This quote of Gandhi’s from a famous verse in the Bhagavad Gita makes it sound easy enough, to withdraw one’s senses as a tortoise its limbs; but what does this look like in practice?
Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma’s grandson, shared a story at the Berkeley Spiritual Activism Conference in 2005 that illustrates this ideal. There was a little boy who lived near Gandhi’s ashram who had a strong addiction to sweets, and as it often goes, an equally strong, but negative reaction to them. His young body would break out in hives when he would indulge in sugar, and his doctor asked him to give it up. He and his family agreed, but when he went home, everyone around him was eating sweets. So, of course, when his parents were not looking, he would sneak some in — and promptly break out in the rash. Finally, his mother took him to see Gandhi. Gandhi heard the mother’s request then asked her to come back a few weeks later. She agreed. When she returned with the boy, he spoke to him briefly, and the boy vowed to give up sweets. The mother was surprised, and no doubt wondering why he didn’t just say as much the first time she came. Gandhi explained: a few weeks earlier he was still eating sweets!
A person established in wisdom will not ask others to do what they are not willing to do themselves.
How might practicing sense restraint support a person you know who is struggling to get a craving under control?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org