(Focus of Jain Study Circular)
In October 1979, in the first issue of the Jain Study Circular, the following thoughts were presented:
"The basic principles of the Jain religion are scientific and true. However, religion is the science of living and thus religious practices have to be modified according to the time and place. Life in the United States and Canada is somewhat different from that in India. . . . All Jains, adults and youngsters, have a deep desire to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the Jain religion. All of us wish to indulge in the true practice of Jainism. This is especially true of the youngsters of Jain background growing up in this part of the world. Our religious practices have to conform to the modern scientific age. The well-known social reformer, Swami Satyabhakta, in an article published in Babu Chhotelal Commemorative Volume (SMRITI GRANTH), has written that many ideas and practices of Jains do not agree with modern science and thus our youngsters are turned away from religion. This trend should be reversed. . . .
"The Jain Study Circular will contain articles bringing out the true spirit of Jainism, free from myths and legends. It will also present ideas about rational practice of the Jain religion."
The above concepts were reinforced in January 1989 and April 1991 issues of the Jain Study Circular in the following words:
"We believe that the basic teachings of the Jain religion do not involve mysticism and the supernatural. They do not entail belief in superhuman powers. This conforms to the Jain concept of rational perception (SAMYAK DARSHAN). Describing the transgressions of SAMYAK DARSHAN, Herbert Warren says, 'A state of mind in which it is argued that a person can do wonderful things, such as cause a wall to fall down by speaking a word, or any other wonderful thing, that therefore such person can make true statements with regard to life and spiritual truth (is transgression of the right attitude). The fact is that rogues and rascals are able to do these wonderful things just as can good men.' It is observed that there are certain psychologically beneficial effects of certain religious practices. However, such effects are not unique to Jain practices, and, in many cases, these are caused by blind faith in unscientific and unsubstantiated pronouncements made by some religious leaders. The Jain scriptures do not preach such practices. The principles of Jainism do not require us to believe in things contrary to our common sense. The Jain Study Circular always presents a rational view of concepts based on this spirit of the Jain religion. We also refer to the Jain scriptures whenever necessary. The Jain Study Circular does not rely on symbols and slogans. The mission of Jain Study Circle is to bring out the pristine nature of Jain principles. We do not promote ritualism and blind faith in what is preached by any individual or group. In the same spirit, we urge our friends to adopt or discard what is modern or traditional only after careful scrutiny in the light of the basic principles of Jainism, which include, nonviolence, truth and non-possessiveness. We promote recognition and appreciation of rational thinking and scholarship."
In the ancient Indian tradition, religion is believed to help individuals attain peace and happiness in life. In this sense, religion protects us. We do not have to protect our religion. However, untold misery and violence have been brought on the human race by individuals and groups in an effort to establish the 'truth' and superiority of their own beliefs. People have indulged in propagating their faiths in the name of 'helping' others. Jain Study Circle takes great care to avoid such practices. We believe that the value of our principles lies in our individual conduct and in the conduct of our institutions.
Jains believe that SIDDHAs are pure souls who do not interfere in the affairs of the universe. That is the concept of God in Jainism. Thus we avoid publishing concepts such as 'grace' and 'blessing' of God or SIDDHAs. In fact, we try our best to avoid concepts involving delusion (MOHA) and irrationalism (MITHYAATVA). We receive many articles that are similar to most of the lectures delivered at the various Jain celebrations. They present little scriptural knowledge, contain ideas contrary to common sense and relate anecdotes that insult our intelligence. Such articles are not published in the Jain Study Circular.
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