Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term meaning to cause no injury or do no harm. It is the first Yama, or recommendation for living a life of personal fulfilment that will also benefit society, that the sage Patanjali outlined in the Yoga sutras. Usually translated as non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi perhaps most famously followed the principle of ahimsa. To practice ahimsa is to practice kindness and compassion, which takes much strength and courage as we take responsibility for our own harmful behaviour and work to cease the harm caused by others.
By practicing compassion we begin to put ourselves in the situation of others, so compassion can train your mind to see yourself in all beings. The Yogin can begin to see past differences of form and see the inner spirit of all beings, which is happiness. We all want to be happy. When we can follow the premise that all living beings share this light of divine spirit, we can understand that to hurt another is to ultimately hurt oneself.
Ahimsa not only refers to restraint of physical violence, but any violence. Even thoughts can hurt another being or yourself, as can words and intentions. Practising nonviolence sets up good karma not only for the being not harmed, but also for the person observing this restraint. Now most of us know that good karma leads to happiness that is real and everlasting!
Incorporating Ahimsa into your daily life
To work on building your sense of compassion, ask yourself if the motives for your actions are selfish or unselfish. Real joy can arise from putting the welfare of others before oneself. In your quest to find happiness, are your thoughts, words or actions destroying yourself, an animal species, or the environment?
This page will be dedicated to building tips on living the path of ahimsa – small ways to reduce our sense of disconnection with Mother Earth and how we treat her and all of her manifestations. Briefly, I’ll post regularly about where you can shop and dine, as well as what you can buy and make, to increase compassion and happiness!