AVS Home
Title
Celebrate the powerful vegan message of H. Jay Dinshah (1933-2000) on his birthday, November 2, and all year.

About Dynamic Harmlessness Day

Cover

Learn about the life and work of H. Jay Dinshah, founder of American Vegan Society and coauthor of Powerful Vegan Messages. One person can make a big difference. Be inspired to make a difference utilizing dynamic harmlessness.

Jay’s birthday was November 2 which is the day after World Vegan Day. After learning how to eat a variety of plant foods and not use any animal products, the next step on a vegan journey is to learn about applying ahimsa in our daily lives.

Dynamic Harmlessness Day brings awareness to the concept Jay promoted that should be encouraged and practiced everyday by everyone. Veganism is just one of the many facets of dynamic harmlessness.

Read Sammi Farb's article in American Vegan magazine, fall 2015: "Dynamic Harmlessness Day: November 2 and Every Day"

Dynamic Harmlessness Defined

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term that literally means nonharming. Until the twentieth century it was considered mainly, if not entirely, in its negative, or “thou shalt not,” aspect. Mahatma Gandhi stressed the positive aspect of constructive loving action. Today we consider it in its fullest positive aspects as well as negative and explain it as “dynamic harmlessness.” It means to go through life doing the least amount of harm, hurting, killing, as possible; and it means to do the most amount of helping, assisting, and benefiting of others as possible. So you see that ahimsa has two sides to it, one negative and one positive, to be understood and practiced together, in balance. This can help us determine what we should not do and what we should. -H. Jay Dinshah, Powerful Vegan Messages

Dynamic Harmlessness Quotes from H. Jay Dinshah

Cover
  • Do the least harm and the most good.


  • Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for nonkilling, noninjuring, and nonharming. Far from mere passiveness, it is a positive method for meeting the dilemmas and decisions of daily life. We term it “dynamic harmlessness,” which encourages nonviolent action to create positive changes. Ahimsa is the compassionate way of life.


  • Reverence for life may be misunderstood. It does not mean animal worship. It means having a decent respect for the miracle of life itself, recognizing the same life miracle in varying forms of expression, all with a common bond of universal kinship. Our dynamic harmlessness can well be founded upon this life view. As other lives feel pain, joy, sorrow, and love—as we do—we should extend to them the same courtesy of harmlessness that we would want them to extend to us. As with harmlessness, the idea of reverence for life does not give us an impossible or fanatical dogma that we must never kill or harm anything regardless of circumstance in the animal or plant kingdoms.

    What it does is to give us the necessary mental and moral yardstick to measure a particular situation against known values. It cannot make the decision for us, but it gives us the tools with which to do the job intelligently and fairly. Contrary to popular belief, these concepts of dynamic harmlessness and reverence for life are not just emotional or sentimental, but are the result of realistic logic by very practical as well as idealistic people.


  • The love is great when it is felt for someone who shares with us only the common membership in the human family or in life itself. The world can be won for love, peace, and harmony if nonviolent individuals who sincerely believe in these ideals [the pillars of ahimsa--dynamic harmlessness] will simply stand up and have the courage to live by them, thus being examples to others.


  • All I can do is what I can do, but I can do it every day.


  • We should recognize several advantages in good actions:

  • 1. They help those to whom they are directed.
    2. They help to improve the world outlook of those to whom they are directed.
    3. They help to improve the world in general as a place to live.
    4. They help to improve the doer, not by prospective self-gain but by the improvement of one’s own character.

    Thus we may easily understand that the practicing of The Golden Rule helps to bring about harmony and happiness in others and in oneself. Altruistic service in life helps those at both ends of the actions.

More H. Jay Dinshah Quotes

Cover
  • We have to do it. We must get our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions out of this vast and dark moral jungle. We don’t have to be predators. We are more than merely instinctive killers and selfish brutes. Why take such a dim view of our potentialities and capabilities?


  • To understand the feelings and thoughts of another we need compassion. To adequately assess another’s circumstances and be motivated to render meaningful assistance, we should attempt to walk in the shoes, hooves, paws, or fins of another to see things from another angle and viewpoint.


  • To judge the cruelty to animals, we must see it from their side of the fence, not from the question of cash profits or satisfying our depraved tastes. It is only by claiming that they have no sensitivity or emotions, that they cannot feel pain—as bold a falsehood as the selfish human mind has ever contrived—that we can continue to prey upon them and abuse them in every way.


  • How is it that we claim to be the highest type of creature, yet act in a barbaric manner that would shame any reasonably decent denizen of the jungle?


  • Veganism is a way of living guided by ahimsa and reverence for life. Veganism utilizes a completely plant-sourced diet that is varied and abundant. Vegans are people who choose veganism as a lifestyle. Vegans reject the use of all animal products in food, clothing, and commodities and all other forms of cruelty to the animal kingdom insofar as possible. This includes research, medicine, sport, and entertainment.


  • To “see no evil” is no way to go through life, ignoring the consequences of one’s actions that cause pain to others. We cannot achieve wholeness by pretending conscience does not exist. We can only attain wholeness by recognizing its insistent prodding and living up to its guiding light.


  • Let us each make our choice and resolve to choose the path of:

  • LIFE instead of DEATH;
    LOVE instead of HATRED;
    PACIFISM instead of MILITARISM;
    COOPERATION instead of CONFLICT;
    HARMLESSNESS instead of CRUELTY;
    FELLOWSHIP instead of JUNGLE LAW;
    COMPASSION instead of INDIFFERENCE;
    LIVE AND LET LIVE instead of KILL OR BE KILLED.
     

  • Every day, we are faced with many decisions of an ethical, moral nature at every meal and in every business, personal, or social transaction. Why do so many people thoughtlessly forfeit their own rights of conscience, surrendering them to convention or to that monster called “everyone else does it”?
  •  

  • In my humble view, life is far too short and the call to service too loud and clear to waste time and energy in the pursuit of a fat wallet and a fatter paunch.


  • There comes a time in the life of every caring, sensitive person—a time to realize that fame is as ashes, massed fortune mere dust. It may be the last thought you think in this life. If at such a time you can truly say, “I have done my best,” and your only regret is that you could not have done more, then you will have done very well indeed.
 

H. Jay Dinshah quotes are from the book Powerful Vegan Messages by H. Jay Dinshah and Anne Dinshah

About H. Jay Dinshah

Cover

H. Jay Dinshah (1933-2000) was a motivational speaker, lifelong vegetarian, vegan since 1957, founder of American Vegan Society (AVS) in 1960, editor of Ahimsa magazine, and president of AVS for forty years. Jay was especially skilled at planning conferences and encouraging people to get involved.

After touring a slaughterhouse in 1957, he vowed to work every day until all the slaughterhouses are closed. Jay lived every moment in tireless service to the cause of helping animals by educating people. His tools of choice were veganism and ahimsa. He believed in the powers of cooperation, nonviolent action, and communication.

He married his pen pal Freya who worked alongside him for forty years and continues as AVS president today. Their two children are Daniel and Anne. For more about H Jay Dinshah, AVS Founder, click here.

Quotes about H. Jay Dinshah

Jay was always ahead of his time. A big canvas was Jay’s stage. He painted the picture of a vegan world for everyone to imagine.
- Tom Regan, PhD, author The Case for Animal Rights

I summarize Jay’s character and spirit in two words—consistent and uncompromising. In his vegan beliefs, Jay was the most consistent man I ever met. He was on a level all his own when it came to being vegan through and through to the very fiber of his soul. It was clear that he lived his vegan ideal of dynamic harmlessness in every waking moment (and probably while he slept!), from the food he ate, to the clothes he wore, from the words he used and, most importantly, to the actions he performed.
- Dr. Michael Klaper, staff physician at TrueNorth Health Center

Through the artful yet simple use of language, Jay greatly increased the depth and breadth of ahimsa to the world. He also placed it in a holistic and practical, everyday context, calling it “dynamic harmlessness.”
- Nathaniel Altman, author Ahimsa: Dynamic Harmlessness

I am healthy today and at peace with myself largely because Jay invited me to come “out of the jungle” and into the most fulfilling life possible.
- Victoria Moran, founder Main Street Vegan Academy

There are not a lot of individuals in this world who can be credited with starting an entire movement that has benefitted humanity. However, as the founder of the American Vegan Society, Jay Dinshah is one of those precious few. He truly won victories for humanity and health and I am just glad that I had the opportunity to cross his path and call him a friend.
- Attorney Mark Huberman, executive director National Health Association

I wonder where the vegan movement and I would be today if Jay Dinshah had not provided the inspiration for the most rewarding journey of my life.
- Alex Hershaft, founder of Farm Animal Rights Movement

Jay’s profound words persevere in fueling my desire to carry on his mission of love and care for all living beings.
- John Pierre, 2014 inductee in Vegetarian Hall of Fame

It is my hope that Jay’s words nudge and gently awaken what may be lying dormant within you. Let them inspire and guide you just as they do me.
- Victoria Hart, vegan activist and artist

Projects

Cover

Projects Anyone Can Do, Especially Students

  • Encourage your school or workplace to celebrate Dynamic Harmlessness Day. Talk with your principal; superintendent; teachers especially of history, social studies, philosophy, or ethics; and community leaders. Discuss possible ways to increase awareness and celebrate dynamic harmlessness.


  • Paint a picture that illustrates dynamic harmlessness in the world.


  • Select a quote from H. Jay Dinshah and write about what it means to you or ways to exhibit dynamic harmlessness in one’s actions. Offer to share it at a school and enter it in the essay contest (below)


  • Read Powerful Vegan Messages and write a book review or discuss it in a book club. Organize a project that demonstrates “do the least harm and the most good” in your community. Do something to help people, animals, and/or the environment. Be sure to publicize the event to local media beforehand; after the event report on its success. Make a video about dynamic harmlessness.


  • Organize any vegan event on Dynamic Harmlessness Day and shine light on the importance of celebrating this concept every day.


  • Students under age 18 can apply to be a state coordinator of Dynamic Harmlessness Day. Advocacy efforts coordinated with Sammi Farb, campaign manager, pictured above. to bring statewide awareness of dynamic harmlessness. (parental permission required)


  • Ride your bicycle to school or work


  • Buy local organic (veganic preferred) produce or grow your own


  • Go vegan


Let AVS know what you do so your actions will inspire others.

More Project Examples

from H. Jay Dinshah in Powerful Vegan Messages

There are so many worthy projects and endeavors that fulfill certain facets of the ahimsa ideal, such as:

A) Helping people to live more naturally and healthfully. This takes in a great deal of territory, including simplification of needs and wants, proper diet, growing of better foods without chemical fertilizers and pesticides—more correctly called “biocides”; the correct use of exercise, rest, sunlight, pure air and water, etc.; civic activity to curb pollution of land, air, and water (including fluoridation a.k.a. compulsory toxic medication); education to natural means of restoring and maintaining health; cultivating and encouraging proper emotional and mental attitudes.

B) Publicizing the benefits of meaningful work with more collaboration than competition. Provide beneficial ways to do more good, such as: helping others, coordinating events with a positive ahimsa message, or spreading information about the atrocities of using animal products. These become a fulfilling alignment of one’s work and values.

C) Working for the preservation and protection of wildlife and natural wilderness areas (though not for hunting and fishing purposes) as well as making every attempt to make the cities more livable. Ideas include painting murals over graffiti, picking up litter, planting urban gardens, and organizing neighborhood community activities.

D) Working for the direct benefit of animals. Volunteer at an animal sanctuary either taking care of animals or doing outreach. On an individual basis, care for the various birds and other animals who may come to you for help in one manner or another.

E) Working in any number of ways to persistently teach a more humane attitude toward nonhuman creatures, especially in children, who have not yet been artificially hardened in their viewpoint by the callous and cynical see-no-evil pose of their elders. If you are good at cooking, offer a kids’ cooking class at a local community organization. (See Apples, Bean Dip, and Carrot Cake: Kids! Teach Yourself to Cook webpage for class ideas.) If gardening is your passion, offer to teach kids how to connect with their proper food—plants. If hiking is your thing, lead nature walks and remind people how to appreciate the Earth.

F) Working for world peace. Build a foundation of understanding, unity, and empathy, without which there can never be a very successful effort for world peace. Work for understanding and compassion among human beings, including families, states, nations, and races.

G) Working among the poor and unfortunate, to alleviate human misery in general.

There are many other worthwhile causes. Help can be in the form of actual work performed, services rendered in a direct or indirect manner, material goods donated, funds contributed or bequeathed—though it is more meaningful to be a live giver than a dead one—or talents cheerfully offered. Above all, one does not just live and help: ideally one should live to help.

Internship Opportunities

Contact American Vegan Society for information about the following internships and other volunteer opportunities:

  • Archive Ahimsa magazine (1960-2000) into digital format on web for use by people who want to learn more about H. Jay Dinshah


  • Volunteer in the AVS video production department editing tapes of H. Jay Dinshah’s lectures for posting on YouTube Powerful Vegan Messages channel


  • Help organize the books in the H. Jay Dinshah Library at American Vegan Society

Contests

Sorry, no contests at this time. Check back again.

Contact

Contact: Anne Dinshah, c/o AVS 56 Dinshah Lane, PO Box 369, Malaga NJ 08328 email or call 856-694-2887