How can we practice Ahimsa without falling victim to opportunists?

This was actually a comment posted by Manasa Yogi Hui Hsien in response to Manoj’s latest blog on Truth & Pleasantness.

This evening I was actively practising Ahimsa awareness whilst braving the nasty after office traffic on the LDP. In desperate situations like that the average Malaysian driver does not give way to other motorists. However, I took several deep breaths and compassionately allowed 1 car into my lane. 1 led to 2 and by the time the 3rd car tried to push herself aggressively in, I realised that that was my threshold and submitted to the reaction of my manas, which was to honk angrily.

QUESTION: How do you practise Ahimsa without falling victim to opportunists?


Namaste Hui Hsien
So heart warming to read how you are trying to apply the teachings into real life.. Now, let me try to answer your valid question through a story..
Long ago there was a deadly snake. She was truly a pure embodiment of terror to the villagers of the neighbourhood. In fact the people of the village stopped using the path which runs via her pit, as she indiscriminately attacked and bit anyone going that way.

One day, a wandering yogi stopped by the village to rest. Next morning, after his sun salutes, he was about to resume his journey. The villagers then advised him not to take the path where the snake resides. But the monk went that way. And as expected, the snake rushed in to attack him. But somehow, the monk’s calm, fearless countenance, and total compassion towards the snake, affected it, and she then asked the monk as to how he is so fearless, calm and loving in the face of imminent death. The monk’s one word answer was, ‘yoga’. The snake then expressed keen interest to learn yoga. The monk started by delivering a lecture on ahimsa, and then said that he can initiate her into the deeper practices only after one year of ahimsa practice. He then bade goodbye to the snake, promising to meet her after one year.

The snake, like Hui Hsien, started practicing ahimsa in great earnest. It gave way to all the people walking that way, and remained extremely docile, never raising its hood, except while it practiced the cobra pose.

This change was soon noticed by everyone, especially the children. They started to twirl, tie and swing her around, while some snake charmers used her for their tricks.

By all this, in quick time the snake got badly injured. One day after some villagers beat her and partially burnt her for their entertainment, she barely managed to get back to her pit, after which she was never to be seen again.

One year passed, and the monk returned. He enquired about the snake, and the villagers told that the snake is no more. The monk anyway went to the pit, and softly chanted Om, three times. The snake slowly slithered out, her face still winced in pain. The monk asked as to what happened. The snake told the whole story and then concluded, ‚ÄòIt is all your fault, holy sir. You advised me to practice ahimsa by not biting anyone, and look what I got in return’.

The monk then said, ‘I asked you to only stop biting. Not to stop hissing’.

End of story.

So Hui, Hiss.. i mean honk! That is not a problem at all. See, practicing ahimsa doesn’t mean being submissive. You shouldn’t allow yourself to be subject to violence or exploitation in anyway. You can express anger. But inside, you should be aware of it. Dont loose yourself completely to that emotion. So, in your story you stopped at the point of your honking. Two scenarios can happen after that.

Scenario 1- You continue your drive, after observing what the anger did to your body.. did it contort the face? tensed the abdomen? stopped the breath? And then you let it go completely, observing your breaths, observing the sky, noticing the occasional irritation about the jam, enjoying the music.. then you are still in the groove.. perfectly ok.

Scenario 2- You continue your drive.. but there is an aggression.. some expletives spurt out from the mouth.. you strangle the steering.. body is tensed.. breathing is haywire.. but you are not noticing it.. you are saying that you will never let anyone cut you in the future.. and so on..

The second scenario is what we have to watch out. Where the emotion completely takes over and run you.



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