Mirroring ahimsa in self-injury

Today, I’d like to share some random, possibly, rambling thoughts about the world of Ahimsa (and Himsa).


Gandhi translated the sanskrit word Ahimsa to the coined term “non violence” (Himsa is its counterpart = “violence”). In its original sense, ahimsa kinda means to abstain from hurting any living being, regardless if it occurred in your thoughts, your words or your actions. That includes amongst others animals and even plants. In the western hemisphere, I guess, the word is better understood in a more restricted meaning, such as just doing no harm to oneself or another. [1-2]

And if I understand it right, there is this believe that any harm you do to another person, ultimately also results in harming yourself – justifying the call for Ahimsa.

I guess, ahimsa encourages us to show tolerance and respect towards others, such as not being judgmental when we learn of a person who physically injures themselves on purpose. Which might get us into trouble a little bit because it is confusing. Can we expect others to be / or live ahimsa, when we have stopped “respecting”and tolerating our pain by harming ourselves? Maybe, this is exactly where we need to draw a line. That it is, not ok, but helpful in some sort of way to self-injure (be violent as in live himsa) and that we need the understanding of other people (ahimsa in terms of being tolerant and respectful) that might help us step out of this process some time along the way. So kind of trying to connect these different sides (the self-harm inflicted upon oneself, versus the understanding we long for from other people) as opposing viewpoints; as the himsa that needs the ahimsa from others in order to get better at some point.

So, I encourage all of us to bring a little more ahimsa (in a sensible way) into our lives and into our relationships. And also can we transform the himsa directed against ourselves into a less destructive form? Can we find a way to put the first letter in the alphabet in front of our justified (maybe not so justified) violence against ourselves, without going crazy and while still achieving a sense of relief?

[1] M. A. R. Malik, R. Z. Abbas, M. Ashraf, C. A. Rehman, Z Ahmad (2011). Gandhi’s Ahimsa- A Critical Review at the Critical Time of War against Terrorism. International Journal of Business and Social Science 2(12):114-119.

[2] H. K. Fitz (2007). Ahimsa. A Way Of Life; a Path To Peace. Gandhi Lecture Series. Center for Indic Studies. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.


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