18 January 2011

Russell Simmons describes "non-harming" lifestyle in interview

Devoted yoga practitioner and strict vegan, Russell Simmons prides himself on his dedication to the concept of compassion and the ancient yogic principle Ahimsa. Meaning non-violence in Sanskrit, the conscious practice of Ahimsa results in living a life of harmlessness not only in action, but also in thought and deed. It is the practice of recognizing the divinity within all living-beings, or as Simmons states in a recent interview with PR.com, “trying to find a piece of God in each person.”

He goes on to explain and discern his spiritual practices and beliefs to be those of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Written more than 2000 years ago, the sutras, meaning, “thread” in Sanskrit are as Simmons describes, “a science for happiness.” Fundamentally, the eight limbs of yoga represent social laws that maintain a certain way of acting, thinking, and living, in order to attain higher consciousness, or Samadhi, otherwise known as Enlightenment.

Simmons notes that it is, “because of the first step in yoga, Ahimsa, non-harming,” that he adopted a vegan diet. “The greatest cause of human karma is abuse of the ten billion farm animals that exists at all times. And then also the greatest cause of global warming, [meat] and dairy uses more oil than anybody but the army. You go to war over meat because it is the second largest use of oil. It also drains our resources, like our water, more than anything.”

Yogis believe in the interconnectedness and equality of all beings. Ahimsa and compassion are principles that transcend species, race, gender, and sexuality. Simmons asserts that, “when you practice compassion, you practice compassion to all of these things (animals, planet, and people) because all of these things are you, and you are them.”

With this interconnectedness in mind, Simmons speaks openly and often on topics as far reaching as equal rights, social justice, spiritual and social laws, and philosophy. He argues that, “abuse of women and a lack of [female] input in society today is why we have the wars and the abuse of animals and the abuse of each other that we have.”

And when asked about the social dilemma that many minorities face when wanting to stay connected to their roots, yet take advantage of the opportunities progression offers, he declares, “I think that each individual has to rise up and take advantage of what is in front of them, and there is a lot that’s in front of them. There’s a lot of opportunity in front of them as individuals and they don’t have to carry the weight of their parents. If you’re talking about African American people, I think that they are the last of all the cultures in all of the American communities to integrate. They fought for integration and I think that they should be comfortable with it. It doesn’t mean you don’t support your community. It means that you have to be a part of the mainstream and recognize all of your opportunity.”

Guiding his life with what he calls, “the art of giving,” it clear that any vegan, spiritual seeker, man, woman, and animal alike would be a fortunate recipient of the many gifts Simmons has to offer. Most recently one such gift comes in the form of his new book, Super Rich: A Guide To Having It All, an ironic title that maintains Simmons’ guide to living through giving. Stay tuned for a full book review coming shortly.

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/un_photo