When we first hear about nonviolence, few of us believe that it can be put to work in almost every situation and every relationship imaginable. We usually (if you’re like me), begin with the “No, it wouldn’t work in this or that situation.” Slowly, we open up and think, “Well, it could work in this situation, but not with that person, that So and So.” And then we keep working on it, learn more, and get overwhelmed: “Wow! This is working. Could I apply it to even this relationship?” And in course of time we begin to realize something else: “Wow! There is something different about me.” And on and on. Whenever we begin to put nonviolence into practice, it will take time for it to grow on us. But the seed is planted in our hearts and grow it must, and grow it does, even though there is always a bit of a lag time for our lives to begin to measure up to our higher ideals.
Gandhi was no exception to this formula, differing only in the degree to which he was earnest and open in his practice. He said that he only first came to the principle of ahimsa in the political field when everything else he had tried through the usual legal means had failed him. He was seeking innovation for the cause of social justice, so he turned to his ancient tradition. But he didn’t stop with just one struggle in South Africa; he began to wonder if nonviolence could not be applied in every aspect of life–if it were not possible to create a culture of peace from the inside out, and not only to show people a way to free themselves from political oppression but from every oppression, mental or physical. Eventually he felt no field could be closed to him for the application of his principles–be it education, politics, religion, economics, but even medicine, diet, health, journalism. He was on fire with the principles of nonviolence, and everything he touched, he left a mark; showing us that this, too, can be addressed from the angle of nonviolence. As he said, he was “constantly evolving.” Each new exploration, each new experiment in nonviolence, changed him as well as the outside situation. And as the application of his principles widened, so did his heart. So can ours.
Expand your application of the principles of nonviolence to one new relationship today.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org