This week, I taught on the word "ahimsa."
Rather than the normal format, this week I will share a little story.
One day, a wandering sage came to a village. The villagers looked frail and sickly, and there were very few children. The sage asked the villagers, "What has happened here?" They replied, "A snake is terrorizing our village and eating the children."
The sage found the snake and taught him the first of the yogic precepts, ahimsa, non-violence in thought, word, and deed. The snake accepted the teaching and vowed to change his ways.
One year later, the sage returned to the village and found the villagers happy and healthy with many children playing. However, when he came upon the snake, he found him frail, sickly, and covered with bruises and cuts. "What happened to you?" asked the sage. The snake answered, "I practiced ahimsa. I do not eat the children, but now they see I have no power and they tease me and throw rocks at me."
The sage thought for a moment, and then he said to the snake, "I taught you not to eat the children. I did not say you weren't supposed to hiss."
Ahimsa, as told in this story, is the practice of doing the least amount of harm without giving up your own power. It is a practice of how to be gentle without playing small.