Hindus/Ahimsa

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Question
If plants are seen to be living items as well and Ahimsa is about not being violent towards any living thing, does that mean a Hindu cannot do a job such as cutting down trees? Also if something has come from a plant such as cotton wool, paper or a medicine and they used it, would this be breaking ahimsa even if they had not personally caused the violence towards that living plant? Or is it a cotton plants Dharma to be used in that way?

Answer
Dear Emma,

Thank you for your question.

Ahimsa, "non-injury," is an ethical ideal toward which Hindus should aspire. All beings harm others in some way to survive, and survival is certainly permitted ethically. Therefore, one must balance the need for survival and also for making a livelihood with the practice of ahimsa. Hindus are above all pragmatic in practice. None advocate starving yourself to death to avoid killing plants. One can strive toward an ideal at the same time falling short of it in practice without violating the principles of dharma or righteous living.

Best wishes,

Brother William

Hindus

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William Schindler, a.k.a. Brother William

Expertise

I can answer questions about Vedanta philosophy, Patanjali Yoga philosophy and practice, Tantra, Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, Vivekachudamani (Shankara`s Crest-jewel of Spritual Discrimination), Advaita (non-dualism), the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda tradition, Goddess worship, meditation practice, Hindu monasticism (sannyasa), and Sanskrit.

Experience

I've been studying and practicing Vedanta and Tantra since 1969.

Organizations
I'm the founder and spiritual director of Ashram West, a gay spiritual community based on traditional Hindu Tantra. I have been a member of the Vedanta Society of Southern California since 1969.

Publications
I have three books in print: GAY TANTRA, ESSAYS ON GAY TANTRA, BLOOD OF THE GODDESS.

Education/Credentials
I hold a B.A. in Sanskrit (UC Berkeley 1975) and an M.A. in clinical psychology (Antioch University 1986).

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