Sep 28, 2020

Jainism view on Gender-Based Inequalities in Religious Context..


Q23. What is Jain view on gender-based inequality? Is there inequality between men and women in religious context? If yes, why and should it continue?

This is a very practical question from today’s youth and non-traditional Jains. Gender discrimination is something that human race has endured over time and across all cultures. Gender-based inequality is a term that implies differential treatment based on gender regardless of race, religion, caste, or creed. There has been progress towards gender equality over the past decade in various areas with awareness, education, and actions. However, many challenges with gender inequality are still pervasive. 

 

First let us talk about what is meant by gender-based inequality from a religious perspective.

Gender-based inequality in a religious realm implies that women and men are treated differently. And there is inequality or discrimination in the religious responsibilities, experiences, practices, rules, norms or what you’re allowed to do based on the gender.

 

Some of the gender-based inequalities that we have observed between men and women in practicing Jain religion are:

·        Women cannot recite certain sutras and cannot perform certain rituals

·        If rituals are performed by men and women together, all sutras should be recited by men

·        Women cannot enter in temple during their monthly period

·        In some sects, women cannot attain liberation. They need to be born as a man for liberation

·        In some Jain stories it is said that bad karma results in being born as a girl

 

So, the questions we must ask ourselves are:

·        Why do we have inequalities and restrictions only for women?

·        Why do practices exist that treat women inferior to men?

·        Do Jain principles or Bhagwan Mahavir state that women are inferior to men?

·        How much of these practices, including what is written in scriptures, are influenced by the culture at the time of writing the scriptures and how much is truly based on Tirthankar’s preachings?

 

To understand Jain view, we will first look at various key aspects like what we can learn from Mahavir Swami’s life, Jain fundamental beliefs, and most importantly the purpose of Jainism.

 

 

What we can learn from Mahavir Swami’s Life

The day after Mahavir Swami attained Keval Gyan (Omniscience), he established the fourfold order of Jain Sangh, known as the Chaturvidh Sangh - Sadhu, Sadhvi, Shravak and Shravika. 

Mahavir Swami initiated:

·        Gautam Swami and Chandanbala, 1st Sadhu and Sadhvi, by providing them 5 Maha-vrats.

·        Anand Shravak and Sulsa Shravika, 1st Shravak and Shravika, by providing them 5 Anu-vrat, 3 Guna-vrat and 4 Shiksha-vrat known as 12 vrats (vows) for laypeople.

He did not indicate any place in Acharang sutra (Agam 01) and Upashak Dashang Ang Agam (Agam 07) that men are superior to women. It was right away described as fourfold, including women as two of its components, laywomen (shravika) and nuns (sadhvi), alongside laymen (shravak) and monks (sadhu). This has been recognized and accepted by all Jain sects without any disagreement or embarrassment.

 

This action demonstrates to us that Bhagwan Mahavir, our spiritual teacher, treated women and men equally, he did not create any gender bias and he is the first guru of Jain monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. He realized that men and women are different because of gender and hence he created different gender based aachar but treated both as equals.

 

Before Mahavir Swami’s time there were 4 vows, in which brahmacharya and aparigraha were merged, because women were treated as property. In his time, he created a fifth vow to distinguish women’s status, not equal to property.

 

Mahavir Swami was open-minded and very progressive for his time. Culturally during that time, many inequalities existed in the Indian community. It was a male dominated society and women were considered property of men. Despite of all that, we can see from Mahavir Swami’s actions that he neither agreed nor promoted gender biased inequalities or any other kind of inequalities.

 

Next, we want to shed light on the Jain fundamentals and principle as they relate to this question.

 

 

Jain Fundamentals and Principles

According to Jain fundamentals, every living being is a soul and has the potential to achieve liberation. All the Jain fundamentals and principles are gender independent. Jainism even goes to the next extent and treats not only humans, animals, but even 1-sensed earth, water, air bodied also as equal souls who in their pure form possess Infinite Jnan, Infinite Darshan, Infinite Charitra or Infinite Happiness, and Infinite Energy or Power.

 

However, all souls in their impure form, is covered by Karma and hence possesses only Limited Jnan, Limited Darshan, Limited Charitra, Limited Power and Energy. To achieve liberation, one must first eliminate Mithyatva (Darshan Mohaniya Karma) and then reduce and ultimately eliminate Kashayas (Charitra Mohaniya Karma).

 

All humans (both males and females) with a fully developed mind, have the capability to eliminate Mithyatva and reduce and ultimately eliminate Charitra Mohaniya Karma through practice of meditation.  Both men and women are equally capable of becoming knower and observer, by practicing meditation and have the potential to achieve liberation.

 

Physical differences in humans have no bearing on achieving the true nature of the soul. Then, why should women be any exception? Human life is capable of achieving liberation with gyan and dhyaan, regardless of the physical differences in the human body.

 

Our Tirthankars are Vitraagi, they don’t have any kind of attachments. They would not create any discriminating restrictions for men or women.

 

As we can see, there is nothing in Jain fundamental beliefs and principles that are gender driven or endorses inequality. And furthermore, Jainism is an introspective (bhaav pradhan) religion which promotes compassion, equanimity, friendship, and love towards all living beings. There is no place for inequalities or discrimination towards women.

 

 

Social and Cultural Influences that created Inequalities

Mahavir Swami’s actions, virtues, teachings, and characteristic traits teaches us equality, however, things changed slowly after his nirvana.

 

The social and cultural influences of that era impacted the religion sphere and the inequalities towards women proliferated into Jainism. Women were treated as property of men and they were sold in the open market.  Even Chandanbala was sold by her owner in an open market.  Mahavir Swami freed enslaved Chandanbala, and dogma/stereotypes were broken by making her the first Sadhvi of Sangh. However, the scriptures that were written hundreds of years after Mahavir’s nirvana have society’s biases embedded in them.

 

The inequalities continued to carry forward as traditions or blind beliefs. They hold no spiritual or principle driven reasons.

 

When such inequalities are questioned then reasons are provided to retroactively justify the conditions that are already in place. If we think about it, most of the time one blind tradition is justified with another blind assumption.

 

 

Why change?

The question that often comes up is why change and why disturb something that is going on for generations? The reason is because people lose respect and drive away from religion when they see such inequalities.  Several other religions have changed and eliminated inequalities to certain extent. 

 

Religion has the potential to be the pioneer and set an example of the changes we wish to see in all realms of society like social, professional, economic, decision-making. Equality is the fundamental right of all living beings and all the Jain principles uphold that value.

 

There are also psychological, social, and spiritual pitfalls for both genders because of inequality.

 

Women or girls might consciously or subconsciously see themselves as less and that prevents them from achieving their potential. They often form an unintended and an invisible barrier within them to equal opportunity, and may doubt themselves from taking courageous steps even in the realm of spiritual practice

 

Men or boys knowingly or unknowingly might create a sense of entitlement or ego within them, which would come in their way of healthy relationships, lifestyle and spiritual liberation. There is also the irony that even if he himself may not initially recognize the harm in treating women as inferior, he may object when other men treat his own mother, sister or wife that way.

 

From a religious perspective, change is needed so that the true essence of religion of equality and Ahimsa that Jainism preaches is maintained and in the name of religion we don’t knowingly or inadvertently cause any harm to any soul or cause any barriers for a soul’s progress.

 

From a cultural perspective, we see a highly conflicted behavior. On one side the religion elevates many Goddesses and holds them in high regard, but then ironically, it also puts numerous restrictions and constraints towards women of the society and their potential involvement and their contributions towards growth of the religion. This suggests that the culture itself is in conflict and should be treated as a changeable force and not as an immutable authority.


Bottom line, if something is wrong and against the principles then we must change.

 

 

How do we elicit change?

At an individual level, first educate yourself, understand, verify the information with your logic and internalize it. Reflect on your own previously internalized bias and attempt to uproot your unconscious negative attitudes, whether toward your own or the opposite gender.

 

Knowledge is power. Once the knowledge becomes our own then we can educate others around us.

“Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.” - Aristotle

This quote from Aristotle points out the distinction between knowing and understanding. When we understand and internalize the knowledge then we can educate others with respect while maintaining the harmony. This kind of approach creates a potential to make the change a natural transition.

 

There are going to be situations when we can’t change the deeply rooted belief systems and that’s beyond our control. But at a minimum what we don’t want to pass on something that is against our Jain principles and Jainism teachings to the next generation.

 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” - Gandhiji

First and foremost, women should see themselves as equal. Women should understand the cultural programming and subconscious barriers that are preventing them from seeing themselves as equal.

 

At a community level, we should not create any rules that create or promote inequalities like women can’t read certain sutras or make statements like women can’t attain liberation or one is born as a woman because of bad karmas.  Jain religious principles are not and should not be male dominated. Both men and women should be treated equally. Jain principles are universal and apply equally to all souls and doesn’t distinguish by gender.

 

In 1980s, Shri Amar Muniji took a revolutionary and historic step in the right direction by giving the title of “Acharya” to Sadhvi Chandanaji of Veerayatan. Acharya Chandanaji is the first and only Jain nun who has been given the title of “Acharya” thus far. But it is still an exception and not the norm.  

 

 

In Summary

Our spiritual teacher Tirthankar Mahavir treated everyone equally, yet the inequality was created after his time, mostly because of the era and culture they were in. There is nothing in our Jain values and principles that states or promotes any kind of inequalities between Monks and Nuns, Laymen and Laywomen. In Jainism, equality is a fundamental principle and every soul has the same potential and same inherent soul qualities.

 

Women and men are physically different, but they should be treated equal. If a systematic or radical change is required, then we all have to do our part. Whether it is writing about it, creating awareness, or calling out discrimination when we see it.

 

If we fail to do the right thing by sitting on the sidelines, remaining ignorant or not questioning inequalities under the pretense of faith in religion, then we are doing a disservice to the current and future generations.

Aug 14, 2020

Rituals are meant to be Adaptive and are not Universal...


Q22. Are rituals meant to be adaptive? Do rituals need to change based on environment and place or in other words, are rituals universal? As an example, why are Samayik and Pratikraman rituals not allowed in the temple and is that applicable in all countries?

 

First let’s talk about what are rituals, the purpose of rituals and how they should be performed. Then we will talk about the adaptability and applicability of rituals in different environments/countries.

 

Rituals – What/Why/How

Ritual, in the religious context, is a set of activities performed to remind basic principles of the religion. Rituals have a symbolic and spiritual significance to the performer.

 

Rituals are important for any religion to build a culture, to strengthen their religious values, to create a sense of community, and for survival of a religion. Rituals are required and play a significant role to instill values and build up religious interest in children, youth, and future generations.

 

End Goals of Rituals

Rituals performed with proper understanding ultimately help us:

·        Reduces our kashayas (anger, ego, greed, deceit)

·        Reduces our attachment to worldly objects and physical relationships

·        Increase compassion toward other living beings

·        Realize true nature of the soul and ultimately lead to liberation

And achieving the above is essentially the aim of religion.

 

How to Perform Rituals

Rituals must be performed with proper knowledge, understanding and reflection. Practicing of any ritual should start with understanding the spiritual purpose of the rituals.

As we are performing any ritual, we need to pause and ask ourselves honestly: Am I doing this ritual with the right knowledge and understanding? Am I doing this ritual with proper yoga posture, proper recitation of sutra, and meditation? Am I reflecting on how this ritual is helping me?

With such reflections, it ends up being primary means of inner transformation.

Rituals performed mechanically, out of fear, ego, greed, deceit, or personal gain, are pointless and provide no spiritual benefit.  On the contrary it further degrades us spiritually because we practice the religion under fear and greed.

 

Please refer to “Rituals: What, Why, How” article for additional details.

 

Rituals are created by the people, and for the people. They are meant to be something that can be easily followed by the laypeople on daily basis in their current environment. Otherwise, it ends up becoming a paper exercise and not something that can be or will be followed by people.

 

 

Rituals are meant to be adaptive

If the rituals are adaptive and responsive to different cultures and social climates, then the rituals and religion remain relevant and vibrant. Hence people continue to stay actively involved. We have seen over history that rituals have changed to suit the needs of the changing times, but values and spiritual intent were kept intact.

As an example, there are distinct differences in the way rituals were performed during Lord Parshwanath’s time vs. Lord Mahavir’s time.

 

During Lord Parshvanath’s time, repentance ritual was performed only if one made a mistake or violated a vow. If an induvial made a mistake multiple times, then the repentance ritual was performed multiple times in a day. And if an individual didn’t make any mistake or violated a vow, then the repentance ritual was not performed.

 

Whereas during Lord Mahavir’s time, he introduced discipline around rituals. He introduced six essential rituals for laypeople like Samayik, Chauvisathho, Vandana, Pratikraman, Kayotsarg and Pacchakhan. This is an example of how the rituals were adjusted in accordance with time, but the spiritual intent of eliminating our Mithyatva and reducing kashayas remained the same.

 

There are rituals around seasons in India. The seasons are different in America, so the seasons related rituals won't be necessarily applicable. For example, there are areas in USA and Canada were sunset occurs sometimes around 3 PM. Will it be practical for individuals in those areas to follow not eating after sunset ritual?  

 

Another example is not eating mangoes during monsoon months in India. Is that applicable in America since it rains almost all year around in many parts of the country?

 

 

Rituals are not universal

Rituals depend on place, time, and environment we live in. But the purpose and spiritual intent remains the same. So, some rituals will be pertinent regardless of the country and some rituals won’t be. We must use our own wisdom to determine the rituals applicability in our current environment. 

Practicing of rituals starts with understanding the spiritual purpose of the ritual and practical applicability to follow the ritual while meeting all the responsibilities as laypeople. This becomes especially important when people migrate from one place to another.

There are many rituals in place today that are rooted from generations of history and they are performed with the mindset that “this is how it’s always been done”. In some cases, these rituals are done in Mithyatva (ignorance), not knowing the spiritual intent but instead following it mechanically. This Mithyatva can be seeded from lack of knowledge, lack of desire to gain information, blindly following rituals, believing in the wrong beliefs, lack of alignment with Jain values/principles, or fear of challenging that status quo.

 

Ritual should not be mistaken as a religion

Ritual should not be mistaken as a religion, but rather the spiritual benefit that we gain directly/indirectly by performing a ritual is the religion. If we are getting spiritual benefit from a ritual, then it is a proper ritual versus a ritual just carried mechanically. Whatever rituals we do, we need to understand the spiritual purpose behind it and then see if we are achieving and/or improving towards achieving that purpose.

 

So, now that we understand rituals should be adaptive and they are not meant to be universal, let’s talk about specific question related Samayik and Pratikraman in detail:

 

 

Why does Jainism not allow Samayik and Pratikraman rituals in the temple and is that applicable in America?

This question has come up at the several Jain centers in America. Many of the small centers don’t have enough space to accommodate various simultaneous. Pratikramans during specifically during Paryushan to include Shvet√§mbarDigambarSthanakvasi, Youth Pratikaman or Pratikaman performed in English language and so on.

Let’s first understand the purpose of Samayik and Pratikraman:

Samayik: The purpose of Samayik is to remain calm, undisturbed and in the state of equanimity for at least 48 minutes daily. This daily practice is intended to raise our spirituality and inner strength such that we can maintain the state of equanimity throughout the day.

Pratikraman: The purpose of Pratikraman is to reflect, repent, and re-approach upon wrong thoughts, words and actions and ask for forgiveness for the same. This daily practice keeps us constantly awake and aware about our way of living life.

The aims of both rituals are to prepare us in attaining divinity in our thoughts, words, and conduct through awareness and moment to moment mindfulness.

In our effort to understand if there are any scriptures or principles driven reasons for not performing such pious and spiritually uplifting rituals in the temple, we have found none. However, we were given some traditional reasons. We have also provided our perspective and logic for each of the reasons below:

Acharyas and Scholars indicate the following 4 reasons why we are not allowed to do Samayik and Pratikraman in the temple

1.     The primary function of temple is to do Puja and Chaitya Vandan of Tirthankar.  Samayik and Pratikraman are for self-reflection and meditation.  This may take long time.  During this time people sweat perspire and that degrades piousness of temple. 

2.     Samayik and Pratikraman when performed in a group, people seat around the circle and Sthapnacharya in the middle.  This will create Ashatana condition to Tirthankar because few people’s back will be in front of Tirthankar Murti.

3.     In Pratikraman vidhi, when Guru vandan vidhi occurs, if we to do it in the presence of Tirthankar then this is also considered Ashatana.

4.     Anybody can walk-into the temple and will disturb people’s KaussagSamayik, or Svadhyay, or meditation.

We need to evaluate the above reasons in different environment and culture from a logical and spiritual viewpoint:

1.     Originally the temples were meant for meditation, the murtis were used as symbol for meditation, and Jainism as well as Buddhism were against murti puja. Later, various rituals got introduced and meditative intent got lost. Also, if the length of the rituals is a concern, then why are Siddhachakra poojans performed in the temple which takes couple of hours? If poojans are allowed, then why not Samayik and Pratikraman?

2.     Regarding Ashatana because of people’s back in front of the murti, why not sit such that no one’s back is towards Tirthankar?

3.     Tirthankar are our first spiritual teachers / gurus then why can’t we recite guru vandan in front of our tirthankars? We do recite Ichcchami Khamasaman in front of tirthankara and monks/nuns and only difference is the number of times it is performed. We recite it for three times in the temple vs. two times in front of monks/nuns.

4.     The concern that anybody can walk in anytime and disturb meditation is more applicable in India since people come and go anytime, but not in USA, Canada, and many other countries.

As we can see that the reasons provided have no spiritual significance.  It is more driven by the culture and tradition in certain sects of Jainism. In America, during Samvatsari Pratikraman more space is required because the entire community does Pratikraman at the same time but in different rooms, such as Shvetambar hall, Sthanakvast hall, Shrimad hall, English Pratikraman hall. 

To indicate that we can do Samayik and Partikraman in a pious place like temple is logical as well as spiritual. The main goal for us is to achieve our spiritual (meditative) intent of these rituals in our current environment.

 

In Summary

We need to have clear understanding of the rituals and the purpose of rituals. For rituals to remain relevant, they need to be adaptive and we must use our own wisdom to determine the rituals applicability in our current environment. 

“Whatever I say, you must test this with your own reasoning and verify it through your own experience. Do not accept what I say blindly by faith alone until it passes the litmus test of intellect.”  – Tirthankar Mahavir

The above is the key message from Mahavir Swami, but the unfortunate situation is performing rituals without proper understanding and then not questioning it under the pretense of faith in religion. We must think about all the information holistically and make our decision keeping the spiritual aim in the forefront.

The ultimate purpose of any ritual is our inner transformation and we are the only ones who can track our progress honestly.

The intent is not to challenge or change a tradition just for sake of it but to have the understanding of principles and awareness, such that if a change is required in our current environment, then we can use our own wisdom and not become rigid or timid followers of cultural/legacy traditions.

Jul 27, 2020

Climate Crisis Series - Part 3 of 3: What can we do about Climate Crisis?


This is the third and final in a series of 3 questions and answers about climate change. The prior articles explained climate crisis and why we should care about it. This article below is focused on the actions we can take to limit the adverse effects of climate change.

 

Q21. What can we do about the Climate Change? What are some specific and actionable things that we can do to help with these issues at an individual and citizen level, Community and Corporate level, Jain society and pathshala level where we can influence?

With the previous two articles, we have taken the first step to cultivate the awareness in ourselves that climate change is real. That it is a problem, that it is urgent, and that we have a responsibility to address it, individually and collectively. When taking steps to address climate change, we should start with a positive outlook that it is possible to improve things. Giving up, feeling hopeless is not going to help, or going into denial is not going to change the reality.

 

You must have heard this popular term “Go Green” being used with Save the environment or Stop this Climate Change.


 

What Does it mean to “Go Green”?

Living an environment friendly life is called “Going Green”. It is the process of changing one’s lifestyle and collectively communities’ way of living for the safety and benefits of the environment and to stop adverse climate changes. “Going Green” means being conscious about the negative impact of our direct and indirect actions on the environment, on global warming, pollution, lack of animal habitat, careless use of finite essential resources etc.

 

When it comes to making progress on important issues like” Climate Change”, let’s remember that actions can come in many forms, and we should not solely rely on just one form of actions or the other:

1) small, personal everyday choices,

2) major individual lifestyle choices

3) collective action at local, national, and global levels

 

Large % of the population thinks that somehow only sweeping government policies or collective community actions can only bring the necessary significant impact. Meanwhile, we think, how much of an adverse impact is it going to have on the environment, if I use a few plastic water bottles, polythene bags or a few plane rides?

 

This paradox, where we may think that how the small, individual conscious changes I make at an individual level will help save the environment is important to understand. You are right, a few small actions aren’t enough. However, over the years, individually and collectively we can bring a significant difference by incrementally making the right decisions and choices every day. There are many ways, big and small, short-term and long-term, and individual or collective to address climate challenges.



 

 

Remember,


“Nothing is too small to matter.

AND

No one is too small to make a difference.”

Let’s start with looking at ways to “Go Green” that aligns with our Jain Values:














Remember, it is everyone’s responsibility, because:

 

OUR PLANET IS DEAR AND OUR CRISIS ARE REAL!! 

Tell yourself this

IF NOT ME THEN WHO? IF NOT NOW THEN WHEN?

 

 

Below please find some more actionable ways and ideas to “Go Green”:



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Easy ways to “Go Green” @ Individual Level

Change Food Preferences


Please read this animal-agriculture-position-paper to understand how animal agriculture is one of the biggest reason for Climate Change and Environmental Crisis - https://www.climatehealers.org/animal-agriculture-position-paper

 

 

Few Visual Graphs showing the impacts of Animal Agriculture over decades:



Fig. 4.1. The biomass of wild animals, humans and farmed animals over time. Human biomass was negligible compared to that of wild animals 10K years ago. Today, this biomass ratio is inverted and biomass levels are unsustainable.




Fig. A.2. How the ice-free land area of the planet is distributed for different uses. Please note that pristine forests constitute just 9%, while Animal Grazing occurs on 37% of the land area. Source: 2019 IPCC Special Report.

  

Another good article showing what impact Dairy Vs. Plant based milk has on Environment: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46654042

 


Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m (7,000 sq ft) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk, according to this study.


People tend to underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions from food, and dairy milk is no exception, according to research by Dr Adrian Camilleri, a psychologist at the University of Technology Sydney.

"The greenhouse gas emissions from milk are about 30 times higher than what people estimate," Dr Camilleri told BBC News.

"I suspect that most consumers underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions saved by switching from dairy milk to plant-based milk such as soy milk." -  Dr Camilleri


Choose environment friendly diet such as  Low Carbon Diet (do not confuse with Low-Carb Diet), and Vegan diet- Veganism and the Environment | PETA

Buy local and organic food when possible.

 

Save Water and Conserve Energy at Home:

-         Do not fill up the bathtubs. Instead of a head shower, use a bucket and tumbler.

-         Turn off the tap while brushing, also while brushing use water in a cup

-         Do not throw away collected water, reuse it to water plants. However, water plants only when needed and not all the time

-         Fix toilets when broken to stop wastage of water

-         Be mindful of running less laundry to save water and conserve energy. Choose to air dry

-         Use water wisely in the kitchen, while washing dishes

-         Be mindful of dishwasher runs to save water and conserve energy

-         Stay in the same room to avoid heating, cooling, or lighting up the whole house. Turn off lights once you leave the room/area.

-         Use the fan instead of air conditioning, and when using AC, set the temperature higher.

-         In wintertime, set the heat lower. Wear layers of clothing to stay warm.

-         Find out more ideas here and here.

 

Reduce and Refuse- adopt minimalism and avoid consumerism:

Seventh Anuvrat – Bhog-Upbhog Pariman Vrata

-         Use paper products when required, however keep the use of it limited to only when required

-         Do not waste food and Do not waste paper

-         Limit our needs: we don’t need 20 pairs of shoes, 40 pairs of shirts, pants, dresses or jackets. Purchase well-made, durable clothing, and avoid "fast fashion"

-         Get clothes that don’t have animal fur/products on them such as: Leather, wool, silk, cashmere, etc.

 

Recycle and Reuse:

-         Use reusable bags for shopping, reusable water bottles instead of plastic bags or bottles

-         Use steel, glass or ceramic dishes, spoons, forks, knives and straws instead of disposables

-         Use handkerchief when needed and not Kleenex wipes

-         Use instant coffee rather than a machine and thereby reducing the paper wastage due to filters

-         Properly recycle paper, plastic and other items as much as possible

-         Donate toys and other used but good conditioned household items. Choose to buy used items when safe and possible

-         Be creative and make the best from waste, E.g. Cardboard turned into a sled, using one side printed papers for kids' work. Find more best from waste ideas here and here.

 

Travel and Commuting: (Sixth Anuvrat – Dig Parimana Vrata)

-         Choose low-carbon mode of daily commute: walk, run, bike, use of public transportation, bus to school, Vanpool for office etc. whenever possible

-         Choose local fun locations for holidays/vacations. Keep Air travels to minimal, only when required and no better choice. This is because high altitude emissions are more potent to the climate then the same emissions at the ground level

-         Choose to avoid cruise ship vacations to eliminate/reduce adverse impact on ocean life

-         Green Driving - if possible, switch to Electric car instead of Gasoline or diesel

-         Consider size of the car for commuting needs Vs. comfort

-         Find more ideas on Green Transportation on - Switchyourthinking


Home Energy, Landscape and Consumption:

-         Implement energy efficient ways to keep your home cool during summer, such as, keep air-conditioner at 24 C temperature, every degree cooler than this uses 10% more energy, use ceiling fan or portable fan, keep curtains closed, keep home well insulated etc.

-         Implement energy efficient ways to keep your home warm during winter, such as, keep your home well insulated, add on one or more clothing layers yourself - easier to insulate yourself than entire home, avoid space heaters as it consumes a lot of energy etc.

-         Reduce home energy use through measures such as use of rooftop solar panels, energy efficient and green energy starred appliances, heat reflective paints, lowering water heater temperature and improving heating and cooling unit’s efficiency

-         Install bidet systems in bathrooms to reduce use of toilet papers

-         Adopt eco-friendly ways for landscaping, gardening outdoor space in your homes, such as, maximizing water usage by choosing right time of the day to water lawn, trees and plants, use of mulch bed to reduce water evaporation, harvest rainwater to use for gardening, choose drought-resistant plants etc.

-         Install modern irrigation system for watering lawn

-         Use solar lights for outdoor use


Consider these lifestyle changes to “Go Green”

-         Consider living in or near city premises where public transportation is easily accessible

-         Consider moving into smaller houses and limit household need

-         Consider family planning to have fewer kids

-         Consider choosing a career in environmental justice or volunteer in such projects

 

Think bigger than at Individual level and influence your family, friends, neighborhood, school, community and colleagues!

 

 

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Ways to “Go Green” @ Citizen Level


From national governments to businesses, from organizations to individual citizens, we all have a role to play in stopping the Climate Change. The reason is individual actions alone will not save the planet and stop environmental damages. We need big players’ commitment, from business and political leaders at all levels of society to reduce carbon emissions, phase-out fossil fuels, and switch to clean energy.


When it comes to Climate change, Citizen actions matter:

-         Read about and understand why “The Paris Agreement on Climate Change” was signed by the World Leaders. How we as citizens can help drive changes through implementation of this agreement by our Government

-         Learn about digital media, platforms that are created to raise Climate Change awareness, such as, DMZ (Digital Media Zone) - a bridge between UN (United Nations) and general public was used to have engaging communication during Paris agreement

-         One other effective way to make a positive impact is by funding the Charities, Eco-friendly Companies that support or invent renewable energy technologies, energy efficient sources, or do tree planting particularly in developing nations

-         Tell TV Networks and Social Media Platforms to call “Climate Change” a Crisis

-         Tell your local Congress to fight for a new Green Deal

-         Sign petitions and participate safely in protests and rally to create awareness

-         Use Ecosia: Ecosia is a search engine (like google) that donates 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations dedicated to reforestation

 


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Ways to “Go Green” in your Jain Center, Pathshala or Neighborhood Community

-         Create Climate Change Crisis awareness in kids and adults at Jain Centers and Pathshalas and teach our responsibilities as Jains to adopt environment friendly lifestyle

-         Set up “Go Green” Clubs/Committees to promote and adopt Green ways within Jain centers and Pathshalas to lead by example

-         Create the awareness of using reusable grocery bags, dinnerware’s and straws

-         Promote limited use of plastic and recycling of glass, metals, paper, and plastic

-         Implement creative ways to compost food waste in your neighborhood, grow community garden

-         Throw a block party on “Earth Day” to create the awareness, have “Tree Planting” day to grow more trees in the neighborhood

-         Create a volunteer community cleanup day

-         Be part of HOA (Homeowner Association) to drive and implement these changes

-         Promote and participate in Carpool, Vanpool for work commute or kids’ activities

-         Educate neighborhood kids about environmental issues and climate change

-         Write messages about saving the environment on the sidewalks using chalk

Few examples of some of the Jain Centers “Going Green” in North America:

-         Jain Center of Los Angeles only serves Vegan food for all events/gatherings by the center

-         Jain Center of Chicago and North Carolina uses biodegradable disposable dinnerware’s for all events by the center

-         Jain Center of North Carolina recycles all Jain Scriptures/Books during any events/gatherings



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Ways to “Go Green” @ Schools and Offices


-         “Go Green” with your school or office supplies, such as, buy water-based paints for a non-toxic alternative, pencils made from recycled wood, solar panel calculators, fabric backpacks and not plastic,

-         Use biodegradable water bottles, cups and metal utensils (instead of Ziploc bags and plastic spoons/forks) etc.

-         Use less paper napkins, towels instead use hand air dryers. Petition to install air dryers in school and office bathrooms

-         Reuse notebooks, folders, crayons, etc. instead of buying new packs every school year

-         Teach kids to finish their food at school, don’t throw it away

-         Don’t create trash by using both sides of papers, don’t print unnecessary papers if not needed

-         Ask School and Office administration to provide easy access to recycle in the buildings, recycle waste bins, garbage bins throughout the facility

-         Carpool with others or take a school bus

-         Petition to install solar panels on the school and office rooftops

-         Ask your teacher to open the blinds for natural sunlight, or use lamps instead of overhead lights, or do the same in offices. Petition to switch lights to LEDS

-         Start a Go Green club at your school and/or your office (planting trees, rain gardens etc.)

 


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Ways to Plan “Green Event” - house parties, weddings, conferences, or conventions


It’s not necessary to spend a fortune to plan your Green Event. Many of these ideas will actually help you cut your event’s overall cost and provide added benefits for your guests. All of this at the same time as helping to save our dear Planet!

-         Save trees, send digital invitation, and set up digital ticketing

-         Use an “Event App” to communicate essential information and agenda about the event

-         Partner with public transports for discounted rates for a bigger event to promote public transportation, set up group transportation or encourage car/ride sharing

-         Choose eco-friendly, seasonal and local food menu

-         Avoid over catering to avoid food wastage. Also, ensure any unconsumed perishable food will be handled correctly so it can be donated to food salvage programs.

-         Use compostable party decorations. Or try to reuse party decor year over year, recycle these with friends and family when possible.

-         When it comes to sourcing things required for the event, keep it local as much as possible to cut down on transportation

-         Do not use plastic silverware during large events, because it is hard to recycle without washing them. Instead opt to use compostable silverware and paper straws to help the environment.

-         At the event, don’t hand out plastic water bottles and individually wrapped items to participants. Instead, place glasses and water pitchers in the meeting space

-         Use of recycled, biodegradable paper towels, tissue paper, toilet paper

-         Streamline waste management at your events - keep the garbage bins and recycle bins accessible throughout event facility

-         Avoid giving return gifts or kids’ goody bags with so many little toys and items. Most of them are one time use and throw. Instead give a gift card or e-gift card or some edible items as return gifts.

-         Find more ways for hosting a Green Event here - Eco-Friendly Events: Surprisingly Simple


Hope this blog and shared information will give us the right inspiration, motivation and plenty of concrete, specific and actionable ideas that we can start implementing right away for creating a positive impact on Climate Change to save the environment and our mother planet EARTH.


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Additional the JAINA Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee has prepared a comprehensive statement summarizing the problem of climate change from a Jain perspective. We encourage readers to learn more at Jain Declaration on the Climate Crisis.