It surprises me sometimes, that people are quite happy to listen to Buddhists speak of ahimsa, but get quite agitated when Christians speak of nonviolence.
I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s the exotic unfamiliarity of Buddhism in contrast to the assumed familiarity of Christianity, or the fact that Buddhists are less numerous and politically significant in the West, or something else entirely. But when the Dalai Lama speaks of ahimsa, people lap it up. But when a Christian speaks of nonviolence, people call it irresponsible.
This gets me to wondering, maybe we need to de-familiarize the New Testament, to help people see it with fresh eyes? To help people approach it with a beginner’s mind? What if we were to translate the New Testament a different way?
Ahimsa in the New Testament
Blessed are the ahimsa practitioners, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, practice ahimsa. And the God of love and ahimsa will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, ahimsa, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22)
He came and preached ahimsa to you who were far away and ahimsa to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17)
Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Practice ahimsa with each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:13)
Make every effort to practice ahimsa with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then ahimsa-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)
What happens for you when you encounter the words of the ancient messengers this way? Do you object to the translation? Do the implications disturb you? Does it encourage? Or give you a fresh perspective? On Buddhism or Christianity?