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Vision for Jains in North America

Jain Vision 2020
To Live and Promote a Jain Way of Life
Our Vision
for North American Jains, Jain Organizations, and Jainism

Prepared By JAINA LRP (Long Range Planning) Committee:

Yogendra Jain (Chairman)

Prem Jain, Chintan Shah, Dr. Manoj Jain, Dr. Sushil Jain, Sunit Jain, Soha Shah

[Click on the window icon to view the writeup concurrently in the PowerPoint notes]

Vision for Jains in NorthAmerica - Vision2020 - powerpoint presentation
Specific Targets/Goals for Vision2020

Over the past 30 years we as Jains have accomplished a great deal. We have over 70 JainCenters, over 20 temples and thousands of Jain Youth regularly attending Pathshala. We have conventions with 5000 Jain attendees. In this great land of opportunities and possibilities, we have come a long way. But as we all know there is a lot more we can do.

So now that we have had great success for the past 30 years, what mountain should we climb over in the next 15 years? Should we build more temples? Should we build more organizations? Should we focus on our kids? Should we share Jainism with our non-Jain friends? Should we focus on rituals and traditions? What should our vision be for our future in North America?

About two years ago, JAINA established a think-tank called the Long Range Planning Committee. This team interviewed and surveyed over 500 people and organizations including JAINA,YJA, YJP, LocalJainCenters and Jains in small towns and large cities. They also looked at strong operational, service and religious-oriented Jewish and Swaminaryan organizations. Based on the research and your feedback, we have emerged with a long-term vision for JAINA.

Jain Vision 2020

Jains have been on a path of Non-Violence, Non-Absolutism (Anekantvad), and Non-possesion (Aparigrah) for thousands of years. And recently Science is walking hand in hand with us on this path. For thousands of years, Jains have believed in meditation, yoga, animal compassion, vegetarianism, environmentalism, equal rights for women, respect for other cultures and forgiveness.

Now more than ever, the western world can leverage Jain philosophy. Only now is North America and the rest of the world discovering and practicing what Jains have known and practiced for thousands of years.

When you plant a seed, the soil has to be right, there has to be enough light and water for a great big tree to grow. The environment has to be conducive. In the same way, North Americans are conducive to sharing the treasures which are in Jainism.

Jains are sitting on a treasure and have so much to offer. Imagine if we had shared this treasure with the world years ago, this world would have been a very different place. But it is not too late.The vision that we have for Jainism in North America is:

To Live and Promote a Jain Way of Life

Our Vision for North American Jains, Jain Organizations, and Jainism:

Evolve our JWOL practices

Expand awareness in Jains and Non-Jains

Educate and impact trends

Energize our organization

In expanding on the elements of our vision, what does the Jain Way of Life mean?

The Jain Way of Life is defined as a life full of happiness, challenge, discovery and spiritual growth. JWOL is mindfulness and contemplation. JWOL is living a life grounded in the thoughts, words and speech of our three core principles:

  • Non-Violence – (Ahimsa) vegetarianism and use of non-animal tested products as well as Non-Violence even in our thoughts. Controlling Anger, Greed, Ego, and Deceit.
  • Non-Possessiveness – (Aparigraha) practice is where we balance our possessions and desires for them.
  • Non-Absolutism – (Anekantvad) is where we strive to keep our mind open and understand other views.


The vision is not just to LIVE a Jain Way of life but to PROMOTE it.

The promotion of Jain Way of Life does not require to convert people by going door to door but sharing the treasures of Jainism in a respectful and impactful way.

The following is a further elaboration of our vision in the four major focus areas (also refer to detail goal and metrics):

Evolve our traditional Jain practices by adopting the Jain Way of Life to the modern, North American lifestyle.

The Jewish tradition is strong. Compare that to the Indian American tradition which is slowly declining. Research shows this and we see all around us that our young people are turned off by a strong focus on our rituals. We Jains do not want to be extinct; we want to thrive for many thousands of years.

Catering to our youth is just one of the many goals for this Focus area. So evolving our rituals means that we want to refresh six rituals and add six new rituals over the next 15 years.

In evolving our practices, we want to raise the bar. As Jains, we want to avoid silk, leather, and animal-tested products. Probably 5% of Jains avoid this today and we need to target 25% of the Jain population to evolve its practices.

Expand awareness in Jains and Non-Jains

Our findings showed that one out of every two Jains will marry a non-Jain. Let us look at that as an opportunity. In expanding our awareness, we want to educate our kids on JWOL. And if they do decide to marry non-Jains, we want these kids to be so strong, confident and educated Jains.

Through love and care, we want them to teach their non-Jain spouse JWOL. We believe today that only 20% of mixed marriages are living a JWOL and our vision is to expand to 60% of the mixed marriages living a JWOL. To achieve this, we need to come up with specific literature, web-training material for mixed couples so they can appreciate the richness and relevancy of JWOL, without the non-Jain spouse feeling pressured to convert to Jainism.

Educateby impacting trends and creating awareness through strategic partnerships with the media, institutions and non-Jain organizations

In North America, hardly anyone knows about Jainism. Try doing a Google or Amazon search and you will get 20x more hits on Buddhism than Jainism.Today perhaps only one million North Americans know about Jainism. Let us make it our goal to share Jainism with six million people by year 2020. To accomplish this, we need to:

Message Jainism so that it is easy to understand. When someone asks what Jainism is, we give a short crisp response.

Promote Jainism with a passion and create positive awareness.

Brand Jainism with a consistent look and feel. Branding is everywhere, from Jesus Christ to Deepak Chopra to Sony.

Position Jainism relative to other schools of thought and science so it is easy to understand and compare.

Develop Strong Alliances – with thousands of other groups who share our many interests values like animal rights, humane society, interfaith, etc.

They are hungry to hear the JWOL message. And we may learn a thing or two from them as well.

The final and the most important focus is:

Energize our organization through volunteers and donations and create a vibrant, professionally-run central Jain organization.

There are 100,000 Jains, 70 Vibrant Jain institutions and 30 JAINA committees in North America. To reach our vision, all these organizations and people need to work in harmony. JAINA will be the catalyst. It has the talent. It has the leadership. But no organization can reach its vision without the fuel of financial resources. We need JAINA to be a well-funded machine.

Unlike today where JAINA receives an average donation of $7 per family, our target is that, by 2020, JAINA will receive $200 per family per year.

That will give JAINA an operating budget of $10 million. Imagine what we can do with such a strong budget. We can hire 30 full-time highly qualified and talented staff and have thousands volunteers to carry out the vision to Live and Promote a Jain Way of Life.

So how do we achieve this vision?

To accelerate and achieve this vision, not only do Jain Centers need to re-engineer themselves but JAINA needs to re-engineer itself. This re-engineering does not stop there. We also need to re-engineer ourselves because it is only through this re-engineering that we will be able to achieve our Vision for North America: to passionately "Live and Promote a Jain Way of Live.”

If we succeed in meeting this vision, our families and our kids will have a better and happier lives.And, during our retirement, we’ll have an organization to channel our creativity and talent.

If we succeed in our Vision by 2020 - ahimsa will be a household world. Our children will be proud to say: "I am a Jain." Vegetarianism will be the preferred food choice in restaurants, and in business schools Non-Absolutism will be part of every course.

And together we canEvolve our JWOL practices, Expand awareness in Jains and Non-Jains, Educate and impact trends and Energize our organization.

The world is changing, change is inevitable.

Let’s manage the change. Let us be proactive about the change as we execute these steps as we reach closer to Living and Promoting a Jain Way of Life.

Vision for Jains in NorthAmerica - Vision2020 - powerpoint presentation
Specific Targets/Goals for Vision2020 (excel spreadsheet)

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