There is a man in Italy with a body made black by tiny tattooed x's a permanent reminder of the burden he shares the shameful knowledge of a horrific truth hidden in plain sight the blood staining the hands of humanity is impossible to measure 6 million bodies burned in German gas chambers shaken to our very core by the unimaginable cruelty every two and a half hours that same death toll is met again with silence and disinterest the clinking of silverware on ceramic those 40,000 tiny x's represent a body count the sentient lives lost each second to humanity's greedy palate to grotesque notions of tradition the earth groans under the weight of our atrocities as they continue unimpeded, growing every day 40,000 slaughtered every second 40,000 tiny markings of ink crowding one body a silent protest, a sadly inadequate attempt to atone for the immense pressure of suffering that is impossible to conceive that chokes the lungs of the world with the thick, black smoke of karma with the unreal irony of the word "humane" do not dare ask God for mercy we don't know the meaning
One of the principles in yoga philosophy that I hold dear is called ahimsa. It is roughly translated to non-harming. When I first learned that this was a part of yoga, I assumed that all true yogis, especially the teachers, would all be at least vegetarians, if not vegans. I was quite disappointed to learn that was far from the case. Just like with most things, people tend to interpret ahimsa in their own ways.
No one wants to believe that they have been living wrong. Or that their life-style has been causing suffering. No one wants to have to change. These principles are therefore perceived to (conveniently) not require any actually adjustments from the person professing to follow them. Another good example of this phenomenon is the biblical commandment of thou shalt not kill. A sacred rule I’m sure all Christians would claim to follow while simultaneously preparing a dead animal for their family dinner.
I am not bringing this up to cast blame or criticize others. Today I just wanted to talk about the way ahimsa influences my own life. Even as a vegan there are grey areas that each person handles differently. I know vegans that, while claiming to value all life, still kill insects. And that is specifically what I wanted to talk about today.
Recently my house has been overrun with small moths. It is quite irritating and I won’t lie and say it hasn’t crossed my mind to squash them or buy sticky tape to get rid of them. It’s difficult to remember that they are living beings when we have been conditioned our entire lives to view them as insignificant pests. It has taken me years to finally overcome that mindset.
While these tiny creatures may just seem like irritations to us, to them it is their life. They are just as capable of suffering as any one of us. Who decides that a human life matters more than a moth’s? It would be quite biased for me or other humans to determine that. I have trained my heart to view these pests as precious beings that deserve my respect.
So while it may be much easier for me to kill these moths and protect my clothing from their hungry nibbles, I absolutely refuse to do so. Instead I have looked up natural ways to make them leave on their own. My favorite solution was lavender. Apparently these little darlings hate the scent of lavender. So yesterday I strategically placed cotton balls with lavender essential oil all throughout my house.
I have yet to see if this will actually be successful, but I have already been rewarded for this humane effort. Both my clothing and home smell absolutely lovely today. And I am reminded of my kind intention with every whiff of that soothing scent. I am hopeful that I will start to notice my small uninvited guests leaving soon, but even if this doesn’t work, I will not resort to taking their lives. It seems monstrous to me to take a life simply to make my life slightly more convenient. If necessary, I will take the time to capture each moth and put them safely outdoors myself.
Ahimsa is something that we must remind ourselves of with everything we do. Even if it isn’t easy. Even if most of the world can disregard it. I will continue to strive to honor and value ALL life. No matter how small (or annoying.) Even if I am laughed at and seem crazy for doing so. I hope the next time you find a small being “in your way” you will take a moment to acknowledge the light inside of them that we all share and choose to allow them the precious life they were given. A life that holds as much meaning to them as ours do to us.