Sutra 2.35: ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah
When there is natural firmness in non-violence, all hostility comes to an end in its presence. Conflict ceases in such a mind. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Since I was little, I have had a dislike (fear) of bugs + spiders –especially spiders. When I notice one in a room with me, my instinct is to remove myself or -if that’s not practical-the offending critter. “Removing” it has often involved a quick and sudden crushing (not very yogic at all, I know!), because my irrational fear of this tiny creature trumps my rational compassion for its role in our ecology.
I fear the possibility of its attack on me, when, were I not to engage, it is highly unlikely that it would approach me at all. A spider does not act out of menace, but more likely out of hunger (which I do not believe should lead it to me) and fear, which I could only cause through direct interference.
If, on the other hand, I calm my own irrational instincts and leave the spider alone -or open a window for it, perhaps- and show no desire to harm it, the chances of an interaction are virtually nil. The spider will show me no violence if I show it none.
For me, this scenario with our eight-legged friend requires effort. It’s an active and learned behavior. For my mother, it requires barely a second thought. The end result is the same.
I dare say this applies to all our interactions, though as we move from arachnid-home sapiens to homo sapiens/homo sapiens, what constitutes violence and compassion become more challenging to identify, express, and eradicate or cultivate. The process, however, may essentially remain the same: identify the harm, observe and identify the emotions and/or thought process that caused it, learn how to quell the reactions and actions that spring from thoughts caused by ignorance of the full reality of the situation, and choose not to engage through violence, but instead through compassion (which may result in a lack of any direct engagement).
Simple, and not –just like many of the best moments in life.
Hari om, om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts. Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.