‘Ahimsa’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘non’-injury’ or non-harm. It is the foremost honored and emphasized ethical principle in the Hindu, Jainist, and Buddhist traditions – often translated as ‘non-violence,’ honoring the sacredness of life in all of its forms. May we all embody the spirit of ‘ahimsa’ while we honor our own traditions and loved ones during the holy days of winter celebrations.
I live in a place nurtured by the vastness of the ocean, the rich soil of lovingly harvested farmlands and vineyards, and the abundant serenity of nature brought to life with the breath and foot step of every animal that blesses this earth with its noble presence. We are so extremely fortunate to live in such a place, on this borrowed land of our ancestors – where animal spirits merge with the ghosts of the native American Indians who honored this soil without desecrating it. Nothing belongs to us, and nothing lasts forever. We are entitled to nothing, yet we convince ourselves that we are owed something which we ought to claim at all costs. This breeds violence and greed. It mocks life and disturbs the delicate balance of nature.
Many times as I drive home, I see the graceful silhouette of a herd of deer, lately enveloped by the crisp rolling winter fog embracing the landscape. Each time I pass these majestic creatures, thousands upon thousands of times over the years now, I never cease to pause in sheer awe of their beauty. I always feel touched by something divine when I gaze upon them manifesting as they often do out of thin air. I send them white light and love and pray for their well-being, blessing and thanking them at once for gracing me with their presence. During the cold months these serene, gentle animals look for shelter and food. They not only seek an escape from the brutality of the frigid weather beating down on their sheen coats, but have to contend with the hunters that scour the woods looking for a good shot – the echo of death penetrating the chill of early winter mornings.
On the eve of the sacred holidays I wish that everyone pause for a moment and reflect on what is most dear to them, and how they can spread more love and compassion into the world. I want to believe that at their core every human being who has a conscience believes that life is worth preserving rather than destroying. In the end we are part of everything we destroy, and we reap the consequences of those actions. The Buddhists believe in karma – reaping the consequences of our actions for generations or reincarnations to come. The Dharma, compiling the sacred ethical and esoteric teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, places non-violence or Ahimsa above all things – making it interchangeable with compassion. I believe our beautiful land should not be stained with the blood of thousands of deer that the local government officials have petitioned to round-up for slaughter due to ‘over population.’ Those animals that will escape hunters will certainly not escape this ‘stealth plan,’ of mass extermination. At least when hearing a gun fired by a hunter I can pray for the possibility of a missed shot and an innocent soul’s escape. Beyond that there is little hope. We are part of the ebb of life. Whatever we destroy will in the end destroy us. Animals are part of nature, like the leaves of trees are part of a greater forest, and we are inextricably connected to this intricate living landscape.
Please sign THIS PETITION to prevent the cruel death of 5,000 deer which will soon be rounded for a mass slaughter near my home on Eastern Long Island, and bless the earth with your compassion during this season when we all have the choice to be re-born and sanctify our actions as we welcome the new year.