17 December 2009

See, Jain, Think

My favourite quote.

During the Christmas season I know that we are supposed to reflect on family and friends and our good graces - but lately I have been getting a bit more esoteric than shortbread and giftwrap.

See, it was nearly a year ago exactly that I visted a humongous, strangely gawdy/beautiful Jain temple in Mumbai, where I was living at the time, and I am not sure if it is all the yoga I have been doing lately but I can't stop thinking about the quote pictured above.

Jainism is one of India's strangest religion - an offshoot of Hinduism that was first practiced 2600 years ago, around the same time that Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, to you and I) was walking the countryside and creating his own religion, Buddhism. Jains are a super strict ascetic bunch who are so passionate in their vow of non-violence to ALL creatures that they sweep the ground in front of them as they walk (as to not step on bugs) and wear masks at all times (to avoid inhaling said bugs) - hell, they don't even eat food grown underground (that's the bug's food.) The practice is just common enough throughout India that many coffeeshops and hotels have special Jain menus. It is a fascinating and deeply tradition steeped religion - I am in awe of the Jains I have met.

You can see the weeks old bullet holes in the pillars at Leopold's.

A few days before Christmas (and our weeklong trip to the Maldives) my Mum, S and I toured downtown Mumbai mere weeks after the attacks, stopping to see the damage to the Taj Hotel and even having a drink at the iconic Leopold's (where 11 had been shot dead during the seige.) The Jain temple, one of the biggest in India, was the highlight of my day (even more than the vultures circling the Parsi 'Towers of Silence' - but that is another entry.)

"Every man is the architect of his own fortune." The quote written on the stairs in the temple hit me in the chest with its simplicity and wisdom - I had one of those cliched "A-Ha" moments (no, not one of those - one of these.) We were blessed with sandalwood tikka marks on our third eye and headed to another of Mumbai's sights - but this one was the most important to me.

The bowl filled with the fragrant sandalwood tikka for blessings.

So this Christmas, one year later, I reflect not on Jesus, not on Allah, not on Shiva - but on Jain wisdom and it's simple messages of non-violence and responsibility for oneself. Quit worrying about gifts and gossip and out-doing your neighbours. Worry about yourself, your own state of peace and your own joy. To be a navel gazing yogi - focus on this moment, right now and really live in it - make it perfect. If we all try this the world will be a better place. You are the architect of your own future. Remember that.

....and also remember, I do like gifts too. I'm not that spiritual.

Bless this S.

Before anyone writes me any outraged/patronizing/prosletyzing comments about Jesus please, please try to remember that every single one of the world's religions feels just as passionately as you do that they are the only RIGHT ones. You've made mistakes before, right? Like that time on that school trip? Or that time in Cabo? C'mon.


Peckish said...

This is why I <3 you Violet Dear.

Kaotic said...

Thank you for that quote. It's definitely caught my attention, and I'm going to carry that through X'mas and into 2010.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

Sam said...

Happy Holidays, hun. Will miss you this year. Sorry we're stealing S for a while. Don't worry, though, he's bringing back tangible things for you.

The Bug said...

I'm not a deeply spiritual person - I just don't have the patience for introspection. Or maybe I'm afraid of what's in there (THAT'S another blog post!). Anyway, I do have a deep appreciation for other religions & their spirituality - if we do it right, doesn't it bring us all to the same place? Boy, what would the world look like if we all did it right!?

Sproglet said...

Thank you for the reminder, it's easy to lose sight of at this time of year :)

Have a fabulous christmas and NY

B xx

Jordan said...

My favorite part about this post was your disclaimer at the end. I agree so very very much with you.

Anonymous said...

What Peckish said.

Fidler! said...

I do too read your blog. See?

This is one of my favourite posts and especially topical now that it's a new year. My new year's resolution is to learn to be a better architect and to spend more time in the moment. I'm also going to write something every morning even if it's only three lines.

Much love,