Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Ahimsa or The Way of Nonviolence

Plato said long ago, "There always are in the world a few inspired men whose acquaintance is beyond price"

I am reading a book titled "All Men Are Brothers" which is a collection of autobiographical reflections by Mahatma Gandhi. I have started building my code, the principles I hope will take me through my thirties and well into adulthood. 

Ahimsa literally means 'the avoidance of violence - himsa'. It means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals; it respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected.

I have at my core, a belief that all life is sacred and should be treated as such. When I was younger, and it happened to be one of those occasions that called for the enjoyment of kikoko, I always volunteered to do the honors of execution or slaughter. Of course my primary motive was to secure the liver and heart, which I put on a skewer, roasted for a few minutes and painfully enjoyed as the time lag between getting them off the fire and into my mouth was at best 10 seconds to whoosh some cold air onto the sizzling bits. But oooh, were they yummy! However I recall always being struck by the fact that I was ending a life, that somehow I was playing a very big role and that I needed to accord it as much respect. I would look the chicken in the eye, say a prayer and in very quick sawing motions, sever head from body. The body always writhed, as blood spurted and splattered on the banana leaves. I held tight until the writhing stopped and then got down to the plucking of feathers, dissecting, and cleaning. 

We played games with beetles, my childhood friends and I, we would stick a pin through the thorax or thereabouts, tie a string to it and then let the beetle fly while holding onto the string. After we had been introduced to the marvels of electric lighting, my brothers and I took advantage of the allure of the lights to take pot shots at the geckos that always sauntered close looking for dinner, the lights attracted all sorts of insects in the nighttime. I have never forgotten those moments, writhing bodies, severed tails, malicious laughter and glee, little boys.

Some boys never grow up. The instruments of torture and malice employed in childhood, gradually evolve into the fists of the brute and the animal within is never tamed.

"Man as animal is violent, but as Spirit is nonviolent. The moment he awakes to the Spirit within, he cannot remain violent. Either he progresses towards ahimsa or rushes to his doom."

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