Chapter 27 – Bhävanä (Reflections)
Jain religion puts a significant emphasis on the thought process of a human being. A person’s behavior and his actions are the reflection of his internal thoughts. It is not only the action but also intention behind the action results in the accumulation of Karma. Hence, one should be very careful about his thoughts, and the subject matter of his thought.
To make room for pure thoughts, and to drive out the evil ones, Jainism recommends reflecting or meditating on the twelve thoughts known as the Twelve Bhävanä (Anuprekshä), or Reflections. The Twelve Bhävanäs cover a wide field in Jainism. They are designed to serve as an aid to spiritual progress leading to the path of renunciation. They are reflections upon the fundamental facts of life. They stop entry of new karmas as well as eradicate old karmas while one is engaged in these reflections. The followings are main twelve Bhävanäs or Contemplation
Twelve Main Bhävanäs
Anitya Bhävanä: Impermanence
All external substances including the body are transitory (Anitya). They are perishable and therefore, we should not have attachment for them.
Asharan Bhävanä: Helplessness
Human beings are experiencing tremendous agitation. When death occurs and the soul has to leave the body there is no one who can save a Jiv who is helpless. Wealth, family etc. have to be given up at such a time. No worldly things can provide refuge so why should we depend upon them.
Sansär Bhävanä: Cycle of life and death
In the cycle of Sansär, i.e. birth and death, mother can become wife; wife can become mother; and an enemy can become a friend; etc. How futile is the world? We should not have any attachment for it.
Ekatva Bhävanä: Solitariness
“I am alone, I was born alone, I will die alone, I am sick alone, I have to suffer alone, I have to experience the karmas, which I have acquired alone.” Therefore, one should be cautious and keep away from attachment and hatred.
Anyatva Bhävanä: Otherness of the body
“This body is transitory and it is different from me. I am the soul, which is not perishable. The body is perishable and wealth and family are not mine. They are different from me, therefore, I discard attachment for all these things.”
Ashuchi Bhävanä: Impurity of body
“This body is made up of impure substances. Impure substances are nourishing it. I will discard my attachments for this body and engage myself in self-discipline, renunciation, and spiritual endeavors.”
Äsrava Bhävanä: Inflow of karma
Thinking on inflow of karmas. All causes that create the inflow of karmas should be discarded.
Samvar Bhävanä: Stoppage of karma
Samvar means blocking the inflow of karmas. One must contemplate on Samiti, Gupti, Yati-dharma etc. One must carry out these activities and try to reduce or stop new bondage of karma.
Nirjarä Bhävanä: Eradication of karma
Nirjarä means to shed off whatever karmas we have. One must think of the benefits that accrue from each of the 12 kinds of Tapas or the austerities, which cause Nirjarä. One must contemplate on these austerities in order to destroy sins.
Lokasvabhäva Bhävanä: The nature of cosmos
Lokasvabhäva means one must contemplate on the three Lokas, namely: 1) the upper world,
2) the middle world, 3) the lower world, and also the whole universe filled with souls and Pudgals (matters)
Bodhidurlabh Bhävanä: Rarity of enlightenment
One must contemplate on ow difficult it is for the souls that are wandering aimlessly in the four stages of existence in the Sansär to attain the Jin dharma. There should not be even the slightest negligence in observing the religion propagated by the Jin.”
Dharma Bhävanä: Religion
“Oh: Arihanta Bhagawän, the omniscient, has expounded an excellent Shruta Dharma and Chäritra Dharma. I will engage myself in these Dharma.” One should carry out this contemplation again and again.
However, there are four auxiliary Bhävanäs that represent the positive means of supporting the Five Vows. They are intended to develop purity of thought and sincerity in the practice of religion. They play very important role in the day-to-day life of a householder and these reflections can be practiced very easily. Adopting these Bhävanäs in daily life can make a person very virtuous.
Four auxiliary Bhävanäs.
Maitri Bhävanä Contemplation of Friendship
Pramod Bhävanä Contemplation of Appreciation
Karunä Bhävanä Contemplation of Compassion
Mädhyastha Bhävanä Contemplation of Neutrality
Maitri Bhävanä (Contemplation of Friendship)
Lord Mahävir said, “We must be friends to all living beings.” The feeling of friendship brings love and respect to others. It also initiates a feeling of brotherhood among all and in turn leaves no room for harm or deceit with anybody. If we contemplate on Maitri Bhävanä, our thoughts, words, and actions will not be harsh, and we will not hurt anybody. On the contrary, we will support and protect everybody. Friendship will lead us to be tolerant, forgiving, and caring for one another. Therefore, if we develop a friendship with all living beings, we will avoid bad karma.
Pramod Bhävanä (Contemplation of Appreciation)
In this Bhävanä, we admire the success of our friends, spiritual leaders, and the Arihantas. One of the most destructive forces in our lives is jealousy. However, friendship combined with admiration, destroys jealousy. As jealousy subsides, negative impulses are turned into positive ones, and in due time, we will be at peace. By appreciating the virtues of others we develop that virtue.
Karunä Bhävanä (Contemplation of Compassion)
Instead of succeeding, many of our friends may be getting into trouble for things that can be avoided and should not be done. Even some of those who are successful may be accumulating vices such as greed and ego. They are not on the right path. They may be weak, helpless, and in distress. At a time like this, we should contemplate on the Karunä Bhävanä and show compassion for them instead of disgust or hate. We should show them the right path with patience, tolerance, and forgiveness and offer them needed support. This way we can avoid accumulating bad karma for us as well as for them.
Mädhyastha Bhävanä (Contemplation of Neutrality)
Life appears to be nothing but involvement. Sometimes the situation works out favorably and sometimes it does not. So instead of being disappointed, angry, or more involved, we should contemplate on Mädhyastha Bhävanä, which leads to the feeling that “I did my best to resolve the situation.” This leads our mind to decide that if someone does not want to understand, then leave that person alone without getting further involved. We should simply hope that one of these days, that person may understand things and change. By observing Mädhyastha Bhävanä, we remain in equanimity, instead of provoking turmoil in our mind. When our mind stays neutral and uninvolved, then karma stays away.
In short, we can avoid the influx of bad karmas and live peacefully in this worldly life by developing friendships with all living beings, admiring their success, holding their hands when they are in distress, and leaving them alone at the times when they do not understand what is right or wrong. So until it becomes the natural way of life to observe the above Bhävanäs, one should contemplate on them as many times as needed. If there is a goal, then there is an achievement!