“Silent Mondays”–Daily Metta

June 8:

gandhi-21“It has often occurred to me that a seeker after truth has to be silent.”

–Gandhi (Young India, August 6, 1925)

In the language of pop psychology, some might say that Gandhi was an introvert as a child and a young man. He experienced a high level of social anxiety and was generally categorized as shy and timid, (though, such words reveal little about his interior life). When he began his lifelong work in the Indian freedom struggle, however, he transformed his introversion and “shyness” into something that helped, instead of hindered, him: a temporary vow of silence, every Monday, without fail. Besides giving him a chance to “relieve pressure” (his words),  he soon realized that a person of few words will have to choose their words carefully, which is a great aid to conscious speech, or “nonviolence in word.”  And in fact, Nehru later will testify that “Gandhi never wrote or said a word he did not mean.”

Whether the struggle was intense or a visitor arrived who could only be there that one day, Gandhi kept his vow of silence. He did have a few very compassionate exceptions, in his own words, “When I took the vow of silent Mondays, I allowed myself two exceptions. I decided that in a moment of unendurable physical pain, or to comfort someone in equal mental pain, I would break my silence and say what was necessary.”

Experiment in Nonviolence:

Find a time each week–it does not have to be an entire day–to practice the discipline of silence. Work a bit of silence into each day. If you already do that, consider a conscious exploration of your word to silence ratio each day. Can you incorporate more silence on the one hand, and more power into your chosen speech, on the other?



Daily Metta 250x250Daily Metta 2015, a service of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, is a daily reflection on the strategic and spiritual insights of Mahatma Gandhi in thought, word and deed. As Gandhi called his life an “experiment in truth,” we have included an experiment in nonviolence to accompany each Daily Metta. Check in every day for new inspiration. Each year will be dedicated to another wisdom teacher.

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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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