One of the most interesting things about Gandhi is the way he seems at one minute to be a political activist, with fresh ideas for strategic movement building, and the next, he sounds like a yogi from the Himalayas. Actually here, he sounds a lot like he’s anticipating Mother Teresa with her mantra of doing “small acts with great love,” the alternative being (or one of them anyway) to do great acts with little love. And really, our world really sees too much of that kind of action.
What Gandhi wanted to do with Satyagraha was to offer a great act of love, organized, strategic. The force of love at its best on an enormous scale. But he had the insight to see that if he wanted to live up to such a calling, he could not give short shrift to his smallest actions. Nothing was insignificant to him.
Here’s where we fit into this picture: so many people claim that they could never match someone like Mahatma Gandhi, but if our vision is clear, we can see that he is dropping breadcrumbs along the path as he goes forward. Here, he is telling us to think big, really big, and then begin infusing our smallest actions–not with the greatest love of all the world–but simply with all of the love of which we are capable.
Does he mean when we empty the garbage, we can show love? Absolutely. When we consider what we are putting in the garbage, for example, or whether we choose to snub or engage our neighbor while doing it, or whether we do it ourselves or wait for someone else to do it, and on and on. Love, for Gandhi, was something real, practical — and necessary. Pay attention to the seemingly insignificant.
Try Gandhi’s experiment out today, “to express in every little act” whatever love you are capable of. Find a way to encourage yourself as you go throughout the day.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org