How does one go about adopting a vow of non-voilence into everyday life?
Here are some questions and answers regarding a living a non-violent life.
The violence in our society is a projection of the violence in side all of us. We are not the victim, we are the creators of violence. To some extent we all participate in creating the violence in the world. By taking a personal oath of non-violence, and sticking to it, we will collectively manifest a world of peace, harmony, laughter, love and compassion.
It will take a critical mass of people taking this vow, and using it as a reminder in their daily life to achieve this. That’s why we are committing to a goal of 100 million of us taking the vow. (The more the better)
Personally, I have found it very useful to be mindful of periods when I ‘m reacting with anger, fear, defensiveness or resistance. When that happens, I automatically, remind myself that I have taken a vow. Just this reminder internally allows the reactivity to pass and magically brings me to the present moment. This present moment is the presence of spirit. It worked for me, hopefully it will work for you as well.
Twice a week, I will be posting video blogs as Tools for Personal Transformation. We will create a library of these personal tools that will help us all in keeping the vow, so that we can collectively convert our personal transformation into the transformation of the world.
In difficult life-threatening situations you must respond instinctually to protect yourself. I would like to give you two personal stories as examples. The first is an incident that occurred when my daughter Mallika was only 6-weeks old. We were living in a tenement apartment in a very poor section of Boston.
I was a resident in Internal Medicine at Boston City Hospital. My wife Rita had gone to the grocery store and I was baby-sitting. Mallika was in a little basket next to me and I was reading a medical journal. The doorbell rang and when I opened it a 6′ 11”man suddenly entered the apartment wielding a baseball bat in his gigantic hands. I let out the loudest scream in my life. It was so piercing and shrill I’m surprised it didn’t shatter all the glass in the place. The baseball bat fell from his hands. Without thought, I instinctively picked it up and hit him in the back. The next thing I knew, he was crumpled on the floor and police sirens were wailing outside. It turns out he had just escaped from prison where he had been incarcerated for multiple murders. The police handcuffed him and took him back to prison. The next day my photo appeared in the local newspaper as a hero. The second situation occurred only five years ago. After giving a lecture in a Southern city, I was walking back to my hotel through a dark alley behind a theater. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by four male teenagers. One of them had a gun which he held against my head. This time, I remained calm and centered. It had been approximately 30 years since the first encounter with violence and I had been practicing meditation for much of that time. I took out my wallet gave my terrorist “friends” all the cash I had. Then I found myself saying to them “You don’t want to be in prison for murder for just a $150. Will you please allow me to keep my credit cards as they will be of no use to you?
If you throw the gun away and run as fast as you can, I promise you I will tell no one about this episode except my wife.” They hesitated, and I said “Please throw the gun away, and run quickly.” The apparent leader of the group then threw his gun away, and they ran off. The next day I went to an ATM and took out $150 to replace the cash. I kept my promise and did not tell anyone but my wife about this episode for 6 months. If you stay connected to your soul the right response will occur as it needs to happen.
It means simply reminding yourself that you have made a commitment and that you have taken this vow. When the situation arises and your tendency is to be reactive, a simple reminder will often prevent you from generating a hostile reaction and by and by you will find yourself creating and calmer more creative response in subsequent situations.
The vow of non-violence is a vow of peace. It amounts to the same thing. Whatever language one chooses there are bound to be certain pitfalls associated with it. As we know, people have tried to justify war and violence in the name of peace as well. I see the vow of nonviolence in terms of the Sanskrit word Ahimsa, which is an active interaction with others and nature on the basis of the spiritual unity which connects us all. So nonviolence is not passive, but active in a nurturing way. Ahimsa describes behavior that respects and supports all who are involved. It assumes a universality the way that the greeting namaste recognizes that the divinity in others is the same as the divinity within us.
When we see, feel and know that consciousness that we are all a part of, then becoming a peacemaker comes naturally, and compassion, joyfulness, and friendliness towards others is just an expression of who we are.