By David Jozefczyk
Ahimsa (non-violence/non-killing or compassion), the ethical guideline that stands in the forefront from the others, is life’s law of non-harming.
Once this ethical guideline is mastered, all other ethical guidelines fall into place. Also true, is that the more compassion is studied, the more layers of understanding appear.
Most people understand Ahimsa in regards to non-killing or not causing physical pain to other human beings or pets. But Ahimsa goes beyond that. Prior to learning about Ahimsa, I fell into this category. The first time that I had the honor to receive Sri Dharma Mittra’s teachings regarding Ahimsa, it changed my life. This intricate ethical guideline (Yama) was explained to me with such simplicity and in such a compassionate manner that it brought tears to my eyes and struck a chord deep within me.
A vegetarian lifestyle is a great way to practice Ahimsa as it covers three areas – through thought, word and deed.
With thoughts, for example, when eating with friends and family who are not educated in Ahimsa, my thoughts do not judge or think bad of them. I have realized their true Self does not mean to harm, it’s just their physical mind is not ready at this point in their evolution and so I feel compassion for them.
Ahimsa of thoughts not only applies towards others, but towards the self as well. Negative thoughts can manifest themselves, so any negativity or harm towards yourself (as well as others) should be avoided. A good amount of bad karma can be accumulated in this regard and no one wants that!
In regards to deed, leading by exampleand consistently living as a vegetarian is a very powerful way to influence and it may eventually change another person’s outlook on diet.
Lastly, being vegetarian and practicing Ahimsa in regards to word, conversation arises from time to time and I am asked “what made you become vegetarian?” I always choose my words carefully, as some friends and family members love to play devils advocate by mentioning plants. I answer that it is impossible for most people to be completely non-harming due to the physical body needing sustenance, so I chose what I feel to be the lesser of two evils. This type of conversation has the ability to transform others not aware of Ahimsa.
Words can be very powerful and life changing in both a positive and negative way. Even a simple “hello” with the right intention to someone passing by can brighten his or her day!
I feel it is a good practice to keep your words to a minimum and positive and uplifting in nature. Many yogi masters teach that if you do not have anything good to say then this is a good time to practice silence or Mouna, which Swami Sivananda describes as “Tapas of speech.”
I am still learning from the masters to eradicate negative traits and to bring more compassion into my life by practicing Ahimsa. Through a steady and consistent practice this can be mastered and then applied towards all Yamas and Niyamas!
Dave Jozefczyk began practicing yoga in 2006 by taking class with his wife ‘chelle in his basement. Having a consistent flow of friends who attended three days per week made it an official class. The next chapter in Dave’s spiritual journey was experiencing a long weekend immersion with Sri Dharma Mittra at Kripalu in 2008 with his wife. Since that transformative weekend, he has been faithfully practicing Dharma Yoga. During these five plus years of practice and observing his wife’s transformation after completing her 500-hour LOAY Teacher Training, Dave realized that he also had the ability to help others and serve in so many different ways. In June of 2013, Dave was very humbled to experience the 200-hour LOAY TT at the Dharma Yoga Center in NYC. He is currently teaching at the CNY Yoga Center (Dharma Yoga Syracuse) to fulfill his internship credentials. It brings him such joy to be able to share the Dharma Yoga teachings, which he continues to learn from Sri Dharma and the Dharma family.