Ahimsa in Kali Yuga by Dr. Christie Smirl
Ahimsa is a concept that has been promoted by Jesus, Buddha, Patanjali, Gandhi and is a core value in most forms of spirituality. The word ahimsa embraces the concept of not-violence and compassion.
Ahimsa was written about extensively in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas – self restraints in yogic philosophy. On the surface this concept of non-violence advocates refraining from physically harming another human out of malice. Ahimsa as a concept of not causing physical harm seems straight forward when we talk about murder, rape, shooting, stabbing, torture, punching, slapping, pushing, kicking, flicking and pinching. However, there are mixed beliefs about violence as it applies to appropriate self defense or even defensive war. As we know in this Kali Yuga, times can get wild, unpredictable and dark. This is the time more than ever to guide our actions and thoughts towards peace.
Ahimsa extends to avoiding violence projected onto others through cruel words or mean gestures that cause emotional harm. How many times do we hear others lash out in unbridled criticism, yelling, cruel speech or degradation? Take for example road rage. Many people feel a pressure relief and outright justification to react aggressively in traffic when things do not go their way. Instead, yoga philosophy recommends setting aside the ego reaction and practicing compassion. Consider that the person who is driving “unsatisfactorily” may have just got news that a family member died, served divorce paperwork, fired or are suffering from stress and fatigue. It is really an awful feeling to be aggressively honked at, flipped of and scowled at when you intended no harm to the other driver.
Ahimsa also encompasses neglect or greed that leads to deprivation of shelter, food or hydration. Now most of us would not think of doing this to our loved ones, but what about when we turn a blind eye as a community and global collective. I know the subject stirs uneasiness at times, but lets study our part in these matters to come up with ways to improve our personal and collective responsibilities, actions and consciousness. As a small child, my mother and I were often dependent on food programs and generosity of others to eat and survive and I will always be great full to those who gave to us when we were less fortunate.
Let’s switch gears to animals. Where do we as individuals and a community stand in regards animal violence such as sport hunting for a trophy animal head on the wall or dog or cock fighting? Most people these days are appalled by this type of violence. What about killing animals for food? Much of the population feel that killing animals for food is alright as long as they were treated humanly. The truth is that we are immune to witnessing the violence that these animals endure. I grew up raising and butchering animals from our back yard for food. It was very difficult for me as a sensitive child to witness and participate in this practice. I felt the animals pain and fear. Now grocery stores just sell tidy and pretty packages of “meat” and we do not see the process. Spiritualists who practice vegetarianism advocate not eating animals for our nutrition under any circumstance because to avoid the karma of killing.
Now let us think about how we treat ourselves. What do we say about ourselves when we look in the mirror in the morning or when we make a mistake? Do we use kind self speech? You know the saying “You are your own worst critic.”. Remember that our thoughts become our words, our words become our deeds, our deeds become our habits and our habits become our existence. So practice today only saying kind things about yourself. Ahimsa promotes universal benevolence, the practice of compassion, love, forgiveness, generosity and friendliness. Ask yourself today how you can practice ahimsa on a wider basis today. In this Kali Yuga, we all have to be responsible for how much “violence” we contribute to the collective consciousness.
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