"Literally speaking, ahimsa means non-violence. But to me it has much higher, infinitely higher meaning. It means that you may not offend anybody; you may not harbor uncharitable thought, even in connection with those who you consider your enemies. To one who follows this doctrine, there are no enemies. A man who believes in the efficacy of this doctrine finds in the ultimate stage, when he is about to reach the goal, the whole world at his feet. If you express your love- Ahimsa-in such a manner that it impresses itself indelibly upon your so called enemy, he must return that love." - Ghandi
Or as Ghandi stated a tad more succinctly: "The avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed."
I am far away from being able to practice ahimsa - yes I cut people off on I-70. But we start from where we are, and where I am is needing to practice ahimsa towards myself. If I cannot refrain from hurting myself in thoughts (lack of self-esteem or wishing harm on others) or through excessive foods or alcohol or lack of exercise or through Tivoga then how can I practice ahimsa in the bigger world? Selfishness in this context could be misconstrued as ahimsa, hut of course it is not. When I say I must treat myself with ahimsa, it is not an excuse to self- indulge but a direction to practice loving-kindness and in this case to begin with me (It's all about me, as we all know)
As the Buddha stated in his Metta (Kindness) Sutra:
This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
So I will do kind and non-harming things for myself this week: practice daily, meditate, laugh, read a book, say thank you and please a bunch more. If you have any other ideas on practicing ahimsa towards myself this week - pass them along, please! And perhaps from that kindness and non-harming towards myself, I will be better able to practice ahimsa towards all sentient beings.
And no cheeseburgers.
Hey, its a start.
PS: Ahem... sad to say that in the case of some folks, it may take me several reincarnations to achieve ahimsa...