Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

Elevation of Humanity: Daily Metta

“…there was a continuous stream of pilgrims who ‘retired from the household life to the houseless one.’” ~ Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 263 As with his famous quote on satya, Gandhi here shows how vividly he saw the eternal, or religious significance of everything he was doing both in South Africa and later… read more

Humility: Daily Metta

“The humility of a satyagrahi knows no bounds. He does not let slip a single opportunity for settlement, and he does not mind if any one therefore looks upon him as timid.” ~ Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 265 We sense that Gandhi is here speaking from “bitter personal experience,” as he said elsewhere.… read more

Supporting Others: Daily Metta

“Society is sustained by several services. The bhangi (scavenger) constitutes the foundation of all services.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, 4.104 Disunity, especially prejudice or disrespect of another caused Gandhi personal pain. Because widows in traditional society were feared and rejected he would write: “God created nothing finer than the Hindu widow.” He of course strove with… read more

Freedom & Agency: Daily Metta

“There would be no one to frighten you if you refuse to be afraid.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, 2. 302 Because of his spiritual orientation, Gandhi was often able to reorient us; for we constitutionally look at the outer world—other people, difficult circumstances—as inhibiting us. But however dire they may be, he discovered, we are always… read more

Scriptures: Daily Metta

“The Scriptures of the Christians, Mussalmans, and Hindus are all replete with the teaching of ahimsa.” ~ Gandhi, CWMG, xxv. 522 As are those of the Jains, Buddhists, Jews, etc. The differences are only of degree, with the Jain scriptures (and practices) carrying their ahimsa teaching to the furthest and most demanding degree. This should… read more

Faith and Reason: Daily Metta

“Faith . . . must be enforced by reason. The two are not antagonistic as some think.” ~ Gandhi, The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi, p. 41 The great appeal of the Vedanta (India’s collective spiritual wisdom), or one of them, is the way it avoids many of our “either-or” dilemmas. If the role of… read more

No Rancor: Daily Metta

“It is the acid test of nonviolence that in a nonviolent conflict there is no rancor left behind, and in the end the enemies are converted into friends.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, 4.291 Does this seem naive? Strangely enough, it was the British historian, Arnold Toynbee, who said of Gandhi that “he made it impossible for… read more

Sufficiency: Daily Metta

“Even in a most perfect world, we shall fail to avoid inequalities, but we can and must avoid strife and bitterness.” ~ Gandhi, Young India October 7, 1926. When Gandhi said this 90 years ago, he decidedly did not mean that we must put up with gross inequalities and obscene poverty. He means that striving… read more

Decentralization: Daily Metta

“Khadi mentality means decentralization of the production and distribution of the necessities of life.” ~ Gandhi, Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 406 Once again we see how khadi (cotton spinning) was iconic for the entire program of economic uplift for India—and her freedom. Imagine the freedom and security it would bring us, or anyone, if… read more

Power of Acting: Daily Metta

“To have a conviction that there is violence or sin in a certain course of conduct is one thing; to have the power of acting up to such a conviction is quite another.” ~ Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 230 In the Bhagavad Gita the warrior prince Arjuna, representing you and me, asks Sri… read more