Sutra 2.34 and 2.35 - More about non-violence

2.34 Improper thoughts and emotions such as those of violence- whether done, caused to be done, or even approved of- indeed, any thought originating in desire, anger or delusion, whether mild medium or intense- do all result in endless pain and misery. Overcome such distractions by pondering on the opposites.

2.35 When one is confirmed in non-violence, hostility ceases in his presence.

Note: I already did a post about non- violence, so there is going to be some retread in this article. 

What does it mean to be non-violent?  I think most people think of non-violence in only physical terms.  We hear stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi using non-violent methods to fight injustice and gain political favor.  In Vietnam, Buddhist monks would set themselves on fire as a way to protest government repression.  These are nice stories, but are they truly non-violent in the context of Yoga?

Goswami Kriyananda explanation of the Yamas and Niyamas included three levels of practice: thought, speech and action.  When we look in the mirror of self-introspection, we can see how out thoughts lead to speech and actions on the world.  In my opinion, violent thoughts lead to violent speech and violent action.  Since we see ourselves as living in a society that values the exchange of ideas over the use of brute physical force, it can lead the impression that our society is non-violent.  I know, I know, there are still a lot of gun crimes and physical abuse, but as compared to even 100 years ago, this has steadily gone down.

How do you work on this?  All you have to do is work on one of the three aspects of non-violence, and the others will fall into place.  The more difficult the aspect you are working on, the quicker results you will get.  By far, the toughest is dealing with violent thought.  When you are in meditation, keep a look out for violent streams of thought and break them by telling yourself that you are not that thought.  The mind thinks in threads of thought, so one thought will lead to another thought.  If you can identify the first link in the chain, you have come a long way.  Knowing the source of those thoughts is the key to breaking their power. 

I would not get frustrated if this takes a long time.  It can take years of practice to root out the first link in the chain of thoughts.  Psychotherapists use this technique in differing forms, so think of it as a way to save yourself some money on expensive therapy bills.  Yoga can be the best "do it yourself" fix it tool.