Before Patanjali transcribed the Yoga Sutras in 400 AD, laying the groundwork for modern day yoga, yoga was taught one on one, wisdom passing from guru (teacher) to student. Not unlike Martin Luther who translated the Bible from Latin to German to spread the word of God to a larger audience.
A lot of yogis interpret AHIMSA to include all animals and animal by-products resulting in the participation of veganism or vegetarianism. AHIMSA is similar to the 5th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” However, in 1280 B.C. in the land of Exodus and Deuteronomy, the books of the Bible where the Ten Commandments appear, God was still demanding the slaughter of innocent farm animals as a temporary covering of sins. His intention with the Fifth Commandment was not to create a world of herbivores.
While I can never see myself converting to veganism, I have found myself being more conscientious toward all living creatures. I no longer mindlessly swat insects and as far as violent thoughts are concerned, I am judging less and viewing all beings including myself with compassionate eyes more. Whether or not AHIMSA was intended to extend to all living creatures or just mankind is up for interpretation, similar to many passages in the Bible.
In The Small Catechism by Martin Luther, the explanation of the 8th commandment is expanded to read, “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully, belie, betray, slander or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything. I believe “neighbor” is a broad term and can be expanded to include all people with whom you come into contact. Because our truth(s) are filtered through our own experiences and beliefs--our perception is our reality—we have a better chance of achieving SATYA if we speak with the intention of not harming others.
Pastor Westendorf explained that it was okay to drink alcohol and use tobacco products as long as it wasn't done in excess—as long as we didn’t harm our bodies, which were the temples of God. When I told my Grandma what the pastor had said, she scoffed. “That’s just his justification for smoking cigars!”
I'm still working to discover what God truly means to me, but I'm open and that's the first step. Being open to all possibilities means I have a greater chance of receiving whatever messages the Universe sends my way. I don't know if I'm correct. I'm not a theologian--just a yogi who has experienced a power greater than herself.
But now that I've published it on the internet--it must be true!