yoga trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

According to Patanjali, the Yamas are the first limb of Yoga. Ahimsa is often referred to as the first Yama. Ahimsa is to restrain from violence, but we live in a violent world. Just open any newspaper, or watch the news, and you will be overwhelmed with negative feelings, when you consider the innocent victims of all this violence.  So, how do we live a non-violent life in a world filled with random violence?  According to Matthew 5:38-39, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,’ but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Life was not easy for any of those who lived under the rule of the Roman Empire, but Jesus advises us to forgive our enemies and our suppressors.  As he was being crucified, Jesus also stated, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His ability to forgive was super natural.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Many people will state that they cannot live up to the standards of Jesus or Mahatma Gandhi for non-violence. This is understandable, but do most of us really try?  Every person on the planet should make a conscious effort to try to be as forgiving as Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi. To help those who have, or would do you harm, is not an easy task.

This should be a matter of putting thoughts, words, and actions, to good use. It is easier said than done, but to do this, we have to be tolerant of everyone. It requires us to make decisions and actions without prejudice – at all times.  However, if you are being physically attacked, and your survival, or the survival of friends, or family, is at stake, non-violence may not be a viable option. In history, there have been conquerors who massacred millions of peaceful people like sheep.

Unfortunately, history has documented far too many holocausts for us to ignore the right to defend oneself. To be humble on the outside, but bold within, is a much safer course when you plan your day. When you put your best foot forward, most people will respect you for it, but beware of those who see your good manners and kindness as a sign of weakness.

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