Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

Victory: Daily Metta

“He then went on solemnly to declare in the name of God that he would never submit to that law, and advised all present to do likewise.” We are, of course, in the Empire Jewish Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa. The date is September 11 (!), 1906, and the speaker being quoted is one Seth… read more

The Secret: Daily Metta

“Everyone should realize the secret that oppression thrives only when the oppressed submit to it.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma vol. 7, p.192 This is where Gandhi’s vision overlaps with that of the “strategic” school of nonviolence that emphasizes the withdrawal of consent as the major power of nonviolence, and traces the idea back to the French… read more

Unity of Purpose: Daily Metta

“To me I seem to be constantly growing. I must respond to varying conditions and yet remain changeless within.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma vol 2, p. 265 With characteristic humility, Gandhi says that he “seems” to himself to be constantly growing. He was, of course. Because his firm grasp on the unvarying principle of nonviolence allowed… read more

No Guarantee: Daily Metta

“The hardest heart and the grossest ignorance must disappear before the rising sun of suffering without anger and without malice.” ~ Gandhi, from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, XXVI, p. 159 Let’s be realistic. It’s important to realize that while our hard-hearted opponent must be changed by our suffering without anger or malice, her or… read more

Start With the Core: Daily Metta

“The hardest heart and the grossest ignorance must disappear before the rising sun of suffering without anger and without malice.” ~Gandhi, from Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, XXVI, p. 159 Where to begin with this seminal declaration. Let’s start with the core. This is the essential dynamic, or the magic, if you will, of nonviolence,… read more

Durability: Daily Metta

“My non-violence is made of stern stuff. It is firmer than the firmest metal known to the scientist.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, Vol. 5, p. 169 In his eye-opening book Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient, Norman Cousins points to the paradox that the “hard” sciences are constantly changing, medical treatments can be… read more

Duties Performed: Daily Metta

“If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. If, leaving duties unperformed, we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o-the-wisp.” ~ Gandhi, Young India, Jan. 8, 1925 Gandhi is not the only one to notice that the concept of “rights” can be tricky and runs the risk… read more

Our Eternal Capacity: Daily Metta

“All religions teach that two opposing forces act upon us and the human endeavor consists in a series of eternal rejections and acceptances.”  ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, Vol. 2:45 In Judaism these two forces were called yetsir ra and yetsir tov, “the evil urge and the urge to good;” St. Augustine called them “two loves” (amores)… read more

Enemy #1: Daily Metta

“No man could look upon another as his enemy unless he first becomes his own enemy.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma Vol. 7, p. 204 We make no apology for revisiting this quote from a Daily Metta in April of last year because of its inexhaustible profundity. After all, 1500 years earlier Augustine had said, “Imagine someone… read more

Being Zero: Daily Metta

“My mission is to convert every Indian, even Englishmen, and finally the world to nonviolence for regulating mutual relations, whether political, economic, social, or religious.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma Vol. 5, p. 2 We can’t fault Gandhi for lacking ambition! His greatest ambition, however, in his own opinion, was quite different: “to make myself zero.” What… read more