Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
weak
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Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by weak »

Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it. The Buddhist standpoint on absolute nonviolence is slightly ambiguous. Nonviolence is very important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.

Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice?
Last edited by weak on Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:50 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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DNS
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by DNS »

weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be physically injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice and execution?
I don't think the buddhist position supports vigilante mob justice. Do you have a sutta reference that supports that idea? There are buddhist texts about proper governance, but they are few as most teachings are not about politics either directly or indirectly.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by DNS »

weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it. The Buddhist viewpoint on nonviolence is slightly more ambiguous. Nonviolence is important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.
I like their ahimsa doctrine too. Buddhism has a strong ahimsa doctrine as well. The Jains go too extreme in some cases though, imo. For example, covering the mouth to avoid killing microorganisms sounds too extreme to me. Or sweeping the ground before you walk on it to avoid stepping on any insects. If you live in a house or building, then perhaps millions were killed during construction (unless you live in Las Vegas like me where nothing lives in the ground as it is too hard).
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Sam Vara
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by Sam Vara »

Sometimes, seeing people take care of little critters can be a form of teaching in itself. Here's a passage from an introductory text by Ajahn Sucitto about how he discovered Buddhism in Thailand:
The venue was a room in a Buddhist monastery that had a few mats
to sit on and nothing much else. It was lit by a lamp, which was placed next to the meditation teacher who
was sitting up front beside a window. He was a Westerner, and was wearing the ochre-brown robes of a
Buddhist monk. Being a monastery in the tropics, there was no glass in the window, and flying ants were
coming in, attracted to the light. A few fluttered over the monk, but I noticed that as he spoke, he wasn’t put
off by the ants fluttering over his arms, and just occasionally picked one carefully off his face if it seemed to
be in danger of going into his mouth. He wasn't getting agitated, and he picked each ant off with specific
awareness of its fragility, without losing the thread of what he was talking about. In the same situation, I
would have killed a few ants, got irritated about the lack of glass and definitely lost the gist of what I was
talking about. But the stress that I would have got into would have been self-induced: the ants weren't
actually doing any harm. It was just a matter of responding to the sensation with full awareness rather than
reacting to it. That was a good introduction to what meditation was about; and in a larger sense what the
Buddhist Path was all about.
https://www.cittaviveka.org/files/artic ... ucitto.pdf

At our local monastery, a big spider will sometimes get in and caper across the floor in between the meditation mats. (I know we have nothing to compare with some of you New World and tropical members and your killer spiders, but it's enough to get the arachnophobes flinching and screaming!) One of the monks will deftly catch it with a paper cup and a chanting book, and convey it to safety outside. I swear I've seem the same spider re-enter just so he can experience the ahimsa all over again!
weak
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by weak »

DNS wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:35 pm
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be physically injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice and execution?
I don't think the buddhist position supports vigilante mob justice. Do you have a sutta reference that supports that idea? There are buddhist texts about proper governance, but they are few as most teachings are not about politics either directly or indirectly.
I can't cite a sutta but it was a question on this forum which caused me to reflect upon the Buddhist endorsement of violence in certain situations.

This is the thread in question - Would the Buddha kill a human for the greater good? viewtopic.php?f=13&t=35316

Of course the question got short shrift, but if such a question even has to be asked in the first place, it plants a seed of ambiguity on the Buddhist position on violence in exceptional circumstances.
Last edited by weak on Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
weak
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by weak »

DNS wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:40 pm
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it. The Buddhist viewpoint on nonviolence is slightly more ambiguous. Nonviolence is important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.
I like their ahimsa doctrine too. Buddhism has a strong ahimsa doctrine as well. The Jains go too extreme in some cases though, imo. For example, covering the mouth to avoid killing microorganisms sounds too extreme to me. Or sweeping the ground before you walk on it to avoid stepping on any insects. If you live in a house or building, then perhaps millions were killed during construction (unless you live in Las Vegas like me where nothing lives in the ground as it is too hard).
The Buddhist emphasis on ahimsa is certainly there but isn't quite as exalted to the utmost degree as in Jainism.

I find the Jain dietary requirements on root vegetables a step too far.
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Kusala
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by Kusala »

weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:22 pm
DNS wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:40 pm
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it. The Buddhist viewpoint on nonviolence is slightly more ambiguous. Nonviolence is important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.
I like their ahimsa doctrine too. Buddhism has a strong ahimsa doctrine as well. The Jains go too extreme in some cases though, imo. For example, covering the mouth to avoid killing microorganisms sounds too extreme to me. Or sweeping the ground before you walk on it to avoid stepping on any insects. If you live in a house or building, then perhaps millions were killed during construction (unless you live in Las Vegas like me where nothing lives in the ground as it is too hard).
The Buddhist emphasis on ahimsa is certainly there but isn't quite as exalted to the utmost degree as in Jainism.

I find the Jain dietary requirements on root vegetables a step too far.
Buddhism places great emphasis on the middle path...
"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by dharmacorps »

From my reading on Jainism, the issue isn't with the goal of ahimsa, which is present in Buddhism as well, but the realization that inadvertent harm is going to happen regardless. It is the intention which matters, not absolutism with regard to actions like wearing masks over your mouth or sweeping in front of you to prevent stepping on insects, etc. Also, their view of karma is quite different which is probably the biggest distinction between the two.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by daveblack »

weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it.
That's certainly a Western misrepresentation. Jainism has a metaphyiscal doctrine that is most certainly not derived from ahimsa, and it is explicated in 54 verses in the text Ishtopedesha with zero mention or reference to ahimsa. Its possible to believe in those metaphysics regarding the soul, reincarnation, and the non-dual meditation of the self meditating on the self, and their version of nirvana, without believing in ahimsa. Not that any Jains do that, but its certainly possible; showing that these metaphysics were not derived from ahimsa.
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pmThe Buddhist standpoint on absolute nonviolence is slightly ambiguous. Nonviolence is very important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.

Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice?
So, what's your view on abortion? I ask because I tend to find that people who respect non-human life the most, and who respect the lives of violent criminals the most, tend to respect the most innocent of human lives (babies) the least.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by cookiemonster »

weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it. The Buddhist standpoint on absolute nonviolence is slightly ambiguous. Nonviolence is very important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.

Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice?
IMO the Jain position is a "missing the forest for the trees" situation for me.

As I see it, Buddhism teaches me that the ultimate purpose of our actions on the physical plane are intended to train & refine ourselves on the more refined mental & consciousness planes.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by Placidium »

daveblack wrote: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:40 pm So, what's your view on abortion? I ask because I tend to find that people who respect non-human life the most, and who respect the lives of violent criminals the most, tend to respect the most innocent of human lives (babies) the least.
I completely agree with abortion. Humans limit the population of other species but we our loathe to limit the size of our own luxuriant population. I find that hypocritical. Universal legalization of abortion along with generous incentives, should be one way to lower the birth rate and the acceptance of abortion will help build the anti-life society I yearn for.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by salayatananirodha »

no
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by Khalil Bodhi »

daveblack wrote: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:40 pm
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pm Ahimsa is the central tenet of Jainism, all its other epistemology is derived from it.
That's certainly a Western misrepresentation. Jainism has a metaphyiscal doctrine that is most certainly not derived from ahimsa, and it is explicated in 54 verses in the text Ishtopedesha with zero mention or reference to ahimsa. Its possible to believe in those metaphysics regarding the soul, reincarnation, and the non-dual meditation of the self meditating on the self, and their version of nirvana, without believing in ahimsa. Not that any Jains do that, but its certainly possible; showing that these metaphysics were not derived from ahimsa.
weak wrote: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:34 pmThe Buddhist standpoint on absolute nonviolence is slightly ambiguous. Nonviolence is very important but not the overriding concern.

Jainism is the most refined ethical system devised by human beings. Its total pacifism resonates strongly with me.

Let me use an extreme example, I think rapists and sexual offenders should not be injured because of their actions (they should be protected from harm). Jain philosophy would agree but would the Buddhist viewpoint be sympathetic to the warped moral codes of the vigilante general public who demand mob justice?
So, what's your view on abortion? I ask because I tend to find that people who respect non-human life the most, and who respect the lives of violent criminals the most, tend to respect the most innocent of human lives (babies) the least.
Abortion is actually heavier akusala kamma than the killing of insects or nonhuman animals. I don’t think any person who truly follows the Precepts could condone abortion.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

Buddhism is pragmatic.

If a bhikkhu is being held against his will or threatened with death or injury he is allowed to give his assailant a blow in order to escape. That would likely be a strong blow, and might (perhaps) result in the death of his assailant, but if there is no intention to kill, the bhikkhu is blameless.

The Buddha was highly critical of Nigaṇṭh Nāṭaputta (Mahāvīra). They were naked ascetics. I don't know what, if any, similarity there is to modern Jainism apart from their practice of vegetarianism.
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Re: Is the Jain stance on nonviolence more compelling then the Buddhist viewpoint?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

I agree with the comment above about pragmatism.

Pacifism in the face of someone who wants to kill you is suicide. The Buddha said this life in the human realm is of value for the opportunities it provides, so to "passively" let it be destroyed would be wasteful, at best.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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