Karma in Jainism

the way of ahimsa; Digambara and Svetambara
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Nicholas
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Karma in Jainism

Post by Nicholas » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:10 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma_in_Jainism

How it begins:
Karma is the basic principle within an overarching psycho-cosmology in Jainism. Human moral actions form the basis of the transmigration of the soul (jīva). The soul is constrained to a cycle of rebirth, trapped within the temporal world (saṃsāra), until it finally achieves liberation (mokṣa). Liberation is achieved by following a path of purification.

Jains believe that karma is a physical substance that is everywhere in the universe. Karma particles are attracted to the soul by the actions of that soul. Karma particles are attracted when we do, think, or say things, when we kill something, when we lie, when we steal and so on. Karma not only encompasses the causality of transmigration, but is also conceived of as an extremely subtle matter, which infiltrates the soul—obscuring its natural, transparent and pure qualities. Karma is thought of as a kind of pollution, that taints the soul with various colours (leśyā). Based on its karma, a soul undergoes transmigration and reincarnates in various states of existence—like heavens or hells, or as humans or animals.

Jains cite inequalities, sufferings, and pain as evidence for the existence of karma. Various types of karma are classified according to their effects on the potency of the soul. The Jain theory seeks to explain the karmic process by specifying the various causes of karmic influx (āsrava) and bondage (bandha), placing equal emphasis on deeds themselves, and the intentions behind those deeds. The Jain karmic theory attaches great responsibility to individual actions, and eliminates any reliance on some supposed existence of divine grace or retribution. The Jain doctrine also holds that it is possible for us to both modify our karma, and to obtain release from it, through the austerities and purity of conduct.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of selflessness.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by DNS » Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:00 am

I was looking for a youtube video of a Jain teacher describing karma and couldn't find anything good in English. There are some conflicting reports of some saying it's all about intention (like Buddhism) and others that it is all karma, regardless of intent, so not sure what the official Jain word is on that.

Jainism is very similar to Buddhism, yet there is very little out there in English, especially when compared to Buddhism. I think it must have to do with the missionary efforts of the early monks of Buddhism, whereas, Jainism placed little effort on missionary works.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by Nicholas » Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:40 am

It is not that intention is not part of their outlook, just that the karmic matter or stuff is easier to think of or visualize, a sort of skillful means that can be applied to non-sentient life also.

This chapter, based on traditional Jainism (I think) is technical but helpful:
https://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscri ... se.asp#ch2
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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by DNS » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:45 am

Nicholas wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:40 am
This chapter, based on traditional Jainism (I think) is technical but helpful:
https://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscri ... se.asp#ch2
:thumbsup: Looks like a good resource.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by DNS » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:47 am

From that treatise:
Himsa has been said of two kinds: Anarambhi or Samkalpi and Arambhi.

The first one may be translated as "Intentional Injury". It can be avoided by every thinking person without any difficulty or harm to himself.

The second one Arambhi Himsa may be sub-divided as Udyami, Graharambhi, and Virodhi.

Udyami Himsa is unavoidably committed in the performance of necessary domestic purposes such as preparation of food, keeping the house, body, clothes clean, construction of buildings, wells, gardens, and keeping cattle.

Virodhi is that which is unavoidably committed in defence of person and property, against thieves, robbers, etc. One who has adopted the discipline of a saint practises complete Ahimsa. A true believer in the householder's stage abstains from Samkalpi Himsa, but is unable to abstain from Arambhi, although he tries his best to avoid it as far as possible, and is ever making progress in such endeavour.
It appears that non-intentional injury does not result in any negative karma or if so, then to a much lesser degree. This also sounds similar to the intention doctrine of Buddhism.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by DNS » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:50 am

A little off topic from karma, but noticed from that treatise:
Also Himsa is inevitable in eating at night. It should, therefore, be renounced.
This is also very similar to Buddhism, especially Theravada. The monks and nuns of Theravada do not eat beyond 12 noon and some lay practitioners also do this, especially on retreat or Uposatha days.

In modern times, intermittent fasting which typically includes some doing the one-meal-a-day-program (around mid-day), is gaining in popularity, for health reasons.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by Nicholas » Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:20 pm

DNS wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:47 am
From that treatise:
Himsa has been said of two kinds: Anarambhi or Samkalpi and Arambhi.

The first one may be translated as "Intentional Injury". It can be avoided by every thinking person without any difficulty or harm to himself.

The second one Arambhi Himsa may be sub-divided as Udyami, Graharambhi, and Virodhi.

Udyami Himsa is unavoidably committed in the performance of necessary domestic purposes such as preparation of food, keeping the house, body, clothes clean, construction of buildings, wells, gardens, and keeping cattle.

Virodhi is that which is unavoidably committed in defence of person and property, against thieves, robbers, etc. One who has adopted the discipline of a saint practises complete Ahimsa. A true believer in the householder's stage abstains from Samkalpi Himsa, but is unable to abstain from Arambhi, although he tries his best to avoid it as far as possible, and is ever making progress in such endeavour.
It appears that non-intentional injury does not result in any negative karma or if so, then to a much lesser degree. This also sounds similar to the intention doctrine of Buddhism.
Right before that quote is this:
The degree of Himsa varies with the motive which causes it, and the vitalities injured. The higher the number of vitalities possessed by a Jiva, the greater is the himsa in killing it.
That sounds exactly like two elements re Karma in Buddhism. I do not know the date when this was written, so I will have to study some other Jain works.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of selflessness.

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Re: Karma in Jainism

Post by Nicholas » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:30 pm

The Tattvārtha Sūtra has been considered the main text of the Jains since Umasvati wrote it around 200 AD. The best text that I have found, in English is That Which Is translated by Tatia in 1994. Have not found a digital version yet.

Here is a 4th century commentary that is authoritative:

https://archive.org/details/Reality_JMT/mode/2up

Of course Mahavira lived around 600 BC, so whether Umasvati is precisely rendering His teachings accurately or not...? But the tradition thinks Umasvati's text is spot on, and I doubt it is wildly off target.

Even in these old texts intentional & unintentional karma is taught, so on that point there is no difference from Buddha's teaching.

The Jain's karmic body and their emphasis on the elemental stuff that sticks to humans is not a big (or any?) feature in Buddhism.
May all seek, find and follow the Path of selflessness.

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