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NONVIOLENCE AND IT 'S MANY FACETS

by Acharya  Mahapragya

OUR LIFESTYLE AND NONVIOLENCE:
THE ROOT OF NONVIOLENCE:
NONVIOLENCE AND MEDITATION
NON VIOLENCE AND FOOD
NONVIOLENCE AND THE YOGIC POSTURES:
DEVELOPMENT OF A NONVIOLENT PERSONALITY:
NONVIOLENCE AND FEARLESSNESS

: [] Revolution and Non-violence [] Non-Violence And Bravery Nonviolence []  A Solution To War [] A Challenge To Non-violence     By :   Acharya Tulsee

OUR LIFESTYLE AND NONVIOLENCE:

The question arises as to how violence was born in man.  His forbears- the primates-ha already learnt the art of living together. Some other mammals had learnt it earlier.  Then when and how did man become violent?  This is an unanswered question.

Man too is a social animal.  He lives in society together with other fellow beings.  But social life by its very definition implies a life of interrelatedness.   These relations have multiple bases.  To satisfy his sex instinct man built the institution of the family and new relations came into being. He made friends to indulge his felling of affection.  His ego gave him a feeling o exclusiveness.   More new relationships were born.  But all of them were based on the utility principle.  By themselves they have produced what might be called practical nonviolence.  Members of the family and friends do not normally fight with or torment one another. But is it true nonviolence?  It certainly is not, for even the slightest case involving selfish interests explodes the relationship.  This is true of husband and wife, brother and brother an all such relationships.  Examples are not lacking where one has even murdered the other.  Thus we must distinguish between what we have called practical nonviolence and true spiritual nonviolence, since the former is based on selfishness. It works through our behaviour only so long as our selfish interests are not threatened.  Thus it is clear that merely because man is a social animal, he cannot be regarded as a supporter of a non-violent society.

The question- 'How was violence born in man? if seen in the above light turns out to be basically faulty.  It (the question) is the result of a wrong understanding.  When our as well as society's entire life style is based on practical nonviolence, on the slightest pretext violence can flare up anywhere- in the family, between communities, castes and sects.  Those researching into nonviolence have, I am afraid , not fully grasped this truth.  That is why they keep asking the question: 'How was violence born in man?' For a proper understanding of the whole matter, they have to first understand the concept of spiritual nonviolence.  Merely living together on the basis of practical nonviolence is no guarantee of true and lasting violence.

There are many factors responsible for violence.  We will go into them a little later.  The point to be noted here is that that violence prevalent in society cannot be put to an end without developing spiritual nonviolence and basing our life style on it.  Let us then discuss what is meant by spiritual nonviolence.  It is based on the unity and equality of all souls - souls of all sentient.  Once we know that every living being is subject to pain and pleasure in the same manner as we and that therefore we must never inflict any pain on them, never oppress and exploit them, never rob them of their rights, we are on our way to realizing the meaning of spiritual nonviolence.  And it is only  this nonviolence that can prevent the arson, loot, rioting and killings going on in society. 

Everyone is familiar with Tamerlane, the cruel despot.  He thought he could change the people using savage force and punishment, little realizing that it is only change of heart that can do so.  Once three men were brought to him, of whom the first two were put to death.  The third turned out to be the poet Ahmed.  He asked the poet to evaluate the price of the two men who had been killed.  Ahmed said they were each worth 500 sovereigns.  'How about me?' asked Tameriane.  The poet said that he was only worth two sovereigns. This infuriated the tyrant.  He said that this costume alone was worth the money quoted. Ahmed replied that was exactly what he had evaluated, for as far as Tamerlane was concerned he was worth nothing, he being a man without any sympathy, kindness and feeling of justice.

The story has a lesson to teach.  For evaluating somebody's or something's true worth the behavioural angle is utterly misleading, because it can evaluate only external things and attributes.  Inner worth is best assessed spiritually.  As far as nonviolence is concerned, we talk profusely but think very little about it.   Talk we have to, because it is recognized by everyone that nonviolence is essential for a happy and peaceful life.  Unfortunately the above consciousness is confined to practical nonviolence, which, as we have seen, works on the utility principle.   Spiritual nonviolence has been all but ignored and so we have not experienced the unity and equality of souls. 

Preksha Meditation enjoins its practitioners to perceive the soul by the soul, which also means that the tendency to look at the utilitarian style of living must be eschewed and the ability to look at the spiritual style must be cultivated.   Sadly enough, we are in the habit of seeing, recognizing and knowing only the practical aspects and we have completely neglected the spiritual aspect.  This is so because we have never understood the true meaning of nonviolence.  We must see both the aspects-the practical as well as spiritual.  The former is responsible for our laying the blame for everything on someone's door.  This to my mind has veritably destroyed all possibilities of our understanding true nonviolence.  When we have closed all openings for spiritual nonviolence and have opened all the doors and windows for relationships based on the utility principle, what right do we have to wish the violence to end?  The question 'How was violence born?' should not therefore baffle us, for the seeds of violence has made it almost impossible for the people to know and understand true nonviolence.  Under normal circumstances wehn we discover amity and fellow-feeling among the members of the same community, or among neighbours, we are led to believe that there is plenty of nonviolence in society, little knowing that what binds them all together is not so much nonviolence as the utility principle.  Once this principle come under strain violence erupts.  We have therefore to consider this matter with utmost seriousness. 

I believe that practicing meditation is a step towards spiritual excellence.   To meditate is to see oneself, which in turn means seeing and searching the real base of nonviolence.  It appears we have misunderstood the meaning of meditation.   Had it not been so , we would have given it much greater importance than to mere formal studies.  Today people value education because without it it is not possible to grow rich or get a good partner in marriage.  Since they have little or no thought of spiritual goodness, they do not think it necessary to strive for it.  If only we had given equal importance to both.

The search for spiritual nonviolence is not possible through scientific instruments or history or even genetics.  One has to investigate one's soul order to know one's identity, one's true self.  If will reveal to the investigator all those dispositions within him that encourage violence.  He will then try to find out whether those dispositions can be neutralized.  Such an analysis of the inner self is a pre-requisite for the search of true nonviolence, because the question of violence and nonviolence, even while being related to external factors, is in essence an internal matter.  And the root of the matter lies in man's dispositions.  Ironically sociologists, economists and psychologists think that it is the general atmosphere or external circumstances that are responsible for the rise of violence.  It is held that our behavior and conduct are governed by circumstances. Metaphorically such an understanding represents a situation in which the root is made to take place of branches and vice versa.  We are thus made to live under an illusion.  And the only way to destroy it is the practice of meditation.  The deeper one probes inside, the newer the truth one discovers- truths that defy scientific explanation.  We do not regard events that have happened as false simply because science has no explanation of them. Things are happening within us that science cannot explain, but they are all too true.   By looking into our inside we can get to know the truth and succeed in striking a balance between the practical and spiritual aspects of life.  We shall be able to answer the question how violence was born in man only after we have succeeded in integrating and balancing practical and spiritual nonviolence.

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THE ROOT OF NONVIOLENCE:

In the case of every problem man wants to search its roots and is not content until his search succeeds.  Where and in what does the root of violence lie?   Geneticists will locate it in the genes inherited from one's forefathers.  It would mean that man is helpless in the matter since he cannot control his heredity.   Psychologists trace violence to one of the basic instincts.  Environmental scientists blame it on the general atmosphere or circumstances surrounding a human being since his childhood.  Some philosophers attribute it to karmas.

Thus we are confronted with a plethora of views on the subject.  If we pause and think for a moment we find that teach one of them is partial or one-sided, though none of them can be termed wholly untrue.  We must take a holistic view.   But even this might provide the ultimate solution.  More serious thinking is needed.  Each of the theories based on genes, prime instincts, environment and karmas has more or less deterministic ring about it, which leaves one both pessimistic and helpless in the face of the inevitable.  However, the doctrine of karma also suggests the possibility of changing the karmas.  Then why can't other factors be changed?   The genes, the instincts, the environment-all can be changed.  The possibility of change kindles new hope in the heart.  After all, we can change: violence can change.

The key to change is the development of nonviolence.  But violence and nonviolence inhere in us.  Our mind also works in two ways: one dictates anger; the other counsels patience, puts the brakes on anger.  Both the instigating and the restraining tendencies are there.  Good and evil are both present in us.  The real question is which of the two we shall develop.  Which one shall we awaken and which one shall we put to sleep?

It is here that meditation has its role.  Through it we can awaken nonviolence and put violence to sleep.  It is then a question of proper awakening.   Unfortunately we are fully conscious of things material but totally unconscious of our selves.  Meditation makes us conscious of our selves.  It develops self-awareness.  Once self-awareness has dawned, nonviolence develops. 

We talked earlier of genes, instincts, environment and karmas.  Of these four, environment or the general atmosphere has an immediate impact on us and so deserves our attention first.  In this connection it is noteworthy that right from childhood man is exposed to violence, crime and immortality through the mass media-radio, television, cinema and newspapers.  No wonder crime and violence permeate modern society since the whole atmosphere is charged with them and nothing or very little is heard of nonviolence in general.  The worse the crime the bolder the banner headlines in newspaper.  What could be a better source of free publicity?  A radical change of policy is needed to reverse the situation.  The general atmosphere must improve minimizing people's exposure to undesirable activities.  Sex, greed, fear, suspicion and anger- they all breed violence.  However, while trying to improve the general tone of the media, it will have to be remembered that the root cause of violence can be removed only through spirituality or knowledge of the self. 

In nonviolence we veritably have the philosopher's stone that can change all dross into gold.  It is said that genes and instincts cannot be changed but karmas can certainly be, else there will be no relevance of penance, austerity  and the like. The need to change remains crucial.  Both the root and the branches have to be changed.  And as stated earlier, the most important and powerful means of bringing about complete change is meditation.  It alone has the power to develop nonviolence , self realization and the sense of unity and equality of all sentient.

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NONVIOLENCE AND MEDITATION:

As social beings all humans like nonviolence since it guarantees peace which in turn is a prerequisite for happiness.  The roots of violence are deep and extensive and therefore to destroy them is very difficult.  However, it is not impossible. The best way to do it is meditation.  Before discovering the relation between meditation and nonviolence it is necessary to find out the root cause of violence, as also the factors which provide sustenance to violence.

One of the most important factors is stress.  Violence is not possible in the absence of stress.  A relaxed person cannot commit violence.  The muscles get tense, the mind becomes tense and the feelings turn tense too.  Violence is the natural outcome.  Basically, of course most tension is born of an agitated mind.   There are two types of stress: that which is born of a sense of arrogance and that born of a sense of defeat.  To the former belong cases of stress arising out of anger and greed; to the latter those caused by despair, defeat and indolence.  Whatever the provenance, all types of tensions generate violence.  A hurt ego can spell disaster, so can the passions of anger and greed.  Similarly, desperation and defeat can also result violence, as is the case with most suicides.

Against the backdrop of tension or stress, it becomes meaningful to talk about meditation and nonviolence.  As noted above, the most potent antidote to stress of all kinds is meditation.  In fact the main aim of meditation is to free man from stress.  Kayotsarg (abandonment of the body, a motionless posture of meditation) and anupresksha or contemplation (reflection) are both a part of   meditation.  The former quickly relieves muscle tension even as dirgha svasa preksha ( perception of breath involving slow and complete exhalation and deep inhalation) totally removes all mental tension.  There are related techniques like indriya sanyam mudra   (meditational posture controlling the senses), jyoti kendra preksha (perception of the pineal gland), anitya anupreksha (contemplation of impermanence) and ekatva anupreksha ( contemplation of solitariness) which cure specific types of tension.  The main things being emphasized here is the efficacy of meditation as s complete cure for all varieties of stress and tension.

Another factor involved in violence is chemical imbalance.  When   there is an imbalance of glandular secretions of the body, people become violent.   Every endocrine gland has its specific functions.  What the pituitary gland does is different from what the pineal gland does and similarly the thyroid and the adrenal glands have their peculiar functions.  A harmonious functioning of these glands keeps a man balanced.  Any imbalance in the former results in an imbalance in the latter.  Meditation can restore the lost balance.  Chaitanya kendra preksha (perception of the psychic centres or the endocrine) is an effective means of curing the imbalance.  Concentration  on the jyoti kendra (the pineal), darshan kendra (the pituitary) vishuddhi kendra (the thyroid) and the tejas kendra ( the adrenals) balances the folw of hormones of the pineal, pituitary, thyroid and the adrenal glands respectively.   Such an understanding is duly backed by the findings of modern biochemistry.  Since violence can be ascribed to hormonal imbalance in the body, meditation turns out to be their best therapy. 

The third factor responsible for violence is an imbalance in the nadi tantra ( nervous system).  Occasionally we come across cases of motiveless violence.   When questioned the agents of such violence simply say that they resort to violence for no reason other then deriving joy.  This type of violence is due to an imbalance in the nervous system and its cure lies in samvritti shvas preksha ( exhaling breath through one nostril and inhaling through the other).  It requires alternate breathing through the two nostrils - inhaling through the left and exhaling through the right nostril and then in reverse order, and the repetition of the cycle.  Hath yoga recognizes two parts of the nervous system, the right being called pingla and the left ida.  In the language of medical science pingla is the sympathetic nervous system.  By practicing samvritti shvas preksha a balance between the two is created.  Besides, an internal trip (travel of the conscious mind from the bottom to the top of the spinal cord) also helps restore the balance.  Once the three parts of the nervous system-central, sympathetic and parasympathetic - start acting in a balanced manner, violence automatically disappears.

Another way of looking at the problem is in terms of the two attitudes - positive and negative.  Ordinarily  man has a preponderance of the latter.   Hatred, jealousy, fear and lust are all symptoms of a negative attitude and they are also the factors that contribute to violence.  Racism, casteism, and all other forms of discrimination generate violence due to the presence of the negative attitude.   There is a need to think positively making it impossible of the mind to harbor bad feelings for others.  Meditation develops positive thinking by insisting on practicing perception of the self.  Seeing oneself, introspection, anitya anupreksha (contemplation of impermanence) etc. are the sure means of developing positive thinking and eliminating negative thinking, the fourth factor responsible for violence.

The fifth element is being overbusy or exertion - mental, vocal and physical. Being busy and exerting are undoubtedly essential for life, but there should be a limit to them.  Today man has broken all limits and has become overbusy - a victim of overexertion.  The result again is violence.  Nature ordains a balance between work and rest, both physical and mental, and between speech and silence.  To stop unnecessary exertion of the body and the mind, as also of speech is to lead a disciplined life.  Observing silence just for an hour in the day will be a great boost for a balanced living.  Likewise, useless and unceasing thinking can prove unhinging.   So one again resting the mind for an  hour during the day -Keeping it free from all thoughts and prove immensely useful.  Physical discipline, vocal discipline and mental discipline are intrinsic to meditation.  By practicing all the three of them we can severely restrain violence.

Look at the pathology of violence.  Doing violence or being violent brings about a complete change in our biology.  The muscles get an extra dose of blood and become tense.  The adrenals give out extra secretion, which mixes with the blood and pumps in an excess of energy in the system.  The liver too releases an extra quantity of sugar in the blood stream.  It bring  about physical, psychological and chemical reactions.  With the rise of aggressiveness breathing becomes fast.   The normal rate of 10 to 15 breaths a minute goes up to 30 to 40.  The stage is fully  set for letting loose violence.  Meditation puts the brakes on the overbusyness of the body and the mind and thus prevents violence.  Once the above truth is properly grasped the way will be clear to adopt measure best calculated to put an end to crimes and violence in society.  Eventually no groping will be necessary for finding the solution to the problems for nuclear armament and war.

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NONVIOLENCE AND FOOD

Two basic components of life are air and food.  It is not only human beings but also plants that cannot survive without air and food.  Here we will talk about the latter.  Much discussion ha staken place on the subject form the point of view of health and various periods of the year, especially the seasons.  Some people have gone further and discussed the kinds of food suitable at different times of the day-morning, midday and evening.  Then there has been an attempt to specify foods conducive to a state of austerity and celibacy.  Many dos and don'ts have been prescribed.  Here, however we are considering food in the context of nonviolence.   Is there any relation between food and violence and between food and nonviolence? The question is very important and an intensive investigation is necessary to find an answer.

The food that man eats produces innumerable chemicals in his body.   It helps form a number of neuro-transmitters in the brain which act a as communicators.  Through them the brain runs the body.  Scientists have so far succeeded in identifying nearly forty types of neuro-transmitters.  All of them are formed by the food one eats.  Besides, food is also responsible for the manufacture of many amino acids in the body.  Even uric acid, a poison is produced by food.   The same is true of many other toxic elements.  Therefore it is necessary to know which type of food produces what.  The type that produces poison is also the one that creates mental and emotional problems and that encourages violent tendencies.   In ancient times a lot of attention was paid to the effects of various types of foods.  Modern dieticians, besides doing the same also study the effects of not eating different kinds of foods.  There are two aspects of the same problem.

Here it is a simple case.  We come across a highly irritable man and want to find out why  he is so. Investigations reveal vitamin A deficiency.    Again, there has to be 90 to 110 mg of sugar for ever 100 cubic centimeters of body volume.  Slight deficiency causes emotional disorders.  The man becomes ill-tempered and in extreme cases can even become a murderer.  Modern science has proved that ill temper and the murderous tendency are caused by a  deficiency of sugar, niacin and certain vitamins.  Chemical deficiency can cause depression.   Similarly, on e of the causes of fear is vitamin B deficiency.  A lot of research is being carried on these days on the properties of a chemical called tryptaphane which produces serotonin. It has been found that an adequate quantity of serotonin in the blood prevents moodiness and fear and increases tolerance to pain. 

Advocates of nonvegetarianism often advance richness in protein as the chief argument in favour of meat and eggs.  But now it is realized that excessive protein causes all kinds of physical and mental disorders.  The daily requirement of protein for an average man is not more than 10 to 15 grams.   Nonvegetarians suffer from an excessive intake of protein.  Moreover, it too is an established fact that animal protein is not as useful as vegetable protein.  For example, millet protein is good for health while meat protein causes disease.  Not only this, a nonvegetarin has to use alcohol and/or excessive salt to digest meat, which cause disease of the kidneys, lover and heart.  To quite some extent food is responsible for some of the major killer disease like hypertension, cardiac  troubles, ulcers, cancer and kidney failure.  What the body needs is a balanced diet in which not only proteins but other elements like fats, carbohydrates etc. must also be present.  Today only one element - protein- is being overemphasized and the craze for protein rich food has driven people to nonvegetarianism, so much so that at an early stage school children are asked to eat eggs since they are said to a good source of protein.  But, as has been pointed out earlier, an excessive intake of proteins , particularly animal proteins is an open invitation to illness.  Most emotional disturbances in modern society can be blamed on the use of intoxicants and nonvegetarian food. And these disturbances can cause unsuspected damage.  For example, emotional imbalance and overwork are two important causes of marrow degeneration.  Lechery and excessive anger also cause it.  And it has already been noted that food is one of the factors responsible for emotional imbalances.

Three types of food have been recognized: sattvik (endowed with the quality of highest purity), rajasik(endowed with the quality of passion) and tamasik(endowed with the quality of darkness-the lowest kind) That is why there is a close relation between food and the mind.  For the above reason certain are prohibited, while others are recommended.  A scientific discussion on nonviolence cannot therefore ignore food.  Proper food and nonviolence both help prevent the accumulation of poisons in the blood stream. Food being a necessity of life cannot be given up, but those foods that poison the body must be avoided.  Here it is in order to mention that both acidic and alkaline elements are present in food.  Modern food has more of the former than the latter and it is the acidic elements which lead to greater accumulation of poisons in the systems.  To curb violence it is essential to prevent their accumulation.

Two things are required to be done-preventing the formation of poisons and eliminating or expelling those already formed.  How to do it? Here we must consider another aspect of food, viz. not eating or fasting.  Eating and not eating are closely related as the best way of expelling poisons poisons in fasting.   Its importance is as much therapeutic as religious; particularly it is crucial for emotional health.  Lord Mahavir asked people to take milk, yogurt, butter, sugar etc. in moderation since they act as stimulants and arouse passions.  On this basis eating meat is automatically ruled out.  It should be remembered that food should be taken for fostering physical, mental and emotional health.  If food is eaten merely of the sake of physical health, things are bound to go wrong.  Once we consider the aspect of emotional health, we automatically ensure nonviolence.  It is only emotionally healthy people who practice nonviolence.  One who is emotionally diseased is bound to indulge in crimes and violence.  It is highly regrettable that modern man thinks first of only physical health and then of mental health, if at all.  Emotional health is altogether ignored.  We should reverse the order and care first of all for emotional health, then mental health and lastly for physical health.  This is not unnatural, for it is emotions which influence life most.  Like emotions, like the mind and the body.

There are three words: adhi, vyadhi and upadhi.  The first is mental disease, the second is physical disease and the third is emotional disease.  Which should be eliminated first? Quite mistakenly we try to treat the physical disease first.  In reality we should begin with emotional ailment, which consists of lust, anger, egoism, jealousy, delusion, greed and such other faults.   Since emotions are vitally liked with food, we must exercise utmost discrimination in eating.  The present criteria of food are satisfaction of the palate and of the aesthetic sense.  Nothing beyond this.  But one who practices meditation must give utmost attention to the selection of proper food-sattvik food.  For changing one's life style one has to change the style of eating.  The food eaten should be such as will ensure emotional health because the latter is a vital prerequisite of nonviolence.  It is necessary to study the relation between food and violence and between food and nonviolence much more seriously.

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NONVIOLENCE AND THE YOGIC POSTURES:

The factors promoting and inhibiting both violence and nonviolence have already been discussed.  Violence and nonviolence or rather their expression is also related to the various body posture.  The yogic postures or asans belong to an ancient branch of knowledge.  They do much more than ensuring healthy muscles and body.  Their influence is far reaching.  They tone up the muscles, regulate the flow of blood, improve the general functioning of the body and even affect the nervous and endocrine systems.  Thus they can be helpful in controlling emotions.  

Modern civilization has created a new situation in so far as today our nerves are being subjected to enormous pressure while the muscles remain relatively unexercised, which is just the reverse of what was the case in the past-more exertion o f the muscles and no pressure on the nerves.  The whole tenor of present day living is geared to maximum physical comfort, thorough avoidance of manual work and an ever increasing nervous tension an stress not only in business and industry but practically in all walks of life.  Thanks to the increasing emphasis on the use of computers and robots, the twenty first century provides a much more dreadful prospect.  The authors of this bleak future seem to be totally oblivious of the fact that their version of comfort will incapacitate the muscles and make the nerves taut and tense.  Man will be reduced to the status of a mere pulley or piston in a huge machine. 

The only way to reverse this situation is balancing physical and mental labour.  Yogasans or yogic postures have the unique quality of bringing about a perfect balance between the body and the mind.  It has been stated earlier that the excess of certain acids and chemicals makes men violent and prone to crimes.  It has been scientifically proved that yogasans help regulate and balance their manufacture and discharge in the body and thus effectively prevent crime and violence.  From the point of view of mental and emotional health we have singularly failed in properly diagnosing the malady and therefore in finding out a suitable remedy.   Even when it comes to yogasans there are people who do them just in order to improve the working of the digestive, respirator, circulatory or some other similar system.  Nothing wrong with this.  However, it is much more important to take care of the mind and even more that of the emotions.  Both the body and the mind are regulated by the emotions.  Therefore an emotionally rich person can never be truly healthy.  For it has been seen that even the best among the physically well-built people can lose their nerve and become totally distracted on being informed of an accident of a near and dear one.  Emotional instability renders physical strength anfractuous.   The question once again turn to finding ways of achieving emotional strength.  

A very instructive case comes to mind.  The only son of an industrialist was leaving home for higher studies.  Right in front of the father's eyes a speeding car hit and crushed him underneath.  The case went for hearing before a magistrate. It would not have been at all difficult to establish that rash driving caused the boy's death.  The father, however, thought that whereas his son could not be brought back to life, the family of the driver would be drowned in sorrow and ruined if he was awarded capital punishment.  He therefore told the court that his son had died due to his own mistake and that the driver was not at all responsible for the accident.   Could such compassion move the father without his being emotionally balanced?   Such a balance is possible only through a balanced discharge of the endocrine glands.  Yogasans help us control the endocrinal flow.

It is now known that it is the  adrenal gland that creates excessive excitement, mental agitation, impatience and such other negative trends which burst out in the form of anger, violence and crime. By controlling the adrenals we can be free from them.  There is a yogic posture called shashankasan which enables us to exercise control over the adrenals.  Here it is worth mentioning that the real causes of violence do not lie outside us.  As is well known, even wars originate in the minds of men.  This it is in the mind that the solution to violence has to be found.  There is a part of the brain that constitute the emotional system.  It is called hypothalamus, which is a part of the limbic brain.  Between it and the adrenal, pituitary and pineal glands lies the secret of all  types of violence.   If we break the circuit at any point violence can recede into the background.   This is what happened in the case of Emperor Ashoka.  The very Ashok  who was instrumental in killings hundreds of thousands of men in the Kalinga war became an apostle of peace and nonviolence.  Just  a turn in the nervous cum emotional system and extreme violence changed into absolute nonviolence.  I should not be misunderstood at this point.  There can be innumerable causes of changes form violence to nonviolence, not just the practice of Yogasans.  However, these asans do play an important role in this matte and are a potent means of the desired transformation.

My purpose here is not to give a detailed account of the various asans and their attendant benefits .  I have merely cited an example to prove their efficacy.  I might as well have mentioned the sarvangasan and its ability to control and balance the working of the thyroid gland.  The important point is that yogasans bring about a balance in the working of the nervous and endocrinal systems and amino acids.  Along with fasting they are also a means of expelling all toxic and foreign matter from the body.  Yogasans are for this reason an intrinsic part of Preksha meditation.

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DEVELOPMENT OF A NONVIOLENT PERSONALITY:

Some years ago we got an opportunity to hold a three week course in Preksha meditation on the premise of the Rajasthan Police Academy.  During the period we saw how cadets were subjected to daily rigourous drills and training for hours together.   The same is true of military cantonments.   Concerted attempts are thus made to train people in the use of arms, to practice violence in order to counter violence.  Armed forces in each country are taught how to use the latest and more and more destructive weaponry.  Constant efforts are made to update weapon systems and to produce or   acquire state of the art armament technology.  Not only this, some states organize training even in terrorism.  Untold energies are being thus poured to serve violence.

Is it not a paradox that we talk peace and nonviolence and prepare for war and violence? This discrepancy between our professions and practice is as tragic as it is comic.  In fact if it were not for widespread and persisting pain and unhappiness, people would perhaps not think of nonviolence at all.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled them to think of the horrendous consequences of violence.  The unprecedented destruction and human tragedy caused by the dropping of atom bombs unnerved even those who had faith in violence.  Mythology and legend have spoken of things like deluge or doomsday or pralaya but here was its actual though partial enactment.  So people started talking of world peace and disarmament.  New movements were launched to achieve these laudable aims, yet simultaneously nations continued to manufacture even more infernal weapons and soon the dreaded prospect of space and star wars emerged on the horizon.  We generally think that tow contradictories cannot coexist.  But here is a spectacle of nations making furious preparations for war and at the same time talking nonviolence!

Under these circumstances people who have genuine faith in nonviolence have to ask themselves whether they should continue merely to talk of and preach nonviolence or they should take some serious steps in that direction.  It is obvious that nothing much is being done in this respect.   A multiplicity of platforms for preaching nonviolence is also not going to achieve anything.  We are reminded of a farmer who went to a monk and told sorrowfully how he had been digging a pit a day in his field for the past ten days without getting a drop of water.  The monk replied that he would have got plenty of water only if he had concentrated on one pit and   had deepened it enough instead of going on digging pit after pit.  The lesson is obvious.  Creating too many platforms or changing from one platform to another will be of no avail.  What is needed is the strengthening and deepening of one's faith in nonviolence.  It must be understood that violence can solve no problem. Those who think it can and yet profess faith in nonviolence are merely wearing a mask.  Why do people not believe in the efficacy of nonviolence?  Why do they not have complete faith in its ultimate success? Why are there so few genuine believers in nonviolence?Clearly the answer lies in there being no training in nonviolence.   Without adequate and proper mental training faith is not possible. We therefore need training, more so to counter violence which one learns and is exposed to since childhood.

How vitiated is the general atmosphere today? The general public has come to believe that unless it resorts to violence its voice will not be heard nor its protests heeded by the powers that be .  On the other hand very often   government finds it impossible to control mobs without the use of force.  In either case violence is thought necessary to achieve the intended results.  Besides, the general law and order situation in big cities has deteriorated to a point where people are left with no feeling of security whatsoever.  Fear and insecurity breed greater violence.  The only way to arrest this increasing trend of crime and violence is giving proper training in nonviolence.  Even if there is one duly trained nonviolent person for every one hundred trained soldiers, a new miracle can be performed and a new order created.

Training is the prerequisite for developing a nonviolent personality.  We have to recognize the fact that today negative ideas hold sway in life and positive ideas are at a discount.  Violence, robbery, exploitation are all negative and the training being contemplated will therefore aim at replacing them by positive ideas.  Let me here suggest just one method of doing it.  Sit down adopting the posture of kayotsarg (total relaxation of the body) and practice making the mind free from all thoughts.  It implies the absence of both memory and imagination, for both the past  and the future are fetters of the mind.   Attaining such a perfectly placid state of mind is an art that one learns through long and constant practice.  It amounts to cleansing of the mind with a view to finding out the negative ideas harboured by it.  This should go on for the same period i.e. about five to ten minutes.  Next give yourself the awareness of positive ideas by recalling and repeating them for the same length of time.  In all it should take about forty minutes.  forty minutes of training in nonviolence.  It will be the first lesson of developing a nonviolent personality.  Without some such training no amount of preaching or sermonizing will achieve the desired results.  Any discussion on nonviolence without an accompanying programme of training is meaningless.

The human personality has two faces- the outer and the inner.   The former constitutes physical looks and the latter quality or excellence.   Only the other day I was reading an article that attracted me a great deal.   It related to modern Japan's dominant position in the world of business and industry.   Analyzing the reasons the writer emphasized the Japanese insistence on quality.  The Japanese of all ranks are undergoing training all the year round in the ways of ensuring the highest degree of quality control.  No wonder Japanese goods command the highest respect even in the advanced western countries. The Japanese example can be applied to the field of human conduct.  Have we even thought of quality control vis a vis nonviolence? Being a monk I keep asking whether we have put our belief in nonviolence to the toughest test.  As fire purifies gold experience of and experiments in nonviolence refine its quality.  Only by undergoing a thorough and rigourous training can one have form faith in nonviolence.  Today more than ever before society needs to develop a nonviolent personality of its members.  Preksha meditation provides an effective method for achieving the above end.  

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NONVIOLENCE AND FEARLESSNESS

Man is eager to live and afraid to die.  Most problems owe themselves to this fact.  The fear of death might be reckoned as a prime fear but the most primeval and basic fear is that of expectation being defeated, or more specifically that of losing what one delusively thinks one owns (the delusion "This is mine") Fear of losing what one is attached to (the family, for example) gives birth to the fear of death and therefore the former is the most basic fear.  Death is feared, in other words, not per se but because as a result of it we lose all those things and people we are attached to.  One is attached to the body and is afraid to lose it.  The delusion regarding the body can be got rid of through the practice of kayotsarg (total relaxation of the body) for it results in loosening and ultimately eliminating the body's hold over the mind, without embracing death.  Yet kayotsarg induce a death like state in which all thoughts, feelings and desires vanish and the body lies still.    Having faced death one remains no longer afraid of it.  Thus through kayotsarg one can conquer the fear of death and thus rid oneself of the tension and oppressive feeling accompanying the fear.  Here it is worth remembering that fear resides within and not outside us.  External fear is mere fiction.  If we succeed in cultivating fearlessness no incident, no external circumstances can strike fear in us.

There is an incident related to Mahatma Gandhi's life.  Once during one of his marches through the countryside he encountered a procession of people singing and dancing to the beats of a drum and carrying a goat for sacrificing in a temple dedicated to a goddess.  Gandhiji walked ahead of them and sat down obstructing their way to the temple.  The people asked him to get out of their way.  He told them that if they were bent upon offering a sacrifice to the goddess they might as well sacrifice him and leave the goat alone.  Surely the goddess would prefer human to animal sacrifice.  The people felt ashamed and gave up the practice of offering sacrifices.  Gandhiji could do so only because he was not afraid of death even though the circumstances were dreadful. It shows how nothing in the outer world can strike fear in those who have succeeded in building a conscience free from fear.  On the other hand if the mind is given to fear, a thousand fears will assail it even when no cause exists.  To conquer fear one has to conquer the attachment to things and people-the delusion"This is mine"

While talking of nonviolence we should not chase shadows.  We should remember that of the three things - violence, fear, false attachment-it is the last that has to be tackled first.  It is the delusion of attachment that causes fear and which in turn results in violence.  If it had not been for fear no weapons would have been invented.  Fear of the enemy leads to the unending race for more and more deadly weapon systems and the degree and possibility of violence increases correspondingly.   Today the whole world is reeling with fear.  Nations are afraid of one another and so are different sections of the society.  Not until people become fearless can nonviolence be firmly established, and fearlessness is possible only when people learn to free themselves from the delusion of attachment.

There are quite a few people now who are interested in building a nonviolent society.  In order to be able to do so two problems have to be solved first.  They are the centralization of power and the concentration of wealth in a few hands.  So long as these two evils continue it is in vain to contemplate the possibility of a nonviolent society.  So the first thing to do is to find the ways of decentralizing and distributing wealth and power in society.  The tendency to cling to power and to refuse to share wealth has to change.  This will merely mean accepting truth and rejecting falsehood.  However, mere preaching cannot achieve the desired results.  Application is of vital importance and like charity it should begin at home.  One should start applying good things to one's life.  This first step will be kayotsarg for it was the basis of Preksha Meditation.  Until one is able to stabilize and relax one's body, tension in the body will persist and nonviolence cannot take root in a mind and body full of tension.  This small experiment of practicing kayotsarg for twenty minutes daily will enable us to expel fear and violence from the mind.  Then we should take the second step of practicing nonviolence within the family.  If we succeed there, we should take the third step of extending nonviolence to the neighborhood.  Next it should encompass the nation and finally the whole world.  There is no  use talking glibly of world peace and international brotherhood unless we have learnt to apply the concepts of peace and brotherhood in the family, neighborhood and the nations.  It is small beginnings that lead on to greater ventures.

I would now like to conclude by saying that what we want is t build a healthy, nonviolent society wherein peace and fearlessness prevail and where every individual has equal opportunities and rights, but that such a consummation is possible only if we learn to limit and control selfishness and attachments.  This is possible through the practice of Preksha Meditation.

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