Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dalai Lama's Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Your Majesty, Member of the Nobel Committee, Brothers and Sisters:

I am very happy to be here with you today to receive the Nobel Prize for peace. I feel honored, humbled, and deeply moved that you should give this important prize to a simple monk from Tibet. I am no one special. But I believe the prize is a recognition of the true value of altruism, love, compassion, and nonviolence which I try to practice, in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha and the sages of India and Tibet. I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of all of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of nonviolent action for change- Mahatama Gandhi-whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage, and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated.

No matter what part of the world we come from, we are all basically the same human beings. We all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. We have basically the same human needs and concerns. All of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals and as peoples. That is human nature. The great changes that are taking place in the world, from Eastern Europe to Africa, are a clear indication of this. ...

... As a Buddhist monk, my concern extends to all members of the human family and, indeed, to all the sentient beings who suffer. I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction.

Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed.

The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger, and so on, are human created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding, and a development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.

With the ever-growing impact of science in our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into each other. Both science and the teaching of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things. This understanding is crucial if we are to take positive and decisive action on the pressing global concern with the environment.

I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means may appear different, the ends are the same.

As we enter the final decade of this century, I am optimistic that the ancient values that have sustained mankind are today reaffirming themselves to prepare us for a kinder, happier twenty-first century.

I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we succeed in building a better world through human understanding and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.

Tenzin Gyatso
14th Dalai Lama of Tibet December 10, 1989, Oslo, Norway, Earth

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Pebble in the Pond by Arun Gandhi

I was a teenager when Muriel Lester visited our Home in South Africa. We lived at the Phoenix Settlement, the original institute for nonviolence that my grandfather, Mohandas K. Gandhi, had started when he first devoted his life to the philosophy of nonviolence. In the Fifties, Phoenix was still an island in a sea of sugarcane fields where the calm, the peace, and the serenity were shattered occasionally by deadly snakes straying in search of water.

This visit was the first time I heard of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and its manifold activities. My parents, Manilal and Sushila, included my sisters and me in most of their discussions, so Muriel's stay with us was, for me, a week of joyous communion - except that she dispossessed me of my bedroom! I quickly forgave her this trespass because she was such a gentle and charming soul.

The bond that she forged between the Gandhi Institute in South Africa and the Fellowship of Reconciliation became unbreakable, but my only other meeting with Muriel Lester was in January 1968, when she lived in a cottage on the outskirts of Epping Forest in England. She treated us to some delicious homemade scones and tea and reminisced about the days at Kingsley Hall in London's East End.

The Phoenix Settlement became a victim of political turmoil in South Africa. It was reduced to ashes. Alas, unlike the legendary bird, the Settlement could not rise again. At least in that place. It did rise in Memphis, Tennessee, in the form of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. For one who grew up in the Phoenix Settlement in South Africa, the Institute in Memphis seems a direct extension. And the bond with FOR remains strong. We wish the IFOR many more diamond jubilees.

October 2, 1994, is the 125th anniversary of Gandhi's birth, we at the Gandhi Institute are using this anniversary to focus the attention of people on how to reduce violence in our personal and public lives. To start with, the Gandhi Institute together with Welsley College, The Boston University School of Theology, and the Life Experience School in Sherborn, Massachusetts will hold a conference: "Nonviolence or Nonexistence - Life in the 21st Century" - in which we will explore the seven sins that are the source of violence (October 1-2).

Seven Social Sins according to Gandhi
  • Politics without Principles
  • Wealth without Work
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Education without Character
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Science without Humanity
  • Worship without Sacrifice

I was once told by my mother, who along with Father spent all her life working for nonviolent change, that there is a big difference between throwing a pebble in a pond and throwing a big rock. The pebble causes gentle ripples that go a long way. The rock makes a big splash that quickly disappears.

Arun Gandhi is founder/director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, Christian Brothers' University, 650 East Parkway South, Memphis, TN 38104. (901) 452-2824,

The Meaning of God~a poem

There is an indefinable mysterious Power that pervades everything.

I feel It, though I do not see It.

It is this unseen Power which makes Itself felt and yet defies all proof,
because It is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.

It transcends the senses....

That informing Power or Spirit is God....

For I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists.

Hence I gather that God is Life, Truth, Light. He is love.

He is supreme good.

But he is no God who merely satisfies the intellectIf He ever does.

God to be God must rule the heart and transform it.

~M. K. Gandhi(Young India, October 11, 1928)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Satyagraha and the GLBT rights movement

I found this on the web and felt I need to sare it with all.

Soulforce: An Interfaith Movement For Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights

For thirty-five years, The Rev. Dr. Mel White struggled to "overcome" his homosexual orientation through prayer, fasting, various aversive therapies, exorcism, and even electric shock. A victim of misinformation and biblical misuse, Mel thought his same-sex orientation was a sickness and a sin. During those "closet years" Mel served the Christian church as a prize-winning television producer and filmmaker, a best-selling author, a pastor, seminary professor, and ghost writer to religious leaders including Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell.
After a time of terrible depression, Mel finally reconciled his Christian faith and his sexual orientation. In his autobiography, Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America, Mel announced, "I'm gay. I'm proud. And God loves me without reservation."

For the past decade, Mel and his partner, Gary Nixon, have been helping to build a movement that applies the "soul force" (Satyagraha) principles of Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the struggle for justice for sexual minorities. They have collaborated with others to create Soulforce, an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. This movement uses nonviolent action inspired by Gandhi and King's principles to challenge and transform religious communities and their attitudes and policies that dehumanize, diminish and exclude LGBT people.

Soulforce has developed a step-by-step process for nonviolent transformation. Part of this process includes transforming one's attitudes about one's adversaries, as indicated by the following seven points developed by Mel White:

Seven Soulforce Beliefs About My Adversary

My adversary is also a child of the Creator; we are both members of the same human family; we are sisters and brothers in need of reconciliation.

My adversary is not my enemy, but a victim of misinformation as I have been.

My only task is to bring my adversary truth in love (nonviolence) relentlessly.

My adversary's motives are as pure as mine and of no relevance to our discussion.

My worst adversary has an amazing potential for positive change.

My adversary may have an insight into truth that I do not have.

My adversary and I will understand each other and come to a new position that will satisfy us both, if we conduct our search for truth guided by the principles of love.

For Gandhi and King, to love our adversary means that we respond to our adversary guided exclusively by the principles of ahimsa or nonviolence. Gandhi said it this way: "No physical, verbal, or psychological violence." In King's words, "No violence of the fist, the tongue, or the heart."

Of all those seven beliefs about our adversaries, I find it most difficult to believe that their motives are as "pure as mine." I want to believe that my adversaries are waging this war against me to raise money and mobilize volunteers.

Before I discovered Soulforce, I felt a growing rage at these religious leaders "who should know better." But I worked as a ghost writer for many of them. I know my adversaries intimately. They are sincere, though sincerely wrong. And though they do use the untruths to raise money and mobilize volunteers, they do believe the untruths and are themselves victims of those same untruths.

How easy it is to demean and demonize our adversaries. How many times have we been tempted to hate them, to call them names, to wish them dead? How quickly our rallies and marches can deteriorate into name calling contests. How often our banners and posters reflect insult and rage. Soulforce calls us to a better way. (You can contact Soulforce at

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jesus, Gandhi and Nonviolence

"Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale." Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have never been considered much of a reader of the bible or one to quote from it, butI wonted to show that even Jesus was very much believed in nonviolence. Gandhi has knew that what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount works. Loving one's enemy can be applied to the town square and to the battlefield

"As you know, we were once told, 'An eye for an eye' and 'A tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you: Don't react violently against the one who is evil: when someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other as well. If someone is determined to sue you for your shirt, let that person have your coat along with it. Further, when anyone conscripts you for one mile, go along an extra mile. Give to the one who begs from you; and don't turn away the one who tries to borrow from you. Matt. 5:48-43

"As you know, we were once told, 'You are to love your neighbor' and 'You are to hate your enemy.' But to you who listen I say, love your enemies, do favors for those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for your abusers. You'll then become children of your Father in the heavens. causes the sun to rise on both the bad and the good, and sends rain on both the just and the unjust. Luke 6:27,28

"Treat people the way you want them to treat you.”

"If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that? After all, even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what merit is there in that? After all, even sinners do as much. If you lend to those from whom you hope to gain, what merit is there in that? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to get as much in return. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you'll be children of the Most High. As you know, the Most High is generous to the ungrateful and the wicked. Matt. 5:45

"Be as compassionate as your Father is. Don't pass judgment, and you won't be judged; don't condemn, and you won't be condemned; forgive, and you'll be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: they'll put in your lap a full measure, packed down, sifted and overflowing. For the standard you apply will be the standard applied to you." Luke 6:31-38

Monday, April 10, 2006

the sannyasi and the scorpion

One day a sannyasi was sitting on the bank of a river silently repeating his mantram. A scorpion fell from a nearby tree in to the river. The sannyasi seeing it struggling in the water, bent over and pulled him out and set him back in the tree, but as he did so the creature bit him on the hand. He paid no heed to the bite, and went back to repeating his mantram. This happen two more times and each time the scorpion bit him on the hand and he went back to his mantram.

As this happed a villager, ignorant of the ways of holy men, had come to the river for water and had seen the whole affair. Unable to contain himself any longer he asked the sannyasi. "Swamiji, I have seen you save that foolish scorpion several times now and each time he has bitten you. Why not let him go?"

"Brother," replied the sannyasi, "the scorpion cannot help himself. It is in his nature to bite."

"Agreed," answered the villager. "But knowing this, why don't you avoid him?"

"Ah, brother," replied the sannyasi, "you see, I cannot help myself either. I am a human being; it is my nature to save.

Gandhi's pencil

I know this is not a story of nonviolence but it is so good that I had to post it. It gives us a glimpse of what kind of person Gandhi was.

Soon after Gandhi's return from South Africa, a meeting of the Congress was held in Bombay. Kaka Saheb Kalelkar went there to help.

One day Kaka Saheb found Gandhi anxiously searching around his desk."What's the matter? What are you looking for?" Kaka Saheb asked."I've lost my pencil," Gandhi answered. "It was only so big."Kaka Saheb was upset to see Gandhi wasting time and worrying about a little pencil. He took out his pencil and offered it to him."No, no, I want my own little pencil," Gandhi insisted like a stubborn child."Well, use it for the time being," said Kaka Saheb. "I'll find your pencil later. Don't waste time looking for it now.""You don't understand. That little pencil is very precious to me," Gandhi insisted."Natesan's little son gave it to me in Madras. He gave it with so much love and affection. I cannot bear to lose it."Kaka Saheb didn't argue any more. He joined Gandhi in the search.

At last they found it - a tiny piece, barely two inches long. But Gandhi was delighted to get it back. To him it was no ordinary pencil. It was the token of a child's love and to Gandhi a child's love was very precious.

Gandhi's Salt March To Dandi

On March 12, 1930, Gandhi and approximately 78 male satyagrahis set out, on foot, for the coastal village of Dandi some 240 miles from their starting point in Sabarmati, a journey which was to last 23 days. Virtually every resident of each city along this journey watched the great procession, which was at least two miles in length. On April 6th he picked up a lump of mud and salt (some say just a pinch, some say just a grain) and boiled it in seawater to make the commodity which no Indian could legally produce--salt.

Upon arriving at the seashore Gandhi said “God be thanked for what may be termed the happy ending of the first stage in this, for me at least, the final struggle of freedom. I cannot withhold my compliments from the government for the policy of complete non interference adopted by them throughout the march ...”

He implored his thousands of followers to begin to make salt wherever, along the seashore, "was most convenient and comfortable" to them. A "war" on the salt tax was to be continued during the National Week, that is, up to the thirteenth of April. There was also simultaneous boycotts of cloth and khaddar. Salt was sold, illegally, all over the seacoast of India. A pinch of salt from Gandhi himself sold for 1,600 rupees, perhaps $750 dollars at the time. In reaction to this, the British government had incarcerated over sixty thousand people at the end of the month.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The First three stories

Here are the first three stories on nonviolence I found

Dick Gregory
African-American activist and comedian Dick Gregory tells of the time, shortly after desegregation, that he entered a formally all-white restaurant and ordered fried chicken.
Just before he began his meal, three big white men approached him and said, "Nigger, whatever you do to that chicken, we're gonna do to you." Gregory put down his utensils, picked up the chicken, and kissed it. The three men backed away immediately.(Some folks add that the particular part of the chicken he kissed also had something to do with the situation.)

Berlin, 1943
On Feb. 28, 1943, two dozen women gathered at what had been a Jewish Community Center on Rose Street in Berlin. The women were Gentiles who were married to Jewish men. Their husbands, along with hundreds of other Jews, were being held at the Rose Street Center to await transfer to Auschwitz concentration camp. The crowd, that February 28, slowly grew until about 1,000 people were in the street. "Give us back our men," the women shouted. The women refused orders to leave. On March 4, SS troops set up machine guns, aimed them at the women, and ordered the street cleared. The women stood their ground. Six days after the protest began, without explanation, Joseph Goebbels ordered the release of the 1,500 prisoners inside the center on Rose Street. Twenty-five prisoners already en route to Auschwitz were returned.

Alabama, 1965
In 1965, in Birmingham, Alabama, when hundreds of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement were in jail, their children came to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and said to him, "Our parents are in jail, but we can march in their place."
Dr. King initially was resistant to the idea, knowing what a risk there was involved. He was uneasy about having innocent children fighting such an adult battle, a battle that all too often resulted in violence. But the children insisted.
They began marching and were met by Bull Conner, the head of the white police force, and his entire guard -- armed with power hoses and dogs and billy clubs. The children were turned back a number of times, but they didn't give up.
One day they marched up to the wall of armed police, kneeled down in front of them and prayed out loud for the police officers. The police officers' hardened hearts were softened enough that they let the children through. Dr. King saw a police officer wipe a tear from his eye. Dr. King wrote that this was the first time he had witnessed the incredible power of revolutionary love and nonviolence.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Satyagraha and Ahimsa

Satyagraha is literally means “hold onto the truth.” Gandhi coined the word Satyagraha is the philosophy of nonviolent resistance most famously employed by Mohandas Gandhi in forcing an end to the British Raj and also against apartheid in South Africa. Satya is Sanskrit for Truth, and Agraha is used to describe an effort, endeavor. The term itself may be construed to mean any effort to discover, discern, obtain or apply Truth. But Satyagraha is more richly nuanced than “hold onto the truth” implies. It could be called “truth force,” and because Gandhi associated truth with love, Satyagraha could also be translated as “the force of love.”

The movement of non-violent non-cooperation has nothing in common with the historical struggles for freedom in the West. It is NOT based on brute force or hatred. It does not aim at destroying the tyrant. It is a movement of self-purification. It therefore seeks to convert the tyrant. It may fail because India was not ready for mass non-violence.

Ahimsa is the foundation of Satyagraha, the "irreducible minimum" to which Satyagraha adheres to. Ahimsa can be translated as "nonviolence," but the meaning goes beyond that. Ahimsa is derived from the Sanskrit verb root hims, witch means "desirous to kill," and the prefix a- is negation. So a-himsa means literally "lacking any desire to kill," this is central to Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist morality. In the Manu Smriti, the book of laws in Hinduism, in says that "Ahimsa is the highest law.

How ever the word "nonviolence" connotes a negative, almost a passive condition, whereas the term ahimsa suggests a dynamic state of mind in which power is released. "Strength," Gandhi said, "does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." So Ahimsa is not just nonviolence, whereas you do nothing, but a strength of will. Violence checks this energy within, and is ultimately disruptive in its consequences, ahimsa, properly understood is invincible. "With satya combined with ahimsa," Gandhi writes, "you can bring the world to your feet"

In this blog I will be posting stories of nonviolence, Satyagraha and Ahimsa. Most of all I will be discussing Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. If you have stories for me please send them.