Ahimsa and DAD

In yoga, most of us start with exposure to the asanas, the actual physical poses and postures that we move through during class. Interestingly, if you continue to explore yoga, you arrive at a place where you discover some of the philosophy behind it, and this can be so fascinating as we move through life and try to understand the complex and at times difficult experiences we are having.

Some of the yamas have particularly been bubbling to the surface of my mind in the last few days, as I go through the extremely difficult experience of losing my dad. One of these is ahimsa and thinking of all the yamas, I think my dad reminds me of this concept most. This word means the absense of cruelty and the strong force of compassion. It can mean "pure love" and selfless service. He was very compassionate, and I always felt that while he was very strong, his spirit had such a gentle component. He could barely bear to hear any of us talk about a scratch or scrape without wincing, our pain was his. Funny though, if you asked him about a cut on his hand, he'd just mutter, "it's nothing", "don't know how I got that".

He had such a friendliness, and would make friends wherever he went, with jokes and stories, and honesty. He loved life very much, and often found a gem of humour to share. In addition, he was so polite to others, being considerate and trying his best to do what was right. In his career, he was improving water quality through science, protecting people from the dangers of water-bourne diseases, seeking to prevent harm.

This concept also relates to duty, and he was very committed to his various jobs in life, with unwaivering focus and without complaint. He loved to run, doing 3 miles daily for most of his life, practicing non-violence towards his body by caring for it. He was there for many many events for each of us five children and his wife, from soccer games, weddings, graduations, car trouble, working in the yard, and taking trips together. He was such a rock for our family, uniting us, so humbly. I will always think of him and his spirit, when I think of ahimsa.


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