Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yama, Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

Ahimsa is not only non-violence, but also a sincere compassion and love for all of creation. It begins with the realization that all living things -- plants, animals, people, the planet, etc. -- comprise a whole. We are all very different yet connected, interdependent and part of that totality. Realizing that truth we know that what happens to one effects all. Cut down the Earth’s trees and the planet becomes inhospitable to oxygen-dependent beings. Poison the water and those requiring it suffer. Behave mean-spiritedly to another and cause hurt to that person at the very least.

Let’s look at our bodies as an example of a microcosm. We have so many varied parts that make up this one entity. A foot is quite different in shape and function than a shoulder. The front and back sides of our bodies are unique yet still part of a whole that we call our bodies. What we do to one part surely effects the whole.

When we practice postures where we are bending backwards for example, we open the front side of our bodies. However, the rest of the body will be changed. We cannot solely concern ourselves with the opening of the front side, but must also compassionately consider the effect it will have on the back side as well. We must practice non-violence with each side, as we know both are affected. If we go into a back bend and compress the low back, right then or eventually we will cause harm. The benefits of opening the front side of the body will be diminished if we hurt the back.

Ahimsa is a practice, which requires us to remember our connection to all of creation. Let the well being of all be in the forefront of our thoughts when we think, speak and act.

Ahimsa pratishthayam tat sannidhou vairatyagah.  (Upon being established in non-hurtfulness, there is a relinquishing of hostility in the presence of that.)
-Patanjali Yoga Sutras ii:35


1 comment:

Elda said...

You write very well.