By Arun Gandhi
Manilal and Sushila Gandhi
Not all my life lessons came directly from my Grandfather Gandhi. There were some that came through my parents, Manilal and Sushila Gandhi. Manilal was the second of grandfather’s four sons and the only one who devoted his life wholly to promoting and practicing his father’s philosophy of nonviolence in his personal and public life.
“Become a Better Human Being”
When I left Grandfather Gandhi in 1947 to return with my parents to South Africa, grandfather’s parting words were that I “must always endeavor to become a better human being.” My parents built on this slender advice to show me how this should be done as a daily practice. Every morning upon opening my eyes I had to thank God for another wonderful day, for a wonderful family and friends and a wonderful world. I had to seek Divine wisdom to help me become better and stronger human being and then work diligently towards achieving this goal.
It requires the humility to accept that one is an imperfect human being and instead of living with these imperfections one must make a constant effort throughout one’s life to become better by changing the imperfections, one small step at a time, to perfections. My parents dissuaded me from seeking role models in society. Each individual is different with vastly different abilities. Trying to model oneself on what someone else has achieved, even parents and grandparents, means you will be constantly trying to ape them instead of finding your own inner strength and abilities.
Inter-related, Inter-connected and Inter-dependent
My parents taught me to meditate every day for at least an hour to reflect on myself and discover my purpose in life. We are not individual human beings to do whatever we please. We are all inter-related, inter-connected and inter-dependent not only as humans but also with nature. The acceptance of this reality gives rise to humility and compassion in an individual along with the realization that each one of us is a small cog in the giant human machinery that will work efficiently only if all the parts play the role they are supposed to by the Law of Nature. It means we live for each other, not for our selves. The awakening of love, respect, understanding, compassion and appreciation of each other, and all of nature, will bring harmony in society and and allow us to build peace.