Continued from August 23
Fyodor Dostoyevsky believed that the human nature is complex and has two different poles. Man can act nobly, and in the same time he can be a savage. There is an esteem part in the human and also a vicious element. In his own character, Dostoyevsky demonstrated these two contradictory sides. At one time he was a generous warm and a kind man and on other times he was acting jealous and even committed a rape. These contradictions can be found in his great novel Brothers Karamazov. The Jathaka storyteller too concur such complex behavior in humans.
When the selfish immoral land owner, Fyodor Pavlovich came to meet Father Zosìma the spiritual advisor and Alyosha Karamazove’s teacher Fyodor Karmazove reveals his inner mind in front of the holy man thus.
“I’m a Karamazov… when I fall into the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I’m even pleased that I’m falling in such a humiliating position, and for me I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame I suddenly begin a hymn. Let me be cursed, let me be base and vile, but let me also kiss the hem of that garment in which my God is clothed; let me be following the devil at the same time, but still I am also your son, Lord, and I love you, and I feel a joy without which the world cannot stand and be.”
With this self-revelation Dostoyevsky points out the dual complexities in the human mind. The Jataka story teller too vibrantly wrote about the complex and dual nature of the human psyche. Asthramanthra Jataka story is one of the examples of his exceptional talents. In this Jathaka story he deeply analyzed the murderous impulses of an old woman who was geared by onset awakening of sexual urges.
The old woman in Asthramanthra Jataka story and immoral old land owner in Brothers Karamazov represent the dark side of the human nature and in later years Carl Jung came up with the concept of shadow that portrays the repressed weaknesses, shortcomings and instincts.
In his 1938 work Psychology and Religion, Carl Jung explains the function of the shadow thus.
“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.”
According to Jung, the shadow is irrational often projects personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency. Jung wrote, “A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps … living below his own level”
After seduced by the young apprentice the old woman falls into her own trap and possessed by her dark shadow like Fyodor Pavlovich the debauched land owner who was sexually fascinated by his own son’s girlfriend. Both the characters forget ethics and morality as well as social norms while making efforts to fulfill their selfish desires.
Fyodor Pavlovich Karmazove’s wasteful and sinful life was highlighted by the prosecutor and the defense attorney in the court room and they further connect Fyodor’s moral degradation to the 18th century Russian society. As they view great gaping and lack of a moral and spiritual core in Russian society echoes the old man’s entire deviant life.
The old woman’s son is a wise man who has understood the nature of craving. He is not judgmental and a virtuous person as Father Zosima. Father Zosima and the old woman’s son share many things in common. Their extraordinary human qualities, similar to a Bodhisattva is motivated by great compassion.
Futrell (1981) writes: Prominent in Zosima’s transformation from military officer to monk was his realization that “we don’t understand that life is paradise”, repeating the declaration of his dying elder brother that “life is paradise and we are all in paradise, only we don’t want to know it”, or, as recalled by Zosima, “Every man is responsible for everyone, only people don’t know it. If they knew – it would be paradise at once;” similar words are uttered in turn by Zosima’s mysterious visitor, who adds: “Paradise is hidden in everyone of us” Dostoevsky probably knew what Bodhisattva qualities were and he may have used this knowledge to create the characters of Father Zosima.
For Father Zosima, the modern predicament is a kind of radical individualism in which people are isolated and alienated from one another. Zossima concludes with a sermon about two ways of life: the material world, full of the pursuit of pleasure and desire, and the ecclesiastical world, focused on obedience, fasting, and prayer. The fundamental difference between these two worlds is their conception of freedom: freedom in the material world refers to the unbridled pursuit of one’s desires, whereas freedom in the ecclesiastical world means restraining and controlling these desires (Trepanier, 2009).
The Jataka story teller explains that sensual desire arises from thoughts. The human mind is geared to hold on to pleasurable experiences. It is a self-centered type of desire. The Jathaka stories indicate that craving as a principal cause in the arising of suffering. The Jathaka story indicated a number characters, that acted irrationally due to Avidyā or ignorance. Dostoyevsky objected to the idea that human beings are rational creatures, who only need to be shown their true interests to follow them (Beveridge, 2009). Dostoyevsky’s work demonstrates that individuals cannot be reduced to a simple formula. (Beveridge, 2009). The Jathaka stories concur this concept.