Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

Small Things: Daily Metta

“To serve one’s neighbor is to serve the world.” ~ Gandhi, Ashram Observances in Action, p. 37 And he goes on, “Indeed, it is the only way open to us  of serving the world.” We who wish to help the world very commonly judge our effectiveness by quantitative criteria: how many people reached, how many… read more

Potential: Daily Metta

“(Religion) is not a thing that is alien to us, but which has to be evolved out of us.” ~ Gandhi, Ashram Observances in Action, p. 76 By “religion” Gandhi here does not mean what you can gain by “reading the scriptures,” he explains, but a “heart-awareness” of the divine in things and people—and ourselves!… read more

Love: Daily Metta

“Love is not love which asks for a return.” ~ Gandhi, CWMG XIV, p. 402 Whether or not Gandhiji is paraphrasing Shakespeare here (“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,” Sonnet 116), the rhetoric is common to these experts on love—for such Gandhi and Shakespeare were—precisely because there is so much misunderstanding… read more

Truly Human: Daily Metta

“Fortunately for humanity non-violence pervades human life and is observed by men [and women] without special effort. If we had not borne with one another, mankind would have been destroyed long ago  Ahimsa would thus appear to be the law of life, but we are thus far not entitled to any credit for observing it.”… read more

Acts of Service: Daily Metta

“Ahimsa must express itself through acts of service of the masses.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, vol. 8., p. 81 Among other ways. But it seems that today, no less than in the India still impoverished by colonial exploitation in Gandhi’s day, fiendish systems of exploitation force a billion people worldwide into dire and unnecessary poverty. Of… read more

Unseen Power: Daily Metta

“God is not a power residing in the clouds. God is an unseen power residing within us, and nearer to us than fingernails to the flesh.” ~ Gandhi, Truth is God, p. 19 In speaking thus of the radical externalization of “God” that had come to characterize most religious thinking in the West, and offering… read more

Empire: Daily Metta

“…the British people will have to beware that, if they do not want to do justice, it will be the bounded duty of every Indian to destroy the Empire.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, 1919-1922 (New York, Huebsch, 1924), p. 846 If we were tempted still to regard nonviolence as something shy and retiring, we can… read more

Blow-forward: Daily Metta

“Thus the lynching ultimately proved to be a blessing for me, that is, for the cause. It enhanced the prestige of the Indian community in South Africa, made my work easier, and the experience prepared me for the practice of Satyagraha.” ~ Gandhi, My Early Life 1869-1914, Mahadev Desai, Ed. (Oxford, 1949) “Blowback” is a… read more

Stealth Action: Daily Metta

“[Unless we] rid ourselves of our dirty habits and have improved latrines, swaraj can have no value for us.” ~ Gandhi, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.14, pp. 56-58 A well-known and highly unfortunate aspect of prejudice against a given group is that the group itself tends to take on the low opinion of it… read more

Unity, the Goal: Daily Metta

“Nonviolence does not signify that man must not fight against the enemy, [meaning] the evil which men do, not human beings themselves.”  ~ Gandhi, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol. 8, p. 281 This is a core principle of nonviolence and Gandhi repeated it often (as we have seen). On more than one occasion he… read more