Why not practice ahimsa on social media?

It is a good way to make our digital space compassionate and heart-warming!

The vitriolic reactions on social media to Tarun Vijay’s purported statement about South Indians is disturbing. I too found his comment shallow. But I responded posting lyrics of famous Bollywood songs, celebrating dark-skinned people, on my Facebook timeline. “Hum Kaale Hain Toh Kya Hua, Dilwale Hain…” (Gumnaam), “Gore Nahin Hum Kaale Sahi…Humsa Ek Nahin…” (Desh Premee). Clearly, I don’t see the need for so many people to demonstrate so much angst against what can, at best, be termed an immature point of view. Tarun, to his credit, has clarified that he never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments. But in all the social media din, his clarification has been drowned; it is lost in all the hate that’s being hurled at him.

Of course, racism in any form must be strongly condemned. So, I am not advocating that we condone it. All I believe is that we, as a people, as a society, seem to be investing so much of our productive time, energy and emotions in reacting on social media. And almost all reactions, at most times, are steeped in hatred and divisiveness. It need not be so. An eye for an eye is not called for at all. It will serve no purpose. I have learnt that ahimsa does not only mean non-violent action; it also means non-violent thought. And if we deploy ahimsa thinking in our social media posts, we can make our digital space so much more compassionate and heart-warming.

AVIS-Viswanathan-ahimsa-thinking-on-social-media

I don’t want to belabor this point by being preachy. But I do find a simple post that celebrates being human far more enriching to engage with than a well-argued, data-driven post that tell us what’s wrong with our world or than one that spews venom at someone who is unscrupulous or who does not know how to conduct themselves in public Life.

On our morning walk, we see gentleman who walks with a group of noisy men who opine loudly on the previous day’s political developments. The group’s pointless chatter can be heard from a street away. But the man walks silently in group. We don’t know him. He doesn’t know who we are. But every day, unfailingly, when he passes me and Vaani, he will make it a point to look at us and beam a big smile. In writing today’s blogpost, and in discussing the angsty behavior most people display on social media, I found it pertinent to point out the man’s smile in contrast to his group’s mindless cacophony.

I guess you now know what I am encouraging all of us to do.

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!