Since the dawn of mankind, sages and prophets from all times and places have proclaimed the same old mystic Truth: we are one – one with God and with each other. The pattern of life is like a multi-dimensional cosmic fractal, repeating itself endlessly. So the whole pattern, in all its beauty and perfection, is contained in even the most infinitesimal particle of existence. God is in the atom as much as in the galaxy, and in the mosquito just as much as in the human being.
Now it is easy for most of us to see the Divine in a newborn baby, in a lovable old dog, or a cute and cuddly kitten; but what about the flies in your kitchen, or the pests in your garden? What about the person who cuts you off in traffic, or screws you in a business deal? We know – intellectually, anyway – that we are all one. Yet the fact is that there are many situations in which we wish harm or inflict harm on other living beings without remorse, and we think it quite proper and natural.
For instance, look at the way we treat insects and pests. We think nothing of spreading toxic chemicals and traps around our home and our yard to exterminate ants, roaches, mice, termites – even weeds and plants. We might welcome certain pets as animal companions, but we often react with fear and violence to spiders, snakes, wasps, and all kinds of “creepy-crawly” things.
Look at the way we treat each other! Sure we love our children, our friends, and those who are kind to us; but we are often quick to anger and slow to forgive when someone hurts or disappoints us. And that’s just a few obvious things. Let’s look a little bit deeper…
How do we cause harm indirectly? The food that we eat and the products that we buy are often produced in ways that exploit the environment, and manipulate the people and the resources of other nations. The way we live – what we do, what we buy, and every choice we make – has repercussions that affect the whole of our planet, for better or worse. Our attitude, our vibrations, our words and actions affect the world around us in ways we don’t always perceive.
In the Far East they have a philosophy known as ahimsa (which roughly translates as non-violence). Ahimsa is a way of life, a way of being, a commitment to avoid doing harm to ourselves and others. It involves far more than abstaining from violence; it involves mindfulness of every thought, every word and action. It is a vow to live in harmony – to bring peace, love and joy to all the living things around us, and to never deliberately cause suffering to any living thing.
Adherents of ahimsa assert that when you have cleansed your heart and mind of all violence, and are truly at peace with yourself and with the world, then men cannot remain angry in your presence and all of Nature becomes non-threatening. And there are many reported cases of sages and ascetics wandering off into the jungle and living for years unharmed by tigers, cobras, and the world’s fiercest predators. Can we find that peace within that delivers us from fear and danger?
My intent in writing this article is not to stir up guilt, but to stir up our beliefs – to raise questions and shed light on what we think and assume. In what ways do we find ourselves at odds with the world, with our fellow men, with Mother Nature? These might be lessons for us to learn, and opportunities for great transformation.
Why do we cherish the lilies and chrysanthemums, and not the crabgrass and the ragweed? Why do we often feel threatened or disgusted by some of God’s most magnificent creations? How can we live more in harmony with the earth, and feed our children in healthy and sustainable ways? How do we cultivate beautiful gardens and safe, comfortable homes, without doing harm to other living beings?
These are questions with no easy answers. I cannot wrap this one up neatly, and put a bow on top, and leave with you a warm, fuzzy feeling. My hope is that you will consider these things carefully, and continue to ponder them long after you have finished reading this article. Maybe you’ll be inspired to do a little research. Maybe you’ll make some different selections the next time you go shopping – make some small changes, take some small steps toward a more healthy and peaceful world. Maybe the next time you raise a fly-swatter, you’ll stop and think.
My hope is that, as individuals and as a species, we would be more mindful of our actions. Much of the harm and violence done in this world is done unknowingly, and is based on unconscious beliefs and assumptions. Who knows what new faculties and new freedoms we might discover, if we were to truly cast off our ignorance and fear? Who knows what new ways we could devise to resolve our conflicts with each other and with Mother Nature, if we were truly open to the flow of Divine love and wisdom?
My prayer is that one day mankind will be at one with the earth and all living things. That we may have conscious communion and communication with the other species around us – who share our life, our intelligence, our DNA – and coexist in perfect harmony and cooperation.
And I know, dear reader, it must begin with you and me.
Peace and love!