Born October 02 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, would become the most influential political and spiritual leader in the modern world who never would garner an official title. It seems this slightly built man, recognized as the Father of India, wouldn’t need one either.
People don’t follow titles; They follow greatness. And Mahatma Gandhi’s revolutionary approach at achieving freedom was greatness in that it worked by way of peace.
Gandhi, a practicing Hindu, studied other religions as well, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism. In learning about other religions and spiritual approaches he could communicate, in peace, with members of those religions. Gandhi knew something, then, it seems that most people of today still cannot grasp with much ease; That most of our apparent differences come from lack of unity as the starting point.
Before Gandhi’s life was brought to a tragic end, by violence paradoxically enough, he was able to inspire hundreds of thousands of Indians of varying faiths, religions, and castes to engage in acts of courage aligned with non-violence. Imagine knowing that, no way around it, you were going to jail and/or get beaten because you decided to stand unwavering in your truth. You decided that you may be scared but you were going to do it anyway simply because you make the decision to not hand over your integrity.
That's a beautiful thing about integrity. No one can take it. No one can ever take it. Many of us reluctantly give it away; bits and pieces at a time. The seemingly small compromise I make today may have me enslaved by next year. And so when I have no integrity left, what's my soul to do? The who I Am has been bought for either a shilling of convenience, or immediate peace, or for a pound of safety or money. Shilling, pound, euro…What is the going rate for integrity?
- Every person in S. Africa who witnessed Gandhi take a beating because he wanted to do away with Indian ID cards and refused to yield when the British enforcers of the Empire told him to not burn them, would have understood if Gandhi had yielded. But he did not yield.
- When the British opened fire in Peshawar, killing hundreds of non-violent Khudai Khitmatgar and other non-violent demonstrators, according to a source that explains Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha, “One British Indian Army regiment refused to fire at the crowds.” Integrity did not yield here either.
Satyagraha: “Satya,” Sanskrit for “Truth” with “Agraha,” the Sanskrit equivalent to the English “Firmness.” It’s the philosophy of non-violent resistance with three important components. In the words of Gandhi, “Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatever; and it ever insists upon truth.“
The Quest for Truth and Integrity
I am saddened to think that Gandhi was a revolutionary; a visionary. The world is usually not ready for such conscientious change when these sorts of people arrive during their time. However there are the rare individuals who continue to speckle history and the world with the same visions. And for that, there continues to be hope.
If we make the mistake in thinking that it's always someone else's duty to lead the way or light the path we'll stay in the dark forever. If we mistakenly think we're a civilized nation and nothing need more be done then we are already dead because perfection has been achieved. If we think that another person may have the ”right” or the “ability” or ”talent” but that we’re lacking any such gifts and therefore couldn’t possibly be one for any higher calling, then we have allowed the world to enslave our minds already.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Gandhi
Metaphysically speaking, to change a perception of the outside requires a change of us from the inside and I believe this to be a truth. Many people can accumulate wealth, success, and friendships so that on the outside everything looks well with the world. But will that wealth, success, and social notoriety keep the individual’s spirit well-nourished? If the stocks crash, the job is lost and the friendships perish, what will be the sustaining force to continue moving that spirit into truth and integrity?
Namaste. Your Light Does Shine.
Namaste: ‘The God in me greets the God in you.’
The light. The light inside of us. Our spirit. Our integrity. Our truth. It is my belief we must strive for our spiritual fulfillment and with the goal being to synchronize it with our physical manifestation. Gandhi prayed and fasted. I pray, meditate and carry the message by writing and working with others. Martin Luther King Jr. was an excellent speaker and he spoke his message as well as invocating Gandhi-like non-violent resistance. Mother Theresa, not one to tarry, fed the hungry. Melody Beattie shares her experience, strength, and hope with her books on recovering from dysfunctional relationships. Don Miguel Ruiz asks us to challenge our former agreements that have never seemed to work. [Like violence or unhealthy relationships perhaps?] Jesus of Nazareth spoke and spread HIS message of love, peace, and spiritual nourishment through words and actions. What will your legacy be?
Not one of these people mentioned are known or will have as their legacy that they spread hate, violence, or corruption. People who allow their lights to shine are beloved not for what they have but for what they give. The trick of this, however, is to have something worth giving. If you have a contrary nature, you will spread contempt wherever you go and your light will be but a dull hard-to-see-for-the-black-vibes fizzle. No one desiring a birghter light will pick you up! The people you encounter would be running to someone else in order to “get treatment” for having been around you! I hope my readers are blessed today in that you haven’t anyone like that surrounding you at present!
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
Heroes scattered throughout history continue to show us that to live with integrity does not mean we have to be famous or recognized or prestigious. Who better for God to use and manifest the light through than a humble one of us?
Rosa Parks made the decision from her truth that to move to the back of the bus wasn’t truth inspired. The truth, being made in the likeness of God as well, is that she deserved to sit where she could find a seat.
William Wallace decided that the truth of English lords to have sex with Scottish women on their marriage day was not God inspired. He refused to yield his integrity as he went after the English.
I doubt either of these two woke up on any pivotal morning and said, “Today I am going to alter history into a different direction.” It is my belief that as long as we do what it is our integrity would have us do, one at the time, then powerful God-inspired episodes can and will occur. Can you think of times in your life where doing the next right thing may have been harder than the path of least resistance, but you chose the direction of the Christ-Truth anyway? Can you think of events that you inspired?
War to Freedom?
Thinking about freedom and how entire nations have been guided there; How laws have changed to free people; And thinking about freedom as a living ideal, I cannot help but to think of America in Iraq. It doesn’t matter what one person’s mind says to my mind; Being in Iraq is not of integrity. Maybe pride or greed or some other vice, but not for truth or integrity.
The principles I have written about in my articles apply to communities and larger scale conflicts too. If I say something to you that’s less than impeccable and you respond in kind, the original issue that I had becomes delineated as I now fight you with my tongue to either defend a lie you just threw at me or to one up you on an insult. You respond again and it degrades several more degrees. Before we’re done we’ve bounced so much ego driven junk at each other that we’re in an all out war or total breakdown of communication. In the meantime, we’ve hurt each other and do not trust. We’re also confident that God, too, is now dead. Effectually God is dead. We killed our Divine Spark in the middle of our conflict when neither one of us had the sense to “Not Resist Evil.” We couldn’t resist so we participated in it, giving it more and more energy; Making it bigger and deadlier and guess what? Evil grew and won.
So now that evil has grown and is winning, how to end it is the problem to solve. The answer is to return to truth and integrity. What would Gandhi suggest? As the man named “Father of India” surely he could say it better than I.
Gandhi’s Words and Thoughts on Violence
“Violence breeds violence…Pure goals can never justify impure or violent action…They say the means are after all just means. I would say means are after all everything. As the means, so the end….If we take care of the means we are bound to reach the end sooner or later.”
“The science of war leads one to dictatorship, pure and simple. The science of non- violence alone can lead one to pure democracy…The states that are today nominally democratic have either to become frankly totalitarian or, if they are to become truly democratic, they must become courageously non-violent. Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by fear of punishment and the other by arts of love. Power based on love is thousand times more effective and permanent than power derived from fear of punishment.…”
“We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it. The Attainment of freedom, whether for a person, a nation or a world, must be in exact proportion to the attainment of nonviolence for each.”
“Woman is more fitted than man to make exploration and take bolder action in nonviolence… There is no occasion for women to consider themselves subordinate or inferior to men….Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity….If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior….If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with women…”
It’s just politics. Just doing my my job.
How often people must utter these phrases to themselves as they try to make it okay to live with themselves. I have compassion for that. I know what it’s like to be violent; To be the victim of it and to be the villain of it.
But when I hear people speak of this war as a matter of “politics” or I hear the sad mothers of young boys wishing for their return as if no choice exists, as I am feeling compassion for their plight, the Dakini side of me emerges and becomes angry. I would certainly, if I had the power, not call on every U.S. soldier to drop their weapons and consequences be damned. I happen to not be Gandhi and understand that to live in constant integrity, in this world, often requires the kind of suffering that some people have not been spiritually trained to prepare for. However. With all that said: There is a choice.
There is a choice to start with an idea. This is not politics. This is not an easy ”just doing my job.” People are dying. Lives are being destroyed. Unrest and enemies are being made every day in anger due to opposing each others ideas. Partisan lines are becoming bolder and more pronounced. Freedom is eeking away. People, mothers, soldiers have fear… Justification and why be damned. If I have to explain why I am eating a particular thing, I don’t need to eat it. If I have to explain why I am doing a particular thing, I don’t need to do it.
Truth stands alone and does not need approval.
Untruths need believers in order to live.
“Truth alone will endure; all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time….What may appear as truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker..(…)..An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it….” ~ Gandhi
Article adapted from original at Mahatma Gandhi: Quest for Freedom with my own permission. :)