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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Jainism > Jain beliefs :

What do Jains believe?

Jain pilgrims are carried back down from the temples on Palitana Hill in Gujarat, India

The goal of the Jain religion is to achieve liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Jains believe that an immortal and indestructible soul resides within every living being. Under the influence of passions such as greed and hatred, the soul comes under a complex web of karma, or the past deeds of the soul, and suffers repeated birth and death. The effects of karma can only be overcome when the soul achieves liberation.

The Three Jewels

While every Jain should seek liberation, the path to liberation is a very demanding one that is achieved by only a few. The ideal for most Jains is therefore to live a good life in this world, by practice of the Three Jewels:
right knowledge: understanding how karma binds the soul
right faith: belief in the essentials of Jainism
right conduct: adherence to the five vows

The five vows

Jains believe that to attain spiritual advancement one must follow the five vows:

Non-violence: (Ahimsa) not giving any harm to any creature – Jains are strict vegetarians
Truthfulness: this includes avoiding saying what would be painful to others
Non-stealing: this includes avoiding greed and exploitation
Chastity: celibate monks and nuns are given great respect in the Jain tradition
Detachment: since the pleasures of this world are viewed as illusion, Jains try to limit their attachment to them

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