Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about the current state of affairs. She lamented that even with the great injustice of racism, the looting that came after was inexcusable. I agreed.
She said “…we haven’t had a Gandhi or Martin Luther King in so long.” I could tell in her voice the anguish of not having a savoir, a living model of non-violence, to protest injustice in a peaceful way.
Years ago when I started my yoga journey, the school I attend had these words on the wall “Heal Yourself, Heal the World”. I struggled to understand its meaning, but they stayed with me. Periodically I would reflect back on them, researching, trying to understand its deeper meaning.
Fast forward to my current training, after years of teaching and studying I have come to fully understand its meaning.
Our teacher, on the second to last day of our class, addressed the violence that had recently taken place prior to our meeting. She shared her feelings and ended with this realization “…that it starts with each one of us.” In other words, we are responsible for our own spiritual development and personal growth. On the last day, Dr. Dugliss, the creator of Heart-Based Meditation concluded with “…as we raise our own vibration, we raise the vibration of the world”, thus heal yourself, heal the world.
The essence of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus and Buddha is present in all of us. Our guru lives within as Ram Dass discovered. It takes discipline to practice non-violence. In yoga, Ahimsa is one of the Yamas, in the eight-limbs of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Yama is the limb of self-restraints, and Ahimsa is the practice of nonviolence. It is inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. It includes not only physical violence, but hurtful thoughts, deeds, actions and words. We are more powerful than we understand.
I recently listened to Gandhi’s autobiography “My Experiments with Truth”. It was one of the most amazing and inspirational stories I have ever listened to. His every thought, word, deed and action was guided by Ahimsa. Even in those times that his life depended on it. Many may think “yeah and see where it got him, he was gunned down.” His accomplishments were unprecedented, he inspired the whole world and still to this day his work is revered. As the example of my friends’ lament “we have not had a Gandhi in a long time” shows us. The concept of Ahimsa is not exclusive to yogic spiritual principles, it has also been an important part of Christianity and Buddhism.
It’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the state of the world at any given time. However we can do our part by making sure we’re doing the necessary internal (spiritual) work, so our thoughts, our actions, and our deeds are not contributing to the mayhem that negativity and violence creates.
Let us be co-creators of the world we would like to live in. Gandhi said “be the change you want to see“, it’s the same as heal yourself, heal the world. And it is never too late to start.