Truth Is God

Gleanings from the writings of Mahatma Gandhi bearing on God, God-Realization and the Godly Way

Chapter 37: Gospel of Non-possession

A seeker after Truth, a follower of the Law of Love, cannot hold anything against tomorrow. God never provides for the morrow. He never creates more than what is strictly needed from day to day. 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. . . Our ignorance or negligence of the Divine Law, which gives to man from day to day his daily bread and no more, has given rise to inequalities with all the miseries attendant upon them. The rich have a superfluous store of things which they do not need and which are, therefore, neglected and wasted; while millions starve and are froze 1 to death for want of them. If each retained possession only of what he needed, no one would be in want and all would live in contentment. As it is, the rich are discontented no less than the poor. The poor man would fain become a millionaire and the millionaire a multi millionaire. The poor are often not satisfied when they get just enough to fill their stomaches; but they are clearly entitled to it and society should make it a point to see that, they get it. The rich must take an initiative in the matter with a view to a universal diffusion of the spirit of contentment. If only they keep their own property within moderate limits the poor will be easily fed; and will learn the lesson of contentment along with the rich. 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 God's business, and not his to provide for it. Only a very few rare soul can attain, this ideal, however. We ordinary seekers can only keep it constantly in view, and in the light thereof, critically examine our property and try to reduce it every day. Civilization in the real sense of the term consists hot in the multiplication but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants, which promotes real happiness and contentment and increases the capacity for service. One can reduce one's wants by perseverance, and the reduction of wants makes for happiness—a healthy body and a peaceful mind. From the standpoint of pure truth, the body too is property acquired by the soul. By means of a desire for enjoyment we have created and continue to maintain this encumbrance in the shape of the body. When this desires 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 the 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 no bread becomes with us the staff of life. We eat and drink, sleep and awake for service alone. This brings us real happiness, and the beatific vision in the fullness of time. Let us all examine our possession from this standpoint.
We should remember that non-possession is a principle applicable to thoughts as well as to things. One who fills his brain with useless knowledge violates that inestimable principle. Thoughts which turn us away from God or do not turn us towards Him constitute impediments which one must soon get rid of. In this connection we may consider the definition of knowledge contained in the 13th Chapter of the Gita. We are there told that humility etc., constitute knowledge, and all the rest is ignorance. If this is true and there is no doubt that it is true much that we hug today is knowledge is ignorance pure and simple and, therefore, only does us harm instead of conferring any benefit. It makes the mind wander and even reduces it to a vacuity, and discontent flourishes in endless ramifications of evil. Needless to say, this is not a plea for inertia. Every moment of our lives should be filled with activity, but that activity should be Sattvika tending to truth. One who has concecrated his life to service cannot be idle for a single moment. But one has to learn to distinguish between good activity and evil activity. This discernment goes naturally with a single-minded devotion to service.

From Yeravda Mandir, Chapter VI

Therefore, renounce all and dedicate it to God and then 1ive. The right of living is thus derived from renunciation. it does not say, 'When all do their part of the work I too will do it.' It says, 'Don't bother about others, do your job first, and leave the rest to Him.'

Harijan, 6-3-'37

Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya, Shankara, Dayananda, Ramakrishna were men who exercised an immense influence over and moulded the character of thousands of men. The world is the richer for their having lived in it. And they were all men who deliberately embraced poverty as their lot.

Speeches and Writings of Mahattna Gandhi, (1933), p. 353

The golden rule... is resolutely to refuse to have what millions cannot. This ability to refuse will not descend upon us all of a sudden. The first thing is to cultivate the mental attitude that will not have possessions or facilities denied to millions, and the next immediate thing is to re-arrange our lives as fast as possible in accordance with that mentality.

Young India, 24-6-'26

If we will take care of today, God will take care of tomorrow.

Young India, 13-10-21