“To have a conviction that there is violence or sin in a certain course of conduct is one thing; to have the power of acting up to such a conviction is quite another.” ~ Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 230
In the Bhagavad Gita the warrior prince Arjuna, representing you and me, asks Sri Krishna, representing supreme wisdom, “What makes me do these things I know are wrong?” It’s a hand-wringing, agonizing question every one of us faces. Here Gandhi is referring to the way his fear of snakes prevented him from being perfectly nonviolent to those creatures in his early days at Tolstoy Farm in South Africa. This fear is very deep for anyone growing up in India. How can we master even something like that? The good news is, that’s what training is all about (including direct training of the mind, e.g. in meditation). Years later, at a prayer meeting in India, a cobra slithered right over Gandhi’s lap while he was meditating. Everyone was horrified—except Gandhi, who calmly watched it glide its venomous way off his lap and into the forest.
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Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide.
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