Awake in the World

Awake in the World

Do Not Harm: A Deep Practice of Non-violence

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. – Mahatma Gandhi

Non-violence is an elevated way of being. Many of us are raised with feelings of, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But moving to a place where vengeance and forgiveness take precedent over payback is a way of also elevating all of the human race. Many people were introduced to the practice of non-violence or ahimsa, as it’s called in Sanskrit, by Mahatma Gandhi. The small, thin Gandhi began a movement to liberate India from British rule through his ideas of passive resistance. In his personal life Gandhi took these ideas deeply to heart, considering that to harm in action is not sufficient. A true practice of non-violence must extend to the ways we speak and even more deeply, to the ways we think.


Gandhi’s influence spread around the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. was inspired by him and used his ideas and practices in the freedom marches in the south. Instead of using violence to effect change, Gandhi created marches and encouraged Indians to make home-spun cloth and other Indian products including salt as ways to overcome British domination.

A recent example of the practice of non-violence comes from Rasi Bruhyani. A Muslim, he was shot as he worked in a gas station by a man upset by the 9/11 attacks. Bruhyani later went on to try to save the life of the man who attacked him, saying he “went through a healing process and learned from his mistake.” His assailant was convicted of murder, but Bruhyani says that his own practices as a Muslim brought him to forgive and he protested against the death penalty. “Hate is not a solution. Killing is not a solution,” Rasi says.


Non-violence, at its deepest means paying attention to speech. The tongue can create wounds that may not heal. Ahimsa means acting in ways that will not cause pain or suffering to others. On the subtle level it means taking care to watch thoughts so that they do not send out harmful energy and ideas. The practice of non-violence, when taken to heart, is a great challenge that will also bring great rewards. Today, will you accept the challenge to watch your thoughts, words and actions?

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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