Defining AHIMSA

July 28, 2012

***Arbitrarily found this written in a pamphlet somewhere, but it sums up the attributes of ahimsa [nonviolence] very well!

AHIMSA is…

Avoidance of
Harm
Intended by
Mind
Speech or
Action                                       

Just shared a photo on my facebook page that read ‘Just Pray. Tell God all the things that bother you & cry it all to Him. He hears you and He cares.’ I’m not really into religious messages, but I thought this message what quite profound. It made me go in search of some good crying quotes.

These are a mixture of the best few that I found from here! They explain the nature and importance of shedding tears.

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“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”  ―    Charles Dickens,    Great Expectations

“If you’ve never eaten while crying  you don t know what life tastes like.”  ―    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs.  One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice.  If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer.  Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”  ―    Kripalvanandji

“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”  ―    James Joyce,    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

“When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them.”  ―    Lemony Snicket,    Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

“Guys always think tears are a sign of weakness.  They’re a sign of FRUSTRATION. She’s only crying so she won’t cut your throat in your sleep.  So make nice and be grateful.”  ―    Donna Barr

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve.  Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water.  But there must be sunlight also.  A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”  ―    Brian Jacques,    Taggerung

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.”  ―    Carl Sandburg

“During the last few months of the camp’s existence the shortage of food was so acute that the prisoners (the camp staff were still well fed) resorted to cannibalism, and one former British internee gave evidence at the trial of the Commandant and some of his staff that when engaged in clearing away dead bodies as many as one in ten had a piece cut from the thigh or other part of the body which had been taken and eaten, and that he had seen people in the act of doing it. To such lengths had they been brought by the pangs of hunger.

  This witness said:

I noticed on many occasions a very strange wound at the back of the thigh of many of the dead. First of all I dismissed it as a gunshot wound at close quarters, but after seeing a few more I asked a friend and he told me that many of the prisoners were cutting chunks out of the bodies to eat. On my very next visit to the mortuary I actually saw a prisoner whip out a knife, cut a portion out of the leg of a dead body and put it quickly into his mouth, naturally frightened of being seen in the act of doing so. I leave it to your imagination to realize to what state the prisoners were reduced, for men to risk eating bits of flesh cut from black corpses.”

— Lord Russell of Liverpool 2008, p. 178

The “camp” that Lord Russell of Liverpool, also known as Edward Frederick Langley Russell, was referring to in this quote was Bergen-Belsen. I originally came across this account by Lord Russell in Garry Hogg‘s 1958 book Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice (p. 188-189) while doing research for an essay on survival cannibalism in the 20th century. Because The Scourge of the Swastika was originally published in 1954 by London: Cassell, with this 2008 version just harboring a new introduction by Alistair Horne, I was able to track this second-hand reference to its source.

Two of my quotes posted on this blog have made mentioned of cannibalism. To read them please click here and here. I have already evaluated that the practice of humans eating flesh from other humans is neither a strange nor rare practice around the world.  This practice is thought to be most justified as a method of survival. Thus, the act of cannibalism taking place in the mortuary of Bergen-Belsen due to acute starvation and hunger is understandable. For prisoners to have to resort to such ‘inhuman’ measures, however, can often lead to much embarrassment and a devaluing of self-worth. Still, it would be erroneous to assume that the prisoner mentioned in the witness testimony speedily ate the chunk of human flesh because he was “naturally frightened of being seen in the act.” If this act referred to the prisoner being caught by Nazi officers for not following orders, that would be true. However, to assume that anyone would be appalled or would retaliate to see a prisoner commit “the act” of cannibalism is unlikely and unknown. At least that is what I believe.

Surprisingly, this is the only (direct) evidence I could find of cannibalism taking place during the Holocaust. You can read this section here on Google Books. While many sources express that cannibalism was rife during this episode in history, I have been unable to find details in the literature. This may be because of the embarrassment felt by camp survivors who partook in this activity post-WWII. As their dire circumstances have been replaced by comfort and reintegration into societal life, this may in fact be a memory many have repressed or hidden from historians, archivists, and loved ones.

Reference: Lord Russell of Liverpool 2008. The Scourge of the Swastika: A History of Nazi War Crimes during World War II. New York: Skyhorse Publishing

“With repeated use even the simplest activity can leave marks on the bone. The things we do today may become imprinted on our bones and years from now we may have “couch potato buttocks,” “remote control thumb,” or “Nintendo wrist”.”

— Peggy Thomas 1995, p. 58, 61

This osteology quote is pretty self explanatory – the movements we make our bodies do today may be soo repetitive that they will be noticeable as slight, but distinctive, changes on our skeletons. The only thing to consider is whether we will ever be able to identify the bone changes correctly to the right activity? Especially since people today are very diverse in their activities, and do so many of them, that it may only be possible to say which part of the body was moved in which direction, but not for what reason. Thus, only the descriptive what, rather than the resulting why may be discovered…

Reference: Thomas, P. 1995. Talking Bones: the science of forensic anthropology. New York: Facts on File

Ego Quote on Billboard

February 16, 2012

Found this in an airport the other day and thought I should share…

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Found this in an airport the other day and thought I should share…

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“When in distress, a person has to experience his miseries all alone.  After death he [sic] goes to the next life all alone.  Hence the wise do not consider anyone worth taking shelter under.”

— Dulichand Jain 1999, p. 68

On the contrary, during our lifetimes, we try to keep others close by and form lasting bonds whose support and strength we can draw on during times of distress. Having someone else’s sympathies no doubt makes a person’s solitary experience less harsh – providing a cushion to the blows of life. We also try to keep others nearby and wish that someone will be there to hold our hand while we pass from this life to the next. So if we are lucky, we don’t have to start this unknown journey alone. This is why we take the risk of having others under our ‘shelter’. Whether this is a decision of ‘the wise’ or not is, of course, not for me to comment on…

To read another quote by Dulichand Jain, please click here to be directed to a previous blog post.

 Reference: Jain, D. 1999. Springs of Jaina Wisdom. Research Foundation of Jainology