Most people see in Jainism a strange religion with people walking naked on the streets. But besides what you can see with the eyes of an occidental tourist, it is a complex philosophy that exists and evolves for thousands of years, a sensitive religion whereof the modern society knows so little.
Jainism is different than many other religions (most of them, actually), because they believe that each soul has divine potential. There is no Supreme Deity who created and can destroy the Universe. This exists just like that and it does not have beginning, nor end. Each living being has a soul and each one of us can become a deity.
Followers of Jainism consider that they are the successors of spiritual human beings capable of leading the mankind. The spiritual journey begins from the acceptance that there are two kinds of souls: the ones from Earth, “Samsarin” who did not succeed to get free from their karma and the free ones, “Siddha” who can control space and time. They consider that man has to evolve by himself, without any divine help. He is the only one responsible for his actions and for what he will become.
Five ethical principles guide them during their life: truth (Satya), no violence (Ahmisa) which means more than no killing anything alive. Offence is not allowed either, not even bad thoughts. Respect for the property (Asteya) – never take something that is not yours -purity (Brahmacharya) more concrete the abstention of any sensual pleasure. Detachment from the world (Aparigraha), which includes people, places and things. They wander from place to place without owning anything.
Besides the rules they guide by, mediation is a major part of their life. They are concentrating their mind on a single topic in order to understand its essence. Keeping in mind that they eat once per day, their physical shape allows them to focus on a mind activity extremely intense. They forget everything about the world that surrounds them, including their worries and plans and start thinking about the difference between soul and matter.
There are four kinds of meditation: sorrowful (aarta) meditation, inclement (raundra) meditation, righteous (dharma) mediation and spiritual (shukla) meditation. The first two will cause the influx of undesirable karma and the other will destroy the karma.
Before the seeker begins his mediation, he should have the right knowledge of reality, which means he needs to follow all the principles mentioned and understand the difference between soul and matter. They would say: “If you know yourself, you will know everything” Here is where everything ends. The soul in their concept is not ideal, amorphous. It has its own properties and it can change depending on circumstances and the karmic weight it has. The soul is omnipresent in nature: it is in any rock and any drop of water in this world.
Karma is not just an abstract thing, it is an invisible substance present in each soul, it is the fluid that bonds the soul to matter, meaning you will keep coming in this world as long as you still have karma. You can free yourself when accession of karma substance is blocked by the individual effort.
This is mediation, also refered as Samayika, means being in continuous real-time. The particular living-being (Jiva) has to ascend so it can create and renew the Universe. The first step to do so is to be in complete balance with nature, to identify with it.
One basic technique of meditation is starring at the sun without blinking or at any other fixed point for as long as you can concentrate without thinking at anything else. This is Śiva, the power of self-discipline which leads to evenness of temper. When you are capable of doing so, Garuda is the next step. Garuda is a yoga self-discipline technique that makes you in complete harmony with the nature, being able to control the four elements of nature: air, water, fire and earth. Prānayāma will help you control your chakras, the seven energy points that cross our body.
The technique consists in breathing properly; through breathing they control the energy that flows around them and they balance their chakras energy in order to be in perfect harmony with nature. Just link in Hindu culture, chakras are part of their body, along with the breath channels. If chakras are not completely open, the material body gets ill and that leads to diseases and a lot of pain among people. If you are not in harmony with both yourself and nature, they consider you a weak man who cannot influence the events around him.
Another type of mediation is Pratyāhāra. This one concentrates on the nervous system. Once they succeed having a stable mind, body and soul, any information they send to the brain will automatically go to the soul and body. The body reacts through its senses, visual, smell, hear, touch and soul will react through the heart, sending out different emotions.
In Jainism, meditation has been the central practice since a long stretch of time. Dhyana (meditation) will help them reach the purity they need to ascend to different worlds and become gods. Having the Right Knowledge, knowledge of soul, matter, space, time and motion is what helps them become a Spiritual Energy. Constant Vigilance is the actual meditation; they keep their cognitive function on the nature of the soul. They aspire to become a formless soul who posses the qualities of Infinite Knowledge.
While the modern tourist might see a naked eccentric man in India, they are actually people who try to become a god and free his soul from this earthly slag, straightening with clear steps towards his spiritual beliefs. What actually should matter to society is that these men live by their rules, which are: do not lie, do not steal, love everyone, do not live for your sensual pleasures, be kind to everyone, try to understand the meaning of this world and never see violence as an option. I wonder what would happen if all of us would try to respect these rules.