Nonviolence, Spiritual Growth, and Real Security: David Kupfer Interviews Nonviolence Guru Michael Nagler.(Interview)

By Kupfer, David | Whole Earth, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Nonviolence, Spiritual Growth, and Real Security: David Kupfer Interviews Nonviolence Guru Michael Nagler.(Interview)


Kupfer, David, Whole Earth


Michael Nagler came to UC Berkeley as a grad student in comparative literature in 1960, just as the Free Speech Movement was heating up. After earning his Ph.D. in 1966, he joined the faculty. His life took a spiritual turn the following year when he met Sri Eknath Easwaran, a visiting scholar who was teaching meditation, and became Michael's mentor. Studying and meditation led to an interest in Mahatma Gandhi.

I was introduced to Michael's work twenty years ago, when I read his 1982 book America without Violence (out of print, but can be downloaded at www.mettacenter.org/publications .html). I was so impressed with his knowledge, spiritually based focus, and intensity that I traveled from Davis to Berkeley twice a week over the following year to attend his course on nonviolence. At that time he was the only instructor on the subject in the entire UC system. He is the founder and chairperson of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Berkeley. Now professor emeritus of classics and comparative literature, he continues to teach courses on nonviolence and meditation. He is the author of numerous articles on classics, myth, peace, and mysticism.--DK

DAVID KUPFER: Can you tell me about the Peace and Conflict Studies Program (PACS) at UC Berkeley?

MICHAEL NAGLER: PACS at Berkeley is one of the 500 or so programs worldwide that teach the analysis of conflict and the theory of developing peace. We are a fairly large program (about sixty undergraduates) and offer a degree--a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies. But our main importance is probably our location: in the contentious, highly visible, and undservedly considered liberal campus of UC Berkeley. PACS, one of the first such programs in the nation, was founded on the premise that war and other forms of violence are neither inevitable nor ineradicable, despite their omnipresence in human history.

DK: You've just written a history of nonviolence. Why is our culture so unaware of that history?

MN: Western civilization, which is now modern or industrial civilization, is, as far as I know, the most materialistic civilization that has ever existed. We are rooted now in the belief that all reality is physical. Or, as Wendell Berry recently said, we believe the human being is a "machine." That's the heart of the problem. Nonviolence, being nonphysical, becomes invisible in such a "civilization."

DK: What is the origin of the word "nonviolence"?

MN: It seems to have been coined early in the twentieth century, and now serves as an inadequate translation of ahimsa in Sanskrit. It's inadequate because the Sanskrit word actually denotes a positive force that is deployed when all desire to injure has been converted. I define nonviolence as "the creative force unleashed by successful struggle with a negative drive."

Of course, I'm talking about what's called "principled nonviolence," as opposed to merely "strategic nonviolence," which is undertaken only provisionally, for a specific end. In my view, principled nonviolence is the only kind that's going to make a difference in the long run. Notice the crucial importance of the individual in this definition. Corporations don't struggle with their emotions; only people do.

DK: You say that you believe that anything we do to reduce violence anywhere will do something toward reducing violence everywhere. Why?

MN: This follows from my Gandhian understanding of nonviolence as non-physical (i.e., a spiritual force), residing in consciousness. True nonviolence is, as an Indian theoretical physicist puts it, something not located in space-time. That's why, as Gandhi said, it is "all-pervasive in its effects." An important corollary to this is that nonviolent actors tend to put their faith in the long-term effects of their acts, which may not be very obviously connected to immediate results. By contrast, violent folks focus only on immediate, direct results. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Nonviolence, Spiritual Growth, and Real Security: David Kupfer Interviews Nonviolence Guru Michael Nagler.(Interview)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.