Spirituality is connecting the human with the nature; every human being is spiritual by nature. A person just has to awaken the spiritual side within. Religion is an important aspect of spirituality but we have to raise ourselves much beyond religion to reach the true spiritual values within us. A human gets connected to another human, the whole society and other living beings when the spirituality within is awakened.
A religion is a philosophy based on spiritual beliefs. It aims to give guidelines that would help to enhance the spiritual side of an individual and eventually it will enhance the dynamics of life. Religion has three dimensions which are prayers/ worshiping, ethics and spirituality. Only when an individual practises all the three, the real essence of religion is achieved. Religion is the set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of life. All religions contain a moral code governing the conduct of human life. All religions of the world give significant importance to compassion, sympathy and kindness. These are supreme qualities of being human. Those who do not develop a feeling of compassion or sympathy or kindness on seeing someone suffering in pain are considered animals in the form of human beings.
Jainism is the religion of ahimsa. Ahimsa and its derivatives in the form of compassion, sympathy and kindness is the basis of veneration and ethics by its followers. The following stanza shows what every Jain contemplates on daily:
सत्त्वेषु मैत्रीं गुणिषु प्रमोदं,
क्लिष्टेषु जीवेषु कृपापरत्वम् |
सदा ममात्मा विदधातु देव! ||
Meaning: May I have a feeling friendship towards all living beings, May I develop a feeling of elation on seeing a virtuous living being, May I develop a feeling of compassion on seeing a living being in pain and May I have a feeling of indifference towards the wicked.
Compassion, sympathy and kindness are the spiritual values. A gentle person gets aroused with the feeling of compassion on seeing someone in pain. Such a person feels the pain of others as his own. “अनुकूलं-कम्पन-मनुकम्पा” implies this as the basis of compassion. How far the efforts of the compassionate person succeed in eliminating the pain of the sufferer is different. The compassionate person will definitely have a feeling of peace within. Feeling the pain of others as one’s own is also implied in compassion. “एक क्रिया द्वयर्थकारी प्रसिद्धा” i.e. an act benefits both the doer and the beneficiary. Hence compassion is extremely important. Undoubtedly, this world is the undoubted basis of universal love and friendship.
Compassion enhances tenderness. It destroys the limited boundaries by the selfish nature of an individual and makes them universal. The attitude of universal brotherhood and fraternity gets deeply entrenched. Hence all religions consider compassion as important.
Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara preached compassion and service as primary religious and moral values says, “Those who serve the sick, destitute, inquisitive and needy, in fact serve me”. Hence to serve a sick and needy is to serve a Tirthankara. Jainism gives the highest ambition of all human beings as the attainment of liberation (Moksa). Hence the primary wish of every Jain is to get out of the cycle of transmigration and attain Moksa.
Sermons of Lord Mahavira as recapitulated in Dasvaikalikastotra have a sutra (aphorism) “असंविभागी न हु तस्य मोक्खो. It means the one who does not have a feeling of equanimity of all living beings cannot attain Moksa. The doors of liberation are closed for one who eats to one’s heart’s content when his brother sleeps in starvation. This principle is very useful to bring social uplift. It is capable of eliminating the deep divide between haves and have-nots (or rich and poor) and hence become a bridge to resolve the burning issues of violence and terrorism. This is so as poverty, discrimination and scarcity are the main causes of violence, terrorism and Naxalism. Developing a feeling of Equanimity (संविभाग की चेतना) is thus important to eliminate poverty and scarcity. Mahayana branch Of Buddhism talks of two primary elements namely Universal compassion (महाकरूणा) and Universal emptiness or devoid of self (महाशून्य).
Universal emptiness is the pinnacle of the Buddhist doctrine of Shunyavada. It has been said that practice of universal compassion results in universal emptiness as indicated the following verse:
न त्वहं कामये राज्यं, न स्वर्गं नापुनर्भावम् |
कामये दु:खतप्तानां, प्राणिनामर्तिनाशम् ||
Meaning: I do not wish for kingship, neither do I wish for heavenly life, nor I wish liberation. I only wish to eliminate the pains of suffering from all living beings. “बुद्धो भवेयं जगतो हिताय” i.e. I wish to attain Buddhtva (discriminating knowledge) for the welfare of mankind.
We live in an age where the scientific view of the world becomes more important every day and where religious interpretations are more and more contested, often because of what modern science teaches us. The religious ways of understanding the world has become old-fashioned, outdated, outmoded. The stressful relationship between, on one hand religious knowledge and, on the other hand, scientific knowledge is one of the most important issues in the world today. We have to understand how scientific knowledge slowly but surely emerged out of pre-existing religious knowledge. Scientists do not develop their ideas in a fight against religious philosophies, but by extending and amending and thoroughly testing ideas that come into the world as religious revelations. Religion created civilizations. There is a need to understand religion in its real sense and make the masses understand the essence of religion. Religion should be studied as social science. While following our religious believes we should aim at achieving the highest level of humanity so as to attain spirituality within us.
Spirituality’ stands for lifestyles and practices that embody a vision of human existence and how the human spirit is to achieve its full potential. During the last quarter of the twentieth century, the concept of spirituality moved well beyond religion itself. It is now a broadly based quest for spiritual experience and spiritual practices expressed in a variety of ways. Spiritual practices are regular, disciplined activities related to spiritual development. They enable people to progress along a path towards whatever they see as the ultimate goal of human life. They clearly involve a degree of self-sacrifice which means setting aside time and energy which might have been given to more immediately pleasurable activities.
We humans have something special that other species don’t have – something that has enabled us to do distinctive things such as composes literature, develop science and explore metaphysics. The world’s great religious traditions acknowledge that this special something comprises our spiritual essence.
Most of the traditions equate spirituality with our humanity; they hold that we humans have souls. This notion makes all subhuman existence devoid of any intrinsic purpose; the world’s flora and fauna exist only as a cosmic setting for the central drama of human redemption. This is anthropocentrism in spiritual masquerade. Such a utilitarian view of nonhuman life can easily degenerate into an exploitative view akin to today’s materialistic world view that has wrought ecological havoc. Unfortunately, the present world is divided between caste, religion and nationality. The situation becomes worse with conflicts arising due to such differences. Bhagwan Mahavir gave the Principle of Anekant (Unity in Diversity) and other principles stating the disparity like white and black, poor and rich exists. He said that by discussion and adapting social nonviolence difference and disparities can be solved. In the present scenario, nothing can be more relevant than this.
We all want development, peace is necessary for development. On the path of religion, there is no place for hatred, violence and fear. We have to discuss how religion can support social welfare and development. Religion is not against development but when development is based on spirituality it can be a blessing. Development should be centered on consciousness and surrounded by materialistic development. To establish a healthy, happy and prosperous society there should be parallel development of all sections of society. Everyone should get equal justice, parallel development should be there, and social atmosphere should be harmonious.