The Source and Development of Japan’s Philosophies of Non-Violence

by Shinichi Yamamuro

“Philosopher’s Garden: Kyoto, Japan, 2012”; original photograph, by Michael Sawyer.


Non-violence often comes to mind when we think of the term ahimsa, which, for example, Gandhi used. The word himsa in Hindi means, “to inflict injury on a person,” in other words to hurt a person. The word ahimsa,  “non-violence,” is formed by adding the negative adverb a. What exactly is  “inflicting injury”? Naturally, it is easy to understand physical violence, such as war, in which people are harmed, but are there other ways of inflicting injury? If so, how should we understand non-violence?

Read all of this article: The Source and Development of Japan’s Philosophies of Non-Violence

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shinichi Yamamuro is professor at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, and recipient of the Medal with Purple Ribbon, a government of Japan award for outstanding academic achievements. He has also been visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute. His book Manchuria under Japanese Dominion is considered the definitive work on the subject, and he is generally recognized as a leading authority on modern Japanese history and politics. This article is a summary of a talk he gave in Tokyo on 24 November 2009.

“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