Ahimsa is So Hard...
I first learned this term, short-hand, as do no harm. Further curiosity, exploration, gives a bit more contour for us here:
respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others
non-violence or without-injury
having a strong back and a soft heart (Lao Tzu)
I liked the first ‘find’ as it makes explicit respect and avoidance of violence. We can often withhold our conscious violent actions while still disrespecting others. I loved the poetry-body of Lao Tzu’s description. He creates space for the if we find ourselves going into battle realities that seem unavoidable today. If we enter into a potentially violent interaction–physical, conceptual, etc.--then at least we can aim to do with a strong back, soft heart.
I’ve been thinking/feeling a lot about the hurt(s) I’m witnessing in a community I love dearly. I’ve not written much about it because I’ve not known how to name what I’m experiencing without seemingly participating-in or exacerbating the hurt(s). One strand that is solely my own finally landed in me this morning, though I am experiencing this part of me with others’ social media posts.
I am getting a close-up view of how much I have projected onto the masculine out of my own woundedness–not being seen or heard as I needed to be when I was young; feeling the abandonment of women by the church (and other institutions), all while covered up with a gas-lighting nicety or passive-aggression that made it so difficult to know that my own experience was/is utterly legitimate, deserving of respect. I have a lot of unresolved anger, even rage, still, toward the unfeeling, unhearing, and unseeing unwillingness of men-identified human beings to feel, see, hear me (as I experience me/us). AND ironically (or not), I’m reaching a point of enough already in the critiques of the masculine. Only pragmatic, really.
Has any one of us ever desired to change because someone else–a woman-identified person, in my case–has accused us, whether directly or indirectly? Of course not. Kindness, forgiveness, gratitude…that is what grows a human being into the More.
I’m also getting a close-up (re)view of my tendency to take responsibility for things that are not mine to pick-up, particularly from women of color who are (understandably, unfairly, horrifically) unseen or unheard in the ways they need to be in order to heal, continue to grow. Here, I’m more than willing to receive the accusations, the critiques, the storying around all the ways white women have done X,Y,Z. Without dispute. But today? More and more? I am observing, not absorbing. Deep bow to what needs to be said. Letting it go. Not mine.
I have no ‘shoulds’ or ‘oughts’ or ‘social commentary’ on what anyone else says or needs to say. I can witness.
I can name my own yearning for do no harm.
I can remain a part of this dear community with a strong back and a soft heart.
But ahimsa is really fuckin’ hard. Just sayin’.