Jain monks and nuns practice strict asceticism and strive to make their current birth their last, thus ending their cycle of transmigration. The laity, who pursue less rigorous practices, strive to attain rational perception and to do as much good as possible in order to get closer to the goal of attaining freedom from the cycle of transmigration. Following strict ethics, the laity usually choose professions that revere and protect life and totally avoid violent livelihoods.
Jains practice Samayika, which is a Sanskrit word meaning equanimity and derived from samaya (the soul). The goal of Samayika is to attain equanimity. Samayika is begun by achieving a balance in time. If this current moment is defined as a moving line between the past and the future, Samayika happens by being fully aware, alert and conscious in that moving time line when one experiences Atma, one's true nature, common to all life forms. Samayika is especially significant during Paryushana, a special period during the monsoon, and is practiced during the ritual known as Samvatsari Pratikramana.
Jains believe that Devas (demi-gods or celestial beings) cannot help jiva to obtain liberation, which must be achieved by individuals through their own efforts. In fact, Devas themselves cannot achieve liberation until they reincarnate as humans and undertake the difficult act of removing karma. Their efforts to attain the exalted state of Siddha, the permanent liberation of jiva from all involvement in worldly existence, must be their own.
The strict Jain ethical code for both laity and monks/nuns is:
'Achaurya Or Asteya' (non-stealing)
Brahmacharya (purity of mind and body)
Aparigraha (non-attachment to temporal possessions)
Nonviolence includes the concepts of vegetarianism. Jains are expected to be non-violent in thought, word, and deed, both toward humans and toward all other living beings, including their own selves. Jain monks and nuns walk barefoot and sweep the ground in front of them to avoid killing any insects or other tiny beings. Even though all life is considered sacred by the Jains, human life is deemed the highest form of life. For this reason, it is considered vital never to harm or upset any person.