140. God in Action
"What has brought deepest satisfaction to your soul in difficulties and doubts and questionings?" asked Dr. John Mott, the noted Christian evangelist, of Gandhiji when he paid a visit to the latter at Segaon in December 1938.
"Living faith in God," was Gandhiji's reply.
Dr. Mott : When have ^mi had indubitable manifestation of God in your life and experiences ?
Gandhiji : I have seen and believe that God never appears to you in person, but in action which can only account for your deliverance in your darkest hour.
Dr. Mott : You mean things take place that cannot possibly happen apart from God ?
Gandhiji : Yes. They happen suddenly and unawares. One experience stands quite distinctly in my memory. It relates to my 21 days' fast for the removal of untouchability. I had gone to sleep the night before without the slightest idea of having to declare a fast the next morning. At about 12 o'clock in the night something wakes me up suddenly, and some voice,...within or without, I cannot say,... whispers, 'Thou must go on a fast.' 'How many days ?' I ask. The voice again said, 'Twenty-one days.' 'When does it begin ?' I ask. It says, 'You begin tomorrow.' I went quietly off to sleep after making the decision. I did not tell anything to my companions until after the morning prayer. I placed into their hands a slip of paper announcing my decision and asking them not to argue with me, as the decision was irrevocable. Well, the doctors thought I would not survive the fast. But something within me said I would, and that I must go forward. That kind of experience has never in my life happened before or after that date.
Dr. Mott : Now, you surely can't trace such a thing to an evil source ?
Gandhiji : Surely not. I never have thought it was an error. If ever there was in my life a spiritual fast it was this. There is something in denying satisfaction of the flesh. It is not possible to see God face to face unless you crucify the flesh. It is one thing to do what belongs to it as temple of God, and it is another to deny it what belongs to it as the body of flesh.