Jainism & Environmenta precursor to modern day ecology JAINA Education Committee Federation of Jain Associations in North America 509 Carriage Wood Circle, Raleigh NC 27607 USA www.jaina.org eMail – firstname.lastname@example.org
A profound truth for all times“One who neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation, disregards his own existence which is entwined with them” - Lord Mahavir (599-527 BC) Lord Mahavir is the 24th and Last Tirthankar (Prophet) of Jain Religion
The ancient Jain scriptural aphorism• Parasparopgraho Jivänäm – – Tattvärtha Sutra (2000 year old Scripture) All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence• Environment is imbued in every living beings• If we harm “ONE”, we harm “ALL” living beings – Refreshingly contemporary in its premise and in its promise. – Forms the basis of the modern day science of ecology.
Mahavir• Lord Mahavir’s entire life was an example of how to live in perfect harmony with the nature.• His entire preaching is based on respecting the environment and ecology• The main theme of His teaching: – Ahimsä (Non-violence) – Aparigrah (Non-possession / Non-possessiveness) – Anekäntväd (Pluralism view points / Open Mindedness)
Non-violence and CompassionJainism recognizes sanctity in all life forms.• Ahimsä is disciplined behavior towards every living being - Dashvaikalika Sutra (6/9)• Absence of violence of any sort towards all beings at all times is Ahimsä. - Yogasutra• In its absolute definition: – ‘Ahimsä is the absence of destructive thoughts, feelings or attitude’
Environment Possesses Life• Jainism believes that all Five basic Elements of the Universe which makes our environment possess life – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Vegetation• It also believes that every living being possesses one to five senses – Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Hearing• Vegetation, Earth, Air, Water etc. possesses one sense (touch) while Animals and Humans possess all five senses.• Also human beings alone are blessed with the sixth sense of advanced developed thinking. Therefore, – Humanity is responsible for achieving oneness and harmony with all life by being careful, compassionate, loving and nonviolent.
What does Jainism teach about ecology?• Survival of Life is not possible with absolute non- violence. Hence the destruction of one or the other form of life is essential for our survival.• However destruction of higher sense living being is more cruel act because of higher development of their senses, which inflicts more pain in them.• It also has a greater impact on Environment• Hence Jainism advocates Vegetarianism against Raising Animals for Food.
Compassionate LivingAhimsä (non-violence):• Not to cause pain to any living beings in words, in thoughts, and in actions. We do not have right to harm, abuse, or exploit animals, birds, fish etc.• It is a compassionate living in harmony with nature.• Vegetarianism – To live a life with minimum violence and avoid animal base products.
What does Jainism teach about ecology?Non-vegetarian Living - Cruelty to Animals:• Raising animals for Food involves significantly higher use of natural resources than vegetarian food• It creates significant environmental unbalance• Animals Killed per Day in USA Cows - 130,000 Calves - 7,000 Hogs - 360,000 Chickens - 24,000,000
What does Jainism teach about ecology?Cruelty in Dairy Industry• Cows are kept pregnant continually• Slaughtering 70% to 80% of baby calves within six months by Veal industry or within five years by beef industry• Slaughtering the mother cows after five years of their fertile life (life expectancy is 15 years)• Everyday hormones or drugs are injected to increase milk yield.
Non-vegetarianism Impacts EcologyNon-vegetarian Living - Impact on Ecology• Greenhouse effect – Worlds 1.3 billion cows annually produce 100 million tons of methane – Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas which traps 25 times as much solar heat as CO2• Water Consumption – Livestock (Cattle, Calves, Hogs, Pigs) production accounts for more than half of all the water consumed in USA.
Non-vegetarianism Impacts EcologyNon-vegetarian Living - Impact on Ecology• Land Usage – A third of the surface of North America is devoted to grazing – Half of American croplands grow livestock feed for meat and dairy products – 220 million acres of land in the USA have been deforested for livestock production – 25 million acres in Brazil, and half the forests in Central America
Non-vegetarianism Impacts Ecology• To produce 1 lb. of meat, an average of 40 lb of vegetation is used. (This calculation takes in to consideration, the land clearing, as well as food for the live-stock till slaughter - food cattle are generally slaughtered prior to 2-years-old, dairy cattle may live 4 years before being turned into burgers).• To produce 1 lb. of meat, an average of 2500 gallons of water is used. (1 lb. of wheat requires 108 gallons of water, 1 lb. of rice needs 229 gallons of water, 1 lb. of potatoes require just 60 gallons of water). *Source: USDA 2001.
Non-vegetarianism Impacts HealthNon-vegetarian Living - Impact on Health• High Cholesterol• High Saturated Fats• High incidence of Prostate Cancer• Calcium Deficiency (recent study)• Less Hygienic
Practice compassionate livingIn Summary Ahimsä means: – Respect for the lives of others and for the environment we live in. – Service to lift someone who is down trodden. – Avoidance of Animal based foods and products (Be Vegetarian / Vegan).
What does Jainism teach about ecology?• Non-Possessiveness / Self-restraint is the second most important Jain principle – Minimizing consumption provides respect for other’s life and Environment – Reduce needs and wants as far as possible. – Reuse / Recycle Products - Not to waste the gifts of nature – Share resources – Nature provides enough for our NEED not enough for our GREED
The ancient Jain scriptural aphorism • “Aparigraha seve attai karanti prananam behanam” – Lord Mahavir • We kill other lives because of our greed and possessiveness. • This is the primary cause of all violence as well as imbalance in the environment.
Jainism in Action – Eco friendlyCaring for the Earth and Environment is the way of Life for the Jain Community by following the two key principles of Jainism in every day life• Ahimsä – Be Compassionate – Minimize injury to all forms of life including Air, Water, Earth, Plants and Animals – Be Vegetarian / Vegan and avoid the use of Animal based products• Non-possessiveness / Self-restraint – Reduce our needs and wants as far as possible – Reuse / Recycle products, Eliminate Waste – Share Resources