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The Art of Self-management

Anil Kumar Jain

Limited availability of resources and their limited potential is everybody’s concern. But the Self within a human being has unlimited potential. That’s why the concept of self-management is of utmost importance. Self-management improves efficiency; it bestows peace, cheer and equanimity and equips us to handle the many complexities of life well.

Jainism advocates overcoming pesky vices like krodha or anger, mada or vanity, kama or sex and lobha or greed. Jainism recommends the practice of five principal virtues: Ahimsa or non-violence, satya or truth, achaurya or non-covetousness, Brahma-charya or celibacy and aparigraha or non-possession.

Ahimsa is the greatest value of all. Violence could be in thought, word or action. Ahimsa means love of humanity and this is possible only when all the barriers and prejudices are removed, by controlling those factors that choke us, degrade us and make us unhappy. Ahimsa harmonises one’s relations with others and sp-rings from self-understanding and self-knowledge.

Greed is one of the root causes of unhappiness. The principle of aparigraha which involves negation of material desire is a foolproof remedy to rooting out corruption from our system. Practice of penance and meditation as advocated in Jainism is the art of living in the present. We normally choose to recollect our past or predict the future, rather than think about the present, leading to tensions and stress. Through meditation, we can control our emotions. We strive for superiority in every area of life, but we seldom bother to delve deeper into why we are angry, greedy or fearful. Meditation can help a great deal in understanding more about this.

Syat Vaada, an important Jaina teaching is as relevant today as it was when first formulated. It says that everything in this world is relative; nothing is absolute. Syat Vaada clears our perception. Whenever we ope-rate on a relative plan, we are open to alternatives and this is conducive to creativity. The other relevant doctrine is Anekantavada. It talks about visualising things from different perspectives. It advocates discovering the truth after taking into account all aspects.

Anekant encourages tolerance and promotes inter-personal and communal harmony. It ensures peaceful co-existence and makes us sensitive to others’ pain. We learn that there are many ways to reach the truth — and each way is legitimate in its own right.

Coming to food, Jainism recommends vegetarianism. Modern medicine has established links between the kind of food we eat and certain ailments. Also, increasingly, a vegetarian diet is being recommended to remain healthy. Jainism discourages the eating of onions and garlic as they are regarded as inducing tamasic behaviour, as also all root vegetables. The practice of eating the last meal before sunset and the first meal after sunrise is in accordance with the rhythm of life itself.

Gender equality is intrinsic to Jainism. Men and women enjoy equal rights. Individual character development, and good conduct and behaviour are held to be very important in the evolution of one’s personality and enable the absorption of knowledge that is necessary to achieve self- realisation. Jainism regards the individual and his social responsibilities as the key to the progress of both the individual and society.

Management gurus today are advocating the concept of the “hot-air balloon approach” which is “rising above oneself” — and this is an integral part of Jain thought. Spiritual energy is needed for one to be successful in life. Without this, we will find our- selves lacking in originality and creativity.

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