“Gandhi in a nutshell”–Daily Metta

October 14:

gandhi-21“Our bodies are the real temples rather than buildings of stone.”

–Gandhi (Harijan, January 4, 1948)

If there is one quotation of Gandhi’s that could rival the misattributed, paraphrase Be the Change that we all know and love, it’s this one from 1948. Uttered a couple of weeks before he shed his body, it sheds light on his entire thinking around spirituality and politics, and consequently on the essence of his nonviolence: Life is sacred, so our dealings with all of life and one another should reflect this. Our flesh and blood are the real temples, the real churches, or sacred spaces, whatever you want to call it. What does it mean in practice? In a word: reverence. And in another: dignity. And a caveat: toward our own bodies, too: in fact, maybe them first of all. It’s a radical idea. Would we fill a temple with polluting chemicals and violent images? And how do we feel when people carry violence into such places? But we do this to our bodies and are often unaware of what kind of message we are giving to the world. When we each occupy this temple within, when we act toward it with stewardship, as trustees rather than owners (a really radical idea), we can become a place for healing, a place felt as home to others as well. Ansari of Herat, a mystic from the Islamic faith once said it this way, “Make your best endeavor to worship at the temple of the heart.” It’s a rich challenge.

Experiment in Nonviolence:
Dust out the corners of the ‘temple of the heart’ today and invite someone in.
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    By: Stephanie Van Hook

    Before joining the Metta Center Team as Executive Director, Stephanie received an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University; was trained and certified in mediation in the state of Oregon; worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa, where she created a program for girls’ empowerment and education; has taught French and English for the Alliance Francaise; and was trained in Montessori Early Childhood Education with seven years of classroom experience with 3-6 year olds. 

    She is the author of Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children (Person Power Press, 2016) and Nonviolence Daily: 365 Days of Wisdom from Gandhi (Person Power Press, 2019, co-authored with Michael Nagler).  Her articles have been published at Transformation at Open Democracy, Yes! Magazine, Common Dreams, and Waging Nonviolence. Additionally, she’s host of Nonviolence Radio, an FM and Pacifica syndicated radio program out of Point Reyes Station, California, (KWMR). She’s currently developing our board game, Cosmic Peaceforce: Mission Harmony Three.

    She lives in an ashram (meditation community) in Northern California, (but if she didn’t, she’d be keen on joining the Nonviolent Peaceforce as an unarmed peacekeeper).

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