June 10th, 2005
I honestly don’t know how the Jains are able to live and survive in our modern world. This has to be one of the most, if not the most, strictly disciplined religions I’ve ever even heard about. Everything must be considered by them, be it microorganisms that are in their drinking water or in the air, in order for the Jains not to harm those organisms. Everything seems to be taken to the extreme. Extreme to the point that some go around with a peacock feather to sweep away any insects away from the path in order not to step on them, which would kill the insect. I was in awe after we learned that for many of them (I’m not quite sure whether or not it was only the monks who do this), the only food they eat is rotten fruit that has fallen naturally to the ground. They won’t pluck the fruit from the tree because it violates the tree? Now this kind of attitude shows me that Jains must be the most non-violent people on earth. If they won’t even hurt a plant in order to live, that’s simply amazing.
I don’t particularly enjoy having an animal slaughtered for me to have a steak, so I choose to eat vegetarian burgers and such. I know it isn’t as nature-loving as the Jains are, but it is the best I can do.
Some of their practices do seem to be concessions made in order to survive in our modern world. Such as the walking the streets with a bowl in their hands and waiting to see if someone else will give them some rice (even though it is cultivated) they will eat that.
Although I greatly admire the Jains’ ability to restrict themselves from some of the things others take for granted, I don’t think I would be able to live the kind of life they lead. I think many people from other religions and cultures would benefit immensely from the patience training with the coloured rice. Many people (especially in our modern countries) have no patience, and when faced with such a task, they would no doubt get up, frustrated, kick the bowls of coloured rice and walk away. But, I have been fortunate enough to have had patience all of my life and I hope to continue that, and sometime I do look around at some people sometimes and think, “Yes, this person has no patience at all.” The Jains are extraordinary people for their beliefs, their philosophy of life, et cetera.
I will probably never be as devoted to a belief as they are or as humble, but, I think the best thing a person can do is try to incorporate some of the good things from various sources, be it other religions or “philosophies” and try to become a better person by doing so. But I must emphasize that adherence to any one religion or group does not automatically mean a person is more moral than another. True morality comes from the striving to achieve a certain level of perfection in one’s views and actions.