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In this article I will analyze, from my own perspective, the merits and demerits of the book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ by Mohit Chakrabarti.  I will consider the quality of the book in terms of its contribution to the understanding of mysticism, by means of its structure and content.  Finally, I will conclude whether I feel the author has accomplished his task; –that being a scholarly study of Gandhian mysticism.

 

Chakrabarti defines mysticism as a “beyonding of consciousness” (Chakrabarti, 1).  Further, Chakrabarti refers to Gandhian mysticism as “growth eternal from Truth to Truth” (Chakrabarti, 1).  Chakrabarti’s main focus of his book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’  is to study Gandhi’s understanding of mysticism from various avenues of Gandhian thought.  Gandhian Mysticism is further explained in relation to non-violence, in terms of the concept of joy, as well as in view of its practical application in face of social tension.

 

Firstly, the author attempts to explain Gandhi’s ideas on the various dimensions of mysticism.  Gandhi thinks that “service is the symbol of self-sacrifice and self-purification leading to enlightenment in the mystic vision” (Chakrabarti, 2).  Gandhi believes in living a life based on simplicity, non-violence, and Truth, as revealed by his mystical vision.  Gandhi suggests that all persons have the potential and ability to live likewise.  Gandhian mysticism may be termed “spirituality in action” (Chakrabarti, 2).  Gandhi’s mysticism as spirituality in action is further described as:

“Spirituality in its essence is the direct experience in one’s own consciousness and one’s whole being, of Oneness of all Existence without the least doubt or wavering.  Awareness of such oneness in one’s own consciousness without any feeling of separateness with any thing in the universe…such awareness is said to have two stages, not necessarily one after the other: the perception of Oneness…which is attended by a momentary sense of fulfillment and ecstatic joy.” (Chakrabarti, 3)

 

Gandhi’s personal aspiration and ambition, in terms of mysticism is described as wanting to “see God face to face” (Chakrabarti, 3).  In order to achieve this mystical experience, Gandhi takes on the spiritual discipline of maintaining vows, for the purpose of self purification.  By the process of self purification the ego is transcended.  Thus Gandhi is able to experience the mystical state of being called Superconsciousness.  Gandhi considers mysticism as “the essence of the human soul” (Chakrabarti, 6).  Also Gandhi prescribes the practise of self purification as a means of hearing the voice of God within: 

“Having made a ceaseless effort to attain self-purification, I have developed some little capacity to hear correctly and clearly the still small voice within” (Chakrabarti, 8)

 

To be a continual visualizer in the mystic vision, Gandhi gives prominence to the “still small voice within”  (Chakrabarti, 8).  The Gandhian concept of mysticism suggests a “return to the roots of consciousness, as mysticism makes inroads to higher feeling” (Chakrabarti, 9).  Love, not hatred, is the single factor that has, as Gandhi points out “an abiding force to see inwardly and see in fullness” (Chakrabarti, 10).  The mystic merges in Love, and Love merges in the mystic.

 

Gandhian mysticism in general then progresses to a study of Gandhian mysticism in relation to specifics such as non-violence, the concept of joy and practical applications in face of social tension.

 

In relation to non-violence, Gandhian mysticism has a practical application  of approaching life in terms of “action based on the refusal to harm deliberately” (Chakrabarti, 36).  Gandhi understands non-violence to be the “law of our being” (Charkrabarti, 36).  Gandhi’s mystic vision is that materialism be transformed in the vision of spiritual harmony.  According to Gandhian mysticism, the spirit is more important than matter.  Through the practise of non-violence the spirit can transform matter, by means of the Truth-force or Soul-force generated.  Thus the mysticism of Gandhi aims at a philosophy based on non-violent action.

 

As a seeker of non-violence, Gandhi always makes an inward journey into his own consciousness.  This inner journey, according to Gandhian mysticism, enables one to become more self-aware and to discern right from wrong.  What is remarkable in Gandhian mysticism, is the pursuit of the benevolence of humankind as the means toward achievement of mystic fulfillment.  One begins the journey inwardly, by the process of inward vision.  However, through the observance of outward activities based on non-violence, one continues the journey.  Gandhi always affirms goodness and welfare to all living beings.  He equates non-violence as the means to achieve his mystical vision of Truth, Peace, and Love.

 

In relation to the concept of joy, Gandhian mysticism highlights the conscious awareness “to feel within oneself the spirit of joy arising out of the sense of goodness and love  derived by means of non-violence as the symbol of mystic contentment” (Chakrabarti, 99).  Gandhi mystically visualizes the joy in humanity that must manifest itself in brilliant radiance.  Gandhi’s testimony to the world reveals his mystic concept of joy:

 

“There is a spirit which, I feel, delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things…as it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other.  If it be betrayed it bears it:  for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God” (Chakrabarti, 100).  Gandhi believes that as soon as one achieves control over oneself, the joy in oneself comes out (Chakrabarti, 101).  Gandhi, the mystic visionary, embraces the world as the eternal fountain of joy.  Gandhi insists that we ‘illumine or perish’ (Chakrabarti, 103).  Gandhi says that the ‘gateway to the world of joy is always open for those who come to have an unhindered entry through the vision of joy’ (Chakrabarti, 103).

 

Finally the book on ‘Gandhian Mysticism’‘ relates Gandhi’s mysticism to practical applications in face of social tension.  Gandhi thinks that the modern social pattern of utilitarianism necessitates a mystic breakthrough.  Gandhi feels that much of the modern world is devoid of mutual co-operation, cohesion and of feeling for one and all (Chakrabarti, 105).  Gandhi envisions mankind as becoming “conscious of the inner worth of humanity and so alleviate the sorrows and sufferings consequential to poverty (Chakrabarti, 106).  Gandhi believes that social change can be achieved through a “silent inward revolution” (Chakrabarti, 107).  This inward revolution teaches humanity how to live honestly and with devotion to Truth and goodness.  As a mystic visionary, Gandhi delves deep into social miseries, suffering and poverty.  Gandhi believes and actualises in his activities the fact that Love is the cure for all wrongs and sufferings of distressed humanity (Chakrabarti, 111).

 

The above dimensions of Gandhian mysicism, from the standpoint of his unique strategy of non-violence, brings forth a new awareness of the future potential of humanity.  The potential of social progress, Love and Truth manifest in the world.  Gandhian mysticism encompasses the two aspects of firstly an inwardness of vision and secondly an outward action in response to one’s vision.  Gandhian mysticism thus becomes second to none as a technique of applying the inner essence of humanity toward the good of one and all.

 

I feel that the merits or strengths of the book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ are found primarily in the depth of insight within the content of the text.  The author has a refined understanding of Gandhi’s mystical understanding and visions.  Furthermore, the author supports his views well with direct quotes from Gandhi, in order to strenghen the content of the text.

 

The structure of the text is good; beginning with an overview of Gandhian mysticism, then focusing on specifics in terms of modern day social tensions.  I feel that the author has accomplished his aim of enhancing the reader’s understanding of Ganhian mysticism.

 

However, I think the text has the demerit of being somewhat too short in length.  An in depth analysis of Gandhian mysticism in relation to Satyagraha (passive resistance) would have enhanced the quality of the text.  Nevertheless, in view of the strengths found in the text, I would recommend ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ as excellent reading.

Written by,

Deborah Morrison

 

Works Cited

Chakrabarti, Mohit ‘Ganhian Mysticism’ 1989.

                    Atlantic Publishers and Distributors,

                   New Delhi, India.

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Our journey of writing “Nexus” began during a seminar led by Richard G. Green. We didn’t know it then but Richard would become our writing mentor.

Photo of Richard Green

The seminar was about Native story-telling but you anyone was welcome to attend, Native and non-Native. During the seminar, Richard talked about the importance of finding your voice and how writing can be therapeutic. All interesting stuff but what really got us was when he described the eccentric fixtures of a writer’s mind.

While at a bus stop, most people are too busy with their own concerns. But not the writer who is busy checking everyone waiting at the bus-stop. She would create a whole story about each person from just watching them. Amazing Richard was completely describing us our innate curiosity for people and the world.

Most writers are in denial of the fact that they are writers. So, during the break, 6′2″ Richard stood over 5′2″ Deborah and firmly asked: “Are you a writer?”

She hesitantly answered “yes” not knowing what she was getting into. We felt an excitement from admitting that we’re writers. It’s amazing how much energy we put into not admitting something to yourself and when you do then you feel a release.

We had bought Richard’s book on writing, The Writing Experience, an Iroquois guide to written storytelling and used it as our guide to the fascinating world of story-telling………And that’s how our journey began as writers and it led to “Nexus.”

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What inspires an individual’s creativity in writing and other arts? The answer to this question would vary with each individual as perception shapes what is defined as “inspirational.” Though certain sources of inspiration have a common thread, since they are rooted in our shared human experiences. Life gives us everyday opportunities to experience inspiration , though we need our senses open to receive it.

One of the best sources of inspiration can be found in nature, which can inspire us to great poetic heights as evident in To Autumn by John Keats. Beauty of nature creates an aesthetic feeling that is uplifting and enlivens the senses. My writing partner, Deborah Morrison, wrote a beautiful passage “Beauty of Nature” in our book Nexus: A Neo Novel, which depicts the ecstatic experience of Logan Andrews as he is inspired by the beauty that surrounds him on a hilltop.

I find that stepping into natural landscapes changes my perception, since the contours and lines are rounded and less defined there. In cityscapes, everything is harsh and sharply defined and our sensibilities need to step away from the starkness of the city to be reinvigourated. We can compare the sharp boxed buildings found in many cities to the softness of trees found in nature.

This is why I make time to commune with nature and attune to her rhythms. In Southern Ontario, I also enjoy the seasons change. Deborah’s Sacred Circle is one of my favourite poems on the sense of wonder around seasonal changes. Copies of her first poetry book, Mystical Poetry, are now a rare item. In fact, a few weeks ago a used copy sold for around $200 on Amazon Canada. So someone out there is truly inspired by her poems.

The beauty of nature is inspiring at many levels and as artists we struggle to capture our experience of it. How to describe the intricacies of a snowflake? Or the migration of birds, butterflies, whales and other animals? Or the sunset on a beach? Sometimes we find the words or the image to commit to canvas. At other times the inspiration is there, yet we struggle to communicate the essence of our experience. The pristine experience is rarefied through our artistic endeavours.

We welcome you to share on what you find inspiring about nature. Or your own experiences of nature expressed in your own words or art.

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Deborah Morrison & Arvind Singh from Ontario, Canada explore their gifts as novelists through a captivating book called NEXUS. Deborah has previously written a book of poetry called Mystical Poetry, and she has published many articles on health and spirituality. Arvind has published a number of articles on spiritual and philosophical thought both in English and South Asian languages and this is his first book.

NEXUS is an amazing spiritual adventure of Personal Transformation & Empowerment. Readers have described it as Insightful, Captivating and Inspirational. It builds on the experiences of both authors as teachers of relaxation, breath and yoga therapies. Through a poignant journey to a retreat, each person in the novel is looking to overcome personal pain including the main character, Logan Andrews.

Logan, a journalist in his mid-20s, struggles with depression to the point of suicide. Can he control his troubled mind before its too late?

In a vivid dream, Logan is guided to a spiritual retreat where he meets his lost love, Sarah, along with an arrogant millionaire, a grandmotherly woman and two insightful teachers.

Problems soon emerge for Logan and others at the retreat. What happens to each character and the depth of their personal experiences makes NEXUS a journey of transformation and a compelling read.

I’ve read many spiritual books but this one succeeds where others fail. It successfully combines a poignant story fraught with true human emotions of personal pain along with remarkable spiritual insights. James Bertrand

Nexus made me laugh and it made me cry. The story touched on many issues that I have struggled with in my own life and it gave practical advice on transforming my life. Its perfect for anyone looking for an Inspiring, Spiritual book filled with practical wisdom. Harpal Singh Khalsa.

A simple story with a simple message, Nexus invites you in to explore the characters’ thoughts and feelings along side your own. Nancy Noble

This book is totally amazing!!! It works like a dream at a subconscious level of understanding even if consciously you’re unaware of its full spiritual dimensions. Aaron

Quality Paperback edition

Published by Manor House Publishing

NEXUSImage

Available online from

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Chapters-Indigo

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Compassion forms the primary message contained in the pages of Nexus, where through empathy and genuine feeling of oneness with others, transcendence from ego-centeredness is possible. Then compassion and genuine love can be enshrined within.

The following excerpts by the Dalai Lama shed practical wisdom on bringing compassion into our daily lives:

Where Compassion Starts

“Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness. ”

“The next matter to be understood is whether it is possible to enhance compassion and love. In other words, is there a means by which these qualities of mind can be increased, and anger, hatred, and jealousy reduced? My answer to this is an emphatic, Yes! Even if you do not agree with me right now, let yourself be open to the possibility of such development. Let us carry out some experiments together; perhaps we may then find some answers.”

“For a start, it is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical. Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us. Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life. If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace rather than physical comfort.”

Transforming the Mind

“From my own limited experience, I am convinced that through constant training we can indeed develop our minds. Our positive attitudes, thoughts, and outlook can be enhanced, and their negative counterparts can be reduced. Even a single moment of consciousness depends on so many factors, and when we change these various factors, the mind also changes. This is a simple truth about the nature of mind. ”

Developing Compassion

“Self-centeredness inhibits our love for others, and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another. For true happiness to come about, we need a calm mind, and such peace of mind is brought about only by a compassionate attitude.”

“Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment. For instance, the love parents feel for their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, but it too is usually attachment. Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife…depends more on attachment than genuine love. Marriages that last only a short time do so because they lack compassion; they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation, and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears.”

“Compassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other.”

“When you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others; you wish to help them actively overcome their problems. This wish is not selective; it applies equally to all beings. As long as they experience pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.”

“Given patience and time, it is within our power to develop this kind of universal compassion. Of course our self-centeredness, our distinctive attachment to the feeling of a solid I, works fundamentally to inhibit our compassion. Indeed, true compassion can be experienced only when this type of self-grasping is eliminated. But this does not mean that we cannot start to cultivate compassion and begin to make progress right away.”

Our Connectedness & Universal Compassion

“I believe that at every level of societyfamilial, national and internationalthe key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in a particular ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities. I believe that the cultivation of individual happiness can contribute in a profound and effective way to the overall improvement of the entire human community.”

“We all share an identical need for love, and on the basis of this commonality, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences because our basic natures are the same.”

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“Nexus” is now being offered with “The Secret” at a special price on Amazon.ca when both books are puchased together. Click on the icon below to visit the link.

Buy Nexus with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne today!

Nexus The Secret

Total List Price: CDN$ 46.41
Buy Together Today: CDN$ 30.98

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To know yourself is the most important aspect of spiritual life.
While no book can reveal this fully, since knowing yourself is a personal journey for each individual. Yet the journey of each person in NEXUS touches the mind and especially the heart. Words are powerful as they can reveal, heal, illuminate and move the spirit. They can act on our mind as a balm.

Ever since I can remember, this quasi-magical quality of language, where the words act upon our psyche to create new insights and meaning, has always fascinated me. The richness of symbolic meaning is given life by our imagination and consciousness.

This is why I have been fascinated by mystical and spiritual language because realities outside ordinary experience are made real by rich symbols. Writing became an extension of this fascination with creative possibilities contained in language.

Deborah and I wrote NEXUS to offer readers a unique journey from surface pain and sorrow to the realization of a deeper peace that is within us – at the core of our being. Journey to this innermost part is “connecting to the Nexus within” and our novel explores this search.

The search for peace is not something new. Ancient civilizations have quested for the answer to self-knowledge contained in an essential question: “Who am I?”

This self-inquiry yields our infinitude as we move past labels of name, nationality, race, gender and religion. At the surface level are these labels deep within is peace.

Our mind is full of worry but when we can objectify our thoughts, we realize that our true nature is outside the thoughts as an ever-present spiritual reality. That realization is the essence of peace. Surface thoughts and emotions pass away like shadows cast by moving clouds, yet at our centre we can find stillness, silence and peace.

The outside is like the rim of a wheel always spinning but the central hub is steady and peaceful.

Wheel

In NEXUS, we experientially explore many insights into spiritual life in the narrative. The journey of personal transformation needs to communicate to the heart. So it can’t be a theory of living but a unique experience of personal transformation from the struggles of people in the novel.

Each person needs to reconnect to their inner centre of peace, their Nexus within, in order to find the source of compassion, peace and strength. Of course, the centre is always there except it can be covered by hurt and pain of experiences.

In some cases, the affliction can be deeply buried like a wound. So it requires conscious awareness before release is possible. After the heart is unburdened from laden emotions, then the truth of who you really are can be known.

Peace is not something we have to find, since it is always within us. Rather we need to uncover it. Our surface condition has an apparent reality, yet true transformation comes from within – at the core of our being.

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