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Should Gandhi have been a motivational speaker?,
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This review is from: An Autobiography: Or The Story of My Experiments With Truth (Paperback)
I have long held Gandhi in high esteem. It has been some time that I have been curious to know more about the man, his life and how he thought. What better way to learn about Gandhi than through the man's own autobiography? Reading Experiments in Truth has given me both the insight I wanted into Gandhi's life, and some great pearls of wisdom to apply in my own life.
Gandhi was clearly a principled man, who has led a fascinating life - a life in which he has staunchly stuck by his moral values at every stage, a life whose turnings have been steered by himself. It shows Gandhi's life was, as the title states, a series of experiments in truth.
Reading this book taught me a lot about Gandhi's life that I didn't previously know. It is certainly an inspirational read.
Gandhi always sought to understand all points of view about an issue, and no matter how bad somebody's deeds, he never wanted to have anything against them personally. In Gandhi's words:
Man and his deed are two distinct things...the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. `Hate the sin and not the sinner'.
In fact, one of Gandhi's principles in life was that every case can be seen from "no less than seven points of view, all of which are correct by themselves, but not correct at the same time and in the same circumstances". This is akin to modern-day NLP's presuppositions that "the map is not the territory" and that every behaviour has a positive intention. It goes without saying that he was a pioneer.
Gandhi, like so many determined and successful people, believed that what has happened is now in the past - we can learn lessons from past incidents for the future, and that is all.
So in summary, what I take from Gandhi's work is: live by your values; learn from the past but hold no regrets; in times of conflict, look at the situation from at least seven points of view and don't judge others by their actions. These values are very similar to those vaunted by many of today's motivational speakers. Yet Gandhi lived these values to free Indian people from oppression and suffering in many ways and staunchly rejected what he saw as excessive payment. Imagine how different the world would be like if more of today's motivational speakers acted out their values like Gandhi.
Gandhi conducted various other "experiments in truth". These included home schooling for his children (no formal learning), rejection of material wealth, enforced celibacy from the age of 37, fruitrianism (including limiting the variety of fruits that he ate) and quackery - all of which he forced upon his wife and family. I suspect that the families of motivational speakers are generally much happier than the family of Gandhi were!
This book is definitely worth reading. It gives Gandhi's own perspective on his life. Some of the details about various people he came across went over my head (and I started to skip some of them as I got further through the book) I will now follow Gandhi's principle of seeing everything from more than one perspective by reading someone else's biography of him.