Prior to meeting my guru, I had never heard the term “living saint” or imagined such beings existed. I had grown up believing that saints were pious looking canonized beings who floated around in ethereal realms hearing prayers and providing occasional miracles. Boy was I mistaken! Turned out that Hinduism offered a new definition of sainthood: an enlightened flesh and blood being who sees and hears beyond the outer ruckus of daily life and responds to the divine call for action in the world to end its suffering. Someone who lives in a state of Love. A being whose service would uplift and shift the course of humanity — be that action teaching, preaching, serving even to the extent of giving up embodiment prematurely if that’s the destiny. By that definition, Martin Luther King Jr., like Gandhi before him, and later, Nelson Mandela, made the grade for having been a living saint. Though his time was the Sixties and the Civil Rights Movement, his words sing out across time as the score for the Human Rights Movement that is our global concern today.
At the ashram it was said that the heart of a saint is hard as a thunderbolt, soft as butter. All great saints speak alike from that heart. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Inspired by Jesus’s words, MLK Jr. said: “We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”*
That tender heart—a warrior’s heart—is reflected in many speeches and writings where he spoke about love and its purposes. While not showstoppers like the “I Have a Dream” speech, his thoughts on love were the fuel that made the dream become real.
Here are some more MLK Jr. quotes to inspire you today and beyond to live and serve your vision for humanity.
~Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
~Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time — the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression….If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
~When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.
~Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve….You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.**
*All quotes except the last are from www.wikiquote.org.
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