Jainism is a religion that is deemed to have originated in the famous Indus valley like many Indian religions. The religion is based on the principles of non-violence towards any living organism. The religion has categorized the mortal organisms into various groups depending on where they live. The religion emphasizes on non-violence due to the belief that every organism has a soul and can feel pain (Johnston, 52). The followers of this faith do not deem in the existence of a supreme being and instead believe that people decide their own destiny through individual efforts to shift the soul closer to divine realization. The teachers of this religion say that the religion has been around since time immemorial and will continue to exist forever. Even so, historians date the principles of the religion back to the sixth century BCE.
Having close to seven million followers in India, Australia, west Europe and some parts of north America, the religion has teaching that impact greatly on the political, economic and ethical aspects of life. The religion is known as having the highest number of traditional scholars since literacy and enlightenment is core to the principles of the religion. Having no supreme being to worship, self-wisdom and consciousness are emphasized (Johnston, 58). The behavior and deeds of the individual determine the destiny of the individual. The historical and sociological teachings of the religion are based on non-violence and self reflection as taught by people like Mahatma Gandhi.
The religion that focuses on the cultivation of spiritual and enlightened character
When it comes to focusing on the cultivation of spiritual and enlightened character, the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius come into the mind of an individual (Matthews, 26). At some point in time, just before the republic of china was established, this was the national religion and source of ethics. The religion is founded on ethical-sociopolitical principles that govern the relationships among the various classes of people. It is based on the premise that the human mind is capable of enlightenment, enhancement and perfection. These are possible through cultivation of morally upright conduct and the upholding of high ethical standards. At this point, it is worth noting that the Confucius and the teachings of Jainism are very closely related in the sense that they emphasize ethical behavior and righteousness. The teachings of these religions are based on the relationships among individuals and followers of the religion. Many philosophies are founded on the provisions and principles of these religions.
The religion is founded on the upholding of proper conduct, righteous ways and moral dedication to the utmost good. The teachings f philosopher Confucius emphasizes proper conduct among the human race. The followers of this religion do not believe in the existence of a supreme being and hence do not perceive supernatural powers. The historical and sociological backgrounds of this religion are based on peaceful coexistence among the human populace (Matthews, 36). The teachings of this religious framework focus on the proper conduct of an individual within the community. Proper conduct is ethical behavior that is socially acceptable and devoid of vices. The moral virtues upheld by Confucianism are based on social ethics that govern relationships between individuals in the society. The religion emphasizes utmost good conduct as well as a well cultivated spiritual soul and highly enlightened character.
The soul in the context of Hinduism and Buddhism
The soul, also referred to as the self, is a complicated concept to understand. Even to the trained mind, explaining the continuation of the soul is one of the main challenging errands. What makes the concept of the soul even more complicated is the fact that different religions interpret the soul differently. The Hinduism believers are taught that the individual soul (aatma) is connected to the highest being in the cosmos (paraatma) (Coomaraswamy, 64). In Hinduism, the connection between the aatma and the paraatma can be explained by three schools of thought. According to the non-dualism school of thought, the individual soul and the supreme self are the same thing. They are integral parts of one another. On the contrary, the dualistic theory recognizes the aatma and the paraatma as being comparable to a great extent yet existing separately. According to this theory, the aatma cannot lose entity uniqueness. The last school of thought is the partial non-dualism. This school of thought argues that the individual soul undergoes the progression of migrating through endless sequences of birth and demise.
Buddhism argues that everything is in a stable condition. The human being is no exception to this presumption. This, Buddhists argue, means that there is no stable self (Coomaraswamy, 74). The principles of An atman which basically means ‘no soul’, such words as I and Me are not used in referring to a stable object but are rather used for expediency purposes to denote and endlessly changing being. Fundamentally, Buddhists believe that the soul continues to be present after the passing away of the human body. Perhaps, Buddhists are contradicting themselves as they have principles that imply no soul yet they believe in the never-ending existence of the self. Investigation carried out in the University of Virginia into the Buddhist religion indicated that rebirth was a practicable presumption. The essence of this assumption is that when a human being dies, it is only the physical mass that loses life. The spirit within lives on and is somehow reborn in a different body. It is however worth noting that the reborn spirit is not identical to the soul that belonged to the dead body since the soul is modified to learn the ways and suit into the culture of the body in which it is reborn.
Atman is a word used to refer to the soul in Sanskrit. In order to gain salvation in the religion of Hinduism, an individual has to obtain self understanding and knowledge of the soul. Appreciating the real meaning of the personage and recognizing the effect of various observable facts on the self is the basis of Hinduism salvation (Coomaraswamy, 78). In Buddhism, salvation refers to the state of reaching what they refer to as nirvana. This is the condition that makes an individual be known as Buddha. It is a divine condition of oblivion. Salvation is an eightfold concept of righteousness. This is explained by eight principles in the religion. It is however worth concluding that much as their descriptions of salvation may differ, Buddhism, as well as Hinduism believes in the existence of the soul. The similarities between the beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism can be attributed that the former started as an integral part of the latter. Buddhism has its roots in the principles and beliefs of Hinduism. The two religions believe in rebirth, a concept that has been tested by academicians and found to hold enough reason. The common belief of the immortality of the self or soul is the binding factor of these two religious frameworks.
Coomaraswamy, K. A. Hinduism and Buddhism. New York: Golden Elixir Press. 2011. Print
Johnston, S. I. Ancient Religions. New York. Harvard University Press. 2007. Print
Matthews, C. Understanding Religious Ethics. New York. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. 2010. Print