Gandhi was known as a karma-yogi, meaning that his spiritual path was one of engagement and selfless action. Does this mean that everyone must be on this path? That no one can find respite and deeper truth about the world through physical isolation, such as moving into a Himalayan cave? I’m not sure. Perhaps for some, that is their path. However, when I told my mentor one day that I wanted to retire to such a life, he told me instead to seek that “Himalayan cave” within myself.
The point that my mentor, and Gandhi, made is that for the vast majority of us living in families, commitments, jobs, and so forth, we need not renounce all of these relationships in order to attain spiritual wisdom. Indeed, when we resort to isolation we have to question whether we are running away from difficult situations and other obligations out of a sense of giving up on others and ourselves, out of a negative view that “people are the problem and I want to get as far away from them as possible, then I will be happy.” We may go to the far reaches of the most isolated corners of the world, it is true, but if we go with resentment or fear in our hearts, we are simply taking our problems with us, and they will still be with us when we return. If we want to grow spiritually, we must learn to live together. Is this not one of the greatest promises of nonviolence? And now imagine the wonder of it: we can find the resources we need to do that within our own–and one another’s–hearts.
Seek to serve that living force in the human heart today.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org