Silence.

 

One understands that people have diverse views on Gandhi ji. I’m not sure if I agree with him or not as yet. I can confirm that each attempt to engage with Gandhi ji is a furtherance in my understanding of him. One learns that an opinion about a person (or anything, for that matter) cannot be achieved without a full understanding first.

There is one aspect about him that I find exalted, though. When looking at the criticism against him today, I had wondered what prompted these views. Then I learned that Gandhi ji, by opening himself up to total critique, reveals much of his faults to us in his own writings and speeches.  Remarkable. I can’t help but appreciate this honesty. In consequence, Gandhi ji ensured the ‘human-ness’ about him was sustained. This has disallowed a cult from being formed around him. A cult, as we’ve understood, is a very destructive force.

In my effort to understand Gandhi ji, here is a thought I stumbled upon in his autobiography (it appears at the conclusion of Chapter 18 in Part 1 of the book); it has given me strong cause to dwell:

“I must say that, beyond occasionally exposing me to laughter, my constitutional shyness has been no disadvantage whatever. In fact I can see that, on the contrary, it has been all to my advantage. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my speech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time. Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. Proneness to exaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of man, and silence is necessary in order to surmount it. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word. We find so many people impatient to talk. There is no chairman of a meeting who is not pestered with notes for permission to speak. And whenever the permission is given the speaker generally exceeds the time-limit, asks for more time, and keeps on talking without permission. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world. It is so much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.”

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