Jainism is one of those spiritual philosophies that is entirely about self-improvement.
Similar to Hinduism, Jainism is a philosophy that considers a person as going through a continuous cycle of birth, life, death, and re-birth in succession so that each new life is a little more “pure” than the last, until the person reaches a state of perfection so that the cycle of birth and death is broken.
This attainment of perfection believed by Jains come from basic principles of good actions, thoughts and behaviors – which are often called Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.Based on these principles, Jainism takes thought and action and value them as the same, while some religions (including original Christianity as Jesus taught it) tended to make thought superior to deed. In Jainism, if the action is not spiritually sound, then the thought is not either, and vice versa.
The Jain philosophy of right action and right thought has a foundation that consists of what are called “nine fundamentals” of Jainism. We’ll spell these out one by one.
- Jiva is about a soul that is eternal, invisible, formless and cannot be destroyed. It is seen as an eternal energy, and all living beings are called Jiva.
- Anjiva is that which has no soul or consciousness (a non-living thing). Anjiva is divided five ways: method of movement (Dharmastikay), method of rest (Adarmastikay), matter itself (Pudgalastikay), space (Akashatikay), and time (Kala).
- Punya, which is received by completing tasks of good. These can include charity, forwarding religious philosophy to others, and other deeds deemed “wholesome.” Punya means literally “results of good deeds,” not the deeds themselves. It is fruitage, if you will.
- Pap is the opposite of Punya in that it is the result of bad actions or behaviors. Any act of cruelty, anger or violence can bring about negative results to the perpetrator.
- Asrava is essentially “karma is a b**ch.” Any badbelief, passion or negligent behavior brings about bad karma, or asrava, which “attaches” to the soul.
- Samvar is that which would stop the karma that comes from asrava. Samvar is about repentance, careful reflection, self-control and suffering for past bad deeds.
- Bandh is the idea of karmas putting us in bondage. This comes about when we react to a situation with a sense of investment, whether emotional, mental of spiritual.
- Nirjara is the erasure or elimination of karma. Karmas can be shed either actively or passively. Passive means waiting until the karmas “mature” and give off their results, while active iscan be asking for forgivenmess, paying penance, and meditating – all meant to accelerate the “maturing” of the karmas.
- Moska, which is liberation, or freedom from all karmas.
Jains will be expected to honor five main tenets, which will help ease the amount of karmas that must be covercome to achieve liberation. The five tenets are non-violence toward any living creature, non-attachment to any and all posessions, celibacy or at least sexual control, plus no lying and no stealing. Karmas may still come, but following these five tenets as closely as possible will keep most karmas away and make it easier to achieve spiritual freedom.