Tag Archives: mokṡ-shila

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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Cycle of Birth and Death

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While discussing about knowing the knowledge, we concluded that soul is the beholder of knowledge, in fact complete knowledge, and also from time immemorial. Moreover, it would have it forever.

“Wouldn’t that mean existence of everyone’s soul also from time minus infinity to time plus infinity?”, questioned Jāti.

Yes, it does. And not only that, they have been even bound by karm particles from time immemorial.

So you mean, there was worldly existence of my soul before my birth, and would be there after my death, as well?

Yes Jāti, we all had a worldly existence before our *this* birth. In fact, we had already gone through infinite births and deaths. And that’s what our topic of discussion today – the cycle of birth and death.

So, would we have infinite births and deaths in the future also?

That depends. Going forward, if we get rid of all our karm particles and attain mokṡ, we come out of this painful cycle – no worldly existence – no rebirths, no deaths – just stay forever in mokṡ-shila. Otherwise, yes we would further keep going through this cycle of birth and death.

“Where is this mokṡ-shila?”, asked Ātmā curiously.

It is within this universe only, but at one of its ends.

O! So this universe have an end also.

Yes, the universe which contains matter, energy, soul, … is humongous but finite – and is referred to as lok (लोक). However, outside that, is alok (अलोक), which is infinite and has nothing in it and cannot have anything in it, except the empty space.

Can’t we go in alok?

No, nothing can be there, and so nothing can go there either.

How old are these lok and alok?

Again, like the soul, they were never created, they would never be destroyed. They have been there without any beginning (अनादि) and would be there forever without any end (अनंत).

How big is this finite lok?

I think, we are going off-topic for today. We would talk about lok in detail, some other day. So, we were talking about our existence before birth. In broad level, there are four gati (गति), so called forms through which soul can move through, while being in this world.

“How does the soul decide its gati?”, queried Danḋak.

It is decided by the karm particles, the soul has accumulated in its previous gati, by its puruṡārth (deeds).

Do you mean the karm particles keep moving around with the soul, through these gati?

Yes. Because if they don’t, the soul would attain its purest form and attain mokṡ, getting rid of moving through the various gati.

Ok. What do you exactly mean by gati?

These are the four forms or categories of worldly living beings, namely Celestial being (देव), Human being (मनुष्य), Tiriyanch being (तिरियंच), Hellish being (नारक).

So do these celestial and hellish kind of beings really exist? If yes, then why don’t we see them.

Yes, they very well do exist. We do not see them because their bodies are of different kind, which are not visible to our eyes. Moreover, they generally do not live here among us.

Where do they live? Heaven & Hell?

Sort of. Most of the celestial beings live in the various heavens (स्वर्ग) and all the hellish beings in the various hells (नरक). To be more precise, we’d need to understand the structure of lok.

Did you say heavens & hells? Are they not just one-one each?

No. There are 26 heavens & 7 hells.

And for sure, all of them are in this lok only, as there can’t be anything in alok?

Yes, exactly. We’ll talk more about their positions in our detailed discussion on lok.

What are these tiriyanch beings? I hope them to be the normal living beings, we see.

Yes, all the living beings except human beings, which biology talks about falls into this category.

So, the complete animal kingdom (except humans) & plant kingdom constitute the tiriyanch gati.

Animals, plants, and four more living beings.

“What else is left?!”, exclaimed Kāy.

Water (अपकाय), Earth (पृथ्वीकाय), Fire (तेजसकाय), Air (वायुकाय).

What?! Even they are living beings?!

Yes – they have souls residing in them, as well. In fact, one drop of water, one pinch of soil, a spark of fire, handful of air, each may contain innumerable number of souls.

You mean to say they may contain so many microbes.

No, not microbes – microbes would come under the biological animal or plant kingdom. Here, we are referring to living beings, whose body is water, earthly components (soil, minerals, …), fire, air, respectively.

That will take some time to digest.

No problem. Bose’ experiments had already shown signs of living beings from various minerals. In future, science will possibly verify others also.

Oh! Okay. I hope gati of human beings at least contains just we humans.

Human beings, yes. But not just we, there is at least one more variety, in there – though not getting in detail of that right now. With this, I hope you have got a bigger picture of the four gati, through which soul can travel.

“Each gati also seems to have further varieties. So, do all souls travel through all of them?”, asked Leshyā.

Not necessarily, as there are infinite tiriyanch, who would remain as tiriyanch. So, what all varieties, they would not even go through all gati. But highly likely that ours would have gone through at least all the four gati, if not all varieties.

Why do you say so for our souls?

When soul enters into a living form, we refer to it as its birth (in that life), and when it quits that living form, we refer to it as its death (in that life). But, the soul actually never dies. It just moves around from one living form to another. And every soul had already gone through such infinite births & deaths. And our soul is currently out of tiriyanch gati. So, with high probability, it would have gone through all the four gati, at least once.

“Even through tiriyanch?! Eeek! Animals, plants, water, earth, … whatever”, exclaimed Leshyā with an uneasy face & feeling.

Highly likely. That’s why, we in this human gati, should take maximum advantage to understand all these and try our best to get rid of all the karm particles, so as to avoid going into any further gati.

Meaning, even the life in heaven & hell is not permanent, the soul returns from there?

Yes, the only permanent thing is mokṡ – and that’s why the ultimate goal of life should be to settle in mokṡ.

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