Essay Jainism: Peaceful Coexistence With All Living Beings

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“Religion is morally neutral like, say, a knife. When you use it to cut sandwiches, then a knife is a good thing; but if you use it to stick in someone’s guts, then… (Brewer, 2006, p. 1)”

Ethical disagreements within a religious culture sometimes become sharp enough to cut it into pieces. Hindu Vedic rituals required animal sacrifice, which Jains considered immoral (Molloy, p. 193). Instead of having blood on their hands, Jains preferred to practice a peaceful coexistence with all living beings. Thus, the Jain symbol of the right-hand reminds people to stop and think about the right course of action. Written in the palm of this symbol is the word “ahimsa” or non-violence (Daryapurkar, 2008, p. 1). Jains instead focus their
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Where Hindu belief is that all of us are a part of Brahman, Jainism holds to the view that everyone and everything is a separate and distinct jiva or consciousness. Jains have a very interesting system of classifying souls based on the level of conscious awareness. This classification begins with many things that non-Jains regard as either inorganic or vegetation. Steven Lalwani explains that they classify these “things” as having the sense of touch and then move upward through the senses, creating a new category based on the number of senses the soul has. The highest of these are beings with five senses like humans. This emphasis on individuality seems to inspire Jains to have the utmost respect for all life and even things like rocks and streams. Jains view each of these souls as eternally independent. As such, the soul is responsible for what it does and experiences the consequences of its actions. This sort of personal accountability seems to reinforce the Jain’s high notions of morals and ethics and guide the varying principles of behavior as to avoid karma (Jainism Beliefs, 2011, p. 2).
Due to the differing way Jains view and understand the soul, by extension they also have dissimilarities from the Hindu on how karma affects such. The honor of being human leads Jains to focus their actions on pure thoughts and deed so that, like the Hindu, they may achieve the ultimate goal of moksha or freedom (Molloy, p. 197).
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