Jainism

Jainism, one of the oldest religions in the world; it originated in ancient India and is based on the teachings of Tirthankaras or spiritual teachers (the latest one being Mahavira) who have achieved enlightenment.

The central philosophy in Jainism is the pursuit of liberation from the cycle of birth and death, known as samsara. According to Jain philosophy, this liberation can be attained through self-discipline, self-control, and the practice of non-violence. In addition to its inherent belief system, Jainism has four additional vows to guide its devotees within this philosophical context; to always speak the truth, to not steal, to show sexual restraint (with celibacy as an ideal), and detachment from the worldly possessions. While acknowledging the fact that in todays world it is difficult to practice extreme ascetism, Jain’s foremost Tirthankara Mahavira encouraged believers to exercise balance between their spiritual aspirations and worldly responsibilities.

Like Hindus and Buddhists, Jains believe that one’s reincarnation is determined by their Karma and that bad Karma is primarily brought by harming others through thoughts, words, and deeds. This is why at the heart of Jainism lies the principle of Ahimsa, or non-violence. Jains believe in the inherent sanctity of all life forms and strive to minimise harm to living creatures. This includes abstinence from physical violence and also in thoughts and speech. By cultivating kindness and compassion towards all beings, Jains seek to purify their souls and progress on the path to liberation.

Another fundamental principle in Jainism is Satya, or truthfulness. Jains believe in the importance of honesty and integrity in all aspects of life. By speaking the truth and living in accordance with it, individuals can lead a life of authenticity and moral uprightness. Jainism teaches that by embracing truthfulness, one can cultivate a deep sense of inner peace and harmony.

Jain philosophy also emphasizes the practice of aparigraha, or non-possessiveness. Jains recognize that attachment to material possessions can lead to suffering and hinder spiritual growth. By practicing non-possessiveness, individuals can free themselves from the bondage of material desires and focus on the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. Jainism encourages simplicity and contentment as a means to cultivate a state of inner tranquillity.

In addition to these core principles, Jainism places great importance on spiritual practices such as meditation and self-reflection. Meditation helps individuals to quiet the mind, develop self-awareness, and connect with their inner selves. Self-reflection on the other hand allows individuals to introspect and evaluate their actions, thoughts, and intentions. They also practice a strict vegetarian diet. So strict that they are not allowed to eat root vegetables because removing the root vegetable would kill the plant; the only vegetable they are allowed to eat are vegetables which grow above ground that can be picked while leaving the rest of it intact.

Jainism also recognizes the interconnectedness of all beings and promotes the practice of seva, or selfless service. By helping others and contributing to the well-being of the community, individuals can cultivate a sense of unity and compassion. Seva is seen as a way to transcend the ego and embrace the inherent oneness of all existence.

For those seeking spiritual growth and enlightenment, Jainism offers a profound and holistic path. It’s principles of non-violence, truthfulness, and non-possessiveness provide a solid foundation for leading a life of purpose and meaning. Through meditation, self-reflection, and selfless service, individuals can embark on a transformative journey that leads to self-realisation and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

It is worth pointing out that Jainism has been so impcatful that it influenced some notable leaders way of thinking and it still does so to date. Mahatma Gandhi is one among the notable leaders who subscribed to Jainism ideals; he was so inclined to Jainism values that he incorporated its ideals into his movement for Indian independence

Jainism provides valuable teachings and practices that can guide individuals on their spiritual journey. Its emphasis on non-violence, truthfulness, and non-possessiveness offers a pathway to inner peace, compassion, and enlightenment. For the spiritual community seeking a path of self-discovery and transcendence, Jainism serves as a timeless and profound source of wisdom..

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