“I do not know if there is rebirth or not, or life after death. But if it is true, then I would like to be born in India as a Jain.” Albert Einstein, suspected autistic.
One of my interests is human behavior. I am especially interested in how different people interact with each other. I am equally as interested in how a person behaves who has several strands to their genetic makeup and personality. Among other things, I’m autistic and a Jain – autistic by birth, Jain by choice. These two leanings can complement each other and, at times, work against each other. So far, these are a few pros and cons of this unique combination that I’ve discovered.
Pros: The Jain diet is extremely narrow and strict; in essence, I pretty much eat the same thing every day – fruits, peas, beans corn, rice, nuts and granola bars. For an autistic, this is not a problem as they are known for eating the same thing everyday anyway, some at always the exact same time every day.
Autistics tend to eschew modern fashion, so the latest styles at Nordstrom’s or Abercrombie & Fitch eludes them. In fact, some autistics wear the same things day in and day out. I don’t know if Steven Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are aspies, but they do wear the same thing all the time, at least Steven Jobs did when he was alive. Jains practice aparigraha – own little, desire little. That Jain tenet works beautifully with the autistic ‘less is okay ‘ canon.
Cons: Logic. Some autistics are logical to a fault. Seeing is believing, abstract art is a waste of time. Counting, categorizing, compartmentalizing and collecting things are all pluses in the autistic world. Why play with a toy police car when you can take it apart to see what makes it work? These ideas are at odds with the Jain concepts of Heaven, Hell, the soul, karma and reincarnation because they’re abstract. They can’t be seen or felt; they must be simply believed.
Reconciling this dichotomy is a tricky affair, but my approach is this – Heaven and Hell are states of being. If you’re a gangbanger, or you’re full of hate, or you commit crimes often, or break the law often, or lie, cheat and steal or abuse drugs, then you’re living a life in Hell. You don’t have to wait to die to go into the fiery netherworld; you’re already living in it. Heaven is eschewing negative emotions and having compassion, charity and forgiveness in your life. According to the Jaina Dharma, owning and wanting nothing is also Heaven on earth. At least it is to me anyway.
I reconcile the soul as not being able to be visualized but simply detected. Can I prove that? Not really. I’m just going off the observations I’ve been privy to by animals. Some animals approach certain people without much trepidation, as if they see something good in or around these people, as if they have a positive aura which only the animals can see. Same thing for negative people. Animals avoid them or growl at them because they’re sensing something negative about them. I’ve had animals approach me, and even eat off my hand, when those same animals were too timid to approach anyone else.
Karma probably manifests as coincidence. Some philosophies believe there is no such thing as luck; you create positivity or negativity by your own behavior. If you get into fights a lot, or crash your car a lot, or lose your money from time to time, or trip and fall very often, or always seem to get caught in the rain without an umbrella, then your soul is flooded with negative karma. Since some Jains believe all karma is bad, then your soul is simply flooded with karma. The positivity in your life, then, is a result of the absence of karma.
I can’t prove karma but maybe it’s as simple as “you reap just what you sow/that old saying is true.” That’s Bob Marley and I think he had it right. I’ve been trying my level best to do good, be charitable, eliminate negative thoughts, avoid bad situations, etc. Not easy in this world; all I can do is give it a shot. So far, though, I’ve tended to find things in the street that I’ve needed: gloves when the weather was freezing cold, bottles of water when I was dying of thirst, money when I was broke, a large piece of denim for the hole in my pants, etc. I’ve had someone take off his sneakers, which just happened to be my perfect size, and give them to me because the ones I had had turned to shreds. I’ve gotten a sleeping bag just when I needed one for sleeping in my car. Finding food in the street is a common occurrence for me as well as finding a place to plug this laptop into in public.
Reincarnation, unfortunately, is still a matter out of my grasp. My autistic logical mind says, “Prove it.” Right now the only way I can reconcile reincarnation is the knowledge that all matter is not created or destroyed, just altered in form. A dead body dissolves into the ground or the sea and becomes part of the elements – food for other animals, calcium deposits, carbon footprints, etc. Can my soul find a new life in another’s body? Sounds like a good idea. I wish I could prove it,