Most important Yama

Nonviolent expressions of the Dharma, vegetarian debate
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Nicholas
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Most important Yama

Post by Nicholas »

Excerpt from Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Edwin Bryant translator & editor:
II.30 ahiṁsā-satyāsteya-brahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ

ahiṁsā, nonviolence; satya, truthfulness; asteya, refraining from stealing;
brahmacarya, celibacy; aparigrahāḥ, refrainment from acquisition or coveting;
yamāḥ, the abstentions

The yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, refrainment from stealing,
celibacy, and renunciation of [unnecessary] possessions.


From the five yamas listed here, ahiṁsā, nonviolence, the principal motto of Gandhi’s
noncooperation approach, is the yama singled out by the commentators and Patañjali for
special attention. In traditional methods of scriptural interpretation, introductory (and
concluding) statements carry more weight than other statements. Ahiṁsā is the most
important yama, say the commentators, and therefore leads the list. (It seems important to
note that the yamas themselves lead the list of the eight limbs, suggesting that one’s yogic
accomplishment remains limited until the yamas are internalized and put into practice.)

Vyāsa accordingly takes ahiṁsā as the root of the other yamas. He defines it as not
injuring any living creature anywhere at any time. Just as the footprints of an elephant
cover the footprints of all other creatures, says Vijñānabhikṣu, so does ahiṁsā cover all the
other yamas. According to Vyāsa, the goal of the other yamas is to achieve ahiṁsā and
enhance it, and he quotes an unidentified verse stating that one continues to undertake
more and more vows and austerities for the sole purpose of purifying ahiṁsā.

Although ahiṁsā has been defined by Vyāsa as not harming any creature anywhere at any
time, one must continue to perform one’s dharma, duty, cautions Vijñānabhikṣu, even
though it is impossible to avoid harming tiny living entities such as bacteria or insects when
one engages in activities such as bathing or cleaning. Nonetheless, one must strive as far as
possible to avoid harming even an insect. Certainly, one can be very clear about the fact
that eating meat, nourishing one’s body at the expense of the flesh of other living beings, is
completely taboo for aspiring yogīs. One should avoid harming even trees, says
Hariharānanda. Manu, who composed the primary dharmaśāstra, law book, in classical
India, states, “To protect living creatures one should inspect the ground constantly as one
walks, by night or day, because of the risk of grievous bodily harm” (VI.69)...

A sāttvic person is empathetic and compassionate toward other embodied beings and
would never countenance inflicting violence upon them, what to speak of eating their flesh.
Moreover, being insightful, such a person understands the kārmic consequence of violent
actions, as will be indicated in II.34: Any involvement in violent acts of any kind requires
that the perpetrator be subjected to the same violence at some future time as kārmic
consequence. Moreover, inflicting violence is a quality of tamas, and thus eating meat
increases the tāmasic potential of the citta, further enhancing ignorance. A vegetarian diet is
nonnegotiable for yogīs.

Nonviolence, Hariharānanda continues, also encompasses giving up the spirit of malice
and hatred, since these produce the tendencies to injure others. This includes avoiding
violence in the form of harsh words, or causing fear in others. Ahiṁsā must be followed in
thought, deed, and word, says Śaṅkara. The degree of violence is determined by intent—
acts of violence performed without malice and hatred by a normal person, he notes, such as
self-defense or cutting the grass, are not the same as murdering one’s parents in cold blood.
But yogīs avoid even retaliating in self-defense against an attacker, he says, and will shoo
off a snake rather than kill it, and thus attempt to inflict as little aggression as possible on
their environments.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas
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Re: Most important Yama

Post by Nicholas »

Probably an older text is the Laws of Manu. From chapter five:
[45] Whoever does violence to harmless creatures out of a wish for his own happiness
does not increase his happiness anywhere, neither when he is alive nor when he is dead.
[46] But if someone does not desire to inflict on creatures with the breath of life the
sufferings of being tied up and slaughtered, but wishes to do what is best for everyone,
he experiences pleasure without end. [47] A man who does no violence to anything
obtains, effortlessly, what he thinks about, what he does, and what he takes delight in.
[48] You can never get meat without violence to creatures with the breath of life, and
the killing of creatures with the breath of life does not get you to heaven; therefore you
should not eat meat. [49] Anyone who looks carefully at the source of meat, and at the
tying up and slaughter of embodied creatures, should turn back from eating any meat.

[50] A man who does not behave like the flesh-eating ghouls and does not eat meat
becomes dear to people and is not tortured by diseases. [51] The one who gives
permission, the one who butchers, the one who slaughters, and the one who buys and
sells, the one who prepares it, the one who serves it, and the eater – they are killers.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Nicholas
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Re: Ahimsa is Most important

Post by Nicholas »

Perhaps Monica M. Miller was a Jain or an orthodox Hindu in a past lifetime. In any case she has been devoted to Ahimsa all of this life. In addition to animals she is devoted to saving babies and reducing the number of abortions.

This is how she begins her powerful story: Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars.
PROLOGUE
THE STORY I HAVE TO TELL

WHEN I was nine years old I made a peace treaty with the animals. I wrote it out on a sheet
of wide-ruled notebook paper—the kind of paper used by a grade school student.
Attempting to make the lettering as fancy as I could manage and using a ball point pen rather than
a pencil, I intended the treaty to be permanent. The treaty was a perpetual commitment that I
would never harm an animal as long as I lived. After writing out my pledge, I punctured my finger
with a pin and signed the treaty in blood, thinking treaties were signed that way. I rolled it up as
if it were composed on the finest parchment and tied a piece of red ribbon around the scroll. I
even crumbled the paper slightly to make it look old as most important documents seemed worn
in appearance. I placed the sacred document in a cigar box where most of my precious
possessions were secretly stowed. Eight months later I lifted the lid of the box, rolled open the
scroll and wrote:

I Monica do hereby and on this 10th day of July in the year 1962 re-ratify this treaty for the reason that I killed an
animal.
Kind of animal: Snail
Reason: Reproduction
I do from this day forward promise never to harm another animal.

I then signed my name in pen since it seemed to me that the solemnity which attended the
first signing in blood could not be repeated.

I had killed a very small snail in my aquarium because, whether it was true or not, a schoolgirl
friend had told me that snails reproduce on their own and soon my whole aquarium would be
overrun with them, crowding out the angel fish and gouramis. So that little snail had to go. In my
quest to rid the sea world of this menace I forgot all about the treaty only to recall a few days
later, to my horror that I had made such a pact and had now shamefully broken it. There was
nothing else to do but re-ratify the document and start again.

As I got a bit older I eventually gave up on the treaty, noticing that I swatted flies and
mosquitoes and occasionally trampled on ants. The treaty was a lofty ideal but totally impractical
in the real world.

However short-lived my official peace treaty with the animals was, it nonetheless indicated
an early sensitivity toward living things.
[...]
The seeds laid in childhood sprang forth later in life. My defense of animal life in childhood
matured into a deeper defense of life in adulthood. And this is the story I have to tell. As it turned
out, I threw myself into the defense of a people nobody wanted, the unborn marked for abortion.

This story begins in 1976, the year I became aware of something called the “Pro-life
movement” and takes the reader through 1994—the year that the anti-abortion clinic blockades
basically came to an end, an activity that I pioneered, for which I went to court, and for which I
served time in jail. Thus this story is a slice of time—an important episode in the history of the
anti-abortion movement seen through a narrative microscope. Here you will be taken to the dark
places and see things very few people have beheld. You will also be taken to the high places, full
of light, when babies were saved and the truth about the dignity of the human being was
recognized. Certainly, I expect those who are already active in the pro-life cause, to be attracted
to this narrative. This is one of the rare books that presents the issue of abortion through the
experience of those who are engaged in the anti-abortion struggle. But I believe that this story
will be helpful to those outside the movement, as they will be introduced to pro-life people, see
what we did, why we did it, and perhaps, even should they support legalized abortion, come
away with a more profound understanding of what is at stake in the abortion war.

As this prologue is written, Barack Obama is the president—a supporter of legalized
abortion. Someone else will take his place, but the battle over legalized abortion will continue.
After nearly forty years of controversy, it appears that the war over abortion will not come to a
quick and easy end. My hope is that this book will shed a light on one of the most desperate
moments in the history of the world—a moment in which we have before us that great struggle
over life itself and the meaning of human existence.
Dhamma is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
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Re: Most important Yama

Post by DNS »

Nicholas wrote: Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:49 pm Excerpt from Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Edwin Bryant translator & editor:
II.30 ahiṁsā-satyāsteya-brahmacaryāparigrahā yamāḥ

ahiṁsā, nonviolence; satya, truthfulness; asteya, refraining from stealing;
brahmacarya, celibacy; aparigrahāḥ, refrainment from acquisition or coveting;
yamāḥ, the abstentions

The yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, refrainment from stealing,
celibacy, and renunciation of [unnecessary] possessions.
The five yamas sound exactly the same as the five precepts of Jainism, which goes to show the extent of the overlap among Dharmic paths / religions.
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