Ahimsa – Non-Violence
Ahimsa is an ennobling virtue that brings each one to par with his or her fellow beings, and ultimately leads to the principle of the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God.1 The cultivation of this virtue demands a broad development of toleration towards all, irrespective of their shortcomings and failures. To radiate the grand principle of the Family of Man on the Divine Ground of loving and compassionate desire for the well-being of all, costs very little but counts very much. A heart full of Divine Compassion is the abode of all virtues.
A close review of the problem would show that ordinarily we are neither worried nor irritated when everything goes in accordance with our wishes. No sooner do we fancy that our interests are thwarted or feelings are injured, than a chain of reactions starts, resulting in violence in thought, word and deed, according to one’s physical, mental or moral make-up. Many of us consider it our legitimate duty to repay the real or supposed insult in the same coin, and very few would consider it a virtue to forego, forgive and forget.
Jesus always preached the two cardinal virtues:
Love thy neighbour as thyself
Love thine enemies.
Does that mean that it is out of timidity or weakness that one should love and forbear one’s enemies?
No – there is something moral and Divine that lies at the root of such an attitude.
The place where fire burns becomes heated first and then transmits its heat to the atmosphere around. So is the case with the fire of anger. An imagined or supposed wrong keeps rankling in the mind like a thorn. When one cannot bear its intensity, one bursts forth into flames of hatred and contempt – begins abusing right and left –, loses his balance of mind, and like a canker keeps emitting a malign odour that virtually goes on polluting the atmosphere around. Most of our injuries and wrongs are the outcome of our own process of thinking, and such thoughts breed countless others, multiplying in geometrical proportion. We can get out of this vicious cycle only by changing our attitude towards life.
Why sacrifice our natural equanimity for mere trifles, for passing bubbles and vapory nothings that are things of no consequence? Instead of brooding over these supposed and imagined wrongs, it would be better by far to contemplate on the higher aspects of life, the Divinity within and the Divinity without, for this world is verily of the Divine and Divinity resides therein. If we really wish for God and aspire to attain to the Godhead, we must learn to love His creation, for God is nothing but Love.
St John has emphatically proclaimed,
He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love.
1 St John 4:8
The soul in man is of the same essence as of God.
This being the case, we must try to live in our natural habitat of Love and all that is and belongs to Love, for Love beautifies everything within and without. We live because of the Love of God which is but a Life-Principle. Love, Life and Light are synonymous. The whole creation is the manifestation of His Love and God verily dwelleth in it. Again, it is said that the entire creation has sprung from Light and none need therefore be dubbed as good or bad. Intrinsically, all of us have our roots deeply embedded in the Light and Love of God though we may not be aware of it because we seldom get an opportunity to peep inward, for we are all the time wholly engrossed in outer environments and have not the least idea of what lies within the real essence of essences, the source of all life, which is the Love and Light of God.
If we only knew this and practised it in our workaday life, we could not but live within the Love of Him by Whose Love we live and all life exists. Ahimsa, Non-violence, then, is the practical aspect of the Divine Life, and a Fruit that grows on the Tree of Life.
Footnote: 1) The term 'violence,' as used here, goes beyond physical harm and destruction. It includes hurting the feeling of others by thought, word and deed. And it includes transgressing or usurping the rights of others; not only their social rights but their Spiritual Rights as well.