Please read a more recent post about this here.
The Jain concept of Anyatva refers to the thinking that we have a sense of identity which may be associated to us belonging to a community, a family, a workplace or any other group, for example.
Anyatva means that we should not identify ourselves with these things. They are temporary and part of sansaar. The truth is that nothing is mine. We are the soul and only the soul.
This was discussed at an event held by the Young Jains UK on Sunday 17th August 2008 –
Anyatva Bhavana – Thinking of the soul as separate from the body.
The body and the soul are different and separate from each other. The body is inert, but my soul is the very embodiment of consciousness. The soul is imperishable. It will not die. The body; of course, burns and becomes ashes. Agonies afflict only the body and not to the soul. I am not the body. The body is not mine.
Anyatva Bhavna – Separateness
Under this reflection, one thinks that one’s own soul is separate from any other objects or living beings of the world. Even his physical body is also not his. At the time of death, soul leaves the body behind. The body is matter, while the soul is all consciousness.
The soul therefore should not develop attachment for worldly objects, other living beings, or to his physical body. He should not allow himself to be controlled by desires, greed, and urges of his own physical body.
This concept is part of the 12 Bhavnas (Reflections or Thoughts). Some people believe that there are 16 Bhavnas. The following explains what the Bhavnas are. (Taken from http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm/affiliates/jainism/jainedu/12bhavna.htm)
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, day in and day out. It is not the action but intention behind the action results in the accumulation of Karma. Hence, one should be very careful about his thoughts, how he thinks, and the subject matter of his thought.
To make room for pure thoughts, and to drive out the evil ones, Jainism recommends to reflect or meditate the following twelve thoughts or Bhavnas.
The twelve Bhavnas described here are the subject matters of one’s meditation, and how to occupy one’s mind with useful, religious, beneficial, peaceful, harmless, spiritually advancing, karma preventing thoughts. They cover a wide field of teachings of Jainism. They are designed to serve as aids to spiritual progress, produce detachment, and lead the aspirants from the realm of desire to the path of renunciation. They are reflections upon the fundamental facts of life, intended to develop purity of thought and sincerity in the practice of religion.
The reflections are also called Anuprekshas, longings, thoughts, aspirations, or Bhavnas.
Pravin K. Shah
Jain Study Center of North Carolina