“The Nonviolent Moment”–Daily Metta

November 15:

gandhi-21“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger.”

–Gandhi (Young India, September 15, 1920)

One of the most pivotal moments of Gandhi’s life was when he was kicked off the train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, for sitting in a First Class compartment because he was Indian, though he had a ticket he had paid for. He sat vigil the entire night on the train platform, and resolved to dedicate his life to creating a more just system. What happened that evening in his heart, mind, and spirit helps us to more fully understand what exactly nonviolence is and how it works.

There is a period of time after something happens that shakes us up. Maybe someone said an unkind word to you or someone you know. Maybe it is a global event that broke your heart (or maybe even, the public reaction to the global event, such as issuing calls for revenge. It hurts when people make unwise choices…). That period between the feeling and our response is a very fertile, very important time. It’s the key moment when we do the work to transform an extremely potent energy into the qualities that will make nonviolence possible. Some call this period, even, “the nonviolent moment” because nonviolence is more than just a word that can describe an action, it’s a force within itself that is generated whenever we convert a negative drive into a constructive channel.

But we might also turn to the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed from one state to another. The question is whether we want to use the energy constructively or if we want it to be used against us in destructive ways.

In his words, “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, so even our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”

When we understand how nonviolence works, we can begin to see possibility where before we saw only sadness, only anger. This is the magic of nonviolence.

Experiment in Nonviolence:
Notice the next time you are transforming anger into compassion.