Wisdom of Life

Mahatma Gandhi: On the Wisdom and the Meaning of Life

 

When asked to sum up the meaning of life in three words or less, Gandhi responded cheerfully, “That’s easy: Renounce and enjoy.”

 

Rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London England UK at the request of Lord Irwin 1931The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly.

Truth is one, paths are many. The meaning of life is not unique to one religion – with all the others being false, as some may claim. It is above that. It is above any single religion – or path – or philosophy. It is above everything – and yet it is the very essence of everything – for it is an aspect of God itself.”

The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body. The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.

Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning. Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. And remember — in doing something, do it with love or never do it at all.

When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and comforts flee,’ I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal. Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action. Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever. I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. 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. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?

The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth. Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth. When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Always.

Be the change you want to see in the world. We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed. There is more to life than simply increasing its speed. Live simply so that others may simply live.

What barrier is there that love cannot break? Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it is the humblest imaginable. Love never claims, it ever gives. Love ever suffers, never resents never revenges itself. Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment. The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.

True beauty lies in purity of the heart.

***

~Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

©Excellence Reporter 2019

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Categories: Wisdom of Life

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