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Top 4 Toughest Non-Violent Heroes

What’s more intimidating than an angry mob with weapons? The person courageous enough to stand up to them with no weapon at all. Anyone who’s seen pictures of Martin Luther King  Jr outside of their 10th grade history class knows what I mean:  his eyes are fierce and determined, his fist clinched as speaks out for justice in front of thousands of people all the while facing a constant storm of assassination attempts and persecution.

 It begs the question: why is it that the greatest practitioners of non-violence are always so tough? As Buddhist philosopher and peace advocate Daisaku Ikeda writes, “One who never uses violence is strong, and a person of true courage.” Standing up for what you believe in without resorting to violence requires real strength and courage. In contrast, by using a weapon we are admitting that our principles and conviction are not strong enough to win over others. In this sense, hiding behind a gun is an act of cowardice, a way to cover up our insecurity and sense of powerlessness.

 While we tend to think of Buddhists as passive, there are many figures in Buddhist history that stood up to government oppression and religious persecution to fight for social and political equality- all without packing any swords or staves.

Below is a list of the baddest people in history that had the courage to never reach for their piece:

Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha founded the Buddhist faith, which places the highest value on human life and believes in the fundamental equality of human beings.  Such a philosophy naturally went against the rigid and hierarchical Indian caste system of the time. In a severely patriarchal society, Shakyamuni also taught the Lotus Sutra, where he explains that women are inherently enlightened.  Amidst persecution and attempts on his life, Shakyamuni taught his philosophy of equality undaunted and never once cast a stone.


Took on THE MOST POWERFUL NATION IN THE WORLD at the time to free his country from colonial rule without even threatening to use his walking stick.   

Nichiren Daishonin

This 13th century Buddhist reformer wrote numerous letters to his local government officials protesting their oppressive policies and support of corrupt religious figures of the day. As a result, the government sent him into exile twice, made him the target of several assignation attempts, and threated to wipe out the Buddhist school he founded. But nothing deterred Nichiren.  In fact, when a gang of samurai came to intimidate him at his home, Nichiren decided to counter their aggression by preparing a cup of sake for each of them. They were so moved by his generosity and compassion, they gave up on their intimidation efforts and instead vowed to protect him. (pg 28, February Living Buddhism.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

In the face of harsh intimidation, death threats, and hundreds of years of discrimination Martin Luther King Jr preached a message of love and non-violence. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  Serious guts.

Tags: violence, victory over violence, non-violence, nichiren daishonin, martin luther king jr, gandhi, daisaku ikeda

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