Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gandhi's Experiment with Truth

As I mentioned in my previously newsletter, I recently finished the manuscript of a new book called “8 Attributes of Great Achievers.” The publisher asked me to include more stories in the book which I did and submitted to them. I then received an email from the president of the publishing company saying in part, “I read the original manuscript you had sent Jason and was impressed, so impressed that I wanted more :-) Hence, the request for additional stories . . .” After reading the additional stories the president sent me an email saying in part, “I’ve finished reviewing your additional stories and think they add tremendous depth to your synopsis of attributes. . . you should be very proud of how this turned out. We look forward to working with you on getting it into the hands of readers.”

I too am very pleased with how the book turned out. It turned about better than I imagined. I have felt the guidance of the Lord directing me as to what people to write about in relation to the different attributes and which stories to share. It is a miracle to me each time to see this come together. One of the reasons I love to write is because it is fun to be a part of the process. It is a great feeling to receive such feedback directly from the president of the publisher. It is also a humbling one for though I was the one to put words on the page, I give all honor and praise to God. I was merely an instrument in the hands of the Almighty.

One of the stories I added to the book was about Gandhi. Below is about ¼ of the Gandhi story from “8 Attributes of Great Achievers.

Gandhi’s Experiment with Truth

Gandhi began what he called “my experiment with truth.” He began studying various sources of truth and applying and testing the teachings in his own life. Gandhi said of the truths he strived to live by: “I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills . . . Those who believe in the simple truths I have laid down can propagate them only by living them.”

Truth 1: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Gandhi
“A mother once brought her child to [Gandhi], asking him to tell the young boy not to eat sugar, because it was not good for his diet or his developing teeth. Gandhi replied, ‘I cannot tell him that. But you may bring him back in a month.’ The mother was frustrated as . . . she had traveled some distance, and had expected the great leader to support her parenting. . . Four weeks later she returned, not sure what to expect. The great Gandhi took the small child’s hand into his own, knelt before him, and tenderly cautioned, ‘Do not eat sugar, my child. It is not good for you.’ Then he embraced him and returned the boy to his mother. The mother, grateful but perplexed, queried, ‘Why didn’t you say that a month ago?’ ‘Well, said, Gandhi, ‘a month ago, I was still eating sugar.’” (Blaine Lee, The Power Principle, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997) p. 170-171) Gandhi knew that to effectively lead others he must first lead himself. Gandhi wrote, “How can I control others if I cannot control myself?”

On another occasion “Gandhi was on a train pulling out of the station, [and] a European reporter running alongside his compartment asked him, “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” It was a day of silence for Gandhi, part of his regular practice, so he didn’t reply. Instead he scribbled a few words on a piece of paper and passed it to the journalists: ‘My life is my message.’” (Lance H. K. Secretan, Inspire! What Great Leaders Do, (Wiley, 2004) p. 67) Gandhi believed that “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Truth 2: “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” -Gandhi
“As Gandhi hurriedly boarded a train that was beginning to depart, one of his sandals fell onto the tracks, and he immediately responded by taking off his second sandal and throwing it onto the tracks, so that later somebody would find both sandals and have a pair to wear.” (Anna Craft, Howard Gardner, Guy Claxton, Creativity, Wisdom, and Trusteeship, (Corwin Press, 2007) p. 90) Gandhi turned the negative experience of losing his sandal into a positive opportunity for service and giving. Gandhi believed that “experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.”

“H.G. Welles once asked for Gandhi’s views on a document Wells had co-authored entitled ‘Rights of Man.’ Gandhi did not agree with the document’s emphasis on rights. He responded with a cable that said, ‘I suggest the right way. Begin with a charter of Duties of Man and I promise the rights will follow as spring follows winter.” (Keshavan Nair, A Higher Standard of Leadership, (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1997) p. 63)

Gandhi wrote of the harsh treatment, imprisonment and oppression he received, “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind. . . The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave his fetters fall... freedom and slavery are mental states. . . They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”