Neo-Jainism

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Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Neo-Jainism

i maed theng

u leik?

Neo-Jainism

In the century before the Fall, many millennia-old religions encountered challenges brought on by the emergence of transhuman technologies. From the seemingly trivial (is vat-grown pork haram?) to the inextricable (is the soul of an uploaded mind the same as the original person's?), complex philosophical questions forced countless faiths to adapt to a frightening new world. Some were unable to weather this Darwinian storm, and faded away until the Fall marked their definite terminus. Others, however, flourished in their new environment.

Jainism belongs in the latter category. Once members of the most insignificant of the Dharmic religions, Jains now rival both Buddhists and Hindus in cultural influence as well as sheer numbers. The majority of them do not have an Indian heritage and were not born into the faith. Instead, they are converts both human and non-human who found the teachings of the Jinas in accordance with transhumanist values and the needs of contemporary life.

Called techno-Jainism or neo-Jainism by those who care to name such things, this modern form of Jainism disregards the metaphysical and cosmological doctrines of the ancient Jain texts, which are merely considered pre-scientific attempts at explaining the inexplicable. Most neo-Jains are agnostic with regards to belief in the soul and reincarnation, and even those who do profess faith in life after death see no problem with indefinite lifespans. Simply put, neo-Jains believe salvation is available in this life, provided you have the will and fortitude to let go of your human passions and desires.

Neo-Jainism is a practical memeplex that focuses on ethical living and self-control in accordance with five major vows:

Ahimsa: The vow of non-violence. The most well-known and arguably the most challenging of the vows, ahimsa means living in a way that causes no harm to any living creature. Neo-Jains include AGIs and even several forms of AI considered sub-sapient by most transhumans in their definition of life. Due to this vow, neo-Jains sleeve almost exclusively into synthmorphs or live purely as infomorphs, in order to minimize their reliance on organic food and drink. Many prefer to live on solar power alone, finding it the energy source least likely to cause harm to others. Another quirk common to those dedicated to ahimsa is a preference for floating morphs, so that they may avoid crushing small animals by mistake when walking.

Satya: The vow of truthfulness. Neo-Jains are unwilling to lie, unless telling the truth would harm a living creature. They also avoid gossip, slander, rumors, identity falsification, etc. Since both the truth and the harm speech can bring are hard to keep track of in the AF world, many neo-Jains employ dedicated AIs who sift through immense amounts of data before recommending the right words to choose in a given situation. No matter how fast the hardware, this takes some time. For this reason, neo-Jains have a reputation for being polite but laconic and slow to respond.

Asteya: The vow of non-stealing. Seems straightforward enough, although what counts as “stealing” notably differs from society to society in 10 AF. Neo-Jains disagree on whether using software and other forms of information without the explicit consent of the creator constitutes a breach of asteya or not. Most err on the side of caution and either pay for their programs or use open source software.

Brahmcharya: The vow of chastity. Once considered a major challenge and temptation for Jain ascetics, today chastity in both mind and body is trivially easy to achieve via simple psychosurgery. Virtually all neo-Jains lack any kind of sexuality, and extend brahmcharya to cover a prohibition on all forms of pointless bodily pleasure. This is another reason for favoring synthmorphs.

Aparigraha: The vow of non-possessiveness. This vow is the most loosely defined one, and one that leaves a lot of the interpretation in the hands of the individual. Broadly speaking, it means that Jains should avoid undue attachment to material things, to people and even to their own emotions. In practice this means limiting one's possessions to necessary things, and to avoid both greed and jealousy. One would think that this would make neo-Jains ideally suited for the new economy, but most dislike having a high rep score as much as they dislike having a large bank account. It unfairly elevates them above others, and gives them freedoms and privileges that should belong to all, they argue. This of course endears neo-Jains to the egalitarian anarchists of the AA, who promptly ping the rep for the former. More than one commentator has remarked on the Life of Brian-esque comedy of the situation.

Apart from anarchist habs, neo-Jains fit well into the cultures of the Morningstar Constellation, the Titanian Commonwealth and other places where pan-sapient rights and morphological freedom are respected. The Planetary Consortium has a somewhat ambivalent view of neo-Jainism. While adherents tend to be peaceful, honest citizens and loyal, hardworking employees, they are awful consumers. In addition, while they are not given to rabble-rousing demagogy, neo-Jains are adamant in their support of rights for AGIs and uplifts, which bothers some hypercorps more than others.

The Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, despite its many Indian roots, tends to discriminate against neo-Jains, more as a result of their preference for synthmorphs than due to any religious bigotry. The scum, famous for their laissez-faire attitude toward every perversion imaginable, want absolutely nothing to do with a bunch of (ugh) ascetics. The feeling is generally mutual, and a current trend among rebellious scum youths is to embrace neo-Jainism as a way to scandalize their elders.

Two groups that under no circumstances tolerate neo-Jains in their midst are the Jovians and the Ultimates. The Jovian Republic, as a militaristic, bioconservative society, treats pacifistic synthmorphs about as well as can be expected. As for the Ultimates; while they do appreciate the ascetic tradition in Jainism, they see ahimsa as nothing short of evolutionary heresy.

A disproportionate amount of uplifts adopt neo-Jainism as their creed of choice, perhaps due to Jainism's historical and current commitment to animal rights. Several neo-chimps, who are prone to bouts of aggression, have taken the vow of non-violence and have formed a loose mercurial/Jainist network called Gentle Hands.

AGIs generally see little point in the vows since they lack most of the passions and desires Jains seek to eliminate. They are however mostly sympathetic to Jain goals, and many see ahimsa as both a good moral system and a good way to reduce human fear of AGIs.

The most common symbol of neo-Jainism is the swastika. These days it has largely shed the negative connotations it once had, and it's not uncommon to see both serious neo-Jains and trend-conscious socialites decorate their morphs with more or less tasteful swastikas.

As mentioned, neo-Jains prefer to either live as infomorphs or to sleeve into synthmorphs, particularly ones capable of flight. They favor cheap but durable models, unless their profession requires a more high-end morph. Swarmanoids are especially popular, but arachnoids, dragonflies, flexbots, kites, savants, spheres and takkos are also common.

Interestingly, and disturbingly to some, neo-Jainism is an increasingly popular memeplex among exhumans and singularity seekers throughout the system. They view it as a suitably post-human system of ethics, one focused on shedding human weaknesses as well as karma and embracing a superior way of life. Instead of "the Singularity", these posthumanists speak of "Mokṣa", a state of supreme bliss and peace in which the mind is liberated from the limitations of the flesh. One who achieves nirvāṇa is called a "Siddha" and is equivalent to a God, possessing omniscience and true immortality.

There are madmen who whisper that the TITANs themselves were Siddhas, and that the Fall was merely their attempt to emancipate humanity from its mortal bonds...

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Jaberwo Jaberwo's picture
Already stolen :D

Already stolen :D

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Thanks!

Copyright violation is the sincerest form of flattery. :) Thanks!

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Very cool

I really like this idea and I think it fits well into the setting. I would lightly contest that those in the Consortium are only consumers because they have to be; not having access to many of the technologies that make the Alliance totally post-scarcity.

However, despite how much I like the idea of this religion as a practiced faith, and one I would gladly defend. I could never count myself amongst it's number. The reason? I'm fine with all of the commitments except the first one.

Pacifism is a noble path, but it is not mine. Though I never wish to fight, I acknowledge that I might have to, and if I must, I'd rather live. Even in a future where death isn't that big of a deal, I would not stand to be taken advantage of on simple principle.

To me, the martial arts are my path, one that would follow me into this future. Many systems have a pacifistic starting stance, but are obviously not adamant in their practitioners never raising a hand to defend themselves or others. Plus, the Neo-Jainism might be able to use someone who supports their views but is not one of them. Gives them a nice loophole.

"Oh no, we are committed to non violence. Our feline friend with the sword however . . . has no such compunctions."

Lastly, might I just say it's kind of ironic and more than a bit hypocritical that the Scum; who allow pretty much everything, frown upon this practice.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Violence and stuff

Lay Jains may use violence in self-defense. In any case, Jains realize that having someone else do violence on your behalf is just as immoral as doing it yourself. You're not supposed to look for "loopholes" in ahimsa, that kind of misses the point.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Oh . . .

Sorry.

I wouldn't call myself a violent man, but if I had the power to free the oppressed through violent means, I can't promise myself I would not do it.

I have a pirate banner for a reason after all. Though I prefer the more accurate "privateer."

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Jains gonna Jain.

I imagine some Jains would cheer you on, but some would see it as a slippery slope. If you engage in himsa for one seemingly noble reason, it's easy to resort to violence for less and less noble reasons as time goes on. Ahimsa draws a clear line in the sand, and any violation is just that, a violation.

As for the scum's attitude toward ascetics... there's no culture, human or transhuman, that does not contain taboos. Even groups that aim to break every taboo they can think of will more or less inevitably end up with new ones. I imagine denying oneself the pleasures of the flesh would be pretty high up on the scum's list of Bad Things.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Scum

Well just for the sake of argument, why?

What do they care if one of their own wants to go against the tide? For a culture of "anything goes" it seems to be a pretty minor thing that they find so objectionable.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Kremlin K.O.A. Kremlin K.O.A.'s picture
It makes some sense, Steel.

It makes some sense, Steel.
After all, the Scum are kinda everything evil to the described Neo Jainism POV.
Only so long you can listen to the neighbour call you an evil monster before your opinion of them drops through the floor.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Reversal

If that's the case, should it not be the Jains that want nothing to do with the Scum while the Scum just shrug it off as another weird thing they inevitably attract?

From the sound of Alkahest's description, it doesn't sound like these faithful would decry the Scum, at least not vocally and instead focus on the tenants of their faith. Unless they are just one of those kids who does it to piss off their parents, well then ou could hardly call them a true Neo-Jainist.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Scum - trying too hard

There has not been a single group in human history, ostensibly dedicated to freedom or not, that has not punished social deviancy. The scum try very hard to nurture a devil-may-care image, which only makes me more suspicious of the cultural stability of their libertinism.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Kremlin K.O.A. Kremlin K.O.A.'s picture
Steel Accord wrote:If that's

Steel Accord wrote:
If that's the case, should it not be the Jains that want nothing to do with the Scum while the Scum just shrug it off as another weird thing they inevitably attract?

Yes and no, the Jains will likely hold the Scum in contempt. They will also avoid trade with them. This places the Jains in a different pool than most groups who look down on the Scum. Most such groups still go to them for their guilty pleasures. But these guys...
These guys are utterly forthright preachers of their code (the whole vow of truth thing.) They believe that everything Scum do is evil. They are not going to keep that thought to themselves. After all, lying to someone when asked your opinion of them harms them by giving them a false sense of the world.
When Scum swarms dock at a hab with a Jain population, expect peaceful demonstrations telling everyone about how bad the Scum are. Major e-leaflet campaigns. After all, not warning people about the spiritual harm the Scum bring is harming the general population.
And even if it is only a minority of the Neo Jains that do this, that would be enough to turn the Scum against it. After all B.A.D.D., Jack Chick, and the 700 club were a tiny minority of Christians back in the 80s.

Quote:
From the sound of Alkahest's description, it doesn't sound like these faithful would decry the Scum, at least not vocally and instead focus on the tenants of their faith. Unless they are just one of those kids who does it to piss off their parents, well then ou could hardly call them a true Neo-Jainist.

They may be ascetics, but they are also getting large amounts of converts. This suggests some level of outreach and evangelism.
Alkahest Alkahest's picture
What is this thing called happiness?

I imagine the neo-Jains could actually gain a lot of converts from scum. There are a bunch of concepts in both philosophy and psychology about the "hedonic treadmill" and the "paradox of hedonism", which basically say that it's very hard to attain happiness by trying to attain happiness. This is something often experienced by people who become very rich or very famous quickly, or indeed people who achieve any kind of self-centered dream: Even when all their dreams come true, they will likely feel just as crappy as before - perhaps even more so, now that they don't have anything to pin their hopes of contentment on.

This is why people feel the need to dedicate themselves to something bigger than themselves, whether it be religion or another person or a political goal. This often has the potential of creating a longer-lasting happiness. (Which doesn't say anything about the quality of their new goals. Saving the genetic purity of the white race can give you just as much "warm glow" as saving the whales.)

In any case, one of the reasons I roll my eyes at the scum even though I share most of their "ideological" values - individual freedom, morphological experimentation, etcetera - is that their society is often obnoxiously described as a never-ending orgy. From a purely psychological standpoint, this should realistically make the scum among the most bored and boring individuals in the entire Solar System.

If someone joins the scum with the goal of taking all the drugs and fucking weird rat-things until they achieve some orgasmic state of constant happiness, they will be sorely disappointed. All but the most simple-minded creatures demand some kind of meaning in their lives if they ever want to raise their hedonic set point.

So let's say you've spent a few months injecting every chemical and penetrating every orifice known to transhumanity, and you realize that you feel just as shitty as when you were a hypercorp wage slave. Along comes some serene robot-monk who says that true contentment can only be found by abandoning all those chemicals and orifices you've grown bored of. It's a fairly tempting sales pitch, as far as ascetic religions go.

Now, I'm sure that most scum have more sophisticated psyches than the person in the example given, and they would be far more resistant to Jain memes. But I believe there would be a substantial minority willing to give religion a shot, and I believe that many of those would indeed feel more content and at ease after embracing such a memeplex. That makes neo-Jainism a direct, if minor, threat to the scum.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.