Harmlessness is more than refraining from harm. It is ensuring that harm cannot occur, by commission or omission, by thought, word, or action. While all spiritual traditions tell us to do no harm, we actually have no shared experience of living harmlessly. We are surrounded by messages of, and reports about, harm – to such an extent that we become immune and take a certain level of harm for granted. We gossip in a denigrating manner about another. We dismiss others’ concerns as unimportant. We stereotype others as “like” or “not like” ourselves, thus failing to see them for who they truly are.
And we are not free of harm to ourselves. We talk about ourselves in judgmental or uncomplimentary ways. We allow others to patronize us. We ignore the promptings of our intuition.
So how do we begin building our “harmlessness muscle” when we have relatively little practice? Both Positive Harmlessness in Practice and Moving Beyond Duality are designed to help us become aware of the various ways in which we harm ourselves and others, which is the first step in change. These books, along with the following articles, also provide strategies for shifting from harm to harmlessness: