Religious groups normally have different beliefs concerning various practices. In the same way, Jainism and Schweitzer exhibit different believes on various aspects of life, including vegetarianism. According to Long (2), Jainism is an ancient religion in India which focuses on living a harmless life as the only way to liberate the souls of human beings. It holds that for one to live a harmless life, he/she must show compassion to all other animal creatures. Therefore, the believers live as vegetarians so that they do not cause harm to the animal kingdom. These views are closely similar to those of Schweitzer.
Schweitzer, an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician, challenged the secular and traditional ways on reverence for life and respect to all other animal creatures as is seen in his book (Schweitzer 23). Despite Jainism and Schweitzer’s similar views on respect to other creatures, it is noted that there are also other different reasons as to why they support the idea of people depending only on the vegetables as food. This write up, therefore, discusses various similar and differing religious reasons held by Jainism and Schweitzer for their support of vegetarianism and respect of the animals.
A keen examination of the beliefs by these two groups reveals a number of similarities. Some of the similarities include: the belief that animals are sensitive to pain just like human beings and that they should not be treated with cruelty. Long (4) notes that Jainism religion holds that all living things treasure their lives, long to have pleasure and are sensitive to pain. Similarly, Barsam (24) observes that Schweitzer shares a belief that animals also feel pain and in such way, we should not impose suffering on them by killing them.
Another similarity is that they both believe that human beings cannot have peace of mind if they mistreat animals by killing them for purposes of food. Long (7) speaks out the argument by Schweitzer that “we only have peace of mind when we show compassion to other creatures.” At the same time, Jainism states that it is the human virtue of being friendly that leads to peace of mind.
Similarity is also seen in their reasoning where they argue that human beings and animals are all created by one creator and, thus, should extend their brotherly love to one another. The Jainism rules states that we should show brotherly love by being kind to the animals while Schweitzer, according to Barsam (24), argues that the only thing we know truth about is that we are living and that if we want the life we have to continue going on, then we should be glad to share it with all other creatures from the biggest to the smallest ones.
Similarity, all the groups believe that human beings should be able to stay in peace with the animals. Jainism states that non-violence in mind and in action between individuals themselves and between individuals and other creatures should be a way of life for them, so that peace can prevail among the human beings and between human beings and the other creatures. Similarly, Schweitzer notes that in order to earn respect from others, we should be able to respect them. He sees this as the only way through which peace can prevail socially between human beings and human beings and animals (Barsam 25).
In its religious beliefs, Jainism, according to Long (8), holds that it is unhealthy to eat meet as it can cause many diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. In addition, Schweitzer believes that God wanted human beings to live a healthy life and that is why He gave herb yielding fruit to man. He believes that through the Bible, God expressed a lot of compassion to the animals and that human beings should do the same.
Even though Jainism and Schweitzer have many similar opinions as to why human beings should not mistreat animals by eating them, they have some different opinions concerning the same issue. The Jainism beliefs are founded on the idea that all pains come from the world, and so Jainism should not depend on the other creatures for food, as this will lead to mistreating them. On the other hand, Barsam (27) notes that Schweitzer believes that life is composed on the basic principles of good behavior and ethical actions, which need to be observed in order to have a fair treatment to all the creatures.
Long (8) noted that Jainism states that any cruelty and violent behavior towards the animals is the cause of sufferings for human beings. He also notes that their monks wore masks on their faces, so that they could not inhale insects and kill them. Equally, whenever they are sweeping they do it carefully so that no animal or creature is crashed. But for Schweitzer, there are no consequences that come as a result of mistreating the animals. They consider it as being unfair to mistreat the animals, since they also feel pain (Barsam 31).
Another important difference between these two beliefs is that according to the Jainism, all living things are holy, since they all have eternal souls. This means equality before the creator and, therefore, there should not be any reason to mistreat one another (Long 8). But according to Barsam (31), Schweitzer believes that human beings and those creatures are not all equal. Instead, it is only by respecting them human beings remain spiritually linked with the commandments of God, which warn people against killing and remind them to love one another.
Schweitzer is a strong observer of the commandment of love, which, he says, was proclaimed by Jesus; and this is among the reasons that prompted him to compassionately highlight concern for the other creatures as is noted by Barsam (31). Jainism, on the other hand, does not believe in the commandments, but just the large perspective arguments on what is right and wrong. They see these creatures as fellow human beings and, hence, give them respect.
In his argument, Schweitzer also notes that any thinking man should greatly oppose all cruel cultural practices, irrespective of how much they are emphasized. He goes ahead to say that if one has a choice, then torture and torment of other creatures should be stopped (Barsam 31). His belief, therefore, gives chances to some circumstances that eating the animals may be permitted. However, Jainism holds that human beings should completely not involve themselves in mistreating other creatures and, thus, it is not a matter of choice.
In order to conserve the environment, Jainism religion holds that human beings should be very responsible when using the resources available. This can be achieved just by stopping to eat animals; people should eat only plants for survival, as stated by the Jainism doctrines. To continue, according to Jainism, the commitment to be very conscious about the life of other creatures is an essential step towards the conservation of natural resources and, hence, respect for all the living things, while Schweitzer holds that it is lack of respect to mistreat the animals but does not speak about the environment.
In conclusion, it is noted that the beliefs of two or more different religions can be the same even when their reasons for such beliefs are different. This can be as a result of general reasoning over what should be right and fair.