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The Yamas of Jainism

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In Jainism, Ahimsa is very important. Ahimsa is basically the act of being nonviolent to any living thing. Ahimsa is not just about humans or animals but all aspects of life such as being mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually violent. When we have negative thoughts like disappointment, guiltiness, when we feel shame, we are creating violence. At times we tend to feel like we can’t forgive someone for something they’ve done against us that is considered being violent. Even when you can’t forgive yourself for something you’ve done, this is an act of violence because it pushes away love.

Ahimsa is the complete absence of violence from one’s mind, body, soul, and spirit. Jains feel as though we should stop and think about how much unnecessary pain we cause against ourselves. To them violence is a never-ending cycle that they rather avoid. Jains practice Ahimsa by not eating meat, they have a healthy, plant-based vegetarian diet. They make sure they don’t miss a meal or sleep because that’s how you become angry. When driving they are calm.

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Another Yama of Jainism is Aparigraha. For me to understand Aparigraha is I had to get a clear understanding of what Parigraha is. Parigraha means possessiveness, grasping or greediness. Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha. With, Aparigraha means non-possessiveness, ungreediness. Aparigraha means to only take what you need and not what you want. Jains believe that the wealthier you are the unhappier you become with life itself. Once you become unhappy they feel though that would make you commit sins.

You can commit sins mentally and physically. Jains believe that you are to not get attached to any possession. As a Jain, you must control your desire. An example of how Jains could live up to Aparigraha is when shopping limit themselves, only buy what’s needed. That means they would only buy one pair of shoes and wear them until they can’t be worn anymore instead of multiple pairs because then you’ll become greedy and not controlling your desires. Furthermore, they would only buy one pair of jeans, and one shirt. Their house wouldn’t be filled with possessions as well. They don’t get attached to other humans.

Jains believe that our actions influence what happens in our future. You’ll receive whatever you give. For example, say if someone stole 1,000 cash from another person to pay his/her rent but then that same person who stole ends up getting evicted 2 weeks later even after paying their rent. Getting evicted was their bad karma because they stole from someone which is unacceptable. Another example could be a person was walking down the street and dropped their money, a homeless guy picks it up and hands it back to the person who dropped it. The man then gives the homeless man the money just for simply not taking it from him and the first place. The homeless man ended up receiving good karma for being honest. Karma can come from a lot of things anytime you get greedy you attract karma. You get angry at someone and have negative thoughts is attracting bad karma.

Jains avoid karma by being vegetarians because eating animals is being harmful to the animals which they avoid doing so. They live peaceful calm lives without being greedy and selfish as well. They avoid eating after sunset because that could accumulate karma as well. You also avoid karma by behaving in a proper manner, having a right state of mind. Some karmas expire on their own after causing suffering. Other karmas remain. The karma that has built up on a person can be removed by starting to live life accordingly to the Jain vows, but karma does not forget anyone. Do good and good will come onto you.

Karma for Jains is different than for Hindus. Karma in Jainism is a physical substance that is present throughout the universe. The soul, which is called the jiva, carries your karma. They can be carried around until they expire after they have caused the intended harm. Jains karma can exist everywhere in the universe and its particles can stick to the soul of the people depending on their actions. Karma in Jainism is not because of the person’s actions but it’s a particle that becomes attached to the person’s soul and they must remove it. They do so by following Jainism vows and living in the correct state of mind. Bad karma attracts other bad karma. Karma exists on its own. For Hindus, karma is an unseen power that happens to the people in the samsara and depends on words, thoughts and actions whether good or bad.


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