Ahimsa and Self-Realization



Ahimsa and Self-Realization

Violence is the most extreme form of egoism while love is its anti-thesis. Human suffering seems rooted in the identification with our separative, egoistic consciousness and the consequent desire to be more than this small self of ours we see ourselves to be.  This puts us in conflict with our environment, including our fellow humans.  

All religions and spiritual paths show us various methods of relieving ourselves from this suffering, to live more blissful and fulfilling lives in harmony with our environment and others. Most religions posit the existence of a God or a Supreme Being or Consciousness who can be our guide, helper, friend or liberator, while some like Jainism and Buddhism show a path to realize a consciousness which is liberated from this suffering.  

In either case, the cause of our suffering is the ignorance of who we really are. We suffer because we identify ourselves with our narrow selves, the ego personality we have developed in this lifetime colored by our achievements, monetary and vocational, our familial and communal bondages etc.  

The more we can disengage from these identifications, the greater the potential we have to unveil and realize who we really are beneath these coverings, who we were before birth and what will be left of us after we shed this body, in other words, who we eternally are. This Self-realization is the goal of religious and spiritual paths and really the goal of all conscious existence.  While we can get a glimpse of this Self-realization intellectually, to have a permanent and progressive realization much work is needed, over a lifetime or more usually, over lifetimes.  

The habit of identifying with our small personality is rooted in our natures and the operation of the world around us is also based on an assumption of innumerable personalities in conflict with each other. We try to establish harmony by coming together in families, communities or nations. And then, there are conflicts within families, communities and nations. We seem to be programmed to fight and the world is set as a stage to fight the battle of life. Ambition, strife and conflict are the bane of existence and the fear of not achieving sometimes eats into our very being.  There seems to be violence, within and without.

Our very mind is able to only function by understanding facts it separates from the whole for it cannot see everything at once. It then tries to organize the facts and synthesize a “knowledge” out of them. This knowledge is ignorant of the wholesome true knowledge, akin to an intuition born of realms above the divisive operations of the mind.

Similarly, an intellectual understanding of spiritual truths is not of much use if our daily battle of life is based on an egoistic consciousness, rooted in our narrow personality.  To achieve Self-realization, we will need to be vigilant of the basis and quality of the consciousness that drives us to act in our daily interactions with others.  Self-aggrandizement, monetary or intellectual, may serve us well in the world but may be an obstacle in our Self-realization.  All depends on the consciousness we remain seated in. The first step is to be conscious of our narrowness and egoism, for, in this regard, ignorance can mimic bliss for long, perhaps for many lifetimes.   

The desireless compassion of Buddha, the self-evading love of Christ, the non-violence of the Jain aspirant and the Brahma-nirvanic realization of oneness of the Hindu Vedanti, all point essentially to the same practice of losing our small selves in the realization of the Self as one, not only with all other conscious beings, but one with all existence, past, present and future. To achieve this realization, we will need to fight the battle of life from a new basis of a peace and strength within, based on this faith in our oneness with all, our permanence and immortality, such that every act, nay, every thought, arises out of this faith.  

The narrow, egoistic aims of our individual selves have to lose themselves in the wideness of this realization which gives us a living faith and guidance. When we see others as souls and can relate to them as part of the same Divine plan of which our souls are also a part of, love in oneness is experienced as opposed to violence born of differences perceived by our egoistic minds and hearts.

A quiet mind and heart, an aspiration in pursuit of our inmost and highest self as a portion of the Divine and a surrender to this Divine power are the means to this realization. But for the experience to become permanent and dynamic, and form a basis of action in life, a thousand strands and segments of our egoistic personality, established over time in our mind, heart and body, have to be repeatedly offered to the Divine power for purification and transformation.  This is a long and arduous process in most cases, only possible by a sincere effort supported by the Divine Grace, two that go together.

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