JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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Personality is the sum total of a person’s physical, intellectual, psychological, social, moral and dynamic traits. It is also the overall impression that a person makes on the others. A person, as is evident, may have desirable as well as undesirable traits. These traits make him likeable or disliked. The importance of a desirable personality lies in the fact that a person’s success or failure in every walk of life – professional, family, social, political, religious and spiritual – depend on it.
Personality Development –
As the very name suggests, personality development means development of desirable physical, intellectual, psychological, emotional, social, moral and dynamic qualities of a person.
Physical Aspect Of Personality –
The visual impact of a person is due to his physical personality. It includes all those aspects that are externally noticeable. They include : –
(a) Appearance –
(ii) Grooming, and
(b) Bearing –
(ii) Carriage, and
(iii) Seat and posture.
(c) Body–language shows –
(i) Confidence or diffidence,
(ii) Submission or resistance, and
(iii) Careful or careless nature, etc.
(d) Mannerisms –
These are significant body movements that indicate various personality traits such as emphasis, nervousness, confidence or the lack of it, etc.
(e) Eye–contact –
A person’s eyes tell much more in an instant than it is possible to find out about him by talking to him for hours. They are indicative of his inner qualities and his nature.
Intellectual Aspect Of Personality –
The audio–visual impact of personality is complete only when the visual physical personality is supplemented by the audio intellectual personality. Intellectual aspect of personality includes all those elements, which project a person and create an impression at the intellectual level, which is much stronger than the visual physical impact. These elements are –
(a) Intelligence – It is a person’s ability to understand abstract relationships between things and objects. It can be verbal, and non–verbal. Intelligence tests are designed to test this aspect of a person’s personality.
(b) Knowledge – It involves 1. Learning, and 2. Memory, which is a combination of retention, and timely and relevant recall.
(c) Imagination – It is a person’s ability to visualize various aspects of things and situations. It has a direct impact on his –
(d) Creativity and Problem solving ability – It is the applied aspect of imagination, knowledge and skill.
(e) Expression – Effective expression of one’s thoughts has always been important for achieving success. There is a colloquial saying that means ‘one who speaks well sells well’. There is a lot of sense in this saying. In all our endeavours from trade and industry to preaching by the religious leaders, one sells something or the other. Some sell merchandise, some sell services, some sell ideas and some sell themselves. Nevertheless, there is some kind of selling that goes on all the time. For selling well or in other words making our wares or ourselves acceptable to others we must have good expression.
Psychological And Emotional Aspect –
This is the most invisible aspect of a person’s personality, yet it is in no way less important than the others are. It manifests itself in the form of –
(a) Quality of adjustment with others at home, work, and in the society in general.
(b) Mental health and emotional stability including tensions or the lack of it, Depression and other psychosomatic manifestations and enjoyment or otherwise of work in particular and the life in general.
The impacts of this aspect of personality on personal, social and professional lives are multidimensional. They include –
(a) The person may be happy or unhappy according to his emotional and psychological disposition,
(b) A happy person spreads happiness around himself and an unhappy person does just the opposite.
(c) The family, social and professional lives of an emotionally stable person are well–adjusted and happy,
(d) A happy person is a much better worker than the unhappy one. His output and quality of work are many times superior than those of the unhappy ones.
(e) A well–adjusted person enjoys much better popularity, respect and recognition than an ill–adjusted one.
(f) An ill–adjusted and emotionally unstable person easily succumbs to the lure of vices such as drinking, drugs, etc.
Solutions to psychological and emotional problems include
(a) Having role–models,
(b) Analytical rather than emotional approach to problems,
(c) Rationalisation of unfavourable situations,
(d) Expression of pent–up feelings in constructive ways such as painting, music, vigorous physical activities – sports, etc.
(e) Catharses, and lastly,
(f) Professional help, if needed.
Moral Aspect Of Personality –
The character qualities like honesty, truthfulness, non–stealing etc. fall under the purview of moral aspect of a person’s personality. No gainsaying the fact that on these character–qualities depend a person’s dependability and acceptability.
Influence of Jaina Precepts on Personality Development –
The Jaina precepts cast a lasting impression on the personality and mould it in the most desirable mode. The following paragraphs contain an analysis of the way in which it is achieved.
A. Physical Personality –
Appearance – A person’s appearance is deeply influenced by his state of health. It is now a proven fact that vegetarianism is healthier than non–vegetarianism. As the Jaina precepts strongly advocate vegetarianism, it helps its followers in ensuring better health and appearance.
Bearing – Gait, carriage and posture of a humble person create a much better impression than those of a proud or arrogant one do. Jaina emphasis on humility is well–known and hence it is a positive influence on personality.
Dress – The thumb–rule for acceptable way to dress is simplicity. Jainism is a strong advocate of this virtue and it makes for a good dress–sense.
B. Intellectual Personality –
Intelligence And Knowledge – Study or Svādhyāya is an integral part of Jaina way of life. The very words of the Lord echo though the pages of Uttarādhyayanasūtra that one must study at the appointed times and then reflect on the studied subject in lonely isolation. The study part itself includes the steps such as learning, questioning, repeating, contemplation and teaching. Needless to say that these injunctions go a long way in improving the intelligence and knowledge part of the intellectual aspect of personality.
Imagination Creativity And Problem Solving Ability– The Jaina emphasis on simplicity, frugal existence, limited possession and inconspicuous consumption instil in its followers a spirit of improvisation and it is impossible without fertile imagination and creativity. Problem solving is only a natural corollary to these two traits.
Verbal Expression – The importance of good expression for creating a good impression has been brought out earlier. The Jaina precepts deal with this aspect of personality at two levels – prescriptive and prohibitive. While it prescribes true, beneficial and limited speech, it prohibits gossip and bad talk. No need to say that these two injunctions make for good and impressive expression and spell success for the subjects.
C. Psyche And Emotions –
Adjustment – Jaina precepts of non–violence and universal love make its followers universally well–adjusted not only in the limited sense of the family, social and professional lives but on a much wider scale with each and every living being as well as with his natural environment.
Mental Health Emotional Stability And Freedom From Tensions – We have brought out in the preceding essays that following the Jaina precepts yields Personal happiness, social harmony and overall peace and amity. It stands to reason that in such an environment conducive to peace and harmony induced by the Jaina precepts the tensions melt and emotional stability and mental health prevail. The causes of tensions are ill–adjustment, greed, pride, machination and guile. Also, the regular practice of meditation helps in tension–reduction. Jaina emphasis on contentment, humility and straightforwardness, detachment and love for others effectively neutralise these causes and induce a tension–free atmosphere.
Moral Aspect Of Personality –
It goes without saying that entire Jaina lore is about promoting moral values amongst its followers. Be it truthfulness, non–stealing, sexual discipline or rational possessions and simplicity of life–style, they all aim at the same thing – morality. Need I to mention that a strong moral fibre that runs through the Jaina precepts makes its followers the most ethical, reliable and dependable people that we can come across. This single aspect of personality overshadows all the others put together and makes the holders of this single trait the most acceptable and desirable persons.
We conclude this essay on the note that Jaina precepts and the strict moral code that they advocate develop the most desirable personality traits in their adherents. They make the best personality development course that can ever be had.
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