A friend posted this on a couchsurfing forum today.
Anekantavada, the doctrine of non-absolutism, a multi-dimensional approach is of paramount importance in today’s troubled times. Anekant is a basic principle of Jainism dealing with the multiple nature of reality. It deals with particular aspects, but does not deny the existence of other attributes or qualities.
Anekant means non-insistence on one’s view-point only. In the world of philosophy this doctrine adopts the policy of ‘coexistence,’The fundamental principle of Anekantvada is to tolerate others’ views or beliefs; one should not only try to discover the truth in one’s own views or beliefs, but also in other’s views and beliefs. Anekantvada establishes the truth not by rejecting the partial views about reality but by taking all of them into consideration.
Anekāntavāda also does not mean compromising or diluting ones own values and principles. On the contrary, it allows us to understand and be tolerant of conflicting and opposing views,while respectfully maintaining the validity of ones own view-point.
Lord Mahavir stressed freedom of expression through his unique doctrine of Anekantvad i.e. the “Principle of multiple views. It discards absolutism of thought. It propounds mutual understanding. Anekantvad teaches the lesson of religious tolerance, which is essential to remove the present air of hatred and conflict prevalent on the national and international arenas. Views are bound to differ, because we are guided by different conditions. Hence, it is wrong to think oneself absolutely right and all others absolutely wrong. Such an outlook is imperialism in thought.
The world is sharply divided into multiple opposite camps.There is an ‘either . . . or’ in world politics. Peace, therefore, demands a new logic, a new outlook. Had the world leaders adopted the philosophy of Anekantof Lord Mahavir to understand others’ points of view, the mental reservations, misunderstanding and clashes would have been banished and an era of global peace would have prevailed.
Non-absolutism is the ideology of a new civilization of peace and non-violence. The ‘all or none’ approach has brought us to the brink of total annihilation, hence the non-absolutist approach in thought, word and deed is the only way before us.
Anekanta is a Sanskrit word anekānta (manifoldness) and vāda (school of thought)
Peace for all
Disclaimer: The intent of post is not to propagate the Jain religion.