Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jains, Three Jewels and Moksha

By following the Jain Way, observing the Three Jewels, one may realize Moksha, liberation from re-birth.There are three parts to this: right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. They are inter-related since they are not, in the Jain view of Ford Maker, Akalanka, three paths to liberation--there is only one;thus the three Jewels are necessarily inter-related.

Right faith: as a religious means, "it is the actual presence of faith contained within the Three Jewels which is really noteworthy," writes Dundas in his book, The Jains. Jains do not perceive faith as blind; rather it is the "correct" way of looking or perceiving things. By placing faith at the center of belief, emphasis is therefore given to it as "an essential component to salvation... broadening beyond Hinduism, for which faith does not play so central a role." Jainism views enlightenment then as both faith and a process of self-cultivation leading towards enlightenment, until there arises omniscence, totally unique and unconditioned.

Right Knowledge: For many Jains, this means having a proper knowledge of the Jain scriptures. The effort is primarily directed towards the internal realization of ones' inner nature. It is undertaken with a view of realizing a completely unfettered mind. Knowledge is not to argue "the truth of what one knows and sees, but asserts to his ability the "immediate and unmediated experience of the totality of reality." Some thinkers today argue that Jain, shares characteristics of a "revealed religion" in the traditions of Judeo-Christian-Muslim belief.

Jains believe that a person who has right faith and right knowledge will be motivated and able to achieve right conduct.Many Jains believe that a person without right faith and right knowledge cannot achieve right conduct; thus following scripture and ritual for the wrong reasons for example, so that other people will think you are a "good" person. Right conduct is intertwined with the other jewels; it results in the desire to avoid harm, non-violence, freeing oneself from attachments as a cause of suffering, eschewing negative habits, thoughts and behaviors.

One example of right conduct is not to hoard what you have. Jains take only what they need to sustain themselves, while ascetics may accept less, the lay person often is married, raises a family and cares for children and the elderly. So the practice for lay persons must not be confused with practice for monks or nuns, who choose, and vow an acetic life. The practice then, for most, is not about giving up all your possessions. It is about giving up the belief that your happiness depends upon ownership, what you may think you own.This includes not just material belongings, but personal time, relationships, memory, and beliefs. By gaining freedom from this belief, in the Jains' view, it is inconsequential what is possessed. Moreover since all have a soul, unique and given by a greater entity, nothing and no one can be possessed. To attempt to take posession of things and persons is a sure way to suffer, since one cannot control events or their passing.

Seeking to protect against loss either of "possessions" or persons, we cling, suffering, and the person to whom we cling suffers, in suffocation what cannot be. When we cling, we suffer. Jains practice letting go, not clinging, not fearing loss and change. Jains "upon entering the Temple, utter the word, 'abandonment,' signifying a move from the profane to the sacred." Upon viewing the image of a Ford Maker, this same word is uttered. What is essential to Jain practice is not that something external shall realize their devotions, but rather that something internal shall arise in the conscious of the devotee through the performance of the ritual, a spiritual purification.

No comments: