Harmlessness, based on recognition of all of life as a Divine creation, can only come into being as a practice as human awareness reaches the point of understanding the web of life as a ‘web,’ a unified field in which no part is separate from any other.
In the seventeenth century, a well-known English poet named John Donne wrote: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” Though his words have remained for us through the centuries, humanity has had difficulty perceiving itself to be an expression of these words, and thus they have remained only an idea, rather than something that could readily be put into practice. His poem continues:
“…if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde…”
Unlike animals and plants, human beings can choose their perceived degree of kinship or separation. They can choose to come together or to come apart. They can elect through their life expression to benefit the rest of humanity, or ignore the needs and aspirations of the rest and think primarily of what benefits themselves and their immediate circle. Such choice is not part of the natural world. It is only human consciousness that can choose separation, even while the truth of their deeper nature is unity. This truth has not been reflected in much of human history, nor, as a corollary, has the capacity to practice ‘harmlessness.’ Such ‘harmlessness’ could only emerge from the perception of unity, and the time had not yet arrived for this to be possible.
What is ‘harmlessness?’
It is the determination emanating from the heart, mind, and will, to permit no action, word, or thought that might diminish the wellbeing of any other being or group of beings. It is the determination to integrate the self around an ideal that becomes the center of daily practice, namely, the desire to promote greater life for all living beings rather than detract from it through neglect, indifference, or direct harm. Such a practice, based in love, does not only relate to actions one might take such as killing an insect or other creature of the Earth. It also relates to harming others through thoughts of judgment, belittling, anger or hatred, or more explicitly, the desire to do harm. One need not put this desire into action in order for it to be harmful. One’s thoughts also create an energy that has a direct impact on the energy bodies of others, and generates a negative emotional or mental current that others may take in, to their detriment.
‘Harmlessness’ is an ideal, but one that can find its place in the center of the heart and reside there as the expression of a love that seeks to generate action from itself. When chosen in a deliberate way, it can replace all other motives that the ego has introduced over the long arc of human history. It is capable of doing this because harmlessness is the natural response to the recognition that all are one, one Body, one Consciousness, one Being. When one recognizes others as part of the self, when all are droplets that are part of the same cosmic ocean, then harmlessness is the natural response to the rest of life. It is only when we think of ourselves as discrete entities, separate from the great Ocean of Being, that we can tolerate motives that are self-protective and not in keeping with what is best for the whole of life.
To practice harmlessness undermines whatever within the self seeks power over others. It undermines and needs to undermine the idea that life is about ‘survival of the fittest’ and that those who have the most tangible power, whether in physical or monetary terms, are the ‘fittest.’
To practice harmlessness undermines whatever within the self seeks power over others. It undermines and needs to undermine the idea that life is about ‘survival of the fittest’ and that those who have the most tangible power, whether in physical or monetary terms, are the ‘fittest.’ This Darwinian precept operated successfully in an age and in a consciousness in which all beings could perceive themselves as separate from each other. But it cannot operate in a consciousness that is moving toward a holistic perception of life that is based in love and unity. ‘Survival of the fittest’ has no place in such an evolution. It is replaced by the idea that to serve the needs of the self, one must serve the needs of all.
Harmlessness, based on recognition of all of life as a Divine creation, can only come into being as a practice as human awareness reaches the point of understanding the web of life as a ‘web’, a unified field in which no part is separate from any other, and all parts are continually interacting. On the level of the heart, this knowing arises from the heart expanding to encompass more of Divine love. Out of this new configuration can come a new relationship to life, one that promotes the wellbeing of all and eliminates none from this equation. As a result of ‘harmlessness,’ societies would find themselves more equalized in terms of the gap between the rich and the poor. Racial enmity and prejudice would no longer be viable in any form since all races would be seen as part of the same unity, and human caring for the Earth and her creatures would not be something one had to work at, but would feel as natural as breathing. One would breathe in the air of a unified life.
Out of love comes the desire to do no harm to any living being. Out of the desire to do no harm comes a revision of the current practices of a social and political fabric that has permitted great harm to be done to specific sub-groups and populations. Out of this renewal of the social and political fabric, would come a renewal of the life of the Earth that has never been seen before as a planetary phenomenon, but only in small pockets here and there. ‘Harmlessness’ is the great principle of life affirming itself, desiring that all of life flourish and that no part be left out.