Avoiding Harm

Camille Pissarro, Sherherdess and Sheep (1887)

We come to the first fleshing out of our relationships with others. As in medicine, the first rule is to do no harm.

The global state of harmlessness consists of acknowledging the humanity of others, an absence of malevolent feelings and refraining from harmful acts. Its value is fairness, its conviction is that there is common ground among us and its attitude is tolerance. Harmlessness is a perfect follow-up to mindfulness, coming before we proceed to the more assertive stages of interpersonal relationships.

Mere harmlessness represents the most rudimentary level of ethical development. The focus is on mere the avoidance of harm. As we progress through the model and the calendar year, we will track the development of positive and assertive virtues like responsibility, generosity and courage, which lead progressively to spirituality. Harmlessness, at level one, is the spirit’s baby step. We could call this the commandment stage of ethics, as in “thou shalt not kill.”

Ahimsa symbol

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Visual Arts

Music: songs and other short pieces

Music: Composers, artists, and major works

  • Bach, Cantata No. 208Was mir behaft, ist nur die muntre Jagd! (“Hunting Cantata”), BWV 208
  • Boccherini, String Sextets: Op. 23
  • Bizet, Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers): two lovers forswear each other’s company but then are challenged to avert trouble when circumstances bring them back together.

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