THE PATH OF ARHAT
Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
To achieve this end the seers have prescribed some formula, the most important of which is the prescription of constantly keeping in view twelve Bhavanas as under :
(1) Anitya Bhavana - Bhavana' means conception', Anitya' means transitory'. All material things of the universe are transitory in nature. It is an ever changing world. Nothing is still and permanent here. What gives us pain is not the changing moods but our insistence to see that the things of our liking remain permanent. Unthinking man never reconciles himself to the fact of change and this is the root of human misery because no one who belongs to this universe, and is a part of it, can free himself from the laws by which he universe is governed. It is really tragic to stay behind. We experience every moment that all objects of pleasure, wealth, the power and everything around us undergoes changes. The moment we are born, we begin to die. Change is the rule. The only exception is our spirit (Cetana). But we tend to forget the spirit which is permanent and cling to the thing which is transitory, and if in the process we become unhappy we blame others. Obviously the pangs of our pain would be greatly relieved if we constantly remember, that change is the rule and clinging to changing modes is pure ignorance.
(2) Asaruna Bhavana - Sarana' means refuse. Asarana means want of refuse or helplessness. It should be constantly borne in mind that we have to find out our own course in life. Pure religion ought to be alone accepted as a help in life. Seers and scriptures can only guide us. We have to tread on the path by our own efforts, discrimination and wisdom. When we are, overtaken by pain, physical or mental, no one can save us from its pangs. We are the makers of our own future and our pleasures and pains are of our own making. We have to learn to bear them with equanimity and without depending on others.
(3, 4) Ekatva-Anyatva Bhavana - Ekatva means aloneness or Soleness and Anyatva means separateness. 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. In fact both these Bhavanas of Ekatva and Anyatva are not only complimentary to each other but are also the logical consequence of the Asarana Bhavana referred to above. What these two Bhavanas prescribe, is to suggest that you have to bear the fruits of your own karmas - others cannot relieve you of them. Similarly you cannot relieve others of the fruits of their karmas. If we cultivate such an objectivity of outlook we would be better equipped to serve ourselves and others around us.
(5) Nivrtti Bodha or Samsara Bhavana - Nivrtti means retirement. This Bhavana asks us to remember that this self is wandering in this Samsara from one life to another, time immemorial. In words of the Great Sankara "Punarapi maranam punarapi jananam, Punarapi janani jathare Sayanam. This endless wandering from one life to the other must have some purpose. Can there be an end to it ? Surely it cannot be the scheme of Nature that this Atman should go on endlessly to experience pleasures and pains, hopes and despairs during life after life without any purpose. And if there is any purpose I must find it out. It is found that I have not gained anything by repeating this endless cycle of birth and rebirth, life and death and all the ups and downs, tensions and turmoils of aimlessly moving in this samsara. What can I do to avoid it ? A mind of a Sadhaka constantly occupied with this type of perception finally leads him to a state of Nirgrantha (Granthi) where every knot of bondage is dissolved.
(6,7,8) Asrava-Samvara-Nirjara Bhavana - The concepts of Asrava, Samvara and Nirjara have been discussed in earlier chapters. These Bhavanas are to remind us how the inflow of karmas - good as well as bad - result in bondage and how by the process of Samvara and Nirjara the inflow of new karmas can be stopped and the accumulated karmas can be destroyed.
(9) Asuci Bhavana - Every man is most deeply attached to his body. In fact all pleasures and pains are of our body. Our attachment to our family and our worldly possessions is in the ultimate analysis the attachment to our body. But what is this body ? When the self withdraws from the body what is its condition ? Even when the self does not withdraw what this body consists of ? How various diseases arise in our body ? Why it gradually decays ? If we give deeper thought to all these questions we find two important aspects of our body:
(a) Without the existence of the spirit (soul) within it, it is nothing but a conglomeration of dirt and diseases.
(b) Even with the existence of spirit within, it is constantly under the process of decay and deterioration.
To keep these aspects of the body constantly in mind is called Asuci Bhavana. The constant reminder of these aspects blunt our attachment to our body and keep us alive to the fact that self is something distinct and different from body, and the body can be best utilised not for enjoying the transitory objects of the world but for liberating the self from the shackles of karmas. This Bhavana is called Asuci' as it points out to the impure aspects of the body. This is required to be done to mitigate our attachment to the body and not for cultivating hatred towards it, as misunderstood by some. All the roads of Sadhana - roads of self-realization - are requires to be traversed through body and it is this body which is the best vehicle to take us to the final destination. It is therefore, quite necessary to take its proper care and to keep it properly nourished, healthy and efficient. What is discounted here is indulgence in material objects of life to satisfy the indisciplined cravings of the body, so that it remains a fit and efficient vehicle to carry us safely in our spiritual journey.
(10) Dharma Bhavana - A constant reminder that ten virtues, viz., Samyama (Self-control), Suntra (Truthfulness), Sauca (Purity), Brahma (Chastity), Akincanata (Absence of greed), Tapas (Penances), Ksanti (Forbearnce), Mardava (softness), Rjuta (sincerity) and Mukti (Emancipation are quite necessary to uphold the world order (Dharma).
(11, 12) Loka-bhavana and Bodhi-bhavana - Both these Bhavanas are meant to remind us the nature of this universe and its functioning through the interplay of Jiva and Ajiva.
A constant reminder of these twelve Bhavanas mitigates our pangs of pains and expands our understanding of the life's problems, and even in uncomfortable situations of life does not appear burdensome.