Acharya Mahapragya, India

Jain monk, spiritual head and discoverer of Preksha meditation

(Submitted by The Art of Living Team)

Indian philosophy, or ‘darsha’, is based on perception, or seeing. In fact, 'darsha’ means seeing or perceiving. Its meaning has changed now. The philosophy being taught in colleges and universities today is based on inference and reasoning, but in ancient times it stood for direct apprehension. Not inference, not abstract reasoning, not causation, not universality or pervasiveness, but sheer apprehension. Today, we have lost the power to see and we fail to distinguish between thinking and perceiving.

The philosopher and the cow

To illustrate, once a philosopher and his friend were walking together. They saw a cow and its owner coming from the opposite direction. The cow was tied with a rope, one end of which the owner held in his hand. The philosopher saw the whole situation and apprehended.

He asked his friend to tell him whether the cow was tied to the man or the man to the cow. The latter thought that it was too simple a matter to need any serious thought; since it was the man who held the rope in his hand, it was the cow that was bound.

Then the philosopher asked him what the man would do if the cow broke loose and fled. Pat came the reply: he would run after the cow and catch it. If that were true, the philosopher said, it was clear who was tied to whom. If the man ran away, the cow would not run after him, but if the cow ran away the man would have to run after it.

Superficial thinking would suggest the cow was tied to the man, but Indian philosophy would suggest the owner was tied to the cow, for it implies direct apprehension and ‘seeing’ in the sense of perceiving.

An important aspect of being alive

Perceiving, then, is a very important aspect of being alive: we also need to be able to perceive our breath, as well as our whole body and its psychic centres. One might ask: what is there, in breath, for example, to see? We breathe in and out and this goes on for as long as we live. So what is so special about it which merits seeing? The answer is, that through seeing or perceiving the breath we come to recognise its immense worth, for seeing the breath, or ‘breath perception’, is the best way to control our thoughts and so steady the wanderings of our minds.


1 comment

Submitted by Amit on Sun, 01/02/2011 - 10:29.

Acharya Mahapragya.. a true philosopher and right presenter of Philosopy.... Very few are such great philosopher of Modern world...

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