Jainism has made its impact on Americans and others in the Western world as a deeply compassionate and gentle philosophy which inspires reverence for life encompassing all living beings, and a convincing feeling of  ‘live and help let live.’

It comes out vividly in letters addressed to Gurudev Chitrabhanu from the young and the old mostly from USA and also from Canada, Germany, UK, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.  The letters make fascinating reading because they bear the imprint of transparent sincerity and expression of heart-felt experience of joy, confidence, serenity and reduced tensions.

Jain Meditation has impressed as a very dynamic and non-dogmatic from of spiritual discipline and development which is at once rational and non-mystic.  It is a philosophy projecting a balanced and a broader view of life.  Indeed it offers a way of life which is simple and direct and helps the lost and the confused ‘to get connected again’ to stable peace of mind and more contended again’ to stable peace of mind and more contended soul satisfying living.   

In his discourses at Jain Meditation Centres, Universities and International Conference, Gurudev Chitrabhanu emphasised that jain philosophy is based essentially on the unfolding of spiritual consciousness, which is the birth right of every soul.  Through knowledge and endeavour, the individual develops and unfolds the potential within one. 

People have been drawn towards this teaching on account of its detached and objective attitude to life, the simple life style it promotes, and its understanding and interpretation of reality in relation to the issue of minimising harm and promoting non-violent and loving behaviour in thought, feelings and expression.  It helps individual personality to acquire greater self confidence through introspection and spiritual self-sufficiency.  No more of depending on any external element’s mercy or generosity for one’s welfare, progress, contentment and happiness. 

In a world of highly advanced materialism with its endless temptations, illusions, and mirages, it is interesting that the Jain  thought – though much remote in its cultural, social and historical orientation has ‘related itself beautifully’ by the strikingly opposite emphasis on simple and direct living and thinking, rising above the complex web of desires, rejecting the outwardly shining gloss of material attractions and promoting  ‘discovery of truth about life and truth about self.

In thoughtful observation, shri Balabhadra Costain says “Our life and this time is very fragile and precious.  We do not know what the future will bring.  We have to face reality of this life like a Kshtriya (warrior); to face the events that come into our life with courage, detachment and also to face the reality of our existence in this cosmos.  Janism gives us great insight into reality and it often requires the heat of a warrior to face and engage in the reality of our own existence and to understand the purpose of human existence on this planet”.

Western civilisation has given so much hedonistic comfort.  Life in its daily routine is comparatively smoother without hassles.  These are not the kind of acute problems one faces in a developing country related to bread-and-butter issues, related to sheer survival in the face of poverty, hunger, disease, shortages and so on.  And yet with all the freedom from want as well as opportunities knocking at the doorstep for material progress, people do not have peace of mind.  Tensions fill the life of an average Westerner and he/she finds in difficulty to cope with ‘disappointments, disillusionments and distress’ arising out of failures in communicating with fellow human beings.  Deceit and betrayals, falsehood and pretensions shock human conscience. 

What does one do?  You go to aa counsellor or a psychologist and human psyche becomes a disease to be treated like any other.  It is precisely at this point that those who have come in touch with the teachings of Jain religion have found remarkable solace in them, a key to the peace of mind ad above all a feeling that you are your own cure. 

Bruce pours out his heart when he writes:  “So much involvement with people, yet the inner balance is stronger now and somehow there is faith that with inner balance and love, the KARMA is not accumulating.  It is now possible to help more clear in asserting what is true and not feel exhausted.  There is a great inner peace with this new faith”. 

Denesh Cockayne describes, the feeling of self-reliance ‘generate by taking to the path of spiritual realisation of self and getting into one’s higher self’.  And all this in a simple and direct  manner without having to resort to any mumbo-jumbo of meaningless rituals or ceremonies or any other pretensions or cliches.”  Derek asks and answers,  “Sometimes   I  feel like a lion locked in an invisible cage, having the key in my hand but not quite knowing which direction to look for the door to freedom.” 

I remember well a saying of yours:  “Here I am.  Let anything come.  I have the heart to transform all things and bring balance.  Let me use my extra sense, inner sense, my wisdom and intelligence to turn every event into joy, into understanding, into creativity.”

 Vikas calls him and his student Ananta’s taking to the Jain way of living as a ‘WAVE OF BLISS’.  They were deeply inspired when they visited Jain holy temples and centres of pilgrimage.  The annual pilgrimage to India has been prompted by Gurudev Chitrabhnu, and has very aptly been described as ‘a’ journey into awareness.

 Second time when he could not join the pilgrimage, in a deeply moving letter, he says:  “OM SHREE SATRUNJAYA ADINATHAYA ARHUM NAMAH.  The journey has begun with Pilgrims making their way up the mountain side to the summit and the glorious light which reflects from the domes of the Temple roof.  We are there both in spirit and body.  On the second and third of November. Ananta and I received the Blessing of Joy simultaneously and separately as the 1989 Journey of Awareness commenced.  Our hearts and minds wee uplifted quite suddenly while we went about our daily routine.  Later when we were at home we related our separate and individual experiences individual experiences and realised how very much blessed we are to share in the Jain way of living with all those who are in harmony with their hearts.”

 “Each day as the journey continues we shall review our photos and memorabilia of our past journey to awareness and approach each day with a new reverence, a reverence shared in each step up the mountain.  Just the other day we received the photographs which Bill Wrenn took almost two years ago and one these was especially meaningful because in it were pictured Gurudev, the Teachers and Vikas, the student taken at the office at the entrance to the main temple atop  Palitana.  This photorenewed the Quest!”

 ‘To begin again the pilgrimage, the return to the roots of consciousness and to the essence of enlightened though AHIMSA, Jai Jinendra; may all share this experience.’

Continuing, Vikas further says,  “On our return from India shortly after this wave of bliss resided, we were brought  back to the real world and were informed that due to our philosophical outlook and abstinence from the usage of animal products, we would no longer be able to remain employed at the local health food store.  This came as a complete surprise as we had discussed this issue previously and had stated our position that as Jain practising in America we would maintain the purity of  AHIMSA in thought, world and deed and did not approve of the usage of animal products, would not serve and shall not injure other beings to maintain our bodies.  We have since left this position and are presently seeking to make other arrangements.”

The trials of Sadhana are many and the lessons of life sometimes harsh but with Samyak Darshan and the support of the continuing expansion of AHIMSA consciousness throughout our world, we are able to rise each day with the joy of life in our hears OM HARI OM!”

Brahmidevi writes with deep delight, and joyous revelation:  “After two weeks of  real soul-searching and watching my squirrel-like mind dark to and fro between reasonableness and causeless joy, between holding on to my balance, and letting go of control, between memory conditioning-future projection and life here and now, I decided to take a day of rest and fasting and a little Patanjali-reading and listening to the power of silence talk—and behold, last night it happened.

The doubtless 100% clarity of purpose revealed itself as green lights for India!  The ecstasy I felt in the temples of Abu welled up from, Manipura Chakra not like a high about to crash to a low.  No, a real joy-in-life, lightness of –heart, knowledge of the capacity to drop past and future coloration and sureness that I am here to still and steady and refine this consciousness, to detach it from all moorings, and put forth all I have got  into the vertical and horizontal, with the awareness of how this help to ‘run’ to enlightenment and to fly like a child into the arms of the beloved vibrations of the purest of the pure at Abu and Satrunjaya and elsewhere.

The soul is coming more and more to wholeness and unencumberous being.  New steps, new beginnings, new freshness and finding enriching friendships.’

Jain philosophy has served to satisfy the hunger for spiritual growth ‘ through inner light and seeking out the inner world.’  Contact with Jain teaching has made some Americans and Europeans, in their own words ‘calm, meditative, truthful, sincere, refreshingly cheerful, full of positive vibrations and yet kept dynamic balance between contemplation and action.

Meditation has given to them a feeling of ‘Spiritual prosperity.' It is a discovery of inner strenght and power to face the challenges and temptations of the material bondages.  Jain concept has sunk in deep in their reasoning, emotions, daily existence and yearnings.  It has brought them peace of mind and durable solace.

The noted Czechoslovak painter and scholar Jaromir skrivanek visited Jain pilgrimage centres in India many times since 1970 and organised in many countries exhibitions of photographs taken of major Jain temples.  He found from his own experience that jain way of living is not only philosophical, but that it is a true religion in its purest form that could not be found anywhere else.  He found in Jain philosophy ‘an all- embracing light of love.’

The famous T.V.  actress Ms Betty Buckley stated during her visit to Nairobi (Kenya) in september 1981, when she was interviewed, that since she became a meditator in 1976, she experienced a deeper sense of peace and has become a completely new person enriched by the philosophy of reverence for all life.

The Wave of BlissSo Hun | Ahimsa | Looking up to the Teacher | The Practice of Religion | Through the Eyes of the Camera | A Pioneer Shows the Way