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. An example of the practice of non-violence comes from Rasi Bhuiyan. A Muslim, he was shot as he worked in a gas station by a man upset by the 9/11 attacks. Bhuiyan later went on to try to save the life of the man who attacked him, saying the man “went through a healing process and learned from his mistake.” His assailant was convicted of murder and given the death sentence, but Bhuiyan 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. He makes a conscious effort to weave together communities.
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.
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 the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld