Remembering Gandhi: Ahimsa – The Way of Peace
September 11th, 2001, is the unforgettable day in history. Precisely 95 years prior, Mahatma Gandhi launched the modern nonviolent resistance movement, which he called Satyagraha. The date was September 11th, 1906. Gandhi addressed an audience of 3,000 Indians at a theater in Johannesburg where he organized a strategy for nonviolent resistance to oppose racist policies in South Africa. On that day Satyagraha was born. Gandhi’s “weapon” was Ahimsa—a Sanskrit word that means “nonviolence,” which is the core value of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
During that speech Gandhi sparked the global movement of Ahimsa that would one day free India from British colonized rule and turn the tide of history. Adopted since by many world leaders to resist social injustice and oppression, the policy of Ahimsa—striving for peace above all else—was successfully used by leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the United States in opposition to segregation in the Civil Rights Movement, Nelson Mandela in South Africa to end apartheid, and the Dalai Lama to address Chinese atrocities in Tibet.
More than a century later, violence and oppression are progressively worsening in our world. The scourge of disease, poverty, war, murder, physical violence, and no-touch torture has escalated. Disharmony among ourselves and with each other is the seed that creates violence against the planet. This parable from Science Alert (www.sciencealert.com) tells the story: “The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Let’s scale that to 46 years. We have been here for 4 hours. Our individual revolution began 1 minute ago. In that time, we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests.” The time has come when we must recognize this truth that our individual suffering is a reflection of the hurting world.
The damage we’ve done to our Earth is humongous. And the damage already done to human memory is at a critical level. Although the depths of the war we are now facing is of a different nature than what Gandhi faced—loss of human sentiency, impairment of our collective memory, and contamination of the Earth’s ability to sustain, nourish, and heal us—the perils of this time call for a revival of Gandhi’s legacy—Ahimsa!
We live in an unprecedented time in history where a prescient degree of darkness and destruction seem to prevail inside and out. What we must realize is that every war, battle, and act of violence is first conceived in the human mind. Violence begins inside of us. It is fed by patriarchal habituation for greed, competition, and oppression, in short, the irreverence for human values, women’s sanctity, and Mother Nature’s resources. This pervasive reality demands that each and every one of us do the inner work of Ahimsa.
The experience of Ahimsa, the desire for peace, is the birthright of each person, regardless of our ancestral traditions, religions, and cultures. Expecting a handful of courageous men and women to lead us to victory is no longer viable. The war we are fighting has to be negotiated and strategized within ourselves. Violence, pain, disease, and hopelessness—all of which influence what we are feeling, sensing, and enduring—have arisen due to our symbiotic bond with the Earth and comprise her clarion call for us to re-align with our true human nature of inner harmony, love, and kindness.
In my work of Living Ahimsa, we strive to remove darkness from our thoughts, words, and actions. Whenever we become aware of negative thoughts and emotions arising, we take pause, sit with ourselves, walk in nature, allow the inner disturbance to show itself. Rather than ignoring it or setting it aside for later, we learn to identify, acknowledge and honor them. By reclaiming our inherent right to internal peace, we restore the sentience of the eternal heart. In so doing, we overthrow bankrupt systems of governance within ourselves and in our world.
Luminaries say the world is transitioning into a new paradigm where the Divine Feminine is honored as sacred alongside her Divine Masculine counterpart. According to the Rishis, the ancient Hindu seers, we are currently at the advent of the universe’s rebirth. As we discovered in the historic year of 2012, the fear-based forecasts of it being “Doomsday” and the “End of the World” were simply that. The present time, however, demands our collective awareness. On a universal level, we are living through a massive system purgation, the likes of which no one has witnessed since the end of the last cycle of life in the universe, approximately 3,893,111 years ago. It is evident that the old systems are crumbling; political, economic, environmental, social, and familial structures now can be replaced by an ancient paradigm of Ahimsa and grace renewed.
This tremendous birthing pain brings forth the awakening potential for mass consciousness.
How Do We Begin to Reclaim Ahimsa within Ourselves?
Energized by my radical recovery from ovarian cancer at the age of 23, I recognized the need to create change in human behavior and understanding through education, outreach and service to humankind. Gandhi taught us that to succeed in changing the world, we must first transform ourselves into an instrument of peace. In this way, we transcend cultural and social barriers to help individuals, communities and families to heal and recover inner harmony. Since its inauguration in 2009 at The Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, I have been traveling on The Living Ahimsa World Peace Tour where I have inspired hundreds of communities to invoke the Vow of Ahimsa while creating Peace Mandalas from Mother Nature’s organic seeds and grains. In touching the seeds with our Ahimsa Vow of peace, we invoke Mother Earth’s seed memory and begin to remember our own power to heal, nourish, and nurture. The outcome of the process is the renewed ability to simply experience joy, love, and harmony.
The avowed peace seeds, enriched with the vibration of each person’s powerful intent, are placed on the fertile ground of Mother Earth to seed, sprout, and bloom. This blessing to the Earth produces wholesome food to nourish the hungry, and leads what is broken back to the light. In this way, we remember the spiritual connection with Mother Earth —to serve and nourish peace while we restore the splendor of love.
Tenalach, a Celtic expression, describes the relationship we have with the earth, air, water, and forest. It speaks to the deep connection that allows us to hear the earth sing. My own personal journey through pain brought me to my knees upon Mother Earth where I had the privilege of learning her cyclical songs. As a woman, like hundreds of thousands of women across the globe who have endured extreme violence and the painful patterns of patriarchal society, I am continually awakening to the love within my heart; I ache for Mother Earth to be healed. Women are equipped with the innate primordial power not only to heal themselves and safeguard the universal family, but also to nourish, nurture, and make whole everything around them. And as part of the human species, we are physically, mentally, and psychically designed to engineer peace. Pain either destroys our physical bodies or brings us alive to our real nature—Peace. The process of living through pain is never easy, but as Gandhi said, if we keep strengthening the attitude of non-violence especially when we are pushed to the breaking point, we win.