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The Foursome Kasaay

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Today’s topic is something we have touched upon many times. So many times that I thought necessary to dedicate a day for it – the topic of the foursome kaṡāy – anger (क्रोध), ego (मान), deceit (माया), greed (लोभ). Interestingly, almost every philosophy says that these are the cause of the bondage, sufferings, etc. And if you reverse question as why are these four there. It would come back as because of the karm bondage we have.

“That looks like a vicious cycle. Kaṡāy because of bondage, and bondage because of kaṡāy”, interrupted Ātmā.

Yes, it is.

If it is a cycle, can we ever come out of it and be a free soul aka go to mokṡ.

Yes, sure. But for that, one needs to understand as how to break the cycle. The key is puruṡārth – one’s own effort.

Yes. We had talked about it under the drivers of our activities.

Correct. That is the only one which could break the cycle. Bondage would lead to kaṡāy, but with our conscious efforts, we can prevent them to further cause bondage – thus breaking the cycle.

How do we do that?

Simply by being equanimous in the situations of provocation of kaṡāy.

“That’s hell lot of effort”, exclaimed Yog.

Ya but that’s what is needed to break the cycle. In fact, it looks complex only at its face. There are ways to make it simple.

Tell us that.

The kaṡāy could be broken up into four stages, and then we may master its control to equanimity through these stages, one by one.

Are these four stages for all the four kaṡāy?

Yes. Thus, there becomes four x four = sixteen kaṡāy, but for the time being we’d consider it just as four stages, each with the four kaṡāy. The various insights into the four stages of kaṡāy is tabulated as follows (alongwith the various stages of soul purification):

Kaṡāy stage Guṅasthān Max period of the stage Next birth Avoid falling back to previous stage by effort of Forgiving
anantānubandhī (severest) 1, 3 Life long Hell Already at the lowest
apratyākhyān (severe) 2, 4 1 year Tiriyanch Forgive within 1 year
pratyākhyān (light) 5 1 month Human Forgive within 4 months
sanjwalan (lightest) 6-10 15 days Heaven Forgive within 15 days
Zero kaṡāy stage 11 < 48 minutes Heaven Not controllable by puruṡārth – would eventually fall back to previous stages
Zero kaṡāy stage 12-14 Permanent Mokṡ Not controllable by puruṡārth – would be maintained forever

“What I understand from the chart is that once we reach 12-14th stages of soul, we don’t need to put any efforts to be equanimous”, clarified Ātmā.

Yes – there you are already equanimous and it is self-sustaining – basically you have broken the cycle and are heading to permanent mokṡ.

That’s great. I think the last column in the chart is really something that gives us the direction to conquer our kaṡāy.

Yes. And other columns shall give you motivation.

Before we close for today, can you please provide some analogies for us to understand the four stages for each of the four kaṡāy? That way we could be more alert of our kaṡāy, so as to take some actions to conquer it.

Ya sure. In fact, I’ll quote the analogies from the philosophical text, itself:

Anger Ego Deceit Greed
(Strong as) (Stubborn as) (Twisted as) (Sticky as)
anantānubandhī Etching on a stone Stone pillar Bamboo roots Colour of silk
apratyākhyān Etching on hard land Bone pillar Sheep horns Colour of mud
pratyākhyān Etching on sand Wood pillar Pee-line of a walking ox Grease
sanjwalan Etching on water Vine pillar Stripping bamboo bark Colour of turmeric

Thanks. That looks cool.

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Stages of Soul Purification

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Stages of soul purification will be our focus of discussion today.

“But, I have a question related to the previous session“, interrupted Ātmā.

Go ahead.

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 (sukshm samprāy 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.

Yes indeed.

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.

Yes.

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.

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Pathway to Moksh

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After going through the various aspects of the world and their inter-relations, especially the ones between the living and the non-living beings, and more in particular about the soul and the karm particles, we are all set to unravel the pathway to mokṡ – the complete purification of soul.

“But why do we even need to go to mokṡ?”, questioned Gati.

That’s a good question. In general, you don’t need to. You must have a strong reason for it, and then only you need to bother about its pathway.

But typically, what would that reason be?

It would be your want for the ultimate never ending bliss. Our life is always a roller-coaster ride with happiness and sadness interleaved. If you are enjoying that and whatever comes to you, you don’t need to bother about mokṡ. But if you are fed up of sadness, worries, … and want to get rid of it all permanently, mokṡ is the way to go. In that state, you are neither happy nor sad – you loose both and be in eternal bliss.

“So is mokṡ a place, or just a state of soul?”, asked Danḋak.

It is the purest state of soul without any karm particles. However, all such pure souls reside in a particular place in the universe named mokṡ-shila. So, more often than not, people colloquially refer to that place also as mokṡ.

I guess, we had already discussed as to how to attain mokṡ.

How was it?

Basically do good deeds without having AGED, i.e. Anger, Greed, Ego, Deceit.

Yes perfectly correct. But that’s easier said than done.

“Yes. Most of the times, the AGED don’t leave us. But why is it so? Does it mean we can’t go to mokṡ?”, asked Yog anxiously.

It is because it is just one part of the 4-step process to mokṡ.

Just one part. We thought that was all.

That *is* the key part to practise. But there are other supporting parts needed for that effective practice. And if one follows all the four parts in unison, it becomes a natural part of our life to get rid of AGED and attain mokṡ.

“What are the other parts?”, wanted Tatva.

First one is to have Right Faith (सम्यक दर्शन), i.e. to have faith in soul, karm, re-birth, mokṡ, etc, i.e. have faith in their existence. As if you don’t have faith in these, then you’d have no strong reason to get rid of AGED.

And with no strong enough reason, no effort becomes effective enough for its fructification.

Excellent, you philosopher. Second one is to have the Right Knowledge (सम्यक ज्ञान).

But once we have blind faith in something, what is there to know about it?

Don’t have blind faith. Just start with not denying the possibility. Then, explore to get more knowledge about it, which will naturally boost your belief. And then with better belief you’d rather crave for more knowledge about it.

Isn’t it sort of a cycle? Right Faith leads to getting Right Knowledge and vice-versa.

Yes it is. But the journey starts from having right faith and concludes when you have the infinite knowledge.

But what if, after getting more knowledge it disproves the belief rather than boosting it?

That is fine until and unless you are exploring with the sole goal / mindset of disproving it.

But many times we do that.

Yes, that’s where the right faith is required. Once you have that, you are open to further exploration, rather than just final conclusions. Don’t forget, knowledge is infinite, and we have too less of it, to conclude its disapproval.

Too less for its approval as well.

Exactly. That’s where we need to keep exploring without final conclusions. We need to keep exploring objectively with the mindset that what further am I missing to be able to prove it.

Got it – basically apply the principle of anekāntvād – have a multi-perspective view in exploration.

You are already a damn philosopher. Third part is the Right Conduct (सम्यक चारित्र). Once the first two are on the right track, applying the principles derived from there to our conduct in our day-to-day life is the right conduct. Once we start doing that getting rid of AGED will automatically fall in place.

“Any guidelines on the principles for Right Conduct?”, asked Mahāvrat.

Yes. Broadly, these can be put into 5 baskets called mahāvrat: 1) Non-violence – not killing or hurting, 2) Truthfulness – no lies in any form, 3) Non-stealing, 4) Brahmacharya – Celibacy & control over senses, 5) Non-possessiveness.

But aren’t they too difficult to follow?

Not easy for everyone to follow them completely. That’s where there are moderated versions of those called aṅuvrat, for day-to-day practices of common man. So, everyone can start with whatever minimal possible under each category, and they would naturally find themselves progressing towards more and more of it. In fact, the fourth part of the pathway to mokṡ is the one which boosts the inclination towards all these.

What is the fourth part?

It is Stoicistic Practices (तप). It is a collection of 12 various practices taking oneself towards upliftment of the soul.

“Can you tell us about them at least briefly?”, intervened Ātmā.

I’ll just list out the names. You may further study about them under the 7th topic nirjarā in chapter 14 of the book ‘Jīv Ajīv’ by Acharya Mahaprajna (in Hindi) – pdf pg 95 (A-86) & 96 (A-87).

Are nirjarā and tap same?

Yes. The twelve varieties of nirjarā / tap can be understood as: 1) Fasting (अनशन), 2) Eating Less than Hunger (ऊनोदरी), 3) Condition based Fast Breaking (भिक्षाचरी), 4) Not eating oil & milk products (रस-परित्याग), 5) Bearing body discomforts with patience (कायक्लेश), 6) Control on senses organs (प्रतिसंलीनता), 7) Repentance (प्रायश्चित), 8) Humility (विनय), 9) Service to Saints (वैयावृत्य), 10) Study for Right Knowledge (स्वाध्याय), 11) Meditation (ध्यान), 12) Leaving behind the passions of anger, greed, ego, deceit (व्युत्सर्ग).

Till now most of the times, we have been talking about the theoretical philosophy. Is there any practical application of it as well? Can I apply it to my life to attain mokṡ?

Definitely. In fact, all the four parts we discussed today are actually meant for practical applications only – otherwise there is no point of these discussions.

In that case, can we have some practical sessions on how to practise these?

They are already happening. Just go ahead and attend the practical hands-on rather soul-on workshop on Prekṡā Meditation to begin your journey towards mokṡ.

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Theory of Karm

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“As discussed in our last class, karm (कर्म) particles are the impurities surrounding the soul, obstructing it to attain its state of complete knowledge. But what are these karm particles? Are they living or non-living? Do they decide the fate of soul? Can they ever be eliminated from the soul? If yes, how? Why in the first place are they surrounding the soul? I am sure you have one or more such queries bothering you”, jolted the professor.

“Yes”, came a chorus.

These and many more questions around karm are what are dealt in the theory of karm.

“So finally, are we going to learn how to attain the complete knowledge by eliminating the karm particles?”, asked Jāti.

Dear Jāti, it is a continual learning process, not just a pill to eliminate all karm particles. So, knowing the theory of karm is just the beginning into the process.

Great! at least we’ll begin today.

Karm particles are one of the tiniest granules of matter, and as such they are non-living.

“How does the living soul accumulate the non-living karm?”, asked Upyog.

If it is a pure living soul, it in fact cannot accumulate non-living karm, and that state of soul is what is called nirvāṅ (निर्वाण) or mokṡ (मोक्ष), from which it never comes out. However, the worldly soul is already surrounded by karm and these karm leads to accumulating more karm – it is a vicious cycle.

“If it is a vicious cycle, would soul ever be able to come out of it”, asked Yog.

Good question. If left on its own, the karm wouldn’t allow soul to attain nirvāṅ. However, soul has the ability of doing puruṡārth (पुरुषार्थ), i.e. “putting effort” to break the vicious cycle.

What kind of effort?

Effort to stop the inflow of karm, and effort to remove the existing karm.

How to do the effort?

For that, let’s first understand the process of inflow & accumulation. Any of our mental, vocal, or physical activity brings in the karm. So, stopping or reducing them, stops or reduces the inflow, e.g. taking vows to reduce our activities – the most common & profound activity being eating.

Is that why so many soul centred philosophies are centred around food restrictions?

Sort of – more precisely food control and management, as food is one major activity driver for all living beings.

So, does it directly relate fasting to removal of karm particles?

Yes, it does – just that it should be done with that intention alone – otherwise it may not be that effective.

“Intentions? Do they have any role?”, asked surprised Karm.

In fact, they are the ones having the major role, as intentions trigger thoughts, and thoughts drive the appropriate effort.

Isn’t putting effort an action in itself?

Putting effort to remove karm is an action indeed.

Then, wouldn’t it further accumulate more karm?

It would, but accumulate only good karm particles, eliminating the bad ones.

“Does it mean, it is good to have good karm particles?”, quizzed Yog.

Not really, as even they would obstruct the soul from reaching its pure form. But once all the bad ones are gone, the good ones cannot stay for long – they would eventually go off. And a thing to understand is that more important than the accumulation of karm particles is the strength with which they are bonded with. As it is almost inevitable to reach zero activity, so karm particles would keep on accumulating, till almost our soul gets into pure form. But, if they are accumulated with the least possible bonding strength, they could all be cleared very easily, in lesser go’s.

And how do we control the bonding strength?

The bonding strength depends on the level of kaṡāy during the bonding.

“What is this kaṡāy?”, asked Guṅasthān.

It is the glue for karm particles. The foursome of Anger, Greed, Ego, Deceit is collectively termed as kaṡāy. So, having the less of these in our character, enables easy removal of our karm. One may remember them as the acronym AGED. I hope all of you understand these four emotions.

I believe anger is best understood but least worked upon. Greed is want of something more than one’s need, even at cost of others. Ego is the “only me” thought. Deceit is cheating.

More or less correct. And with that I believe you understand why various philosophies talk about being simple, devoid of anger, greed, ego, deceit.

You mean being devoid of AGED paves the path towards complete knowledge.

Yes. Shed anger, be peaceful. Shed greed, be satisfied. Shed ego, be accommodative. Shed deceit, be straightforward. And head towards achieving complete knowledge, and henceforth the state of pure soul.

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