The first presentation I went to this morning was on the role of karma in Jainism. The presenter was Dr. Narayan Kachhara. The doctrine of karma, of course, is the teaching that auspicious activities [both mental & physical] produce peace, happiness, and harmony; and inauspicious activities produce the opposite. One's karma determines everything: God is completely uninvolved & doesn't do anything--God neither blesses nor curses anyone. This is because [interestingly enough] God is pure and perfect, which means that God has no desires and no hatred. [Incidentally, this is the logical extension of a doctrine of divine impassability, which I don't think it fits Christianity very well!] Thus, we are really in control of our whole lives: he noted that the saying, "You reap what you sow" is absolutely true. Your present state is a result of your past karma, and you shape your future state absolutely. Part of generating good karma is to have equanimity in the face of adversity: you should be the same in the face of joy or sorrow, failure or success. I know this sounds absolutely incredible--impossible and unrealistic, but that is because Christians have a very different understanding of God, the world, and salvation, of course. Such a view would be illogical in Christianity, which worships a God who willingly suffered out of love for creation.
If you know anything about Jainism, you know that ahimsa, or nonviolence, is one of their most important tenets--so much so that all Jains are vegetarian. The reason for this is that they believe that all souls are alike, and all have the same potential: plants, fish, birds, mammals, and, of course, humans. Thus, one must respect and have reverence for ALL life forms. Christianity could use more of that, I think….
Good night, dear community.
Kristin Johnston Largen