Ahimsa: non-harming

Sunday, 13 September 2020 15:17
Last week we looked at the Yamas - the moral observances that make up the first limb of the 8 limbs of the Yoga Sutras as described in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The first Yama is Ahimsa. This means non-harming.
 
As we saw last week there is some similarities between Christianity and Yogic Philosophy. In Christianity one of the 10 Commandments is Thou shalt not kill. There is a distinction between harming and killing. This is significant. Harming results in damage. This can encompass much and at a multitude of levels. Killing results in a single outcome death.
 
Non-harming in relation to the Yamas relates to word, thought or deed. This relates to all things in our environment, not just humans. 
 
Many students ask me whether it is necessary to be vegetarian to be a yogi. In BKS Iyengar’s words: “I recommend vegetarian food to. all. Vegetables are healthy, they are exposed to air, earth water, fire and ether, the five elements, just as human beings too are made up of the five elements.” (Yoga Rahasya Vol.26 No.3 2019, p.25) The Iyengar family, live in Pune, India. They are Hindus. For many Hindus vegetarian is the norm. It is in their culture. In many other religions, as well, the question of what should be eaten and not eaten occupy a prominent place. In Christianity, not a lot of concern is given to particular food consumption, except to avoid gluttony. Health now seems to be secondary, as more people become overweight and the ‘health’ market ironically booms along side it.
 
So where are the ethics in food consumption? 
 
Gandhi made the comment that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals. 
 
So when people ask me about yoga and vegetarianism I assert that it is necessary to be a vegetarian to be a human, not limited to being a yoga practitioner. Eating an animal causes damage and there’s no doubt about the fact it involves killing. For many, the ethics of what we consume is produced is not a major concern. When an animal is about to be killed it experiences pain and terror and one consumes that pain and terror through its flesh. Violence of the death  causes violence in life. Cultures who tend to be vegetarian, tend to be more peaceful. Studies have shown that people who are Vegans display far less aggression than meat eaters. It seems you are what you eat.
 
When you practice yoga regularly and consistently over time you will find, as you find yourself, your way to health through the practice of concern for all life.
 
 
(With gratitude to:
Singer, P & Mason, J. The Ethics of What We Eat, Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 2006)
 
Get on your mat and your ethical self :)


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Namaste,
Nicole

Nicole Schroeter
Yoga Path
An Iyengar Yoga School
5 Hall St
Newport Vic 3015
www.yoga-path.com.au
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