By: Himanshu K. Gandhi
This is a step on to a journey to search within...
to solve problems without. We all are starkly aware about abhors outside. Let's start inward and be
brave to cure our own shortcomings. We are a fellowship, each one
will support another. Our primary purpose would be to not stray from principled
path in spite of daily travails and mercantile tendencies that we all are
susceptible to. We resolve to introspect, practice true humility, promise to be selfless,
truthful (without deceit) and inspire everyone in our circle of influence to do
the same. The workshop is meant to be a critical introspection led confession,
in secure settings, of ones own shortcomings, as measured by own self against
guiding principles of a code of conduct available in any faith of his/her
We all strive to be
'deliberate/purposeful'; about some activity, or some thing, or some goal in
worldly pursuits that consume most of our available time, space, thought and action.
And, often get involved in pursuits beyond our own, to those of our family and
growing circle of influences. Eventually when one realizes that all these
deliberate worldly pursuits have never ending cycle, we come back to the
core... on path of self emancipation... where confluence of all emotions cease
to matter, and we work towards equanimity with every being, increasingly
unperturbed by every action around us.
Just as an iceberg whose tip just above the surface of water comes up through a
mountain of ice below, a change from mindless glory of worldly pursuit to a
state of self emancipation comes about through a long graduated methodical
process. All of the faiths universally agree that conscientious and virtuous
character & conduct would form a bed-rock, and be in critical path, of such
a process. To mold this thought into action, in earnest, let's start inward and
be brave to cure our own shortcomings.
One humble approach in this endeavor is ‘Character-conduct
Workshop’. It will strive to embolden participants to share their
experience, strength and hope with each other… that they may solve their own
problem, and help themselves & others to strengthen character & conduct,
in path towards observance of vows of one’s faith. And in doing so, lessen
layers-on-layers of karmic dirt attached to our soul, or bring about catharsis
of our soul.
General framework for ‘Character/conduct workshop’:
a. We are a fellowship,
each one will support another. Each participant will take time to deeply
introspect and gradually ferret out his/her own shortcoming as it relates to
observance of the vows of own faith. This will mature towards bold but dispassionate
self view and commentary. Each participant makes an honest attempt to look
inside, identify his/her own short-comings, confronts it and exhibits courage
to ferret that out in open, eye-to-eye with other fellow participants with a
view to atone for his/her sins and create a situation where by, in future,
he/she does not embroil himself/herself in those.
b. Basic qualifiers/pre-requisites for all participants:
1. We have made a searching and
fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
2. We have courage to admit to our
fordmaker (Jina or God or Allah or Waheguru or Bhagvan or
Buddha), to ourselves and to other human being, eye-to-eye, the exact nature of
3. We are in for same reasons
and will respect each others privacy. Personal disclosures made herein are to be
treated as pious and strictly confidential, permanently. Disclosing of any bit
of discussion, even to a close kin/spouse, out of the confines of workshop will
be akin to a theft from a place of worship.
4. Place principles before personalities; that we have renounced personal
glorification in public and that we will practice true humility.
c. One of the ways
participants stay on the path towards observance of vows of own faith, is by
helping other brethren achieve the same. While a participant
is expounding and introspecting on his/her own shortcoming fellow participants
maintain supportive and attentive calmness which allows each of them to reflect
in themselves. As he/she may have had similar transgression or realizes that
he/she is susceptible to similar transgression. And, becomes more aware and
thereby builds refrain against such. Thus allowing each participant to mutually
and beneficially support each other and gain.
d. Participants will
only voice their own short-coming without proscribing any remedy or solution or
repentance for any other person.
e. Each participant
declares his/her resolve to be on track of right conduct and in doing so
establishes a symbiotic relationship with other such compatriots to create a
cohesive, supportive and sustaining "ecosystem".
Workshop will be in
secure setting, either in closed door or in open vast expanse of nature with no
interference with or from outside world. There will be no written documents
about ones short-coming shared or discussed, nor will anyone record or scribe
any notes during the sessions. It will be pure simple self, confronting its own
reality and allowing for solution to come from own self.
setting will allow us to ‘let go’ of our outer charade and ‘to get’ glimpse of
inner self, as we give light to layers of past deeds in action, thought or
speech. These short-comings could be from past day, week, year, or several
decades back. It will be pure simple self, confronting its own reality and
allowing for solution to come from own self. The participants will only act as
humble enablers to each other in the process.
h. Each Participant
after expounding on his/her short-comings will dwell into how he/she dealt with
those, or is atoning for those, or working on ways to de-bridge himself/herself
from such thought, speech or deeds, or avowed resolve to reduce the gap.
One can use any guiding principles of code of conduct
available in his/her faith, for instance Mahavratas or Anuvratas in Jainism. As
long as a goal is identified one can then look inward and measure up against
the same, with a deep resolve to close the gap and atone for each and every of
Participation in the workshop is
open to mature individuals from all walks of life. It will be in form of small
groups of four to eight each, with women and men in separate groups. It will be
open to all who satisfy pre-requisites & completely embrace the framework.
k. Every participant in workshop is an active participant… there are no
This is a fellowship. There are
no monies exchanged or fees charged. Each participant supports other in a self
sustaining symbiotic relationship. The place
for meeting of workshop can be one of the participants home, or a
place of faith, or just an open expanse of nature.
It will require immense courage to venture into the
act of "self-critic". Just as it is more difficult to commit crime in
broad day light, it is extremely difficult to come open and accept in front of
others. No one claims that ‘tapasya/tap’ (penance) is easy. We can view this "very
humbling exercise" as an extreme ‘tap’, to lessen the burden of karma.
Just as light eases out darkness, we will strive to revive our baby innocence. With our fellowship, we will
endeavor to let go of our outer charade and to get glimpse of inner self.
As per Narendra Nandu (Mumbai), as we embark on this exercise, we should
be aware that our past shortcomings or karmas are like a weed. Uproot it out
and it is gone. But if we let that be, it will spread and grow. And, it will
manifest itself in some way either in this life or down the cycle.
Confessions are antithesis to glory. We need to "let go” of glory.
To "let go” is the most difficult act for us all, as we have grown to learn
ways and means of accumulating. And, during this "humbling exercises"
we will be forced to "let go" of our ego, which will allow for inflow
of ‘vitaraga bhav’ (being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully
absorbed in ‘atma’/Self)
As per Manish Modi (Mumbai), this exercise is akin to "khara pratikaman” (true
As we gather courage to participate in this exercise, in complete and
humble sense, we hope to see a positive change come about in ourselves…
because, now we are not afraid to confront the truth. And, by doing so, we
believe, our fordmaker will help us win over our kashayas (passions) of ‘krodha’
(anger), ‘lobha’ (greed), ‘mana’ (ego) and ‘maya’ (deceit).
Belief is, when one makes an honest attempt to look
inside, identifies own short-comings, confronts it and exhibits courage to
ferret that out in open, eye-to-eye with other fellow beings, he/she has
already done the most difficult part, akin to the big thrust that a rocket
needs to push itself out of the earths gravity. And, in doing so, the solution
for repentance will naturally flow to him/her. Additionally, at a minimum, an
acute resistance will gradually develop against embroiling in such or similar
acts in future, to eventually control his/her own kashayas.
Knock off the pretense!!
… and face your shortcomings head on.
Lay bare your motive to free your soul
... and unearth layers of past misdeeds
You, my friend, now, have the power to set
… On to the path laid out by the realized
About the author: Himanshu is based in Boston,
MA and is an avid follower of Jainism. He administers a
Facebook group ‘SSS… Solution Starts with Self’, where his effort is to support
thoughts that enrich the base ethos of simple, straightforward and honest
conduct, to break the pace of greed and vice, everywhere we see. To join the
group or any comments email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.