Jainism emphasizes great importance to the state of equanimity. In the state of equanimity, free from Attachment and Aversion one eradicates high amount of Karma particles bounded with the Soul. Usually one acts with attachment or aversion when one becomes happy or unhappy. One becomes happy when things are going according to his/her desire and one becomes unhappy when things are not going according to his/her desire. Now why the things are not going according to someone’s desire? To understand this we need to go through the Philosophy of Karma.
Every living being has a soul which has basic attributes like, Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Perception, Infinite Bliss and Infinite Energy. There are two different types of energy working in this Universe, Sentient and Non-sentient. Non-sentient is that explained in Physics and very well explained by the famous Einstein’s Equivalence Principle. It is connected with Matter. On the other hand there exists another kind of energy which is Sentient Energy. Sentient Energy is the basic attribute of a soul. The soul is independent substance in the Cosmos which was never born and which will never vanish. There are infinite souls in the Universe. The souls can be categorized into two types, Liberated and Non-Liberated. The liberated souls are those who are free from the cycle of birth and death. The Non-Liberated are in bondage of Karma and thus goes through the cycle of birth, death and re-birth. However, from the Absolute Point of View (Nishchaya Naya) there is no difference between the mundane and liberated souls. They both possess the same qualities.
The mundane soul is clogged by the eight types of Karma. The four are destructive and the rest are Non-destructive. The soul itself is the doer of its own action (From the absolute point of view it’s pure but it does action because of Miss-belief or Mithyatva). The action done through Mind, Speech and Body causes the Karma particles to stick to the soul’s space points and thus the soul wanders in the cycle of birth and death and experiences suffering. There are two types of action, Inauspicious and Auspicious. Inauspicious action causes to accumulate inauspicious Karma which gives bitter fruits whenever they arise. Same way, auspicious action causes to accumulate auspicious Karma which gives sweet fruits whenever they arise. The cluster of karma particles is know as “Karma Vargana” in Jain terminology. Now, if one is ignorant about this philosophy then he/she reacts with either attachment or aversion at the time of the emergence of previously acquired Karma and thus binds even more Karma. Thus the bondage extends and as a result the soul suffers more in the never ending cycle of birth and rebirth.
The Omniscient Lords have explained to react with equanimity at the time of emergence of the previous Karma. The Lord has explained not to act with attachment when good things are happening with us and aversion when bad things are happening with us. In the state of perfect equanimity one blocks the influx of fresh Karma and even eradicates previously acquired Karma. This process of eradicating old Karma (in the state of equanimity) is so fast that one destroys much strong Karma in a few seconds that the other (who is ignorant and does austerities without practicing equanimity) can destroy in millions of years!
There is a beautiful story in Jain history which can better help to understand this…
In the time of the 22nd Tirthankar, Lord Neminath and Shri Krishna there lived a great monk named Dhandhan Muni. He was actually the sun of Shri Krishna but he left his kingdom after hearing Lord Neminath’s magnetic sermons. Since the time of his renunciation he faced very difficult problem. Jain monks and nuns do not cook their food; do not get it prepared for them. They go to different householders and receive a little food from each house. For monk Dhandhan Muni, it was the rise of Benefit Obstructing Karma (Laabhantraya Karma). Such type of Karma obstructs benefit whatever he/she gains. For Dhandhan Muni, this Karma obstructed the gaining of food. Wherever he go he would not get food from the householders. The householders would close their door whenever they see Dhandhan Muni approaching their door.
One day one of his colleagues asked Lord Neminath, “Dear Lord, why such a great monk is having problem for getting his food? Why he always returns without any food? Why the householders of this great town of Dwarka are not offering food to this monk who is the son of great King Vasudev (Lord Krishna)?”
The Omniscient Lord replied, “Oh monk, this is the emergence of the Benefit Obstructing Karma that blocks benefits of the food for Monk Dhandhan. Everything, either good or bad happens because of our good or bad deeds. There is a reason, nothing happens without any reason. In one of his previous births, the Monk Dhandhan was the minister of a King. His name was Parashar and he was ordered to keep an eye on farming. There were many farmers, bulls and cows working under him.
Once, at the time of noon all the farmers took a break for their lunch. They all had worked hard for farming and thus all were hungry. The farmers were taking their meal and the bulls and cows were eating grass. At that time, Parashar stopped them from eating and ordered them to plant seeds. The farmers were hungry so they asked Parashar to let them take their lunch first, but Parashar didn’t even listen to them and ordered them to work for more hours. He said, “First you all plant more seeds in the farms, I will let you eat after the whole work is done.”
All the farmers, bulls and cows were hungry, they were not interested to pursue their work at that time but they had to accept the order, there was no other way. So they pursued their work without any interest. Thus by interrupting in their way of taking meal, Parashar bounded Benefit Obstructing Karma and that karma has come into action in the present birth. So he is not getting food from any householders.”
By listening to the Lord, Monk Dhandhan Muni realized the truth and vowed that he will accept food only gained by his own effort. He will not accept food brought by other monks. Thus, since that time he would daily go to at the doors of the householders of the town of Dwarka and would return without any food. This lasted for six months. Monk Dhandan Muni had been observing fasts since 6 months with ultimate equanimity. He had realized his mistake and he was not showing any hatred toward the householders as he knew that he was responsible for all this.
One day while walking in the street he met his mundane father Shri Krishna. Krishna stepped down the elephant and bowed before Dhandhan Muni and inquired about his life as a monk. When Shri Krishna went back, the nearby householder called Dhandhan Muni for alms. The householder put some laddus (Indian sweet) in the monk’s bowl. Dhandhan Muni thought this must be end of his Benefit Obstructing karma. So before eating and breaking his fast he went to Lord Neminath to confirm whether his Benefit Obstructing Karma has ceased. The Lord said, Oh Dhandhan, your karma has not ceased yet, you received the food is not because of your karma but because of Shri Krishna’s karma. The householder thought that how great that monk is, even the king like Shri Krishna bows before him! So he called you and offered you this food.”
Upon listening this fact from the Omiscient Lord, Dhandhan started to think, “how strong karma I bound by obstructing other’s food in my previous lives!” Thus he decided to forsake the alms (laddus). At the time of forsaking he performed strong equanitmity. He didn’t show any hate to the householders but he found responsible himself behind this. Soon, at the time of forsaking laddus he entered Shukla Dhyana (Pure Meditation) and climbed the ladder of annihilation. In the second step of this meditation (Ekatva Vitarka Savichara Shukla Dhyana) he destroyed not only Benefit Obstructing Karma but also destroyed all the four destructing Karma attached to his soul. As all four karma shed away he became Omniscinet, the all knowing, all perceiving Arihanta.
This shows how one can destroy karma by practicing strong equanimity and can attain Liberation. If we accept the fact that we are the responsible behind our happiness and sorrow then we can attain the state of equanimy and ultimately the state of ultimte bliss.