by my siblings. I
missed friends and I missed the sense of belonging, a sense of connection.
Over a year things got a little comfortable. I was sharing an apartment
with two other Indian room mates. I met several others like myself
who had come from different countries and were in search of community
and sense of belonging. I had company in my sense of being lost.
Being brought up with the Jain teachings, I was aware of the suffering
caused by unmindful consumption and how important it was to cultivate
good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family and
my society by mindful eating, drinking and consuming. The Jain upbringing
had me determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or
foods derived from animals. Much of the practices helped me to keep
away from TV programs, books, films and conversations that would
damage my body or consciousness.
I became a high-achiever. I looked very successful in the eyes of
the world. I was a doer-a master of planning and control. To me,
to be successful in the US meant to jump through a series of hoops
to achieve financial security, professional achievement and material
well being. The pace and style of life and lack of time bred separation,
not only from others, but also from myself. My life appeared to
be an endless treadmill. I was good at being productive and efficient
but always felt stressed, tired and caught in a way of living that
left no space to breathe.
In 1988 I went to a Jain celebration in Cleveland. Acharya Sushil
Muniji was the keynote speaker. He was known to me for his unprecedented
and highly controversial international tour: although Jain monks
and nuns are permitted to travel solely by foot Acharya Sushil Muniji
had recognized the wisdom in breaking from this ancient restraint
in order to share Lord Mahavir's message of non-violence, peace
and oneness of all living beings with the world at large. In his
presentation he emphasized that living as Jains meant living to
our full potential with humility and simplicity. He challenged everyone
to reassess their understanding of life and the way they lived.
Living as Jains is a way of life of consciousness and compassion.
Jains are people who wish to create the future in partnership with
nature. His essential message that night was that the only way of
healing and restoration of peace in the violence torn world was
He emphasized the healing effects of the Namokar mantra4, and said
that the Namokar mantra is the basic mantra for healing of mind,
body and spirit in a combination of color, breathing, sound and
inner body systems. He explained that the Mantra represented five
colors: white, red, yellow or orange, green or blue, and black.
And that the mantra repetition with color visualization is a very
healing practise. He further explained how the mantra helps to awaken
the energy stored at the base of the spine. Subtle breath or prana
is constantly produced at this center, and with the help of the
mantra its quantity and force can be increased. He led us through
a long meditation keeping us aware of our breathing process. This
is a form of yoga called pranayama which focuses on the regulation
of the breath. Pranayama literally means regulation or control of
prana, the life force. He said "Mind, body and breath should
move together. Focus your mind and do one work at a time. This is
I had the good fortune of being in the company of a Jain monk after
several years. I came out of the meditation refreshed and renewed,
with a sense of being whole and at home. A new life, and a new awareness
had been awakened once more in me. Meditation had a healing effect
on me. After that meeting I had several occasions to study and meditate
under his guidance. I relearned much about Jainism, yoga and meditation
as tools to increase the power of the mind and body, and to create
a state of well-being and inner peace. He became my guru in the
It was interesting to be aware that all the technological progress
we are after contributes to the achievement of fundamental freedoms
in society. Einstein's writing put more light to this awareness
"Man should not have to work for the achievement of necessities
of life to such an extent that he has neither time nor strength
for personal activities... Advances in technology would provide
the possibility of this kind of freedom.. The development of science
and of the creative activities of the spirit in general requires
still another kind of freedom,... Only if outward and inner freedom
are constantly and consciously pursued is there a possibility of
spiritual development and perfection and thus improving man's outward
and inner life."5
COMMITMENT BECOMES PARAMOUNT
When I had completed all my course work as a graduate student, I
went on to research on wound healing, a continuation of my interest
in wound healing from India. I was involved with testing the biocompatibility
of polymers which were being designed as dressing materials for
wounds. This involved harvesting and culturing macrophages from
mice peritoneum and stimulating these with polymers. All along I
was uneasily aware that doing research with animals was not congruent
with the Jain principles of reverence for life. My work was now
being supervised by my Ph.D advisor for whom I had developed great
respect because of the compassion and caring he extended to the
struggles of international students. With him I was able to discuss
my internal turmoil and come to an arrangement of having a technician
do the animal sacrifice for me. This was still violence in disguise
for me and continues to be a personal and an ethical dilemma.
Being Jain and aware of the suffering caused by the destruction
of life, I took this time to re-examine and re-evaluate the principles
of nonviolence and vowed to cultivate compassion and was determined
not to kill, and not to condone acts of killing, both in my thinking
Not long thereafter, with encouragement and support from my advisor
I enrolled in a course on alternatives to violence*. My advisor's
support and the course have been a great help and influence during
my early struggles in living a nonviolent lifestyle in the West.
Upon completion of the Ph.D. program, I received a postdoctoral
fellowship at Case Western Reserve University. By then I had a certain
light hearted attitude towards life and research. I was to work
on a research hypothesis which I had designed as a graduate student.
I was very excited about the research project. With good fortune
I was in a position to collaborate with a skillful biochemist and
an excellent researcher whose guidance I very much wanted, yet in
one of our discussions he was so frustrated that he said "are
you sure you have a Ph.D, you don't seem to be bright". I felt
very sad and scared because I was considered to be a good scientist
and productive researcher, so far. My identity was in jeopardy.
In that moment I considered myself a failure since he was a very
reknowned scientist; his words were the truth to me. This was a
very painful experience. After spending three hours of crying and
breathing I returned to his office renewed with compassion and said
"Can I spend a few moments in your luminous presence so that
I can brighten myself". By then I think he was aware of what
had happened and was very kind to me ever after. Particularly rewarding
at this time was the reminder to breathe. At this point I found
and understood that the best antidote to any violence was to breathe.
This has been one of the most exciting and major turning points
in my development. Toward the end of the fellowship we had published
three papers together. And my continued association with him has
meant a great deal to me. After that day, my "Ph.D" stood
for "Psychologically healthy and Delightful".
In those three hours of breathing, I was aware of the suffering
caused by unmindful speech and inability to listen to others. I
affirmed my own convictions to cultivate loving speech and deep
listening in order to bring joy and happiness to my fellow beings
and relieve them of their sufferings if possible. After understanding
that words can create happiness or suffering I am now much more
conscious to learn ways to speak truthfully, with words that inspire
self confidence, joy, and hope. The principle of nonviolence had
a newer and much deeper meaning.
The time spent to breathe and cry was the time I allowed myself
to stop and get the benefit of experiencing and reacting with freshness,
taking time to remove any prejudice and restriction. This to me
was meditation in its own form. Making time to meditate on a regular
basis as a regular practice has made it easy to take time in moments
of conflict and confusion. This approach gives meaning to my own
reactions at a greater depth. By my practice, I am encouraged and
assured to break free from denial, excercise free will and operate
on beneficial beliefs and enhance the feel for my inner self and
wisdom. Meditation has served me as a tool to sense renewed empowerment.
The centering of myself in the midst of life's stresses and uncertainties
rebalances my body's vital energies. This is the process of re-establishing
inner peace or connecting with self.
I grew up in an environment with the best of Jainism, Christianity
and Hinduism, but when I came to the US, none of the teachings at
first seemed to apply to my day to day life. I had to feel my way
through explosive situations, and out of these experiences, I became
more and more convinced of the healing power and usefulness of nonviolence-Ahimsa.
Mahatma Gandhi stumbled upon nonviolence when he himself was not
a pacifist at heart. As a poor lawyer in South Africa he suffered
certain indignities and saw other human begins suffer indignities,
so he set out to correct these sufferings. He did not start out
with a developed philosophy but gradually created his original way
of life. Ahimsa paramo dharma: "Nonviolence is the supreme
religion"-this Jain motto was adopted by Mahatma Gandhi bringing
much healing to the world. We must endeavor to practice ahimsa to
the best of our abilities and understand it through our own experiences.
CONNECTING WITH SELF Jainism's paramount emphasis has been on inner
peace, self discipline and non-violent ways of life in action, speech
and thought. And it believes that a core wisdom, an inner knowing,
is inherent to human nature. According to Jain teachings, violence
and suffering are the result of disconnectedness from the knowledge
of who we are. Man is ill because he cannot sit still. Indeed there
is scientific evidence that disconnectedness in life impairs both
the mind and body (6-7).
It is only through outward expression in action that the inner self
can be known. It is when we feel connected with our self that energy
flows through us abundantly; we feel truly alive, potent, excited,
fulfilled, absorbed; we experience life in the moment. This is the
creative life force flowing through us. At these moments we begin
to recognize that the same force flows through all life forms. We
sense the unity, the connection of all life.
Hippocrates has said that the natural force within each one of us
is the greatest healer of disease.
Connecting with self means connecting with our inner wisdom; being
congruent with our own feelings and values. One of the ancient techniques
of getting in touch with our inner wisdom is meditation. This involves
a systematic practice of mental habits that reduce painful mind
states, encouraging us to exchange anger for forgiveness, fear for
love and curse for blessing.
Meditation is used here to describe a number of different uses of
the mind, from concentration on breath, contemplation and concentration
to devotion and chanting. The word itself is probably derived from
the same root as the Latin word 'mederi' meaning 'to heal', and
meditation can certainly be looked at as a healing process, both
emotionally and mentally and to a certain extent physically too.
The word "heal" comes from the Indo-European root "to
make whole". Thus anything that promotes a sense of connectedness
is healing. In other words healing is the restoration of our wholeness
of mind, body and spirit. Anything that promotes a sense of isolation
may lead to dis-ease. Science is also now beginning to prove what
the ancient mystics and yogis have experienced through the ages
concerning the latent powers in man. Scientists, parapsycologists
and occultists have experimented extensively, proving the validity
of mental telepathy, E.S.P., existence of the aura and etheric body,
color therapy, psychic healing and more. Tests have shown how the
state of mind affects physical health. Vegetarianism and natural
foods, relaxation meditation and yoga have proved to increase the
productivity of the mind and body, and to create a state of well-being
and inner peace.
Regular practice of meditation is to allow ourselves time for compassionate
alternatives to arise from the heart which will have long lasting
consequences versus immediate solutions. Buddha in his teachings
also emphasised the importance of just standing in the face of confusion.
This is not about passivisity but about reaching down to our inner
core for direction and strength. It does take great courage, commitment,
and vigilance to live in accord with the doctrine of nonviolence
in a culture whose values are antithetical to this compassionate
ethic of noninjury.
There is a story of a man in search of truth, who once came to a
master to ask for instruction. "Where are the gates of heaven
and where are the gates of hell?" inquired the man. "Now
why would a scurvy knave like yourself be asking such a question?"
replied the master. In a flash of rage the man drew his sword. "Here
open the gates of hell," remarked the master. At these words,
perceiving the master's discipline, the man sheathed his sword.
"Now open the gates of heaven," observed his teacher.
Meditation can be used as the key to find steadiness in our choice
of nonviolence over violence in our mind. It proves instrumental
in the process of winning the inner negotiation-with fears, greed,
insecurities and vanities knowing success in any endeavor in the
outer realm depends upon this anyways. Being able to stop and breathe
and take a moment to take a second quiet look at the situation helps
to connect with our inner core which is the source and base of our
inner wisdom. That is why you relax to meditate not meditate to
relax. Meditation is about awareness expansion.
The following is a model illustrating how to be at peace within
and without, developed with the help of Kent Haines, a friend, who
has been a wittness and a mentor in my struggles to put my knowledge
and understanding of Jainism and meditation to practical use in
daily life conflicts. The most important thing he taught me both
by instruction and by example, was how to be at peace within and
how the inner peace then manifests itself outside. I shall always
be grateful for his kindness and patience. He has a wide knowledge
of pshycology and spirituality, which I admire and use but have
not yet been able to emulate.
model illustrates a simple choice between two pathways.
more travelled" is the road which leads to violence, the path
due to our actions which arise out of instant reactions. The alternative
path is the road which is less travelled. It is the path of nonviolence.
IS ALWAYS A BREATH AWAY
According to Jainism life is all whole and complete yet is ever
changing. There is no beginning or end, only a constant cycling
and recycling of substances and experiences. Life is full of new
and fresh moments and never static, giving us the power to create
our own circumstances. With right knowledge, right faith and right
conduct we know that we have choice in every action and that every
moment is a new beginning point which is in the here and now.
According to the model in a state of unrest or dis-ease, (dis-ease
is referred to a state of our mind of confusion, restlessness and
conflict), or in other words, any situation that upsets you-unmet
needs, expectations, disappointments, broken commitments, and several
others which could be the cause of violence and suffering-can be
seen as an opportunity for profound learning. This can be described
as the state of emptiness8 which is made up of many feelings. Emptiness
is the first reaction to the stimulus of injury. The stimulus can
be any agent, action or condition that will provoke emotional upset
inside a person. After emptiness comes the feeling of hurt, a wave
of pain, suffering,or distress. Then comes the emotional upset or
anger and the reaction. When we are not at peace about something
and our reactions reflect judgmentalness, self righteousness, dominance,
one-upmanship, selfishness, accumulation of power, this is an indication
that we have by-passed emptiness and chosen the road more travelled.
Taking time to stop and breathe in the emptiness long enough we
may give ourselves the choice of reacting out of love or in ways
that nurture emotional and spiritual growth. The act of connecting
with self becomes a tool for learning in the midst of upsetting
situations. This is the point when we can use our internal wisdom
or internal sources of spiritual energy to transform, protect and
conserve life. Also as we learn to become comfortable and accept
our own internal self, we become more accepting of the other.
Mahatma Gandhi said that his only weapon against violence was a
mute prayer. Probably he meant being with the emptiness in the face
of violence. Since every living thing has a divine spark, an image
of God, getting in touch with self means being in touch with the
God within ourself. This is the prayer which heals.
The approach of sitting still has been advocated since ancient times.
Buddha sat still under a tree. Jesus sat still in a garden, Mohammed
sat sit in a cave, and Gandhi and King and thousands of others have
brought sitting still to perfection as a powerful tool of social
change. They became the light of the world as they brought themselves
to a state of consciousness. Their presence and memory is like a
rock in our community, a rock of Silence exuding peace. Beautiful
things might happen if enough people did this on a regular basis
making it a way of living. The choice point of taking the path of
emptiness over emotional upset is fear. The ability to be in emptiness
is letting go of fear, in a way that you move through the fear making
contact and containing the fear. It is in this letting go of fear
that love arises. At any point where we are functioning out of fear,
where we may be feeling very angry, critical, and disapproving of
the situation. This is the path which is more commonly followed
or the one with an attachment to our desires. In this choice we
hold back, we become closed to learning, and our ability to love
is not available in the moment.
The other path is the path of non-attachment and often leads to
a more objective view of self-even when those actions create fears
and discomfort. Non-attachment is not about disengaging, an illusion
that I will not feel anything and that I will be insulated and safe.
Non-attachment is being fully engaged in the Gestalt psychology
sense of 'contact', and not being blown around by whats going on
in the environment, but being mindful and making choices which are
life enhancing and life enriching. On this path you choose to go
into the state of emotional emptiness which is the price you pay
for change or an outcome of love, peace and healing. This is the
path on which you bring God into being. Once you experience what
is emptiness and learn to be in it, you continue to have that ability
to choose emptiness. Being on this path becomes comfortable and
to some extent easy with practice and much consciousness of self.
Because it takes time to turn our insights and awarenesses into
behaviors, and to actually embody nonviolence we need to organize
quiet spaces in our daily life. The regular quiet and reflective
time helps the integration of what we already know at a deeper level
into our daily ways of being. Travel on this path is additive or
spiral rather than linear.
Being in emptiness is going into the unknown. We do not need any
deep metaphysics but to come to an understanding the simple little
truth that the still small Voice is the power that destroys the
illusions of this world, as Goldsmith9 describes.
Being in emptiness is a feeling process, being in contact with the
pleasant and the unpleasant feelings. It is an act of being engaged
but not attached. Non-attachment is being open to the infinite possibilities,
noticing our will and intent to control the outcome, being in emptiness
then means to be able to override this need to control or let go
of the attachment to the outcome. Its being with self as an on going
experience in the present, whatever that is. Even with its unpleasantness,
it proves to be nourishing. Any judging or comparing in thinking
in these moments of emptiness rejects and takes you from yourself.
Making a regular time to meditate when you practice being in the
present moment and experience the firm support, the balance, the
center of ongoing, changing experience makes choosing emptiness
in moments of conflict possible.
Choosing emptiness is a process of centering where you act with
integrity and harmony. It is to simply observe and be open and allow
ourselves to that which is natural, harmonious, and appropriate.
It is being in the space of the spirit. Its a way of getting to
know self, both who I am 'inside' and how I react to what is 'outside'.
By being in the emptiness I discover a very different 'me' to perhaps
the stressed and troubled person that seems to be my superficial
nature. As self-awareness and the clear communication with the self
improve, creative problem-solving skills also increase. It takes
much courage to inspect the inside and find things that you think
are bad. Getting in touch with the stillness inside is a way to
remember that you are more than just your thoughts and reactions-rather
you enlarge yourself to include everything. You start to see yourself
separate from the struggle and experience a harmonious connection
between ourselves, our planet and a Higher self or the God within.
Being in emptiness can be likened to that of being in the "focusing
attitude" which is described by Gendlin10 as, 'An attitude
of being gentle and friendly to whatever is there. Allowing, waiting,
being with. The opposite of controlling, pushing forcing, judging,
criticizing. More important than the technique. A quiet, listening
presence to our inside places that allows them to speak and tell
their story. Creates a "Safe Place" inside where hurts
can speak and give meaning.
Finally what the world really needs is healing and regeneration.
Celebrating the gift of life we all share. Untill the very recent
past healing has been considered largely the prerogative of the
medical profession. However, in recent years, several religious
institutions in the West have turned their attention to the idea
that healing of mind, body, and personal relationships is as much
a function of religious institutions as of the doctor's office.
This looks like an age when science is growing closer to religion
GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
In conclusion, growing up with Jain heritage and environment, has
meant learning practical and ethical tools for living a restrained,
tolerant and non-violent life. Jainism has taught me that all life
is sacred, and that every living being has a special place in the
universe: parasparopagrapho jivanam -meaning that all life is bound
together by mutual support and interdependence.
As a scientist, I know that a cell is the basic unit of life, and
that DNA/chromosomes carry a similar inner knowing. Several cells
come together to form tissue, several tissues form organs and several
organs together form a human body functioning on the basis of interdependence
and connectedness. Similarly, each human is a basic unit in the
body of humanity. All of us live in organizations called families,
which together form communities, these together form nations, several
nations together, we have the world. From the very basic level to
the global level it is each single human being that contributes
to the the communities well-being and in turn are sustained by it.
The interrelationship between communities and the environment plays
an important role in our survival. One's health and well being are
dependendent on others. If we want a peaceful world, we must start
with becoming peaceful ourselves. As we ourselves become more healthy
and more alive, each of us will set in motion a ripple that affects
"YOU MUST BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE
WORLD" - MAHATMA
Glimpses of Jainism by S. C.Diwaker, Jain Mitra Mandal, Delhi, India
That which is by Umaswati, translated by Nathmal Tatia, edited by
Kerry Brown and Sima Sharma, HarperCollins Publishers. USA 1994.
The Jaina Path of Purification by Padmanabh S. Jaini, University
of California Press, 1979.
Song of the Soul by H.H. Acharya Sushil Kumarji Maharaj, Siddhachalam
Publishers, New Jersey 1987.
Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein, based on Mein Weltbild edited
by Carl Seeling,Crown Publishers, New York, 1954; Souvenir Press,
The Neurophysiology of Enlightenment by Wallace, Robert Keith. Fairfield,
IA: Maharishi International University Neuroscene Press, 1986.
Full Catastrophe Living by Kabat Zinn, Jon. New York; Delacorte
Thomas Fogarty in Family Therapy vol 3
The Thunder of Silence by Joel S. Goldsmith, Harper and Row Publishers,
New York, 1961.
Focusing by Eugene T Gendlin, Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc,
New York, 1981.
Universal Jain prayer-paying obeisance or surrendering to the liberated
and detachted souls in the process of attaining liberation.
literally, sight or vision: having darshan of a saint, sage, or
deity means being in his or her presence and receiving a blessing
by being there.
In the parable of seven blind persons it is said that they were
describing various parts of the elephant as the whole elephant.
This led them to quarrel. One who had the feet described the elephant
as a pillar and one who had touched the ears affirmed it to be a
fan and so on. A passer-by found out the real cause of their quarrel
and said "Each one of you is correct. The mistake is that you
have the knowledge of partial truth which you supppose to be the
whole truth about the elephant. If all your statements are properly
combined we would get the complete description of the elephant."
A course in solving conflict peacefully.