Ahimsa's Multiple Shades of Meaning

by Babaji Bob Kindler 

Are war, its violence, and its injustices only a result of external circumstances, or are they products of subtler inner ramifications?  Most original thinkers believe it is the latter case.  If this is accepted as fact, it places all the possibilities, as well as all the responsibilities for peace, fully in the hands of mankind — the problem being that many in this day and age do not favor peace over war, despite what they may profess.

NONINJURY IS a deep topic, often misunderstood and maligned by current religious and cultural thinking.  It must be perceived on several levels, the foremost being the ultimate standpoint which proclaims no birth or death possible in Consciousness.  This is based upon the truth of “Sarva-Chaitanya,” that “All is Consciousness,” as stated in the Upanishads.  The appearance and disappearance of names and forms in the mentally fabricated context of time and space is only the projection and withdrawal of mediums which Consciousness utilizes for expression of Its infinite Essence, Its Pure Being.  Thus, nothing really comes in and out of being, as per the evolution theory, but is ever-existent: existent in two modes called manifested and unmanifested, and Brahman, the Absolute, is beyond both these modes.  In the Ultimate, and in the ultimate sense, then, nothing can ever be destroyed.

On the philosophical level, ahimsa, or nonviolence, to be authentic, must vibrate in accordance with the Absolute, and to do so must adhere to the laws of spirituality which demand sensitivity and reverence for all of life.  This is because the essential nature of Brahman is benign, beneficent, and ever-gracious.  The thoughts, words, and deeds of human beings must comply with the laws of spirituality to be in harmony with the Truth of Existence.  Though nature seems to follow the triune law of creation, preservation and destruction, it actually reflects transcendence in all that it expresses.  It is really teacher and guide, pointing always to what is constant, eternal, and beyond the idea of creation via the stunning fact that everything returns, is repeated, gets reborn.  Deathlessness is in the very nature of Existence, then, but knowing this depends upon impartial detachment, objective witnessing, transcendental insight, and mental nonparticipation in all processes — in the very idea of processes, such as personal agency and evolution, which lead away from Truth and foster the illusory mind-born conceptions of ownership, doership, and assumed separation from Reality.  Divisibility, the apparent fragmentation of time into increments, space into worlds, actions into repercussions, quiescent mind into thoughts, Spirit into matter, God into mankind — when none of these movements are ultimately real — only obscures the innate Unity of Existence and appears to falsify Reality.

On the relative level, and keeping in mind the two previous tiers, actions born of cruelty that are the cause of suffering to any living thing, that vitiate any life or destroy with anger or with avarice any expression of nature, are unacceptable and are to be eschewed.  The key or solution is always in reference to whether the thought, word and deed is committed out of ignorance or performed in compliance with the aforementioned spiritual and philosophical laws and boundaries.  Thus, the killing of animals for food, for instance, is unacceptable if done out of ignorance — with greed for gain, lust for power, cruelty, insensitivity, mindlessly, callously, etc. — but is necessarily and provisionally acceptable when performed consciously and in the spirit of what is philosophically correct, based upon the knowledge that nothing ever truly dies.  “The unreal never exists, the real never ceases to be,” to quote Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and “Those who think that they kill, and those who believe that they are being killed — neither know the Truth.  The Spirit is unborn, thus deathless.  The wise never grieve therefore.”

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