Ahimsa is widely understood as ‘not harming or hurting others.’ But is this its complete meaning?
Bhagwan Mahavira expounded ahimsa as the ultimate dharma. One may question why a negative word ahimsa meaning non-violence was used. Should religion not denote something positive?
Ahimsa - the State of Love
In truth, though non-violence sounds negative, it is an extremely positive state. It is the state of absolute and complete love - and what can be more positive than love itself? It is only because we are familiar with the state of violence, that this term has been used. It is to ease our transition from the known state of violence to the unknown state of love that the term non-violence has been used. In order to obliterate darkness; the presence of light is necessary. So also, the darkness of violence is dispelled only in the positive light of love.
Having understood that ahimsa means love, one may further ask why love has not been called the ultimate dharma; why the word ahimsa has been used. Again, the Enlightened Ones explain that there is an important reason behind this. If ahimsa were substituted by love, we would mistake it to be that, which we know as love, leading to the delusion that our interpretation of love is religion. We have a deep rooted, age-old association with the word love and whenever we use the word love, it is full of attachments, passion, conditions and expectations. We have mistakenly taken the relational aspect of love, rather than its pure unconditional state.
This state is so pure, so fulfilling and established in the wellness of one’s being, that neither can you think of causing harm to any other being, nor to your own self. You have become love itself! So now, only love can emanate from you. It does not matter if there is another to receive your love, as that no longer is of importance to you. A lamp in the dark will radiate light, even if there is no one to witness it; a flower will emit fragrance everywhere, irrespective of whether anyone imbibes its fragrance or not!
Ahimsa is a state of active positivism i.e. being proactively positive. Ahimsa means consciously extending love to one and all. The meaning of love is ‘I wish others well, I pray for their well-being, I will be instrumental in bringing joy to their lives and will offer flowers on their path.’ This is the real meaning of ahimsa. If ahimsa was merely negative, then it would read as ‘I will not cause unhappiness to others, nor cause them injury’ and this would be its restrictive or myopic meaning, as it would constitute no positive element. To put no thorns on anyone’s path - that is not all, but going beyond that to decorating their path with flowers is the essential meaning. To restrict oneself to non-violence alone is not the definition of ahimsa, but to make others truly happy is ahimsa.
Suppose a man is walking on a road and he falls down. If you have limited yourself to the negative understanding, this event will have no effect on you, as you bear no relation to him. You have not caused him to fall down, so you are indifferent to the situation. But if you have comprehended the positive aspect of dharma, then you will rush to help him stand upright again. In this way, dharma expects a positive state of being.
Dissolution of the ‘I’
If a person is not full of love and only restricts himself to not harming others; thus believing himself to be an ahimsak person, then one may question why he wants to be non-violent. Let us say that he loves animals, then it is understandable that he does not want to cause them any harm. But if he has no real love for them and still does not want to harm them, then his abstaining from violence is surely due to some other reason. In reality he does not want to step on them as he may harbour this belief, ‘If I cause them harm, I will accrue sin, and I will go to hell and be miserable. But I do not want to be unhappy, so I don’t want to harm them.’ The real intention behind not wanting to harm others actually stems from not wanting to make oneself unhappy. Here, the other is of no importance, as here the ‘I’ is enlarged. ‘If I do not harm others, I am being religious and I will go to heaven’ etc., are feelings full of selfishness. How can one be religious with such ulterior motives? Where there is love, selfishness cannot co-exist as the ‘I’ has become unimportant. Dissolution of the ‘I’ is true religion and that is only possible with love. This is the true meaning of ahimsa and that is why ahimsa is the ultimate dharma.
When the desire to hurt others ceases effortlessly in thoughts and deeds, it is because the conscious self has acquired a state of love. But where the myopic view is highlighted, only the welfare of one’s own self occurs and even religious activities are undertaken with this selfish motive. In contrast to this, where the positive aspect of ahimsa is highlighted, then all activities undertaken even at the individual level, are with the motive of universal welfare.
Dharma teaches love and love includes thought for all others. Due to this selfless, pure state of love, liberation occurs. In love, selfishness, ego etc. dissolve. The individual expands from the consciousness of his personality and body and enters the realm of the soul, and gets established totally in his divine essence.
When the individual being expands into the state of loving consciousness, all beings become the object of his love. He becomes incapable of harming any one. The Enlightened Ones say that to expand in love is the way to be truly non-violent. When the entire universe becomes the object of your love, then you will no longer try to acquire happiness from them; rather you will make every effort to bring happiness to them. Then you will try and take care to support all forms of life. So ahimsa is the paramount state of unconditional love. Outward observance of rules or vows is only the expression of non-violence. True ahimsa is achieved by acquiring the internal state of absolute unconditional love and it is only through this form of love, that we can dissolve negativity and violence.
AS OSHO WORDS
People have used it to cut themselves from life because they think it compels them to commit some violence or the other people have used nonviolence against life. And nonviolence means such a deep love of life that you cannot kill you love life so much that you will not like to hurt anybody. It is deep love, not rejection.
Of Course, in being alive, a little violence is must, but that is not violence, because you are not doing it willfully. So remember, only that is violence which you do willfully.
Whatsoever you eat, will be a sort of violence. Even if you pluck fruits from the trees, you are hurting the trees.
Nonviolence simply means love life so much- to me, nonviolence is love …….. Love life so much that you would not like to hurt anybody, that’s all. But, in sheer living, many things will happen which you cannot help. Don’t be worried about them, otherwise you will go mad. Remember only one thing you have not been killing anybody willfully. Even if you have to harm somebody unwilfully, you have a feeling of love.
Go to the tree, and if you have to pluck the fruit because you are hungry and you will die if you don’t pluck the fruit, and then thank the tree. First ask the permission of the tree: ‘I am going to take this fruit. This is trespass, but I am dying and I have to do it. But I will serve you in many ways. I will pay it back. I will give you more water; I will take more care of you. So whatsoever I am taking, I will give you back.” To love life is to help life. To everything that is alive, is a blessing. If you have to do something which you feel could be avoided, first try to avoid it, if it can’t be avoided, then try to repay it.
There is a difference. If you go to the tree and ask for permission, the tree doesn’t feel hurt. It is no longer a trespass; the permission has been asked. The tree feels happy that she could help somebody in need. The tree is richer because you came and tree could share. The fruits were going to fall anyhow. The tree could share it with somebody- you not only helped yourself, you have helped the tree to grow consciousness.
To be nonviolence means to be beneficial, too helpful to everybody—to yourself and others. This is the first self-discipline is love. Nonviolence means love. If you love, then everything OK, If you don’t love, even if you become nonviolencent, it is useless.
Courtesy: OSHO INTERNATIONAL FOUBDATION, www.Osho.com
May all beings be filled with such absolute unconditional love.
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