Do No Harm (Ahimsa, or the Vow of Non-Violence)

Ahimsa, अहिंसा (Devangari) is a Sanskrit word meaning “do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa).” From Wikipedia:

Though the origins of the concept of ahimsa are unknown, the earliest references to ahimsa are found in the texts of historical Vedic religion, dated to 8th century BCE. Here, ahimsa initially relates to “non-injury” without a moral connotation, but later to non-violence to animals and then, to all beings.

Researching Deepak Chopra the other day (After obliquely slamming him, I thought I’d better check him out carefully. Turns out I should have kept my mouth shut), I ran across a website that caused me to have one of those little moments. Ever have one of those? To call it a lightbulb moment would be to label a pair of Manolo Blahniks footwear.

The idea isn’t new to me (the word, ahimsa was part of my email address for years). In fact, the idea of ahimsa is the foundation of Enlightened Horsemanship. I had just been unable to winnow my way down to the core in order to articulate it. Enlightened Horsemanship Through Touch is not a “brand” of horsemanship. I don’t teach anything. But Met(t)a Horsemanship IS my brand: developing and sharing the benefits of compassionate horsemanship is my mission.

When I stumbled upon this website, I discovered that I’d failed to specify an enormous element of Met(t)a horsemanship: the root of compassion, which is ahimsa. For those of you who are put off by the use of non-Western terms in languages like Sanskrit, I would be fine with using “non-harming” or “do no harm,” but they are awkward when a noun is called for, so forgive me.

I am thrilled to put the last puzzle piece in place. Ahimsa, or the vow of non-harming is fundamental to compassionate living and the basis for met(t)a horsemanship.

Here is the mission statement from Do No, authored by each and every one of its supporters.

We seem to be living in a world that is getting less hospitable every day. Look closely at any endeavor our species has engaged in and it appears we are unaware of the harm we do, we ignore the harm we do, we intentionally do harm for our own gain, or sadly in some cases we do harm for our own pleasure and enjoyment.

Has no one taught us to do no harm?

If we haven’t been taught to do no harm, we see no harm in doing harm. We cause harm and shrug it off. We cause harm and laugh about it. We cause harm and brag about it.

Sadder still, our children bear witness to our actions and never learn to do no harm themselves. Above all else we must teach our children, by example and instruction, this basic moral principle of life.

We must begin to make better choices and treat each other, the other creatures who share this planet with us, and this planet we call home with greater respect and compassion.

We believe that the first and most basic moral law is, “Do no harm.” Because we can feel pain and suffering, we can imagine the pain and suffering of others, and we can act accordingly to minimize the harm we cause.

What does “do no harm” mean? Ultimately it means to give thoughtful consideration to our actions. “Do no harm” simply means to consider how our actions may affect the world we all share, to be compassionate in our dealings with all creatures, and not to thoughtlessly despoil our planet.

Doctors are asked to “first do no harm,” why not lawyers, businessmen, religious leaders and politicians? Why not us? Why not now?

It sounds like a simple idea because it is a simple idea, but it may be effective over the long run. Will “do no harm” solve all the problems in our world? Perhaps not, but this is an effort to decrease the suffering in the world and to increase the kindness.

We hope that “do no harm” becomes that little voice that guides our actions.

–c.c.keiser & clyde grossman

If you wish to include this essay or link to the the Do No Harm website, please do so. If you wish to change the wording or write your own, that’s equally OK. If we are to change our world for the better, we simply must share the Do No Harm message with family and friends, with neighbors and our community. If you should decide to take the vow, your name will be added to the list of the authors of this statement.

Don’t forget about the Horsemans’ Manifesto Workshop (see below) and the free goodies you can get just by participating. I look forward to hearing from you.

© 2010 – 2011, enlightenedhorsemanship. All rights reserved.

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