The Interfaith Peace Project is pleased to offer you prayer reflections for each day of Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7.
A wise person knows this and does not kill,
nor overpower or torment anyone.
The heart of Jainism is Ahimsa (non-violence). Ahimsa is not mere human sympathy; it is empathy, the urge to identify oneself completely with other persons, other living beings, with the whole universe. Jainism is a religion of compassion, universal love, and friendliness. It aims at the welfare of all living beings and not humankind alone.
The Jain dictum (parasparopagraho), “living beings render service to one another”, offers an endearing alternative to the modern social Darwinian formula of “survival of the fittest.” The life of a living being is a life of mutual cooperation and assistance. Industry, labor, service and sacrifice of innumerable living beings are behind the sustenance and growth of an individual. Thus, every individual is indebted to the universal society of all beings. Even virtues and meritorious qualities can never be cultivated and fostered in isolation.
The concept and practice of Ahimsa, non-violence, has evolved from logical thinking and from experience. It has an almost empirical basis. It has emerged from the doctrine of the equality of all souls. Everyone wants to live, nobody likes to die. Violence enters first in thought. It then manifests in speech and then in deeds. That is why they say war is born in the minds of men. The quest for ahimsa is centered in anekantavada, the philosophy which accommodates a multiplicity of points of view and perspectives.
In Jain philosophy (love of wisdom), ahimsa is said to be the supreme religion and himsa is considered to be the source of all evil. Ahimsa is not limited to not harming human beings, it extends to all living beings. This philosophy believes in the unity of life and regards all living beings as equal. A person who can be cruel to any living creature can be cruel to human beings too. Further, cruelty is not only an aspect of external behavior, but is also an inner evil tendency. A person who is cruel at heart will behave cruelty towards all sentient living beings as well as human beings. He who is compassionate at heart, will behave compassionately toward all.
The spiritual values and ideals revealed and practiced in the Jain way of living are interwoven in a seamless tapestry of seven principal virtues. These virtues include non-violence, interdependence, doctrine of manifold aspects, equanimity, compassion, empathy and charity.
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If you kill someone, it is you yourself you kill.
If you overpower someone, it is yourself you overpower.
If you torment someone, it is yourself you torment.
If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm.
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