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Jainism stresses development of feeling of friendship through Anupreksha meditation
Dr. Lalit Kishore | 10 Aug 2013

In Jainism, the 'feeling of friendship' known ?maitri bhavana' is one of the twelve feelings or ?bhavanas? to be cultivated through contemplation and meditation. It has been stressed that humans need to think to be friends of all beings in this universe.

 It is believed that, once one realizes the feeling of friendship called amity, he or she cannot think badly of anyone and it makes life easier. There is a prayer in Jainism which when translated in English goes somewhat like this: May the sacred stream of amity / Flow forever in my heart. / May the universe prosper, / Such is my cherished desire.

Chitrabhanu, a prominent figure in American Jainism. has created a Gujarati composition "Maitri Bhavanu Pavitra Jharanu" which has become popular among Jains in the US. According to Heena Modi, Jinas had taught us, “We must be a friend to all living beings.” The feeling of friendship brings love and respect for others. It also initiates a feeling of brotherhood among all and in turn leaves no room for harm, deceit or quarrelsomeness with anybody, she adds.

Furthermore, Jainism lays emphasis on the thought process of a human being.  It is held that a person’s behavior and his actions are the reflection of his internal thoughts, day in and day out. The belief is that 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. Therefore, deliberate contemplation on feeling of friendship and its practice is deemed necessary.

According to Pravin K. Shah of Jain Study Center of North Carolina, reflections, contemplations and meditation on feelings are also called Anupreksha or minute mental observances. It is believed that this creates room for pure thoughts by driving away the evil ones. Therefore, Jainism recommends reflecting or meditating on Bhavnas.

The Jain scriptures mention that one must meditate by focusing conscious with a feeling of friendship with the whole universe. By doing so, our thoughts, words, and actions will not be compassionate and he or she will not hurt anybody. Thus, meditation on friendship will lead to being tolerant, forgiving, and caring for one another leading to avoidance of bad karma.

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.