A Pilgrimage To Siddhachalam
Jennifer Lieberman, Guest Journalist
I WAS HONORED to accompany the members of the board of the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) on a tour of Siddhachalam Jain Tirth in Blairstown, NJ, which rests on 120 acres surrounded by foliage and roughly 3 miles of trails. It’s a place where both humans and animals can find the peace and contentment that is the basis of the Jain religion. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion along with Buddhism and Hinduism which believes that the universe has no beginning, middle or end. Its philosophy is extremely relevant to modern life and supportive of equality for women, animal rights, yoga and meditation.
Jain comes from the Sanskrit word Jina which means to conquer ones’ own inner enemies, such as anger and greed. You might say that Jainism is synonymous with peace. Its most central mission and one of its five great vows as well as one of its key tenets, is the path of non-violence or non-harm toward all living beings, known as Ahimsa. The vows and tenets are intertwined with their belief in Karma, and their scientific view of natural phenomena which I will touch upon throughout the article. But, first I’d like to talk about how the center was brought to the states.