Stages of soul purification will be our focus of discussion today.
“But, I have a question related to the previous session“, interrupted Ātmā.
Once on the pathway to mokṡ, can we track ourself as to where are we on the pathway? Are we on the right direction, or the opposite direction?
Right question at the right time. Yes, we can track. And the various stages of soul purification could be the guide for the same. As such, there would be infinite stages of soul purification because of infinite gradations in soul purity. However, broadly they can be classified into fourteen guṅasthān.
What is guṅasthān?
Stage of purification. Under each, there could be infinite varieties. But they are classified into one because of some common characteristics.
What is the basis of classification?
As such there are 5 doorways of karm accumulation (āshrav), which obstructs the pathway to mokṡ. Depending on the level and number of doors being closed, the progress / purification stage of the soul is determined on the pathway to mokṡ.
What are the five āshrav?
They are wrong faith (मिथ्यात्व), wrong conduct (अव्रत), neglect of right conduct (प्रमाद), kaṡāy (कषाय) (foursome of anger, ego, deceit, greed), activity (योग) (threesome by mind, speech, body).
O! So even activity accumulates karm?
Yes. In fact, that is the key one, which leads to karm accumulation. It is just the addition of kaṡāy or no kaṡāy alongwith, which decides the badness or goodness of the accumulated karm. So, when all the 5 doors are open, it is the stage one – mithyādriṡṫi guṅasthān. When the faith is shaky in an undecided state of right and wrong, the soul is in the stage three – mishra guṅasthān.
“What about the second stage?”, asked Guṅasthān.
Don’t worry. We’ll come to that. When the faith is completely right, the soul is at the fourth stage – avirati samyak driṡṫi guṅasthān. So, in all stages four and above, the first door of wrong faith is closed. If partial right conduct is added, the soul gets into the fifth stage – desh virati guṅasthān, and with complete right conduct, it is in the sixth stage – pramatt sanyat guṅasthān. From sixth and onwards, the second door of wrong conduct is closed, but the neglect may still happen. The stage where even that third door is closed, takes the soul to stage seven – apramatt sanyat guṅasthān. And from there onwards it is the diminishing foursome kaṡāy which keeps the soul moving upwards to stages eight (nivritti bādar guṅasthān) and nine (anivritti bādar guṅasthān).
What is the difference between the eight and ninth stage?
Eighth is with diminished kaṡāy. Ninth is with so further diminished kaṡāy, that towards the end of it, only the last one greed (of the foursome) is left, and then the soul enters the stage ten (sūkṡm sanprāy guṅasthān) with a very minute greed. The next stage would be with zero kaṡāy, where even the fourth door is closed. But here comes an interesting twist in the tale. The diminishing kaṡāy could be diminishing in two ways: 1) By elimination, 2) By suppression. If it was due to suppression, the soul enters stage eleven (upshānt moh guṅasthān) with zero kaṡāy due to complete suppression. Otherwise it enters stage twelve (kshīṅ moh guṅasthān) with zero kaṡāy due to complete elimination of its causing karm – the perception hindering aka deluding (mohaniya) karm – one of the eight karm types.
But isn’t the stage eleven a danger zone? How long would the kaṡāy remain suppressed?
Yes, very rightly pointed out. It is a danger zone, because the soul can’t stay longer here, as the suppressed kaṡāy would erupt again within 48 minutes, meaning the soul would fall back to the lower stages.
Which lower stage would it go to?
It may go to starting from tenth till back to the first stage.
That’s really bad.
And it is for this falling soul which is heading towards the stage one, there comes a pre-stage two (sāswādan samyak driṡṫi guṅasthān), where only the taste of right faith remains.
O! This is the missing stage two.
Yes. It is better than one but worse than three, as from it the soul would definitely go to stage one. From stage three, the soul would have gone to either four or one.
So, it is always better to skip stage eleven and jump to stage twelve from the stage ten.
But how do we know, whether we are heading towards eleventh or twelfth?
May not be perfectly with the current level of knowledge. But you may get a feel of it. Say you are being bothered by someone to trigger one of your kaṡāy, say anger. Now, whatever that someone does, you don’t get angry. That’s really great, your soul is getting into the better stages. But did you not get angry by letting it go forever, or by ignoring for the time being. That decides the pathway to twelfth vs eleventh stage, respectively.
Okay. Isn’t then getting to the twelfth stage near impossible? I guess all of us would go to eleventh and fall back.
Even if you keep falling back in this birth, you should keep trying – so that you would have enough practice to get to the twelfth stage at least in your later births. And once the soul is in the stage twelve, there is no returning back – mokṡ is for sure, in that life (birth) itself. From stage twelve, it would get rid of three more hindering karm types (knowledge hindering (jyānāvaraṅiya), vision hindering (darshanāvarṅiya), power hindering (antarāy)), leading it to attain the stage thirteen (sayogī kewalī guṅasthān) – the state with the infinite kewal knowledge.
“What I understand from our discussions is that mohaniya karm has to be the first karm type to be completely gotten rid of”, clarified Karm.
Yes. Absolutely correct. And if it is gotten rid of, others would any way go away. And that’s why it is called the king of karm among the eight karm types.
And then, while attaining the kewal knowledge, three more karm types are removed.
So, does that mean even in stage thirteen, there are still four more karm types associated with the soul?
Absolutely. And in fact, it is because of these only, the soul is able to continue its physical aka worldly existence till before its mokṡ.
What are these four more karm types?
Pain / Pleasure causing (vedaniya), Age deciding (āyuṡ), Body deciding (nām), Status deciding (gotra). And as you see, they are non-hindering to any of the soul attributes of knowledge, vision, perception, power. Moreover, they are the basic ones needed to live in this world.
So, mokṡ can’t be attained unless these are also gotten rid of, right?
Yes. And that is where the soul has to stop all its activities, closing the fifth door, to enter the stage fourteen (ayogī kewalī guṅasthān). With all doors closed for karm particle entry, no new karm particle gets attracted towards the soul. And the above four karm types also get disassociated from the soul, leading it to mokṡ, beyond all stages of purification – the ultimate purification.