“My life is my message”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869, one hundred fifty four years ago. He came to be known and loved by the Indian people and worldwide as “Mahatma”, an honorary Sanskrit term meaning “Great Soul”, like the term “Saint” in Christianity.
During his lifetime, he was recognized as father of Indian democracy, a monumental accomplishment achieved through non-violent relentless pursuit of Truth as God (satyagraha). Gandhi changed himself to change the world by being the change he wanted see.
Though Mahatma Gandhi realized that his life was his message, he often wrote (or was quoted about) his philosophical ideas on subjects of perennial importance. Because Gandhi walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and universally, his words – like his humble life – will be remembered for centuries, and will continue to inspire and actuate countless millions of people worldwide.
So, in tribute to this great soul, let us recall some of his inspiring words of wisdom:
Gandhi’s Words of Wisdom
“My life is my message”
“[T]he world will not change if we don’t change.”
“In a gentle way you can shake the world..”
“You may never know what results come of your actions,
but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
“If we are to make progress,
we must not repeat history but make new history.
We must add to inheritance left by our ancestors.”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
“Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.”
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer. With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.”
“Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart…”
“It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”
“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”
“My religion is based on truth and nonviolence. Truth is my God. Nonviolence is the means of realizing Him.”
“Nonviolence succeeds only when we have a real living faith in God.”
“My faith runs so very much faster than my reason that I can challenge the whole world and say, ‘God is, was and ever shall be’.”
“Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.”
“A man with a grain of faith in God never loses hope, because he ever believes in the ultimate triumph of Truth.”
”Nonviolence is the greatest force man has been endowed with.
Truth is the only goal he has. For God is none other than Truth.
But Truth cannot be, never will be, reached except through nonviolence…
That which distinguishes man from all other animals is his capacity to be non-violent.
And he fulfills his mission only to the extent that he is non-violent and no more.“
“I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist and Confucian.”
“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
“I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”
“Nonviolence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
“Nonviolence is not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society. To practice nonviolence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of nonviolence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favored position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life.”
“It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it.” (From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)
“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face, one must be able to love the meanest of all creation as oneself.”
“Ahimsa is not the crude thing it has been made to appear. Not to hurt any living thing is no doubt a part of ahimsa. But it is its least expression. The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody. It is also violated by our holding on to what the world needs.”
“I do not believe…that an individual may gain spiritually and those who surround him suffer. I believe in advaita, I believe in the essential unity of man and, for that matter, of all that lives. Therefore, 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.”
“I do not believe that the spiritual law works on a field of its own. On the contrary, it expresses itself only through the ordinary activities of life. It thus affects the economic, the social and the political fields.”
“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics,
do not know what religion is.”
“Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy.”
“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end they always fall — think of it. Always.”
“In the dictionary of the seeker of truth there is no such thing as being ‘not successful’. He is or should be an irrepressible optimist, because of his immovable faith in the ultimate victory of Truth, which is God.”
“What do I think of Western civilization?
I think it would be a very good idea.”
Dedication and Invocation
As a blessing, may we deeply reflect on Gandhi’s enduring philosophy and exemplary life.
Thereby, like this Great Soul, may we be inspired “from the deepest recesses of the heart” to live in “in a gentle way” that nonviolently blesses all life everywhere as Truth and LOVE.
And so may it be!