So often (at least for me), when I get to really considering a word, I find there is so much more meaning packed inside than appears on the surface. Indeed, the original meaning of a word is often cloaked with the layers of varnish applied though years of association with all kinds of experience and cultural influence, including - and strongly I think - the effect of our "education", what we are taught to see in a word. [Try Webster's on the word "wicked", for example. It's come to mean something quite different from it's origins in wisdom.]
So, "nonviolence" - a word I've been circling around since (only!) about 1997, when I started doing yoga asana got interested in what was going on beyond the pretzeley part. Nonviolence is a translation for the word ahimsa, the first yama ("observance") of classical yoga. It has also been used by the likes of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, as well as the word "nonviolent" in Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication (NVC). On a surface level, I hear that "a" means not and 'himsa" violence. Why "a-" or "non-"? Why not just say what it is? What is "himsa"? what is "violence"?
There's something deeper here. I think it speaks to the essence of who we are. But how?
Is it unnamable because it cannot be reduced to a word (I think of "Yaweh" YHWH)? My attempts to describe it in English are words like "all"ness, wholeness, completeness, perfection, Life. It's hard in English, I think, because our cultural framework is polarized: this and that, us and them, right and wrong. It goes on and on.
Then again, I think it may indeed be named in Sanskrit. The key is to see that these apparent polarities actually spiral dance as One.
This pulsation of awareness itself is known as AHAM.
"For this very reason the universe has flowed forth, beginning with the "a" (the Absolute..., the Transcendent...) and ending with "ha" (the fullest expansion of Power...), is made one's own [self] by bringing together the A and HA and manifesting [the word] with a Point (bindu, the nature of which is undivided awareness) and thus coming to rest in the Absolute itself. [AHAM]"
The Heart of the Doctrine of Recognition, by Lord Ksemaraja, translated by Hareesh Wallis.
The dance, if you will, of "a" and "ha" comprises everything: "a" + "ha" + "m". The AHAM.
A ha! :-)
It's a point of view - well - all points of view really. It's not a do/not do thing - it's a way of seeing.
Is that not the root of nonviolence? To see, respond, take action from knowing that we are all One?
Am I the only one who thinks this "aham" looks alot like the word ahimsa? I mean, seriously, "aham" + "sa" would mean moving in the way of the "aham"... which is exactly how I understand nonviolence: behaving in concordance with the perspective that we are all made of the same stuff even and we are also simultaneously differentiated...and this is only one vowel away from ahimsa? I'm still working on getting an answer to this question, and if anyone knows - puhlease will you enlighten me?
Careful, now with the Western mind which might initially organize this as - yeah, "God". Some of us might have some education to overcome. The part that says, "and I'm not God - right? There's God and not God." The door - or should I say labyrinth - opened for me when I got to wrap my mind around the possibility that I Am That, and We all Are.
But what about all those times when I'm sure I Am Not? Here's the cool part - that's It too! It's about Relationship: the Nature of who we are includes forgetting our Nature. This concealment is included in our perfection! This is the dance of concealment and revelation, never "outside" of anything.
And so the practice of Connection with Life is to take an attitude toward wholeness - to "strike the pose". This, even - and especially - when I'm forgetting, confusing my sense of separation with some Truth about what appear to be "myself" and "others":
When you are fiercely angry or feeling joy beyond description,
when you are at an impasse, not knowing what to do,
when you are in terror or running for your life,
know that such intense states of mind are fully permeated with the spanda,
the creative vibration of divine shakti.
Find her there.
~ Spanda Karikas
Otherwise, I'm stopping at the level of separation, good and evil, right and wrong, and this is where violence lives.
Don't stop there. That's all.
Violence at its root is believing that the Truth IS separation - and only separation - from anything. The attitude or "pose" that points beyond that belief is nonviolence.
To be nonviolent we move through and beyond, to recognize our relationship and interdependence, make our choices there. There are so many possible ways to be nonviolent. Whatever we do, we can lean into remembering wholeness, holding the pose as best as I can.
Don't insist, don't give up - persist.