Satyagraha is a Sanskrit word that was coined by Mahatma Gandhi. It translates loosely as “insistence on truth,” “loyalty to truth,” or simply “Truth-force.” (satya “truth”; agraha “insistence” or “holding firmly to”).
The theory of satyagraha is timeless, and sees means and ends as inseparable. The means used to obtain an end are wrapped up in and attached to that end. Therefore, it is contradictory to try to use unjust means to obtain justice or to try to use violence to obtain peace. As Gandhi wrote: “They say, ‘means are, after all, means.’ I would say, ‘means are, after all, everything.’ As the means, so the end.”
Gandhi used an example to explain this:
“If I want to deprive you of your watch [by force or theft], I shall certainly have to fight for it. If I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it. And if I want it as a gift, I shall have to plead for it. According to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation.”
Oh my God a thinker! Brilliant! There’s a book called Mastery by George Leonard who is a black belt in Aikido. He describes this process masterfully from his many years of studying the martial art. Bruce Lee understood this when he described the process of flow. He used the analogy of adjusting to a container’s form like water. We become one with the environment when we understand the body’s nervous system and the objects it interacts with. Mr. Leonard says mastery is all about the process, never the goal. We are goal-oriented in society. It is very stressful. He says we are missing the point of progress. Listen to your body and its environment and you will excel in whatever discipline of study you choose to learn. How far astray have we veered from Gandhi’s words?
This reminds me of the Taoist concept of Wu Wei, a sublimely simple concept, yet one which few seem able to understand. It basically means action by non-action.
I believe that wu wei is not the same thing as the “invisible hand” but that they are similar concepts. They both acknowledge that Nature, or the Universe, has a mind of its own and will act in organic ways if left to do so. Masanobu Fukuoka describes this brilliantly in his book The One-Straw Revolution, which I am cleaning up to post here in the eBooks section.
Still need to get a copy posted of Fukuoka’s One-Straw Revolution.