Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most extraordinary leaders of the 20th century. Although he became a highly educated and successful attorney, he left this comfortable life and cast his lot with the lowest rung of humanity. Gandhi spent his life trying to rise up the lowest, without destroying the highest.

Gandhi stood for self-determination and compassion for all. He strove for the equality, regardless of social status, nationality or gender. And he fought for peace without ever raising a fist against his oppressors.

The value of Gandhi’s teachings came from the words he spoke and the way he lived his life. Even today, these words can inspire and guide us in our lives.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

Gandhi realized that people’s feelings of negativity and self-doubt are created by the evil words and deeds of others, but that these words are powerless – unless you give them power over you. Gandhi had experienced hatred and negativity throughout his life, but he refused to allow the actions or words of another break his spirit. Forbid the negative people in your life to harm you mentally or physically.

“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”

Gandhi knew that when a person felt anger, even when it was justified, that person would be unable to make sound judgments. True wisdom comes from a place of peace and patience, not fury, and this is something Gandhi understood better than most. 

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

Gandhi never asked another person to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. He lived simply and humbly,  not because it was easier, but because the difficulty of this struggle reinforced his greater message. He became a model for others to examine and to emulate. He taught others to try to live towards what they wished to become – if you want love, be loving; if you want joy, be joyful. Remember, it may take a long time for change to happen, but simply being a model of the change you want will benefit you.

Gandhi never accepted himself as a teacher, claiming, “There is no such thing as Gandhism, and I do not want to leave any sect after me. […] I have nothing new to teach the world..” Despite Gandhi’s reluctance to believe his words and actions were extraordinary, trying to hold fast to the ideas and examples of Mahatma Gandhi will lead you to a richer and more spiritual life.