Understanding Jainism

(Deemed University)
Understanding Jainism
July 23 to Aug. 12, 2013
Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (JVBI) : A Profile
Jain Vishva Bharati Institute is a Institute of higher learning and research blended with spirituality, which came into existence in 1991. JVBI’s avowed aim is to integrate academic knowledge and its application for evolving a new social pattern based on non-violence and peace. “Right conduct is the essence of knowledge” is the motto of the Institute. Every programme and every activity is directed
towards the realisation of this motto.

The mission of the Institute is to integrate modern science with ancient wisdom given to us by great spiritual practitioners and visionary seers. The Institution seeks to interweave moral & spiritual norms and values with the mundane and economic fibers of mankind to foster and develop universal human relationships for the peaceful co-existence of individuals, groups, communities, sects, races,
sexes, religions, nations and peoples. The Institute provides reverential study courses in Jainology and Comparative Philosophy & Religion; Non-violence and Peace; Science of Living, Preksha Meditation and Yoga; Prakrit and Jain Agamas; and Social Work for development of a more balanced human being and humanity.
The Understanding Jainism Theory and Practice (UJTP) programme of the JVBI emphasizes Jain Philosophy, Ethics, Non-violence, Meditation, Art & Architecture and life-style in India. It is interdisciplinary in nature, with participating faculty of the Humanities, Social Sciences and Linguistics.

i. To understand the concept and ideas of Jainism.
ii. To develop understanding and attitude of nonviolence.
iii. To familiarize the participants with the philosophy of creative non-violence in India.
iv. To impart training of Preksha Meditation for emotionally balanced life-style.
v. To establish the importance and relevance of amity for the survival of living being.

For more information, please look at the course information poster.



The Concept of Supreme Good in Jainism


Samani Charitra Prajna
Vice Chancellor, Jain Vishva Bharati University, India

วันศุกร์ที่ 17 สิงหาคมนี้ เวลา 10 – 12 น.
ห้อง 705 อาคารบรมราชกุมารี คณะอักษรศาสตร์

Jainism at Chula

Invitation for summer course in Jain Philosophy (Wed, 25 April – Sat, 12 May, 2012)

Program: Social Consciousness & Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism have a lot in common as both are contemporary religious of India belonging to the same Sramanik tradition. Both have much to share and learn from each other. Both complement and supplement each other and hence it is imperative that we start this study and dialog to further strengthen the cultural and educational ties between Thailand and India.

This summer program is available exclusively for the faculty, researchers and students who are involved in Buddhist studies, Indian studies, philosophy, religion, South Asian studies and anthropology. Expert faculty from India will conduct the program in English language.

All participants must be affiliated to a recognized university or college preferably. Applicants having demonstrable interest in Jain or Buddhist studies, South Asian studies, religions, philosophy or anthropology are preferred. Reasonably good English language skills (speaking, reading and writing) are essential for all applicants.

Since year 2005, International School for Jain Studies (ISJS) has also been inviting scholars from the field of Religion and Philosophy from various counties including Thailand to study Jain Philosophy in English language in India during the months of June and July each year. Many Thai scholars have already studied intensive summer course at ISSJS during past 4 years (2006-2011).

For more information please download the poster and the application form.

Philosophy and the Contemporary World

The following is a talk I will give at the office of the UNESCO here in Bangkok. Today (November 18) is UNESCO World Philosophy Day, and I was invited to give a talk on this occasion.


Today is a joyous occasion. We are celebrating the World Philosophy Day. Usually philosophers do not receive much recognition from the society in which he or she is a part. So the establishment of World Philosophy Day by the UNESCO is very welcome. And today we are reflecting on the role of philosophy in society. The question is how philosophy is relevant in the contemporary world.

But before we do that let us pause for a moment and think of what philosophy actually is. Philosophy is a strange discipline in that it has always been in crisis. Philosophers have thought for a very long time that there are forces that threaten the very existence of philosophy. Not only are philosophers thinking about this problem nowadays, but they actually thought that philosophy had a precarious existence at best for almost as long as there is philosophy. It is no surprise that lay people tend to think of philosophers as woolly eyed visionary who are deeply impractical and do not fit with the world. The story of Thales immediately comes to one’s mind. As is perhaps well known, Thales, who was credited as the world’s first philosophy, thought that water was the key ingredient in all things. According to the story, one day Thales was walking, but his eyes were fixed on the heaven. As he did not see what was directly in front of him, he fell down a well while he was walking and watching the starts at the same time. Philosophers today are scarcely better than Thales in this regard.

So we are back to the question. Being thought to be a highly impractical subject, when then is philosophy? This is not an easy question to answer, and in fact philosophers have grappled with this question for a long time. One thing we can be rather certain is this: Philosophy is not a professional discipline in the same way as medicine or law is. Doctors and lawyers are very practical people; they know exactly what they are doing and what results get from that. But what about the philosopher?

Medicine and law become practical by answering to the immediate needs of the people, namely their sickness and their disputes with their neighbors. Philosophy, on the other hand, does not answer such immediate needs. The basic question of philosophy, one that also preoccupied Thales, is: What is the basic constitution of reality? Thales’ answer is only the beginning. One might think instead that this question is a scientific one, and physicists are better equipped than philosophers to provide an answer. Perhaps it is so, but the “basic constitution” here goes much deeper than the typical physical science would have it. In the views of some philosophers, the basic constitution of reality is not material at all. On the contrary reality as we perceive it is made up entirely by the mind. The whole reality is but a projection of some mind and most of us think of it instead as “hard rock.” This is something no physicist has tackled seriously yet.

So philosophy is a kind of asking questions and searching for answers, where the questions are very general, pointing to the deep seated desire of us human beings to look for ultimate meaning behind all things. Another philosopher, Martin Heidegger, asks a very poignant question: Why is it that there is something rather than nothing? This question points directly at our place in the world, our own reflective, meaning-finding characteristic. To ask this question and other philosophical questions is the predicament of us reflective human beings.

So we can say that philosophy is a kind of activity consisting of asking very general question and searching for answers. Since the questions are very general, answers are not easy to be found. It is understandable, then, that philosophers always disagree with one another. I think this is the most visible character of philosophy in the eyes of the general public. This is also reinforced by the way philosophy is taught in colleges. Teachers today almost always refrain from giving their own viewpoints and their own answers to philosophical questions, preferring instead to let the students believe that there are “no right or wrong answers” in philosophy. I myself, I have to admit, am also guilty of this. But to let people think that philosophy has no right or wrong answers is very dangerous to the health of philosophy, and could be the single most devastating reason for society to scrap all of philosophy to the junkyard of history.

Philosophers in ancient times certainly did not believe that philosophy admitted of no right or wrong answers. All of them believed that their views were correct, and each was at pain to refute the others’ argument. Perhaps teachers of philosophy should try to bring back this ancient passion of firmly believing that one’s version is “the truth” back to our classrooms. In fact, of all of the famous philosophers in the pantheon, not a single one actually believed that philosophy admits of no right or wrong answers.

So how could one account for the fact that there is no question in philosophy that has been answered definitively so that there is no need for any search for answer any longer? This is the predicament of philosophy as mentioned earlier. But the fact that all previous attempts to provide definitive answers in philosophy have failed should not lead us to conclude that there are no rights or wrong answers.We need to believe that there are right and wrong answers; otherwise philosophy will be nothing more than hot air.

This last point leads us back to our initial question. Philosophy’s being a very general discipline that asks foundational questions, and its method of finding answers through debates and discussions, makes it highly relevant in today’s world. Asking and searching for answers to very general questions not only helps us gain a bird’s eye view so that we can comprehend things better, it is also practical because it trains us to be able to imagine, to see things which are not there at the moment. Furthermore, debates and discussions encouraged by philosophy helps students to grasp the point or the main idea of talks and passages quickly and to hone one’s reasoning skills. This can be useful, if anything, in the courtroom. In fact many lawyers have had their first training as a philosopher.

So what, then, is philosophy? It’s an attempt by us human beings to find meanings in the world, deep meanings, superficial meanings, all of them. The ancient character of philosophy of asking very general questions and searching for answers through debates and discussions makes it relevant in today’s world. It is all the more so when no other disciplines care to do this important task, appearing to let philosophy take it up, which we philosophers should not let pass by. And on the World Philosophy Day, we are now reflective and re-emphasize this important mission of philosophy when it serves us all in society.

A Report on Erwin Schadel’s Visit to Chula

Intercultural Dialog on Philosophy and World Peace:

Erwin Schadel’s Visit to Chulalongkorn University, 28 to 30 July 2010

Many scholars and students in Thailand were fortunate that Erwin Schadel from Bamberg University, Germany visited Chulalongkorn University and gave a series of lectures from 28th to 30th of July this year. I have known Prof. Schadel for a long time, having made first acquaintance with him in April and May, 2002 when I was invited by Prof. Beck to visit Bamberg University under the auspices of the DAAD, who generously gave me a scholarship for my travel and stay in Germany in order to do research. Prof. Beck had visited Thailand before in 1995, and that was the first time I began to know him. Then in 2002, when I had the opportunity to travel to Bamberg, I had another chance to work closely with Prof. Beck and got to know Prof. Schadel, who had been working very closely with Prof. Beck, at the same time.

The visit was very fruitful and it led to many deep impressions on my thinking and my career which is still felt today. I still remember the warm summer days in Bamberg, especially a hike in the Bavarian forest with Prof. Schadel, his wife and Mr. Manfred Wengeborski, a violinist who became my friend. I also remember the days in the office at the Department of Philosophy at the university, which Prof. Schadel shared with me. Even so eight years have passed I still remember it very vividly.

Thus I was very delighted when Prof. Schadel accepted my invitation to come to Thailand. I received a research grant from the project on “Buddhism in World Literature,” directed by Prof. Pornsan Watanangura, a professor in German at Chula, which finally made it possible for me to repay the kindness Prof. Schadel shown to me during my stay in Bamberg. I asked Prof. Schadel to give a series of lectures so that students and faculty members and members of the public could benefit from his expertise and to engage in intercultural dialogs, which had been our common concern for a long time. Even though we are from different continents living far away from one another, we do share this common concern that sustained, common, intercultural, and interreligious dialog is one of the best ways to achieve lasting peace in the world.

Prof. Schadel agreed to talk on three topics to the general audience: John Amos Comenius’ view on dialogs as a means to development of mankind, Leibniz’s famous view on theodicy and whether this is the best possible world, and lastly on ontological elucidation of the principle of harmony. These are very difficult topics; however they are fascinating and, importantly, these are topics that Thai audience hardly ever had a chance to listen to. So to listen to these talks by experts such as Prof. Schadel was highly beneficial to the Thai academic scene. Moreover, Prof. Schadel also agreed to give yet another lecture for a more limited audience on the philosophy of the Japanese philosopher Nishitani, who talked about the Buddhist concept of Emptiness.

The informal talk on Nishitani and Emptiness was the first one that Prof. Schadel gave in the morning of Wednesday, 28th of July. We were a little bit unlucky that the time that Prof. Schadel was available to travel to Thailand was the midterm examination week for students at Chulalongkorn University; hence there were fewer students than we first expected. Nonetheless, those who came were really interested in the topic and we had very stimulating discussion on the very difficult topic of emptiness and how this quintessential Buddhist view could compare and contrast with those in Western philosophy. The topic is “Absolute nothingness as selfless self: Nishitani’s remarks on Zen-Buddhistic concept of reality as Asiatic contribution to intercultural understanding.” What impressed me most during this talk was the quality of the discussion that ensued. We spent quite a lot of time talking about the concept of emptiness and nothingness. In Buddhism the two are not the same; understanding this is key to understanding the central message of the Buddha. Things are empty of their inherent characters; this does not mean that they are nothing. They are there, but they can’t be taken as existing in such a way that they are independent of anything surrounding them. It is this quality of existing without inherent subsistence that should lend a lot of support of the project of cultivating intercultural dialog. If both sides are entrenched in their own position, which would be a consequence of the idea that things and viewpoints are fixed because of their internal essence, then in a real sense no dialog would be possible. For dialog—giving, taking and exchanging—to be possible, one must be prepared to change one’s own view and one’s own position, in effect sharing one’s mind with others. This is provided metaphysical support by the Buddhist conception of emptiness.

The next lecture took place in the afternoon of the same day. Prof. Schadel talked about Comenius, a Czech philosopher who was virtually unknown in Thailand. So this talk was perhaps the first time a lecture was given on the thought of this important philosopher. Comenius is known as the philosopher who advocates dialog as a means toward understanding. He is recognized as the Father of Modern Education, since he put a lot of effort toward reforming the way children were educated in his times. However, Comenius was a “pansophist,” i.e., one who believes that reality is one and that there should be global solidarity and brotherhood of mankind. It is through dialog, a mutual sharing of persons entering into discourse, that reality is revealed. Hence his philosophy is directly constrasted with that of Descartes, who taught famously that there is a radical distinction of mind and body. Since all is one, there must be dialogs between mind and body, resulting in a triangulation by means of which there emerges a realization that both mind and body are merely aspects of the one reality. Here one is reminded of the discussion on the Buddhist concept of Emptiness alluded to earlier, where dialog is possible because no things possess absolute essence or inherent characteristic.

His lecture on the second day, Thursday 29th of July, was the most attended, and in fact a number of both graduate and undergraduate students came to listen to his talk today who did not come to the others. This is perhaps because Leibniz is better known to Thai students than Comenius. The title of the talk was a question: Do We Live in the Best Possible World? (The exact title was “Do We Live in the Best Possible World?: Some Commentaries on Leibniz’ Monadology and Theodicy.”) Leibniz was well known as a great optimist and he taught that this world of ours is the best possible world there is because God, being supremely merciful and rational, could not have created it otherwise. For God to have created the world otherwise would mean that God acts in contrary to his Being, which is absurd. Leibniz’s view here has a direct relation to the problem of evil. For theistic religions, one of the thorniest philosophical and theological problems has been this: Since God is omnipotent and all compassionate, how could it be that he created the world in such a way that there are many evils, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, wars, epidemics, and so on. Since these calamities are facts of life which can’t be denied, either the Christian has to accept that God somehow allows them to happen, or God is not all powerful and all compassionate as once thought. Either way God does not look good to the believers at all. Leibniz’s answer to this is that, since God could not have created the world otherwise, all these calamities are already parts of the nature created by Him and must serve some purpose. In other words, we have to accept all these evils and calamities as facts of life which we can’t escape from, and since we are mortal creatures with limited capacity of understanding, we cannot fathom God’s ulterior plan behind all these evils. There must be some good behind such things as tsunamis, earthquakes and so on. When these events occur, the best possible world would show that humans are capable of helping one another, so that they show their best possible aspects toward one another. Without these calamities, there would be no occasion for this supremely good aspect of human beings to come to the fore.

The first two lectures took place at Room 708, Faculty of Arts Building; however, last lecture took place at the Recital Hall of Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, where the music department of the university resides. The topic was “The Principle of Harmony: Ontological Elucidations of the Basic Structures of Tonality (with a Special Reference to Johannes Kepler).” This is a different lecture from the previous three, as Prof. Schadel talked about the physical and ontological basis of harmony as the underlying feature of reality and the cosmos. Here the phrase “music of the spheres” is given literal interpretation as the cosmological spheres themselves are compared to a huge symphony consisting of harmonious interactions resulting in a cosmologically grand piece of music. The basic idea in his lecture is that there are harmonious relations between music and reality. The structures and relations one finds in music have their counterparts in reality. For example, the interval of the octave is produced by sound frequencies having a 1:2 relation with each other. That is, the pitch C and C of a higher octave are produced when the frequency of C is doubled. And there are also other ratios for other intervals. These intervals and ratios also appear in nature. Most interestingly perhaps is Schadel’s diagram showing the male and female human bodies with their internal ratios, which correspond to the ratios in music. It is known that a philosopher or scientist who paid the most attention to this issue was Johannes Kepler. It was Kepler who discovered that, instead of the plants orbiting around the sun in perfect circles as previously believed, they traveled around the sun in an elliptical orbit, with the sun functioning as one of the focal points. Hence it was in this lecture that the principle of harmony in philosophy and metaphysics which he expounded a great deal in the previous two lectures came to concrete reality. It is in musical harmony that the principle of triangulation, a process by which two things of dissimilar nature come together in a “dialog” and produce a harmonious and pleasing sound. One should note that harmonious tones, such as a triad, are not the same as unisons. In unisons one does not have a harmony, because every sound is the same. Harmony occurs when there are different sounds, each of which plays a part in the emerging whole. Hence one can say that here all is one (i.e., all are parts of the harmony), and one is all (i.e., each of the part is distinct and retains one’s own identity). Thus his last lecture provides a concretization context of the whole series, a fitting end indeed. Furthermore, Prof. Schadel also played the pipe and the piano for the benefits of the audience in the Recital Hall. He played pieces by Chopin, Mozart and some others to the delights of all in the audience.

So the performance was a very appropriate end to his series of talk; we discussed about harmony and we got the opportunity to listen to music, which is a concrete expression of harmony. I would like to thank Prof. Schadel, his wife Helene and her sister Maria for their visit to Bangkok, enriching us with their presence. I certainly hope that we will have a chance to meet again in the near future.

Soraj Hongladarom

Department of Philosophy

Chulalongkorn University


การบรรยายธรรมโดยท่านกุงกา ซังโป ริมโปเช เรื่องการละอัตตา

ห้องประชุมพุทธคยา ชั้น 22 อาคารอมรินทร์พลาซ่า วันที่ 4 มีนาคม 2553

Kunga Sangbo Rinpoche at Khadiravana Center, Hua Hin

คำว่าการยึดตัวตนตรงกับศัพท์ภาษาทิเบตว่า “bdag dzin” (อ่านว่า “ตักซิน”) ตัก หมายถึงตัวข้าพเจ้า ซิน หมายถึง ยึด ตามปกติแล้วคนเรามักเคยชินกับการติดตัวตนอยู่ตลอดเวลา ไม่ว่าจะนั่ง ยืน เดิน คิดอะไรก็คิดถึงแต่ตัวเอง สามีตัวเอง ลูกตัวเอง ญาติพี่น้องตัวเอง ด้วยเหตุนี้พระพุทธเจ้าจึงได้แสดงธรรมเพื่อมิให้ผู้คนยึดติดอยู่กับตัวตน ได้พยายามสอนให้เราเข้าใจถึงเรื่องศูนยตา เมื่อเรามีตัวตนเราก็จะแบ่งแยกตัวเรากับผู้อื่น นี่คือของฉัน นี่คือของคนอื่น นี่คือตัวของฉัน นี่คือตัวของคนอื่น เมื่อเราแยกแบบนี้ในตอนแรก ต่อมาเราก็จะเริ่มขยายจากตัวเราไปยังครอบครัว ไปยังญาติ ไปยังเพื่อน การทำแบบนี้แสดงให้เห็นว่าเรากำลังสร้างกรอบ เรากำลังสร้างอาณาจักรของเราที่ไม่เกี่ยวข้องกับผู้อื่น เมื่อเราคิดเช่นนี้ รู้สึกเช่นนี้เราจะเกิดการยึดติด การผูกพัน และเราก็เริ่มที่จะไม่แคร์ผู้อื่น มันจะเป็นปรากฏการณ์ที่เกิดตามกันมาเหมือนลูกโซ่

เมื่อเรายึดติดกับคนที่เรารัก เราก็อยากที่จะให้เค้ามีความสุข ไม่อยากให้มีทุกข์ เมื่อมีคนมาทำให้คนที่เรารักโกรธหรือเป็นทุกข์ เราก็จะไม่พอใจ เราจะมองว่าคนที่มาทำคนที่เรารักนั้นเป็นศัตรู เมื่อเรายึดติดในตัวบริวารเหล่านี้เราก็อยากที่จะทำกิจกรรมต่างๆร่วมกับคนในเครือข่ายของเราเท่านั้น เราไม่ยอมเปิดใจยอมรับคนอื่น เมื่อต้องทำอะไรร่วมกับคนอื่นเราก็มักจะเกิดปัญหา ความรู้สึกหรือจิตแบบนี้เรียกว่าเป็นจิตที่ปรุงแต่ง เป็นตัวการที่ทำให้เรายังคงวนเวียนอยู่ในสังสารวัฏ เรามีความรู้สึกว่ารัก ไม่รัก มีโลภะ โทสะ โมหะ ที่ยังทำให้เรายังคงเกิดอยู่บนโลกใบนี้ แล้วเราก็มีความทุกข์มากมาย ดังนั้นเราต้องมาพิจารณามองว่าสิ่งเหล่านี้นี่เองที่มาทำให้เราทุกข์ มาทำให้เกิดเป็นกฎแห่งกรรม

โลภะ โทสะ โมหะ ล้วนเป็นสิ่งที่เกิดมาจากตัวเรา เกิดมาจากจิตของเราเอง เราเองที่เป็นรากเหง้าของความทุกข์ ด้วยเหตุนี้พระพุทธเจ้าและพระอาจารย์จำนวนมากจึงทรงแสดงธรรมให้สัตว์โลกเข้าใจว่าทุกข์มีสาเหตุมาจากไหน ทุกข์มีสาเหตุมาจากการยึดติดตัวตนนั่นเอง และที่สำคัญสอนให้เราเข้าใจว่าทุกข์มิได้เกิดมาจากร่างการเท่านั้นหากแต่ยังเกิดมาจากใจของเราด้วย

หากเราถามตัวเองว่าสิ่งที่เรียกว่าตัวตนนี้มันอยู่ที่ไหน ถ้าเราพูดว่า “บ้านของฉัน” ตัวตนอยู่ที่บ้านหรือเปล่า ถ้าพูดว่า “ตัวของฉัน” ตัวตนอยู่ที่ร่างกายใช่หรือไม่ ถ้าเราถามว่าตัวตนอยู่ที่ไหนแล้วพยายามคิดหาคำตอบ ถ้าหาจากข้างนอกแล้วไม่พบ เราก็ต้องมามองว่ามันอยู่ที่ตัวเราหรือไม่ เราเริ่มไล่ลงมาทีละส่วน ครูอาจารย์สอนว่าให้เราพิจารณาทีละส่วนอย่างเป็นลำดับขั้น ตัวตนอยู่ที่ผมหรือ ถ้าไม่ใช่ เราก็ไล่ลงมาที่ตา ที่จมูก ไล่ลงมาจนกว่าเราจะรู้ว่าตัวตนอยู่ที่ไหน ซึ่งจริงๆแล้วตัวตนเป็นสิ่งที่ขึ้นอยู่กับการที่สิ่งต่างๆมาบรรจบกัน ได้แก่ กาย เวทนา สังขาร และวิญญาณ ซึ่งไม่ได้เกี่ยวข้องกับอวัยวะใดๆในร่างกาย เมื่อเราตายไปสิ่งต่างๆที่มาบรรจบกันนี้ก็จะไปหาที่บรรจบใหม่ ตัวตนเป็นสิ่งที่เหมือนกับความฝัน เมื่อเราตื่นขึ้นฝันนั้นก็จางหายไป แท้จริงแล้วตัวตนไม่ได้มีอยู่ เป็นแค่เพียงสิ่งสมมติ เช่นเดียวกับถ้าเราเห็นเชือกเส้นหนึ่ง เราปล่อยให้จิตเราคิดปรุงแต่งไปว่าเป็นงู ทั้งที่มันเป็นแค่เชือกธรรมดา พระอาจารย์นาครชุนได้ให้ตัวอย่างไว้ตัวอย่างหนึ่งว่า มีอาคารอยู่หลังหนึ่ง อาคารหลังนี้ประกอบไปด้วย อิฐ หิน ดิน ปูน ทราย เรามองเห็นว่าอาคารหลังนี้นั้นมีอยู่ก็เพราะสิ่งต่างๆเหล่านี้มันประกอบกัน ถ้าหากเราค่อยๆรื้อลงมาทีละส่วนๆก็จะเห็นว่ามันเหลือแต่ความว่างซึ่งเป็นความจริงสูงสุด

ดังนั้นการเข้าใจประเด็นว่าตัวตนที่แท้คืออะไรสำคัญมากเพราะเป็นประเด็นที่ทำให้เราเข้าสู่การตรัสรู้ธรรม เราต้องมีปัญญาที่จะเข้าใจศูนยตา เข้าใจว่าการยึดตัวตนเป็นบ่อเกิดแห่งทุกข์ การที่เราเอาแต่ทำบุญแต่ไม่เคยฝึกปฏิบัติภาวนาเราก็ไม่สามารถหลุดพ้นได้ การจะเข้าใจถึงความว่างทันทีทันใดนั้นมันไม่ได้เพราะตัวเรายังมีอยู่ ดังนั้นจึงต้องใช้สิ่งที่มีอยู่ข้างนอกทำให้เราเข้าใจถึงสิ่งที่อยู่ข้างใน