|Handbook of Jainism||
THIRTY-FIVE RULES OF CONDUCT
The practice of the following rules prevents us from falling spiritually lower, and helps us to rise higher. It is the means whereby we reach the right attitude or come to pass through the three processes just mentioned. It is the means whereby we begin to stop the inflow of the worst foreign energies, and to work out those that we have already generated in the past and which are in us at present. It is the means whereby we get ourselves from the first stage of development to the fourth. The second and third stages are of but momentary duration.
These rules are based upon love, sympathy, fellow-feeling, pity, etc., and the practice of them is to be accomplished by these feelings, otherwise it is mere hypocrisy.
These rules are the ideas, convictions, and conduct of those who practice them. These rules are not commands. The Jain Deity issues no commands. These rules are an aspect of the man who practices them; they are not something separate from the man; they are the man's state of knowledge and mode of behavior.
And the man's practice of these rules has an internal and external aspect. The inward state ought to correspond with the external, visible conduct. The description which a man makes, either for himself or to other people, of his rules or principles, would be the external aspect of the rules; it is like a peg on which, on account of weakness, the thoughts must be hung. The rules must be practiced in each of these two aspects, otherwise the end to which they are the means will not be reached. The external visible conduct must become the cause of the internal state of love, pithy, etc. From the sincere practice of these external principles or rules of conduct, comes out the purity of the soul; the dirt or foreign matter in combination with the soul is removed.
These rules are the first step which a person desiring to make some spiritual progress should adopt. They are rules for beginners, and not for those who are spiritually advanced. If you wish to paint a likeness of some one, and the canvas is soiled, you must first clean it. These rules are as it were the cleaning process.
The person should follow some kind of business, trade, or profession, which is not of an ignoble or degrading nature. He should follow it in a just and honest way, and in proportion to his capital or, in the case of service under the employment of other people, in proportion to his strength, not undertaking more than he can perform.
By following some kind of business the person can provide himself with means to support anyone who is dependent upon him as well as to support himself. Also with means to help those who are in distress - a layman cannot do much good in the way of spiritual teaching - and by helping people in distress he removes bad character and generates good. Also he can provide himself with means to perform his duties without too much difficulty.
The reason why the business must not be an ignoble or degrading nature is because all these rules are based on love and fellow-feeling, doing good to and not injuring others, whether men, animals, fish, birds, or insects. Therefore the business must not be that of a butcher, brewer, wine merchant, gun-maker or anything which involves wholesale destruction of life.
The reasons why he should do his business in a just and honest way are because, as far as the present life is concerned, there is all the time a kind of fear while enjoying or using money earned dishonestly lest the dishonesty be discovered, and when the money is earned honestly the mind remains in a peaceful state, the wealth is enjoyed, and the religious functions are performed in a fearless way. And, as far as the future life is concerned, we improve it by the association of virtuous people, which we cannot get if we earn money dishonestly; they will not come in contact with us. Also when earning money in a foul way, the mind is in a foul state and we are generating bad energies for the future.
The layman should marry; and he should not marry a person from the same ancestors or of the same family; but a person whose character, tastes, culture, language, etc. are of the same kind.
The reasons are that the layman who is beginning to make some effort to progress spiritually has not got control of his sex passion, and therefore marriage is better than promiscuous indulgence. If he can control his sex passion, he should not marry. And the reason for having a marriage partner of like culture, etc. is to render misunderstandings, discord, or disharmony less likely than otherwise might be the case.
The person who wishes to make some spiritual progress, should always be cautious of danger spots, visible and invisible. The visible ones would be those pursuits or pastimes, the bad results of which are seen all around us, gambling, lustfully eyeing other men's wives, or any crimes which we know take us to prison, etc. The invisible danger spots would be any pursuit which can be known by reflecting to lead to bad results, such as drink, or meat-eating. The person should be wary and even afraid of these dangerous pursuits.
The person who wishes to advance spiritually should appreciate the conduct, life, and doings of truly spiritually experienced persons. The layman may not be able to act as they do, but he can appreciate the actions.
By experienced persons is meant those who are experienced by reason of having come into contact with the wise. They would always try to do good to people who need it. They would always be grateful for kindness. They would even give up their own less important business to do some more important thing for others. They would never malign, slander, or libel. They do not get elated at prosperity or grieve at losses. They do not use too many words. They do not make enemies through recklessness. They would always fulfill their promises. Such experienced persons are called in Sanskrit "sista".
Is with regard to the degree in which sense pleasures should be enjoyed and controlled. The man, having been for all past time enjoying the pleasures of the senses, cannot give them up at once, and, therefore, only some need be given up at first. He may enjoy sense pleasures to a degree commensurate with his business and household duties, and should give up sense pleasures which conflict with those duties. Also he should control those sense pleasures which would encourage or feed any of the following six things, namely:
The layman who wishes to take the first steps towards spiritual progress should avoid or abandon places of difficulties and dangers. For instance, a place where famine, or plague is; a place of battle; or where there is much ill-feeling towards him by the people around him. If he stays in such places, he will not be able to accomplish what he wishes to accomplish.
He should live in a country where he will have adequate protection of his life and property by the Government. If he lives where crimes go on unpunished, he is liable to be disturbed.
The layman should get the company of people who appreciate good, whose conduct is of the right kind, and who are always partial to virtue; people who are spiritually more advanced, and whom he considers as examples to be followed.
If he wishes to establish a home or a house, the spot where it is built should to be too much concealed (this refers to India, more especially in the past). There should not be bones underneath. The house should not be among quarrelsome people or undesirable neighbors.
He should dress according to his means should not spend beyond his means; and if he has the means to dress extravagantly, still he should not do so. The dress should not be too showy.
His expenses should be in proportion to his income.
When he lives in any country, if there is some particular, well-known, well-established custom, which does not involve the breaking of any high principle, such custom should be followed.
He should avoid any undesirable habits such as meat-eating, or wine-drinking. There is a destruction of infinite minute life in fermentation.
He should not libel or slander anybody, especially the king; these are done not with a view to doing good, but with a view to, or from the motive of, harming the person and are done without any proper reason. Showing up fraudulent persons is doing good and is not libel or slander.
RULES 15 AND 16
He should keep the company of only pure-hearted persons, and persons of good conduct, and should not keep the company of bad persons. The difference between this and rule 8 is that this rule refers to equals, and rule 8 refers to spiritual superiors.
He should respect the parents. The idea is that they do so much for us, while we are weak and incapable that we should return gratitude.
None of the person's actions should be such as to cause unnecessary ill-feeling to anybody; he should not speak words which would unnecessarily cause ill-feeling in the mind of another.
He should maintain those who are dependent on him; that obligation should be fulfilled. He should assign to them their proper work and should see that they do it right, or else they become harmful to him. If they get into vices, etc., then he should assume such an attitude toward them that they may feel that he knows of their wrong-doing. He should not ignore wrong-doing or let the dependent persons get so vicious that their condition would lower his wisdom. Avoid a person if very bad; do not bring up serpents in your house.
Respect and render service to the Master, i.e. the right ideal; to the guest; and to poor, deserving people. When a person has an ideal, he respects him; if he does not respect him, he is not that person's ideal. If the ideal is a wrong one, then the whole life will be wrong.
With regard to eating and drinking; the person should eat and drink at the proper time, in conformity with the nature of his constitution. But under all circumstances give up excessive eating or drinking simply because that particular fool or drink is liked.
When he feels that he is getting weak physically, he should adopt the proper remedy.
He should not travel in countries which are full of criminals, or where there are other dangers, such as earthquake, plague, famine, wild animals, lions, tigers, etc. The idea is self-protection.
He should not act in such a way as to become unnecessarily hostile to the people; he should live in peace with them. (All these rules are for the beginner and not for those strong in spiritual quality.)
With reference to the attitude that he should have towards people who are in a low state of development, his action should be such that they would feel that there is a higher life than their own; he should let them feel the influence of the purer life of honesty, for instance.
He should render service to those who have taken spiritual vows and who are experienced in wisdom and knowledge. He should do some kind of service to them, and in that way he appreciates the wisdom and vows, with the idea of, in time, becoming like those persons.
This rule is with regard to the objects of life. There are four classes of objects of life, and the person who wishes to progress spiritually should have all these four objects, but in such a way that a higher one is not sacrificed for the sake of a lower one. If there are difficulties, as far as the lowest object is concerned, then he should let it go, and preserve the higher ones.
The four classes of objects of life are as follows:
The ordinary man of the world accepts only two of these four objects, viz., the second and third; getting the means to satisfy desires, and satisfying desires. When the other two objects are added, the person's life becomes very different.
In doing anything, he should always consider his strength and his weaknesses. He should not undertake more than his strength will allow him to carry out.
He should always attempt to rise higher and higher, so far as concerns the above mentioned objects of life.
He should do or abstain from doing things that should be done or should not be done, respectively, at the time. He should stop doing a thing, if it should not be done at that time.
The layman should hear or read every day the rules of life, or scriptures. The idea is that the practice of these rules leads the person to the state of right conviction, right belief, etc., so that, if, after examining himself, he finds he has not attained the right attitude to be known by the previously mentioned internal signs,, then he will know how to reach it, viz., by practicing these rules.
The person who wishes to make spiritual progress should give up obstinacy in all things. Obstinacy, as here meant, is the doing of an immoral, wrong, or evil act, with the object of hurting, or defeating another. He should be yielding and not stubborn.
He should be partial to virtues. He should have all his energies directed towards the gaining of virtue.
He should be critical towards opinions, beliefs, philosophies, religions, etc., he should reconcile all the questions and solve all the doubts arise out of this critical attitude.
We have now seen that in all the 14 stages of development above the 3rd, the right attitude of mind and a relish of the truth are present. The signs of this attitude and the means of attaining it have been given. The next subject is, therefore, the fourth stage of development.