September 24, 2013

Ahimsa vs. Satya: Is Being Honest More Important than Being Compassionate? ~ Elissa Scott

It’s the age-old gladiator clash between the two forces of the yoga Yamas: Ahimsa and Satya.

Who will win, non-harming or truth?

It’s always a battlefield in my own mind. Seriously, just who trumps whom?

Who defines hurtfulness and/or truth: Myself, or another individual?

In the psychology of yoga as the art of living right, Patanjali’s sutras give us the grocery list of the must-haves and the must-dos. The first registered and maybe utmost significant are the yamas or moral characters.

In a nutshell, it’s like saying that the ethical way of living for a yoga practitioner is to do this and this and this and not this or that or that other thing that we may love to do. It’s like tweaking another person’s vibe.

Asana falls in place at third rung.  (So crawling up through your own asshole in a yoga pose is only 12.5% on the final exam of the eight limbs.)

‘Dem yamas are the shall-nots of what to do, like what to eat. Being vegan or vegetarian.

Why? Because when it hurts another living being then it’s perceived as wrong.

This is why Jainists sweep the ground with a little broom before walking to avoid stepping on insects. Nor do they dig up or eat root vegetables for fear of disturbing a critter’s habitat.

I give street cred for this concept to India, while practicing at the Karnataka Mysore Shala for the first time where I was booze-free, meatless and celibate. I fed banana peels to wandering holy street cows, revelling in the culture.

Yet I chain-smoked armloads of cigarettes, drank caffeinated street chai tea by the barrel and ate buckets of sugary chai candy (as no good quality bonbons or chocolatiers were to be found).

Is it any wonder I lost a toddler-size in weight and returned to Canada with my hip bones sharpened?

On the other hand, while touring Kerala on a sightseeing trip, locals forced meat upon us as though we were animal flesh tourists in search of a carnivorous experience. As was the Muslim district in Bangalore where skinned animal bodies were strung, dangling from clotheslines like patio lanterns.

Buddhists are well known for yielding to physical beatings by their oppressors. Rather than surrendering their beliefs, they take the middle way.

They choose the path of least resistance and of love (please define?), as they ahimsa not themselves in the name of personal truth and religious piety.

They decide from the get-go to diffuse a situation rather than allow it to escalate. Should it reflect negatively on them for this lifetime or their next?

Is being honest more important than being compassionate? Is being genuine above non-violence?

We have become so efficient in this information age by serving our tastes and preferences, while appeasing our aversions and denying our hearts and souls.We have economized the killing of animals as a commodity and beefed up their naturally scrawny bodies genetically and chemically to factory farmed McSized proportions for profit, affordability and accessibility.

Is this authenticity?  

When I speak out against the exploitation of Filipino nannies as human slavery, some divas drops their Starbucks cup in horror, accusing me of being a bitch and blocking me on social forums because they don’t want to hear my personal truth.

Or is it because it resonates so deeply on so many levels when I’m merely the messenger?

Yep, you know the one. Me. I’m the person who gets ‘em all stewin’ and a gossipin’.

Yet it’s a great barometer for those who feel their moral compass is crisscrossed, misaligned and in need of their feet on the ground and pointed in the right direction.

I always believe in when and where to pick battles. Which hill shall we die on today?

Is it truth serum or truth ceremony? Ultimately any form of confrontation lands as criticism rather than loving kindness.

Not surprisingly, I get a lotta hate mail:

“For someone that is supposed to be so spiritually enlightened you sure like to make a lot of judgments and digs at other people’s lives…If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it all!!”

Humans are chameleons in everyday life, depending on those we’re with and the circumstances of where we are.

Behind a keyboard there’s less filter and a little more hyperbole. I’m sure I’ve hurt people’s feelings online which is a bummer, but which is more important, truth or non-harming?

When face-to-face, we give each other a big hug and laugh it off. Many friends also say in person how entertaining my rants and writing are. Oh well!

So am I a bully for being a lifestyle Nazi or standing up for what I believe to be true? Do I ride the short bus for telling people to spell properly and who can’t take a joke? It’s called wit not twit. So when friends criticize my media posts or public behavior, does that mean I’m viewed as a spiritual haven or heathen?

And I aint’ backin’ down.

As well as my English teacher grandma taught me in the proficiencies of spelling, speaking and manners, this isn’t a dress rehearsal. So I better get it right the first time. Appeasing others feelings while neglecting my own isn’t some popularity contest—I wasn’t put here on the planet to be a salve to your wounds.

I’m here to spit truth like it is from my perspective. It’s the last spin for me on this blackjack reincarnation wheel.

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Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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