Gandhi leading Salt Satyagraha, a notable example of Satyagraha

“I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

satyagraha, love force or soul force, as gandhi called it has stuck with me since i first read the biography of gandhi over 10 years ago. this way of being that allows the love force to move through us and into the world.

i’ve been reading Opening the Hand of Thought: Approach to Zen by Kosho Uchiyama. in the book uchiyama discusses in detail zazen, the opening of oneself to Self both physically and spiritually. it is an incredible, simple yet complicated text. when practicing zazen one is to detach from desire and let life flow without obstacles. in the q&a section in the back of the book someone asks, “isn’t our aspiration to do zazen and to practice also desire?” i love uchiyama’s response,

“…true improvement means to understand that we have to actualize the reality of the life of the Self here and now. when our attitude changes in this way, then this is no longer called desire. it is simply the manifestation of our own life unrelated to any goal outside of ourselves. what should we call this power? we don’t call it desire; it is simply life force. when living beings such as plants or animals are injured, they heal naturally. grass by the roadside that is being crushed by a rock pushes out from the side of the rock and continues to grow. can we suppose that the power to heal or the power to overcome obstacles is desire? hardly. this natural effort is life force! the power that enables us to do zazen and practice is the same.”

similar to satyagraha, the life force does not come from a chasing desire, but from the natural depths of love. like grass pushing and growing out from rock, our life force compels us to remove and grow past those obstacles whether they be human interference or our own false selves to newness, to truth, to freedom.

Grass growing from crack in asphalt

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