Ahimsa - The Science Of Peace: [06] The Exploration

Published: 05.01.2009

The Exploration

The attitude of taking care that no harm comes to self or others, while exploring and using anything, forms another important part of the Ahimsa conduct. Traditionally this has been limited in scope to cover only eatables. Pondering a little deeper into the basics reveals that this attitude covers a much wider range of activities. In fact, it covers each and everything that can be acquired and used by an individual or a group.

With the instinct for survival and procreation came desire, and with desire came dependence on the outside world. The first need was the need for food demanded by the body for survival and sustenance. Once this was fulfilled came the need for shelter in order to be safe from the free flowing natural forces as well as intrusion from other beings. As the life progressed and evolved, the number of influencing factors increased, and so did the needs.

The needs of a simple form of being are simpler and less. As the species evolved the life forms became complicated and their needs also grew. With the coming of individual consciousness the requirements increased further and came to the point of explosion with the advent of man, who has the capacity to think, imagine, and plan.

Need inspires one to explore for things and then acquire them. In nature there is an abundance of things that could be acquired, but at the same time there are numerous diverse forces, which may or may not harm while one is exploring or acquiring. The quest for usable adds one more factor to exploration: the risk from and to others who are also continuously in the process of exploring and acquiring.

The moment one goes out to explore, he transgresses the territories of others and becomes a threat. As a reaction the others start the process of protecting their own territories and become a threat to the explorer. This is the beginning of a chain reaction, which continues to grow till it reaches a natural pulsating balance. In nature survival does not necessarily mean the total annihilation of the opposing factors, because in that eventuality the means of survival too will be wiped out. A balanced behaviour and capacity to co-exist is what nature endows to each and every individual component.

The Yucca Flower and Moth provide a simple and inspiring example of such coexistence in nature. The female Yucca Moth is equipped with a tiny, needle sharp tube (ovipositor) for laying eggs. The moth thrusts it through the wall of the ovary in the Yucca Flower and lays the eggs inside. During this process, she collects Yucca pollen and pollinates the stigma, thereby ensuring that her larvae will have enough seeds to feed on while they develop. As there are many more seeds than the larvae can consume, the plant is not harmed. This symbiotic interplay ensures the survival of both plant and insect. Without each other both species would die out.

The Ahimsa principle incorporates within itself this natural balance and harmony of coexistence. While acquiring anything, generally the first thing that comes to mind is its usefulness to the individual. But according to the Ahimsa principle, there are many other long-term and short-term factors involved. The one thing that covers almost all factors is the consideration that no harm should be caused in any way to others as well as self while exploring, acquiring and using a thing.

As the number of things useful to human beings is an ever-increasing factor, the term ‘harm to others’ also takes a variety of meanings with changing circumstances. It is important that the interpretation of this term be kept open and not confined in scope.

The first of the needs, as already emphasized, is food. It is so vital and important that it has been dealt with separately under the attitude of Alokitapana Bhojan. The other important need of beings is dwelling. While exploring, its safe habitability has to be considered first of all. Once that is ensured many other considerations come into play: displacement of others living at that place, blockage of the passage of others, and the effect of inhabiting the place on the environment and consequently on the other living beings in the surroundings.

With the capacity to invent and organize, the humans gradually formed society. The social systems evolved and with the improvements in travel and communications, distances started shrinking. All this increased the complications of group interactions in human beings and consequently the social and other disciplines started becoming complex. Although all the present forms of disciplines have been raised on the foundation of those early and simple but fundamental principles, they have lost their intrinsic strength of being the inbred disciplines. They have mostly become rules and laws to be imposed forcibly.

The urban and municipal rules are nothing but the extension, in modified form, of the attitude under discussion. These laws prevent the infringement of dwelling dimensions of one by the others in any possible way. The only difference is that these laws are mostly limited in their usefulness to human beings, whereas the Ahimsa principle has much wider range, including all living organisms and the environment conducive to evolution of life.

As this attitude covers everything acquired for human use, it covers a wide range of social and other laws. Apparels, modes of transportation, things of comfort and luxury, tools and implements etc. all come within the scope of this attitude. The simple and most important advantage of this inner discipline is that by practicing it, all the other rules and laws are automatically implemented without any outside pressure.

Originally it was need, which lead to acquisitions, but as the human mind and body got used to convenience and material comfort, needless acquisitions also started. When ambition was added the feeling of caring for others reduced. It turned into oppression of others when bloated ego came into action. Wastefulness, extravagance, hoarding, adulteration etc. are the results of the absence of this attitude.

In order to keep the selfish components of human nature from transgressing the realm of others, the observation of this attitude is vital and essential. At social level this attitude will breed harmony as well as reduce the abuse of available resources. At individual level this attitude gives the necessary purity to follow the path of liberation.

The fourth attitude, which is just an extension of the third, is being careful before accepting or giving away a thing by proper examination and curing it, so that no harm is caused to self or others who use it. Once again this attitude also covers a much wider range of things and activities than the traditionally accepted eatables and utensils. It covers almost everything worth mention.

Once a thing is explored for use it has to be carefully examined. If found necessary it should be altered, cured and prepared for use. It is something like cooking food, building and furnishing a house, getting a dress stitched and so on. Once again, the central theme is that the thing or the process involved should not be harmful to self or others.

It appears to be simple and unimportant but when practiced its value is revealed. If anything is used or given for use without proper examination and curing there are chances that it may turn out to be harmful. Looking at it from social viewpoint, we find its application in every day life, although unnoticed till we try to analyze it. The job of inspectors in the department of food and other such departments is nothing but ensuring the application of this attitude. The rules of industrial safety, drugs act, municipal laws etc, also fall under the same category.

The importance of these two attitudes continues to grow with industrial and technological progress. Law enforcement alone is never efficient enough to bring about the required harmony in the society. The law is thrust on the people and there are elements that continue to go against it by inventing ingenious methods of circumventing the law enforcing system. The discipline through these attitudes has to come subtly and by conscious and consented practice. It is education, not enforcement. Once absorbed, it is not easy to go against it and the work of law enforcement becomes much simpler.

As these attitudes apply both to accepting and giving, their growth in and effect on the society is much faster once sincere practice is started. The inbred vigilance due to the practice of these disciplines makes one conscious towards the sources of tarnishing of the soul as well. And that is one very valuable step towards purification.


Prakrit Bharati Academy
D.R. MEHTA, Founder & Chief Patron

First edition: 1987
Second enlarged Edition May: 2004
Third Edition July: 2008

© All rights reserved with the author

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Raj Printers & Associates, Jaipur, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahimsa
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Discipline
  5. Environment
  6. Soul
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