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PHILOSOPHY > THE MIND OF MAHATMA GANDHI > All Life is One
All Life Is One
Kinship With All
The hard ethics which rule my life, and I hold ought to rule that of every man and woman, imposes this unilateral obligation upon us. And it is so imposed because man alone is made in the image of God. That some of us do not recognize that status of ours makes no difference, except that then we do not get the benefit of the status, even as a lion brought up in the company of sheep may not know his own status and, therefore, does not receive its benefits; but it belongs to him nevertheless, and, the moment he realizes it, he begins to exercise his dominion over the sheep. But no sheep masquerading as a lion can ever attain the leonine status.
And, to prove the proposition that man is made in the image of God, it is surely unnecessary to show that all men admittedly exhibit that image in their own persons. It is enough to show that one man at least has done so. And, will it be denied that the great religious teachers of mankind have exhibited the image of God in their own persons? (YI, 8-7-1926, p. 244)
I believe myself to be saturated with AHIMSA-nonviolence. AHIMSA and Truth are as my two lungs. I cannot live without them. But I see every moment, with more and more clearness, the immense power of AHIMSA and the littleness of man.
All life in the flesh exists by some HIMSA. Hence, the highest religion has been defined by a negative word; AHIMSA. The world is bound in a chain of destruction. In other words, HIMSA is an inherent necessity for life in the body. That is why a votary of AHIMSA always prays for ultimate deliverance from the bondage of flesh. (YI, 4-10-1928, p. 364)
I am painfully aware of the fact that my desire to continue life in the body involves me in constant HIMSA. That is why I am becoming growingly indifferent to this physical body of mine. For instance, I know that, in the act of respiration, I destroy innumerable invisible germs floating in the air. But I do not stop breathing. The consumption of vegetables involves HIMSA, but I find that I cannot give them up.
Again, there is HIMSA in the use of antiseptics, yet if cannot bring myself to discard the use of disinfectants like kerosene, etc., to rid myself of the mosquito pest and the like. I suffer snakes to be killed in the Ashram when it is impossible to catch them and put them out of harm's way. I even tolerate the use of the stick to drive the bullocks in the ASHRAM.
If the circulation of blood theory could not have been discovered without vivisection, the human kind could well have done without it. And I see the day clearly dawning when the honest scientist of the West will put limitations upon the present methods of pursuing knowledge.
Further march of civilization seems to employ increasing domination of man over beast, together with a growingly humane method of using them. There are three schools of humanitarians. One believes in replacing animal power by the use of any other. Another believes in treating animals as fellow-beings and making such use of these as a brotherly spirit will permit. The third will not make use of lower animals for man's selfish purpose, but will employ instead one's own power and that of fellow-beings to the extent that the latter give intelligent and willing use. I belong to the third school. (H, 5-5-1946, p.121)
Fatalism has its limits. We leave things to fate after exhausting all the remedies. One of the remedies and the final one to relieve the agony of a tortured child is to take his life. (YI, 18-11-1926, p. 396)
I would not kill a human being for protecting a cow, as I will not kill a cow for saving a human life, be it ever so precious. (YI, 18-5-1921, p. 156)
To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man. (A, p. 172)
Problem Of Venomous Beasts
I believe that all life is one. Thoughts take definite forms. Tigers and snakes have kinship with us. They are a warning to us to avoid harbouring evil, wicked, lustful thoughts. If I want to rid the earth of venomous beasts and reptiles, I must rid myself of all venomous thoughts. I shall not do so if, in my impatient ignorance and in my desire to prolong the existence of the body, I seek to kill the so-called venomous beasts and reptiles. If in not seeking to defend myself against such noxious animals I die, I should rise again a better and fuller man. With that faith in me, how should I seek to kill a fellow-being in a snake? (YI, 14-4-1927, p. 121)
We are living in the midst of death, tying to grape our way to Truth. Perhaps it is as well that we are beset with danger at every point in our life, for, in spite of our knowledge of the danger and of our precarious existence, our indifference to the Source of all life is excelled only by our amazing arrogance.
.My intellect rebels against the destruction of any life n any shape whatsoever. But my heart is not strong enough to befriend these creatures which, experience has shown, are destructive. The language of convincing confidence, which comes from actual experience, fails me, and it will continue to do so, so long as I am cowardly enough to fear snakes, tigers and the like. (YI, 17-7-1927, p. 222)
I verily believe that man's habit of killing man on the slightest pretext has darkened his reason and he gives himself liberties with other life which he would shudder to take if he really believed that God was a God of Love and Mercy. Anyway, though for fear of death I may kill tigers, snakes, fleas, mosquitoes and the like, I ever pray for illumination that will shed all fear of death and thus refusing to take life, know the better way, for:
AHIMSA is t he highest ideal. It is meant for the brave, never the cowardly. To benefit by others' killing and delude oneself into the belief that one is being very religious and non-violent is sheer self-deception. (H, 9-6-1946, p. 172)
Doctrine Of Non-Killing
True AHIMSA demands that, if we must save the society as well as ourselves from the mischief of monkeys and the like, we have to kill them. The general rule is that we must avoid violence to the utmost extent possible. Non-violence for the society is necessarily different from that for the individual. One living apart from society may defy all precaution, not so society as such. (H, 7-7-1946, p. 213)