Gandhi 150 year anniversary: Karmapa’s message

October 2, 2019

On 2 October 2019, the 150 year anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, and the United Nations International Day of Nonviolence, Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following message:

Dear dharma friends

Today we celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the birth of the Bodhisattva Gandhiji.

There are many teachings within Gandhiji’s life and legacy that are beneficial for us to reflect on today.

In many ways, humanity feels like it is in a hurry today. With the pace of globalisation, technological changes and other contemporary phenomena, we are at constant risk of getting distracted, and losing track of what is of most importance. Gandhiji lived a simple life. Whenever he prayed, he was just praying. Whenever he went for a walk, he was just walking. And whenever he ate a meal, he was just eating. His mindful awareness of the present moment, not being distracted from his task, is something that many of us in modern society may learn from. He avoided extremes, and lived a life of moderation, kindness and respect.

This kindness and respect was extended to all people, regardless of their social status or background. When Gandhiji spoke with a politician, he did so with kindness and respect. When Gandhiji spoke with a child on the streets, he did so with kindness and respect. As Buddhists, we believe that there are no fundamental differences between any human. Gandhiji lived this belief. His life was a 78 year prayer for equality, love and truth.

And it is Satyagraha, ‘holding on to truth’, the global movement of nonviolence that he sparked, born out of his belief in ahimsa (respect for all living things and the avoidance of violence), that is perhaps most pertinent today. Living a life of nonviolence, in thought, word and action, is one of our greatest challenges today. 

The truth, as Gandhiji showed throughout his life, is often quite simple. To live simply. To avoid extremes and act with loving kindness. To treat all others and one would wish to be treated. To be disciplined in spiritual practice. To be an example of truth and justice through nonviolence. These truths come to life through action, through being an example. There are few greater examples and role models in history than the Bodhisattva Gandhiji. 

On this day, as we reflect on the legacy of Gandhiji, may we also be examples of truth, kindness and nonviolence.

With compassion

Thaye Dorje

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa