Ahimsa – The Antidote to Fear

By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Bhagavan Sri Ramana used to say, “Ahimsa Param Dharma”. It means that Ahimsa (Nonviolence) is the Supreme Dharma (Duty or Principle). Sri Ramana pointed out to the devotees and yogis that in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Ahimsa is named as the highest virtue above all other virtues. If we are able to understand what Ahimsa means at the deepest level, that clarity itself guides us in discovering the nature of the Self as our own Being.

Ahimsa means to be gentle with others and oneself and all of nature. Ahimsa means to be natural and aware without rushing and pushing and trying to get somewhere quickly. This applies to both the material and the spiritual world.  The mental tendency to grab and consume experiences of various types remains, even as people get on the spiritual path. There is nothing wrong with that. However, we should be aware of the tendencies that drive us in one direction or another as they create restlessness in the mind. A restless mind cannot surrender to the Lord who sits in the Heart as Pure Existence.

I remember the colloquial Hindi saying, “Sahaj Pake So Meetha Hoye”. It means when we cook something slowly and naturally, it turns out sweet. The implication is that when you turn the heat on too high and too quickly trying to get the results immediately, it can backfire. The food may get burned. The soup may not have the time to simmer and absorb all the flavors from the vegetables and spices.

“Sahaj Pake So Meetha Hoye” is a cooking metaphor but can apply to many things, even personal growth on the spiritual path. People ask for how they can hasten their spiritual progress. They want advice to move forward fast. But life is not a DVD or a DVR. The rush towards enlightenment makes an object of our Self-nature and such expectations can cloud our vision.

All advanced meditation and yoga practices finally come to the point where one becomes extraordinarily aware of the root instinct to survive not just as a physical human entity but as an identity. If we meditate deeply on our being, we will see that our actions and behaviors are guided at gross and subtle levels by this root survival nature embedded in our psyche. So the first principle of yoga, which is Ahimsa (nonviolence), seems very strange in this context. If our root instinct is to survive, it goes against our nature to embrace a philosophy that states that the highest principle of life is nonviolence or harmlessness to others.

It is only when we meditate deeply on the nature of our being, we see why the ancient sages have put the ideal of Ahimsa at the top of their list. Ahimsa is the final antidote to fear at every level. Ahimsa means harmlessness. If we are cultivating Ahimsa, we are not holding on to things and we are not looking for higher states of consciousness. To look for Truth anywhere else other than where you are is not the straight path. Ahimsa in its finest essence implies absolute non-movement of the mind via non-identification with the ego/mind. 

Without knowing that Ahimsa is the Self-nature, fear will be there. Seeing the “other” separate from oneself is a subtle form of violence. As long as there is the “other”, there is fear and the root instinct to survive dominates. When we understand that Self is One without a second, that is true Ahimsa. Without this deep cultivation of non-violence in fiber of one’s being, fear will come up in meditation, and in Samadhi, and one may feel terror at the thought of losing everything along with one’s identity.

Intellectually, we know that we will lose everything because nothing belongs to us. All things are transient and we part at the time of death from our loved ones. Yet, even knowing this truth, we cannot emotionally accept it and the deep rooted fear of loss still comes out. The whole of nature has programmed us to survive at every level. We have to respect this nature and not struggle with it. If fear comes, one has to reflect carefully as to why it has come. What are we afraid of losing? And if we are afraid of losing something (love, power, money, prestige, position, life, sanity, mind, etc.), we should take it in gentle stride as a natural part of life and not create an extra layer of judgment upon ourselves and cause more tension.

So it is at this point, one has to allow the soup of life to simmer with love and gratitude. When the soup is not ready, we have to let it simmer on low heat and capture all the flavors. The first principle of yoga, which is Ahimsa, or harmlessness, gradually frees one from the fear of loss. It is the attitude of Ahimsa, that softens the tendency to hold on to things. Only through grace can one can surrender one’s being to the Lord of the Heart and realize the Self as one’s own being, the One without a second.

23 thoughts on “Ahimsa – The Antidote to Fear

  1. Pingback: Kundalini and Visionary Leadership-2: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar | Luthar.Com: HarshaSatsangh

  2. Dear Harsh,
    just beautiful! I had not thought of ahimsa in those terms before, but it does resonalte with me. Thank you for explaining this. I now see why ahimsa is at the core and is the first of all ethical practices- it encompasses the whole! It is perfect. Ahimsa in its purest ” form” is love

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank You for wonderful guidance and help making one’s self available or a *Bodhi tree!May the *Fairysaint the devine daughter of Most High guide Us to Lord’s love and compassion!
    Sri Ramana is our love,
    just as the *fairysaint our guide to HIm,
    Amrit B.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Dr. Harsha

    Just found out this inspiring article. I used to and actually still am always looking for progress in self-realization but my progress has been slow in recent time. This makes me feel worried and fear for staying at the same place for a long time. I just realized from this article that such a thought is the obstacle to self-realization but just I don’t know what should I convey to myself if I do not bear in mind that I am looking for self-realization but at the same time making progress in self-realization. Looking forward to your reply.

    Gordon Lee

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for all your comments. This article shows the unity between principle of Ahimsa (the philosophy of nonviolence as exemplified by sages in their reverence for all life) and Self-Realization.

    From the article:

    “It is only when we meditate deeply on the nature of our being, we see why the ancient sages have put the ideal of Ahimsa at the top of their list. Ahimsa is the final antidote to fear at every level. Ahimsa means harmlessness. If we are cultivating Ahimsa, we are not holding on to things and we are not looking for higher states of consciousness. To look for Truth anywhere else other than where you are is not the straight path. Ahimsa in its finest essence implies absolute non-movement of the mind.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for a simple but powerful article. The problem with this approach is, the intellect takes a lot of time to act when it deciphers the instincts or emotions. Ultimately, it might even think that since everything is one, why should this survival instinct bother me as an individual ? So, this leads to living a complex life for an unenlightened person.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just what I needed to read! Under some circumstances fear is virtually universal. (“All advanced meditation and yoga practices finally come to the point where one becomes extraordinarily aware of the root instinct to survive not just as a physical human entity but as an identity.”) However, of all the painful and pain causing aspects of the ego, fear has always been the most pronounced for me in my life. “As long as there is the ‘other’, there is fear and the root instinct to survive dominates.” There is fear not only of being harmed by what is other than the oneself, there is also fear of losing the ‘other’ who is cherished. There is the fear that oneself as a body, among many other separate bodies, is impermanent. I only know the experience of fear as that which I try to escape by controlling the world to make it ‘safe’. I will read the article again and reflect on it, in an attempt to try to address the great problem of fear itself rather than just whatever I am afraid of. After all, forms are impermanent; only the formless Self is timeless. Thank you, Harsh. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the comments and sharing your insights Evan. “Once when Chadwick was overcome with fear during sadhana, Sri Bhagavan explained to him that, it was the ego which experienced the fear as it felt it was gradually losing its grip. It was in fact dying and naturally resented it. Sri Bhagavan further advised, ‘Question to whom is the fear? It is also due to the habit of identifying the body with the Self.'”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A great reminder allowing Spirit to take the lead, Abiding in Stillness for I will take you by a way you know not of says Jesus. Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya ❤

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  9. Violence is not only at the physical level. That is only a small part. Krishnamurti stressed how the thinking process leads to violence. How we treat others with our words, even with our gestures. How we destroy the reputation of others with thoughtless words. This is the result of our competitive nature which breeds violence.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    “Ahimsa means to be gentle with others and oneself and all of nature. Ahimsa means to be natural and aware without rushing and pushing and trying to get somewhere quickly. This applies to both the material and the spiritual world. The mental tendency to grab and consume experiences of various types remains, even as people get on the spiritual path. There is nothing wrong with that. However, we should be aware of the tendencies that drive us in one direction or another as they create restlessness in the mind. A restless mind cannot surrender to the Lord who sits in the Heart as Pure Existence.” I’m still working on this one…thanks for sharing, Harsh Luthar!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Your thoughts are beautifully laid out, and give me a deeper understanding of Ahimsa. Yes, I see how we cannot be truly connected to all there is if we feel separate. There is such a deep conditioning to be an ‘individual’ in the West, our culture has lost much of its connection to the natural environment; let alone each other. When we exist in this state of separation, we build walls around ourselves. Not literally as much as psychically. Why? Because we feel the need for protection from others who are not in alignment with us.This is certainly pertinent in this very day and time. The Course in Miracles states that we respond to the ‘outside’ world either through love or fear; with fear simply being the lack of love. Ultimately, it is our inner state that dictates our responses. When we begin to practice Ahimsa in earnest, we start to cultivate the patience and acceptance that lead us Love. May we all come to experience the very essence of Love which Ahimsa leads us toward. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A feeling arises that ahimsa is swabhava of self ,so is must step.complete attributes can only come from self. Om namo bhagwate ramanaaye namah . Pray enable us to follow you ,the way you want.

    Like

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