Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
Eknath Easwaran’s Thought for the Day

June 15

Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore, to be practiced by everybody in all affairs of life. If it cannot be practiced in all departments, it has no practical value.   – Mahatma Gandhi

Ahimsa is usually translated as “nonviolence,” but this is misleading and falls far short of the real significance of the word. When all violence has subsided in my heart, my native state is love. I would add that even avoiding a person we dislike can be a subtle form of himsa or violence. Therefore, in everyday terms, ahimsa often means bearing with difficult people.

In Kerala, India we have a giant, fierce-looking plant called elephant nettle. You have only to walk by for it to stretch out and sting you. By the time you get home, you have a blister that won’t let you think about anything else. My grandmother used to say, “A self-willed person is like an elephant nettle.”

That is why the moment we see somebody who is given to saying unkind things, we make a detour. We pretend we have suddenly remembered something that takes us in another direction, but the fact is that we just don’t want to be stung. Whenever I complained of a classmate I did not like, my granny would say, “Here, you have to learn to grow. Go near him. Let yourself slowly get comfortable around him; then give him your sympathy and help take the sting out of his nettleness.”

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