Mother Teresa implored us to “find someone who thinks he is alone and let him know that he is not.”
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." -The 14th Dalai Lama
A human being is part of the whole, called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Compassion is about both relieving suffering and about celebration (which also relieves suffering by putting it in a context of gratitude). With compassion comes a greatness of heart. Compassion arises when we allow our heart to be touched by the pain and needs of others.
Today: I will engage compassion to lead my actions, my words and my life.
As a part of the Season for Nonviolence, Karli and Eric will be interviewing Arun Gandhi, Mathatma Gandhi's grandson. We will explore how Arun came to follow in his Grandfather's footsteps as an advocate for a nonviolent world, one that calls us into harmony regardless our culture or religious views and practices.
We invite you to join us. Invite your friends. Feel free to re-post. Use the link for further info and to register:
Labor organizer, Cesar Chavez taught "If you use violence you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle." To practice nonviolence you must learn to master your anger. Breathe deeply, silently counting backwards from ten to calm yourself and cool off before you speak or act with impatience or anger.
"We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough."
This should not be surprising. After all, to attain excellence in anything we have to work at it. An Olympic swimming champion doesn't go for a workout once a week on Sunday afternoon, but practices for hours every day. The impetus to gain mastery over one's mind and senses does not come from some Olympian height, or from a distant deity; it doesn't come from any monastic rule, or even from one's spiritual teacher. It comes from deep within yourself. You have had a fleeting glimpse of the shining presence within, and in its bright remembered light, all your flaws and blemishes are thrown into sharp relief. You can't wait to start removing them.
Today: When I think of something or get into a situation where anger comes up, I will acknowledge the anger then breathe deeply, silently counting backwards from ten, and then decide what action to take. Mastery of nonviolence will come as I continue to practice.
When we work together, we are stronger than when we work alone. When we find ways that we can cooperate more effectively with the people in our family or workplace, school or community, we are tearing down walls of separation; we are contributing to a nonviolent culture.
Today: Find a very heavy object. Try to pick it up by yourself. Now ask 3 or 4 other people to assist. How did working together with other people help make this task easier for you?
Dale Carnegie says "The greatest need people have is for love and approval." Most of us cannot help comparing ourselves with others, at least now and then. This has become so entrenched in our culture that in order to have self-esteem, it seems almost necessary to say "I am better than he or she" implying therefore I am good. As long as we compete with each other and compare one with another, a certain amount of envy is inescapable. It is the very rare person who is completely free from jealousy.
But as our awareness grows, we will know that there is a uniqueness about everyone. The truly nonviolent person never tries to compare himself with others, or others among themselves. While being aware of our uniqueness, also being aware of our oneness creates a sense of nonviolence.
Today: I will do something that shows how unique I am. I may draw a picture, sing a song, dance or write a story. I will praise, compliment or honor the uniqueness of someone I know and by doing so, notice the positive impact I make by recognizing their uniqueness.
In conflicting situations, personal accountability allows me to take responsibility for how I contribute to a conflict. I can then make a different choice that can lead to a peaceful resolution.
Today: I will be accountable for my words today. I will make a list of the thoughts I think and the words I speak that are violent. Every time I become aware of my violent thoughts or words, I will say to myself “delete” and start again.
A Turkish proverb says, “he who builds himself a fence, fences out more than he fences in.” If you don’t listen to someone because they look different or have different ideas than you, you’re building a fence around yourself and you’re missing out on having a new friend and learning something new. When we refrain from acting on a negative emotion or selfish desire, we stop building the fence around our life - we can open our life up to others. When we can be open to the opportunity for growth, we can use this as a way to find nonviolent ways to resolve differences.
Today: I will be open to understanding ideas and people that I have previously opposed. I will find somebody who I never wanted to talk to before and find a way to have a conversation with him or her.
Differences give variety to life and are often only on the surface. Most communities are made of diverse groups of people who have different opinions, who look different, and who speak many different languages. Our challenge is to see beyond outer differences in opinions and appearances and find a meeting point of underlying unity that exists in diversity. There is peace and nonviolence in unity as we recognize who we are in others, a transformation from separateness to unity.
Today: I will look for three ways to see beyond outer differences in opinions, appearances, or goals. I will seek out someone who looks different from me; looking beyond these outer differences I will see the unity which is inside and journal about what I have discovered.
Marianne Williamson describes a healthy society as one in which “those who disagree can do so with honor and respect for other people’s opinions, and an appreciation for our shared humanity.”
We might not always agree with other people, but when we really listen to what they have to say we are having a dialogue. We never argue in a dialogue. We say what we think and then we listen to the other person so we can understand what they think and learn from them.
When we engage in dialogue, we seek not to prove we are right, or that the other person is wrong, but to state clearly - from a place of ahimsa and truth force - what we believe to be true. We listen deeply so as to be able to understand the perspectives of those who do not appear to share our understanding.
Today: I will speak my truth quietly and clearly, and not enter into the spirit of argument. I will listen with an open heart, with compassion, to the truth as perceived by others.
Every day we hear of random and senseless acts of violence. By participating in the counter-revolution of kindness started by Anne Herbert you are contributing to a culture of nonviolence.
"Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty."
"My religion is kindness"
-The Dalai Lama
Today: I will do something kind for someone for no reason other than to be kind. I will bring beauty to a place where it may be needed without letting anyone know that I was the one who did it. I will write about how it felt and then share this story with someone.
Are we willing to make all sorts of gracious concessions on things that do not matter in life and yet stand unshakable on essentials? To do this, we have to be detached from our opinions. This doesn't mean being wishy-washy, or lacking strength in our convictions, but that we cultivate the forbearance not to force our opinions on others.
Today: I will create a skit with at least three other people to show the difference between graciousness and selfishness. I will observe and share with the others how graciousness adds to nonviolence.
Mindfulness is thinking about what you’re doing and knowing why you’re doing it. If we just act in each moment with composure and mindfulness, each minute of our life is a work of art. Be aware of the motivation behind your action, the intention behind your words and the needs and experiences of other people. By doing so, you are making life more beautiful and you are more likely to make nonviolent choices.
"The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Today: Choose something simple to do, such as eating a piece of fruit. Bringing my complete attention to it, I will not allow myself to talk to anyone or think of anything else except what I'm doing. Notice what my hands do, the way the food feels in my mouth, the taste, the texture, the idea of nourishing my body. Is this different from the way I normally eat? I will practice being mindful in everything I do today.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist teacher says, “When you understand, you cannot help but love. Practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion.”
Today: When I find myself disagreeing with someone, I will focus on understanding what they are saying - and why. I will listen compassionately to them, with a silent thought of love, and tell them what I understand them to be saying. With empathy, I will say clearly and quietly what I believe to be true.
Gandhi wrote, “nonviolence is based on the assumption that human nature ... unfailingly responds to the advances of love.”
All the great texts encourage us to "love your enemy." The ancients understood that this is where the creative energy comes from. An enemy does not have to be life-threatening or violent; an enemy can just be a thought that gets us to look at something in a different way. Consider the power of befriending someone you previously thought was an "enemy". In a conflict, rather than putting your energy toward winning, see what channeling that energy toward a loving, nonviolent solution can accomplish.
Today: I will focus on what I can find to love in the person I like the least. As I meet people during the day, I will reflect on how love can enhance the relationship.
Acknowledgement helps us see the oneness of all life, that we are part of a greater purpose, and by doing so, elevate our awareness of nonviolence. When I acknowledge someone, how could I possibly do harm toward them? When I tell someone what a difference he or she has made in my life and acknowledge that person for being there for me, I am affirming our connectedness.
1. a. To admit the existence, reality, or truth of.
b. To recognize as being valid or having force or power.
2. a. To express recognition of: acknowledge a friend's smile.
b. To express thanks or gratitude for. "
-The American Heritage® Dictionary
Today: In each of the four meanings quoted above, I will take time to acknowledge each person I meet or see today - including myself - in the spirit of ahimsa and forgiveness.
I will take time today to acknowledge the realm of nature, the community of life on Earth, and the Earth itself.
According to farm activist Cesar Chavez, “Nonviolence is not non-action… It is hard work…It is the patience to win.” When your plans seem delayed, choose to be patient by recognizing ways you can constructively use this time to support your goal. By practicing patience we can respond rather than react, and by doing so, stay centered and at peace.
Patience and passion both come from a Latin word meaning to suffer or endure. Whenever we practice patience - cheerfully bearing with somebody who is irascible, or enduring discomfort rather than imposing it on others - we are embracing those principles and creating an opportunity to model nonviolence. There is only one way to create a nonviolent world, and that is by being nonviolent ourselves.
Today: I will look for opportunities to practice patience. In a situation where there is friction, rather than run away, I will move closer to the core of the conflict and look for a nonviolent solution.
Appreciation helps people to grow. Offer praise to the people you encounter today for their personal qualities, achievements or helpful service. Telling someone what you appreciate about them is paramount in nonviolent communication.
Praise is important for ourselves, too. Louise Hay says “Praise yourself as much as you can … The love in our lives begins with us … Loving yourself will help heal this planet.” Peace in our world begins with each and every one of us.
Today: I will give sincere praise to at least three people today for their personal qualities, achievements, or helpful service, and then to myself. I will journal about the experience and feelings of each encounter.
The other side of forgiveness is making amends, when it is you who has been - or needs to be - forgiven for hurt or wrongdoing you may have caused. As with forgiveness, the gift of making amends - to yourself and to whoever has been hurt or wronged - is revealed when it is given unconditionally from your heart. What would it be like if world leaders made amends?
"Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be great medicine for the spirit and soul." -Step 9 Forgiveness. The Twelve Steps
Today: As I interact with people today, I will reflect on whether there are ways I feel moved to make amends; I will let my heart gently guide me, as I recall each person's unique ways of expressing his or her joys, fears and pains. I will be open to let my heart speak through words, actions, thoughts or prayers. I will offer a sincere apology to someone I may have hurt.
When we forgive, we do not condone hurtful behavior. When we realize that there is something within us that is more important than this hurtful experience, we are free to let go of the past and move on with our lives. In doing so, we open our hearts to the humanity of those we forgive.
As we forgive others, we are teaching the mind to respond with forgiveness everywhere, even to the misdeeds and mistakes of our own past. And if I have treated a particular person badly, even if I can no longer win that person's forgiveness, I can still win the forgiveness of myself.
"The results of forgiveness is the stopping of the recycling of anger within ourselves and in the world. Peace will come to the world when each of us takes the responsibility of forgiving everyone, including ourselves, completely." -Gerald Jampolsky
Today: I am willing to let go of the past, and forgive those who have hurt me, and towards whom I feel anger. I will forgive myself too. Today, I will write a letter of forgiveness to someone (I do not have to mail it).
Can you stop what you are doing and thinking, and take time to truly listen to the feelings behind someone’s words to you? Being fully present for the conversation and interested in what that person is saying is a practice of nonviolence.
A component of Marshall Rosenberg's "Nonviolent Communication" involves listening with compassion. The listener attends fully to the speaker's words, while sensing the feelings and needs beneath the words. The listener is simply fully present, not trying to "figure out" what the speaker is needing, nor trying to "get it right." If I can listen to you with compassion, it is usually only a short time before you listen with compassion to me.
Today: I will be fully present to each conversation I engage in, and listen longer than usual - and with more patience - to what others are saying. I will give the other person my full attention, because nothing else really matters. I will look directly at the person who is speaking, without thinking about other things.
Mother Teresa said, “There is a hidden poverty more pervasive than lack of money. It is the poverty of the heart.” Look at ways you can contribute to your family, friends and community through your generosity. You will see how your generous gift comes back to you.
The more generous you are today, the more generosity you will have tomorrow. The more love you give, the more loving you become. The more generous you become, the less need to defend what you have, the greater your capacity for nonviolence.
Today: I will find three ways to give generously of my time, talent and resources to others. I will create a ‘Gift Certificate’ for someone.
Gandhi taught “Language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.” Respecting yourself and others means making a choice not to use profanity or &lsquout downs’. Let our language be based on respect for those we address. The life of peace excludes no one. Let your words reflect your respect for others - speak from the depth of your heart and soul. The other side of respect is listening - listen to others with the respect that what they have to say matters. The act of listening has a calming effect on others, even if they are in a heated tirade, just listening models a nonviolent response.
"Courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to understand their view-point is the ABC of nonviolence." -M.K. Gandhi
Today: As I interact with and observe people during the day, I will be aware of ways in which I respect each person. I will draw a picture of someone for whom I have a great deal of respect, then frame the picture with words that describe this person.
To humorist Will Rogers, strangers were simply friends he hadn’t met. View those you encounter today in that light. Every time I am friendly toward another, I help break down the wall of separation and I contribute to nonviolence.
Today: I will make a new acquaintance, befriend a stranger. I will go up to someone I haven’t met yet and say “Hi friend.”
To all who visit this site, "Hello, friend!"
How can holding a countenance of seeing good in others, and their approach to faith, lead to harmony for the planet? How does gossip, criticism and discord serve us as individuals, families, as a world family? Where is the common ground that allows for a peaceful co-existence?
What practices do you have that bring about inner harmony? What practices do you have that create inner peace and harmony when looking at the appearance of discord, hate and anger?
Choosing NOT to engage in any form of gossip today contributes to harmony. Choosing to see the good in others rather than finding fault leads to peaceful relationships. Look for the good in yourself and in others. By making these choices, we are contributing to a culture of nonviolence, we are being a model of peace.
Today: I will choose to see the good in others instead of finding fault. I will spend the entire day without criticizing anything or anyone; if I am tempted to criticize, I will write down the criticism rather than speaking it, then later discover where the criticism is coming from within me.
“Prayer from the heart can achieve what nothing else in the world can” said Gandhi.
Begin and end the day with a prayer for peace. Let peace begin with me.
Saint Francis of Assisi said it this way:
"..... make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy."
Today: I will begin and end the day with a prayer for peace. When I say goodbye to people, I will say "May Peace Prevail on Earth." I will create a space in my home dedicated to prayer for nonviolence.
“My life is my message” said Gandhi. Gandhi’s mission was to be nonviolent. What do you want to stand for in your life? Do you know your life’s mission?
Today: I will write down what I stand for in my life. I will note at least one way I can show, through action, that I stand for my beliefs. I will develop a personal mission statement and draw a picture of myself living my mission. I will share my mission with at least three other people.
Do the right thing. Spike Lee used these words as a title for one of his movies. When faced with a choice this week, listen to your conscience. You know what’s right. Do it.
There are many people who inspire us. Take a moment to reflect upon who inspires you and what characteristics you most admire in them. See the potential that is also within you and choose to cultivate these characteristics in your daily life.
"Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life BE Revelation." -Eileen Caddy
Today: As I think of at least two people who exemplify the practice of nonviolence, I'll acknowledge what it is I admire about them, what inspires me about them. I'll practice these behaviors today so that other people may be inspired and I'll share this insight with at least three other people.
Our purpose is to create an awareness of nonviolent principles and practice as a powerful way to heal, transform and empower our lives and communities.
Through an educational and community action campaign, we honor those who use nonviolence to build a community that honors the dignity and worth of every human being.
We are demonstrating that every person can move the world in the direction of peace through his or her daily nonviolent choice and action.