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06. Beauty of Repitition
"This repetition of one and the same thing over and over again jars on me. It may be the defect of my rationalist mathematical temperament. But somehow I cannot like the repetition. For instance, even Bach's wonderful music fails to appeal to me when the text 'Father, forgive them, they know not what they do,' is repeated over and over again."
"But even in mathematics, you have your recurring decimals," said Gandhiji smiling.
"But each recurs with a definite new fact," said the mathematician.
"Even so," said Gandhiji, "each repetition, or japa as it is called, has a new meaning, each repetition carries you nearer and nearer to God. This is a concrete fact, and I may tell you that you are here talking to no theorist, but to one who has experienced what he says every minute of his life, so much so that it is easier for the life to stop than for this incessant process to stop. It is a definite need of the soul."
"I quite see it, but for the average man it becomes an empty formula."
"I agree, but the best thing is liable to be abused. There is room for any amount of hypocrisy, but even hypocrisy is an ode to virtue. And I know that for ten thousand hypocrites, you would find millions of simple souls who find their solace from it. It is like scaffolding quite essential to a building."
But," said Pierre Ceresole, "if I may carry the simile a little further, you agree that the scaffolding has to be removed when the building is complete?"
"Yes, it would be removed when this body is removed."
"Because," said Wilkinson who was closely following the discourse, "we are eternally building."
"Because," said Gandhiji, "we are eternally striving after perfection. God alone is perfect, man is never perfect."
Harijan, 25-5-1935