Three months in India. 500 pages of Gandhi’s words poured on paper.
A privilege to read his story while traveling through the land he liberated.
Satyagraha was his practice, which is sanskrit for “insistence of truth.” It was his practice of non-violence and non-reaction. He relentlessly pursued these truths, even in the face of oppression and racism.
Here’s some of the things I’ve learned from Gandhi:
Double down on your silence, stillness and space. Gandhi meditated for one hour per day. One day he said to his advisors, “My day is very busy, I won’t be able to meditate for one hour today.” His advisors were shocked that he would break his meditation, but then he continued, “I will make sure I meditate for two hours today.”
True compassion for all people. He headed an ashram in Gujarat and a family from the “untouchable” class asked to join the ashram. Gandhi welcomed the family despite discontent from other members. His decision deterred donors from continuing to provide monthly support to fund the ashram.
Yet, Gandhi didn’t waiver on his decision. The family stayed.
Cool side note – The ashram had only a few weeks left of funds when a man who Gandhi met only once before arrived. He didn’t say a word, just handed Gandhi an envelope with enough cash to cover the ashram’s expenses for the next two years. Gandhi never saw that man ever again.
Service. Service. Service. What life really comes down to is service. Ask yourself, how can you serve? How can you help another human being? Gandhi did this his entire life. He served as a nurse part time in his early years. He served in the ambulance corps during the Boer War in South Africa, as well as World War I. In legal work, he involved himself in matters of public service to improve the livelihood of the people.
How public service leads to private business. As an attorney he volunteered his legal expertise in public service matters without accepted profits. He only asked that his expenses be covered. What this did was give him an enormous amount of credibility and trust with the locals. This lead to an abundance of private business from the connections he made through his public service.
Willingness to remain patient and practice non-reaction. In South Africa he dealt with racism and even abuse. He never reacted by pressing charges. He only wanted to address the issues regarding racism when they would benefit the entire city and its people.
Similarly, when Great Britain asked India for aid in World War l, many of Gandhi’s political associates felt this was a good time to bring up India’s domestic issues and rise to liberate India from Great Britain. However, Gandhi was patient, understanding this was not the right time. He supported Great Britain during the war, and this lead to better relations with them in the upcoming decades which help the cause of India’s independence.
As Gandhi said, “My life is my message.”
I am grateful for that message.
Thank you Gandhi.
Photo: “The Last Steps.” Taken in New Delhi at the home where Gandhi’s lived out the last 144 days of his life before being assassinated.