“If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi October 2,1869 – January 30, 1948
October 2nd is Gandhi’s birthday, and this is one of my favorite quotes from him. Some people will say that Gandhi does not deserve the reverence he receives for being a man of peace because he also purportedly abused his wife. I don’t advocate abuse of any kind and I truly hope that he and she healed from their domestic violence.
That said, I am a woman of peace and I have also been abusive towards people I love, sometimes verbally and sometimes even physically. These are issues I have healed and I continue to make amends to anyone I have harmed. Does that mean I don’t have a right to claim myself as a peace-builder in the world? No, it means that I get to use my past to be aware of my potential to also cause harm. And, then I use that information to create a better, more peaceful future for myself and all those I impact.
We all have a dark side. All of us, even the most Christian of Christians and the most Buddha-like Buddhists! It’s what you DO with your dark side that determines your impact on humanity and the legacy you will leave. Will you use your dark side to become darker and despondent and deny society your goodness? Will you use your dark side to confirm why you are a bad person and therefore drink, eat, watch excessive TV and maybe even use drugs to numb out the horrible pain you feel about being such a dark, bad person?
Or, will you use your dark side as a reminder that the opposite is also true in you. You also have an incredible light that can outshine any darkness you’ve ever demonstrated to the world. Will you then shine your light on yourself to remember how you are from the divine and therefore fully loveable and capable of doing positive things in the world – including become a peace-builder? Dark or Light. We’ve got both. It’s all about which part that you choose to use most in the world. Gandhi showed both sides, but his light side won out at the end of the day and he changed the world and left a mostly positive legacy. I love him for his light side, and I forgive him for his dark side, just as I forgive myself for my human violations.
Which part of you is winning today, dark or light?
Wishing you compassion for your dark side and more inner peace for all of you. Happy Birthday, Gandhi.
Emily Hine teaches mindfulness, peace and compassion. She is the CEO of HineSight Consulting, and the host of The Global Compassion Summit. She is a Certified Compassion Cultivation Training™ Teacher from the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University. She is also an inspirational writer and public speaker. For more information, see About Emily Hine.