“Ahimsa means the eradication of the desire to injure or to kill.” ~ Gandhi, CWMG, XIV, 463
Once again, intuition, spiritual insight, outruns scientific knowledge. Gandhi could not have known that a-hiṃsā is most probably what linguists call a desiderative based on the root √han, “injure, strike, slay,” i.e. that is indicates the desire or intention to injure, etc. This also indicates how traditional, how much a child of the ancient tradition of India, this unconventional revolutionary was. But the most important thing it illustrates is how his principled nonviolence was located in the heart, or at least the mind. Others who had not reached that depth of commitment where one wishes one’s opponent well even while struggling against his or her injustice could, nonetheless, partake in a largely principled movement, what he called the “nonviolence of the brave” if they clove to his lead. We often say today that it’s not necessary to have a mahatma to practice nonviolence and build campaigns on it. No doubt true: but having one would sure be nice!
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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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