A Beginner’s Guide to the Jain philosophy of forgiveness
The thought that unchanged rules which were written thousands of years ago would make sense in the modern world is absurd, isn’t it? Yet, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Religion is one of the most successful business models ever. Try to think of another venture which has such large-scale success and profitability. Religion is also the only belief system that creates sentimental value. Even nationalism, which many would argue is the cornerstone of today’s socio-political scenario, is second to religion. Most of the countries are also built upon a particular religious practice.
Since childhood, I have been a follower of Jainism. Interestingly, religion is one such thing which you do not choose for yourself. On the contrary, it chooses you. Although, if you do choose for yourself *cue eye roll* you will be called “converted”.
Well, I think I’m very far away from the topic I was supposed to write about today.
Jainism is, according to my family, the best religion of all (no conditions apply). It has a simple concept- all living things are equal, and being equals, we should not hurt anything or anyone.
Everything in Jainism revolves around this simple concept. All the books, speeches and exercises refer to this principle.
To not hurt anyone by words, actions or even thoughts- deep, isn’t it? Beautiful too, if you ask me.
According to this principle, life is very simple- do only that which causes no hurt to others.
What should you eat? Anything which causes minimal pain to other living creatures.
What should you do? Anything which causes minimal pain to other living creatures.
How should you live? Anyway which causes minimal pain to other living creatures.
For starters, you cannot eat non- vegetarian food (because it is difficult to eat chicken without hurting a chicken and its extended family).
So, let’s eat salad. But the question comes in, what about the concept of living organisms? Do you think plants are living?
Well, we believed it- thousands of years before Jagdish Chandra Bose discovered it. Hence, we try to eat as few of the plants as possible.
But, what if you can’t do it sometimes? Consider this scenario- in spite of good intentions, you hurt someone. It could’ve been a plant or an insect or an animal or a human. It could be knowingly or unknowingly. The point is, you did wrong and now you must resolve it.
And that brings us to the beautiful concept of “Michhami Dukkadam”. In simple words, it is, I am sorry.
It is not merely speaking the words, but also the intention to express remorse for hurting any living creature. “I’m sorry about everything, actually”, because hurting someone can only happen when a person did something wrong.
The concept can be as broad or as narrow as you want. With it, it also covers your own ego problems. If you want to be sorry, you cannot assume a moral high ground and ask for forgiveness. Being sorry is only possible when you take complete responsibility for your mistake, which was committed knowingly or unknowingly, and ask for forgiveness.
In today’s world, science is the only tool for winning logical arguments. Most religion- related things do not make sense. But this one thing, it’s so meaningful and important.
To be sorry about everything can absolve you of guilt. Also, it is a good antibiotic for our ego. While being sorry, at least for the moment, we acknowledge our mistake and want to genuinely put it behind us.
In addition, it is an excellent way to forgive someone else. Maybe people ask you to do it, or they don’t, but it is necessary to be both forgiving and humble, so that the accounts are clean and a new balance is achieved.
In all, Jainism as a religion comprises a lot more than this. Before being a religion, however, it is a philosophy with an ideology, which is to not hurt anyone- neither humans nor animals, nor plants, nor insects, nor fire or anything which has “consciousness” or life.
So to all of you and everyone else, let me ask for forgiveness. Michhami dukkadam!