Welcome Address

I extend my warm welcome to all the esteemed dignitaries, renowned scientists, eminent scholars, experts, research scholars and the learned people of all communities in ICSJP-2021.

 Existence of soul is accepted in many philosophical traditions. In some Indian philosophies, soul or atman of an individual is regarded as part of Universal soul called Brahman. Srimadbhagavadgītā describes atman as beginningless and eternal that is never born and never dies. In all these cases the theory of karma and rebirth is accepted for individual souls. Christianity and Islamalso believe insoul but do not accept rebirth. Doctrine of karma is believed in the sense that God makes judgement on the activities of the soul and gives reward or punishment after death. In modern times Rene Descartes proposed that mind, soul, and matter, body are distinct substances and interact with each other.

Soul (Jīva) in Jainism is a substance like any other existential substances, e.g. matter (Pudgala). Soul is incorporeal and matter is corporeal substance. Both substances are eternal there is no creation or destruction. As the matter is described by properties and its behaviour is explained with laws so also the soul which has definite properties and follows certain laws. This is one reason Jainism is called scientific religion.

The identifying property of soul in Jainism is consciousness that manifests as jñāna, the power and ability to know and cognize, and darśana, the power and ability to perceive. These powers are unlimited in a pure soul. Besides, soul has perfect bliss and unlimited spiritual power (vīrya). All souls have the same potential powers. In worldly existence manifestation of the powers of the soul is obstructed by karma. The law of karma is the central theme of Jain philosophy. Soul is complete by self and does not depend on anything else for its functioning. Behaviours like intelligence, knowledge, awareness, perception, desires, emotions, will, pleasure and pain and other experiences can be explained by the theory of karma.

Consciousness is the subject of much current research in western philosophy and science. Consciousness is supposed to be a quality of mind generally regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment. Both western philosophy and science regard existence of a being in the form of body and do not accept soul as the life force. Scientists try to explain and find the source of subjective behavior of beings in body processes. It is sometimes held that consciousness emerges from the complexity of brain processing. Many psychologists maintain that behavior can be explained by conscious processes akin to artificial intelligence and might consider consciousness to be epiphenomenal or only weakly related to functions.

We see glaring difference in approaches of Jainism, and modern science and western philosophy in dealing with living things. This conference is aimed at highlighting the salient features of Jain philosophy in regard to consciousness, making a comparative study of the two approaches and emphasizing the necessity of Jain approach for evolving a better world-view of life and environment in order to establish peace and harmony in the world.

It is matter of great pleasure that the aim of Florida International University and Jain Education Research Foundation along with all the sponsors and Knowledge Partners behind the present conference is to understand consciousness, its source, and its implication in personal life and global issues. The conference is geared to achieve the goal of synthesis of science and spirituality based on Jain principles for the welfare of mankind with the futuristic vision of Peace and harmony in the world and a better world for living.

I wish all the best and grand success of the efforts of the organisers, sponsors and Knowledge Partners in organising the historical event ICSJP2021.

Samani Chaitanya Pragya
Director General, ICSJP-2021