When Mahatma Gandhi was asked by a European reporter, “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” Gandhi replied, “My life is my message.”
Your Life is Your Message:
Finding Harmony with Yourself, Others & the Earth, by Eknath Easwaran
When Mahatma Gandhi was asked by a European reporter, “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” Gandhi replied, “My life is my message.” If one is faced with the same question, how would one answer? Would there be room for growth or would one be satisfied with the status quo? In Eknath Easwaran’s Your Life is Your Message, he guides the readers on the need to grow to properly address “the intense restlessness of our young people, the dissatisfaction and stifled idealism which haunts so many older people … signs that our society is ready to shed an outworn definition of who we are and what we can become.” The time has come to take new approaches that promote healthy growth and renewal of the individual and community.
As such, with the upcoming annual return of Valentine’s Day, many people are scampering, spending money hoping to create intimate “loving feelings” with their partner. Yet, people wonder why many relationships today are so short-termed. Easwaran points out an axiom of human existence and constructively reframes it, as we are “…getting older, [our body loses] its resilience, strength and energy… [It] is a hard blow at physical romance. So don’t blame yourself or anybody else if a physical relationship doesn’t last. There was very little there in the first place. On the other hand, there is no more dependable and delightful basis for a romantic relationship than two people working together for a great cause that is bigger than themselves, forgetting their personal differences…this is the “marriage of true minds,” which only grows more beautiful with the passage of time” – a tested formula for long term relationships.
So, what does an enduring love look like? Easwaran illustrates with the rare long term relationship of Mahatma Gandhi and his wife, Kasturbai Gandhi, that despite their massive trials and tribulations that they endured for helping to organize India’s Independence from British colonialism, their love as a couple blossomed. How deep was their love? Kasturbai was once asked how many children she had, she replied, “I have only four but my husband has four hundred million.” In that anecdote, Easwaran gently reminds readers that no one is childless. “All the world’s children are our children. Anybody does anything to harm the future of the earth is doing harm to their own children.” Easwaran helps reframe often outdated and exploitive concepts of love, into a healthier extraction that substantially increases the chances for building healthier long term relationships.
Could that love be expanded to include oneself and other beings, including non-humans? Yes. Love, in this context, is life-giving. Easwaran connects his readers to creating harmony with oneself though supporting one’s social and physical environments, including helping “keystone” species survive and thrive. “Without … keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.”1 The fragility of Earth’s ecosystems continues to be underestimated, as seen through frequently damaging human settlements and activities, as Easwaran notes, “not only driving species to extinction, but …[can threaten] the water, soil and atmosphere on which our own lives depend.”
Lastly, Easwaran shares his Eight Point Program of meditation and allied disciplines that can help bring harmony to one’s life:
- Meditation (can be used along with exercises, such as Yoga)
- Mantra (supports mental health, by providing some “grounding” or calming effects during high stress moments, through helping one reconnect with his/her five senses)
- Slowing Down (prioritizing for quality, purposeful living)
- One-Pointed Attention (focusing on meeting each set goal in a methodical manner)
- Training senses (discerning each stimulus exposure, so as to achieve “higher self” development)
- Putting others first (helping to deepen relationships, as well as building a higher functioning team or community)
- Spiritual Companionship (creating positive circles of influence of support for one another with similar goals of companionship and community-building)
- Reading the Mystics (of various faiths, but can also include the physical and social sciences – for awe-inspiring sharing and discoveries that can help facilitate healthier living)
This powerful book has many more excellent ideas that can help gently reset many people’s mindsets, in helping them achieve a higher quality of living, as it guides them away from their current rigid thought systems to a more flowing adaption to life’s many ongoing challenges. True, we were not given a “life manual” at the time of our birth. Hence, for many people, life has often been a series of social experiments, producing varying results. However, using the wisdom that Easwaran leaves for his readers in his easy to read book (126 pages), we can make more intelligent choices along the way that will more positively impact our future in the years ahead on this delicate blue planet called, Earth. So if “our lives are our message”, what message would we want to give to “our children” – whether it is to the ones we have or the seven billion?