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Question
Dear Brother William, I have been studying Gandhi and his belief in Ahimsa.
But do the principles of Ahimsa apply to all living beings?
Thankyou

Answer
Dear Adam,

Thank you for your question.

Ahimsa is an ideal toward which we strive. It is not an absolute. In some sects of Jainism an absolutist form of ahimsa is practiced, leading the practitioners to starve themselves to death to avoid harm to any being. They even consider fire alive, so they will not use fire for fear of having to extinguish them.

The problem with ahimsa is that sustaining life in a physical body requires killing. Just breathing involves killing of tiny organisms we can't even see. Plants are alive and respond to their environment. Where do you draw the line?

Different persons of different temperaments draw different lines depending on their philosophy. For myself a pragmatic application makes more sense than an absolutist one. Progress not perfection is my slogan in striving ever to achieve a higher and higher practice of ahimsa.

Ultimately, when you know the Self beyond all change, you know the deeper meaning of ahimsa. Know the Self as the Self of all beings, and you will know perfect ahimsa.

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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