Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once observed: "Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk." Those words are more true than ever, especially in our post 9-11 world of heightened violence, anger, hatred, and fear. This edifying and compelling collection of writings from Mohandas Gandhi (1869 - 948) is part of the Modern Spiritual Masters Series published by Orbis Books. In the introduction, Jesuit priest and author John Dear (Living Peace) presents a succinct and salutary overview of his life and work. Gandhi was not just a lawyer, a politician, an activist, and a social reformer; he was also "a contemplative, a person of God, and a saint." Dear has studied and tried to put into practice this holy man's philosophy of nonviolence for the 20 years. That is certainly a remarkable challenge given the forces of domination, selfishness, and greed savaging the world at the present time. Gandhi's example and teachings can be taken into many arenas "to end war, nuclear weapons, environmental destruction, violence, hunger, poverty, and injustice and the creation of a culture of peace, justice, and nonviolence."
Dear has organized his selection of Gandhi's essential writings in the following chapters: My Life is My Message: Autobiographical Writings; The Search for God; The Pursuit of Truth; The Practice of Nonviolence; The Discipline of Prayer and Fasting; The Urgent Need for Nuclear Disarmament; The Life of Steadfast Resistance; and Epilogue. Much of the material in this treasure trove of wisdom conveys the spiritual dimensions of this Indian sage. For example: "Nonviolence succeeds only when we have a real living faith in God." Or to elaborate: "I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of humanity, and that I could not do unless I took part in politics. The whole gamut of humanity's activities constitutes an indivisible whole. You cannot divide social, economic, political, and purely religious work into watertight compartments. I do not know any religion apart from human activity. It provides a moral basis to all other activities which they would otherwise lack, reducing life to a maze of 'sound and fury signifying nothing.' "
In another passage, Gandhi expresses his belief in the truth of all religions. Throughout his life, he pondered not only the pages of the Gita but also the Bible. He saw Jesus as "the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was nonviolence par excellence." Gandhi claimed that he saw the face of God when he merged with the poor. He also prayed a lot: " Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening."
Read this paperback during the next months, and it will school your heart, mind, body, and soul in peace and justice.