Though most of us operate from our periphery, often saying and doing things spontaneously, without thinking or planning, we are all eventually guided by our centre. What is our centre? It is usually that core collection of feelings, beliefs, conditionings, thoughts, biases, prejudices, ideas, perceptions, points of view, and opinions --- basically whatever we think we are. This centre is often mind-based, not being or soul-based, for those things always operate out of silence and love. The soul or being is our real centre, as opposed to the mind or ego based 'pseudo-centre' from where we frequently and unknowingly operate.
Very few of us operate from pure love. Invariably, we tend to operate from fear, or its subsidiaries, like hate, greed, envy, avarice, mistrust, anger, competition and frustration.
Jain philosophy deals extensively with the problems of metaphysics, reality, cosmology, ontology, epistemology and divinity. Jainism is essentially a transtheistic religion of ancient India.
The distinguishing features of Jain philosophy are its belief on independent existence of soul and matter, deninal of supreme divine creator, owner, preserver or destroyer, potency of karma, eternal and uncreated universe, a strong emphasis on non-violence, accent on relativity and multiple facets of truth, and morality and ethics based on liberation of soul. Jain philosophy attempts to explain the rationale of being and existence, the nature of the Universe and its constituents, the nature of bondage and the means to achieve liberation
The Jain concept of Anekantvad is beautiful. It says that any truth is relative to the perspective from which it is known. Reality is comprised of innumerable substances, both material and spiritual, and these too are constantly changing and in a state of flux. Raw materials that make up material and spiritual things too, are impermanent. And hence, it is near impossible for ordinary individuals to see the whole truth, the complete truth, of reality. What we often see, due to our limited vision, perspective, point of view, our senses and sensibilities, or beliefs, our social upbringings, our limitations is a thin slice of life, or reality. What we see in not the untruth, but it cannot be the entire truth, which is too vast for mere mortals to comprehend, and is also constantly undergoing modification and evolution. It needs a highly evolved or enlightened soul to be able to see and understand that whole truth.
The most common story cited to illustrate anekantvad is that of a king who called six blind men to touch and describe an elephant. All of them came up with different answers, calling the elephant a rope, fan, snake or wall. While they were partly right, they were nowhere near the whole truth. All of us see the world and life from our limited perspective. If we knew this, then we would not be in conflict with others. But we assume that what we know is the whole truth and that the other is wrong. And hence there are conflicts all over the world, basically because my truth does not agree with yours, although both of us don't know that we are both only partially correct, and are both likely to be wrong. We strongly hold on to our partial or wrong concepts, and fight over it, tooth and nail. When the final picture emerges, or with the passage of time, when we look back at the past, we will often see how our words and actions were often wrong.
Anekantvad, once understood, will make us realise that our knowledge is partial and incomplete. We form our central core from this partial truth, and hence are prone to get into conflicts with others. If we recognize that we don't know the whole picture, we are likely to become less aggressive and more humble, which will pave the way for more peace and joy on earth.