by Ted L. Cox
Kindness toward others is the bedrock of all spiritually based morality. When expressed outwardly, it is easy to understand—either we are or we are not kind to other people. Inward kindness (reflective kindness), directed toward the self, for many people is another story. In yoga philosophy, this moral precept of non-harming is called ahimsa. A common understanding of ahimsa is not judging others and ourselves; any negative thoughts we have about ourselves violates this precept. Ahimsa also means consideration and attention toward the self and others—not to cause injury—and compassion and love for the self. Kindness toward everyone can ensue only when we stop condemning, fearing, judging, discrediting and hating each other. How we treat others and ourselves determines our future.
Not standing in judgment of ourselves is really what ahimsa is all about. One of the many dualities in society is success and failure, but who’s to judge whether or not we’ve succeeded or failed? This leads to judgment and opinion, but what are those judgments based on—the truth? Judgments and opinions originate from human ego, such as “I’m right, you’re wrong,” and are expressions from ego, creating more separation with life and others. When we have separation or division, it is the law that there must be conflict, which often ends up with someone getting hurt.
Who decides what is success and what is failure? Hurting others is failure. Having negative thoughts about ourselves is failure. Comparing ourselves to others is failure. Judging ourselves; looking outside ourselves for validation; trying to make ourselves look better than someone else; pretending to be someone we are not; lying; and finally, trying to prove ourselves to others—all of these are failures on our part. We fail ourselves and violate the precept of kindness when we believe we are not enough as we are. We don’t need anyone or anything outside ourselves to validate our existence. What we’ve been seeking our entire lives is simply to be who we are. Whatever we believe about ourselves is what we project to the outside world and other people. Those beliefs are what the outside world and others believe about us. Our reflective kindness toward ourselves shines kindness back to the outside world. If we are truly kind to ourselves at all times and without exception, we will most likely be kind to everyone and everything.
Ted L. Cox is the owner of Spirit House Yoga located at 5107 N. Shartel Ave., in Oklahoma City. and Yoga Lab located at 1745 N.W. 16th Street in the Plaza District. He has written two books on yoga, Warrior Self and Warrior Truth. visit SpiritHouseYoga.com. or yogalabokc.com