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Great Turning: 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.


Great Turning: Daily Metta

“I will not go underground. I will not go into shelter. I will come out in the open and let the pilot see I have not a trace of ill will against him.… The longing in our hearts—that he will not come to harm—would reach up to him and his eyes would be opened. If those thousands who were done to death in Hiroshima, if they had died with that prayerful action . . . their sacrifice would not have gone in vain. ~ Gandhi, Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Vol. 2, pp. 808-809

The challenge Gandhi was answering, here posed by Margaret Bourke White but often echoed since, namely that nonviolence would be of no avail against a bomber in the sky (not to mention, today, a rocket fired thousands of miles away), seems at first to deflate the entire case for nonviolence; but Gandhi answers it expertly.  Nothing can deflate nonviolence for those who are aware that it is primarily a spiritual force, and there is spirit in every one of us. This is where nonviolence and what Joanna Macy and others call “the Great Turning” from a materialist worldview to one that acknowledges the primacy, or at least the existence of spirit, come together as the great (if not only) hope for humanity. In fact on another occasion he said not only that their sacrifice would not have been in vain but “the war would not have ended as disgracefully as it has,” because it seemed to be a vindication of the efficacy of brute force and the irrelevance of the human spirit.

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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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