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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Understanding Jainism

Understanding Jainism

Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 6 PM
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001
(On Midway, between Spring Valley & Belt Line).

J ainism may not be familiar to many, but it is about 8,500 year old philosophy.***(Speech of Dr. Parikh below) Dallas has a Jain temple and a new temple is being planned as well. Jainism has a very unique perspective about God and creation. Those who attend the event will gain an insight into Jainism. Part of the Mission statement of the Foundation for Pluralism was influenced by Jain philosophy of Anekant.a.vad, and Mahatma Gandhi's principles of non-violence flew from Jainism.

The Foundation for Pluralism is pleased to present an educational series on understanding the wisdom and beauty of each religion. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group.

We invite Jains around the world to write a column on Jainism, with a limit of 600 words . It is difficult, but can be done. There is a magic in that number in terms of comprehension and attention. Please send the email to:: FoundationforPluralism@gmail.com

Dr. Vastupal Parikh and an author of books on Jainism
Dr. Pradeep Shah, teacher of Jainism in Dallas, Mike Ghouse, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas.

Q & A
Session is followed by the presentation by the speakers.
Come prepared with all the questions you may have.

The very purpose of religion is to give a sense of balance to an individual and then create that symbiotic balance between the individual and what is around him or her. Spirituality and Arrogance are inversely proportional to each other. Greater the arrogance, lower the spirituality and vice versa. Greater humility amounts to greater spirituality.

The event is a tribute to those who are willing to think beyond the box. We have planned the educational series for all the scripted established religions this year and eventually, hope to include all faiths. Just so we know the unique ways the lord is worshipped.

We hope at a few of the attendees would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards their fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom (Mukti, Moksha, Salvation, Nirvana.) in it. We are committed to presenting the beauty and wisdom of each religion.

PLEASE RSVP to:ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com (it helps us plan the refreshments and seating)

We invite sponsorship for each event or any given event; your responsibility would include sharing part or full expenses for the facility, refreshments and soft drinks for attendees.

FOUNDATION FOR PLURALISM : EVENTS http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/

Abstract of the Speech by Dr. Vastupal Parikh
(March 25, 2007 at Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, Texas)

Jainism is one of the oldest living spiritual philosophies. However, it is little known, probably because Jainism is really neither a faith nor a religion in the sense in which most of us now understand these terms.

Jains do indeed follow the teachings of the Jinas – a series of twenty four Tirthankaras, or teachers, spanning the period 8,500 BCE to 600 BCE. These Tirthankars preached that the universe governs itself by a set of natural laws, and that - everyone can shape his/her destiny. They developed a spiritual path for mastering one’s own destiny, but did not claim that they preached an unalterable truth, nor did they demand that their concept of natural theology be accepted through the mere act of faith. On the contrary, they insisted that anyone who wished to attain the enlightenment and bliss they had attained should experiment for themselves, by embarking on the suggested spiritual path and retaining what was useful and abandoning what was not. The ultimate reward is complete understanding of “Absolute Reality” and Moksha, (total liberation). Moksha empowers one’s soul with unlimited perception, knowledge, happiness, and unlimited energy. However, those who could not complete the journey would still reap the rewards of unprecedented happiness, peace, and tranquility.

Thus, Jainism is an experiment-based logical system. It shows a proven path to liberation, but advises us to develop our faith in it on the basis of personal intuition (rational vision), critical or rational study of the vision (rational knowledge), and personal experimentation and experience of the journey (rational lifestyle). These three – Rational Vision, Rational Knowledge, and Rational Lifestyle – form the core of Jainism and are called ‘the Three Jewels.”

Jain philosophy is classified as ‘natural theology’ because its world vision is based on a self-governing Nature (or Universe) as a superpower. Its laws and natural principles apply not just for humans and not just locally, but far beyond throughout the entire universe. The universe in this vision consists of six eternal entities - Soul, Matter, Space, Time, the Principle of Change and the Principle of Resistance to change (stability). Every thing in the universe results from the natural interaction of these six entities. Every living being (regardless of its form) is a soul entangled with matter, and ‘moksha’ (liberation) is simply a freeing of the soul from its entanglement.

This world vision has the soul as the most important entity and has given rise to the three principal doctrines, known as the ‘Triple ‘A’s of Jainism.

These are:
Ahimsa (non-violence) - respect and reverence for every living being
Anekantwada (multi-faceted reality) - consideration of different opinions and viewpoints to gain a better understanding of the truth (reality), which has many facets, and
Aprigraha - limiting personal needs and possessions, because these not only harm the environment but also generate unreasonable attachment to objects that impede spiritual progress.

Thus Jainism is neither a ‘faith’ nor a ‘religion’, but a rational philosophy for spiritual progress, well being of all living beings, personal and global peace, and environmental protection. Jains have followed this system for centuries as a non-violent, peaceful community. Its three ‘A’s provide much needed wisdom and direction for alleviating, if not resolving, many of the problems threatening our planet in the 21st century. Current world challenges include fundamentalism, terrorism, war, global poverty, and human and environmental degradation. Jainism offers advice in addressing these issues, and the time has come to examine this philosophy carefully and perhaps take its world vision seriously.

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