In this short talk Thomas Daffern addresses all of us in the UK who are members of the Jain community and who are now faced with a choice about the forthcoming general election. Who to vote for ? Which party ? Which MP’s ? The overall fact of the situation is that we are faced with the looming threat of Brexit and the almost certain breakup of the UK if that poorly taken decision is imposed on all parts of this country. In spite of the fact that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, they are possibly going to have it imposed on them regardless of their own democratic views. The strong likelihood therefore is that both those parts of the UK will leave rather than accept this. In my view it is time therefore to rethink this whole plan, and rather than accepting Brexit, we should be voting for parties and politicians who do not accept Brexit at the forthcoming General Election, in the authors opinion. Jains are now an established and vibrant part of British society, with many Jains living in different parts of the UK. Since many have come to the UK from India, it might have been thought appropriate to vote to leave the EU so we can focus more on Commonwealth matters. But in fact this is a false distinction, since it is not an “either Commonwealth or EU” but rather a both / and decision that works best for everyone. Furthermore, although somewhat exotic as a philosophy, in fact Jainism came to Europe many centuries ago with the teachings of Pyrrho of Elis, the philosopher who travelled to India with Alexander the great, and who met Jain philosophers in India in the 4th century BC. His teachings of scepticism were strongly influenced by Jain ideas. Since then scepticism entered mainstream European philosophical thought through Cicero and the late academic school, and revived int eh time of the renaissance before becoming mainstream in modern academia. Contemporary British is perhaps one of the most “sceptical” of all European societies. Yet for Jains, it is also known that mere scepticism alone is not enough, one must also have a living commitment to non-violence. And non-violence means choosing the path that is less likely to cause war, violence and suffering, through intelligence. In the case of Brexit, with hindsight, and rational thought, to oppose the EU now seems like an act of political miscalculation and runs the danger of releasing the genie of rampant ethnic-nationalism once again out of the bottle, and which has caused so much mischief in European history in the past. For example, the fact is that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, and they are therefore 99% certain to leave the UK as a result of having Brexit imposed against their wills. This outcome cannot be what the Brexit referendum result was intended to cause, but it will happen by default. If the question had read “Do you hate the EU so much you would like to see the UK break up and England and Wales leave the EU alone, with Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining inside” how many voters would have ticked the box saying “YES” to this ? Yet that is the imminent result hanging on this coming election on June 8. Now, if we can see imminent self-destruction looking as a nation, we should surely take remedial action. A pilot flying a plane when confronted by an imminent air disaster, swerves to avoid impact. To not do so, because the flight path has been “pre-set” would be the worst folly from a Jewish or any other ethical perspective. We have the right, indeed the duty, to change our minds mid-flight. Jainism is premised on the capacity of the human mind to think rationally about complex ethical dilemmas. Many Brexit voters are resorting to foul mouthed abuse and say “Brexit means Brexit” with a sneer as if to question what that actually means, or what its implications are, is somehow a crime. But to break up the UK without rhyme or reason seems to this author at least a far worse crime, and one which any rational Jain would surely wish to be dissociated from. The United Kingdom by definition is a peaceful state in the highest mystical sense which unity stands for, and therefore to break it up knowingly and to vote for a party (Conservative or UKIP or even Labour) that has policies which will lead to its breaking up, is contrary to right reason and common sense. But if we reject Brexit and also therefore reject the breakup of the United Kingdom, what are we voting for positively ? Which party can provide some kind of positive vision for the future ? In this talk, Thomas Daffern gives a detailed overview of these complex issues from a Jain perspective and draws on his years of study and research into its teachings. The author is also Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East and hopes that by keeping the UK together and staving off its imminent self-destruction, we can preserve it to play a more positive future role in peace-making in the Middle East, by drawing on our influential roles within the United Nations, the Commonwealth and also the European Union, By keeping the UK inside the European Union, the author also hopes that the UK can encourage our European colleagues not to build a European army, but rather to manifest a fully irenic function for the EU by establishing a European Union Mediation Service. These actions would be fully commensurate with the spiritual laws of all the ancient faiths and philosophies of the UK and European civilisation.
REVIEW OF IIPSGP DIRECTOR’S ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE, TEACHING AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCE IN JAIN RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS
STUDY AND WRITING:
Commenced study of Jain philosophy whilst an undergraduate philosophy student at Bristol University (1976/7); detailed study of Jain scriptures, texts, philosophy (all schools) in Canada 1977-1981; continued study of contribution of Jain thought to history of global philosophy (especially through the transmission of idea of epoche and suspension of judgement to core Western academic tradition via Pyrhho of Elis, Carneades, Cicero etc. Continuing study of Jain philosophy as part of teaching work in religious studies 1993-2001. Published several essays in Jain journals on ahimsa and philosophy.
|Ladnun Declaration, India – December 1995||A proposal on linking global ecology, peace and spirituality by 500 educators assembled in India|
|40 Questions Instead Of A Paper, 3rd International Conference on Peace and Nonviolence, Ladnun, 17-21 December 1995||40 key questions to a global educators in India|
|Questions instead of a paper for the 5th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolence, Rajasthan, 2003||A further set of philosophical questions presented to a conference in Rajasthan at the Jain University, Ladnun|
|The Jaipur Declaration: The 9 Petalled Flower of Peace||A declaration written following a conference in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in 2014|
|“The 9 Petalled Flower Of Peace” Footnotes To The Jaipur Declaration||This declaration has arisen out the conference of January 2014, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, hosted by the Anuvrat Vishva Bharati (Anuvibha) Jain organisation, in which eminent educators and peace activists from across the world, and from India, were invited to come together and discuss models for a peaceful, nonviolent and sustainable world society. After several days of discussion, the following Declaration is an attempt to sum up the fruits of our deliberations, and is couched in the form of the Anuvrat concept of small vows (anuvrat), to be undertaken by non-specialist religious practitioners or householders, who want to help mankind advance to a more peaceful path|
|2014.8. Some Reflections On Ahimsa In The Spiritual And Intellectual Spheres Of Being: The Periodic Table Of The World’s Religious And Philosophical Traditions As A Tool For Advancing Non-Violence Between Religious And Philosophical Traditions”||Talk in Delhi at Acharya Tulsi Memorial, September 26, 2014: (Talk recorded and available on youtube IIPSGP1)|
|2014.9a. “In Memoriam for Acharya Tulsi: Further Experiments With Truth”||Paper for Acharya Tulsi Memorial Conference, September 26-28, 2014: (Published and available onm www.lulu.com/iipsgp as In Memoriam for Acharya Tulsi)|
|2014.9b.. A Vision Of Peace, Nonviolence And Sustainability||Further contribution for Acharya Tulsi Memorial Conference Delhi, September 26-28, 2014;|
Teaching classes on Jainism on panel of London region WEA from 1992-2000
Teaching classes on Jainism for Birkbeck College, University of London 1993-1999
Teaching classes on Jainism for University of Oxford 1997-2000
Teaching adult classes on contemporary and historical aspects of Jainism in Wales, Sussex and Scotland under auspices of IIPSGP, 2001-2012
Contributed paper in absentia to Jain Conference on Ecology and Peace and non-violence in Delhi December 2005 on The Economics of Peace (publication 2006); have taught aspects of Jain philosophy, especially non-violence in secondary schools and adult education in Powys, Shropshire, Coventry, Nottinghamshire and Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex.
Visited Jain temples in Rajasthan and campus of Jain University of Ladnun, only formally accredited Jain University in the world, where I was invited to address a large international conference of peace educators in 1995; and subsequently invited to write up the document which became the Conference Manifesto comprising “Ladnun Declaration on a Peaceful World Living in harmony with the environment”; visited Jain Exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Returned to revisit Jain educational centres in Rajasthan in 1998, 2007, 2008. Invited again to India to receive the Anuvrat Ahimsa Award for International Peace in May 2011 in Jaipur, meeting with senior Jains. Visited Delhi to give lecture to Jain conference in honour of Acharya Tulsi, visited Jain University of Ladnun in Rajasthan, took part in Symposium on Natural Sciences and the Jain Tradition in Delhi (2014)
ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE LITERATURE:
Accrued library of Jain texts, translations, scholarly works, covering all schools; User of libraries with Jain collections including SOAS, India Office, Theosophical Society, British Library etc. As Trustee, International Sacred Literature Trust, helped publish class Jain text, Tattvartha Sutra: That Which Is.
COMMUNITY AND FAITH PARTICIPATION AND ACTIVITY
Participated in several Jain religious rituals and ceremonies in India and the UK
COLLEAGUES, CONTACTS, FRIENDS: Numerous colleagues and friends from the Jain community including: especially Acharya Tulsi, Ganadipathi Mahapragya, Bawa Jain, the monks and nuns (samanis) of Ladnun and the former monk, Satish Kumar; Dr. L Gandhi of Jaipur (serving as Indian coordinator for the Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy)