Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Religion of Ahimsa

"Man is higher than the brute." MK Gandhi

Writing about Ahimsa, Gandhi briefly describes it as, "the world is full of violence, himsa, and nature does appear to be red in tooth and claw."
 He writes of a belief that man is more than a brute and potentially superior to nature. "If man has a divine mission to fulfill, a mission that becomes him, it is that of non-violence, ahimsa.

"The religion of non-violence is not merely meant for saints. It is meant for the common people as well... the dignity of man requires obedience to such a higher law to strengthen the spirit."
Gandhi observes that man as animal is violent, but mens' spirits are not. "The moment he awakes to the spirit within, he cannot remain violent. He either progresses to ahimsa or rushes then to his doom.

That is why the prophet and the avatars taught the lesson of truth, harmony, brotherhood and justice, etc., all attributes of ahimsa." This Gandhi writes in his essay, The Religion of Ahimsa, contained in the book, The Way to God.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

What Do You Live For?

"What if what we long hoped for does not come? The willingness to live for a better day."

What am I living for? Living for the joy of acquisition and power is self serving; living for the good of others is perhaps more in the Way. Yet we can seem to think ourselves to be living in the Way and yet we are not. There are those who convince themselves they are right; their ego has the answer, it is good--for me.
Do you live for freedom? In one sense freedom is the absence of restraint. There is nothing to hinder me to act as I choose. Suppose, however, that you live in a universe that for every choice I might make, the world has already determined the response, responses for which I have no control. I may remain physically free, no one has tied me down or locked me up, but I seem to lack freedom in a more durable and possible sense. While I am free to act as I choose, my choices are not free.

There is another type of freedom says the Christian philosopher and theologian, Augustine of Hippo. In the book, On Free Choice of the Will, translated by Thomas Williams, Augustine writes, "I have freedom to choose in a way that is not determined by any thing outside my control, what Augustine called metaphysical freedom. The view that human beings have metaphysical freedom is also known as Libertarianism."
Augustine is one of the great defenders of Libertarianism. He says that human beings are endowed with a power called the will. A person can direct his will to go in seemingly limitless directions. His own freedom of direction, then, can be thought of as free choice.

A person may choose for himself money, power, influence, sex, excesses of all types; these choices so mentioned have all been external choices, made by factors outside the person. If so, then a person could not be entirely responsible for them.
But it is not external factors that determine our choices. Rather it is internal states: beliefs, desires, hopes and fears. Since it is the desire, the will of a person and the character which determines one's choices, freedom therefore is not threatened.

Yet a Libertarian like Augustine would not be swayed by this. He says that in fact, human beings are rational thinking, and free choice makes them therefore responsible. Because persons have metaphysical freedom in this view, they are capable of making a real difference in the world. We may write our own "scripts." We may be truly in the image of God, the Creator, bringing something into the world that previously did not exist before us.