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Words of Wisdom

The Path and the Creed: Selections from Jainism's Holy Sutrakritanga Sutra, Book I, Part 1 of 2

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One of the oldest religions in the world is Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma. The concept of ahimsa, or nonviolence, is of equally great importance in Jainism. Thus, with compassion for all life, practitioners of Jainism follow a pure vegan or plant-based diet. Jains follow the ancient wisdom of the 24 Tirthankaras, or lineage of Prophets. Their teachings comprise the Agam sutras, which are the religion’s holy scriptures. The last Tirthankara was Lord Mahavira, who was born a prince of the Vaishali kingdom around the 5-6th century BC.

Supreme Master Ching Hai has given tribute to the spiritual greatness of Lord Mahavira, as during this lecture in Taiwan, also known as Formosa, on June 23, 2019. “I don’t know if anyone in the history of mankind could have done or could be doing or will be doing such an asceticism, such a sacrifice like the Lord Mahavira. That’s why I want to read it to you. ‘His heart was filled with equanimity and compassion. His face beamed with a spontaneous smile. Why does He feel compassion after He has this power?’03:34) Because He can feel what the humans, or all beings around Him, or in the world feel – their sorrow, their pain, their frustration, their troubles, their helplessness, their suffering. That’s why He has compassion for them.”

We present to you today, excerpts from Book I – Lecture 11, from Jainism’s Sutrakritanga Sutra. “A wise man should study them with all means of philosophical research. All beings hate pains; therefore one should not kill them. This is the quintessence of wisdom: not to kill anything. Know this to be the legitimate conclusion from the principle of the reciprocity with regard to non-killing. He should cease to injure living beings whether they move or not, on high, below, and on earth. For this has been called the Nirvana, which consists in peace. Master of his senses and avoiding wrong, he should do no harm to anybody, neither by thoughts, nor words, nor acts. A wise man who restrains his senses and possesses great knowledge, should accept such things as are freely given him, being always circumspect with regard to the accepting of alms, and abstaining from what he is forbidden to accept. A true monk should not accept such food and drink as has been especially prepared for him along with slaughter of living beings.”

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