Monday, March 18, 2013

Lasater #6: Ahimsa and Love

The question of how our choices harm others is a complicated one.  Could my aggressive action have created counter reactions that ended in suffering for many others, even death?  The possibilities are endless.  Like a ripple in a pond, our actions, and even our thoughts, create an energetic domino effect in the universe that could last forever, literally.

Ahimsa means nonviolence.  In yogic philosophy ahimsa precedes all duties one has to the world, including truth.  Without ahimsa truth does more harm than good.  Without ahimsa the fragile petals of love would wilt.  Without ahimsa, we would never realize our full potential.

For many, the practice of nonviolence starts with our actions.  And while that is necessary, as yoga practitioners we must challenge ourselves work with our thoughts.  As the foundation of our words and actions, thoughts dictate how we engage with the world and therefore whether or not we cultivate love or violence.

In the second to last chapter of Judith Lasater's book "Living Your Yoga", she surprised me by suggesting that the thought "I am special" underlies most of our aggressive thoughts. As a mother I quickly judged this statement to be false, of course my children are special!  And yet, when I reflected - and of course read on - I started picking up what she was putting down (isn't that always the case!).  

While each of us are critically important to the universe, realizing our importance demands our acknowledgement of the importance of those around us. When we focus on being "special" instead of "important" we believe that we deserve more than those around us.  The idea that there isn't enough creeps into consciousness and we act accordingly.  Instead of being important among other very important people in a world that is abundant, we are entitled to more than others in a world that is deficient and lacking in what we need to survive.  

Thoughts hold power.  When in your life have you felt special or above those around you?  How did this feeling serve you and your relationships in the long run?  When in your life have you felt irrelevant or unimportant?  How did that serve you and your relationships in the long run?  

"When you react you are not in a state if love. When you act without expectation, you are in a state of true love. Love is not based on what you get from a relationship but what you give. Loves job is to lead you to intimacy with what is enduring in yourself and in others."

If fear drives us to act violently and literally poisons our world, then love dispels that fear and shows us that, no matter what, there is always hope.


Find a comfortable seat - follow your breath.  When you breath in think "I am important" and while breathing out slowing repeat "There is enough."  Even if you don't believe one or both of these phrases, repeat them today and every day.  As you meditate on this idea, what feeling rises in the heart? 

Join Vinyasa Yoga Book Club on Saturdays 8:15 AM at Eyes of the World in Providence RI.

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