Alpa: Ma, Jainism teaches us nonviolence and vegetarianism. It teaches us to speak the truth. It tells us that anger, pride, deception and greed are violence of self. Such behavior also leads to violence of others. Is there any religion that does not agree with these ideas?
Ma: Alpa, you are right. Teachings of all religions are similar to the Jain teachings. However, there is one important difference. Jains practice nonviolence to the greatest extent possible.
Alpa: Is there any other difference?
Ma: Jains believe that bad things like untruth, anger, pride and greed are forms of violence. We have to avoid such things to practice nonviolence.
Neel: Ma, if we lie or cheat, steal or hurt someone, we obtain bad karma. Our friends will not like us. These things are also against the law. Is that why we should not do bad things?
Ma: Yes! However, here is one more important point. It is proper to avoid bad things for fear of law or of bad karma, or peer pressure. However, it is best to avoid bad things because we want to lead a good clean life.
Alpa: What about fear of God?
Ma: Jains believe that God does not reward us or punish us. So the question does not arise.
Alpa: Ma, everybody is afraid of bad things happening to them. How can we face such things?
Ma: It is normal to have some fear. That is why followers of some religions perform rituals to seek the help of God. We Jains, on the other hand, regard that good and bad things are part of life. So we should face them calmly.
Neel: Ma, Jains also perform some rituals. We pray to TEERTHANKARS. We perform worship. Some Jains even pray to imaginary gods and goddesses. Do these things help?
Ma: Although people get some satisfaction by performing rituals, in fact, they can not prevent bad things from happening to us.
Alpa: But we do get some inspiration and confidence by doing such prayers and worship.
Ma: A better way to get inspiration, confidence and peace of mind is to understand that good and bad things will happen to us in our lives. We should carefully think and figure out what we should do in a given situation. Even if we do not succeed in spite of our best efforts, we should stay calm. This is part of our practice of nonviolence.
Neel: Now I understand that the Jain concept of nonviolence involves a lot more than not killing or hurting living beings.
Alpa: Ma, how can young children make proper choices?
Ma: Everybody makes decisions with the advice of family and friends. Young people should understand that parents have a selfless concern for their children's comfort and well-being. So children should trust their parents. They should seek and value their parents' advice. We should remember that hurting the feelings of one's parents is violence.
Neel: Should we always do things that our friends do or say?
Ma: It is helpful to listen to and follow one's good friends. However, we should understand that our friends do not have the same kind of feelings for us as our parents do. So it is better to seek our parents' guidance too. Blindly doing what others do is not proper. We should not yield to peer pressure.
Alpa and Neel: Ma, we now understand some special things about our religion of nonviolence.
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