Affection And Sympathy
- Sūtrakātāṅga, 1.11.3.
Be equally disposed towards all living beings.
Te āttao pāsai savvaloe|
- Sūtrakātāṅga, 1.12.15.
One who knows the fundamentals sees all living beings as his own self.
Jīvavaho appavaho, jīvadayā appaṇo dayā hoi|
- Bhaktaparijñā, 93.
To kill a creature is like killing oneself and to be merciful towards a living being is like being merciful towards oneself.
Jaṁ icchasi appaṇato, jaṁ ca na icchasi appaṇato|
Taṁ iccha parassa vi, ettiyagaṁ Jiṇasāsaṇayaṁ\
- Vāhatkalpabhṛṣya, 4584.
Whatever you desire for yourself and whatever you do not desire for yourself, desire the same for the others as well. This is the essence of the discipline propounded by Lords Jina.
When we see the living world from the point of view of evolution, we come to know that higher the stage of evolution a living being is, the greater is the spirit of cooperation in him. His mind and other sensory organs are well developed as compared to those at the lower stage of evolution. These stages of evolution can be easily seen in the lower species like those of earthworm, ant, fly, animals, etc. The monkeys are at a higher stage of evolution still. The feeling of cooperation has taken the shape of a family amongst them. The humans are more evolved than the monkeys. Therefore, the feeling of cooperation manifests in the form of cooperation for the family, society and the nation.
The very basis of cooperation is the feeling of affection. Affection develops with the spiritual development. As the moonlight develops with the waxing of the moon so does the development of affection, which is the indicator of the development of the soul. As the soul develops so does the affection. Affection is the heart of all positive forms of non-violence. As we like ourselves it is natural that other living beings also like themselves. Affection is for the conscious living beings and not for the inert non-living things. Affection is a quality of the soul and is a godly quality. Affection itself has been called love. Humanity or humaneness is the practical form of affection.
Anyone devoid of humanity may appear to be a human being but essentially he is an animal only. Anyone that remains engrossed in his own enjoyments and considers his sensory pleasures as everything, is an animal. The animal existence is enjoyment-based existence. Humans are considered higher and superior to animals due to their humaneness. Humanity lies in sharing and mitigating others’ misery even if one has to suffer oneself in the bargain; in employing the available means of enjoyment in helping others and to feel happy in enhancing their happiness. This is called affection for all. The practical form of humanity and affection is also the practical form of non-violence. Humanity, affection, generosity, fraternity, friendship are synonymous and are included in positive non-violence.
The real development of any creature lies in the development of his positive non-violence. From this one gets the real and eternal pleasure. The pleasure gained through attachment, sensory enjoyment, fulfilment of desires, sensuality, anger, pride, greed, etc., is purelytemporary and transient and is associated with destructibility, dependence, inertia, powerlessness, insipidity, deprivation, etc. All these accompany sensory pleasures as the shadow accompanies a body. Only undeveloped creatures hanker after such pleasures. The developed beings set the gaining of undivided, eternal and infinite pleasure as their goal and endeavour to achieve it. Such a pleasure is not possible except through affection.
The fact that the real pleasure lies in affection was discovered by the ancient Indian sages in the hoary past. To give it a practical form they started to spread this idea among their immediate associates whence it spread in the form of affection for the family, the society, the country, etc. The members of one’s family live closest to him and hence to sustain them, to ameliorate their misery and to give them pleasure even at his own expense became one’s duty. The spring of love flows eternal in the family in which all the members are imbued with this feeling of affection. The clouds of divine pleasures shade it and the gods also vie to live in such families. The house in which such a family lives can be compared to heaven. The essence of affection is eternal and it represents immortality. Heaven is the abode of such immortal affectionate beings.
One may get any amount of wealth but it can give him only momentary sensory pleasure, which gets reduced with every passing moment and vanishes eventually. The eternal pleasure cannot be gained through wealth. This is the reason that in some houses the wealth and means of enjoyment may increase but the happiness and peace do not increase and life becomes dry and sapless. The living proof of this can be seen in modern western world where many millionaires live in old-age homes. When some Indian meets those millionaires and introduces them to the family concept as it obtains in India and tells them that in India the children always look after their old parents and try their best to keep them happy and that the old folk also live happily with their children and grandchildren, they shed tears of pain because there the children have no time for them and meet them only occasionally for some time. They do not have the feeling of affection like Indians. This proves that even the millions and billions worth of wealth cannot buy happiness. In the absence of affection the life remains dry and sapless. This induces a sense of inferiority and there is no misery greater than that of a feeling of inferiority, boredom and dryness.
The situation in India is just the opposite. In India almost half the population lives below the poverty line. They do not have shoes on their feet and they do not have an umbrella to shade them from the scorching sun. In the scorching heat in the middle of summer the poor village women go to the forest to cut firewood, bundle it and carry it on their heads to sell it in the market and sing with pleasure all the time. This is a scene worth watching. The reason for their happiness lies in the affection in their personal lives. The thread of affection that runs through their families assures them that their family is with them in thick and thin. All will share whatever one person gets in the family. The head of the family eats only after all the members of the family have eaten. The trust in the familial life is so strong in Indian families that whatever the husband earns he gives to the wife and the wife is so devoted to the entire family that she feeds the entire family and eats only what remains in the end and feels happy about it. At the root of all this happiness is the mutual love, affection and trust that exists in Indian families. On the other hand in the so-called affluent countries of Europe, etc., there may be monetary affluence but they suffer from emotional poverty. Therefore, they lead a dry life and to overcome that dryness they drink and indulge in ever-new kinds of sensory pleasures. Even then the dryness does not leave them. What a pity for these wealthy but emotionally poor people? On the other hand the poor Indians live happily right into their old age and they do not have to look for old-age homes for their old parents. What is meant is that affection gives real happiness and meaning to life, which is the real wealth of the family. About fifty years ago the family in which more members lived together was considered to be a good and affluent family.
The person who has well-developed sense of affection does not differentiate between himself and the others and considers every oneas his equal. By this feeling of equality and oneness one develops a liking for others, and where there is a feeling of liking, others’ pleasure becomes one’s own pleasure. In this kind of feeling one cannot bear to see others in pain. His feelings become universal. As has been said in the Īśopaniṣad –
Yasya sarvāṇi bhūtāni, ātmanyevānupaśyati|
Sarvabhūteṣu cātmānaṁ, tato na vijugupsate\
That is, – One who is endowed with affection sees everyone as his own self and sees himself in all the living beings, He does not hate anyone and considers everyone as his own.
The distinction between the own and the other vanishes and he submits everything that is his in the service of all. Where there is an expectation to gain something from someone, there is the feeling of attachment there and where there is pleasure in submitting the self in the service of the others there is affection. When the affection comes the attachment goes away.
The measure of the development of affection is nothing but sensitivity. Any heart that moves at seeing others in pain is a sensitive heart. It is the sensitive heart that is endowed with the feeling of sympathy. A sympathetic person cannot bear to see anyone in pain and he cannot rest without ameliorating it. He feels for, and renders all possible help to anyone in pain that he comes across.
The canonical literature says that anyone with a developed sense of vision is sensitive and sympathetic. Sensitivity is the indicator of his development and sympathy is the indicator of his sensitivity. Thus, sympathy is the indicator of one’s stage of development of the soul. Where there is no sympathy, there is no consciousness but inertia and insensitivity and delusion. Actually, the development of sensitivity itself is the development of consciousness. The sensitivity of the vegetation is more developed than that of earth-bodied creatures. Similarly the sensitivities of creatures become more and more developed – infinite times at each stage – as they evolve from one-sensed beings to two-sensed beings to three-sensed beings to four-sensed beings. That is, they are more sensitive to their coexistent living beings as compared to those at the lower stage of development. Again the five-sensed animals, birds and fishes are infinitely more sensitive as compared to the creatures of the four-sensed types. They even sacrifice their own lives for protecting their offspring. In a jungle when a lion attacks a herd of deer all run helter-skelter but the doe with a small one, does not run but becomes ready to face the lion to protect her young one at the peril of her own life. The family feeling is seen in monkeys and bees also. This feeling is most developed among the human beings. They are sympathetic to all living beings. If a man’s sympathy is limited only up to the members of his own family, he should not be considered a human being but a monkey. His consciousness has developed up to the stage of a monkey only. Anyone who is not sympathetic even to the members of his own family is worse than a monkey. Thus, sympathy or sensitivity and not physical wealth is an indicator of the development of consciousness in a living being. A man may be very wealthy but if he is not sensitive or sympathetic, if he does not flinch in exploiting people in his business and industrial dealings, if his heart does not melt at seeing his neighbours in trouble, if he can sleep well even after seeing people around him hungry and naked, he is an animal in a human body. His being a millionaire or a billionaire, a king or a politician, a leader or an author, a lecturer or a preacher does not matter. To call him a human being is to shame the human race.
Dharma is what develops the soul. Spiritual development is where there is sensitivity. Where there is sensitivity, there is affection. Thus, where there is affection, there is dharma.
One who is always engrossed in his own sensory and bodily enjoyments is an animal. Sensory enjoyment is an indicator of beastliness. Anyone whose sole aim is to enjoy bodily pleasures is a grossly selfish person. He becomes so engrossed in his bodily enjoyments that others aside, he does not even care for the troubles of his own family. His development of consciousness is limited to hisown body. His tendencies and thoughts are limited to personal pleasures. A person with such narrow thoughts loses his life in the pursuit of worthless and transient sensory pleasures. He cannot taste the incessant, eternal, infinite godly pleasures of others’ happiness. He spends his life in sapless, dry, and trivial pleasures of the senses, and is deprived of eternal and infinite spiritual pleasure. He is born crying, he lives crying for more and more pleasures and dies crying, for the desire for bodily pleasures can never be fulfilled. This condition of the human beings is pitiable, sorrowful and heart-rending.
Sympathy is a gentlemanly quality. Where there is sympathy, sensitivity and affection, there is gentlemanliness. A gentle heart is as soft as butter. As butter melts at a little heat only the gentle heart also melts at the sight of even a little trouble in others. It starts overflowing with kindness and compassion. It cannot bear to see others in trouble. Sage Tulasidāsa has said, “Santa hādaya navanīta samānā”. That is – the heart of a saint is like butter.
There are innumerable examples of sympathetic saints and gentlemen. Here are some –
1. Śrī Kṛṣṇa was going for visiting Lord Neminātha. He was mounted on an elephant. On the way he saw a feeble old man who was shifting bricks, one at a time, from a large heap by the side of the main road to the inner part of his house with great difficulty. He was ill at ease in lifting even one brick at a time. Śrī Kṛṣṇa could not bear to see his trouble and his heart was moved by kindness for that old man. He lifted one brick and put it in the inner part of the old man’s house. Soon the followers in his huge procession took the hint and before one could say anything all the bricks were inside. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva was a great king. His servants and followers did all his work. He did not have to do anything with his own hands and it was an indicator of his power and honour and pride. But on seeing the old man in trouble Śrī Kṛṣṇa was so moved by kindness and compassion that he forgot his honour and pride. His sympathy overcame his pride and he lifted the brick to help the old man without thinking of his own position, power and pride.
2. Vālmiki, the great poet, who wrote the great epic – Rāmāyaṇa – was a dacoit and hunted for food. Once his arrow pierced a Krauñca bird and its mate started crying due to enforced separation. Vālmiki’s heart was so moved by its crying that he gave up robbery and became a great poet.
3. Saint Tukārām had just taken some bread in his plate when a dog came and took it away. Saint Tukārām ran after it with a bowl of clarified butter saying that he never ate bread without it so how could the dog eat dry bread. His heart was so kind that he wanted to apply butter to the bread for the dog.
4. Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṁsa saw a dog being beaten and his feelings for it became so intense that he felt the beatings on his own body and welts came up on his back. He suffered for quite a few days.
5. When Mahātmā Gāndhi told a poor old woman to change her torn saree she replied that she could not as she had only one saree to wear and no change was available. Mahātmā Gāndhi was so moved by pity for the poor in general that from that day onwards he stopped wearing his clothes and spent the rest of his life in just one loincloth that he wore below and above his waist half and half.