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Question from a student

Posted By Alex S. McIntosh, Thursday, March 7, 2013

Greetings all. My name is Alex. I am not a Jain but I am studying the religion because a lot of it makes sense. However I do have one important question that has been bothering me.


I have read that the Jain religion prohibits any profession which involves the use of a large furnace, because living beings from microorganisms on upward can be destroyed in such a furnace. I have also read that Jains believe that the destruction of living beings on a large scale can cause a person to be reborn in Hell in their next life. Now, most people in America (for example, me) get their electric power from power plants that burn coal in large furnaces. That being the case, how do American Jains (or Jains anywhere else) justify using electric power for recreation and entertainment?


I know that Jains who are not monks or nuns will, for example:

-- Watch television

-- Watch movies at the theater

-- Read novels by the light of electric lamps

-- Read novels at all (though living beings are killed when trees are made into paper)

-- Use the Internet for fun.


I do all of these things to relax and have fun. If I become a Jain, how will I be able to justify still doing them at all? How do modern lay Jains do it? Please help me with this question. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.



Tags:  karma  sin 

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Dharmaraj Khot says...
Posted Friday, May 24, 2013
Dear Mr. Alex
Greeting and Jay Jinendra,
I saw that you post has remained unreplied for a while now. You have raised a good commonsense question on the applicability of Jain Principles in our daily lives. I have attempted to provide an objective answer as follows.
Your statement is entirely correct that the use of furnace or other means to produce electricity causes harm to fire-bodied living organisms, and you are justified in asking how do Jains accept and live by it.
The fundamental Jain principle, as you may know, is Ahimsa – non-violence. Therefore, Jains must conduct their lives in a way that minimizes Himsa (violence). The code of conduct prescribed for monks is vastly different than the one prescribed for lay persons, like you and me, who are called “householders” in Jain Philosophy. Because the role of householders is to conduct and provide for one’s family, friends, country and society at large, there are types of violence that the householder cannot escape from such as conducting trade or commerce, pursuing vocation, farming, building, etc. All these activities inherently involve some form of violence, and hence as long as he/she is in the “householder” status this type of violence is unavoidable. Please note that this is not an exception, so it is not sanctioned. But Jain Principles being practical recognize that householder cannot completely escape from violence.
Once we understand this logic, now how does one go about reducing the burden of bad karmas accumulated by performing these daily activities? Jain Dharma says, one should try to engage in reducing our gross passions, live compassionately, minimize intentional violence to five-sensed, four-sensed, three-sensed, two-sensed and finally one-sensed living beings.
I hope this satisfies your curiosity in some respect. Please pardon any shortcoming in this reply.
Best regards,
Dharmaraj Khot
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ankita patel says...
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014

i would try to say what i have learned so far .
any person that wishes to be a jain householder first refrain from 7 vyasans ( i am sorry i dont know how to translate wihtout distorting the meaning) - which are
1 refraining from meat
2 alcohol
3 stealing
4 gambling
5 hunting - killing with intention (i interprete)
6 engaging in sexual activites with someone that does not belong to him/her - (spouse)
7 engaging with prostitutes

these 7 are basic practices or a must and then as one becomes stronger or able to include other higher aspects of the shraman dharma, they do so as per their ability, situation etc, the goal is to become stronger to live with minimal necessities that does not harm/affect other organisms at the same time bringing peace to one's self, as you already know it is a very deep philosophy and to practice requires much self will, knowledge ,perseverence and much more
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ankita patel says...
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014
from a further thought,
vyasan = addictions possibly because untill one does not get rid of these addictions, the mind hovers around wanting those things and the mind could not be availble for vairagya and upsham, tyag and bhakti
( vairgya = space out from the five senses;see, hear, taste, touch, smell, -to seek happiness (which is a deception as true happiness is within according to the gnani purush),
upsham = free from the 4 kashay(passions); anger, ego, deceipt, greed
tyag = renunciaiton
bhakti = devotion - this is very important, bhakti helps in tyag, vairagya and upsham
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