Yesterday, we spoke of the importance of ojas and practicing ahimsa. As a quick refresher, ojas are that which protect us, give us our endurance, our vitality, a strong immunity and resistance to physical and mental/emotional disease. Ahimsa is the highest practice one can do to build ojas. Ahimsa means quite simply “do no harm”.
Do no harm.
Remember this rule as I ask you to follow me on a thought experiment:
Imagine someone in your life that bothers you. Perhaps you disagree with some aspect of how they live their life. Maybe it’s their diet, their values, their reactions…it could be anything. But be specific about what it is that bothers you most about this person.
Okay do you have it? Good. Now, if you haven’t done so already, come up with all the reasons you can think of to justify why you feel this way. Whatever it is that bothers you about this person, surely you must have your reasons as to why it bothers you. There is something wrong with the way they are, and if only they changed, things would be easier for everyone. It is their fault.
Now I want you to imagine this person is a mirror. That thing that bothers you most about them? I want you to look into that mirror and see the truth. That the only person staring back at you is yourself. So whatever it is that has you judging them, take a moment to see how that annoying quality exists within yourself.
Are they lazy? There is an aspect of laziness in you.
Are they judgmental? There is an aspect of judgment in you.
Are they cowardly? There is an aspect of cowardice in you.
Whatever they have, it is in you as well. Do not fool yourself into thinking otherwise.
Now, catch yourself as you think about it. It may be a shock to you to see that you have the same quality as that person does. No doubt by now, you have made some justifications as to why you are somehow different. Your situation is different than theirs! They haven’t been through what you have, they haven’t had the same life or trials or tribulations to justify their behaviour!!! Besides, it’s not like you are embodying that same quality to the degree they are. Sure, you may be doing it, but compared to them…no contest!
But look again at that person. They are still a mirror. And you are still staring at yourself. So surely, if you have your reasons to justify your behaviour, then they must have their own too? Surely, that person may have been through some things in their life, maybe not exactly as you did, but they were scarring enough to cause them to act as they do?
Let’s take a breath. Pause.
By now, hopefully you agree that everyone has their justifications for their behaviour. Hopefully you can see that you are not alone in feeling your reasons are somehow different, somehow special.
Now ask yourself, when you display this behaviour to others, this behaviour that bothers you so much…how would you wish they would respond to you?
With judgment? With criticism? With bullying? With gossip and rumour? With anger? With harshness? With apathy? With distraction?
Ask yourself, how have you treated this person I asked you to imagine? How have you treated them when they do the things that bother you?
If you look in the mirror again, you will see something new:
You are hurting. You are suffering. This is an undeniable truth. There are very few of us that are in an enlightened state and have transcended our pains. I don’t say this to dramatize things. It is merely a fact. When we are hurting, when our spirits our low, we tend to be cruel to everyone and everything. We justify our cruelty and forget that everything is a mirror. We forget we are only hurting ourselves. We all wish to be treated with the same things:
Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. Forgiveness.
Practice ahimsa. Do no harm.
By harming others, even in tiny, subtle ways, we harm ourselves, because we ignore that truth.
Everything is a mirror. How we treat our greatest enemies, our best friends, the smallest insects, the trees in a park, the shore on the beach, the air that we breathe, all of it – is how we treat ourselves.
We are all in a giant hall of mirrors. Our entire existence is within this hall. Practicing love for all things, without judgment, attachment, or fear, will reflect off those mirrors, and back into you. You will see your reflection infinitely in each mirror. You will see the breath and depth of how your thoughts, words, and actions affect the world around you and the world within you.
We are all hurting so much already. Is there really a necessity to commit further harm?
Let go of this desire to do so.
Choose love instead, if for no other reason than to build your ojas, so you may heal.