The Urban Dharma Newsletter... April 13, 2004


In This Issue: Jainism and Buddhism

0. Humor/Quotes...
1. About Jainism
2. Jainism
3. Jainism Today
4. Buddhism Vs Jainism
5. Test your knowledge - Buddhism & Jainism

6. Temple/Center/Website: The Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters
7. Book/CD/Movie: Shaolin Soccer


0. Humor/Quotes...

To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. - Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)

The key to immortality is first to live a life worth remembering. - Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)

The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action. There is no fixed teaching. All I can provide is an appropriate medicine for a particular ailment. - Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)

When you point to the moon, what do you see in front of your finger; Your task is to feel, not to think, when you can understand that the lesson will be learned. - Bruce Lee (1940 - 1973)

1. About Jainism


History/Founder/important persons/saints:

Jainism is a heretical sect of Hindu Brahminism, and is believed by some scholars to be related to Buddhism. It was founded in roughly 600 BCE by Jnatriputra, who was later given the title Vardhamana Mahavira. (as well as the title Jina, conqueror, from which the name Jain is derived) Mahavira, like Buddha, was reputedly the son of a Prince, rejected the Vedas, and practiced extreme asceticism. Mahavira was the first of 24 Tirthankaras, or enlightened teachers.

Current leader/governing body:

There are two main sects of Jainism, the Svetamabara and Digambara. Svetamabaras accept women into their ranks, the Digambara do not. The Digambara also practice nudity whenever possible, to be as close to a natural state as possible.

Number of Adherents:

About five million, the vast majority in India.


Jains have no official clergy; generally serious believers become monks.

Requirements to join:

To become a monk, one is initiated, and takes vows to live a life without worldliness.


Jains tend to prefer ornate temples similar to Hindu temples, however, only the laity worship in temples- monastics repudiate temple worship as worldly. Temples contain statues of the Tirthankaras and minor deities.


The scriptures agreed upon by both sects are the Purvas, which have been lost. Other scriptures include the Angas, Upangas, Mulasutras, the Satkhandagama, and the Anuyogas.

Required observances, dietary restrictions:

Jainists practice extreme self-denial, avoiding meat, cooked food, killing, and anything thought to be "worldly." Jains usually wear face coverings to prevent the accidental inhalation and killing of insects.

Code of Conduct:

Ordained Monastics take five vows:

1. Ahimsa (non-killing) for all living things.
2. No lying.
3. No stealing.
4. To avoid worldly attachments.
5. To avoid walking after dark.

Basic teachings and Beliefs:

Jain belief is similar to Buddhism in many ways. They believe that Moksa, or enlightenment, is the only way to be liberated from the Dharma, the law of Karma and rebirth. To achieve this end, Jains practice ahimsa, non-harming. Everyday Jains avoid killing "five-sensed" creatures, the Monastics avoid taking the life of any creature at all. Unlike Buddhism, Jains teach self-denial and asceticism.

Another doctrine Jains hold that is similar to Buddhism is the triratna, or "three gems." These are:

Right knowledge
Right faith
Right action

Jain cosmology divides the universe and everything in it into five categories (astikayas) :


2. Jainism


Jainism was born in India about the same period as Buddhism. It was established by Mahavira in about 500 B. C. Mahavira like Buddha belonged to the warrior caste. Mahavira was called ‘Jina? meaning the big winner and from this name was derived the name of the religion. In many senses Jainism is similar to Buddhism. Jainism is as old as nature, which has neither beginning nor any end. The mission of Jainism is the mission of nature, which is to work for the welfare of one and all, to rise from the pitfall of ignorance and inaction to the spiritual climax of infinite bliss and perfect knowledge. i.e. absolute freedom.

Jainism is about live & let live, the oldest relgion in India. The main followers are the Jains. All those who follow the relgion are vegetrain and they follows what Lord Mahaveera said live & let live.

The Central Principal is - Respect for all Living Forms

The principle that is central to the Jaina religion is that of Jivadaya (Respect for all Living Forms) and Ahimsa (non-violence). Although Ahimsa is recognised even by the Buddhists and the Hindus, it is practised ritually, only amongst the Jains. Under this obligation they abstain entirely from meat, fruit and wine and may drink only that water which has been used earlier by someone else for cooking. The logic behind this is that if by drinking such water if a Jain causes harm to any living organisms in the water, the guilt for that rests not on the Jain who drinks it but on the person who first used it for cooking.

Jainism belives that all people on the Earth should Love one another and not to kill the animals. They have the rights to live on the Earth also. They believe that every thing has life and this also includes stones, sand, trees and every other thing. Mahavira who believed that every thing has life. The religious Jains will do everything possible to prevent hurting any being. They mostly do not work in professions where there is a possibility of killing any living being like in agriculture instead professions like banking and business.

Jain whether monks, nuns or householders, therefore, affirm prayerfully and sincerely, that their heart is filled with forgiveness for all living beings and that they have sought and received the forgiveness of all beings, that they crave the friendship of all beings, that all beings give them their friendship and that there is not the slightest feeling of allienation or enmity in their heart, for any one or anything. They also pray that forgiveness and friendliness may reign throughout the world and that all living beings may cherish each other.

Jainism believes there are two kinds of energies, one is the energy of mechanism and the other is the energy of intelligence. In technical terms they are called matter and life.

There are two Jain philosophies. Shvetember and Digamber. Digamber or 'sky-clad' monks like Mahavira don?t wear any clothes, but normally they don?t walk like that outside their temples. The Digambers include among them only men. The Shvetembers monks wear white clothes and they include women. The Shwetambers split from the main body of the Jaina religion some 200 years after Mahavira but today they account for a majority among the Jains. The Shwetamber Jains are concentrated in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Digambers are mostly found in Karnataka.

3. Jainism Today


Jainism is one of the oldest living religions in the world. It was founded by Mahavira in 6th century BC and has remained more or less unchanged for centuries. Mahavira was born in Kudargram near Patna. He renounced an opulent lifestyle to become an ascetic, and took up severe penance and austerities before he finally attained enlightenment at Jrimbhika Grama. Thereafter, he preached the path of total abstinence and renunciation from all worldly desires to attain moksha or salvation.

The teachings of Mahavira are now codified and form the basis of the Jain religion. Jains believe in a cosmic cycle of births and re-births, salvation from which can be gained only through right belief, conduct and knowledge. They are strict vegetarians and non-violence or Ahimsa is the main doctrine. The religion lays down some very strict rules upon its followers. The practices are more severe for the monks, as compared to the normal householder.

The basic doctrine has not undergone any major change since the 6th century. However, different sects do exist. The Svetambara or the white-clad, and the Digambara or the sky-clad, are the two main sects of the Jains. The difference exists mainly in the Digambar practices being more austere and ascetic.

Compared to Buddhism which was also founded round about the same time, Jainism does not have as many followers. The stricter Jain conduct is possibly the reason for this. 11th century AD is considered to be the golden period in Jain history, when many kings and commoners converted to Jainism, especially in Rajasthan. A large part of the trader community in western India converted to Jainism to get a better social standing. In the Hindu caste system, they were third in the hierarchy, behind the Brahmins and the kings.

Jainism In India

Today, Jainism is followed by approximately 7 million people in India, which is a small percentage of the Indian population. Most of them belong to Karnataka in the south, or Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west. Even so, the Jains are a prominent community and have been able to maintain their cultural identity. Today, they are also among the most affluent in India. However, they maintain an extremely simple lifestyle, in conformity with the Jain ideology.

The Jains have built many exquisite temples all over India. The restrained austerity of the Jain way of life has its anti-thesis in the delightful exuberance, even opulence, that one sees in these temples. The Dilwara temples at Mount Abu and the temples of Ranakpur are prime examples of this.

Jain Festivals

Many religious practices of the Jains are similar to those of the Hindus. Hindu festivals with different connotations are celebrated by the Jains. The Jains celebrate Diwali, Holi and the birthday of Ganesha, just like the Hindus. Mahavira Jayanti, the birthday of Lord Mahavira is however their most important festival. Monsoons are an extremely significant period and a festival called Paryushana is celebrated about one and a half months after the monsoons.

4. Buddhism Vs Jainism


Mahavira was a senior contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The Buddhist texts refer to Mahavira as an enlightened being. However there seems to be no personal contact or communication between the two when they were alive.

Interestingly, no rivalry seemed to have existed between Buddhism and Jainism in the early days of Buddhism, definitely not so much as the rivalry between them and the Ajivakas sect, with whom the Buddha himself often indulged in prolonged debates and discussions. However the very fact that the Buddha denounced extreme asceticism as the means to salvation suggests that there was no scope for any reconciliation between the two.

Both Buddhism and Jainism deny the existence of God or the First Cause which is responsible for the entire creation. But both acknowledge the presence of gods, who are higher than human beings in status but subject to change and evolution and also plane of higher beings, called Jinas or Kevalins by Jains and Bodhisattvas by Buddhists. The Bodhisattvas take interest in the welfare of the world and work for its liberation, but the Kevalins are rather indifferent to our prayers and problems and remain unaffected.

They also differ on the question of the status and evolution of individual beings. According to Jainism, after liberation, the Jiva or soul continues to remain as an individual soul, but in the highest state of purity and enlightenment. According to Buddhism, there is no soul but the individuality or character of an individual which after nirvana passes into some kind of indescribable nothingness that cannot be speculated upon.

The followers of Jainism acknowledge the presence of soul in every animate and inanimate object of the universe, including the elements of the universe, such as the earth, the water, wind, fire and air. Buddhists on the other hand believe that some vague kind of individuality do exist in the plants and animals, but they do not find any such individuality in the inanimate things. The concept of a world filled with innumerable individual souls or clusters of souls, or souls lying hidden in the rocks and mountains, the rivers and lakes, the stars and planets is simply untenable in Buddhism.

Both Buddhism and Jainism acknowledge the universality of karma and its effect on the individual beings. But in Jainism the karma is not a mere effect or result of ones actions, but a real substance that flows into each individual body or jiva as it indulges in various actions. This karmic substance which is a kind of fine matter or energy field, remains with it until it is got rid of through good conduct and self purification.

Though both Buddhism and Jainism originated and developed as distinct religions in the same geographical area comprising the present day Bihar and adjoining states, Buddhism crossed the frontiers of Indian subcontinent and went to far away lands like Nepal, China, far eastern countries, central Asia, Sri Lanka and Japan, while Jainism remained mostly confined to the land of its origin.

Strangely over a period of time, Buddhism disappeared from the Indian soil, despite of making several compromises with Hinduism, and having almost been absorbed into Hinduism as a sect, while Jainism survived in India, with its teachings intact, mostly untouched by the overwhelming philosophy and practices of Hinduism, at the same time imparting to the latter some of its noblest ideas.

5. Test your knowledge of Global History and Geography - Buddhism & Jainism

Correct ansewers can be found at:


1 Jainism?:

was the most widespread religion of ancient India.
was founded by Gautama Siddhartha around 500 BCE.
carried the principle of non-violence to extremes.
provided the military leadership for the Maurya Empire.

2 Buddhists believed that?:

the cause of suffering is desire for worthless things.
only young people can reach nirvana.
reincarnation is a way of escaping from nirvana.
Chandragupta II was reincarnated as the Buddha.

3 Buddhists and Hindus agree on all of the following EXCEPT?:

the caste system.
belief in the desireability of good conduct on earth.
belief in the progress of the soul toward an afterlife.
belief in certain rules of conducting one's life.

4 The Buddha set out his basic teachings in the?:

Five Classics.
Four Noble Truths.

5 Buddhism began in ancient India as a result of the?:

desire for new goods.
desire for reforming Hinduism.
invasion of India by the East Asians.
political influence of the Untouchables.

6 Buddhists rejected the idea that?:

there are no gods.
all people can achieve salvation.
only Brahmans can show people the way to salvation.
the ultimate goal of life is escape from desire.

7 What happened to Buddhism in India?:

it became the majority religion.
it was absorbed back into Hinduism.
it gained few converts.
eventually about half of the people of India became Buddhists.

8 The MAIN belief of Mahayana Buddhism was that?:

bodhisattvas have postponed nirvana to help others achieve enlightenment.
life was suffering.
all should worship in their own language and according to their customs.
monks should travel around converting people to Buddhism.

9 In its earliest days, Buddhism was very popular among?:

the Brahmins.
the Sudras and the Untouchables.


6. The Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters


The Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters? intent is to spread the
Buddha?s message of compassion and wisdom in many ways, through Buddhist
seminars, martial arts (better known as kungfu) classes, other publications, and
electronic media---including this Web site.

From these efforts will spring a new 1⁄2Twenty-first Century Shaolin Chan
Buddhism,… which goal will be to meld Buddhist philosophy seamlessly with
contemporary life, allowing Chan practice to become more accessible and
relevant in people?s everyday living.

This Web sight is a dynamic and modern vehicle for conveying the timeless
and universal philosophies of the great teacher, the Buddha. Just as the monks
of the Shaolin Temple utilized the innovative approach of studying kungfu over
that of the sutras and still meditation in their quest for enlightenment, I hope
that you can use this Web sight as a means to learn how Shaolin Kungfu and
Chan Buddhism can help you to live a better life, both physically and spiritually.

Shoalin History

Among the various mountains on mainland China, none is as spiritual as the
Songshan (TheHigh Mountain) within the province of Henan. The Songshan
Shaolin Temple was founded in the 19th imperial year of Tai Her?s Northern
Wei dynasty in 495 AD.

The name of the Songshan Shaolin Temple achieved legendary status and
fame in Asia as being the ancient center where hundreds of many different
martial arts systems were developed and culminated. These Shaolin teachings
are a 1,500 year old legacy that is part of the rich heritage and tradition of China.

Shaolin is now also well-known among many Western people through the
exposure in the media. Today, Shaolin martial arts (better known as Shaolin
kungfu) is widely practiced by many enthusiasts through out the world. Shaolin
kungfu epitomizes the meditative principles of Chan Buddhism wherein the mind,
spirit, and body become one.

The Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters in Flushing, NY, was founded in
1995 by the Venerable Shi Guolin, a 34th generation monk of the Songshan Shaolin
Temple in China. The Venerable Shi Guolin began his study of Shaolin martial
arts at the age of seven and took the vows to become a monk at the Shaolin
Monastery at the age of fifteen. He then became the direct lineage disciple of
Abbot Yongxin. Venerable Shi Guolin has previously served as the head martial
arts instructor at the Songshan Shaolin Temple. Abbot Yongxin has appointed
him as the director of the Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters.

7. Shaolin Soccer


The Story

In the wicked game of "Shaolin Soccer," players will stop at nothing to score a laugh. It fuses ancient martial arts with hard-hitting physical comedy and the high-flying energy of competitive sports. Champion player Fung (Ng Man-tat) is so good that they call him "Golden Leg." However, when he loses the Chinese national championship game by missing a goal, enraged fans break his legs. Twenty years later, Fung is hauling equipment for his former teammate Hung's (Patrick Tse) "Team Evil."

When Fung is fired, he comes across Sing (Stephen Chow), a monk from the legendary Shaolin Temple with superlative martial arts skills and a "Mighty Iron Leg." Unfortunately, in modern-day China, there is little money to be made as a monk, so Sing ekes out a meager living collecting garbage. Sing dreams of "a world gone Shaolin," where Kung Fu is used to solve even the smallest problems. When Fung sees Sing take on a bunch of thugs with nothing but a soccer ball, he hatches the brilliant idea of forming a Shaolin soccer team. They set out to recruit Sing's former Shaolin classmates‹all are down and out‹but each has a special power adding to the team's limitless potential. One has a head of iron, another bears stomach muscles able to propel the ball at warp speed, a third weighs 300 pounds but possesses the ability to walk on air, and finally the goalie who can stop any shot. Well, almost any shot.

"Shaolin Soccer" shows the game of soccer in "bullet time", so the eye follows the action at the velocity of the ball itself. A kicked ball morphs into a fiery comet and then a flaming tiger as it races across the field. Another ball creates a vortex as it flies through the air, chewing up the field and everything in its path. Players constantly defy the laws of physics by leaping several stories and doing impossible back-flips. At one point, the impact of supersonic soccer balls blows the unlucky goalie away.

On his climb to the top, Sing meets Mui (Vicki Zhao), a homely martial arts mistress who has been reduced to making sweet buns. Her skin is so bad that flies buzz around her but her Kung Fu skills exert a powerful pull on Sing. Sing, however, is too focused on his team's success to properly return Mui's affection. When the Shaolin team makes it to the finals, they must battle the ferocious Team Evil. The showdown proves to be much more than the team expected. One by one, the Shaolin players fall to Team Evil's deceitful tactics. Just when all seems lost, the Shaolin players even the score.



Sports and kung-fu fans alike will leave the theater grinning after watching Shaolin Soccer. It's a fun, not-so-serious action flick that plays with the kung-fu genre and bends it like ... well ... a famous soccer player. Even if you're not a Hong Kong cinema fan, Stephen Chow's offering, with its fast action and madcap humor, is a good introduction to the genre. Although the actors may not be familiar to American audiences, Chow and the casts' performances are enjoyable to watch and may make you wish that every soccer match were played Shaolin style.


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