Donald Watson, in 1944, used the term vegan for vegetarians not using dairy. Veganism became defined as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
H. Jay Dinshah, who began advocating veganism in America in 1957, explained why, using the principle of The Golden Rule. (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.) Jay extended this rule to nonhuman animals. An inspiring leader, Jay associated veganism with ahimsa (nonharming) and developed ahimsa’s attribute of positive action or dynamic harmlessness—replace hurtful actions with kind and positive ones, also expressed as to do the most good and least harm.
Today, we celebrate Dynamic Harmlessness Day on Jay’s birthday, November 2nd, but we can practice it every day. Let’s bring awareness to the meaningful process of
developing good alternatives to traditions and habits that cause harm to others.
Books can help develop one’s understanding and recognition of dynamic harmlessness opportunities. In today’s world it is important that we continue to think about ways we can make the world a better place. Dynamic Harmlessness Day helps keep that idea at the forefront of our minds. Here are some of my favorite books that furthered my knowledge on the true meaning of dynamic harmlessness:
Mohan-Mala: A Gandhian Rosary is a very easy read compiled by R.K. Prabhu. It is filled with inspirational quotes from Gandhi for each day of the year. Some of Gandhi’s quotes in this book are different ways of expressing dynamic harmlessness, others discuss the big picture. For example, on February 10th “We must widen the circle of our love till it embraces the whole village; the village in its turn must take into its fold the district, the district the province and so on till the scope of our love becomes conterminous with the world.” Reading an inspirational quote every day is a great reminder of how to live the day with positive action.
Powerful Vegan Messages by H. Jay Dinshah and Anne Dinshah intermixes information about how to practice ahimsa with personal stories. Not only is it extremely informative, but this inspirational work delivers the message of dynamic harmlessness in a very engaging fashion. At the end of each chapter it gives easy tips for everyday people to practice dynamic harmlessness.
Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words was compiled by some of her friends. This incredibly moving autobiography really opens hearts. Peace Pilgrim walked more than 25,000 miles throughout her life to bring awareness to peace. An underlying message through the entire book was doing the most good and least harm. As Peace Pilgrim herself said, “This is the way of peace: overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”
A Coloring Storybook about the Life and Teachings of Peace Pilgrim by Gary D. Guthrie and Barbara Werner is in English and Spanish on each page of this delightful children’s book. It’s never too early to begin children thinking about doing good in the world. This book really exemplifies ways you can help others and create a more peaceful world. When responding to an angry child inquiring about how to deal with anger, she said “Run up and down that hill over there whenever you get angry, and if someone gets angry at you, look at them with love in your heart; it will show in your eyes and then watch them change the way you are changing.”
Every day you have the power to make this world a better place. Beyond living a vegan lifestyle there are many ways you can celebrate dynamic harmlessness, and it all starts with educating yourself and your community.
Sammi Farb is a high-school senior in Kansas and campaign manager for Dynamic Harmlessness Day.
Learn more about Dynamic Harmlessness on our webpage Dynamic Harmlessness Day. Like us on Facebook. Youth interested in being state campaign coordinators contact Sammi: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published as the cover story of American Vegan magazine, Fall 2015. Subscribe.
All books mentioned in this article are available from American Vegan Society; click here for complete pdf catalog.
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