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First of all I know that this is not community for jains and I am not a jain either. But since there is no Jain stack exchange, I thought of asking here.

My question is regarding details of how Mahavira practiced meditation and austerities. I wonder what kind of meditation did he practice, and more importantly WHY that method and how did he come to know of that? I have this strong desire for being more and more spiritual (ie. closer and closer to moksha) but I can't seem to figure out a method that is both direct and appropriate for my level so that I can go far using it.

When I read about his 12 1/2 years of work, I read that he used to practice intense meditation. So I wonder what was the cause of him doing that ie. what was he pursuing directly that made him realize that doing that thing (that meditation) will eliminate suffering. This is in contrast with let's say breath meditation, because that is not direct.Although breath meditation may be wonderful, it feels indirect; and for me atleast not doable in large quantities because I don't see a direct connection in following the breath and reducing suffering. I hope I was more or less understandable. And sorry for my English. Any answer is appreciated, thanks a lot! Also if anyone has any resources where I can read more on Mahavira's practice etc. kindly share a link or a name.

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He practised meditating on his Self. This is referenced in the Kalpa Sūtra:

5.119. he was…attached neither to this world nor to that beyond, desiring neither life nor death, arrived at the other shore of the samsāra, and he exerted himself for the suppression of the defilement of Karma.

5.120. With supreme knowledge…intuition…conduct…uprightness…patience…freedom from passions…control…contentment…understanding, on the supreme path to final liberation, which is the fruit of veracity, control, penance, and good conduct, the Venerable One meditated on himself for twelve years.

I have shortened it to highlight what meditating on himself consisted of and how this led to him gaining Kevala and Moksha. The role meditation served for him was the ability to detach from external phenomena and withdraw effectively to the point bodily sensations (such as thirst and heat) did not disrupt his concentration. This is a place of equanimity and non-attachment.

I would say meditating on ourselves is the most direct method. All of those things which Mahāvīra practised are aspects, or come as a result, of meditating on himself.

Here is a link to the source I used: https://archive.org/details/jainasutrasparti029233mbp/page/n325/mode/2up?q=

And here are some links to texts where you can find out more about what specific practice he used:

This is a downloadable PDF and chapter 13 deals with meditation in Jainism including his practices: https://dokumen.pub/routledge-handbook-of-yoga-and-meditation-studies-1nbsped-2020020123-9781138484863-9781351050753.html

Also, a PDF containing a section called 'Meditation in the Ācārāṅga Sūtra', starting p. 43, which explores his meditation practices in more detail: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/24340/1/Pragya_4367.pdf

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  • Thank you very much! This is what I was looking for. Much appreciated Jun 27, 2023 at 3:45

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