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What Is Ahimsa in Witchy Spirituality?  

What Is Ahimsa in Witchy Spirituality?  

Much controversy exists over the issue of ahimsa in spirituality. Can you eat meat and practice ahimsa? Can you say no to others, and even be aggressive if you have to, and still practice ahimsa? What are the limits of ahimsa, and how can you best practice it as a spiritual witch? 

All excellent questions, and you can find all of the answers, with all of their nuance, here. 

What Is Ahimsa? 

Ahimsa is a practice in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist traditions that translates best to respect for all living things and a commitment to nonviolence. 

It has been interpreted in many ways, including a refusal to defend oneself in the face of violence and a refusal to eat any living animal or eggs. 

In the strictest translation, Ahimsa can indeed be seen as a purely vegan diet that does not extract any animal products at all and taken to such extremes would also require that the plants one eats do not require the killing of wildlife for harvest of those plants, and plenty of studies have shown that about 7.3 billion wild animals die annually in crop monocultures. 

This means that to truly practice the strictest form of ahimsa, a practitioner would need to either grow their own food or source their food from a small farm that does not use a combine or other large crop harvester, where billions of animals are killed as they enter the combine. 

Of course, eating mindlessly and having no connection to one’s food is not the only alternative, so the issue of ahimsa is not one of shrugging your shoulders and saying “oh well.” 

The practice of ahimsa really is about being mindful in our approach to life, about being “in love” as much as we can with all we do, and about honoring all life as valuable. 

The Value of Life

Most indigenous populations from ancient history understood both the value of life and the value of animal protein for the human body, especially as we age. 

They also understood the value of community and inclusion as well as the value of setting boundaries, so they would welcome everyone in the community, including newcomers, but they would fight to defend themselves and eject anyone from the community that engaged in violent behavior. 

It really does all come down to balance, and those of us who live as spiritual witches understand and work with these concepts on a daily basis. 

Ahimsa, in the end, has to be a deeply held belief that each one of us interprets in our own way. 

Henry David Thoreau held a firm belief in civil disobedience and nonviolent protest as he revealed during his resistance to the Mexican American war in the 1840s. 

He refused to pay taxes on the grounds that the American government was waging an unjust war against our neighbors in order to take their land, and he was put in prison for it – a consequence he accepted wholeheartedly. 

Mahatma Ghandi practiced ahimsa, nonviolent resistance, in the fight against British colonialism in India, and he fasted for weeks on end in protest of occupation, staunchly believing that eating meat was violence and that refusal to eat at all was better than arming himself to fight. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Taught nonviolence during the Civil Rights era in order to show the American government how wrong it was to harm Black people and other people of color in this country, and he encouraged his followers to not defend themselves even in the face of the worst violence. 

Each of these teachers and leaders had a different approach to ahimsa, but all can be called a stance against violence. 

At the same time, some would argue that Henry David Thoreau engaged in violence because he ate meat. 

That Ghandi engaged in violence against himself by refusing to eat. 

And that MLK Jr. Engaged in violence by allowing himself to be beaten. 

Interpretation really is in the eye of the interpreter, and the best thing we can do is to sit with ourselves in meditation and do what is right for us as individuals. 

For, after all, we answer only to God, to Source Energy, and not to every individual who calls us out. 

As Abraham Hicks says, you did not come here to be understood. Trying to get others to understand you is a lesson in futility. 

How to Best Practice Ahimsa?

So, how can you best practice ahimsa? 

Mindfully. 

Honestly, that is the best thing you can do. 

Be as mindful as you can in all you do. 

When it comes to making decisions about how to live in peace and in love, check in with yourself. 

Ask yourself, is this the best thing for me and the other living creatures I am here to coexist with during this lifetime? 

Meditate

Possibly the most important and powerful action you can take in terms of ahimsa in your life is to meditate

Sit with yourself for 20 minutes every day and just be with your higher consciousness. 

That part of yourself will speak to you. 

It will guide you to the highest good in all things. 

And of course you will fail. You will ignore your inner voice. And you will suffer. 

But that is part of the process. 

That is part of the practice of ahimsa also. 

To be able to forgive yourself along with others. 

During your meditation, practice a sort of full body scan that works its way down from your crown chakra to your root chakra, clearing and cleaning you out, opening you up, and filling you up with love and light. 

If you approach each day this way, no matter how often you fall and fail, you will rise again and again in ahimsa, or, as Ghandi put it, in love. 

This is the ultimate approach to life, one that starts and ends with love.

Can I Eat Meat and Practice Ahimsa?

The argument against eating meat is that it is violent against animals. But, as we have seen, the harvesting of crops is also a violent act against animals, and in many ways a much more mindless one.

After all, you can choose to eat meat that is humanely treated and pasture raised, and mercifully slaughtered, which honors the role of the animal in your health and well-being. 

And because science shows us that the most efficient way for the human body to meet its protein needs is with animal protein, this argument honors a circle of life approach to living

There are those who will never eat meat, despite feeling lethargic and weak for the rest of their lives, and they will note that this way of life is an acceptable trade off for a commitment to nonviolence. 

And this is why we allow others to live as they will. 

To each his own. 

I would argue, for myself, that I am meant to be here, fully awake and energized by life, to fulfill my purpose of presence and my external purposes of meeting the intentions I set before I came into this human body, and that my body does indeed need animal protein to be at its best. 

So I honor the animals who provide the protein my body needs as best I can by supporting humane ranches and farms. 

To each his own. 

Can I Defend Myself? 

I would also argue that damaging my own body by not meeting my full nutritional needs is also an act of violence. 

With food as well as with defense. 

If someone attacks me and I cannot remove myself from the situation, I am allowing violence to be perpetrated against my person. 

Which is an act of violence. 

So it is up to me to manage that energy in a way that prevents me from being harmed while mobilizing the attacker. 

The art of Aikido engages in this way in nonviolent defense, a way of working with energy in ways that prevent you from being harmed without causing too much harm to your attacker. 

So yes, you can indeed defend yourself. 

You came here to live. 

Not lay down and die. 

And it is a good idea to understand precisely how energy works, so that you know when you are inviting violence and how to avoid it altogether. 

Does Ahimsa Let Me Say No? 

Sometimes, the most peaceful thing you can do is say no. 

No thank you. 

Many people I talk to on this issue think that to live in love means to allow anyone to do anything to us. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

True peace and love mean to set firm boundaries in an act of self-love first and foremost. 

You must love yourself enough to say no, to cut toxic people and activities out of your life, and to learn to engage with energy that is so strongly loving that you stop attracting people who bring negativity into your life altogether. 

That is the true nature of ahimsa. 

Love yourself. 

Happy manifesting!