Ahimsa, or non-harming, is the first sutra of the Eightfold Path and sets the tone for right action. Nonviolence is a stance of right relationship with others and self. This precept guides us to live together, share the goods and do what we want without causing harm to others or ourselves.
Fear abounds. To create a life and a world free of violence is to find our own courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s feeling it without being paralyzed. It’s digging deep to face our fears – the big, the small, the silly and the scary. To live the fullness that our life is inviting us into, we often have to let ourselves be afraid and do it anyway.
This invariably gets us into our discomfort zone. Ahimsa encourages us to question the feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness. Rather than accept it, we come to realize we have choice. We can ask, “What do I need to do right now to feel competent to handle this situation?” Or, “What worked last time I was in this type of situation?”
Nonviolence Starts Within
Love lies at the core of nonviolence and our ability to embody it has to do with how we feel about ourselves. We can have hearts full of love for others and intentions to love that are pure. But the truth is, how we treat ourselves is, at heart, how we treat those around us. Nonviolence begins with how we treat ourselves.
Of course, it goes without saying, compassion is the heart of Ahimsa. We learn compassion as we do simple acts of kindness, remember gratitude and soften boundaries that keep us from understanding. Compassion is a clear, heartfelt response to the needs of the moment. The more present we are, the more possibility we have to practice it.
The second of Patanjali’s sutra’s is truthfulness.
Beams of gratitude to Deborah Adele for her wisdom and inspiration.