Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (otherwise known as Bapuji), traveled from his home in South Africa to Bapuji’s ashram known as Sevagram. Arun was a mere 12 years old and he spent two years traveling with his grandfather, and in that time, he grew from a naive 12-year-old to a wiser young man of fourteen. He picked up lessons from his grandfather that Arun says forever changed his life’s direction.
Gandhi was a huge believer of nonviolence which he felt was a way to “make yourself morally and ethically stronger and more able to move toward the goal of bringing harmony to society.” (page 7). There is indeed a lot of anger in the world, and the book serves to help the readers address their anger in a productive manner.
It was this one piece of advice that Arun took wholeheartedly sums up the philosophy of his grandfather:
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
The book covers eleven lessons, as Arun puts it, that covers all aspects of life.
Lesson One: Use Anger for Good
- “Anger is good. I get angry all the time”- Bapuji
- “Because I learned to use my anger for good…Anger to people is like gas to the automobile- it fuels you to move forward and get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.”
- Seeking revenge makes no sense to him. An eye for an eye only makes the world go blind.
- The goal is to get to the root of your anger. Only when you understand the source can you find the solution.
- Two Steps: (1) Writing in Journal; (2) Go to a quiet room and be aware of your breath- it took Arun months to master this!
- USe your anger wisely. Let it help you find solutions for love and truth.
Lesson Two: Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
- A “no” uttered from the deepest of conviction is better than “yes” merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
- We should never stop speaking out against problems. how can we create change in the world is we are afraid to say what is wrong?
- You prove your strength when you find out what matters more deeply to you and are willing to stand up for it, even if the ride seems to be going in a different direction.
- Think about whether your words will help the world or hurt it. When you find the words that will do good, be prepared to speak them loudly.
Lesson Three: Appreciate Solitude
- People who focus only on achieving fame have an emptiness in their life they hope other [people will fill by cheering for them and feeding their egos.
- preserving personal solitude was a way to fuel inner peace. finding your own place for a retreat is crucial in our busy and often overwhelming world.
- We need to make life more peaceful, not faster.
- social media gives us friends and followers, yet our connections are often flimsier than we realize.
- all you really need to do is pause and reflect on your own life- turn your thoughts inward and ponder what’s important for the world and what you would like to achieve for yourself and others.
- Be a part of the world and take in all the ideas you can. Then retreat to your solitude or quiet place and decide how you will use the ideas to make a better world.
- Bapuji’s concept of solitude didn’t mean blocking yourself off from new ideas or from people who think differently from you. He wanted all ideas to flow.
Lesson Four: Know Your Own Worth
- with disciplined habits, you can accomplish a lot more than you imagine.
- understand how important it is to appreciate our own worth as individuals
- once we feel confident in ourselves, we can recognize and honor the value of those around us.
- if you use money and material gains to define your value, you may end up feeling hollow.
- we need to separate our self-worth from the stuff we have acquired.
- Materialism and morality have an inverse relationship: when one increases, the other decreases.
Lesson Five: Lies Are Clutter
- Lying often seems like the easiest course at the moment, but when we lie to others, we are also lying to ourselves.
- Avoiding lies is difficult because it requires recognizing our desires and then admitting them.
- Lying makes you weaker. Victory is short term.
- deciding to forgo lies and follow the truth can change your life.
Lesson Six: Waste is Violence
- Wasting anything is more than a bad habit. It expresses a carelessness about the world and violence against nature.
- Studies show people feel good when they pay attention to the environment.
- making purchases may bring short term gratification, but the pleasure fades quickly.
- we need to learn that we will find much more joy in things we create than in things we buy and discard.
- Time is too precious to waste.
Lesson Seven: Practice Non-Violent Parenting
(As I am not a parent, I didn’t really cover this chapter. But a quick summary is that parents need to practice non-violence methods of parenting to raise conscious driven children).
Lesson Eight: Humility is Strength
- Empty drums make the loudest noise- those who have real ideas, solutions, and integrity, do not have to bang recklessly to be heard.
- First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.
- Letting go of labels and embracing other viewpoints isn’t always easy, but the results can be powerful.
- The humility that allows us to appreciate each other makes a stronger and more positive world.
- we need humility to realize that our education can continue for our whole lives
Lesson Nine: The Pillars of Non Violence
- I eat to live, not live to eat
- A positive spirit is one of the most powerful gifts we can give to others.
- One of his greatest skills was his empathy and understanding of his opponents’ position.
- When we express positive emotions like love, gratitude, and generosity, we dramatically increase our self of well being and can even have positive effects on our health.
- Five Pillars:
Lesson Ten: You Will be Tested
- Revenge is never the right solution
- A desire for revenge eats away at you, destroying your peace of mind and leaving you constantly on edge. Instead of hurting you once, the evildoer takes over your life and destroys you again and again.
- Nonviolence is not the same as passivity or cowardice.
- Forgiveness is more manly than punishments
- When we are tested, we don’t prove our strength with violence or anger, but by directing our actions for good.
Lesson Eleven: Lessons for Today
- You need to know your weaknesses to be able to transform them into strengths. Your goal every day is to be better than you were the day before.
- You give yourself and the world a great gift when you choose to take a wider view and look for commonalities rather than differences
- An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of teaching.
“Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.” – Mahatma Gandhi