|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 196 ]
Violence is an un-evolved trait of the being. People become violent for many reasons: for defending their own interests or the interests of those they feel close to; for property or possession; or for 'honour'.
Even a superficial examination, however, reveals that the state of mind that leads to these beliefs is a lower, ignorant state. You see, when people rely on themselves for protection, they are acting out of ignorance, weakness and fear.
To master these faults, there must first be liberation from this ignorance and fear. A new attitude toward life and a re-orientation of the mind is required.
Violence decreases when people learn to support their beliefs upon reality and deeper understanding, rather than on ignorance, attachments, and suppositions.
The yogi deems that any being has as much right to live as any other. Therefore, we have no right to encroach upon any other's existence to support our own, no matter how well rationalised this may be in our contriving ego mind.
The yogi, rather, believes that he has been born to help others, and looks with love upon all beings. He knows that his life is intrinsically connected with the lives of all others, and so empathetically their happiness becomes his happiness.
He places the other's happiness even before his own and becomes a source of joy for all those he encounters. As a mother nurtures her newborn child, the yogi nurtures the lives of those around him, allowing them to grow and mature under the umbrella of his/her selfless love.
What would the world be like if we all approached life with this attitude?
In our ignorant, fear-based societies today, violence and evil are spiralling out of control. We live by the motto of 'an eye for an eye' and continue to expect that 'two wrongs will somehow make a right'.
This is precisely the opposite view that the yogi has. When most people are victims of violence or evil acts they demand justice, but when they are the ones who commit such an act, they ask for mercy and forgiveness!
The yogi, on the other hand, deems that an evil act committed by him/herself must be condemned and those committed by others forgiven.
Always endeavouring to improve, the yogi knows how to live and he teaches others how to as well. He shows them love and compassion, and how to become better people.
The yogi opposes the evil within the person who performs an evil act, but does not oppose the person. He advises repentance, not punishment.
This opposition toward evil and a love for the one who performs evil CAN coexist. For instance, the wife of a drunkard can oppose his habit, yet still go on loving her husband. It isn’t good, however, to go on loving the one who performs evil without opposing their evil. This will undoubtedly lead to unhappiness.
Loving a person while you fight against the evil within them (or join them in the fight to conquer their weaknesses) is the good way to follow. When the battle is fought with love -- true, compassionate and unconditional love -- then the battle has already been won. In the same way that a loving parent sometimes punishes their child to wean them from a potentially bad habit, the genuine upholder of ahimsa proceeds with this same love.
Once again, I ask, what would the world be like if we all approached life with this yogic attitude? We Can. We MUST!...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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