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Ahimsa & Pratipaksha Bhavanam

joey lugassy

In the glossary of B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” there is a revealing definition of the word “ahimsa”. It carefully notes that this word does not merely mean to be “non-violent” or “non killing” but explains that it is “love, embracing all creation”. So we can say that the true meaning of ahimsa is to be loving and all embracing of the goodness of all things. To be non-violent is to be conscious of all our deeds, actions and thoughts. I say it in this order because this is the order in which we are most likely to become aware, from gross to sublime.¬†¬†From not physically fighting someone, to not having a thought of the illusion of self separate from other. Violence is one of many types of suffering. The subtlety of violence can be found in the mundane of how we chew our food, to forcing our body into positions during our asana practice.

From one perspective it can be said that Hinduism and Buddhism for that matter, are spiritual paths that say “yes” to everything. This does not mean to partake in so called evil but rather to embrace the whole, thereby transforming it to one perfect dance. Sometimes, part of that perfect dance may be sorrow. Using a practical method to achieve this transformation called Pratipaksha Bhavanam (interjecting the opposite feeling), the yogi is here to give happiness where there is sorrow, love where there is hate and ease where there is dis-ease. It is not enough to change our habits, not enough to change our thought. If one wants actual change in their experience and in the world, one must penetrate feeling. The only real feeling is Love. Everything else is illusion based on a separate self that reaches out for that which it already is.

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