Lessons for juniors(17)
Bhavana means reflection or contemplation. We are always thinking of something which may be near us or could even be as far away as the other end of the world. This thinking may cause happiness, sorrow, anger, greed, jealousy, or egoism, etc. And depending upon how we react, we attract different types of karmas to our souls. No prudent person would like to attract bad karma and at certain stages any karma at all. But it is not as easy as turning off a switch. So to minimize the bondage of karmas, the Jina have taught us to observe sixteen Bhavanas. Of them the following four can easily be practiced by the householders while the rest of twelve may be observed once we become more serious about spiritual uplift.
- Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of being a Friend)
- Pramod Bhavana (Thinking of Appreciation)
- Karuna Bhavana (Thinking of Compassion)
- Madhyastha Bhavana (Thinking to stay neutral or uninvolved)
Let us understand how these bhavanas play important roles in our lives, how they can keep us away from bad karmas, and ultimately how they can improve our overall chances to uplift our souls.
- Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of the Friendship) Lord Mahävira said, “We must be friend 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 the harm, deceit or quarrelsomeness with anybody. If we contemplate on Maitri Bhavana, 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 Bhavana (Thinking of the Appreciation) In this bhavana, we admire the success of our friends, spiritual leaders, and the Arihants. One of the most destructive forces in our lives is jealousy. However, friendship combined with the admiration, destroys jealousy . As jealousy subsides, negative impulses are turned into positive ones, and in due time, we will be at peace.
- Karuna Bhavana (Thinking of the Compassion) Instead of succeeding, many of our friends may be getting into trouble for the 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 karuna Bhavana and show compassion for them instead of disgust or hate. We should show them the right path with the patience, tolerance, and forgiveness and offer them the needed support. This way we can avoid accumulating bad karma for us as well as for them.
- Madhyastha Bhavana (Think of staying neutral or uninvolved) The life appears to be nothing but involvement. Sometimes the situation works out favorably and sometimes it does not. So instead of getting disappointed, angry, or more involved, we should contemplate on Madhyastha Bhavana 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 Madhyastha Bhavana, we remain in equanimity, instead of provoking turmoil in our minds. When our mind stays neutral and uninvolved, then the karma stay 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 the 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 bhavanas, one should contemplate on them as many times as needed. If there is a goal, then there is an achievement!