Category: Michael Nagler

Observation & Experience: Daily Metta

“Non-violence, being the mightiest force in the world, and also the most elusive in its working, demands the greatest exercise of faith.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma 5, p. 17 In the words of Augustine and later Fathers of the Church, credo ut intellegam, “I believe in order to understand.” This technique has been criticized as conducive to blind belief, but what it really means, and what Gandhiji means here, is that in some subjects, notable “elusive” ones like nonviolence (or God), we need to suspend our conditioned disbelief provisionally to really see the operation of the principle. When you have seen nonviolence succeed time and again—which presupposes you know what to look for!—your belief in the principle becomes grounded in observation and personal experience. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Agency/Freedom: Daily Metta

“Mere withdrawal of the English is not independence. It means the consciousness and the average villager that he is the maker of his own destiny, he is his own legislator through his chosen representative.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, February 13, 1930 We are familiar by now with the key doctrine that “no man loses his freedom except through his (her) own weakness.” Here Gandhi specifies the all-important criterion of that freedom, namely agency (and the implied corollary: responsibility). As usual, his understanding or our inherent agency/freedom spans from an implied spiritual capacity, located within the person, to the political expression—a valuable lesson for our political culture today! Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Mass-media Culture: Daily Metta

“The political domination of England is bad enough. The cultural is infinitely worse.… When the cultural domination is complete the political will defy resistance.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, July 9, 1925 Recently Thomas Friedman wrote that the (disastrous) result of the 2016 presidential election in the US “has much less to do with trade or income gaps and much more to do with culture and many Americans’ feeling of ‘homelessness’” (italics added). Our mass-media culture degrades our grip on truth and in many ways renders us vulnerable to demagoguery and the temptation to scapegoat. With the last point about “homelessness,” Friedman points to what we at the Metta Center have been considering the core of our present cultural message and the leverage point at which we can change it, namely its “story” of the human being as a material, separate entity acted on by random forces; how can we feel at home in a universe like that, which denies the core of our consciousness being? Our task is both harder and easier than Gandhi’s inasmuch as there are no “English” out there dominating us (as scapegoat logic tempts many to believe); we are doing it to ourselves. In any case, we must change the story in order to make any headway regaining our freedom. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Human-centered Reality: Daily Metta

“I make bold to say that the Europeans themselves will have to remodel their outlook if they are not to perish under the weight of the comforts to which they are becoming slaves.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, October 7, 1931 As we’ve seen elsewhere, Gandhi became aware already during his trial by fire in South Africa that what he was engaged in, and had to be, was nothing less than a clash of civilizations; namely the remaining core of India’s spiritual culture pitted against, or as a restorative to the materialist civilization of the West. I take his phrase “remodel their outlook” to mean what we mean today by changing the paradigm or controlling narrative, namely to a consciousness-based, human-centered model of reality. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Money is Not Life: Daily Metta

“All have not the same capacity. It is in the nature of things, impossible.… I would allow a man of intellect to earn more, I would not cramp his talent.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, November 26, 1931 Is this inequality? Not quite. Because earning more doesn’t mean being better; money is not life. We need the talents of the more gifted; what we don’t need is their superiority. What checks the latter are the concept of trusteeship, and more generally the image of the human being as a spiritual being deeply interconnected with all of life. With these, no difference in endowment need compromise “heart unity;” any difference in capacity becomes only a greater capacity for service. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Evidence of Our Senses: Daily Metta

“Somehow we refuse to believe in the evidence of our senses, that we could not possibly have any attachment for the body without the soul, and we have no evidence whatever that the soul perishes with the body.” ~ Gandhi, Letter to Meera Behn, May 4, 1933, p. 148 I very much enjoy the inescapable logic of this ancient teaching: how could we even fear death or mourn the passing of others without a soul, in other words consciousness? How could the body even be animated without a non-physical force? One could say that science today, for example in the study of near-death experiences, even has a bit of positive evidence that the soul does not perish with the body. It is on the basis of these glimpses into our soul-being that on the one hand we can face the risk of our own “death” (the third phase of our escalation curve) in extreme circumstances that may demand such a sacrifice, but on the other hand venerate and protect all life—to emphasize, all life and the life-support system of the miraculous planet on which we find ourselves. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Thoughts: Daily Metta

“The greatest tragedy is a hopeless unwillingness of the villagers to better their lot.” ~ Gandhi,  Harijan,  January 9, 1937 It is indeed a tragedy: that people who have been belittled and oppressed so often take on the message of their own unworthiness put forward by their oppressors.  But at the same time, this does show us a way out, over which oppressors have no direct control. Was it Harriet Tubman who woke up one morning with the words “I am not a slave,” sparking her own freedom and the growth of the underground railway? “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” ~ the Buddha Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Purer Energy: Daily Metta

Under certain circumstances fasting is the one weapon which God has given us for use in times of utter helplessness.… Absence of food is an indispensable but not the largest part of it. The largest part is the prayer – communion with God. It more than adequately replaces physical food. ~ Gandhi, letter to Meera Behn from Yeravda, May 8, 1933 There’s a story in Western spiritual lore about a student asking his preceptor, “Since God is all-knowing, why do we have to ask him for what we want in prayer?” The answer is, “He already knows what you want; the purpose of the prayer is to get you into the state of mind to receive it.” Likewise Gandhi here hints at a dimension of fasting that I, for one, had never thought about: quite apart from direct  “heart-opening” of one’s opponent it helps us get into a more concentrated and deeper state which is itself satisfying (as he stresses here) and puts more, purer energy behind our wishes for change. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Supreme Consideration: Daily Metta

“The supreme consideration is man. The machine should not tend to make atrophied the limbs of man.” ~ Gandhi,Young India, November 13, 1924 Gandhi is in so many ways more nuanced than he is taken for: people think he was a kind of luddite, against machinery. He was not against anything, really; he was for human well-being, and that meant a judicious use of anything and everything, even—to take an extreme case—the caste system, if it were kept to its original purpose of acknowledging, without making a hierarchy of, the natural differences among persons so as to create an efficient system of interdependence. Knowing well what modern medicine is just catching up with, that the human mind and body are meant for work and activity, he warns us here against going beyond the use of machinery to liberate us from drudgery, which is quite beneficial, to actually trying to have it take the place of human activity. He never heard of automation, which today is steadily putting people out of work, but he foresaw the danger where it originates, in the lack of discrimination, the absence of a standard of judgment, the ridiculous idea that machines can take the place of people. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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Unity of Life: Daily Metta

“Diversity there certainly is in the world, but it means neither inequality nor untouchability.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, vol. 3, 230 Gandhi wrote long before diversity became what we’d call these days a meme and core value of the ecological movement, before we recognized how essential it is in the health of nature—including, surprisingly, human nature. Where diversity, so crucial to the nature of life, becomes a source of conflict and separation is where the minds of some people (usually those insecure in their own identity) impose a sense of “high” and “low” on diversity, leading in the extreme to what biologist Eibl-Eibesfeld has termed “pseudo speciation,” marking out some members of the human species as not part of it; in our terminology, dehumanization. If we could learn to appreciate diversity, not feel threatened by it, we would eliminate a major source of destructive conflict and be well on our way to perceiving the unity of life. Thanks for sharing a comment below. About Daily Metta Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence. Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide. Enjoy more Daily Metta: See the  archives Get Daily Metta by email: Subscribe    

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