It is Paryushana in 8 days time. Thus in preparation of the 8 days to come, I thought it would be good to blog about the Bhavnas beforehand. Some food for thought! 🙂
So what’s a Bhavna? Well…Jainism puts a significant emphasis on the thought process of a human being. A person’s behaviour and his actions are the reflection of his internal thoughts, day in and day out. Our thoughts and actions result in the accumulation of Karma. Thus we should be mindful in our thoughts. Jainism expresses a need to make room for pure thoughts, and to drive out the impure ones. A way to do this would be through reflecting or meditating on the twelve thoughts or Bhavnas.
The purpose of the Bhavnas is to aid spiritual progress, produce detachment, and lead the aspirants from the realm of desire to the path of renunciation.
This Bhavana reflects the impermanence of objects associated with the body. Here are some examples to illustrate this Bhavana.
The body itself is prone to disease. It will age. It changes over time in terms of movement, ability to hear, see etc. Thus showing that nothing about it is permanent. It changes and usually becomes less able as time passes.
Relationships – Generally, children look up to their parents as they grow up in their shelter and protection. However, as time goes on, we experience loss. This impermanence extends to our relationships with others, be they friends, family, colleagues and so on. We will also experience loss through death at some stage because the body is not permanent.
Circumstances – Some examples of circumstances that illustrate this Bhavana well are wealth, status and reputation. Nothing is excluded from change, unpredictability or loss.
Have you seen Slumdog millionaire? The film depicts the story of a boy who lived in the slums and became a millionaire overnight. I have been told that the film is based on the experiences of Anil Kapoor. The story shows that his poverty was impermanent.
Another example of wealth being temporary can be understood in the failure of Lehman Brothers. They were one of the most established, successful and internationally well known American banks. They had existed for about 158 years. Who would have imagined that they would be brought down to their knees and be forced to declare bankruptcy? For those of you who don’t know; they became bankrupt in September 2008 and no longer exist. This shows how even high levels of success, fame and ‘good’ reputation are not exempt from impermanence.
Pleasure – Have you ever noticed how much conversation revolves around our desires and wants?
Do you often want something really badly and once you’ve got it, its value depreciates? Or do you find that your gaze goes elsewhere as you are drawn towards another object that you want to buy? This shows that even satisfying your desires is impermanent.
Food – Do you like chocolate cake? Just imagine it. It is:-
Is it making you hungry? Do you want some now? Imagine you’ve got a huge cake in front of you and you cut yourself a large slice. You enjoy the first bite as you’ve been craving it since you saw it. You want another spoonful. After five spoonfuls, do you experience the same joy that you experienced with the first bite or has the satisfaction you felt reduced? I’m sure you couldn’t keep going and still enjoy it the way you did at the beginning. Again, this illustrates the impermanence of what we may long for Even when we may have craved the consumption of something, once we’ve had a few bites things change!
The next time you face a challenging situation try and remember that it’s not permanent. It will pass. However, this applies to the ‘good’ moments too. They too will pass quickly.
The power in this Bhavana lies in the fact that once we know and accept the true nature of things, we will become a little detached. With increased detachment comes freedom, power and energy to focus on the soul. The soul is pure and it can give us everlasting bliss. This is the one thing that CAN be permanent if we strive for it. So it has to be worth it doesn’t it?