Non-Violence: the challenge and hope
Gandhi invited us to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world.’ This is one of those statements that is easy to understand, yet not so easy to do. So, how can we individually start addressing the challenge and the hope of non-violence?
One thing we can begin with is to choose to commit to creating a state of inner non-violence. This doesn’t mean to just silence the inner critic, it also means to uncover and experience our own deep inner state of peace, love and happiness. Here we experience a deep self-acceptance, understanding and love. Once we experience this original state of being, we are empowered to start re-aligning our attitudes and actions to our original values and qualities. This leads to increasing empathy and harmony in our relationships. In a world of non-violence everyone would naturally be cherished and supported.
The principles of non-violence call on us, as individuals, to choose to be self-aware, centred in compassion and to recognise our connection to one another. One simple practise that underpins these 3 aspects is that of becoming ‘an observer’ of both the self and the changing world around us. Try this: for a moment suspend all judgement about what is going on, ‘step out’ of the situation and just observe the whole from a place of acceptance. This practise allows our mind to become calm and still and us to return to a state of inner peace.
Every time we allow our mind to sit in peace we re-affirm our true nature of peace. The more we practise this the clearer it becomes. In this state of peace we find love. Where there is love, there is joy. Where there is joy, there is wisdom. Where there is wisdom, there is power. The power, that is, that supports and enhances the emergence of our inner truth of compassion and connection. In the practice of Raja Yoga we would term this a state of self-sovereignty or self-dignity.
When we are just fighting for survival, we lose sight of our choices and the peace that is deeply embedded within the human soul. We forget that peace is an inside out job, not outside in. We forget that we are innately peaceful and powerful. However, the memory of it remains and calls to us. It calls us to return too and re-emerge our inner qualities of peace, love joy and wisdom. They haven’t left us even if we feel they have. In re-emerging this experience and awareness of our original state of being we are able to become the change we wish to see in the world.
Non-Violence: a new commitment
In order to live and maintain the change on a day-to-day bases, it helps if we support ourselves with a daily practise. Dadi Janki, one of the administrative heads of the Brahma Kumaris, speaks about how we need to remind ourselves daily that peace is our original nature. She also shares how a connection with the Source of Peace gives us the additional strength and courage we need to maintain a non-violent attitude. When we connect with the One above, whether it is through prayer, meditation or silent contemplation, we are enriched by the experience, feel supported and cherished. This allows our heart to be in a state openness, connectivity and compassion. We are then able to create bridges and fulfil hopes.
Dadi Janki, also shares how she has a daily practise of asking herself 3 questions in the morning: Who am I? Who do I belong to? What am I here to do? Who am I? I am a being of peace. Who do I belong to? I belong to the One, the Source of Peace. What am I here to do? To live in such a way that my life becomes an example and inspiration for peace and non-violence to others.
We too could ask ourselves these 3 same questions every morning. The best way is to ask yourself them in mediation and allow the feeling to emerge along with the words. To allow yourself to experience that you are a being of peace. The experience in particular helps us build the inner resilience we need to maintain our internal equilibrium in the face of our own and others emotional states of mind and in charged situations. It also keeps alive for us the greater purpose of our own lives.
Another aspect is that we need to become more aware of what we are feeding our hearts and minds throughout the day. There is a Native American story about a grandfather telling his grandson a story about 2 wolves battling inside him. One is ferocious and destructive, and the other gentle and powerful. When the anxious child asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?’ he replies, “Whichever one I feed.” Some things we can do to feed the gentle and powerful wolf are reading and listening to uplifting and positive things. Also, to spend time with people also committed to non-violence.
Brahma Baba, the founder of the Brahma Kumaris, taught that each and every thought we have has great value and impacts our lives. Today the world needs many to shine the light of inspiration and hope, and we each have a role to play as agents of change.