Jainism is finally done! I don't say that because I didn't like it. I did. In fact, I loved it. I say that because it was exhausting. Not knowing when the next meal is or where it's coming from is really eye-opening. I've lived a very pampered life and the whole time I never once realized the ease that has been provided for me. Sure, money has helped that, but how our civilization and modern society has evolved really created an environment for laziness, entitlement and avoidance. I can't say that I will always remember my physical pain from the month, but I will remember the lessons the taught me.
From what you experienced, what was the best part of Jainism?
Easy. My mind was re-framed this month in terms of my relationship with animal life and the environment. We always hear that we need to clean up and protect the environment and that result should be enough to motivate people to do something. However, leading someone with a carrot only lasts for so long. What I learned this month was an entirely new way to envision my role in the cosmos. I really visualized the vehicles in which our souls are carried and how important the decisions we make with them are. I have a newfound responsibility on earth and it's not simply for ascetic and health reasons. It's because I am of this earth and could perhaps have existed in a different capacity before this life.
What improvements, if any, did you witness in yourself?
I don't know if I improved. I caved to temptation with alcohol and many times I got outwardly frustrated with Jainism, but if anything, I think I padded by increasingly bulky trove of patience. It's hard giving up things and it was even harder when people would ask, "What's the point?" It would be easy to give into that, but I didn't. Victory?
What was the most annoying aspect of the religion for you?
Not buying anything was really horrible. Well, maybe it was the constant need to rely on my wife for stuff. I don't know. I'm not a big-spender, but it's hard being a burden to the one you love.
Did you find that people were receptive to Jainism?
Really receptive. In fact, I was amazed by the curiosity that many people had. I know that they wouldn't necessarily start to follow the creed, but people really opened up to the idea. In fact, I caught some of my younger elementary school students with Jain information in their bags and "George = 자이나교 (Jainism)" written on their notebooks. All ages of Koreans were into it.
Would you ever consider becoming a Jain?
Hmmm. Let's put it this way: I will always incorporate the lessons from this month into my life, my family and my future religion. But no, I don't think Jainism is the perfect fit for me.
Any last comments?
If anything came from this month, it was my "Bridges to Beauty" project. Depending on August rain, I will keep it alive. My wife and I are planning on making it more inclusive to the community in September. We all need to do a better job taking care of this world. We are at the top of this karmic chain and have the gift of reason. We need to use it well.