Violence is part of our shared human history. As a species we have operated and transacted with violence in every epoch. There as been war, massacre, genocide, mass murder, holocaust, struggle, conflict, and ongoing battles lasting decades or longer. We have fought, spilled each other's blood and sacrificed ourselves. Every great human civilization has used violence to further it's agenda. No group is spared and we continue with violence everyday. We treat our non-human family without respect through out factory-farming processes. We devastate our land with mass production and mono-cropping. We are also violent towards ourselves; suicidal, aggressive, and dangerous with our negative self-talk and actions; self-mutilation operating on the extremities of pain, physical, mental, and spiritual.
Collectively, we are violent. In runs in our blood.
There have been the courageous ones, King, Kennedy, Gandhi, Jesus Christ, who lived against this, and their lives ended too soon and in violence as well.
So, how did the idea of non-violence as a practice come into play?
According to Dr. Douglas Brooks, in yoga cosmology, is was the Jains, the "victorious ones," who chose an alternative. (Coincidentally, Gandhi was a Jain). Ascetics to the extreme, the Jains cut another deal. Theirs was the engagement of disengagement. They chose not to participate in violence, at all. They would cover their faces so as not to unintentionally murder an insect that could fly into their mouths; they would "stain water so as not to kill the microbes." They separated themselves and by doing so empowered other to consider an alternative - a way of living that took them out of the transactions.
To be clear, I am not suggesting here that you become a Jain, or Amish or to place yourself in any of the beautifully austere paths unless you are so called. But, I am asking your to consider the ways in which you may make transactions with and in a violent culture. I would like to ask you to consider the ways in which you, yourself, are violent, to examine the gross and subtle ways that you contribute to or remove violence from our collective.
Dr. Brooks talks about introspection and cultivating a temperament which can resist the current of violence. He also suggests cultivating the opposite and going deep into the cause. In his book Anger, Thich Nhat Hanh, invites us to "take good care" our our anger, to be willing to honor our anger, our violence by asking it to open itself up to us and reveal itself; that we need to then tend to it, tenderly, like a gardener removing weeds that choke out the choice vegetation and let it be turned into compost to enrich the soil. Without attending to how something rots, if you will, without engaging with violence in this way, we run the risk of further propagation.
It is our choices then, that determine which direction we will go from there.
See you at River of Yoga : Ahimsa workshop this Saturday 10:45am-12:45pm at Inner Sun. Click to sign up and for information.