Happy International Day of Nonviolence, commemorating Gandhi’s 145th birthday (aka “‘Spinning Wheel’ (charkha) Birthday”)! The UN designates this day as an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”.
On this occasion I wanted to share five of my favorite quotes from Gandhi that keeps encouraging me, to strive for my dreams and live true to my values:
- “Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.”
- “Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”
- “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”
- “True nonviolence is impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.”
- “My life is my message.”
There is something about Gandhi that really inspires me: he was painfully shy. He was less than an average student. He had an “unsuccessful” start to his career as a lawyer. If you read his biography of early days, you would wonder how he became “Mahatma” later in his life.
So what made him great? Eknath Easwaran writes about disagreements Gandhi would have with his wife, Kasturbai:
But gradually he began to see that there was no friction between them except what he had imposed, and that Kasturbai had always been trying to win him over by love. It was one of the most radical discoveries he was to make in a lifetime of experimentation: in order to transform others, you first have to transform yourself. (Easwaran, Gandhi the Man, p. 51)
It is simple yet so profound. When you transform yourself in reaction to a negative situation, you are wielding the sword of nonviolence, “the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.” This also resonates with my Buddhist philosophy and the concept of human revolution, which, in essence, expounds that transformation of our own self is the greatest cause for any transformation in our environment. And this is probably one of the reasons Gandhi continues to inspire many of us today. He was a human being, and he continued to challenge his weaknesses.
So today, let’s ask ourselves: What are the situations I am being challenged with right now, and what aspect of my life am I ready to transform?