Letter from the Editor
Letter from the Co-Chairs
Education Corner: Posh Dashmi
Local Events Spotlights
Reflections & Reinventions
College Chapter Spotlight: RU Jain
How to Do a Yearly Review
Mindful Meditation & Prayer
Feature: Jain Art
An Interview with Shreyans Parekh
An Interview with Anupama Jain
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear readers, Jai Jinendra! During the holidays, we spend time with family and friends, reconnecting and catching up. We feel reinvigorated, perhaps believing anything we set our sights on to be possible. These feelings may explain why we are so quick to develop New Year’s resolutions for ourselves, vowing that this year will be different: a ‘new year, a new me’. After all, New Year’s represents a time to start anew. Many times, we watch do it yourself videos, or read articles and pictures, and are amazed with how and what people create themselves. Yet for many of us, as we come back from the holidays, we forget or are unable to achieve our New Year’s resolutions. You too can do this: achieve your own goals. Just like when one builds a do it yourself project, your goals are built from what you do everyday and from the tools around you. What do you want to achieve this year? A goal can seem too challenging or too easy to someone else but you know what’s best for you and only you can do it. If you fail to achieve your New Year’s resolutions? You can always start again. As George Woodbury said, “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”
In this issue, you’ll find: • “How to Do a Yearly Review”: Get a general overview of what happened with your life in the past year and to select one life area to focus on improving. • JWOL Mindful Meditation/ Prayer: an updated Jain Way of Life morning and night mindful meditation/prayer. • An interview with Shreyans Parekh, with advice on how to stay “centered and balanced through challenging circumstances in both your professional and personal life.” • An interview with Anupama Jain, about the story of her work in equity, community partnerships, and inclusion. • “Christian Bhajans” by Jubin Shah, about his experience with a Christian conference and how it left him with a greater appreciation for Jainism. • “Expectation-Reality Paradigm” by Anitesh Jain, with a paradigm to adopt if you want to truly be happy. With#yjalove, Rachna Shah
LETTER FROM THE CO-CHAIRS Jai Jinendra Readers, Happy New Year! Over the last few weeks, we have had the chance to reflect on our goals for our personal lives, as well as for YJA. With readers as amazing as you, our biggest goal for this new year is to meet all of you and incorporate your great ideas into our events and projects for the year!
The theme of this issue is “Do It Yourself,” and we challenge all of you to take on a new project or goal this year and work towards completing it. Whether it’s within your personal life, for school, community service, or through YJA, any new project can make a difference.
On January 25th, 2019, our YJA Executive Board will be meeting in Austin, TX for our Winter Board Meeting! We would like to invite all of you to come join us for dinner on Saturday, January 26th so we can meet you all and hear all of your great ideas! If you are interested in coming, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you all for always reading and making this organization more than just a community, but a family too! Happy reading! With #yjalove, Charmi Vakharia and Monika Jain
Our retreat season has officially begun! We’re bringing back our combined Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Poconos Retreat to put on our biggest retreat yet! Registration is now open for our Mid-West Retreat in Michigan, and be sure to look out for registration for the South, West, and Southeast retreats which will be released soon. We can’t wait to see y’all there!
The sky was filled with pitch black rain clouds, downpours were flooding the forest, and storm winds were lifting trees and tossing them like twigs. The Demon Meghmali, in his fury, was wreaking havoc on the land. Yet, Parshvanath Bhagwan stood steadfast in his meditation. He felt no fear or anger towards Meghmali. In fact, he did not even notice the storm, even when the water flooded up to his nose! While the forest was swimming around him, he was swimming in the depths of his soul. He was experiencing the true bliss that was inside of him. He had boundless love for all living beings - including Megh6
mali, who was creating this storm out of hatred for Parshvanath Bhagwan. To him, every soul was worthy of his compassion, and each one was capable of achieving its true potential. It was this pillar of equanimity within him that was able to withstand the pressures from without. December 30th to January 1st marked the Jain festival known as Posh Dashmi. During these three days, Jains reflect on the lessons taught by Parshvanath Bhagwan through his actions. The second day of the festival is the Janma Kalyanak (birth celebration) and the third day
ut is the Diksha Kalyanak (initiation anniversary) of Parshvanath Bhagwan. s During these three days, many Jains will perform the Attham Tap (threeday fasting). In India, large pilgrimn ages are held at ancient temples that honor Parshvanath Bhagwan, such as Shankeshwar and Samet-Shikhar. Many use these three days to practice meditation and Dhyan by taking guidance from Parshvanath Bhagwan.
We too should take inspiration from his story. We all have, or will, experience storms in our life. We may feel scared, helpless, or powerless to
change our circumstances. In times like these, we should remember to dive within ourselves and to see the infinite potential that lies there. We can learn to love even our enemies and see the good within them. Over time, we can all become as steady and unwavering as Parshvanath Bhagwan! If anything in this article has offended you or gone against the teachings of Bhagwan Mahavir, we sincerely ask for forgiveness. Micchami Dukkadam!
6 Leshyas FROM YJA PATHSHALA
Leshya, or the state of mind one is in at a given point in time, is a highly emphasized topic in Jain philosophy. The actions a person takes are often a reflection of the state of mind they are in, and Jainism says that the bondage of karma to the soul is dependent on not just the action but also the state of mind and intent an individual has when taking that action. Each state of mind is described as an associated color, which is said to symbolize the aura of a person in that Leshya:
1 Krishna (Black) A person who has this state of mind has no compassion. Often, their anger will turn into violence. They show signs of jealousy, ill will, enmity, and malice, and they do not believe in spirituality. According to Jainism, one who dies in this state of mind will be reborn in hell.
2 Neel (Blue)
3 Kapot (Grey)
In this state of mind, one is proud, arrogant, and lazy. They are generally cheaters, cowards, and hypocrites, and they tend to avoid religion. One who dies in this state of mind will be reborn as a 1-sensed living being.
A person in this state of mind is usually sad and gloomy and tries to find faults in others. They are often boastful and get angry over small matters. These individuals will be reborn as insects or animals.
4 Tejo (Red) People in this state of mind are careful of their actions and can differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. They are generally kind, benevolent, religious, and lead a harmonious life. One who dies in this state of mind will be reborn as a human.
5 Padma (Yellow)
6 Shukla (White) Level 1: One in this state of mind strictly follows the 5 Mahavrats. They are trustworthy, have no illfeelings, and are calm in all situations. These individuals are reborn as humans or heavenly beings. Level 2: These individuals have absolutely no attachment or hatred, and they treat everyone and everything equally. They do not become happy or sad, and their mindset is completely pure. One who dies in this state of mind will attain Moksh, or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
These people are kind, benevolent, and forgiving. They vigilantly undertake some austerities and vows. They are very balanced, unaffected by joy and sorrow. One in this state of mind will be reborn in heaven. Being a state of mind, the Leshya one is in can change constantly, from when one wakes up in the morning to when they sleep again at night. One should always strive to spend as much time as he or she can in the positive Leshyas. Taking a moment every so often to step back from present concerns and reflect on your current feelings and intentions can help you remember to improve your state of mind. 9
Local Event Spotlights YJA hosts a number of events throughout the year: in addition to our annual National Dinners and Regional Retreats, Local Representatives and Regional Coordinators organize everything from movie or bowling nights to community service activities to Jainism-related speakers or discussions. Each event, whether an educational, volunteering, or social activity, aims to bring YJA members together with other likeminded youth in their community. Youth are encouraged to communicate regularly with their RCs and LRs to suggest or help plan events they wish to see. You can see examples of some YJA events on these pages!
YJA Takes India: Round III The American Joint Mumbai, Maharashtra 10
December 30, 2018
YJA Fun in the Kitchen Doshi’s Residence Fairfield, Connecticut December 16, 2018 “Had a lot of fun reconnecting and baking vegan cookies! We made double chocolate chip mint, tea cakes, and trail cookies!”
YJA is always looking for fresh new ideas and suggestions for local events. Have an event you’d like to see in your community? E-mail us at email@example.com.
YJA Goes Ice Skating The Gardens Ice House Laurel, Maryland January 6, 2019
Reflections & Reinventions New Year’s, 2019
We asked YJA members why 2019 will be great, what they’re looking forward to this year, and what they hope YJA to do. Check out what they had to say!
rward o f g n i ok nd “I’m loeat season a ina to retr YJAers at Ja e seeing mmer!! I hop s this Surther developeep YJA fu . I hope to k its app utside of my living ort zone.” comfo i Shah Charm
To learn m about Jain ore philosophy and history. Anonymou s
“I’m loo forward ktoing become a better vers of myself.” ion Prasham S hah
road o t e k i ld l nd “I wou ross Utah a al trip acll the nation visit a there!” parks lle Shah Miche
Additional goals include... • Listen to a podcast every day about current events. • Not using my phone while eating. • Learn how to meditate for 5 minutes a day. • Go to the gym with a friend before work. • Call my parents at least twice a week. • Setting a weekly spending cap for fast food purchases.
What will you focus on in 2019?
Rutgers University Jain College Chapter Spotlight
Why did you start a chapter? To involve more Jains on campus and connect people with likeminded individuals. What impact has your chapter had on the Jain community and/ or your campus? We have connected people with other Jains and helped form new relationships and friendships. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one of your favorite memories of your college chapter? Meeting up at the national dinner. What is your college chapter looking forward to this year? What goals do you have in mind? Having new service and social events. What advice would you give someone who wants to start a chapter? Get involved as early as possible and use othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; help as well as that of YJA.
Life Satisfaction Chart ADAPTED FROM Agile Lean Life’s “Year in Review”.
Get a general overview of what happened with your life in the past year and to select one life area on which you will primarily focus all of your improvement efforts in the upcoming year.
Assess every area of life from 1 to 10. Take another look at all the areas you assessed with 4, 5, 6 or 7. These are the areas where you’re averagely satisfied. Assess life areas again, but now by using only the numbers 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10. Highlight every 1, 2 and 3 with red, and every 8, 9 and 10 with green. Complete the chart for the beginning and the end of 2018. Consider the following questions: In which life areas have you progressed or declined the most? Why? Which life area do you want to improve the most in 2019?
Learn from success.
Learn from failure.
What were your 3 – 5 biggest accomplishments in the past year?
What were your biggest failures in the past year?
What contributed the most to these accomplishments (new knowledge, focused effort)?
What contributed the most to the desired results not happening?
Which risks did you take and how did they pay off?
What do you want to do?
Personal growth. Which new competences do you plan to develop in the next year?
Which relationships improved the most in your life and why? Which relationships took a downturn and why?
What were your worst decisions of the year? Why did you make them?
What is the one skill you already possess and haven’t been using that you will put to hard work?
On which life area will you focus your efforts the most (from the life satisfaction chart)? What are 3 – 5 things you must accomplish in the next year, no matter what? Why? 17
Spinach and Artichoke Pasta HummusSapien
PREP TIME 30 mins COOK TIME 10 mins TOTAL TIME 40 mins SERVES 4
½ cup raw cashews 8 oz whole-grain penne pasta 1 12oz pkg frozen cauliflower florets 1 12oz pkg frozen flat-leaf spinach 1 15oz can artichoke hearts, divided + ½ cup liquid reserved 1 tbsp lemon juice ¼ cup nutritional yeast 1 tsp minced garlic 1 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp salt Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1. Place cashews in a small bowl. Cover with hot water and soak for 15 minutes. 2. Cook pasta according to package directions. 3. Cook frozen spinach and cauliflower according to package directions. Drain spinach and set aside. 4. Place cooked cauliflower, drained cashews, one cup of the artichoke hearts, ½ cup of the artichoke liquid, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, dijon, salt and pepper in the bowl of a large food processor. Process for a few minutes. 5. Chop the remaining artichoke hearts. Place in a large mixing bowl along with the sauce, cooked pasta and drained spinach. 6. Sprinkle with smoked paprika (for color, optional) and serve as is OR dump pasta into an 8x8in baking dish and Heat at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until hot.
Grown up Avocado Toast
PREP TIME 30 mins COOK TIME 10 mins TOTAL TIME 40 mins SERVES 4
1 16 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed 1 small avocado, diced Â˝ cup kale, thinly sliced 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 lemon, juiced 1 Tbsp fresh tangerine or orange juice + pinch of zest 2 tsp of tahini 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds Pinch of cayenne pepper or red hot chili pepper Salt + pepper to taste Red chutney (crushed red chili peppers, vinegar, water and salt) Toast
1. Add the beans and avocado to a large mixing bowl. Mash well with a fork until thick and chunky, yet creamy like a chunky guacamole or hummus. Hulk smash beans. 2. Prepare all your veggies and fold into the avocado mixture. 3. Whisk tahini with the citrus juices and vinegar. Fold this liquid into the mixture until veggies begin to soak. 4. Serve right away OR chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. 5. Put on toast.
Mindful Meditation and Prayer Most Jains are doing less than few minute of prayers/meditation per day. Even the Namokar Mantra is done with very little mindfulness of its meaning. BY Yogendra Jain and Dr. Manoj Jain with feedback from YJA and youths.
Body (Posture, Breathe, Stretch): Set your phone aside. Sit comfortably with your back straight and smile widely. Take 3 deep breaths with a steady pace: inhale with stomach out and exhale. Stretch your arms up, down to your back, to the front, and sideways; raise your shoulders up touching your ears and down; tilt your neck down touching your chest and hold; stretch it back and hold; tilt it to the righthold and to the left-hold. Quieten the mind by anchoring and observing three natural inhale/exhale breaths. Prayer - Namokar Mantra: Say each line of Namokar Mantra being mindful of its meaning (that I praise and strive to have their qualities): Namo Arihantanam - I bow to Arihantas (perfect human soul) Namo Siddhanam - I bow to Siddhas (liberated souls) Namo Ayariyanam - I bow to Acharyas (heads of religious order) Namo Uvajjhayanam - I bow to Upadhyaya (teachers) Namo Loe Savva Sahunam - I bow to all Sadhus and Sadhvis (monks and nuns). Strengthening My Core: 1. Non-Violence in thoughts, words, and deeds 2. Non- Absolutism - I will take the time to understand other views and share my view. 3. Non-Possessiveness - I will balance my needs and desires, while staying detached from these possessions. These core practices will help me manage my anger, ego, deceit, jealousy, and greed. These practices will
make me, my family, and community happy and content and make this world a peaceful and spiritual place. Reflections: Body: Reflect on two things you need to do or did for your body today (exercise, nutrition, rest, etc.) Mind: Think of two things you need to do or did for your mind today (rest, positive thoughts, mindfulness) Core: on universal principles NV, NA, and NP (NonViolence, Non-Absolutism, and Non-Possessiveness) Practice: Recognize how you will do or did today in managing your anger, greed, ego, deceit, jealousy Forgiveness: Ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness from the body, the self, and all living beings Service: Reflect on how you can or have made make someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s day better Gratitude: Thank 3 people/entities for a past or an anticipated future event Chant: Deep Inhale (with stomach out); Hold for few seconds; Exhale while chanting - OoooooMmmmmm (or peeeeeace) three times End with Om Shanti (peace), Om Shanti, Om Shanti. Achieve Equanimity: Rub hands and place them and on the face; wide smile Become relaxed, aware, reflective, serene, and equanimitable Remind yourself to be mindful of many moments and do deep breathing during your day/night.
Credits: British Public Library
(Above) This manuscript painting of a horse shows an important animal in Jain myth. The horse is the emblem of Lord Sambhava, the third Jina. It is also the symbol of the sixth group of Bhavanavasin gods, the Vayukumara (â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;stormy youthsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;).
Jain Art Source: JAINpedia
Credits: British Public Library
(Above) This manuscript painting of an elephant shows an important animal in Jain myth. The elephant is the emblem of Ajita, the second Jina. According to the Svetambar sect, the elephant is the first of 14 dreams experienced by the mother of a baby who will grow up to be a Jina. Elephants also appear in parables, stories, and other auspicious dreams descriebd in Jain myths.
Which Jina is the buffalo (above) a symbol of? 25
Shreyans Parekh Share a portrait of who you were in high school. What did you care about, and what did you want to be? Growing up in Southern California, I cared deeply about the intersection between technology, corporate strategy and social impact. Corporate social responsibility was a large area of research and interest of mine in college and business school, and I was fortunate to study under professors who were making significant research inroads in this field.
company into a diversified business with exposure to software. Through the integration of Cisco’s software acquisitions and the breakneck pace of innovation taking place within Cisco, my Jain heritage and values provide me with a sense of balance, a sensible lifestyle through practice of Ahimsa (compassionate living), Aparigrah (responsible living) and Anekantvad (social living), and strong community ties I truly appreciate. I think of Jainism’s core tenets of Right Belief, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct every morning “Truthfulness and non-vio- as I recite my lence, both in thought and Navkar Mantra and elicit positivaction, have continuously as I start my guided me through my per- ity day.
I knew early on that, due to my ties with my family’s ECommerce enterprise, that I wanted to pur- sonal development and persue business What advice do sonal relationships. “ and finance you have for as my field of young Jains tostudy and went on to Wharton for day? both my undergraduate and grad- Find 3-4 key interest areas that uate studies before landing in you are passionate about from Silicon Valley where I am today. both the standpoint of your future career along with additional exShare a portrait of who you are ternal interests and pursue those today. wholeheartedly. Often times, I am focused on technology, coryoung Jains - myself included porate strategy and social impact tend to stretch themselves thin as a business executive with the in the pursuit of a number of pasFortune 100 company, Cisco Sys- sions in life, but focus and aligntems. I am a Senior Manager on ment on a few key passions will a Corporate Strategy and Comtake you very far and provide you mercialization team responsible with laser-like focus. It is imporfor leading Cisco’s transformatant to maintain core interests tion from a networking hardware outside of your career to ensure 26
that you are centered and balanced through challenging circumstances in your professional and personal life. How has Jainism guided you? Jainism has been a tremendous guiding force in my life, as I have been able to focus on being a corporate executive who is guided by the right values and ethos in both my professional and personal settings. The key tenets of Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct have guided me through college, business school and now my career and I am forever grateful for them. I keep white boards at home and my office with the three values noted down as a reminder! Where have you struggled with practicing Jainism? It can certainly be a challenge adhering to Jain principles in your professional setting, when there are so many pressures and influences that can often lead to difficult and stressful circumstances that leave you to decide how you want to continue to balance your professional and personal obligations. The beauty of Jainism is that it truly is a holistic way of life and encompasses self-help, and takes daily practice and introspection.
exposure to software. It has been the greatest challenge of my professional career, and I am thoroughly enjoying the journey.
What are you most excited about at this time in your life? I am most excited about career development professionally as I have embarked on a unique challenge at Cisco Systems in realizing the overall value of it’s software acquisitions within the parent company’s main product portfolio. Personally, I am excited to be an uncle to remarkable nieces and nephews in Southern What are you working on today? California, the San Francisco Bay Building a coordinated bridge beArea and Bangalore. I am thrilled to tween software development and services at Cisco Systems. I am very play my part as a positive role model and a mentor, as well as an uncle excited to be a manager on a Corwho spoils them. porate Strategy and Commercialization team responsible for leadShreyans Parekh is a Pathshala ing Cisco’s transformation from a networking hardware company into alumnus and a life member of the Jain Center of Southern California. a diversified business with a lot of 27
Tell me about your childhood. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Edison, New Jersey. Many of my friends were Asian Americans, including Indian, Chinese, and Filipina American. At the time, there wasn’t one group that seemed as dominant as many Indian Americans are now. There was diversity where I grew up and not as much of a concentration of Jains; now, there are Jain temples. About 30 years ago, my father went through the phone book and looked for everyone with the last name Jain and sent letters, leading to a pooja group that has been meeting most months for 30 years. I was always very conscious of how important it was to be a Jain. I was three when we moved to the US, and I went back to India every few years and connected with my family there. What is the story of Inclusant and your work in equity, community partnerships, and inclusion? I have always been really interested in storytelling and how that shapes identity… how we describe ourselves and each other shapes my reality. For Jains, it’s certainly our mythology, our holidays, all of those things that tell us what it means to be good and kind in the world.
edly reinvent themselves. It’s the land of opportunity-- there’s truth in that story, but statistically it is not at all true. Unfortunately, like most countries, the United States persists in having a great deal of inequality, especially economic. Immigrants are more likely to experience upward social mobility in Europe today than they are in the U.S. In 2011, because my spouse got a job in Pittsburgh, we moved and I was unable to continue being a professor. So, I started to apply my research and 20 years of teaching experience at the college level to engage community members and organizations in conversations about what stories tell us about ourselves, how inclusive and fair are those stories, and how the stories we tell are actually more paradoxical rather than actually proven. Inclusant works with local nonprofits to help them promote equity and inclusion, as well as hosting public diversity leadership training programs.
I started off by being a professor. I was really interested in understanding and researching global and American stories of identity, which led me to studying the American Dream, because that’s probably the most prominent story of America. It’s the new world. It’s a place where everyone can suppos29
What’s a typical day like for you? I still have the ability to make my own schedule, even though I now also work for the Mayor’s Office in the city of Pittsburgh. I have ongoing responsibilities and duties, sometimes on weekends, but it’s not as crucial that I work 9 to 5 every weekday because I make up for it at other times. If it’s a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I go downtown between 9 and 10 a.m. I have meetings with different people from the community and who work for the city of Pittsburgh. Once a month, there is a public meeting of the Gender Equity Commission. I’m the executive director for the Commission, on which 14 people serve as volunteers. I go to public events; I speak when invited; and I help to strategize policy changes so we can continue to include more women and people of all genders in the civic life of the city. We’re taking an intersectional approach: we recognize that gender equity doesn’t solely mean one type of woman and that it in fact includes men, women, gender nonconforming people, trans people, and people whose lives are also impacted by other systems of inequality including race, religion, etc., so, we can’t treat all women as if they’re identical.
If it’s a Tuesday, I’m probably at the University of Pittsburgh because I teach one class this semester. It’s not a guarantee that the university needs me to teach it or that I even have the time, but I really do enjoy teaching. I teach Gender & Leadership, a class for first-year students. It’s based on experiential learning. The academic work is really tied to the students coming up with their own leadership plan for the next semester. They learn about the history of leadership, mostly focused on America but also contextualized globally, and then describe what kind of leader they want to be and how they’ll achieve that. I try to reserve Thursday for meetings related to Inclusant. Since starting Inclusant in 2014, I have been the principal consultant and we have worked with about 40 organizations. There were very few people providing the kind of services that Inclusant does, in that our interventions are focused on structural and historical understandings of inclusion and exclusion. An organization might say, for instance: “We don’t have very many women who work for us and we don’t know quite how to change that. We don’t understand. We think we have the right intentions, but we
end up continuing to have this problem.” We research the organization, the industry, the field. We look at trends, we look at leaders who might be facing the same kind of challenges and try to see what kind of solutions they’ve come up with that might be adaptable for the organization we’re working with, and then we make customized suggestions. There are very few people who are doing that kind of customized and data-driven diversity work. A lot of people care about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but they tend not to do the deep research that we do. I’m really focused personally on training more people in the ways that I think can make a real difference. In the last two years, we’ve started a new public training program called “Creating Conference” and we’ve trained about half a dozen people in the A.S.K paradigm, which stands for awareness, skills, and knowledge.
It’s a model that encourages cultural humility and is grounded in feminist intersectionality and social justice. It’s about recognizing that our society, our organizations, are not equal. Every research-based method just tells us that there is a great deal of inequality in terms of who has access to resources, who has access to money, who is making major decisions. We have a lot of work to do to achieve that American Dream. The attitude of recognizing that inequality exists mean that we have to build social equity the same way we build a bridge-- that means doing the research, doing the math, actually solving problems in a systematic way. So what I do on Thursday is I continue to work with those folks who are trained experts in their own methods but are also interested in participating in the Inclusant community. In addition to the six trainers who have worked as Inclusant consultants, in the last two years, we’ve trained over 60 people who are
“When we create those circumstances in which more people can thrive, we will witness less violence.” executive directors of nonprofit, small business owners, community organizers, academics, and other people who want to practice their commitments to diversity. On Saturday and Sunday, I catch up on work; sometimes I have meetings or hold workshops. What social issues are on your mind right now? As I’ve gotten older - I identify this is very much linked to growing up in a Jain household - it’s me trying to do no harm and to go one step beyond that. In my mind, doing no harm means recognizing that societally we’re doing a lot of harm to a lot of people and I have to work to change that because, currently, there are very different outcomes depending on who you are, based on your origins, your level of ability, physical and mental, your religion, race, and gender. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Jainism are both on my mind as models for creating societies in which we do as little harm as possible to individuals. Instead, more people should have a genuine chance to really thrive and to have an opportunity to live fulfilling lives. When we create those circumstances in which more people can thrive, we will witness less 33
A lot of violence in our contemporary society is connected to struggles over resources. People in poverty who are striving to get away from poverty, for example, migrate and then we’re seeing tensions caused by that. The more that we can provide a society in which people can expect basic necessities such as safety, security, freedom, and opportunity to live, we will find that all of us benefit from that. My conclusions are based on my research book published in 2011 called How To Be South Asian in America that focused on the American dream and how South Asians were not coming to the U.S in great numbers until immigration reform in 1965 . .. how they interacted with the American dream as a model minority who was not white, but many of whom came as professionals in the 70s. We started to see more working class South Asians migrating in the 90s, how they were engaging with the American dream, reinforcing and challenging it. What is your definition of “happiness”? Part of the American Dream is a connection to happiness. I think happiness is an emotion, not a per-
“A lot of violence in our contemporary society is connected to struggles over resources.”
manent state. I tend to focus more on joy; joy to me is deep, rich pleasure and engagement in the world. I don’t think we can be happy all the time. But, I think joy, great delight, keen pleasure, and working towards having lives in which we can have raunak (to use a Hindi word for glory and celebration) is more my focus.
est U.S. report about climate crisis makes it very clear that there’s a very dystopian future unless we can find a way to make change. So that’s why mostly unwavering utopianism, because there are some days when reports like that come out and it’s challenging to maintain my belief in the possibility of a brighter future for all.
What is your personal motto? “Mostly unwavering utopianist.” If I had stayed in academics, my second book project would have been about utopias and dystopias. Utopia in my mind is not really an ideal society, but it’s more useful to consider it a thought experiment and something I really want to design. If I can think about what an ideal society is, I can then start to work backwards from that and figure out how to change the society I currently live in, which is what utopias and dystopias both show us. If we continue to go on in the way we’re going on, what would the world look like 100 years from now?
Who is someone you admire? Lately I, and probably a lot of people, have been obsessed with Michelle Obama. I think the Obamas represent a certain kind of dignity even in the face of great disrespect. The phrase ‘When they go low, we go high’ attributed to Michelle Obama has become one of my mantras. It’s challenging to know how to treat people who espouse incredibly unkind, even dangerous, attitudes with respect, courtesy, and kindness; to think about how to respond without losing my own humanity or becoming more like those people. Michelle Obama represents some of the best that I’ve seen and has a kind of humor and grace that I really admire - and just kindness. I often say I’m not nice. I’m not agreeable. I don’t say yes to what people want, but I try to be kind, which is to treat all people with compassion and dignity.
At the moment what the world will look like is a ravaged planet that is ecologically unsustainable. The lat-
“Utopia in my mind is not really an ideal society. It’s more useful to consider it a thought experiment and something I really want to design. “
What’s a goal you have for yourself you want to accomplish in 2019? I would like to work less. Since I started graduate school, it’s become the norm for me to work seven days a week. Being on the tenure track as a professor, your job is on the line for the first five
unusual in the world; so many European countries are moving towards shorter work weeks. Americans in general work much more than 40 hours partly because minimum wage at 40 hours is not a living wage in the U.S., partly because there is a lot of competition. And there’s this expectation that if you don’t work insane amounts, you’re not a good person and you’re not doing your best.
to seven years. I’ve always had the great luxury and privilege of designing my own schedule but also been affected by the cultures of work in which I’ve lived, the “Puritan work ethic” of the United States, and being from a Jain family. Being an academic was hard for my parents because it was hard for them to understand what that work meant, because I wasn’t reporting to work at a set time 9-to-5 in the way they were used to. I’ve worked because I cared about what I was doing and I feel very passionately about it, but I realize now that I’ve fallen into a trap -- Americans as a society are very
All of these cultural patterns are really problematic, because I think there’s a lot to be done outside of “work” that’s important, including spending time with the people we love, volunteering. My goal to accomplish in the next year is to consistently take at least one day a week off - a day for contemplation, for housework, for shopping, for just sitting around and reading a book for fun. I’m working really hard on that and I’m telling everyone I can, because I really don’t think it’s a healthy or particularly sustainable thing to suggest that we have to prove to each other that we’re working ourselves to death to be considered respectable or good. What are you most proud of? I feel incredibly privileged. I come from a very loving family. My parents did work very hard when they came to the U.S. from India. They did not have a lot of financial re-
“There’s this expectation that if you don’t work insane amounts, you’re not a good person and you’re not doing your best.” 35
sources and they always worked to change that. They also were assisted in certain ways. I was just telling them, and they agreed, that if they had moved to the United States in 2016 rather than 1976, the economy just isn’t as supportive or as thriving, and they would not have ended up being as financially stable and successful as they are. I’m really proud of my family and I’m also very privileged because of the various supports they were able to provide me. I’m proud of having a PhD. I’m proud that I published an academic book. Those are things that not everyone can say or do, and they represent a lot of learning and trying to communicate important ideas to people. I’m proud that I started a business, because once again that’s not something that everyone can do and it’s a successful business. It’s certainly not making millions or even thousands and thousands of dollars, but it’s a profitable small business and it’s run in a way that is about every decision being as ethical as possible. When we work with subcontractors, they get paid a living wage, which in my area has been calculated at $15/hour. I’m proud of my current position working for local government, because I got the job based on consistently proving myself to care about uplifting other people. I’m trying (and failing often) but continue to try to be the best me 36
in the world that I can be, who makes decisions based on ethics, and not convenience or selfishness. I fail all the time, but I’m trying. I’m proud of my marriage. I’m someone who, certainly in a Jain family, had a lot of pressure to get married, but as a researcher, I had lots of reasons to think that perhaps marriage wasn’t always the best thing. Then I ended up meeting and becoming very good friends with and eventually marrying someone who, if anything, is more ethically driven than I am - which can be incredibly annoying on occasion, because I feel like I feel like I am always already thinking about good or bad, while he holds me to a higher standard and reminds me to keep trying harder. What advice do you have for youth interested in your field? My advice to youth interested in any field is to think hard about what brings us a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, joy and to see what occupations, professions, and jobs focus on those things. Then, find people who seem to have a dream job from your perspective. Talk to those people or read about those people: read their blogs, read their books, and see what really resonates personally and then find out what is needed to succeed in that area. Many South Asian Americans I meet in college are pre-med, and it’s ridiculous to think that all of
those people are suited, skilled, or going to be happy as doctors. In any population, it’s just unlikely. Try and think about making a contribution in society that is based on your own skills, preferences, and what gives you joy, because you are then going to be much more likely to contribute meaningfully to society. Think outside of tracks and think beyond what other people want from you to craft a profession or a field. My career is a very unusual one; in some ways I’m on my third career. I started off being a professor, which is what I intended my career to be and then life circumstances, which can happen to anyone, especially if you have family - sometimes you can’t stay where you are and maybe there are no jobs in what you do . . .so, with the help of my family and my spouse, I started a business doing the same kinds of things I had been doing but in a really different field. Now I work for city
government at the intersection of politics and policy. Think about being versatile - not just being good at one thing but making a list of what different things one is good at what and one really likes to do and then tying that to a future. Always be driven by one’s own ethics: being really clear about what they are, what it means in my case to be a Jain is so important to me. I’m not a perfect Jain. I eat at night, I eat potatoes, other things that some Jains don’t do. But, these to me are those are more historical issues and I try in all my decisions to to be really cognizant of my own ethics. I encourage others to do that - and then to be forgiving sometimes, because I think it’s less important that I’m a perfect human being or a perfect Jain than that I continue to be very aware of the implications and consequences of the things I do.
Christian Bhajan Jubin Shah Over the past summer, I agreed to attend a 3-day Christian Hillsong Conference in New York City. I accepted my friend’s invitation and trusted I wouldn’t be kicked out for my YJA backpack or be put in a difficult position for not being Christian. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I ended up having a great time with my friends, jammed to the Hillsong band, and listened to pastors, while perpetually deconstructing Jain and Christian concepts along the way. For most of us raised in the US, it’s hard to not be exposed to Christianity. Christmas is embedded in our childhood, we’re handed out Bibles by strangers on college campuses, and Christianity - despite the separation of church and state - is inherent in American politics. And I know now, because being raised in the South, that my perception of Christianity was greatly skewed. Initially, when attending Hillsong, I imagined I would be the only minority 38
ns in the audience. I had forgotten that there are over 2 billion Christians outside of the US. In addition, since the conference was held in NYC, the attendees were from across all ages and nationalities. There was no difference in demographics outside the arena than inside the arena! And once inside, everyone was so polite, loving and united â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it felt utopic. The conference took place in the Barclays Center, and my friend and her friend stayed over my place in Manhattan. Around 15,000 people packed the stadium, and each day was filled with sermons and performances from the churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s band, Hillsong Worship. There were lights, fog machines, acrobatic dancers, dramatic music effects, and even moving stages. There were times when I felt I was at a show in Vegas, and there were times I felt I was in class as my friends took notes while listening to the pastors. Unlike YJAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Convention, the Hillsong Conference was for all ages: no small group sessions, no ice breakers, no networking events, and no food or board were given. And lastly, Justin Bieber is a frequent attendee.
It took a while to get adjusted to how the attendees prayed and worshiped. For the concert portion, I realized how reserved I was. I grew up with stavans and bhajans in the Mandir and was used to mumbling along while clapping softly. Here, things were different. People had arms raised high, the singers sang with emotion, the lyrics were shown on massive LED screens, the audi-
ence swayed in unison, and the lyrics were in a language most familiar to me - English. At times, when “Jesus” or “God“ were displayed as part of the lyrics, I quickly T-Bell substituted it with Arihants, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhayas, Sadhus, school teachers, late grandparents, parents, etc. But that didn’t work all the time. 40
Christians have a very different relationship with Jesus and God than we, or at least I, do. They are comfortable having a personal relationship where they express loving Jesus or using God to explain everyday miracles or hardships. The essential difference is that Christians accept Jesus as their lord and savior which is needed for reaching heaven (regardless
of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Karma or actions) and believe in true predeterminism more so than seen in Jainism. Regardless of these differences, the message of the sermons was pretty much universal. Each Pastor would take a passage or quote from the Bible and use life stories to explain the text. While I sometimes felt that the connection from the quote to the 41
story was a stretch, the messages of compassion, being in control of one’s thoughts, and becoming a better person was seen all around. Whether it was God, Jesus, or the mashup of music, lights and energy of the arena, I can say I felt spiritual with my hands folded at the Christian conference. It allowed me to say that maybe Christianity does have some truth. But rather than changing my last name to Shaw, I stepped back to realize how lucky I am to be raised with Jain values. I can’t think of many religions that express the values of Anekāntavāda and Satya in the way that we do. The main reason why I can comfortably see borders dividing religions as fluid is attributable to a core Jain belief! And in fact, I was amazed to
see how encompassing Jainism inadvertently is. Many areas of Christianity can be molded to Jainism, but it’s harder to take concept of Karma, for example, and fit that into Christianity. As the conference ended, my friend made sure I had a copy of the Bible and casually brought up the idea for me to start attending a Hillsong Church. I don’t deny it; I was jealous of what I saw. Jealous of the size and demographics of the conference, the power and talent they collectively have, their resource of pastors and music, and their emphasis on community and kindness. However, it wasn’t exactly Christianity I was falling in love with; it was the Hillsong Church. Plus, I felt bad taking advantage of the 42
openness of the Church and toying with my friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s belief that I would one day convert to Christianity. It meant saying bye to a fantasy of being one amongst Christians and going back to the Jain Way of Life. This time, however, with a greater appreciation of Jain principles, more effort to familiarize stavans, and hopefully, learning to sing instead of mumble. 43
Expectation-R Mangalarthi A
“Everybod a – Pandit Shri Daula
Reality Paradigm Anitesh Jain
body in this mundane world wants to be happy and all of them want to avoid unhappiness.â&#x20AC;? ulat Ram Ji, in his famous scripture ChahDhala
This statement, written by Daulat Ram Ji over 150 years ago, is the foundation of each activity performed by all living beings that have ever existed, existing and that will exist on this earth. Why, you ask?
What is Happiness?
Ask yourself a series of questions, and try answering them. For instance:
If you ask a thousand people this question, you will get a thousand different answers. For some, getting a lot of money is Happiness. For some, purchasing a new house is Happiness. For some, making their family proud is Happiness; and for some, dying for their motherland is Happiness.
“Why do you eat food?” “To satisfy Hunger.”
Which version will you choose?
“Why do you satisfy Hunger?” “To work.”
I strongly recommend that you choose none of the above. Billionaires surrounded by huge amounts of money, expensive cars, and world-class cuisines may also have family problems, external affairs, and divorces. People may purchase a new house by saving during their entire life, but they still can’t get comfort. How many years after your death will this pride of your family last? And why do the soldiers feel pain whilst dying, if this was their source of ‘happiness’? You see, what we think is our source of happiness is just our contemporary state of mind sprung from our emotional and physical needs.
“Why do you work?” “To earn money, of course!” “Why do you want to earn money?” “To purchase anything I want.” “Why do you want to purchase anything you want?” “Because it makes me ‘Happy’.” Now, try asking yourself the same question regarding each activity you perform from the moment you open your eyes in the morning to the moment you close them at night. I guarantee that every time you will get the same answer that “you want to be happy”. Daulat Ram Ji has made one thing clear to all of us: we all want happiness and we all want to avoid unhappiness. But this sentence is a faraway destination for us, because we all are standing at a place where we don’t even know the meaning of ‘happiness’.
What is the problem with varying sources of Happiness?
Eventually, you have to find a new source of happiness. The human desire is an endless pit. Nothing can fulfil it. We start loving a thing, get bored with it, move on, and start desiring for another better thing - and this cycle continues until our last breath. Just imagine that there is a fan on your ceiling and it is a chilling winter outside. You are peacefully sleeping at morning, feeling comfortable and warm in your blanket. Just then, your maid turns on the fan accidently. Other than shouting at the maid with all your might, what will be your Simple. The fan remains the same, but reaction towards the fan? the mentality and temperament towards it changes according to two different sit‘I hate this fan!’, uations. Centuries ago, Shakespeare told obviously. us the same thing – Nothing is good and Nothing is bad. Our thinking makes it so. In the second situation, there is that same fan on So, it is settled, that Happiness should your ceiling. But then, originate permanent source and it should it is melting-hot sumremain permanently i.e. it should not be mer outside and you just transitory. came back playing football with your friends. You So, I ask it again (The Big Question) just turned on the fan and What is Happiness? And how can we atlaid on your bed. Now, tain it? what will be your reaction For understanding this, we have to simply towards the fan? understand the relationship between Ex‘It is the best thing in the pectations/desires/needs and the Reality world!’, What else? i.e. Expectation-Reality Relationship. After analysing both the situations, what is your interpretation? 48
For an easy understanding of this relationship, I will take help of an example supported with suitable charts.
CASE 1: Let us take an example of Vichitra, a high school student. Students need at least 40 points to pass in a subject and a special honour will be given to the students who score more than 60 points. Vichitra thought that this would be a cakewalk for him and expected that he will score 60 points very easily in the subject and pass it with distinction. But when the results came out, Vichitra was able to score only 40 points. CASE 2: Suppose, that Vichitra is not as brilliant as he was in Case 1. When he came out of the examination hall, he started crying, as he expected to score only 20 points in the subject. But, to his utter disbelief, he scored 40 points and passed on a boundary line.
WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? Vichitra in Case 1, expected very high marks and unfortunately when he got marks below his expectations, he was disappointed, regardless of the fact that he passed the subject. His sadness lied in the fact that he was not able to brag that special honour he was aiming for. Oh, poor Vichitra! I kind of feel bad for him. Vichitra in Case 2, was not a day dreamer and as per his performance in the examination he had expected a very low result but when he got marks above his expectations, he was delighted. He felt out of the world. He just didn’t care about any special honour or anything. For him, the only important fact was, he passed. That’s it. Thus, after taking into account both the above cases, here we can derive, a GOLDEN MANTRA that we can apply it in our valuable lives –
MORE EXPECTATIONS = LESS HAPPINESS LESS EXPECTATIONS = MORE HAPPINESS So, as it is quite evident from the above charts that there exists an inverse relationship between Expectations and Happiness. And did you observe that tiny little gap between Expectations and Reality bar? That, my friends, is called Happiness. Always expect less and you will 50
always be happy. Why do you find unplanned trips more enjoyable than the pre-planned trips? Because, we didn’t expect any trip and it happened all of a sudden. You see, being happy is super easy. We all are in a Pursuit of Happiness, but we never realised that happiness is nothing more than reducing our own expectations from the things and people, because absence of expectations results into zero regrets and zero regrets is equal to zero sadness. It’s basic math. We all have been trying to find happiness in this materialistic world. From the day, we saw this world first time, we are loaded with a truck full of expectations and responsibilities on our shoulders. We are forcefully drowned and suffocated in a world, which doesn’t look back at what they have left behind. We are made to do hard things. Study hard, eat hard, run hard, work hard, earn hard and even ‘die-hard’. Each and every day, we are so stuffed up with hard things, that we soon forget to observe the simple, but important things in our lives. We burn ourselves day and night in the fire of expectations, but we never realise that happiness was in deducing away ourselves from these all these things, because at the end we will not be able to take even a needle with us. Right? So, what’s the point in collecting all these possessions?
Our values are fake, our ambitions are baseless, our desires are all of formed because of the environment we are living in. If we ever think deeply, I guess we will find all the answers by ourselves. The mundane seems attracting, until we think deep about it. We all are running in a blind race. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know where we are heading, but we`re just running to an inevitable end. Just imagine a person with zero-level expectations. What will be his condition? That person will always have a zero or above level of reality levels. So, that means that he will be always happy or he will be at break-even level i.e. no sadness at all. That person will always be happy and have no sadness at all. And do you know, what we call them? GOD. Hence, it is proved by the above charts that reducing our expectations and desires will give you joy and happiness. Happiness is not found in attaching yourself with transitory and momentary luxuries/comforts of this world but detaching yourself from these all. Now, you can guess why monks leave their homes and comfort for their Sadhna. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because they know the ground-breaking fact that â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Expectations are the base of all sorrows. Have suggestions/queries? Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 51