Albert Camus wrote: "Some ideas come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar . . . a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope"
It is a metaphor that applies very well to Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the ethical giant who united his diverse homeland of India under a banner of moral idealism. Satyagraha is the name he gave to his nonviolent methods of resisting oppression and overcoming injustice. It means "holding on to truth" or "soul force." This ideal inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the major shaker and mover in the American civil rights movement.
People who knew Gandhi were amazed by his single-mindedness, energy, and personal magnetism. He slept only a few hours every night, was involved in his mission all the time, and yet was never driven but always calm within. Gandhi left behind an incredible legacy for all humanity to ponder and put into practice: a simplified life, solidarity with the poor, the interplay between religion and politics, the humanizing practice of nonviolence, and a reverence for life.
One of the sources of Gandhi's spiritual transformation was his reliance on his mantra "Rama." It is the name of the Lord and comes from a word meaning "joy" or "to rejoice." Gandhi used it all the time when his mind was not occupied. He called this mantra his staff of life which carried him through every ordeal. He wanted to die with it on his lips, and after a lifetime of practice, that is exactly what happened. Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1948.
To Name This Day:
Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings, selected and edited by John Dear. This book will school your heart, mind, body, and soul in peace, justice, and nonviolence.
- "There is sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed."
- "In matter of conscience, the law of the majority has no place."
- "Noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good."
- "I can see clearly the time coming when people belonging to different faiths will the same regard for other faiths that they have for their own."
- "If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed — but hate these things in yourself, not in another."
- "If we can do our duty here, the beyond will take care of itself."
- "We may not be God, but we are of God, even as a little drop of water is of the ocean."
- "Hinduism teaches us to regard the whole humanity as one indivisible undivided family."
Remember the Mahatma by viewing the DVD of Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1983 (Sony Pictures). Our 12-page color discussion guide to the film is available for $7.00 each; send your check to Spirituality & Practice, 15 W. 24th Street, New York, New York 10010.