Gandhi's ideas used daily
Douglas Allen, professor at the University from University of Maine, who gave the annual Gandhi lecture at University of Toledo on Thursday night.
Photos taken by Terry Fell of the University of Toledo.
BY DAVID YONKE
Mahatma Gandhi was not a traditionally religious person, but a spiritual man who equated truth with God, according to Douglas Allen, a Gandhi scholar, author, and professor of philosophy at the University of Maine.
The Indian leader also was a pluralist and an inclusivist who found common threads in all religions and strove to reach people of moral conscience, even if they had no religious affiliation.
In the Fifth Annual Gandhi Lecture for Peace and Nonviolence, presented Thursday night at the University of Toledo, Mr. Allen explained Gandhi's philosophy on violence and nonviolence, and offered ideas on how his teachings can be applied in ways that "make life worth living."
Gandhi was born in Gujarat, India, on Oct. 2, 1869, and assassinated by a Hindu extremist in Delhi on Jan. 30, 1948. He has been called the most admired human being of the 20th century.
Gandhi believed in an "organic" and "holistic" approach to truth that affirms the interconnectedness of all existence, Mr. Allen said.
He also believed that most human beings are "very violent," even if the violence is not manifested in physical form. Violence is multidimensional, he said, and includes inner, psychological violence. When people are filled with anger and hate, violence is manifested in how they treat others.
Language can be violent when it is used to shame, humiliate, or control other human beings, Mr. Allen said.
There are also large-scale forms of structural violence such as economic, political, educational, and religious violence, he said, adding that Gandhi considered poverty to be one of the worst forms of violence.
Nonviolence, on the other hand, is not passive, nor is it the process of refraining from violence, but it is an active and transformative force that Gandhi equated to love force, soul force, and truth force, Mr. Allen said.
When someone pursues the truth, they pursue God and become more loving, more compassionate, and more aware of the interrelatedness of all life, he said. They realize that suffering in the world is largely caused by human beings, and therefore can be solved by human beings, according to Mr. Allen.
Gandhi said his understanding of truth is always partial and that he was understanding of others' imperfections because people get only glimpses of the absolute ideals, he said.
Applying Gandhi's principles to daily life, Mr. Allen said living better means having values, character, and purpose.