Top shelf, third book from the right, page 56: Ghandi truth to truth

Just for fun, I used this as a writing prompt this morning.

I spent the weekend at a writing retreat, and one might assume such a gathering would inspire a wellspring of words. Alas, it had the opposite effect, and I felt word-drained. To start the words flowing again, I told myself to leave my comfortable couch, walk upstairs to my office, select the third book on the top book shelf and open it to page 56. I had no idea what I would find.

It happened to be Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World by Louis Fischer. On page 56 I read:

gandhi“Gandhi was neither a conforming Hindu nor a conforming nationalist. No ism help him in its grip. He never hewed to a line. He was independent, unpredictable, and hence exciting to all and difficult for the British. “Do I contradict myself?” he asked. “Consistency is a hobgoblin.” He had the rebel’s courage to be true to himself today and different tomorrow. “My aim,” he once wrote, “is not to be consistent with my previous statement on a given question, but to be consistent with the truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result is that I have grown from truth to truth . . .”

I think most of us would agree that Gandhi lived a brave life, but before I had framed that bravery in terms of constancy or perseverance. I thought of the determined way in which Gandhi lived what he believed to be right, unwavering in his march to human rights.

Inconsistency takes courage. It takes courage to admit that we need to leave something behind, or to float free in the world without anchoring ourselves in a religion, a philosophy, a political stance or a national identity. We cling to beliefs that served us in the past, even when they don’t serve us so well in the present. We hate to “eat our words,” so we stand by them even when they don’t resonate with truth anymore.

How brave, to let go of identity anchors and evolve. truth to truth.

May this day bring you freedom from anchors that weigh you down, courage to contradict your past self and inspiration to seek your new truth.

And, I’m curious: What’s on your top shelf, third book from the right, page 56?

8 thoughts on “Top shelf, third book from the right, page 56: Ghandi truth to truth

  1. Chris Humphrey

    Sometimes we need to ask a different question Arlene. 3rd from rt is Canadian Wood Frame Housing, and pg 56 speaks to site assembly of pitched roofs (or rooves, as it used to be). Life has to have more to offer than that.

  2. Phyllis Bohonis

    Top shelf, third book from the right on my book shelf is God Help Us written by Tom Harpur, a former Anglican priest. On page 56 he tells us about a news item he received concerning the discovery of a 3-year-old boy’s body found the day before near Peace River, Alberta. To this was appended: “God sees the little sparrow fall… But he does nothing about it! Some love; some God!”
    Tom Harpur says, “The athiest or the agnostic can get off scot-free on this one. If you deny there is a God or say you can’t be sure, there’s no necessity to explain evil and pain. If the cosmos (contrary to what the root of this word implies) has no Shaper or Creator, if everything from a Mozart piano concerto to a baby’s toes is the result of a primitive, random collision of molecules, then it makes no sense to yelp “Why?” when the innocent suffer.”

    Seems to fit your Science and Spirituality theme.

  3. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

    Wow. I have read some of Tom Harpur’s work, but not that one. How interesting, and it touches on one of the main reasons why people lose faith – and the reason why I did for a while too. The old “If there were a God, this wouldn’t happen” reasoning. I’ve since come to realize how out of balance the world would be if nothing people perceived to be “bad” ever happened – after all the same event is often seen as both “good” or “bad” depending on perspective. The “science” part happens following natural laws; the “story” part, we write for ourselves.

  4. jodiepaz

    Neat question, Arlene! Mine is ‘Anti cancer – a new way of life’ by D. Servan-Schreiber. Page 56 starts the chapter entitled ‘Breaking the News’…

    “Serious illness can be a terribly lonely journey. When danger hovers over a group of monkeys, arousing their anxiety, they instinctively huddle together and groom each other feverishly. This doesn’t reduce the danger, but it relieves the loneliness. Our Western values, with their worship of concrete results, may blind us to our profound animal need for *presence* when facing danger and uncertainty. Gentle, constant, reliable presence is often the most beautiful gift our dear ones can give us. But not many of them know that.”

  5. Sharyn

    Top shelf, third book from the right: The Woefield Poetry Collective, one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. A woman inherits a sort of truck farm from a long, lost uncle. This chapter is told from the POV of Earl, a freeloading resident on the premises, who describes the deceased as: “…a strange bugger…One day he’d be reading some big book with small letters and the next he’d be deep in a soap opera. A goddamn pigmada (sic), is what I think they call that kind of person who you can’t figure out.”

    And so it goes…


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