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Two years ago to the week, we had a conversation about #nonviolence in our weekly #SpiritChat on twitter. The topic was a remembrance of the birth anniversary of the man, Mohandas Gandhi, who is perhaps best associated with the principle of #nonviolence. A few weeks ago, as I looked ahead to the first week of October, and a possible topic for our weekly chat, I felt that it may be appropriate to revisit the topic. Little did I realize at that time that we would be talking about #nonviolence in the wake of yet another senseless, violent tragedy in one of our communities…

In order to put Gandhi’s principle of #nonviolence in context, it may be apt to quote his interpration of it:

“Non-violence is not a material thing. It does imply not to (simply) hurt anybody. Evil thought is violence. Impatience is violence. Jealousy is violence. To tell a lie is violence. To wish ill of others is violence. To possess what is necessary for the world is also violence.” – Mohandas Gandhi

Let me expand on each statement. ‘Non-violence is not a material thing’. My interpretation of this statement is that Gandhi is talking about more than mere physical violence. Many of us think of what we see and experience in movies, on television, in the media, in reports of war and terrorism, and such, as the primary form of violence. However, Gandhi wants to think beyond. Most of you who are reading this, have probably not committed any physical violence against anybody in the recent past, or as far as you can remember. And that is a wonderful start. But let us examine further…

‘Evil thought is violence.’ We may not realize it, but once in a while, an evil thought may surface into our mind from seemingly nowhere. The boss who has been giving us a hard time for months about that project deadline, the client who throws ‘out of the blue’ unreasonable requests for work at us or does not pay us on time, the neighbor who mows the lawn at ungodly hours of the day or lets his barking dog out at 5am, the family member who does not take his or her share of responsibility to care for aging parents… should I continue? How many of us can claim abstinence from a smidgeon of evil thought in such situations?! But we are not done yet. There is more…

‘Impatience is violence. Jealousy is violence.’ Why can’t my business grow faster? Why am I so far behind on my list of goals for the year? Why is my dream, that I have been working so hard towards, not manifest sooner? Impatience at play. A manifestation of violence. Why is that person, who I know so well, and who works half as hard as me, getting that award instead of me? How come my parents left me less of an inheritance than they left to my siblings? How is it that that half-as-good-looking person as me is so seemingly happily married to (or together with) that twice-as-good-looking person as them while I cannot seem to find anyone to love? Jealousy at play. Are we not sending out the energy of violence? Should I continue?

‘To tell a lie is violence. To wish ill of others is violence.’ We have often heard that it may be better to ‘tell a (white) lie’ in order not to hurt their feelings. In fact, our recent conversation on “Truth and Balance” addressed many issues in reference to truth and its telling. Gandhi proposes a very high ideal, and if you read his “Experiments with Truth”, you will find that he held steadfast to this ideal from a very young age. “A right cause never fails; A true word never fails in the end”. When we wish ill of others, we ourselves become ill, in addition to dissipating vital life energy that is needed for us to grow spiritually. Can you think of any instances where you wished ill of others, for them to fail, for them to experience pain because they had somehow caused you pain and hurt? It is a sign of spiritual progress when we can say – yes, I used to do that, but like a tree shedding its leaves in autumn, I shed that tendency from my life…

In closing, Gandhi says about non-violence: ‘To possess what is necessary for the world is also violence’. We are guilty of violence when we lose the ability to discern between our need and our greed. For, when we operate from a lack mentality, from a thought process that possessions equal prosperity, we often end up hoarding resources in our lives which may better serve the larger majority. One example of possession violence is the amount of food that we buy, store, do not use, and then throw away. Can you think of any other examples of ‘possession violence’?

So, in summary, the good news is that we have identified the ways that we may indavertently find ourselves committing violence against ourselves, or against others. The spiritual work that we choose to do, to steer clear of evil thought, impatience, jealousy, untruth, wishing others ill, and greed, is clear. The even better news is that we may already have overcome most or all of these tendencies in our daily living, which means that we are shining lights to others who are also committed to more goodness, more truth and more nonviolence in their lives.

The intent and focuse of our conversation on Sunday October 4th at 9amET/1pmUTC in the #SpiritChat channel on twitter will be framed around some of these areas of incorporating nonviolence into our lives. I hope you can share with us in the live hour and beyond, and share your light, love and peace with the community.

Thank you for reading, and Namaste!

Kumud

What Is Our Message? from Kumud Ajmani on Vimeo.

As I walked along the river bank this week, I could not help but reflect on the question – if “my life is my message”, what is it conveying in the now? What will it convey in the future? I invite you to take a minute, and reflect with me…