Article: Jain beliefs

Contributed by Jasmine Kelly

Jainism in scientific terms

The 'Four Noble Truths' of Jain dharma are presented in the concentric circles. These show gradual progress towards the ultimate aim of Jain belief, which is becoming a siddha or liberated soul – that is, achieving mokṣa.

'Four Noble Truths' of Jain dharma
Image by K. V. Mardia © K. V. Mardia

A summary of the essence of Jain belief may be termed the 'Four Noble Truths'. A new coinage uses the vocabulary of modern science to describe the basic Jain principles of the soul and karma. For example, the concepts of karmic matter and the workings of karma though the cycle of rebirth are likened to photons and computers.

Contemporary research into emotional intelligence underlines the vital importance of listening and empathy to being a good lay Jain.

The four noble truths are related to other summaries of Jain doctrine, such as the 'three jewels' and the svastika.

Jainism and scientific thought

Final liberation requires complete understanding of reality, which has many sides and is unknowable from a single viewpoint. By following the teachings of the Jinas, an individual soul can develop this knowledge, which includes all forms of understanding. Thus Jain philosophy combines science and ethics in the route leading to emancipation, unlike the Western approach, which splits knowledge into different areas. To Jains spiritual questioning and scientific inquiry are paths to the essential truth.

The Jain faith emphasises the interconnectedness of all forms of life and the ethical nature of living and the quest for knowledge. These traditional viewpoints are surfacing in contemporary scientific research, which is starting to appreciate how things cannot be seen in isolation but must be understood by looking at all aspects.

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