Employ ‘ahimsa’ for your inner peace

Learn to deal with your detractors with love and forgiveness. See how this approach helps you remain peaceful.
Ever so often we encounter detractors. Neighbors, colleagues, bosses, family, kids__everyone, at some time or the other, tries to throw a spanner in the works. Wantonly, inadvertently or even deliberately. And we immediately snap into the ‘How Dare You?‘ mode. Our minds instantaneously start spewing negative thoughts, abuses (we may not always physically express them, but the mind goes on jabber-jabber) and we become, well, terrorists – albeit of a different kind. We start shooting off our mouths indiscriminately__at all and sundry__because one person has upset us. The issue__the reason why we are upset__is no longer important as the person that caused the upset becomes our enemy number one.

Gandhi championed and practised a process called ‘ahimsa’ to deal with such situations. Popularly misunderstood as his theory of non-violence, ‘ahimsa’ is today dealt with as a sexy ideal – something that you want to flaunt but don’t know how to practice. Many even believe ‘ahimsa’ is impractical. Actually, ‘ahimsa’ must be understood first for it to be practised right. What I have learnt from the thinker-guru, the late Eknath Eswaran (1910~1999), is that ‘ahimsa’ actually means the absence of violence. Which is, the state when even violent thought is absent and true love, our native state, prevails.
I have known from experience that it is possible to practice ‘ahimsa’ in the world and times we live in. When someone tries to derail your plans or attacks you, wantonly, inadvertently or deliberately, don’t enjoin in the strife. The best way to win any battle is not to fight at all. Instead, remain silent. And wish, deeply from within, that person all luck. Wish that their deepest desire gets fulfilled. If you wish so, genuinely, anyopposition/opponent will melt away! I have been practising this for several years now. And with each opportunity, my ability to harvest inner peace only gets better. I have come away unscathed from physically (when there has been a possibility of assault) challenging situations and emotionally excruciating circumstances by employing this method. I must confess that there are times when I have wanted to retaliate, but my awareness – honed by my daily practice of mouna (silence periods) – has always helped me.
To me, ‘ahimsa’ is a method. It is a process. It is a philosophy. It can be your way of Life too. Try it. It works! Happy experimenting!
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Forgiveness leads you to inner peace

When you want to forgive someone simply forgive. Don’t judge whether the person is worthy or not. What matters is whether you feel forgiveness at your very core.  
Think about it. When does the context of forgiveness arise? Forgiveness becomes relevant when someone has acted in an irrational, resentful, violent and/or a hurtful way with you. Your hurt is causing you to feel miserable about the episode and you want to see that the person responsible for this is admonished, made accountable or even punished. This is what anyone will normally want done. But as long as the act of reprimand or retribution is not complete you will continue to grieve, you will continue to suffer. In some cases, the person who hurts you may realize her mistake and seek your forgiveness. It’s possible then that you may or may not forgive her. If you choose not to, you will still be carrying the angst of the injury, the hurt in you. But, if in any situation, you choose to forgive, you will be liberated – instantaneously.
Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, the Rajiv Assassination, Nalini Murugan
Picture Courtesy: Internet
There’s so much attention on the people responsible for former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins, with the Indian Supreme Court, commuting the death sentences of some more of them to Life terms recently. This development, in the context of forgiveness, brings the focus back to what happened in March 2008. Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, Rajiv’s daughter, visited Nalini Murugan, one of those convicted in the assassination conspiracy, in Vellore jail in Tamil Nadu. According to what TIME magazine reported then: “The two women both wept when they met. Toward the end of their meeting, they compared stories about their children’s births (both have had caesareans) and even swapped small gifts, though neither revealed what they were. Nalini, whose initial death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment a few years ago after intervention by Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling Congress Party, apparently found Priyanka’s visit Life-changing. Nalini told her brother P. S. Bhagyanathan that she feels as if “all my sins have been washed off by Priyanka’s visit… I feel she has pardoned me by calling on me at the prison… I am indebted to her all my life.” Whether Priyanka explicitly offered forgiveness will probably remain between them. In her statement, Priyanka said that “meeting with Nalini was my way of coming to peace with [the] violence and loss that I have experienced.” Perhaps Priyanka was not trying to forgive so much as she was trying not to hate — and their meeting was a very private gesture that, after becoming public (through a media leak), has come to appear heartbreakingly heroic. “I don’t believe in anger, hatred, and violence,” Priyanka said simply in her statement. “And I refuse to allow it to overpower my life.”

Priyanka’s effort to reach out, and to be human, in the face of such a traumatic personal loss, is as awakening now as it was then. That she chose to do what she did, without investing to evaluate whether Nalini deserved any forgiveness, if at all, or not, is inspiring.
We must remember that when we forgive someone, we let go of all the pent up, wasteful emotions like anger and hatred, within us. We forgive someone for our own sake first. And through our inner cleansing and peace, we help the one we forgive too to move on in Life. Forgiveness frees the person who is forgiving and therefore is not dependent on whether the person receiving it is deserving or not. If you understand this perspective, you will never carry any resentment, any hurt, any suffering in you – ever. And you will be at peace!

‘Ahimsa’ by you is the way forward for the world!



The way forward for the world is ahimsa. And it begins with you and me.

When something like the Connecticut killings happen, you stop for a brief while, shocked and numb. You mourn and then move on. Your own Life demands you attention and then the next big news story takes over. The candlelight vigils and the debates of gun control abate, while you return to the job of earning a living. It is not that you don’t relate to something that happened several thousand miles away, but you feel you are helpless.

This is precisely where you, me, all of us, must think differently. We are not helpless. We can do something. Beginning first with each of us.

That first step is understanding ‘ahimsa’. In his phenomenally insightful book, ‘Gandhi The Man’, published first in 1973, spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran, invites us to consider ‘ahimsa’ in terms of our world family. He goes deep into Gandhi’s thinking and discovers that both Gandhi’s personal transformation, from man to Mahatma, and the key to his political strategy to oust the British from India were built on ‘ahimsa’. Easwaran writes: “’Ahimsa’ is not the crude thing it has been made to appear,” Gandhi tells us. “Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ‘ahimsa’. But it is its least expression. The principle of ‘ahimsa’ is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.” So beautiful. Understanding ‘ahimsa’, therefore means, knowing that we must expunge every violent thought and emotion when it rises within us.

To do this, take the second step. Of using ‘ahimsa’ to further the flowering of inner awareness of continuously being loving – a state that each of us is capable of being in. Osho, the Master, says we are unable to be in that state forever, though each of us at various times in our lives will attain that state for a brief while, because we are busy holding on, possessing__things, opinions, negative emotions and debilitating memories of past hurts! Says Osho, “The more you possess, the less you can love. And love is the door. Or, the less you can love, the more you start possessing.” So, the trick really is to let go of anything which is a violent thought. For instance, someone betrays you and you want to get even. Every living moment of your becomes violent because your thoughts are full of anger, revenge, hurt and suffering. ‘Ahimsa’ gives you the ability to forgive, to let go and to become love.

The third step is to take your love and share your love with everyone you connect with. Which goes beyond your immediate family, your immediate circle of friends, your immediate community. Be love and loving to everyone you see, meet, speak to __ at work, on the metro, in the line at the grocers. To everyone, everywhere. When each of us can be this way, be love and be loving, we will be able to change the world too. From possessing to letting go. From hatred to love. From anger to peace.

Enforcing gun control laws and hanging terrorists may only address the problem or perhaps just its symptoms. Only love, and a world that is loving, can address what causes people, and therefore the world, to go violent.  Speaking to students at Danbury, Connecticut, a few weeks ago, the venerable Dalai Lama delivered precisely the same message. “Prayer and meditation without action is not enough to bring peace to a hurting world. Happiness very much depends on inner peace. Inner peace very much depends on happiness. And change in the world begins with each person. “Who should start” to bring peace to the world? The “individual person” … not religious leaders, not the United Nations, but each of us,” he said. “Then, from one person to 10 persons, 100 persons, 1,000. So I think any sort of movement among humanity … must start from the individual.”

Simply, therefore, if the Connecticut killings shocked you too, then let’s go do something about it. Through understanding and practicing ‘ahimsa’, let’s nail every violent thought that may arise in us. Through doing that consistently, let us allow our true loving self to flower from within. And let that love bathe our world in a new light!