Saturday, January 15, 2011

Civility is Just the Beginning

This past week following the shootings in Tucson and attempted assassination of a member of Congress, a great deal of commentary has been broadcast by the media calling for more civility in our discussions with one another. In my view, civility is just a first step. We need to strive for so much more than mere civility in our dealings with one another. 

We need to strive for kindness and treating each other with compassion. Violence is never justified, and the weapons used in violent attacks on one another are sometimes physical, but can also be verbal.

This week, my yoga studio posted Judith Lasater's four-sentence definition and description of "ahimsa," one of the niyamas, or daily practices, put forth in the yoga sutras: 

"Ahimsa, usually translated as 'nonviolence.' This refers not only to physical violence, but also to the violence of words or thoughts. What we think about ourselves or others can be as powerful as any physical attempt to harm. To practice ahimsa is to be constantly vigilant, to observe ourselves in interaction with others and to notice our thoughts and intentions."

The combination of the yamas, or ethical practices, and the niyamas form, according to Stephen Cope, author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, the "eternal religion, because they represent the core practices of most religious systems." 

Advocating for nonviolence in "thought, word and deed" is not unique to the practice of yoga, but should be a principle that all in a civilized society strive to live by.

Let us treat each other as we would like to be treated. Let us choose our words with kindness, always striving to do no harm when we act or speak. Let us practice ahimsa in all that we do, remembering that when we say to each other "Namaste," we are not just acknowledging, but bowing to, the core divinity within each person.  


1 comment:

  1. Hooray for this post! For quite some time I have thought that civility is only a first step, but I've been a bit reluctant to express it--after all, civility IS a good work and I don't want to discourage it. But I think you are absolutely correct. Well said.