Ahimsa: Love & Reverence for All
by Nischala Joy Devi.
August 31, 2013
Embracing reverence and love for all (Ahimsa), we experience oneness.
Yoga Sutra II:35
Most often this exalted virtue of Ahimsa is translated simply as “non-harming” or even “nonviolence.” Again, we visit the idea of placing a “non-” in front of a negative trait telling us what not to do instead of how to espouse our true nature. It implies that we are “inherently” violent and that mischief may be lurking somewhere in the background of our minds. You may even feel insulted by the accusation, protesting, “I do not harm anyone; I am not violent. This Sutra is not meant for me!” Neither “violence” nor “harming” was implied in the Golden Age (Sat Yuga), only reverence and compassion. This is where we discover the vast cavern between not killing or not doing harm and embracing reverence and love. Ahimsa in the latter implies that our nature is to be compassionate; and, when we practice Ahimsa fully, all living things that come into our presence experience it.
“My religion is kindness,” humbly says His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a distinguished living example of Ahimsa.
Embracing the great virtue of Ahimsa brings the knowledge that each of us feels pain, joy, disappointment, love—the full spectrum of emotions. We develop an empathy with others, and our individual experience becomes the experience of all.
As we open our hearts, Ahimsa elegantly beams reverence and love to the many facets of our life. We accept the importance of accepting all, even those who threaten or harm us physically or emotionally. Yet, the part that many of us forget is to treat ourselves with that same reverence and love.
The Bible compassionately tells us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The difficult lesson for many of us is to learn to love and serve ourselves first.
When we refuse to take the time to treat our bodies, emotions, and minds with reverence and love, they will often remind us—not so kindly—by failing to respond when we need them. After a time, our lack of ease may allow disease to creep into our life. Then, we are obliged to take time for ourselves. It is much more pleasant and fun to do it willingly, before any dis–ease invites itself to one’s life. Love for oneself is love for all.