Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

Suffering: Daily Metta

“In concrete terms, what pure suffering, wholly one-sided, does is stir public opinion against a wrong.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi: Correspondence with the Government (1959), p. 301 When Martin Luther King said “unearned suffering is redemptive” he was referring to the same effect. It is the “secret weapon” of satyagraha, the core dynamic of active… read more

Defy Fear: Daily Metta

“The truth is that cowardice itself is violence of a subtle type and therefore dangerous and far more difficult to eradicate than the habit of physical violence.” ~ Gandhi, CWMG, 25:437 That cowardice is a form of violence can be counterintuitive. I have had people tell me that they ran away from a fight: wasn’t… read more

Depth of Access: Daily Metta

“But I can boldly declare, and with certainty, that so long as there is even a handful of men true to their pledge, there can only be one end to the struggle, and that is victory.” ~ Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 99 The forces that govern the outcome of human events are as… read more

Full Control: Daily Metta

“Means must determine ends and indeed it’s questionable in human affairs whether there is an end. The best we can do is to make sure of the method and examine our motive.” ~ Ronald Duncan, Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 14 No matter where you cut him, Gandhi is close to what he called… read more

Structural Violence: Daily Metta

“I am satisfied that many Englishmen and Indian officials honestly believe that that they are administering one of the best systems devised in the world . . .” ~ Ronald Duncan, Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 144 A well-known admonition of the Buddha was na hante, na hanyate, the wise one “will not kill,… read more

Short of the Ideal: Daily Metta

“I see no courage or sacrifice in destroying life or property for offense or defense.”  ~ Gandhi, Mahatma 6.67 I’m revisiting this statement (see yesterday’s post) because in it Gandhi refers offhandedly to something that is quite controversial in contemporary nonviolence practice: property destruction. There are circumstances—for example breaking into a military base and destroying… read more

Sacrifice: Daily Metta

“I see no courage or sacrifice in destroying life or property for offense or defense.”  ~ Gandhi, Mahatma 6.67 Naturally, Gandhiji’s point here is to stress two cardinal features of “nonviolence of my understanding” (title of a small book he wrote): the one is that nonviolence is a positive force, which is obvious only to… read more

Our Dignity: Daily Metta

“My goal is friendship with the world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong.” ~ Gandhi, Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 424 Every human being has dignity. When we teach ourselves to keep this simple idea in mind, friendship with everyone is no longer hyperbole, but a real (and… read more

Conscious Agents: Daily Metta

“Man is the maker of his own destiny, and therefore I ask you to become makers of your own destiny.” ~ Gandhi, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, XXVI p. 294 Gandhi’s vision—of life, of human nature—is in so many ways an opposite and a remedy to today’s popular beliefs. He is very much a prophet… read more

Unconquerable: Daily Metta

“The proper way to view the present outburst of violence in the world is to recognize that the technique of unconquerable non-violence of the strong has not been at all fully discovered as yet.” ~ Gandhi, Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 147 Gandhi made this statement close to the end of his life, in 1948.… read more