Ahimsa (non-harming) one of the Yogic “10 Commandments”, Love your enemies, How come I’m the enemy?

In class we regularly go over the eight limbs of yoga according to Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  The first two limbs, Yama and Niyama, are 10 guidelines for living that might be looked at as similar to the 10 Commandments of Judaism and Christianity or to the Buddhist precepts.  Ahimsa is the first one.  It means non-harming.   We have discussions over what non-harming means.  Generally, it can be taken to mean to live in a way that brings the least amount of harm to other humans, animals, plants and the environment. 

In one of our discussions, I had been through the idea of how this applies to diet.  The yogic diet is vegetarian with the addition of dairy products.  The idea is not to harm animals in order to feed ourselves.  We talked about recycling and living with the least amount of harm to our environment. 

We also talked about what this means in our interactions with our fellow human beings.  In general, the yogic way of life does not prevent us from self-defense or even from serving in the army to protect others.  We are asked to minimize harm to others though.  We discussed this and I pointed out that Jesus asked us to love even our enemies.  One of the guys perked up and asked, “How do you do that?”  This is a good question and I feel I owe him a good answer.  How many times do people exhort us to be different without giving us a method?  We might as well be told to fall upward. 

Actually, I have a method to work on this.  I got it from the local Tibetan Buddhists when we went through one of the Dalai Lama’s books as a group.

Compassion Exercise (thank you Dalai Lama“How to Expand Love”  ) :  Find a quiet place to sit.  Get in your chosen meditation posture.  Focus on your breath.  Count your breath and allow the mind to settle for several minutes.  Now work through the following steps:

  1. Think of a friend, an enemy, and a neutral person.  No enemies?  Try thinking of someone who can inspire you to generate some significant level of anger.
  2. Examine your feelings toward your friend.  Where do you feel this in your body?  Allow these feelings to permeate your mood.  Now examine your feelings toward the enemy.  Where do you feel this in your body?  The physical feelings are much different.  Allow these feelings to permeate your mood but don’t stay here too long.  Then move on to consider the neutral person.  Examine the lack of feelings for this person.
  3. Are your good feelings for the friend linked to help or loving acts the friend has offered?
  4. Are your feelings for the enemy linked to harm the enemy has done?
  5. Is your lack of feeling for the neutral person because there has been no help, loving acts, or harm from this person?
  6. Consider that each of these people has a mother, seeks happiness, wishes to avoid pain and is equal in this sense.  Recognize that had the enemy been born to the family the friend comes from and vice versa, they could very well play the exact opposite roles in your life.
  7. Stay with this for a while for the feeling of equality between these people to sink in.

I brought this in and we did it as a group together.  One of the men said that the only “enemy” he could think of was himself.  Wow!  Techniques for this one next time.


About sordog1

Shiva Steve Ordog is a Yoga Instructor certified by Yoga Alliance - RYT 200, a Thought Field Therapy Practitioner (TFT-Algo) and a Zen practitioner. He is the author of a book on meditation, mindfulness, and yoga called "Hey, Yoga Man!: Yoga Practices for Everyday Life from a Prison Yoga Practice"
This entry was posted in Buddhism, compassion, Dalai Lama, meditation, nc, prison, Tibetan Buddhism, yoga, Zen. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ahimsa (non-harming) one of the Yogic “10 Commandments”, Love your enemies, How come I’m the enemy?

  1. Hope says:

    You are doing wonderful work ………

  2. sordog1 says:

    Well I heard from Dada Shuddha and he had something to say about ahimsa that was very good. I am copying his words here minus a personal message:
    From: dada shuddha
    Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 5:32 PM
    To: Steve Shiva
    Subject: RE: DIWALI/ Very good to hear from you

    Dear brother Shiva,

    Namaskar. Nice to hear you and see your activities. That is wonderful job you are doing. Baba’s grace is always with us.

    About Ahimsa (non-violence): Baba has quoted ” if you first meet a person, try to make him/ her Margii ( bring him / her towards spiritual path of Ananda Marga), if that is not possible, try to make him / her sympathizer, if that is not possible, leave him as neutral person, but do not make him/ her enemy.”

    You might have known that the internal enemies are more dangerous than external enemies. You can run away from external enemies to survive, that is for defending yourself. But internal enemies can not leave us but we can have control over them if we do effort. They are six in numbers: Ka’ma (lust or physical desires), Krodha (anger), Lobha (avarice or greediness), Moha ( physical or blind attachments), mada (pride, ego), and Ma’tsa’rya ( Jealous). If one has control over these six enemies, we find everybody is our friend, since we are all divine creation of Cosmic consciousness.

    About giving love and taking care of people, who are neglected, hated in society by others due to difference in creed, caste, color, religion etc. One great devotee of Krisna, Sri Chaetanya has said:

    ” Trin’a’dopi sunichena Taroriva Sahisn’una’
    Ama’ninam ma’nadeyam kiirtaniyah sada’Hari ”

    the meaning of this Sanskrit aphorism is:

    Be humble like grass and be tolerant like big tree. Respect them who are neglected and insulted in the society, sing always kiirtan ( chant the Lord’s name) ”

    the purport is: The grass stays always under our foot but it does not complain, though without that our living being can not survive. we walk on it but it does not complain. The trees tolerate all the rain, scorching sun light, storms, thunder, lightening and winter cold etc. but give shelter to the people, animals, birds under its shade. Many people are neglected and insulted every time in the present society due to illetaracy, poverty, superstition, inferiority complexes. We should take care of them and give some respect and care. they will feel better and love to live in society keeping their heads high. Kiirtan helps to remove our ego and vanity due to surrender which later on helps us to establish devotion in our heart and increase compassion for everybody. So we should sing always kiirtan, whenever we get time.

    {Human society is one and indivisible, do not try to divide it. Each and every individual should be looked upon as the manifestation of the Cosmic Entity} A.V. 1964

    [ The only creed of a spiritual aspirant is to love the Universal Consciousness and the creation. One must not be guided by any national, caste, linguistic or religious sentiment and must not tolerate fissiparous tendency] A.V. 1962

    With brotherly love and best wishes, in Him
    Dada Shuddha’tma’nanda

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