Please read a more recent post about this here.
The Jain concept of Ekatva refers to us being alone.
Nobody can suffer the fruits of another person’s good or bad deeds (karmas). We enter the world and leave it alone.
Thus the thinking that our friends and family can take care of us is a fallacy.
This was discussed at an event held by the Young Jains UK on Sunday 17th August 2008 –
Ekatva means aloneness or soleness. We enter the world alone and we leave it also alone. Each one of us has to suffer the fruits of our individual karmas. Our cooperation in worldly affairs, love and affection for others should not be allowed to be degenerated into attachment because no amount of attachment either for our family or friends can save us from pangs of life. Consciousness that I am alone, and alone have I to chart my course of life. As also that my family, my friends and my belongings are not mine, does not breed selfishness, but bugging, to all these things, does bring selfishness because such bugging is the result of gross attachment which is the worst vice in human nature.
Ekatva Bhavna – Solitude of the soul
Under this reflection, one thinks that the soul is solitaire, and lonely in existence. The soul assumes birth alone, and departs alone from this world. The soul is responsible for its own actions and karmas. The soul will enjoy the fruits, and suffer the bad consequences of its own action alone. Such thoughts will stimulate his efforts to get rid of karmas by his own initiative and will lead religious life.
Thinking of being alone.
In this Samsar (worldly life) the Jiva (soul) is born alone and dies alone. It accumulates the Karmas alone and it experiences the fruits of its Karmas alone, too. Who belongs to whom in this world? Though jiva is living in the middle of the crowd, he is absolutely alone. Therefore, give up the attachment for others.
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