Ahimsa is Our Call to Action~

Sierra Hollister, co-founder of Sundance, wrote these thoughts for her blog, Dragonfly and the Green Yogini.  She calls to the yoga community for action. We’d like to share them with our Sundance community as well. Ultimately, we are one community, and how we choose to act is something we are called to explore.

Ahimsa is Our Call to Action: One Yogi’s Perspective on the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.  

I was arrested yesterday.

Mostly I was arrested because I was protesting against Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank) and their investments and support for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. It’s a big deal because TD bank is responsible for the largest corporate loans for the Keystone project and in 2012, TD Bank was one of the largest institutional shareholders in TransCanada Corporation, the oil company responsible for the pipeline.

As part of my protest against TD Bank, I read a statement in their downtown lobby, asking them to cease all support and investment in the Keystone XL Pipeline. I also let the bank managers know that I would work to notify their banking customers as well as the local community that  banking with TD Bank means  supporting the most egregious and destructive development of fossil fuels to date. In addition to posing a significant threat to the climate, the tar sands are destroying local communities, trashing the environment for all species and threatening the water supply, from Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas.

Certainly, I was arrested because I refused to leave the bank property when asked to. But, I was also arrested because of something my friend Greg Yost said. He said: “its 2013, y’all. It’s time to be heard.

Greg is right. It is time to be heard. It is time to stand up to corporate greed, legislative idiocy, leadership mediocrity, environmental exploitation, citizen inaction and more.

Most of all, it is time to stand up and defend this beautiful blue green planet we call home.

Speaking of home, I’m wondering where the yoga community is? In my trek to DC, in the public hearings on electricity rate hikes and in the protests around town, I’m not seeing the yogis. And, it’s bumming me out because we need you. We need you to get up off your yoga mat and practice some actionasana. We need you to work for change and for the liberation from suffering for all beings.

We need you to help defend this lovely blue green planet.

I might know your struggle as I’ve wrestled with it myself. Perhaps it is the second sutra from the portion on contemplation? The sutra that tells us that yoga is the control of the mind fluctuations. There are many that interpret this in a way that results in inaction. Yet I would point you to sutras 29 and 30 from the portion on practice. Here are sutras that speak to our need to engage with the world as part of our beginner’s path. It is here that we find our foundation, our abstinences and our observances. And first, before anything else, there is Ahimsa. It is here that we find our call to action. The great vow of Ahimsa is the vow to not cause pain, to not cause suffering or harm. There are so many issues that we yogis need to address if we take this vow seriously. And, if you continue on to sutra 31 you find that Patanjali informs us that there is no wiggle room, no excuses.

These vows cannot be broken. To consider one a yogi is to consider one an activist. These great vows beckon us into the world, calling us forward to work for a sustainable and equitable future for all life, to take action when things are unjust, when pain is being caused.

The very latest on the Keystone XL pipeline is that the Senate voted in favor of this project right about the time that I was in jail as a result of opposing this project. Our own Kay Hagan is one of the Senator’s in favor of this pipeline. As my friend Greg said, it’s time to be heard y’all. Let’s push back and push back hard.

At this juncture, I can think of no more catastrophic pain than the pain of altering our climate, and the suffering that will surely result from destroying the planet.

I’ll be looking for you out on the front lines because:

1) I love you and,

2) Ahimsa is our call to action.