Ahimsa: the non-violence in Yoga
Ahimsa is a value that is part of yoga philosophy. This ancient lifestyle has a set of values that are supposed to rule yoginis’ life. These values aim to promote a life where people have a clear mind, respect for the body and a calm life so that they can dedicate to the study of yoga. It’s also crucial to be able to achieve meditation goals.
One of the most known and primarily introduced to the students is Ahimsa, to which we dedicate this article. Here we explore the value Ahimsa, but we are going to start by talking about what is a value. A value is the consideration of something or an appreciated attitude. Despite, when we talk about yoga values, they are connected with universal ethical values.
In the present context, a value can be perceived as dharma, a standard of conduct with origins on what or how we would like the others to treat us. Although these values are many times spread through religions, it’s common sense that they appear from social interactions.
For that reason, there is no way we can escape from ethical values. Despite that, there is another reason that justifies why are values of such great importance.
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Ahimsa as the base of all values
Ahimsa means, in general, non-violence. This value is not only considering others, or our relationship with others but also with ourselves. Our conduct with ourselves must be of non-violent, which is intimately connected to what we are going to expose next.
When we accept a value and, for some reason, our actions don’t match with the value, we suffer. That means that we are not respecting ahimsa towards ourselves. Not lying, for example, is widely accepted. Even the smallest lie is internally registered as a conflict.
To understand and internalize a value, we have to see the “value of the value”, and that’s exactly what we are going to do about Ahimsa.
Ahimsa: the value of the value
Ahimsa literally means “non-violence” and reflects our inner will of living free from pain or threats. It means to not cause any pain by any means: actions, words or thoughts.
And why shouldn’t we hurt other human beings? Because we don’t want to be hurt either. Ahimsa brings light to a subject widely discussed nowadays: vegetarianism.
Vegetarianism is an example of Ahimsa in practice. Many arguments can be used, but there is a simple one, a diet without meat or fish is ahims. Why isn’t the human being in the same condition of the cat that eats the bird? They act by instinct, while the human being has free will, a choice.
In what concerns to other people, of course, everyone gives value to life. We want to be alive and we make all efforts to stay alive. The plants don’t have the same conscious about “being alive”. Eating a plant is not considered violence, but the cruel destruction of the flora is violence.
We must deal with all things and beings with sensitivity and appreciation of its existence in parallel with mine. With that attitude, we become observers, our mind becomes sensitive, ready to listen and in appreciations of the teachings of Vedanta. Ahimsa is an important value in what concerns our capacity to acquire knowledge.
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