Gandhi wanted his words to inspire people to look beyond him to the ideals by which he strove to live.
When we learn nonviolence from Gandhi’s words, it is not so that we can better understand how different he was from the rest of us — how special this one was whom the world calls “Mahatma” or ‘Great Soul.’ We don’t learn nonviolence the way we learn history, or lists of facts. It’s more like learning to read or write. At first you are sounding out the letters, maybe tracing them with your finger (yes, I’m a preschool teacher). You start to see it all around you; but where you had no way to interpret it before, you start making sense of words. Until one day, you read. You no longer see strands of unintelligible symbols, but ideas, concepts, meaning. It transforms you. The same with nonviolence: at first you see protests or hear a statement and it doesn’t quite register what is taking place. But over time, the more you learn, you can start applying it to new situations–from what you eat to how you spend your money, to whether or not you vote and pay your taxes, to even, how you spend your free time (should you have any!). That’s the spirit in which Gandhi undertook his experiments, and his hope was that we would do the same: turn to the principles that guided him, “assimilate them” and let them guide and transform us, too.
What is one thing that you can assimilate today from the life of Gandhi?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org