“What I have discarded is the idea that there are good people and bad people, people who should be helped and people who should be killed…Ahisma asks us to abandon the notion of separation.”
-Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga
Day 18 – Ahisma, nonviolence in speech, thought, and deed, is truly the “cornerstone” of of yogic living. Ahisma, in my opinion, needs to first start with ourselves, and it is a needed conversation for many to have before embarking on their mission to save the world. Personally, I am guilty of spending most of my lifetime telling my body how it is supposed to perform and look. Rolf describes this phenomenon, which I am certain I am not alone in perpetuating, writing: “Sweating away trying to fix something that is forever broken, we cannot imagine how we are ever going to feel something that is sacred for more than a breath or two before our old fears creep back in.” The first step, therefore, is to just pursue nonviolence, first in ourselves, and then all else will certainly follow.
As a teacher, moving beyond labels has never been more important. I try to put myself in the mindset of my students (and children) as we suffer through “disaster” and “lockdown” drills, and sit passively throughout the length of whatever “real” lockout/lockdown scenario presents itself (as in yesterday). Surely, safety takes precedence here, but at what cost? What does it feel like to be taking the test that decides your fate and hear that there is a possible danger in the building next to you? Still, the test goes on. What does that tell our children?
The most that I knew about ahisma was about Gandhi influencing Martin Luther King, Jr., and this I merely learned teaching in 5th and middle school as we studied MLK, Jr. for oration speeches. I think it bears mentioning that all aspects of our classes and content should infuse ahisma into our curriculum. I leave it here for today with an website. Wouldn’t it be a better world if, in lieu of mandatory drills and tests, we read more from great thinkers?