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University of Toronto St. George
Andre Maintenay

World Religions 10-01-2011 Indic World View 1. Anadi without beginning. Understanding of the way the universe works; without beginning or end, and will continue to do so infinitely. However its constantly changing and things are transforming in a dramatic and minimal way. 2. Kala time. Time moves in rhythms, in a wavelike pattern at a set pace (has its ups and down; evolving and devolving). It has to do with physical as well as moral and spiritual development. Time also moves in cycles, each cycle has four phases (birth, evolution, destruction and rebirth) called Yuga. Kali Yuga age of distress, the last phase of the cycle. 3. Samsara the nature of our worldly experience. The constant movement of change creates anxiety, stress, suffering, etc. 4. Punarjanma multiple birth. Everyones actions keep time moving. After we die we move onto another body, which is crucial because it keeps the cycle going. We inhabit many different forms, and can be born into four varieties; the ladder of existence (as a human being, animal, bodiless being such as a ghost, or a divinity). However Jains also believe we can come back as plants. The quality of moral action determines what we come back as. All of these phases are temporary. The better phases are similar to the concept of heaven. The human being is the median point (because we can make moral choices). 5. Karma action. There are various kinds of action such as verbal, physical, mental, and emotional. What we do are all choices that we make ourselves. These actions can be moral, immoral, and amoral. Every action has a consequence attached to it. The types of actions we perform are returned upon us. Karma is what pushes us through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth because it assigns us roles for the next lifetime. The choices we make regarding how we interact in the world are out of our own free will. Our actions create a chain of results that we cannot escape and which will be experienced at a future date if not suddenly. Dharma right thing. It is the moral standard. How does Karma work? Every time we perform an action it leaves a trace in the mind. Every time the action is reinforced the memory trace gets etched even more in the mind, to the point where the action becomes habitual. At any point we can alter this course of action and break the routine, no matter how deeply engraved it is. We have full responsibility for how we live our lives. Karma is essentially the doctrine of radical free will. Therefore, every day is judgement day. Moksa nirvana. Its attaining freedom from the cycle of karma and samsara. This is the ultimate goal in the Indic tradition. It is the experience of joy and peace. World Religions 17-01-2011 Jainism Sramana tradition: groups of people who rejected the Vedic tradition, left their home and went into the wilderness to seek their answers. They are characterized by their act of giving up the social world. They disciplined the body by depriving it of basic functions of comfort such as the amount of food consumed and a bed, as well as exposing themselves to extreme weather conditions. Jainism focuses on no-harm ethics. Its structured around the teachings of 24 teachers who appear at different phases of history (cycles/waves of time). The teachers instruct and guide people on the right path, and they usually appear on the downward phase of the cycle (before humanity hits rock bottom, so it has the guidance to go back up again). The teachers help enable the upward motion of the cycle through moral evolution. The teachers are self- mastered and morally disciplined. They set out guidelines on how to live a morally informed life. These teachers are called Tirthankara (bridge builder, referring to the bridge from samsara to moksa) or Jina (one who has conquered, meaning they have conquered the self, the experience of living in the world, etc.). Vardhamana Kasyapa (Mahavira, great hero): the latest Jina. He is recognized as the founder of Jainism. Lived between 599-527 BCE, he was an elder contemporary of the Buddha. He cared about others but in practise he was a Sramana, meaning he is rich in self-control; self-disciplined and self-mastered. He is believed to have conquered the cycle of birth and death. Life narratives emphasize that he was extraordinarily compassionate. Hagiography: a faith account of an individual (for example, a gospel). Mahaviras hagiographies vary, some say he married and then left his family to pursue the Saramana lifestyle,. Others say he wasnt married, and that he stayed with his parents until they passed away, and then started the ascetic lifestyle. In order to pursue the Sramana lifestyle he pulled his hair out to show that he isnt attached to the material world. Thus, Jain monks now pull their hair out as part of an initiation. He begins his search for enlightenment. He discards all traces of the ego, personal possessions, and his clothing. The clothing is considered the last attachment to the morals of society. After 12 years old this practise he finally achieves enlightenment. He wandered for the next 30 years teaching. Four groups: Jain monks, nuns, laypeople (male & female). The oldest extant religion that had an order of nuns as early in the tradition as it is. Female monks originally outnumbered the number of male monks. Two formal sects of Jainism: Svetambara (white clad, wore white clothing) & Digambara (sky-clad, dont wear clothing). The community questioned whether it;s possible to achieve enlightenment if youre stuck on the notion of clothing which gets in the way of shedding the ego. The Svetambara disagree. Svetambara see Mahavira as an ordinary human being who struggled and achieved enlightenment. The Digambara saw him as something like divine, someone who was free of Karma. The Svetambara believe he married and had children, and the Digambara disagree and believe he never married. They also disagree on whether a woman can achieve enlightenment while still in a womans body (gender isnt absolute). The Digambara believe that you have to shed the clothing, and its not practical for women to shed their clothing (its unsafe). There is also concern regarding the menstrual cycle. The Digambara believe women cant achieve enlightenment, but the Svetambara do. Karma It is viewed as a material substance. Its visualized as a fine powder-like substance like dust. It settles on our spirits and constrains us. It is assumed we all have a soul/spirit (Jiva). The Jiva is luminous and it enables vision, clarity, understanding, etc. When a lot of dust covers the Jiva, it doesnt glow bright anymore and obscures our ability to see. Jains believe that we generate Karma but it doesnt stick to the soul unless its the product of desire. Therefore, getting rid of desire is the key to getting rid of karma, so even though you generate karmic dust, it doesnt adhere to the soul. Monday, January 24, 2011 Jainism Svastika: a sacred symbol associated with all Indic traditions. Its considered a mark of auspiciousness. It will be found anywhere where a person wants to mark a space good, wholesome, etc. For example, on doors, on exam papers, etc. In Jainism it presents the core concept of the four realms we can be reborn in (divinity, animals, ghosts, plants). Humanity is considered the median point. The three dots seen on the svastika represent the three jewels of Jainism (right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct). The cradle represents humanitys aspiration for liberation, knowledge, etc. The dot in the centre is the meditative heart of Jain practise (its whats supposed to be focused on in meditation).
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