Relation of noninjury to contentment

Bodhinatha continues his talk on the yamas and niyamas, relating the yama noninjury to the niyama of contentment. If we are content within ourselves, the tendency to disturb or hurt others is not there. He tells a fun story illustrating the philosophical basis for ahimsa, which is that the Divine is flowing through all beings and that which we do to others we are only doing to ourselves.

Unedited Transcript:

Today, we are continuing on the yamas. The first yama we know, of course,

is non-injury, Ahimsa, not harming others by thought, word or deed.

Gurudeva points out that to practice ahimsa, we also have to practice the

niyama of Santosha, contentment.

A good illustration of this something you may have seen. You see a child

that is discontent, not really peaceful on the inside and so what is the

greatest joy? To make someone else discontent. Misery likes company.

There is a tendency to disturbs others if we ourselves are disturbed inside.

We don't want to be alone. Therefore, the remedy that Gurudeva points out is

we need to be peaceful, we need to be content within ourselves. If we are

content within ourselves, then

the tendency to disturbs others is removed. No motivation, we would rather

see them content, in fact.

The philosophical basis for ahimsa begins with the understanding that the

Divine is within all things, all creatures, all people. When we have that

understanding, we don't want to hurt someone else because we are obviously

hurting the Divine.

If we don't see the Divine within someone, then it is much easier to hurt

them. We just think of them as a person. But if we see God within them,

then we certainly would not want to harm them.

The Hindu point of view is that the Divine is the essence of everyone. So,

even if people are acting in evil ways, even if people are criminals or

terrorists, the Divine is still there, it does not go away. Their intrinsic

nature is always good, even though they may act externally in inappropriate,

criminal and terrorist ways.

Sometimes, we run into the Western belief which does not look at it that

way, where we have good and evil. The forces of good and evil are at play

in the

world. We are the good guys and somebody else are the evil people.

Therefore, it is alright to treat the evil people differently than we treat

the good people because they are evil.

But of course, that is not the Hindu perspective. There is no good and evil

people because everyone is a divine being on the inside. So, even if people

are terrorists, it does not give us the right to harm them. The Kural has a

beautiful verse on that. It says, "Harming others even enemies who harmed

you unprovoked surely brings incessant sorrow."

Even enemies who harmed us unprovoked, we cannot even harm them back. The

Tirukural won't let us.

Of course, this doesn't apply to the Armed Forces. We are not saying that

countries have to be pacifists or cannot have an Armed Forces that defends

it and so forth. The Armed Forces are under different rules. This is the

ordinary citizen. The person not in the Armed Forces, not in the Police

Department, how they should look at it. They shouldn't harm people. There is

no justification, says the Tirukural, even if it is an enemy who harmed you


Taking the philosophical perspective one step deeper. We start with seeing

the Divine within each, one so there is lots of divinities, right? We have

forty different divinities here this morning. But of course, as we know,

there is only one Divine being, one God, one spiritual consciousness. When

we look at our philosophical perspective in a deeper way, we see the

oneness, the spiritual oneness that ties everyone together with one

spiritual consciousness flowing through all.

There is a nice story on that, the story of Semmanaselvi. You remember the

old lady, that flooding river. They came and asked all the people in the

village to help build the dam, to keep the river from flooding the village.

She was too old to do it herself, so she hired a laborer to build the dam

for her. Of course, as we know the story, the laborer was constantly

misbehaving, sleeping when he should be working and dancing around, doing

everything wrong, not doing his share of the duty at all. Then, finally, the

King himself came up and hit the laborer with the cane because he was

misbehaving. Because the laborer was God Siva, every person in the world

felt that hit. Right, remember the story? Pointing out that God is within

everyone and therefore whatever happens to God, everyone feels.

We can also turn the story with a slightly different meaning. We can say we

are all tied together in a one consciousness and therefore whatever happens

to one person, happens to all people. So if one person is hit, all people

are hit. If I hit someone else, I am also hitting myself because we are all

tied together in a spiritual way.

Interesting to quote Albert Einstein in the middle of a Hindu talk but he

said something very profound that is related to this idea of everybody being

tied together in oneness. "A human being is a part of the whole called by

us, Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his

thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest. A kind of

optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison

restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons

nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our

circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in

its beauty."

Isn't that nice? You can see that circle just broadening and broadening and

broadening in terms of what we encompass.

Photo of  Gurudeva
My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, said, "It is a sin to kill the tiger in the jungle. But if he comes into the village, it may become your duty."