Jainism – a way of life




The Tattavārtha Sutra says that right or enlightened conduct is achieved by these six things:

(1) restraint, (2) self-control, (3) righteousness, (4) reflection- positive thinking, (5) victory over affliction, and (6) austerities.

The above aspects of enlightened conduct are explained here in a concise manner.

(1) Curbing the activities of the body, speech and mind brings about self-restraint.

(2)The five controls are-

A- Proper care whilst walking,

B- Care in speech

C- Care in obtaining only what is essential for living,

D- The careful use of articles (so as not to cause any violence to any living beings.)

E- Care in the disposal of articles, so as not to cause unnecessary waste and any violence.

(3) Perfect righteousness is-

  • forgiveness.

  • modesty.

  • simplicity.

  • cleanliness of mind and body.

  • truthfulness.

  • self-discipline.

  • austerity.

  • renunciation.

  • non-attachment.

  • continence.

(4) Twelve points of positive thinking, contemplation that helps one to walk on the path of righteousness (and enlightened conduct). One must continuously contemplate on a given point (one of the twelve subjects given below) for a considerable time to help analyse his own situation. The points are very briefly explained as follows-

1) Nothing is permanent (including our body), but everything is transitory.

2) There is no true shelter except the shelter of religion.

3) Reflection of the cycle of births and deaths.

4) The individuality of birth and death. (One must face both circumstances alone).

5) Acknowledging the separation of the soul from the body.

6) The purity of the soul in comparison with other matter.

7) All efforts of material gain may lead to ashrava.

8) The possibility of samvar and understanding the ways of achieving this.

9) Nirjarā through the observance of rules and codes of conduct, as laid down in Jain scriptures.

10) The contemplation of the universe and of our own position within the universe (loka)

11) Recognising how rare and difficult it is to have true faith and an understanding of one’s own righteousness.

12) The contemplation of religion as the saviour of oneself.

(5) Austerities have a special place in the Jain code of the conducts. There are twelve types of austerities or penance. The first six are considered external penance because they are mainly physical austerities. The remaining six are internal as the majority of them are connected with the mind and our feelings towards others.

The twelve austerities are as follows:

1) Fasting – carried out according to the strict regulations laid down by Jain spiritual teachers.

2) Eating in moderation. This acts in preserving good health.

3) Abandoning feelings of greed. (Having limitation in the number of items one eats)

4) Eating without feelings of attachment to food.

5) Self-imposed hardships to train one’s mind.

6) Control of the body and senses.

The six internal types of austerities are-

1) The repentance of misdeeds.

2) Showing modesty and respect for spiritual leaders.

3) Serving spiritual leaders

4) Studying good books.

5) Meditation

6) Observing mental kausagga (i.e. feeling the separation of the body and soul through Jain-yoga practices).

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