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Ahimsa: Daily Metta

Michael Nagler Posted by Michael Nagler.

Michael is founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and the author of Our Spiritual Crisis and The Search for a Nonviolent Future, which received a 2002 American Book Award and has been translated into several languages.


Ahimsa: Daily Metta

“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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About Daily Metta

Stephanie 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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