I read with interest from CNN that basketball player Ron Artest, who changed his name to Metta World Peace, was ejected Sunday from the Los Angeles Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder game for hitting James Harden in the head with his elbow. Now I am not pronouncing judgment on Metta World Peace, for I am unaware of the details of the altercation. But the incident has me thinking about a topic that I have spent the last several days thinking about: Ahimsa.
According to what I dug out from five minutes of research on the web, ancient Buddhist texts do not use ahimsa as a technical term. The basic meaning is simply to do no harm. Accordingly to what I researched, Jain monks filter water so as to not consume microbes. Yet, I simply grab a glass from the cabinet, turn on the faucet and guzzle down a glass. Sometimes I guzzle down a glass with ice.
So if I simply guzzle down a glass of water, am I in theory guilty of actually killing microbes? If I put ice in my glass of water before consumption, I am guilty of killing the microbs by freezing the same said microbes before guzzling them down my throat?
To step away from the ethical fray of microbe death listed above, I think back for a moment to Mr. World Peace listed above and of my own personal behavior. “Ahimsa,” I meditate. “Ahimsa!” While technically speaking, ahimsa could be quite confounding if applied literally. Rather, I now believe that anyone who harms another being intentionally goes against this central ethic.
Admittedly, since I read about the ‘ahimsa’ concept I have delved into my own past. Upon greater scrutiny, I easily relive moments when my actions or lack thereof caused great harm. To the Catholic Church, to my friends, my family and coworkers. To them, of which some know and have not known, I have lied, cheated and stole. I have lied or mislead to get the business deal done. I have cheated personal responsibility and stole personal deposits of love that will never ever return.
This level of acting and associated plausible deniability has severed the greatest love ever had, lacerated the hope of several women over the years and robbed true greatness and reduced it to mediocrity. Having asked for forgiveness to many of those whom I hurt, I stood naked. I received nary a pardon. Yet by brooding of these moments only continued to imprison my soul. Thus, I have become the judge, jury and executioner. This is a circular argument, to which, as Baggar Vance so eloquently phrased in the Legend of Baggar Vance, “What I’m talkin about is a game… A game that can’t be won only played…”
Whether Mr. Metta World Peace intentionally inflicted harm upon someone else is unknown. But as for me, I now choose to overcome the past by following a path that leads to release, recognizing that when I hurt others, I hurt myself. When I do not forgive, I do not forgive myself. I now live in ahimsa, trying to do no harm and live in love.