Rules and Ethical Guidelines
The Tirthankaras (Prophets) laid down the path of liberation for future generations and it was based on core values, right living and conduct and right knowledge and faith.
These core values are:
- Ahimsa – non-violence in thought, word and deed
- Anekant – respect for different viewpoints and beliefs
- Aparigraha – non-materialism and simplicity of living
- Asteya – non-stealing and abidance of the law
- Satya – Truthful living with sincerity and integrity
- Brahmacharya – Restraint in sensual indulgence
The source of these values are the scriptures which have been derived from the wisdom of the founding prophets or Tirthankaras. Violence, Greed, Possessiveness, Ignorance, Lies and Deceit, Sensual Indulgence are considered to be wrong. Greed is seen as a type of violence and an exploitation of others right to live and be happy. Peaceful living and thinking, modest eating and simple living without greed or malice, honesty and sincerity in thought and action, tolerance and respect for different peoples and faiths are considered right.
Vegetarianism is a central tenet of the faith and diet and exercise are considered very important to spiritual progress. Jains have been strict vegetarians for thousands of years and have developed a vast and varied cuisine which is healthy, nourishing and balanced. Monks even wear a cloth over their mouths and brush the road before them when they walk in order not to harm any living thing, including insects. Jains have animal sanctuaries called panjrapoors and the principle of ahimsa, or non-violence, has inspired many great people in modern times, including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther-King Jr.
Sexual indulgence is discouraged, euthanasia is also seen as an escape from life and discouraged, abortion is also a form of violence and capital punishment is seen as harsh and unjust. War is to be avoided as far as possible, but defence is allowed. Wherever possible, problems should be solved through dialogue, tolerance and diplomacy.
Interdependence is the key wisdom of the Universe – parasparopagraho jivanam. Happiness cannot be built at the expense of pain on others. Nature is not separate but a core fabric of life and its protection is synonymous with the protection of human life. Truthful living with honesty and integrity is a vital principle. People should look at the mirror not to admire their own beauty but to see their own imperfections and rise beyond them. Lying, deceit or deception is to be avoided at any cost. Consciences should be clean and should not bear any scars or fears – people should love all, including their enemies.