“Practice of Ahimsa develops love. Ahimsa is another name for truth or love. Ahimsa is universal love. […]
Ahimsa is true sacrifice. Ahimsa is forgiveness. Ahimsa is Shakti (power). Ahimsa is true strength. […]
Ahimsa is the perfection of forgiveness.”
– Swami Sivananda
Translation & Definition
Yama & Niyama encompass ten ethical recommendations. They form the foundation of the eight limbs of classical Yoga according to the sage Patanjali.
Yama #1: Ahimsa:
a – non, absence of
himsa – injustice, violence, harm
“Himsa means injustice or cruelty, but ahimsa is more than simply the absence of himsa, which the prefix a- suggests. Ahimsa is more than just lack of violence. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people & things.”
– D.K.V. Desikachar
“When non-violence in speech, thought and action is established, one’s aggressive nature is relinquished and others abandon hostility in one’s presence.”
– Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Ch. II, Sutra 35. Translation by B.K.S Iyengar
Peacefulness is the Foundation
The first Yama Ahimsa is the root of all other recommendations. It is assumed that it was placed on purpose in the very beginning to emphasize its priority.
“There is no virtue higher than this non-injuring. There is no happiness higher than what a man obtains by this attitude of non-offensiveness to all creation.”
– Swami Vivekananda
Ahimsa is a sign of friendliness and love towards all creatures. It is a conscious way of being in which we are intending to not cause any harm. It is an invitation to live a peaceful life full of concern and compassion.
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
– Martin Luther King Junior
Frequently we fall back to physical, verbal or mental violence, harming ourselves and others in countless ways: killing, beating, hurting, offensive body language, negative facial expressions, neglecting or avoiding someone in need, hatred, anger, accuse, manipulation, provocation, judgment, grudge, bitterness, frustration, envy, resentment, complaint, projection, etc.
By sincerely acknowledging the consequences of our actions we become aware of their damaging impact.
“The roots of violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Wisdom, Sensitivity, and Courage
When noticing the universal interconnectedness of all phenomena we intuitively adopted a considered and appropriate attitude in any situation. Aspiring for peace is a demanding ideal and we need to aim for progress on different levels. First we stop physical expressions of violence, then reduce verbal forms of violence, and then learn to gradually diminish the subtle mental manifestations of violence.
“The desire not to harm another being springs from the impulse toward unification and ultimate transcendence of the ego, which is characteristically at war with itself.”
– Georg Feuerstein
“The moral view of violence, labeling it bad or wrong, has done little to end it. The alternative new is to release our judgments and see violence for what it is; a form of suffering.”
– Deepak Chopra
“Non-violence is not a cover for cowardice, but it is the supreme virtue of the brave.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“Peace in ourselves, peace in the world. Working for peace in the future is to work for peace in the present moment.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Love is the Cure
Love starts with an acceptance and appreciation of oneself. This requires to make peace with one’s life, to embrace one’s own imperfections. This is however not to be confused as arrogance or a refusal of improvement. Cultivating loving-kindness helps us to stay grateful even in challenging moments of failure and fear; and we can learn to become established in undisturbed inner peace.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
– Mother Teresa
“Life is love and love is life. What keeps the body together but love? What is desire, but love of the Supreme Self? What is fear but the urge to protect? And what is knowledge, but the love of truth? The means and forms may be wrong, but the motive behind is always love – love of the me and the mine. The me and the mine may be small, or may explode and embrace the universe, but love remains.”
– Nisargadatta Maharaj
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
– Nelson Mandela
“When the power of love, overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
– Jimi Hendrix