the change you want to see in the world...
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Born in India on October
2nd, 1869, Mohandas Gandhi grew into boyhood having no unusual talents, was extremely
shy, and went through grammar school with less than average grades.
Gandhi called this turning point an "act of grace." Totally
discouraged, he had nowhere to look for outside help. He was now ready to turn inward on
his long journey of self-discovery.
Without realizing it, Gandhi had found the secret of success. He began to look on every difficulty as an opportunity for service.
After attaining some success in South Africa...
"My profession progressed satisfactorily, but that was far from satisfying me. The question of further simplifying my life and of doing some concrete act of service to my fellowmen had been constantly agitating me.
I had started on a life of ease and comfort, but the experiment was short-lived. Although I had furnished the house with care, it failed to have any hold on me."
Gandhi's joy knew no bounds. Everywhere he began to see the possibility to choose between living for himself alone or living for the sake of others. As his self-centeredness diminished, his spiritual awareness increased.
"Do not worry in the least about yourself, leave all worry to God.
One who would serve will not waste a thought upon his own comforts, which he leaves to be attended to or neglected by his Master on high... he will take with him only what he strictly needs and leave the rest. He will be calm, free from anger and unruffled in mind if he finds himself inconvenienced.
Just as one must not receive one must not possess anything, which one does not really need. It would be a breach of this principle to possess any unnecessary foodstuffs, clothing, or furniture. For instance, one must not keep a chair if one can do without it. In observing this principle one is led to the... simplification of one's own life.
One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole."
He (Gandhi) had to undergo many trials, suffer abuse and even physical attacks, but during that long night in the Natal Mountains he made the decision never to yield to force and never to use force to win a cause.
"Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there...
It is never the intention of a satyagrahi (someone who is love in motion) to embarrass the wrongdoer. The appeal is never to his fear... it must be, always to his heart.
I hold myself to be incapable of hating any being on earth. By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim... nevertheless I make it in all humility."
He (Gandhi) campaigned from the Himalayas south to Ceylon. Everywhere the message was the same: All of us are one.
"When you inflict suffering on others, you are bringing suffering on yourself. When you weaken others you weaken yourself."
Gandhi dramatized his unity with the poor by sharing their way of life completely... "We must step down from our pedestals and live with them - not as outsiders, but as one of them in every way, sharing their burdens and sorrows."
This is the heart of Gandhi's approach. He taught, above all, by personal example. He himself became their servant.
He (Gandhi) was at his very best when being persecuted. He was at his strongest when under pressure. And he was free whether inside prison or out.
Gandhi was so detached from his physical environment that going to jail or not did not disrupt his work at all. Every day he served in prison only added to his spiritual growth.
"I believe that if one man gains spiritually the whole world gains with him and, if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.
For nonviolence means the capacity to love those who hate you, to show patience and understanding in the face of the most fiery opposition. This is the most difficult discipline one can learn in life and that is why the Bhagavad Gita says if you want to be brave, look at those who can forgive.
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.
Perfect love casts out fear... it is a lifelong challenge, a lifelong battle within oneself, full of challenges and trials so severe that those who tread the path of love in every religious tradition have called it sharper than a razor's edge.
Everything he did was an experiment in expanding the human being's capacity to love...
Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory."
Gandhi believed that in order to enjoy life, we cannot be selfishly attached to anything, whether it was money, possessions, power or prestige, even family or friends. The moment we are selfishly attached, we become their prisoner.
It is only when he (Gandhi) began to live for others that he found himself bursting with almost unharnessable power.
"For a non-violent person, the whole world is one family. He will thus fear none, nor will others fear him.
Strength of numbers is the delight of the timid. The valiant in spirit, glory in fighting alone."
One evening in Delhi, India Mohandas Gandhi was making an appeal for peace between the Hindu and Muslim people. On the way to a prayer meeting, a young man blinded with rage, shot and killed this incredible man-spirit of non-violence. As his body fell to the ground, several words came to his lips "Rama, Rama, Rama... I forgive you, I love you, I bless you."
"First, it must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight ... The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive nonresistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
"A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that these are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent ... The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.
"A third characteristic of this method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil ... We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.
"A fourth point that characterizes nonviolent resistance is a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back. 'Rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood,' Gandhi said to his countrymen. The nonviolent resister ... does not seek to dodge jail. If going to jail is necessary, he enters it 'as a bridegroom enters the bride's chamber...'
"A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love ...
"A sixth basic fact about nonviolent resistance is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. Consequently, the believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future. This faith is another reason why the nonviolent resister can accept suffering without retaliation. For he knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship ..."