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JVBL - Souvenir 2007 - Ecology & Non-Violence

Published: 05.01.2008
Updated: 07.01.2011

JVB London - Souvenir 2007

Ecology & Non-Violence

The substances, soul and matter are two components of the world. Matter is as important as the soul in maintaining the world. The Jain scriptures not only insist on non-killing of sentient beings but also prescribe restraints on using matter. In Agams, this is called Ajivikaya-Samjame. Limitless exploitation of natural resources is regarded as a great source of ecological imbalance.

The basis of ecological balance is non-violence and self-restraint. If people mould their lifestyles around non-violence and austerity, pollution can be eradicated to a great extent. Through non-violence, we establish an indirect and intrinsic relation with the world of living beings. Such a relation is beyond explanation. It affects the relations between living beings in a positive way. In the Jain Agams, non-violence (Ahimsa) has been described by several names, such as an island (Deevo), protection (Tanam), refuge (Saranam), foundation (Paittha), solution (Samahee), strength (Satti), prosperity (Samidhi), welfare (Kallanam), auspicious (Mangalam), security (Rakkha), assurance (Asaso), trust (Veesaso), fearlessness (Abhao) and beneficial to all beings (Savvabhooya Khemamkari).

The more we head towards luxury, the more the industries develop; consequently pollution also increases. Self-discipline is a strong mean towards the prevention of pollution.

Ahimsa is a multi-published word in the world. I would like to say that before talking about non-violence, we should try to understand violence. Violence is of two kinds: internal violence (Bhav Himsa) and external violence (Dravya Himsa). Attachment to worldly pleasures, hatred and anger are internal violence. These are the root cause of intentionally killing living beings.

In Thanam, one of the main Jain scriptures, there is a verse:

Satthmaggi visam lonam, sineho Kharmambilam duppautto mano vaya kao, Bhavo ya aviratee

This verse states that there are several kinds of weapons such as fire, poisons etc. but that these are external weapons. The real weapon that is internal is Aviratee - the uncontrolled desires of sentient beings. This instinct of lust is the main cause of violence. Unless we pay attention to this point, we cannot expect to nurture non-violent individuals; nor can we expect to promote or develop non-violent societies.

According to Jainism, there are six kinds of living beings: earth-bodies, water bodies, air-bodies, living beings, plants and other mobile beings. Water is a living being. In the same way, earth, fire, air and plants are sentient beings. A Jain monk or nun is not allowed to touch the leaf of a tree; for when touched, the tree feels pain. Abstinence from violence or limitation of violence towards all sentient beings is essential for ecological balance.

A necessary step for training in non-violence is to undertake penance. Penance is of two kinds: physical or external penance and emotional or internal penance. Development of the capacity of tolerance is essential for the practice of non-violence. Physical penance makes our body fit for tolerance. It includes fasting, limiting the intake of food, physical posture, exercise etc. Emotional penance consists of Swadhyay (the study and contemplation of topics found in scriptures and books about non-violence), Dhyan (perceptive meditation), Kayotsarg (detachment from and relaxation of the body with awareness) etc.

In Jain spiritualism, there is a word Kashaya (passions). Anger, pride, fraud or deceit and greed are the defining characteristics of Kashaya. Training that involves the control of these passions is vital for non-violent action.

Dasvealiyam, a prominent Jain scripture, says:

Uvasamen bane koham manam maddavaya jine, Mayam chajjavbhaven loham santosao jine

A person can control anger by the repeated practice of forgiveness. One can be free from pride by practising modesty. Straightforwardness can defeat deceit. And finally, contentment frees one from greed.

The positive aspects of Ahimsa are friendliness and compassion. A person with friendliness and compassion will be able to integrate non-violence in their daily lives. Positive thinking has an auspicious effect on ecology. On the other hand, negative thinking such as cruelty, jealousy, and contempt has a bad effect on human health as well as on ecology. The essential requisites for ecological balance are the practice of non-violence, self-restraint and controlling unlimited luxury and lust.

JVBL, Souvenir 2007

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                1. Agams
                2. Ahimsa
                3. Anger
                4. Body
                5. Contemplation
                6. Deceit
                7. Dhyan
                8. Dravya
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                26. Swadhyay
                27. Tolerance
                28. Violence
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