Fundamentals of Jainism
Jainism lays down the five fundamental principles that actually means the five step-by-step to live this human life in such a way that we experience the state of peace and bliss within.
1. Non-violence (Ahimsa)
The first fundamental way of living is non-violence as Lord Mahavira said, “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma”. The all-inclusive aspect of non-violence depicts three essential ethics in day to day living, namely:
- Non-hurting - This is the grossest form of non-violence explaining no physical hurt towards any form of life, knowingly or unknowingly. Being a human is the most valuable life as it has the power to save others from hurt. So, Ahimsa, in its grossest forms indicates not causing physical hurt, damage or injury to anyone.
- Non-harming - This is the subtler form of Ahimsa expressing no intention of harming others, knowingly or unknowingly. A human, in the state of ahimsa (violence) tends to think negative for the others who are different from their one way of living and thinking. So, non-violence at subtler level means not harnessing the feelings of harm and vandalism towards any life form.
- Non-hating - The subtlest form of non-violence is not to stay in the state of hatred towards any person-place-thing. We continually nurture the state of mind that is full of hatred and enmity towards the people, things and situations around, even knowing that we can’t change much about them. This hostile feeling of hatred actually causes unrest and disharmony amongst our own self. So, the subtlest form of non-violence is not to hate any form of life and live in accord to whatever life brings to us. This doesn’t mean withdrawing ourselves from any self effort but it emphasise on dropping hatred from any effort.
2. Truthfulness (Satya)
This aspect of Jainism is one of the most wrongly interpreted. We keep on telling the younger generations to speak truth as the fundamental aspect of Jainism. But, to speak truth is something we all learn in our moral class in grade 2 or 3! Lord Mahavira cannot list something of that grade as one of the 5 ‘Mahavrat’. There has to be something more to it. And so, at SRM we believe in this fundamental principle as to “choose right.” We have to discipline this human mind in such a way that whatever situation comes in life we must choose right action and right reaction. Thus, the fundamental principle of truthfulness states:
- To choose right, between right and wrong
- To choose eternal, between temporary and permanent
When one lives life through the learnings from Sadguru the essence of truthfulness starts pouring in the mind that enables the being to choose right and eternal in whatever stage of life they are.
3. Non-stealing (Achaurya)
The outcome of low intellect is the shallow interpretation of such powerfully intense words of enlightened beings. Achaurya Mahavrat is generally considered as not to steal others’ goods. But again, these are the ethical values that we learn at young ages. The enlightened stature of Lord Mahavira cannot deliver such a shallow message. There has to be something more to it.
So, Achaurya literally means not to steal, consider or take away others’ things or possessions. But when it comes to deeper aspect, spiritually, it means not to consider body-mind-intellect as our own. Self is pure consciousness and body-mind-intellect are just the instruments of human life that enable us to know the True Self. For example, water in the pitcher—we know water can be contained in this pitcher but the pitcher is not water. Pitcher is here just to contain water, and it is the water that quenches the thirst and not the pitcher. Similarly, pure self is contained in body-mind-intellect but there not ‘Me’. In our state of ignorance we continuously claim body-mind-intellect as ‘Me’ and ‘mine’, i.e. the highest state of ‘Chaurya’ (stealing). Returning from such false notions and believing Self as only ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’, we abide to the fundamental principle of Achaurya.
4. Celibacy (Brahmacharya)
This is essentially the result of life lived with aforesaid 3 principles of non-violence, truthfulness and non-stealing. The actual word is ‘Brahma-charya’ which literally means to stay in Brahma (Soul). When a person chooses right over wrong and permanent Self over temporary body-mind-intellect then the result of this choice is simply returning to the Self (eternal consciousness). When we know that body-mind-intellect is not ‘Me’, then we naturally look towards what is ‘Me’? This primeval shift of consciousness towards Self is known as Brahmacharya.
The result of withdrawing perception of body-mind-intellect as Self can be the state of celibacy. One can naturally abstain oneself from physical indulgence with other. The cravings of deriving pleasure from others’ touch-body-sense drops off easily when one experiences distress from their own body.
5. Non-Possessiveness (Aparigraha)
The one who awakes in Self and lives life with experiential knowledge of body-mind-intellect as not being his own lives the external life in the state of Aparigraha which is essentially the non-attachment to possessions. This non-attachment can be visibly felt to all levels of life and one is said to be living the path shown by Lord Mahavira. This non-possessiveness can be experienced as:
- Non-possessiveness of things - The more we know the eternal Self, lesser is the attachment towards the temporary things. So, with withdrawal and extension, availability and non-availability of things when one is not in the state of mental or physical agitation, it is called non-possessiveness of things.
- Non-possessiveness of people - On the stage of life, people come, play their role and go away. The one who knows the reality of this play of life goes beyond the drama and knows his True Self. A person living as ‘Jain’ is not obsessed by possession of people. They live happily in crowd or in seclusion, since their peace and happiness is no more derived from material world outside but from the eternal world of Soul within.
- Non-possessiveness of thoughts - People with this state of awareness (as explained above) are people of all-inclusive mindset. They do not possess insistence of their thoughts. They understand the aspect of relativity and respect everyone’s thought in relative realms. Nobody’s thought can be absolute because thoughts by nature cannot be absolute. The only absolute is True Self that is experienced beyond the state of thoughts.