Jainism

((PKG)) JAINISM

((TRT: 05:34))

((Banner: Faith))

((Topic Banner: Jainism))

((Reporter/Camera: Genia Dulot))

((Map: Los Angeles, California))

((Main characters: 2 male))

((NATS))

((Dr. Jayesh Shah

President, Jain Center of Southern California))

Jain religion is thousands of years old, one of the oldest religions on this earth. There are three main tenets: Ahimsa means non-violence, Aparigraha means non-possessiveness and Anekantavada means multiple views. It’s mainly based on non-violence. Do not harm anyone. We feel that vegetables or trees have life. So we try to minimize violence whenever, wherever it’s possible. Respect each and every life on this universe.

((NATS))

((Christopher Jain Miller, PhD

Jain Studies Professor, Loyola Marymount))

Started as an undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University when I took my first Indic Religions course there. And we were asked during one of our writing assignments at home to write an essay about non-violence.

I was always just brought up eating whatever I wanted, which was always fast food, American fast food and all those kinds of things. Eating meat all the time, not even questioning it and then suddenly I was being asked to reflect on non-violence. While I was writing that paper, there was a spider crawling across the wall above my computer in my house. And I remember grabbing something and reaching back to swat the spider down and then right before I was about to hit the spider, I stopped and I said, “Wait a minute. I’m writing a paper about non-violence. I’m reflecting on non-violence.” And for the first time in my life, I finally realized that I had this insight that everything wants to live. This spider doesn’t want to die. It wants to live. And if I hit it and kill it, I’m taking that away from it.

((NATS))

((Christopher Jain Miller, PhD

Jain Studies Professor, Loyola Marymount))

There was that defining moment that planted a seed in me that will later grow into the rest of me sort of unfolding, becoming a vegetarian and eventually a vegan, all of which was really under the influence of Jain philosophy.

((Dr. Jayesh Shah

President, Jain Center of Southern California))

Crises comes. This is where Jain religion comes in the picture: that you could be right, I could be right, he could be right, she could be right, in their own way. I can give you simple example. There’s an elephant standing there. Four blind people. One is holding the trunk, one is holding the leg, one is holding the tail. Tail guy would say, “I’m holding a rope.” The other one say, “Oh, I’m holding a big pillar.” They are true in their own ways and that’s where this multiple view system comes in the picture.

There might be multiple reasons for conflict and turmoil going through this country and ego might be one of them or personal aspirations or personal expectations might be another one. But when you believe in Jain principles where you believe in Aparigraha or Anekantavada, that’s when you can win over other people and you can resolve the conflict. ((Christopher Jain Miller, PhD

Jain Studies Professor, Loyola Marymount))

Another perspective that comes out of this, all of this, is the concept of multiperspectivalism. This is often interpreted in modern Jainism as intellectual non-violence. It’s allowing others to have a perspective and respecting their perspective, even if it’s not the same as your own, unless, and this is the big unless, unless it incites violence or violence is involved. So it’s a general respect for other world views as part of an overall practice of non-violence and not saying, “You’re wrong. I’m right.”

((NATS))

((NATS: Christopher Jain Miller teaching))

The first thing you do in yoga is you set your intention to set your relationship right with the world. It’s going to ask you to consider to do your best, no matter what, to perfect the paramount virtue, which is, for Jains, a paramount virtue as well, of non-violence. You want to set your relationship to the world in a way where you are inflicting the least violence possible and always thinking about how can I reduce my violence on the world.

((Christopher Jain Miller, PhD

Jain Studies Professor, Loyola Marymount))

Over a very long period of time throughout my 20s and my 30s, I studied the Jain tradition and I studied the yoga tradition and then began to teach it. Over the course of the past several years, Jain donors in the United States in, I should say in North America, have come together and pooled their resources to create funded positions to teach Jain studies. They want students to be aware that being non-violent is even an option.

((NATS: Christopher Jain Miller teaching))

And then just begin to pay attention to your breath. Be thankful for your breath. So, we’re going to start the breathing exercise.

((Christopher Jain Miller, PhD

Jain Studies Professor, Loyola Marymount))

With all the things going on in the United States right now with politics, with violence, of course the message of non-violence brings something positive to think about, but even more specifically, the perspective of multiperspectivalism. Giving people a chance to voice what it is that they want to voice, as long as we’re willing to do it in a civil way that doesn’t eventually escalate into violence. And even in America, we have our own legacy of philosophies of free speech. John Stuart Mill and the idea that we should have free speech but that free speech, we should draw a line when that free speech attempts to incite violence.

((NATS))

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Published on 2022-01-14

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Originally posted as: Jainism, made available by Voice of America under the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.


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