“Let no one say that he is a follower of Gandhi . . . You are no followers but fellow students, fellow pilgrims, fellow seekers, fellow workers.”
M. K. Gandhi


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Why Lawyers Fear Love: Mohandas Gandhi’s Significance to the Mindfulness in Law Movement

by Nehal A. Patel

Book jacket art courtesy mkgandhi.org

“As regards lawyers, the position is worse still. Have they overcome their infatuation for law-courts? … Have the lawyers realized that justice should not be costly? … Lawyers have not yet overcome the allurement of fat fees and, in consequence, the cost of justice continues to be counted in terms of gold and guineas … justice cannot be sold.”  M.K. Gandhi (1)

ABSTRACT: Although mindfulness has gained the attention of the legal community, there are only a handful of scholarly law articles on mindfulness. The literature effectively documents the Mindfulness in Law movement, but there has been minimal effort to situate the movement within the broader history of non-Western ideas in the legal academy and profession. Similarly, there has been little recent scholarship offering a critique of the American legal system through the insights of mindfulness. In this article, I attempt to fill these gaps by situating the Mindfulness in Law movement within the history of modern education’s western-dominated worldview. With this approach, I hope to unearth some of the deep challenges facing a mindful revolution in law that are yet to be widely discussed.

In Part I, I introduce the current mindfulness movement in American society. In Part II, I summarize the current Mindfulness in Law movement and the treatment of “Eastern” thought in modern education. I also describe the three levels of change discussed in academic literature: individual, interpersonal, and structural change. In Part III, I discuss how Mohandas Gandhi exemplifies all three levels of change. In Part IV, I offer critical appreciation of the Mindfulness in Law movement by highlighting Gandhi’s insights on structural reform. I conclude that a mindful application of Gandhi’s thought suggests that satyagraha be incorporated into a constitutional framework, thus making legally protected speech out of forms of public-state dialogue that are traditionally “extra-legal” and used disproportionately by marginalized populations.

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The Lonely Scholar Who Became a Nonviolent Warrior:
Gene Sharp (1928-2018)

by George Lakey

Portrait of Gene Sharp courtesy goodnewsmagazine.se

Once again I rang the bell at the brick row house in East Boston where Gene Sharp lived. When he opened the door I said proudly, “Today I drove here instead of taking the T.”

“You drove?” he said in mock horror. “Man, are you trying to get yourself killed? Haven’t you heard about Boston drivers? They show no mercy, especially toward Philadelphians!”

That was the Gene Sharp I knew, always loving to find a joke in the moment. So, I was sad to hear the news that he passed away on Sunday at the age of 90. (January 21, 1918-January 28, 2018)

When I had him speak at Swarthmore College he put on his distinguished scholar persona, adding the English accent he’d learned while studying at Oxford. When one of my students asked a particularly penetrating question, Gene, at the time associated with Harvard, peered over his glasses and said, “Hmm, it appears to be true: Swarthmore students really are brighter than Harvard students.”

Even though he charmed my students, he also relished the role of contrarian. Not easy, if your life mission is to bring into the mainstream an area of study previously on the intellectual margin.

I was 21 years old when I met him. I was studying sociology at the University of Oslo. One of my teachers there who knew of my interest in the peace movement said that I might like to meet someone at the university who was researching Norwegian nonviolent resistance to the German Nazi occupation in World War II.

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The Mahatma, Il Duce and the Crucifix: Gandhi’s Brief Encounter with Mussolini and Its Consequences

by Peter Gonsalves

Gandhi in Fascist Rome, 1931; courtesy alamy.com

After the second Round Table Conference (RTC) in London, (1) Mahatma Gandhi had to embark at the Port of Brindisi in Southern Italy en route to India. He decided to spend a few days in Switzerland as a guest of Romain Rolland, and then stop in Rome on Saturday, December 12, 1931, in order to meet Pope Pius XI. The note in his diary of December 12, states:

Arrived in Rome at 8.30 in the morning. Received letter to the effect that the Pope could not receive me. Three of us stayed with General Moris, the others in a hotel. Went to see the Vatican [Museums] in the afternoon. At 6 o’clock Mussolini. (2)

Barely a year earlier, Gandhi had shot to international fame due to the extensive American press coverage of his Salt Satyagraha. (3) He was on the cover of Time Magazine on two occasions within a span of ten months: first on March 31, 1930 and again as ‘Time’s Man of the Year’ on January 5, 1931. (4) His fame preceded him even in Europe. Whether at Villeneuve, Milan, Rome or Brindisi, people flocked to see ‘St. Gandhi’ in his strange attire. (5)

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Guest Editorial: Martin Luther King, Jr. and “The Year of Nonviolence or Nonexistence”

by John Dear

Poster art courtesy paceebene.org

It was early 1968. Since the previous spring Martin Luther King, Jr. had been pursuing a course that for many was unthinkable. He had deliberately connected the dots between the movement for civil rights and the struggle to end the war in Vietnam, and had paid the price. He was roundly criticized by the Johnson administration and the media, as well as by people in his own movement. From the right he was attacked for having the gall to question US foreign policy. From the left he was lambasted for losing focus and not keeping his eyes on the prize.

He even got it from a childhood friend who stopped by the house one afternoon to vent. “Why are you speaking out against the Vietnam War?” he carped. King put aside his customary oratory. “When I speak about nonviolence,” he patiently explained, “I mean nonviolent all the way.”

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Ahimsa: The Way of Nonviolence

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

Sufi Saint Pacifying the Animals; c. 18th century Persian miniature courtesy dharmadeen.com

Editor’s Preface: We have previously posted a compilation of Gandhi’s writings on satyagraha. Through these, and by using quotes from his work at the top of our Home page, collected under Quotes & Sources, we hope to provide focal points for discussion, if not statements of doctrine. Please also see the notes at the end for a comment on the texts, and acknowledgments. JG

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. Destruction is not the law of the humans. Man lives freely by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him. Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity. (MM, 49)

The first condition of non-violence is justice all round in every department of life. Perhaps, it is too much to expect of human nature. I do not, however, think so. No one should dogmatize about the capacity of human nature for degradation or exaltation. (MT, V, 344)

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For the Love of All: Ahimsa in Nonviolence and Radical Ecology

by Saskia van Goelst Meijer

St. Francis Preaching to the Birds; fresco by Giotto, courtesy wikiart.org

There is a difference here between proactive non-harming
and “doing nothing.”
 — Irina Aristarkhova (2012)

Our world is experiencing an ever-growing ecological crisis, which makes it necessary for humanity to reshape the way it is dealing with the planet. Grave challenges for the future of humanity and the earth as a whole have emerged as a result of ecological and economic conduct over the past few centuries. According to some, the environmental crisis is intertwined with other crises (financial, social, political), which has led both scholars and activists to call for a fundamental change in the global paradigm. Where socio-political change is concerned, part of this paradigm change has been attempted through nonviolence. Pioneered as a method in the early 20th century by Mohandas Gandhi for addressing injustice, it has since been taken up by many more individuals and organisations around the world. Nonviolence practices and notions can also be found in certain streams of ecology. One central element in the method of nonviolence is ahimsa, ‘the absence of the intention to do harm.’ In this article I will explore both ahimsa and radical ecology, to both explain the role and significance of ahimsa in nonviolence and to see if and how the two notions can clarify and supplement each other.

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By Giving Our Lives, We Find Life: The John Dear Interview with Cesar Chavez

by John Dear

Cesar Chavez poster art courtesy me.me/t/cesar-chavez?s=new

Editor’s Preface: John Dear conducted this interview in August of 1992, upon the occasion of the annual Pax Christi conference in New York, and just a few months before Chavez’s untimely death. Please see the note at the end for further information about Chavez, links, and acknowledgments. JG

Cesar Chavez lived his life in service of others. A servant of the poor, a servant of justice, a servant of nonviolence, he founded and led the United Farm Workers Union in their struggle for justice. A steadfast practitioner of nonviolence, he fasted, prayed, marched, picketed and boycotted his way to justice.

In April 1993, he traveled to Arizona to stand trial in a lawsuit against a grape-growing company. He also fasted privately for six days. At the end of the fast, on the evening of April 22, 1993, he retired to his room. He died quietly with a book in his hands. He was 66 years old.

Like tens of thousands of others, I journeyed to Delano for his wake and funeral at Forty Acres, the former UFW headquarters in the heart of California’s Central Valley. Fifteen thousand farmworkers viewed his body in an open pine wood coffin, made by his brother. They gathered for the evening vigil and rosary service under a huge tent with a large banner picturing Cesar. The prayers, scripture readings, testimonies and songs continued on through the night until the start of the march the next morning.

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Gandhi and the Virtue of Forgiveness

by Alan Hunter and Andrew Rigby

“Forgiveness” art by Leigh Wells; courtesy greatergood.berkeley.edu

Abstract: Satyagraha and ahimsa are widely acknowledged as central to Gandhi’s life-work.  Our argument in this paper is that forgiveness (ksama in Sanskrit) was another of Gandhi’s core values. The first section of the paper introduces ways in which forgiveness has been understood as a concept and practice within Western traditions. We demonstrate that forgiveness lies close to the heart of Christianity, and show that it is also an issue relevant to contemporary concerns: since the 1990s forgiveness has featured in numerous secular studies, exhibitions, websites, and other media. The second section identifies how the key precepts that informed Gandhi’s vision of the transformatory significance of forgiveness were derived from and grounded in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of South Asia, Hinduism and especially Jainism. Our final section more specifically explores the implications of forgiveness in Gandhi’s thought and practice. Forgiveness is an important component of Gandhi’s dual concerns: the ‘spiritualisation of politics’, and also the ‘politicisation of spirituality’.

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Blessed are the Peacemakers and Firemen

by William J. Jackson

Edward Hicks, “The Peaceable Kingdom: The Leopard and the Kid”, courtesy wikimedia.org

When the 9/11 terrorist attack happened, I recalled an observation which Martin Luther King, Jr. had made when visiting singer-actor-activist Harry Belafonte in 1968:  “I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply,” he said. “We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.” (italics added)

When Belafonte asked Dr. King to explain further, he said “I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.”

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What is Satyagraha?

by Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Soul Force”; courtesy kurdistancommentary.wordpress.com

Editor’s Preface: We have periodically revisited Gandhi’s own definitions of his major concepts. Through compilations of various of his statements, and by using quotes from his work at the top of our Home page, and found under Quotes & Sources, we hope to provide focal points for discussion, if not statements of doctrine. Please also see the note at the end for acknowledgments. JG

My goal is friendship with the world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong. (Young India, 10 March 1920; p. 5)

Non-violence is not a resignation from all real fighting against wickedness. On the contrary, the Non-violence of my conception is a more active and more real fighting against wickedness than retaliation, whose very nature is to increase wickedness. I contemplate a mental and therefore a moral opposition to immoralities. I seek entirely to blunt the edge of the tyrant’s sword, not by putting up against it a sharper-edged weapon but by disappointing his expectation that I would be offering physical resistance. The resistance of the soul that I should offer instead would elude him. It would at first dazzle him and at last compel recognition from him, which recognition would not humiliate him but would uplift him. (Young India, 8 October 1925; p. 346)

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“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi