my post became quite long. in case you do not want to read the whole thing, I highlighted the most important parts in bold font.
My understanding of the main differences of the Jaina path is (as presented in the Suttas), that
- For the Jains the bodily acts have a stronger impact on Kamma than the mind (see MN56 the Upali Sutta). This is in contrast to the Buddhas teaching, who sees the mind as the forerunner of all things (see Dhammapada), where intention has the strongest impact on Kamma (see again MN56 the Upali Sutta).
This view on Kamma on account of the Jains also explains their austere practices of standing on one leg and not moving, because not moving means no bodily action and therefore making no new Kamma.
2) The Jaina belief is that they have to burn all old Kamma in order to get enlightened. They do this by adhering to these extremely austere practices. In the workshop the practices were described as non-action (standing on one leg) and painful (the burning feeling of burning old kamma).
Compared to this the Buddhist idea is that the path is started by making wholesome kamma through virtue (Siila). In the Workshop, Bhante Brahmali also said, that at the very end of the Buddhist path one makes “that special Buddhist kamma, which will eventuall lead [to parinibbaana] the ending of all kamma”. It is explicitly part of the Buddhist idea that not all Kamma has to be burned before liberation can be reached. I would think, that it is even tacitly assumed within Buddhism, that burning all Kamma is impossible, as most beeings have been roaming Samsaara for very long times (the Buddha could not see a beginning of Samsaara) accumulating endless heaps of wholesome and unwholesome Kamma. Also, I am not sure if the wording “burning kamma”, is a skilfull way of expression in Buddhism, because the Buddha usually just spoke of Kamma coming to fruition (merely an ethical cause and effect relationship).
Additionally, Buddhists often believe that one can try to bend the conditions so that certain Kamma cannot come to fruition. I am not sure where this is said in the Suttas, but, for example, Mettaa is often said to have a protective function. If you keep a mind with strong mettaa the conditions for certain unwholesome Kamma to ripen simply cannot come into place.
- The Jainas have the idea that every action results in Kamma, also the unintentional killing of beings. Therefore, they always sweep the path in front of them. For a full discussion of this, see the separate topic “Kamma of unintentional actions” that was created by Claralynn exactly for this point.
The Jains also beliefe that everything they experience is due to Kamma, but this was ruled out as a wrong view for Buddhism in the first workshop on “Myth Busting”. What we experience is all the result of causes and conditions, but not all of these consequences are due to our Kamma (not all have an ethical notion attached). Some of the difficulties we face are simply because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time (bad luck). Ultimately, of course, whatwever we experience in this life is a consequence of the Kamma that lead to a human rebirth…
Coming back to your question: I think on some aspects of the Buddha Dhamma, such as rebirth and that there is an ethical cause and effect process (Kamma - Vipaaka) active in the universe, which includes three types of Kamma (fruition in this life, fruition in next life, or in any later life) … , we simply have to treat these as a working hypothisis and have to wait until we can see for ourselves. The main difference to the Jain teaching is (if you belief in Buddhism), that at least all these things decribed by the Buddha are real and can be experienced and are therefore “potentially knowable” (as Bhante Sujato mentioned in one of his posts under “Kamma of unintentional actions”). This implies that, if one could see ones own past lives and the rebirth of beings due to their Kamma, as the Buddha said he did, then one would see the Buddhas teachings verified and the Jaina belief rejected. So yes, as a beginning practicioner, there is no way, but to take certain teachings on board as a working hypothesis, but ultimately these things are knowable.
There is lots of evidence for near death experiences (mind can exist independent of the body). There is also lots of evidence for rebirth (see interview with Jim Tucker and the topic on “Past life on Fox news”). As long as we do not have these superhuman powers and as long as we are not Ariyans (as long as our vision is clouded by the 5 hindrances) , I think the best we can do is, stay open, listen to the teachers, ponder about these teachings and consider if they seem plausible or at least potentially possible. Also, confidence in the teaching can be build up, by verifying the bits and pieces which are subject to your own experience (as Raivo also suggested). Also, one can gain confidence in the Dhamma, if one finds nuns or monks who practice the Dhamma and who largely have greed, hatred and delusion reduced. Of course, you can never be completely sure, but you can have a gut feeling about it. See how these monks deal with criticism. See if you feel more at peace in their presence. See if the way they teach touches your heart and try to put the Dhamma to a test, where possible - try to see if the basics work for you (e.g. more virtue -> more peace). Seeing that some parts of the Dhamma work usually gives good confidence that also the rest cannot be too far off.
I tried to summarize some points which I considered relevant to your question, also trying to sense the origin of your question. I hope I did not misunderstand you and that these lines contain at least a little somthing relevant to you.
With much mettaa,