Global Issues and Sustainable Living

From the beginning, the faith had a universal outlook. The entire cosmology of the Universe is elaborated in the scriptures. Hence global concerns and issues have never been alien to the faith. They are more pertinent today as Jains have spread out geographically, live in different parts of the world and travel frequently – thus there is added exposure. Through education and the arts, different methods of communication and expression are used to share Jain wisdom and learn from other faith and wisdom traditions. Jains have media like newsletters and magazines, events like conferences at a national and international level, youth organizations like the Young Jains which are spread out globally and also use forums like the internet and the world wide web, where there are at least one hundred quality websites on Jain wisdom and Jain bulletin boards.

Jain values are often perceived by the followers to be very timely and prescient for the 21st century. Issues like the food and health crisis, animal cruelty and abuse, environmental catastrophe, business ethics, value-based education, personal and emotional development, family values and community cohesion, are all actively discussed and disseminated. Anup Shah, brought up a Jain, but saying that now he is ‘not really religious as such’, runs the Global Issues website: http://www.globalissues.org which ‘presents numerous global issues, aiming to show how they are inter-related’.

No difference is seen between the local and the global – one is seen to merge into another without boundaries or borders. Global issues such as climate change, poverty, animal abuse and calamity have resulted in many campaigns and practical actions of help and support. At the same time, it is recognized that living the faith with honesty and integrity manifests these wider concerns as a natural extension of everyday life.

Jains are one of the most highly educated communities in Britain so there is not a major problem to bring quality into these discussions – and often this quality comes not just from thought but through lived experience. As Jain Dharma is one of the oldest sciences of sustainable living and practice, Jains say they can bring huge insight to all the contemporary debates, and do so through lived experience and integrity, not just because the ideas are fashionable or timely.

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