“We were on the side of life”–Daily Metta

November 11:

gandhi-21“Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state.”

–Gandhi (Young India, August 4, 1927)

There is a bridge outside of Delhi with these words inscribed upon it: This is a Bridge. This is a Bridge. Do not make your home on it. In other words, don’t get too comfortable–live for something, for someone. Use your ever-shrinking timespan on this cosmic viaduct to serve the principle of life, instead of waiting in fear for it to be over, the way we might close our eyes and pray in a car ride with an aggressive driver. I imagine Death like a mother at our doors, coming to collect us and wanting to know all of the details of our day on Earth: did we work well with others? Did we think of her?

I hope you enjoy the paradox here. Birth and death, said Gandhi, are but different aspects of the same state. So it is when we cease clinging to our life as our personal possession, meant to give us what we want — as long as it lasts, that we become identified with Life itself. And that is very handy for nonviolence.

Nonviolent strategists, good ones, know that if you want to have people side with your cause, you have to show that you are on the side of life, and the other side (or sides) is not. As the Buddha says, “All creatures love life.” That matters when you want to capture their imaginations and influence their actions. The young people from the Serbian uprising Otpor! put it this way, “Milosevic and his regime were preachers of death, [with] their hatred, their propaganda. And we won because we loved life more. We decided to love life and you can’t beat life. So this is what Otpor did…and this is why we succeeded.”


Experiment in Nonviolence:
Challenge yourself to make a different choice today if you notice that one of your actions is not “on the side of life.”