THE SANCTITY OF LIFE: JAINISM
Many of the oldest texts extolling the particular virtue of ahimsa are through the Jain community. Although a tiny community in India, Jains also have a great influence on both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions within the practice of nonviolence. Jain ontology and metaphysics holds that there are two kinds of substances within the universe, jiva and ajiva, or perhaps, consciousness or sentience as well as matter. The true nature in the jiva is bliss as well as omniscience, yet it is entangled in matter (as silver in ore). The reason for existence is to free oneself with this bondage, which is enmeshed inside relentless desire and resultant suffering. The greatest hindrance for you to freeing oneself and experiencing bliss is actions of which cause harm either intentionally or from carelessness and neglect. All forms of such action need to be avoided, as far as possible. Along with the search for knowledge, moral perfection, which the practice of ahimsa would be the highest form, is the critical ingredient in the good life.
Jains practice ahimsa in a number of ways. They are stringent vegetarians, as animals too are jivas. Most Jains live just on vegetables and milk products, even honey and certain varieties of figs are prohibited simply may contain many kinds of life. The requirements for monks are far stricter than for laity, but these set the ideal. Monks (and some laity) will have small mouth-coverings to steer clear of ingesting bugs, lightly sweep the trail in front before getting a step, and are scrupulous that their movements never to unnecessarily harm other life-forms (Chapple 1993). Strangely enough, respect for life and also the principle of ahimsa develop into a respect for other views, or the epistemological principle of anekantavada, or principle of manifoldness. The idea is that the truth is complex, manifold, and diverse. The truth claims that seek to describe this reality are inherently restricted to one’s viewpoint; and, as a result, they may be just partially true, as there’re dependent on one’s perspective. Thus, differences in doctrine may not necessarily be opposed or perhaps wrong, but simply be describing reality coming from a differing angle or aspect.
As such, one ought not to immediately condemn other views as wrong, but explore these for what they may need to offer. A similar technique also exists in Hinduism as well as Buddhism, which gives rise into a particularly Indian form of respect and tolerance for diversity using the principle of ahimsa as used on doctrinal differences. This attitude is the reason the degree of tolerance that India shows various religious groups that stumbled on reside on the subcontinent.