It is not my intention in my presentation to inform the reader of the merits or meditation, but rather, make the reader familiar with a simpler and easier to practice form of meditation as practiced by the followers of the Jain religion.
For people in the west Yoga is synonymous with a type of postural exercise practiced in the East and now abundantly followed in the West. It has great merits. There a re a lot of guides, DVDs and informative Internet forums. Now in the West every corner of the big cities has advertisement of Yoga classes. The typical brochures of the day would emphasise â€œThe following exercises will provide a well-balanced program, which should be supplemented, of course, by any other postures that are particularly good for your needs.
Meditation is a form of Yoga. Again, there is a lot of information available for people to learn meditation. A majority of this literature emphasises certain postures. When I first encountered meditative Yoga as is taught by the meditation teachers in the West, I was somewhat enlightened and confused. Having learnt the Jain form of meditation as a child, I was actually surprised that the biggest emphasis was on the posture adopted.
It isn’t that I came across literature that showed pure meditation. However, there was a greater emphasis on Mantras (chants said internally). You were admonished with advice like it should be noted that, in addition to one’s main meditation Mantra – which should be used everyday, additional Mantras can also be practiced for a specific purpose. Note here that emphasis is on Mantras and of different Mantras for â€œa specific purpose.
Then there was another type of meditation called Vipassana meditation, which comes straight from the Buddha. You sit and scan the body, making it similar to yoga in a sense. You use your mind to observe the body, so that the body becomes the object of concentration. You move into the subtleties of observing the breath and then the subtleties of observing the mind.
Jain meditation also known as Karyostag or Kausag, is a much simpler form. You have various permissions. First of all the posture is stated to be a â€œcomfortable postureâ€. whilst Jain centres and teachers of Jain meditation do emphasis sitting cross legged, it is NOT a requirement as stated in the texts. Having made yourself comfortable, you have also been given some advice in the scriptures, which to many a practitioner would appear to be at odds with meditation. You are allowed to cough, take deep or shallow breaths. If you body wants to get rid of some gas, that also is allowed. If you inner signals require that you get up to go to the bathroom, the books say â€“ sure go and attend to your bodily needs. The emphasis is on being comfortable so you can concentrate. You may or may not chant a Mantra â€“ it is your call, as long as you can concentrate on meditation. There is a general but not absolute requirement of shutting your eyes. You may also move parts of your body to stay comfortable.
Once you are concentrating and getting away mentally from your surroundings, you may contemplate with you mind’s eye on your toes and other parts of your body â€“ but this is always done with the “mind’s eye” there is no physical scrutiny.