Quotes from The Story of My Experiments with Truth, by Mahatma Gandhi


- “I cannot attain freedom by a mechanical refusal to act, but only by intelligent action in a detached manner. This struggle resolves itself into an incessant crucifixion of the flesh so that the spirit may become entire free.”
- “That freedom is attainable only through slow and painful stages.”
- “A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him whom he seeks to reform
- “he who would be friends with God must remain alone, or make the whole world his friend.”
- on actively forgiving sin: “Man, as soon as he gets back his consciousness of right, is thankful to the Divine mercy for the escape.”
- “When such Ahimsa [non-violence] becomes all-embracing, it transforms everything it touches. There is no limit to its power.”
- On monastic changes to his life:
“Let not the reader think that this living made my life by any means a dreary affair. On the contrary the change harmonized my inward and outward life. It was also more in keeping with the means of my family. My life was certainly more truthful and my soul knew no bounds of joy.”
- “As I searched myself deeper, the necessity for change both internal and external began to grow on me.
- “Three moderns have left a deep impress on my life, and captivated me: Raychandbhai by his living contact; Tolstoy by his book, “The Kingdom of God is within you; and Ruskin by his “Unto this Last”.
- “I had planned reform in the education of my children.”
- “never again shall I try to exploit friendship.”
- “I intend to make a careful study of my own religion and, as far as I can, of other religions as well.”
- “I do not seek redemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself, or rather from the very thought of sin.”
- “I had learnt the true practices of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men’s hearts.”
- “It was impossible for me to believe that I could go to heaven or attain salvation only be becoming a Christian.”
- “It was more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate son of God…If God could have sons, all of us were his sons
- “Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within you overwhelmed me…Before the independent thinking, profound morality, and the truthfulness of this book, all the books given me by Mr. Coates seemed to pale into insignificance.”
- “There can be no fees for public work.”
- “The first thing we did was to dispatch a telegram to the Speaker of the Assembly requesting him to postpone further discussion of the bill.”
- “it had been decided not to take a single signature without the signatory fully understanding the petition.”
- “I sent copies to all the newspapers and publicists I knew.”
- “Sustained agitation was essential for making an impression…for this purpose it was thought necessary to bring into being a permanent organization.”
- “But collecting funds was not the only thing to do. In fact I had long learnt the principle of never having more money at one’s disposal than necessary.”
- “Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for any organization. Without them it falls into disrepute. Without properly kept accounts it is impossible to maintain truth in its pristine purity.”
- The unskilled: “The Congress was not yet theirs. They could not afford to belong to it.”
- “I began to realize more and more the infinite possibilities of universal love.”
- “Look at the Buddha’s compassion! Does not one’s heart overflow with love to think of the lamb joyously perched on his shoulders?”
- “service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it is done for show or for fear of public opinion, it stunts the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.”
- “It is difficult to say for certain how a particular man would act in a particular set of circumstances. We can also see that judging a man from his outward act is no more than a doubtful inference, inasmuch as it is not based on sufficient data.”
- “I hope God will give me the courage and the sense to forgive them and to refrain from bringing them to law. I have no anger against them. I am only sorry for their ignorance and their narrowness. I know that they sincerely believe that what they are doing tday is right and proper. I have no reason therefore to be angry with them.”
- “a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it.”
- “Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it.”
- “service is no mushroom growth. It presupposes the will first, and then experience.”
- “How heavy is the toll of sins and wrong that wealth, power and prestige exact from man!”
- “‘Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap.’ The law of karma is inexorable and impossible of evasion.”
- “all that appears and happens about and around us is uncertain, transient. Bt there is a Supreme Being hidden therein as a Certainty…”
- “But swords we had none. We scarcely had the nerve and the muscle even to receive sword-cuts.”
- “How was one to divest oneself of all possessions?...Straight came the answer: I could not follow Him unless I gave up all I had.”
- “ ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’, is a precept which, thought easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”
            “This nonviolence is the bases of the search for Truth. I am realizing everyday that the search is in vain unless it is founded on non-violence as the bases. It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attach its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being but with him the whole world.”
- “I have no word for characterizing my belief in God.”
- p 223/224 – why he is writing p. 227-228 his journal
- “Man is man because he is capable of, and only so far as he exercises, self-restraint.”
- “A poet is one who can call forth the good latent in the human breast.”
- “I have no doubt that there is a key to lock out undesirable thoughts, but everyone has to find it out for himself.”
- “all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for man.”
- “My experience teachers me that, for those whose minds are working towards self-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful. In fact, without their help concupiscence cannot be completely rooted out of the mind.”
- “the training of the spirit was possible only through the exercise of the spirit.”
- “If I was to be their real teacher and guardian, I must touch their hearts, I must share their joys and sorrows, I must help them to solve the problems that faced them, and I must take along the right channel the surging aspirations of their youth.”
- “A man who is swayed by passions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he will never find the Truth.”
- p. 279 Chapter XXXIX A Spiritual Dilemma Part IV
- “no reform is possible unless some of the educated and the rich voluntarily accept the status of the poor”
- “spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical”
- “the Hardvar [state] experiences proved for me to be of inestimable value. They helped me in no small way to decide where I was to live and what I was to do.”
- “One day will be enough, and you will see things with your own eyes.”
            - a friend to Gandhi
- “It is no exaggeration, but the literal truth, to say that in this meeting with the peasants I was face-to-face with God, non-violence, and Truth.”
- “Human language can but imperfectly describe God’s ways.”
- “Our philanthropists, instead of providing work for them [beggars] and insisting on their working for bread, give them alms.”
- “It was not easy for them to see that Satyagraha could not be conducted simply by means of money. Money is the thing that it least needs.”
- “was eager to understand the Muslim mind through contact…”
- “I recognize that in the hour of its danger we must give, as we have decided to give, ungrudging and unequivocal support to the empire of which we aspire in the near future to be partners… it is the simple truth that our response is due to the expectation that our goal will be reached all the more speedily.” from his letter to the Viceroy, on WWI
- “For me the question of diet was not one to be determined on the authority of the shastras. It was one interwoven with my course of life which is guided by principles no longer depending upon outside authority.”
- “The will to live proved stronger than the devotion to Truth, and for once the votary of Truth compromised his sacred ideal by his eagerness to take up the Satyagraha (passive resistance) fight.”
- “The people are not be nature violent but peaceful.”
- “But I felt that my position was so correct and above question that no intelligent person could misunderstand it”
            - Gandhi, when he was threatened with assassination for entering Punjab province
- “My self-confidence at that time was infectious”
- On insisting on a compromise:
“It is hardly necessary to deal with the text of the amendment. My object here is only to describe how this resolution was undertaken as part of my experiments with which these chapters deal.”
- “The object that we set before ourselves was to be able to clothe ourselves entirely in cloth manufactured by our own hands.”
- on making their own cloth: “It enabled us to know, from direct contact, the conditions of life among the weavers.”
- “I swear by this form of Swadeshi (spinning), because through it I can provide work to the semi-starved, semi-employed women of India.”
- “My object in writing these chapters is simply to describe how certain things, as it were spontaneously, presented themselves to me in the course of my experiments with truth.”
- “To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness, and should insist upon choosing as their representatives only such persons as are good and true.”
- “Since then the Hindu members of the Congress have taken upon themselves the responsibility of ridding Hinduism of the curse of untouchability…”
- “Lastly, my conclusions from my current experiments can hardly as yet be regarded as decisive.” - “To describe truth, as it has appeared to me, and in the exact manner in which I have arrived at it, has been my ceaseless effort. The exercise has given me ineffable mental peace, because it has been my fond hope that it might bring faith in Truth and Ahimsa (non-violence) to waverers.”
- “if every page of these chapters does not proclaim to the reader that the only means for the realization of Truth is Ahimsa, I shall deem all my labour in writing these chapters to have been in vain.”
p. 404, the remarkable concluding chapter
- “The little fleeing glimpses, therefore, that I have been able to have of Truth can hardly convey an idea of the indescribable lustre of Truth, a million times more intense than that of the Sun…”
- “To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself.”
- “Identification with everything that lives…”
- “I must reduce myself to zero.”

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