The Gandhi Mindset: Declare Your Independence with a Single Vow

Make Every Day Your Independence Day.

Photo by Elliott & Fry / Photoshopped by Author

Despite what people think, Mahatma Gandhi’s main goal wasn’t Indian independence.

His main goal was personal independence and he saw Indian independence as a natural extension. When Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” he meant that literally.

For better or worse, humans care a lot about what other humans think because we consciously and subconsciously want things from them: money, love, recognition, food, shelter, power, likes, subscribers.

But Mahatma Gandhi cared little what other people thought about him precisely because he wanted little.

He made and washed his own clothes. He cut his own hair (or lack thereof). He ate a simple diet, often fasting for long periods of time to make a political point.

I threw off dependence on the barber. — Gandhi

The body always needs clean non-stimulating foods. — Gandhi

I must reduce myself to zero. — Gandhi

Photo by Unknown

Morally I have no doubt that all self-denial is good for the soul. — Gandhi

Gandhi’s goal wasn’t to become closer to people (although he loved people), but it was to become closer to God. And the way to becoming closer to God he believed was by becoming evermore pure and independent.

Photo by Hippopx

Independence of my conception means nothing less than the realization of the Kingdom of God within you and on this Earth. — Gandhi

He didn’t worry about what other people thought because success purely depended upon his own resolve to maintain his vows.

Vows

In his pursuit of independence, Gandhi would permanently cast off one pleasurable instant-gratification thing after another…

My life is based on disciplinary resolutions. — Gandhi

I cannot live both after the flesh and the spirit. — Gandhi

I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. — Gandhi

Here are the vows Mahatma Gandhi made over the course of his life:

  • Ahimsa: Nonviolence

  • Satya: Truth

  • Asteya: Non-Stealing

  • Brahmacharya: Self-Discipline [No sex]

  • Aparigraha: Non-Possession

  • Sharirshrama: Working for Daily Food

  • Aswada: Control of Diet

  • Sarvatra Bhayavarjana: Fearlessness

  • Sarva Dharma Samantva: Equality of All Religions

  • Swadeshi: Use Locally Made Goods

  • Sparshbhavana: Remove Untouchability

Once Gandhi made a vow he refused to break it… even if it killed him. In 1948, he fasted until the killing in the streets of Delhi stopped. Through his sheer force of will he was able to save countless lives as eventually public concern for his health grew so loud that Hindu and Muslim politicians came together for a joint plan for restoration of normal life.

Gandhi also had his grand niece sleep in the nude with him in order to test his chastity. I don’t know. That sounds like a bit much.

A life without vows is like a ship without an anchor or like an edifice that is built on sand instead of a solid rock. — Gandhi

Takeaway: If we want to stop a bad behavior then perhaps we should make a promise to ourselves, our loved ones, and/or to God to never do that thing again. Period. A public renunciation helps us stop as the need to conform to an identity is strong, but don’t make a vow you can’t keep because otherwise people and more importantly yourself will lose trust in yourself as much in the future.

Make a list of 11 behaviors you could give up? No violence, lying, stealing, Netflix, porn, sex, sugar, cocaine, etc? On a personal note, I vowed to myself long ago not to lie, cheat, or steal. I can’t remember the last time I so much as told a “white” lie and that’s the God’s honest truth.

Ultimately, the less you need to be happy the more powerful you will be.

There must, therefore, be ceaseless striving after perfection. — Gandhi

If you want to worry less about what other people think then follow in Gandhi’s footsteps by requiring less and less.

Photo by confused_me

Make every day your independence day.