While Gandhi tended to use the religiously-tinged language of his day, we can render this usage into a more modern idiom and say that while we all have an instinct (though scientists no longer like that term) for self-preservation, we also have an instinct for self-sacrifice, for a higher good, and that the exercise of that latter drive or impulse is what enables us to grow spiritually. Gandhi also is implying here that even with the best of intentions we can always be in error, so we court danger when we try to defend our own through violence; we run no such danger as long as we try to do it through nonviolence. In a violent conflict, whoever is more violent prevails; but in a nonviolent conflict who or what prevails is truth. There is nothing like nonviolence for bringing out the truth of a situation.
Take notice of your instinct for self-sacrifice today and that of others. How does it change your perception of a situation?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org