Long Live Gandhiji

Dear Carla,

Tanya  and I are working our way through Gandhi’s Essential Writings (in the Oxford World’s Classics).  We read ten sections a week (there are 237 sections in the book).

Here are the passages I selected with a few comments  on the first ten sections. Perhaps some of these may be useful as we contemplate our upcoming resistance to the Behemoth.


Gandhi/The Essential Writings

Round One

What I want to achieve—what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years—is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha. I live and move and have my being in pursuit of this goal. 1

Perhaps this accounts for Gandhi’s seemingly boundless energy: He had an all-encompassing goal that could be pursued in the most minute of daily circumstances.

The experiments narrated should be regarded as illustrations, in the light of which everyone may carry on his own experiments according to his own inclinations and capacity. 3

A great way to honor Gandhi is to pursue our own experiments with truth.

For me the road to salvation lies through incessant toil in the service of my country and therethrough [sic] of humanity. I want to identify myself with everything that lives. In the language of the Gita I want to live at peace with both friend and foe. 5

I link the aforementioned goal of Moskha to this identification “with everything that lives,”  “even foes.”  Thus Gandhi breaks with the stimulus and response dynamic that characterizes so much of and so many of our lives. To see God face to face is to see the creature or person in front of us likewise, which means removing our selfish conditioning.

We should, therefore, cure ourselves of the disease of asking abstract questions, should attend to the immediate duty before us today and leave these questions for some other day.  6

Much of academic life is marked by abstract or lifeless or self-serving questions. Think back to your political science classes; how often did they have any impact on the way you lived your daily life?

If God ever sent me to the West, I should go there to penetrate the hearts of the masses, to have quiet talks with the youth of the West and have the privilege of meeting kindred spirits—lovers of peace at any price save that of Truth. 7

Ah, if Gandhi came this week, he would be so happy to meet a Bengali-American sister, with such vast potential for satyagraha!

To write a treatise on the science of ahimsa is beyond my powers. I am not built for academic writings. Action is my domain, and what I understand, according to my lights, to be my duty, and what comes my way, I do. All my action is actuated by the spirit of service.  9

Gene Sharp is the person who has written that “treatise” … are you familiar with his writings?  After you finish the Hardt & Negri trilogy, Sharp’s 3 volumes on The Politics of Nonviolent Action may be worth a look.


from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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