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Jainism and Buddhism Both Jainism and Buddhism start in the 6th century BC, and they have similar backgrounds. The founders of these religions have similar stories. Jainism was founded by a man named Vardhamana, who was born into a wealthy, powerful family. When he was 30, he left his wealth behind and spent 12 years living a disciplined lifestyle and searched for the truth. He gave up all of his possessions, which included even his clothing, and eventually found what he was looking for.

He became “Mahavira,” which means the enlightened teacher. At his death, he escaped the cycle of birth and death, which means his reincarnation cycle ceased to exist, and entered Nirvana. His followers hope that, in following his teachings, they will be able to do the same. Jainism stresses the importance of “right knowledge” and “right conduct” as part of the pathway to Nirvana. Here are the “Five Great Vows” of the Jains: Non-violence(Ahimsa), Truth, Non-stealing, Celibacy and Non-possession.

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The first of these, Ahimsa, is the most important virtue of the Jains. According to Jainism all living beings are equal. No living being has a right to harm any other living being. Every living being has a right to exist and be in perfect harmony and peace. Nonviolence is based on love and kindness for all living beings. It is based on love and compassion. Violence of every type is forbidden. This also includes the use of harsh words and any type of bodily injury inflicted onto another.

Even thinking bad of someone is considered violence in Jainism. It is very difficult to survive without killing or injuring some of the smallest living beings, so Jainism says that minimum killing of he lowest form of life only should be the main goal in order for survival. Jainism was more of a confined religion, it did not travel greatly. Buddhism, has many similarities to Jainism, but is more of a “world” religion. Like Jainism, Buddhism starts in the 6th century BC with a teacher whose story is very similar to Vardhamana’s.

His name was Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha or the Enlightened One. Buddha was born into a noble family, living a very sheltered life with every good thing a man could want. Not until is early adulthood did he encounter the evils of this world: suffering, disease, and death. These things upset him and he left his life of indulgence behind. He went into the world to seek an answer to the problem of suffering and evil. This is when he came up with the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path”. These beliefs are the core of Buddhist philosophy.

First, the “Four Noble Truths” are as follows: that all life is suffering, that suffering Hawks 2 arises from craving, that to stop suffering, one must stop craving and finally that one tops craving by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path consists of: Right views: one must know the Four Noble Truths, Right resolve: you have to want to give up your desires, Right speech: you must be truthful, or you will make no progress on the Eightfold path, Right conduct, Right livelihood: some professions get in the way, you want things and it will be easier to end desire, and Right concentration: which consists of meditation.

One follows the Eightfold Path to become enlightened, to end desire, and to escape from the cycle of birth and death. Enlightenment leads to Nirvana, being one with the universe. Jainism did not spread as easily as Buddhism because of its strict view of Ahimsa. Some followers would undergo extraordinary ordeals in order to follow this important virtue. Some would insist on complete nakedness to avoid injuring any living beings living in clothing. Monks beg for food from others so they do not have to kill and add to their karma.

Some even make the ultimate sacrifice and starve themselves to death in order to not harm any living eing; but Jainism and Buddhism do have many similarities especially in their creation and their eventual main goal. Both were created by men who were born into privileged lifestyles, then realized that was not the root of happiness and wanted more. They each came to realize through their lives that the end goal is to obtain Nirvana, to end the cycle of reincarnation and finally be one with the universe. Patterns of World History, Combined Volume. Dec 2011. Peter von Sivers, Charles A. Desoyers, George B. Stow

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