“Ahimsa” from the Sanskrit, Do No Harm

 

The Sanskrit symbol for “Ahimsa” is an open palm

Dear Diary, Today I met a squirrel on the road.

We exchanged pleasantries and talked about the agreeable clime. The squirrel volunteered that the lengthening of daylight was a welcome boon.

“More time to gather acorns against next winter’s frost?” I inquired.

“Oh, yes, that of course,” her eyes twinkled with mischief, “and whatever else might transpire…”

Then she scampered off, tail all fluffed up, leaving me to wonder. I arrived home in time for the evening meal, turnip stew and dandelion tea, scrumptious.

Dear Diary, Today the whole town is agog. The youngest Thompson boy was taken in for questioning in the suspicious death of a mouse found by the old Animal Memorial Museum. He claimed innocence but the poor animal had been sliced up and the cuts matched the spear point blade on Eddie Thompson’s Swiss Army knife.

Confronted with the evidence, Eddie tearfully claimed that it “weren’t no big deal” since mice weren’t party to the Original Agreement. “Peace treaties between humans and the animals don’t include no rodents,” he scoffed.

The town elders will decide Eddie’s fate soon enough. At the very least he will have to take remedial grammar lessons.

Home, mushroom and rice casserole with Mamma’s special spicy cashew sauce – yum!

Dear Diary, early this morning a strange wind blew through our town, whipping the willow tree branches into frenzy. It passed through quickly but it sure felt ominous. The older women at the quilting bee nodded at each other, wise eyes laden with secrets but their mouths gave nothing away. Still, they shivered in their cane-backed chairs and wrapped up their work quickly. They were heard to exchange furtive whispers as they hurried to their homes but no one knew what had unsettled them.

Tonight the elders have called for a meeting, but just for the adults so I will have to wait to find out what is going on. All I know is Grandma seemed very distracted after quilting and all we had for dinner was cold leftover porridge.

Dear Diary, the folks told us this morning what seemed to be happening. At first it sounded like a boring history lesson… “Do you remember when we signed the Original Agreement…” Sure we did, it was drummed into our heads at school over and over.

“Yadda, yadda”… The people came to understand that we share this Earth with the animals, they are innocents {except maybe for the mosquitoes} and we should refrain from eating them. It seems so obvious in retrospect but it took humans eons and eons of time to get over their feelings of species superiority.

Okay, so Eddie the brat broke the Agreement over a mouse but surely that wouldn’t cause the foreboding sense that was now pervasive in our household and the rest of the town. There’d even been a rumor that the mouse’s brother had put Eddie up to it because the dead rodent had been putting the moves (whatever that means) on the brother’s girlfriend. Sure, Eddie should have refused to get involved in intra-mouse squabbling, but still…

I drifted off into a daydream, envying Eddie’s Swiss Army knife and thinking how handy it would be when I wanted to slice up a juicy apple or carve initials into the big oak. I was only half hearing what the folks were explaining. I knew what was up next … the well-known story of the period of The Troubles when human had to learn to eat a vegan diet, no animals or animal products. And human ingenuity triumphed! It’s been many a year and we have created the utmost delicious meals, thanks to grains, and nuts and fruits and vegetables…earth’s bounty growing just for our harvesting.

Then my ears perked up, what was it Daddy had just said…there have been rumours of a tomato uprising two towns over. When the farmers went to pick them, the red globes waved around on their stalks, bursting themselves open and spewing their flesh and seeds into the farmer’s face. Then a self-appointed eggplant spokesplant explained that fruits and vegetables have parents and offspring and community; they refuse to be planted just to experience the pain of plucking to be cut into, killed and eaten. They are demanding to be included in the Original Agreement.

Dinner tonight was eggplant and spaghetti with marinara sauce, eaten quickly, with heavy hearts and guilty consciences. For indeed, harvesting must hurt, whether it be an ear of corn pulled off its mother stalk, or lettuce pulled ignominiously from its cozy bed of earth. And potatoes….we yank then up from their burrows where they had tried to just exist unnoticed…..


Dear Diary
, turmoil reigns. How can we give up the taste of freshly picked baby sweet peas or a tender, exquisite ruby red beet?  But our foundational  principle of “Ahimsa – Do No Harm” does indeed require extending the Original Agreement. Since it is the cutting that is at the heart of the problem, it was decided that we can eat fruits in the wild, when they fall off the bushes on their own. So we will depend on our culinary experts to come up with healthy and tasty meals from what we can still eat, including a variety of nuts, which fall from the trees by themselves.

Dear Diary, Breakfast today was a big dish of wild apples topped with almond butter.  Very tasty.

Dear Diary, There’s a rumour that the chestnut trees in the fields have been communicating with the wild berry bushes over yonder …and that we can expect to hear from them any day now….

 


Marilyn Myerson, PhD Philosophy, has learned to take nothing for granted and to have fun. She retired from USF after 38 years of teaching, learning and kicking up her heels in Women’s and Gender Studies. Marilyn was the first outside hire in W(G)S, starting in 1973, when the department was just one year old. She was an administrator at various departmental and dean’s levels, including a stint as W(G)S Chair before her retirement as Emeritus faculty in 2010. She shepherded the Human Sexual Behavior class through its many incarnations, developed the original women’s health classes, and taught feminist research methodology. She is currently in three writing groups, and happily involved with OLLI-USF, taking art and writing classes. She created and teaches  OLLI Imaginative Writing classes and facilitates writing groups.

 

5 Replies to ““Ahimsa” from the Sanskrit, Do No Harm”

  1. Your free-range imagination is splendid, as ever. I’ve often wondered how unaware we may be of the true impact of our mere presence. I’m reminded of Peter Wohlleben’s book “The Hidden Life of Trees, What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World.” Thank you!

  2. Imaginative twists with dashes of humor blended together with insight to create a thoughtful fable, nicely done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.