Ahimsa or the principle of non-violence is the first of the ethical teachings of classical Yoga.
It is expected to be applied directly in the life of an individual, in thought, feelings and in action.
Some ethical factors would seem to require common sense and others require a little conscious consideration, importantly remembering that gentle persuasion is not weakness.
Commencing with our own physical training it relates to an attitude of quiet persuasion rather than a bullying of muscle and sinew. It is believed that the body intelligence responds to kindness and will co-operate to extraordinary extent to please in physical exercises and controls. This is why we should take care to elect the wisest path in the goal to control the
body and have a constructive purpose behind mastering Asanas, for instance. To do otherwise can open the door to mindless performances of physical skill.
In this present outer world of material ambition, hostility, aggression and violence beyond reason, gentleness is a rare quality and remains predominantly to be nurtured to expression in the female nature, through the Moon aspect of Hatha Yoga, just as strength is the province of the male.
Ahimsa is adopted in attitude towards others that can also be acceptance of differences but is not to be applied with sacrifice of one’s own values and freedoms. We must seek for wisdom in dealings with others and most of us need to find time to meditate upon the complexities social life presents.
Ahimsa symbolises the dissolving of any idea of hurting, harming or wishing to hurt, kill or harm any living creature whether by thought or action. This is sometimes resisted by our reluctant emotions or feelings in the course of self culture and self control encourage by the yogic teachings.
Ahimsa can be applied to indirect actions of others, such as the killing of innocent animals and creatures which have the capacity to give comfort on one hand when considered ‘pets’, or to provide food when eaten. However, it is not a conscious decision of an animal to offer itself for our table,so must be considered in the light of the human, its custodian. Those who understand and love animals wish no part in their slaughter and consumption refrain from eating meat,as demonstrated by the vegetarian who understands the spirit of Ahimsa.
Loving kindness inspires the life of spiritual people and is the heart of all human growth in culture. In this, we must be also kind to our own self and avoid harshness and cruelty of any kind and yet deal with the outer world that has different values.
In the face of all the concerns of material life, it is good to know that gentleness and kindness can pave the path to eventual peace, both within and without.