“All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away” – Lord Mahavir Swami
This is almost what comes to my mind when someone asks me, “What’s Jainism?” I cannot say this though, because they will be like, “What?” So, I say this instead, “Jainism is a way of life, a lifestyle that supports and respects other living beings and least disturbs the environment we live in.” It has 3 major beliefs. Everything we do comes from these 3 guiding principles: Ahmisa, Anekantavada and Aparigraha.
“Kill not, cause no pain, non-violence is the greatest religion.” – Lord Mahavir Swami
Ahimsa is non-violence, trying to not to do violence to another living thing either by action or thought. It is not eating meat because you are killing living beings and you’re supporting the people who kill them. Another way to show Ahimsa is not hurting any living being which includes trees/plants, water beings, or air beings. Some of these things are impossible because you need to breathe, move, and drink water to survive. But don’t do these things intentionally. If you even think these things intentionally, you will get more bad karma for your thoughts. Also, don’t take long showers. You’re probably thinking, “How does that relate to Ahimsa?” It does, because when you take a long shower, you kill more water beings. Your parents are probably like, “take a shower.” Take a shower but take a quick shower so you can kill less beings. These are a few of the many ways to practice Ahimsa.
“Have compassion towards all living beings. Hatred leads to destruction. All are my friends, I have no enemies.” – Lord Mahavir Swami
Another part of Jainism is Anekantavada. It means multiple viewpoints. An example is the 6-9 argument where one person thinks it is a number 6 but the other person is reading that number upside down and ends up thinking it is a number 9, which too is correct. Another example is a milk carton. One person says that there’s nutrition facts, and the other says its organic milk. These are arguments that will never end because both people are correct. This principle tells us to respect every one’s point of view and understand that our own views aren’t the only right ones.
“You can only lose what you cling to.” – Buddha
Aparigraha is the idea of non-attachment and non-hoarding. We should only take what we absolutely need. If you can do with only 5 pieces of clothing, then you shouldn’t buy the 6th one. We should try to minimize how attached we are to materialistic things. We are built so that we always want more and more. We will never be satisfied with just one, unless we train our mind to practice Aparigraha, where we let go of this.
These are the 3 “pillars” on which Jainism is based. By practicing these things in our daily life, we can live a life of good karma and achieve the ultimate goal of moksha.
“All souls are equal and alike and have similar nature and qualities” – Lord Mahavir Swami
The soul is an important thing in Jainism. The soul is like a big magnet. All your karma (which is what you get from every action you take, good or bad) is like a little magnet particle. Every action you do, your karma sticks to either your body or soul, depending on if it is Ghati Karma, or Aghati Karma.
“Attachment and aversion are the root cause of Karma, and Karma originates from infatuation. Karma is the root cause of birth and death, and these are said to be the source of misery. None can escape the effect of their own past Karma” – Lord Mahavir Swami
Karma is an important thing in Jainism. You get Karma for every action you do. If you are donating money because you want to be famous and recognized for your donation, you get bad Karma, even if you donated a lot of money. But if you are doing it because you do not want people in poverty and are doing it without expecting anything in return, then you get good Karma.
“Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love” – Lord Mahavir Swami
Never get angry because anger leads to more anger, and more hatred. Anger gives you bad karma. Always forgive because forgiving brightens the day, which will lead to peace and harmony. Keep on forgiving because, as the quote above says, forgiving leads to more forgiving and more love.
The most important principle of the environment is that you are the only element. – Lord Mahavir Swami
Being green is an important thing in Jainism. Don’t pollute, you could hurt animals unknowingly. Always do the three R’s, reuse, reduce, and recycle. Instead of using disposable plastic water bottles, take the reusable water bottles that you can use many times. Have you noticed that a pack of like 30 disposable plastic water bottles cost like $5, and the non-disposable water bottles are like $5 too? Which one would be better, a disposable water bottle or a non-disposable? A non-disposable water bottle would be better because you can have more than about 30 drinks and you are helping the environment go green. Also, when you buy stuff, you get your items put in plastic grocery bags; instead of throwing it away (because a grocery bag is made up of the type of plastic that is non-recyclable), reuse it by using it again or going to a grocery store again and using it to carry your grocery items in there. Better yet, use the cloth bags. Reducing is still as good as reusing and recycling, but it is the least known in the three R’s. Reduce paper by printing double sided, not single sided (most people print single sided). Try reducing plastic, unless it is the type that you can recycle. Also, reduce the amount of vegetables you buy at the store by making a vegetable garden. This will save gas which produces green house gasses, save time from not going to the grocery store, and you will get exercise from planting and growing the garden. Get solar panels too because: 1) If you stay in the house with solar panels for 5 or so years, you save some money, 2) You don’t have to pay a dime for energy from the sun, and 3) When the coal factories produce electricity, it adds green house gasses to our earth’s atmosphere. Recycling is probably the most popular of the three R’s because there is a can named after it. You probably knew that, but did you know this? Did you know that batteries, old electronics, and glasses (the type you were on your eyes) are recyclable?!?! If you want to throw something away (in the garbage can), make sure you cannot reuse it, or recycle it. If it does not go in any of those categories, then it is safe to throw it away. After Christmas, most people throw away their Christmas trees. But what if you can recycle them? You can! They are usually turned into mulch.
This is what I would tell anybody who asks me “What is Jainism” if I have enough time to tell them!