The Searchlight: Daily Metta

“You have to magnify your own faults a thousandfold and shut your eyes to the faults of your neighbors. That is the only way to real progress.” ~ Gandhi, Harijan, October 26, 1947

Just a year before the end of his life, Gandhi was pouring out jewels of wisdom about the inward dynamics of the nonviolent attitude. But without a bit of interpretation for the modern reader, his statement could be easily misunderstood. When Gandhi suggests that we have to focus on our own faults, he is not asking us to become guilt-ridden or self-deprecating or to do violence to ourselves in any way. He is asking us simply to gain awareness that the searchlight must be pointed inward and that there is ample room for healthy growth inside of all of us, even those of us working for social and economic transformation! When he says that we have to refuse to see the faults of our neighbors, he does not mean exactly that, either. It is rather that we tend to want to change others more than we care to change ourselves. He is really saying that in order to help our neighbor to change themselves, we not only need to set a good example for them, we have also to draw out their higher nature by keeping our eyes glued to that instead of their faults. Gandhi’s spiritual heir, as he is known, Vinoba Bhave, put it like this: if we try to reach people through their faults, it’s like bumping the walls of the house trying to get in. If we hold onto their good qualities, we walk right into the heart, which is where we can do the work.

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About Daily Metta

Book cover imageStephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence.

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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