A young man whom I love and respect said to me that war is human nature. And so it is. And so is peace. Anything we do is pretty much by definition human nature, is it not? When people cite human nature as the cause for something, something regrettable usually, I think that they mean that the action is more or less determined by virtue of our humanity and so we are not to blame. If we can see only a dominant destructiveness in our nature, then destructiveness is easily excused. But we humans have a vast repertoire. The weight of karma notwithstanding, we have a great range of choice before us. If our lives feel determined it is because we have not yet awakened to the possibility of freedom. Once we see the range of possibility in freedom then we must acknowledge responsibility for our choices. With freedom comes responsibility for choosing wisely. To help with our choices our great teachers have left us codes to live by, codes that if practiced lead to wisdom.
The yamas from the yoga sutra of Patanjali:
- Ahimsa – Practice nonviolence in thought, word and deed.
- Satya – Practice truthfulness.
- Asteya – Don’t take anything that isn’t freely offered.
- Brahmacharya – Have perfect respect for everyone’s intimate relationships, including your own.
- Aparigraha – Don’t think that happiness resides in the accumulation of possessions and privilege.