If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa
ahimsa is defined as an “entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word or deed. . .(therefore). . .non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth and hand.” Sri Swami Sivananda
ahimsa is one of five yamas, or codes of conduct, in the yoga sutras. patanjali fashioned the format of his sutras, or rules, after buddha’s teachings and so for me the two separate teachings have become one in my life. nonviolence, compassion, understanding, caring – these are all words used to describe ahimsa. from what i’ve shared about my history, people are often shocked and in disbelief at how i describe my old behavior. it was, to say the least, appalling and the opposite of nonviolence. toward myself and others. i can share it today because i see it clearly for what it was – a lack of ahimsa, on every level.
embracing ahimsa has taken some time to assimilate. years, in fact. and i may never arrive completely. the selfishness i lived in created such misery for myself and people around me, i didn’t see a different avenue, a way out. until i started searching for answers in books, teachers and my yoga practice. each insight from spiritual books read, teachers listened to and my yoga practice allowed me to quiet the crazy conversations in my head a little more and move deeper and deeper into stillness. and in that stillness i found the light of all that is, the spaciousness to just Be. i was able to recognize and heal years of mindless, destructive behavior and see every living thing as equal. when i recall how those changes began and are continuing still, i feel i’ve lived many lives during this one. i accept living in this form, this body and living in the eternally present light that resides in us all.
is it possible to live in ahimsa every moment? because there are unintentionally crushed insects while we’re walking or driving, animals that die because we’ve encroached into their territory, drivers that we think should have their license revoked and angry people difficult to be around. i can’t bring myself to kill the giant grasshoppers and snails that devour my magnolia bushes and cacti, but i can set poison out for rats – no problem. that one i’m working on. so it’s an ongoing practice of mindfulness within ahimsa. i’m eating less and less meat for both health and humanitarian reasons. i’m looking at the world i live in a broader framework, not just what i do in the space around me. because i belong to all of you and you to me and we belong to the planet.
start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world. Oprah