Since starting Yoga seriously, about 5 year ago, and even before, I encounter a lot of confrontations between my deep sense of non-harming of living beings, and practicalities of everyday life that one is bound to come across when living in this world. What experiences do you have, how do you handle deep emotional pain in relation to abuse/mistreatment of living beings. Would you help them in any case, even if practical reasons would forbid?

Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu

Peace to all,
Bianca Nandini

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  • Hari om,

    I experienced bulling as a child for racial reasons. Somehow no one was there to help me. Not even my teachers. So I used to pray for peace. It caused a lot of emotional pain for quite a while. However, somehow, I never felt hatred towards those who hurt me perhaps because my upbringing was deeply spiritual. I always felt that there was something wrong with their mind and I knew that God was also within them, but their divine Self was so-to-say ignored although He was present in all their actions. I always tried to keep away from them if possible.

    I believe, we all have loving and evil forces in us that can be changed by the way we live, what we listen to, how we are raised, what we eat, what we learn and what we are accustomed to see... Children imitate what they see. It they see brutality they may do it themselves as well.

    When we practice yoga, we become aware of the energies in us and around us, because Yoga has a tendency to harmonize all that happens within and without. A part of the process of harmonization is the force that eliminates our elements of potential cruelty that we bear within. We may not be aware it, but we can do cruel things because of feelings of fear or uncertainty. It is Maya that can cloud our thought-process and prevent us from acting with common sense and love. Yoga tries to balance these energies by the process of purification or kriya.

    With regard to Ahimsa, I feel it is not just about not killing or not causing injury, but rather a way of thinking that is the inner motivator for all of our actions. It has to do with how we feel towards the world around us and in how far we feel connected to this world in which we are living here. Our inner feeling should be positive and benevolent. Therefore, the core of our motivation or Ahimsa implies that we refrain from being cruel. Ahimsa means the elimination of cruel forces that can be activated in an individual. These forces are the asuras within us that come and test our steadfastness and commitment towards the ideals of our ethical motivations.

    However, sometimes a seemingly cruel act can also be regarded as in harmony with ahimsa. For example, when you get hurt and a doctor cuts off a part of your skin or stitches a wound to stop it from bleeding. So this cruel act of cutting off skin is an act that prevents a much worse development. On the face value this may look cruel and it is after all very painful. But the motivation and the knowledge behind this act is to restore wellbeing. Therefore, such actions are a form of Ahimsa as well.

    Another example can be depicted from a war scene where people fight with weapons, and many innocent people get killed etc. The brutality is horrible and yet for a soldier the act of fighting and killing is his dharma in that moment.

    Sometimes we have to defend our life in some dangerous situation and may have to kill an animal who may like to have us as their dinner. Of course it is the best to be wise enough not to come into such situations or to know how to avoid them. That way we also practice ahimsa. Nevertheless, ahimsa is a part of our core nature that should be pure, without bad feeling towards other beings. We need to practice it in simple situations in daily life again and again and always act with a pure and noble motive. That is then a satvic motivation.

    It is hard to say what to do in certain situations. However, I feel that as long as we employ our Buddhi and our motivations are pure, then we would most probably do the best that is possible in each unique situation. I feel, we should always ask ourselves what we want to achieve and in how far our strategy has potential for success. It takes a lot of wisdom to do the right thing. But our motivation should be pure and our act should be effective and satvic.

  • OM

    I became a vegetarian because I realised that I was causing intense suffering to many living beings - just because my tongue liked the taste of their flesh. I realised that I could be much happier by practising ahimsa through my dietary choices.

    with best wishes
    Swami Saradananda
  • Hi Bianca,
    I hope you are doing well. I remember you have a lot of compassion for animals and that's a great thing.
    This is a difficult issue and such a good question.
    I think sometimes it is not practical to help all animals and you don't have to feel responsible to help them all. For better or worse they have their karma too. If you can't help them all physically, you can help them all by saying om tryambakams or other prayers for their welfare, and to help ease your own emotional pain. And then physically help as many as it is possible to help, and to do as good a job as you possibly can. You also have to remember the responsibilities that go with the householder life and balance those against what it is practical to do to help the animals and knowing where to draw that line can be difficult.
    Many blessings to you and your family Bianca.
    Sita (from Austin)
    • Om Sita,

      thanks for your reply to this! I have been repeating the om tryambakam whenever I thought it was needed. My daughter was very sweet, too, when recently we tried to rescue squirrels out of the roof that my landlord has closed up to them...and two got stuck in there. She held on to a little Siva statue, and I told her to pray to Siva...that our rescue efforts would fruition:) So I do try to balance family life with my animal passion, or rather...I try to instill love and compassion for animals into my daughter. I raise her vegetarian, and she seems to be ok with it, and whenever she sees suffering, she shows a lot of compassion:) and we sing together a old German "healing song".

      I wish you and your family a peaceful Adventszeit!

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