HomeARTICLESThe Sacred Stream of Amity - Acharya Chitrabhanuji

The Sacred Stream of Amity - Acharya Chitrabhanuji

Poojya  Shree  Acharya  Chitrabhanu  is  the Founder    of  Jain  Meditation  International  Centre,  NewYork.  He is not only a master lecturer, but also a spiritual teacher to millions of seekers of truth and realization.  With his wisdom, lucid language and eloquent speech, he has won the hearts of millions in India and abroad.

He is a world-renowned author of over twenty-five books  which  reflect  his  philosophy  and  his  message  of world peace and non-violence and they stress the need to appreciate the sanctity of all life and to build solidarity in the larger family of mankind.

In "The Sacred Stream of Amity" he has elucidated the Karuna Prayer, explaining the four values of Amity, Appreciation, Compassion and Equanimity so relevant to the holistic  development  of an individual. - Editor)

सत्वेषु मैत्री गुणिषु प्रमोदं
क्लिष्टेषु जीवेषु कृपा परत्वं |
मध्यस्थ भावं विपरिथ वृत्तो
सदा संमात्मा विदधातु देव ||

May my soul always find fulfillment
In friendship towards all beings,
In reverence to all the virtuous,
In compassion towards all suffering creatures,
And in remaining neutral towards those hostile to me.
This is my prayer.

We  look  at  our  face  in  the  mirror  after  taking  bath  in  the morning; we look at it while going for work, and may also look at it in the evening. Why do we thus minutely look at our face again and again? The reply is that we want to make sure that there are no spots on our face; but while looking at the face, do we ever consider that what appears in the mirror is not our true self? It is the reflection of the body, not of the soul. What appears is not the real merchandise, it is the outer packing.

Forsaking my true self, I am treating the handsome physique as  my  own  form.  I  spend  hours  in  observing  the  body,  which  is perishable, which I am going to leave here and which is going to be reduced to ashes. Is it not amazing that we do not even think of the soul,  which  is  everlasting,  which  bears  the  consequences  of  its Karma. Does it not amount to taking care of the husks and ignoring the grains!

We care for the spots on the body and disregard those on the soul. The physical stains can be removed by soap and water, but do we remember that the internal stains would not go off even by washing with the agonized tears? There are mirrors everywhere for noticing the physical stains, but who would provide the mirror to notice the stains within? We feel uncomfortable to notice the facial ugliness and resort to various means to cover the same, but how many of us even think of preventing the turpitude of mind? Do we ever consider how would it be possible to go to the pure abode of divinity with the mental turpitude?

Do  we  really  deserve  to  go  to  the  sacred  place,  where innumerable liberated souls have been abiding? While looking at the mirror, do we notice how many impacts of anger, animosity, hostility, lies, breach of trust and immorality have been lying there? And in spite of that, we move about with vain pride and bear a smile on the face by seeing the physical appearance in the mirror! That sad state is the outcome of forsaking the purity of life, forsaking the internal beauty, the spiritual beatitude.

The seers therefore state, 'If you want to look at your face in the mirror,  do  it;  but  simultaneously  keep  in  mind  the  soul.  By increasingly observing the soul, the attachment for the body would go down and that for the soul would come up. The spiritual beatitude would, in that case, come to light. It is laid down:

Pratyaham Pratyavaksheta, Narashcharitamatmanah;
Kim Nu Me Pashubhistulayam, Kim Nu Satpurushairiti?

One  should  always  examine  his  own  conduct  and  find  out whether it is beast-like or similar to that of a sage. One needs to think: 'How pure is the life of the sage and how adulterated is mine? Does my life give the pleasant odor of a rose or stinks with the foul smell of the garbage? After taking birth, have I obtained blessing or have I been subjected to curse? At the time of leaving the world, shall I have the tears in my eyes or a smile on my face? What for did I come here and what have I been doing? From where did I come and where am I to go? What is my true nature and how do I deal with it?'

When such questions arise, one can make out: 'I am a human being and need to live in accordance with the spirit of humanity. I have to manifest my true nature while abiding in this body. I have gained this human body, have been imbibed with sharp intellect and have obtained the compassionate heart to make out the pangs and suffering  of  others.  How  can  I  allow  all  that  to  go  in  vain?  This valuable life is not meant for living like a beast'.

We have been blessed with the opportunity to purify the Self, to fill the life with pleasant odor. Why have the sages sung the songs of human value? What particular qualities did they see in this body? What majesty did they notice therein? Why did they not consider humans and animals at par? Both of them are imbibed with life; they have the identical instincts of food, sleep, fear and sex. Why did the saints then draw a line between the two? Why did they put the human beings at a higher level and the animals at a lower level? Did they have partiality for humans? Of course 'No'. The difference was laid, because  they  recognized  the  true  worth  of  human  embodiment. Spiritual  development  is  possible  only  during  human  life. As  the
vehicle  of  spiritual  development,  the  human  body  is  unique  and invaluable. That resulted in singing the songs of human life.

The  following  Sutra  lays  down  the  religion  in  a  nutshell: Mitrasya Chakshusha Pashya. It directs us to see everything from a friendly eye. Instead of seeing from our usual perspective; if we see with a friendly eyes, the world would present a different picture. What we normally notice is hostility, poisonous attitude etc. but if we see with friendly eye, faults would be less apparent and praiseworthy attributes would prominently come to our notice. The friendly heart, while  scolding  a  friend  in  private  for  his  faults,  if  necessary,  will spread the fragrance of wholesome attributes.

There is another advantage of this friendly attitude. Such a person does not indulge in vanity while doing something good for others. If someone praises him for his work, he would humbly say: 'I have not done anything extraordinary, it was my duty to do that.' Such sense of duty does not arise without friendliness. Similarly the sense of remorse for not doing something admirable does not arise in absence of friendliness. Only a friendly mind can think, 'Oh, I had the opportunity to do the good work, but I could not do it on account of my indolence or inability!'

The  friendliness,  the  amity,  is  the  foundation  stone  of  the amicable existence. How is it possible to maintain the compassionate nature  of Ahimsa  in  absence  of  amity? Animosity  is  like  a  thorn. Wherever it is stings, it gives pain and normalcy disappears. A person steeped in the sense of vengeance cannot resort to religious pursuit. If he somehow undertakes it, that being devoid of amity, he cannot get the peace thereby; he does not gain the tranquility of mind; He does not get the internal pleasure. Like a flower without scent, it fails to spread  the  fragrance  of  pleasure.  It  is  therefore said: 'Maitryadibhavasanyuktam Taddharmah  Parihirtyate.  It  means: religion should be undertaken while keeping in mind, the friendship
and such other attributes.

In  this  connection,  I  remember  a  talk  with  Pundit Omkarnathji.  One  evening  he  came  to  see  me  along  with  his colleagues. I said, 'Punditji, can you favor me with a Malkosh tune?' Thereupon he started singing a devotional hymn. That he chanted for half  an  hour  and  the  atmosphere  of  the  place  was  charged  with Malkosh tune. Even after he stopped singing, the wonderful impact of Malkosh continued to prevail there. Then Pundiji said, 'I would bet Rs. 5000, if any one present here can now sing anything in Durga tune.'

I asked, 'How come?' He replied, 'Chanting has a deep impact. The perfect chanting with right ups and downs of the tone creates an atmosphere, where a differing type of chanting is not possible. Even if
a singer tries something different, he would come back to Malkosh. That is the impact of right chanting.'

Then I said, 'Punditji, As chanting has its impact, so is the impact  of  amity.  Under  the  influence  of  universal  amity  of  Lord Mahavir, even the lifelong enemies forgot their enmity. Snakes and weasels, cows and tigers, rats and cats used to sit there facing one another, but they could not turn to their animus nature. Under the sweet impact of amity prevailing there, the sense of animosity could not arise.'

As thousands of lamps can be lighted with the help of one lamp, the universal amity can arise out of a friendly heart. As thousands of grains can grow by sowing one single grain, so can there arise amity
for the entire universe, if we have even a grain of friendship at heart.

Religion can be embraced only by cultivating the sense of amity. It is therefore laid down that there is no atonement without amity and no liberation without atonement.

The amity, the friendship, causes the human life to shine out. It leads to prosperity as well as happiness. The friendship constitutes the heart of human culture. That uplifts the human life and elevates the human being to the throne of divinity. Life without friendship is like a body without soul. Neither does it have light nor lustre; neither purity nor sanctity. Friendship gives it the touch of life as well as of sacredness.

Here, one would be prompted to ask, 'If religion thus pervades life, how come, we do not notice its impact in our life? We cannot eat it when we are hungry, nor can we drink it for quenching thirst; neither can we use it for covering the body, nor for paying off debt. Since the religion  thus  does  not  serve  any  practical  purpose,  what  is  its significance in life?'

The enlightened beings have termed religion as the root of life. The roots cannot be eaten, they are not apparent like other parts of the tree and remain buried in the ground; but a tree cannot exist in the absence of the roots. As a tree grows, fructifies and extends the tasty fruits on account of its roots, so do the human beings make progress by virtue of religion. Only the human being has been blessed with the religion; other animals are not so blessed and have therefore remained at the lower level. Human being has been fortunate to get it and has thereby grown to the present height. When one hears such praiseworthy attributes of religion, he would like to define it so as to have a clear concept thereof. Normally everyone considers his traditional and family rituals as religion. He tends to dispute; quarrel and even fight in support of his religion. In the name of preserving it, he is willing to undermine the peace and may even sink to the level of inhumanity. Can we call that religion?

Jainism provides the reply by laying down the characteristics of religion. It has presented the truth in the following few words:- Friendship,  Adoration,  Compassion  and  Objectivity  are  the  four characteristics of religion. Development of these adorable qualities constitutes the religion. Let us consider them one by one.

1) Amity :

May the sacred stream of amity flow forever in my heart;
And may I pray for the well being of the entire universe.

Amity is the first characteristic. One, who has religion at heart, finds the whole world abounding in friendship; he would experience the entire universe as full of love. A person, whose heart overflows with love and amity, would think that even if he may have to face unhappiness, no one else may come across that. He feels at heart: 'Let all the beings be liberated from the bondage, let them be faultless, let them be free. Let no one remain dependent.'

2) Appreciation:

May my heart sing with ecstasy at the sight of virtuous;
And may my life be an offering at their feet.

Appreciation  is  the  second  characteristic  that  arises  from reverence for virtues. One, who has incorporated this characteristic into life, would feel elated to see the virtuous. His heart would dance with joy to see the saintly entities, who are leading the people on the blissful path. He realizes that the virtuous saints show the path of true well being. In the absence of their guidance, who would indicate the path to the people roaming in the forest of the worldly life? In this arid land of the worldly existence, the virtuous are like the trees providing  cool  shade.  One,  who  is  imbibed  with  the  sense  of adoration, would lie down at the feet of the virtuous. Many people feel shy to fall at the feet of elders, but they would not mind bowing to an officer or to any other highly placed person. If one  bows  down  to  the  wealthy  or  to  the  people  in  authority  and remains tight in front of the elders, the restrained and the virtuous, he evidently does not possess the characteristic of adoration.

3) Compassion:

May  my  heart  bleed  at  the  sight  of  the  wane,  weak  and  wicked;
And may tears of compassion flow from my eyes.

'Compassion is the third characteristic. The heart of a person, who has cultivated the sense of compassion, overflows with sympathy for the worldly beings; he considers miseries of others as his own and continually tries to remove the same. He has heart-felt sympathy for the  miserable.  His  heart  melts  to  see  the  irreligious  and  pitiless beings;  he  feels  sad  that  such  people  will  have  to  migrate  to  the inferior existence on account of their sinful activities! Under the vain glory of wealth and authority, they do not give ears to anyone, but what  would  happen  when  their  wholesome  Karma  is  exhausted? Whom would they resort to at that time?

The unwholesome Karma that they are joyfully acquiring at present would not be dropped off even by shedding the painful tears. The well that they are cheerfully draining now, will have to be filled with warm tears. The heart of the compassionate being is overcome to make out that the people playfully indulging in illusory happiness today are going to face the misery tomorrow. His eyes start flowing to notice the miserable ones.

4) Equanimity:

May I be there to show the path to the pathless wanderers;
And may I retain equanimity, even if they ignore it.

Equanimity is the fourth characteristic. A person imbibed with objectivity  may  try  to  prevent  others  from  falling  in  the  mud  of sinfulness, but he would never be instrumental to driving someone towards the sinful activity. To the extent possible, he would prevent the people going in the direction of violence etc. He would point out the way to those who have lost it. If such people are egoistic, they may vainly state, ' Why become over-wise? Mind your own business. We know what to do. It is not necessary for you to meddle therein. We do not need your advice.' But In such a case, the person with objectivity is  not  upset  or  irritated.  His  intention  is  to  save  the  drowning individual; why would he drive anyone to deep water even by words?

One,  who  undertakes  every  activity  with  these  four characteristics in mind, cannot indulge in selfishness, nor would he harbor a deceptive mind. He strongly feels, 'I am a traveller in the world;  I  need  to  live  for  spreading  the  fragrance.  How  can  I  do anything wrong for others? My well being lies in the well being of all. If there is loss of peace all over, how can I live peacefully? As I want peace, happiness and prosperity, so do all others. It is my duty to observe peace and to spread fragrance like an incense stick.'

Amity prompts one think, 'How can I live at rest when the world is full of unhappiness? How can I eat hiding in a corner, while mankind is in the midst of acute distress? Let me give something from my own, do something for others. That is my job; serving the living beings is self-servicing. It is my duty to give. My religion is to spread fearlessness.'

Where friendship, appreciation, compassion and equanimity prevail, there is no consideration of respect or disrespect, applause or criticism. Such a person is not flattered by acclamation nor is he depressed by disregard. He feels satisfied by sacrificing; he does not care for the good opinion or approval of others. He does not get tired and therefore does not stop doing what he thinks fit. He has a sense of self satisfaction and does not feel proud of what he has done. He feels friendly even with the inanimate and would be willing to sacrifice for that.

Just think over the grand alliance of milk and water. The milk gives its white color to the water and the latter gets immersed in the former both of them become one. Friendship denotes unity and the unity knows no difference; there cannot be the sense of mine or thine. This becomes evident when milk is put on stove. By virtue of the heat, the water is vaporized and escapes into the air. The milk cannot face the loss of its ally. It overflows and tries to jump in the fire for self-immolation. At that time if we pour water, the milk gets back its ally and the overflowing subsides.

This is the specimen of alliance within the inanimate world. After cultivating friendship, the inanimate substance also tries to sacrifice for the sake of its ally. How can we, the animate beings, be left  behind?  We  need  to  examine  whether  we  have  been  able  to cultivate friendship or have been pampering only the self-interest. Friendship is the first step of religion. After the rise of friendship one cannot indulge in ego or arrogance for doing something great. He would simply feel that it was his duty and he has been doing only what he needs to do as a human being.

In  order  to  awaken  that  high  sense  of  duty,  we  should contemplate every morning about the Self and about the mission of our life. Before looking our reflection in the mirror, we should see ourselves in light of the lifestyles of the great entities. That is the way of spiritual well being.

May the spirit of goodwill
Enter all our hearts
May we all sing in chorus
The Immortal Song of human concord.

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