PHILOSOPHY > SELECTIONS FROM GANDHI > Discipline for the realization of Truth

Discipline For The Realization of Truth

37. Means and end are convertible terms in my philosophy of life.-YI,26-I2-24, 424.

Our Limitations

38. Knowledge is limitless and so also the application of truth. Every day we add to our knowledge of the power of the Atman, and we shall keep on doing ever the same. New experience will teach us new duties, but truth shall ever be the same. Who has ever known it in its entirety?
YI, 8-4-26, 131.

Non-violence as means

39. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Nonviolence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could. In doing so I have sometimes erred and learnt by my errors. Life and its problems have thus become to me so many experiments in the practice of truth and nonviolence. As a Jain muni once rightly said, I was not so much a votary of ahimsa as I was of truth, and I put the latter in the first place and the former in the second. For, as he put it, I was capable of sacrificing nonviolence for the sake of Truth. In fact it was in the course of my pursuit of truth that I discovered nonviolence.

H, 28-3-36, 49.

40. Ahimsa and Truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disentangle and separate them. They are like the two sides of a coin, or rather a smooth unstamped metallic disc. Who can say, which is the obverse, and which the reverse? Nevertheless, ahimsa is the means; Truth is the end. Means to be means must always be within our reach, and so ahimsa is our supreme duty. If we take care of the means, we are bound to reach the end sooner or later. When once we have grasped this point, final victory is beyond question. Whatever difficulties we encounter, whatever apparent reverses we sustain, we may not give up the quest for Truth which alone is, being God Himself.

YM, I3.

41. The path of Truth is as narrow as it is straight. ‘‘Even so is that of ahimsa. It is like balancing oneself on the edge of a sword. By concentration an acrobat can walk on a rope. But the concentration required to tread the path of Truth and ahimsa is far greater. The slightest inattention brings one tumbling to the ground. One can realize Truth and ahimsa only by ceaseless striving.

YM, 7.

Realization of Nonviolence comes by Training

42. Nonviolence is not a mechanical performance. It is the finest quality of the heart and comes by training. –YI, I6-4-3I, 75.

43. It takes a fairly strenuous course of training to attain to a mental state of nonviolence. In daily life it has to be a course of discipline though one may not like it, like for instance, the life of a soldier. But I agree that unless there is hearty cooperation of the mind, the mere outward observance will be simply a mask, harmful both to the man himself and others. The perfect state is reached only when mind and body and speech are in proper co-ordination. But it is always a case of intense mental struggle. –YI, 1-10-31, 287.


44. God travels at a snail’s pace Those who want to do good are not selfish, they are not in a hurry, they know that to impregnate people with good requires a long time. –IHR, 2I.

45. Having flung aside the sword, there is nothing except the cup of love which I can offer to those who oppose me. It is by offering that cup that I expect to draw them close to me. I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man and believing as I do in the theory of rebirth, I live in the hope that, if not in this birth, in some other birth, I shall be able to hug all humanity in friendly embrace. –YI, 2-4-3I, 54.

46.This is the path of ahimsa. It may entail continuous suffering and the cultivating of endless patience. Thus step by step we learn how to make friends with all the world; we realize the greatness of God-or Truth. Our peace of mind increases in spite of suffering; we become braver and more enterprising; we understand more clearly the difference between what is everlasting and what is not; we learn how to distinguish between what is our duty and what is not. Our pride melts away, and we become humble. Our worldly attachments diminish, and so does the evil within us diminish from day to day. –YM, I0.


47. Fearlessness connotes freedom from all external fear-fear of disease, bodily injury and death, of dispossession, of losing one’s nearest and dearest, of losing reputation or giving offence, and so on. –YM, 4I.

48. We must give up all external fears. But the internal foes we must always fear. We are rightly afraid of animal passion, anger, and the like. External fears cease of their own accord, when once we have conquered these traitors within the camp. All such fears revolve round the body as the centre, and will, therefore, disappear as soon as one gets rid of attachment for the body. ‘We thus find that all external fear is the baseless fabric of our own vision. Fear has no place in our hearts, when we have shaken off the attachment for wealth, for family and for the body. Nothing whatever in the world is ours. Even we ourselves are His. When we cease to be masters, and reduce ourselves to the rank of servants, humbler than the very dust under our feet, all fears will roll away like must; we shall attain ineffable peace, and see Satyanarayana (the God of Truth) face to face. –YM, 43.

49. The pursuit of Truth is true bhakti (devotion). It is the path that leads to God, and, therefore, there is no place in it for cowardice, no place for defeat. It is the talisman by which death itself becomes the portal to life eternal. –YM,. 5

50. just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence, so one must learn the art of dying in the training for nonviolence. Violence does not mean emancipation from fear, but discovering the means of combating the cause of fear. Nonviolence, on the other hand, has no cause for fear. The votary of nonviolence has to cultivate the capacity for sacrifice of the highest type in order to be free from fear. He recks not if he should lose his land, his wealth, his life. He who has not overcome all fear cannot practice ahimsa to perfection. The votary of ahimsa has only one fear, that is of God. He who seeks refuge in God ought to have a glimpse of the Atman that transcends the body; and the moment one has a glimpse of the Imperishable Atman one sheds the love of the perishable body. Training in nonviolence is thus diametrically opposed to training in violence. Violence is needed for the protection of things external, nonviolence is needed for the protection of the Atman, for the protection of one’s honour.—H, I-9-40, 268.


51. If we are to be non-violent, we must then not wish for anything on this earth which the meanest or the lowest of human beings cannot have.—Ceylon, 132.

52. Possession implies provision for the future. A seeker after Truth, a follower of the law of Love cannot hold anything against tomorrow. God never stores for the morrow; He never creates more than what is strictly needed for the moment. If, therefore, we repose faith in His providence, we should rest assured that He will give us every day our daily bread, meaning everything that we require. Perfect fulfillment of the ideal of Non-possession requires that man should, like the birds, have no roof over his head, no clothing and no stock of food for the morrow. He will indeed need his daily bread, but it will be Godís business, and not his, to provide for it .-YM, 34.

53. From the standpoint of pure Truth, the body too is a possession. It has been truly said, that desire for enjoyment creates bodies for the soul. When this desire vanishes, there remains no further need for the body, and man is free from the vicious cycle of births and deaths. The soul is omnipresent; why should she care to be confined within the cage-like body, or do evil and even kill for the sake of that cage? We thus arrive at the ideal of total renunciation, and learn to use the body for the purposes of service so long as it exists, so much so that service, and not bread, becomes with us the staff of life. We eat land drink, sleep and wake, for service alone. Such an attitude of mind brings us real happiness and the beatific vision in the fullness of time. —YM, 37.

54. Love and exclusive possession can never go together. Theoretically when there is perfect love, there must be perfect non-possession. The body is our last possession. So a man can only exercise perfect love and be completely dispossessed, if he is prepared to embrace death and renounces his body for the sake of human service.

But that is true in theory only. In actual life, we can hardly exercise perfect love, for the body as a possession, will always remain with us. Man will ever remain imperfect, and it will always be his part to try to be perfect. So that perfection in love or non-possession will remain an unattainable ideal as long as we are alive, but towards which we must ceaselessly strive. –MR, 1935,412

Voluntary Suffering for the sake of Love

55. In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of Truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For What appears to be Truth to the one may appears to be error to another. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication off Truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one’s self. –YI, Nov.Tagore,6.

56. The Satyagrahi seeks to convert his opponent by sheer force of character and suffering. The purer he is and the more he suffers the quicker the progress. –YI, I8-9-24, 306.

57. The religion of ahimsa consists in allowing others the maximum of convenience at the maximum of inconvenience to us, even at the risk of life. –YI, 2-12-26, 422

58. It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all-great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it. –(From a private letter, dated 31-12-34.)

59. I saw that nations like individuals could only be made through the agony of the Cross and in no other way. Joy comes not out of infliction of pain on others but out of pain voluntarily borne by oneself.— YI,31-12-31, 418.

60. Suffering, cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy. –YI, 13-10-21. 327.


61. To see the universal and all-pervading spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. Identification with everything that lives is impossible without self-purification. God can never be realized by one who is not pure in heart.—Auto, 615.

Self- restraint

62. Sex urge is a fine and noble thing. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. But it is meant only for the act of creation. Any other use of it is a sin against God and humanity. –H, 28-3-36, 53.

63. Although I have always been a conscientious worker, I can clearly recall the fact that this indulgence interfered with my work. It was the consciousness of this limitation that put me on the track of self-restraint. –H, 4-4-36, 61.

64. A man, whose activities are wholly consecrated to the realization of Truth, which requires utter selflessness, can have no time for the selfish purpose of begetting children and running a household.YM, -1Ė4. cf. 600-607.

God’s Grace essential for perfect Self-control

65. Perfection or freedom from error comes only from grace. Without an unreserved surrender to His grace, complete mastery over thought is impossible. This is the teaching of every great book in religion, and I am realizing the truth of fit every moment of my striving after that perfect Brahmacharya. –Auto, 388

But the Quest is Endless

66. The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory. –YI, 9-3-22, 141.