True Spiritual Progress: Compassion at the Heart

There is a contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi named Shrimad Rajchandra who is much revered by many modern day Jains. Extraordinarily gifted as a poet and profilic as a writer, he was a young jeweler in Mumbai who was known to be honest in his business and spent every spare moment in spiritual contemplation and communication. In future posts, I will write about some examples of the communication between him and Gandhi, and perhaps tell more of Shrimad Rajchandra’s story.

This morning, I was reading some of his book in preparation for a dharma book club and I came across a noteworthy section that was translated from original Gujarati. The book is called Atma Siddhi, The Self Realization. The 1923 translation and addition of comentaries was performed by a lawyer, Rai Bahadur Jaini.

 This book takes us through the logical points that 1. Soul-Knowledge is Necessary for Happiness 2. Self Knowledge is Rare and 3. Mere Ritual and Knowledge are both Inadequate and Illusory.  And then this paragraph follows:

“I feel compassion that some are stuck in (mere) lifeless ritual (forms only), others in barren knowledge, believing (it) to be the path of liberation.”

A commentary on this sentence reads, “The priests and philistines of religion emphasise and scrupulously enforce the commandments of Ethics and Ritual, and think that this ensures progress on the path of freedom. But they are both deluded. Mere knowledge of all the theologies and other ologies of the world can never purify or liberate the soul. Nor can any amount of worship, offerings, devotion, charity merely as such do so. The true path to freedom is marked by the growth of compassion. Loving sympathy with the needs of our fellow-beings is essential. Verily, Ruth holds the inmost heart of Truth. A limitless and spontaneous instinctive outflow of love, in the troubles and for the service of our fellow-beings is the essential condition and test of all spiritual progress.”

This, to me , as at the heart of veganism. As I’ve been vegan for more than 20 years, over time, it has become a habit to eat vegan. But habits can became unconscious, so I’m trying now to remind myself when I eat of the suffering of 5 sensed being that we can avoid by being vegan, as well as the suffering of one sensed plant beings that we can be consious of when we eat plants.

At almost the end of the book, point 138 is the following, very nice summary:

“Compassion, Peace, Equanimity, Forgiveness, Truth ,Renunciation, Non-attachment are (found) in the heart of Liberable (aspirants of self realisation), (and) they (are) always awake (there, i.e., active in the heart).”

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