What did Gandhi say?
I discovered this inspiring quote credited to Mahatma Gandhi in 2004 when I was in a place where I needed a little inspiration. I have come back to this quote periodically during the past 12 years. Author, Joseph Ranseth wrote “this notion of be the change does 3 powerful things when we adopt it:
It stops us from judging others;
It replaces complaining about others with reflection on self;
It stirs us into taking action within the only thing in the world over which we have any control: ourselves.”
Each of these things could, of course, bring about powerful change. As a part of my pursuit of mindfulness, I like to share things that I find powerful and uplifting both on my website and in my yoga classes. Recently I decided to do a little research to ensure I was quoting Gandhi properly and imagine my surprise when I discovered there is no reliable evidence that this is what Gandhi said. Instead it is actually a summary of what Arun Gandhi learned from his grandfather. While it is easy to imagine based on the life he lived that he would have agreed with the sentiment, his words were much deeper.
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
VOL 13, Ch 153, General Knowledge About Health; Page 241, Printed in the Indian Opinion on 9/8/1913 From The Collected Works of M.K.Gandhi; published by The Publications Division, New Delhi, India."
Reading his original quote, you can see where the root of the paraphrased “Be the change…” came from; but to me his actual quote embodies so much more. “We but mirror the world”, speaks to me in that I need to guard against the negative and shallow media driven parts of life and instead surround myself with that which is elevating. I want to make certain what I mirror back is uplifting and adding value to others. If I seek the best and highest for myself and embody inner transformation, the unseen in me will be a positive reflection of the world around me.