"Learn as if You Were to Live Forever."
Mahatma Gandhi was, for those living in the Indian subcontinent, the George Washington of their country. However, he did far more than merely getting the British out of India. He helped change how India viewed women and how women viewed themselves. He enabled women to move up the ladder toward equality. Reflecting on that issue, he said, "...women have come to look upon me as one of themselves." Gandhi also fought against child marriages and the practice of sati, which is when women were cremated with their husbands upon the death of their husbands.
Another issue upon which Gandhi dealt was that of the untouchables. The Harijan movement addressed the issue of the untouchables or the Dalits. The term Harijan is an Indian term, which means "child of Hari/Vishnu." Gandhi saw the untouchables as literally Vishnu's children.
After years of struggle, Gandhi rallied the Indian people on many issues. When he spoke, people listened, whether they were British or Indian. In addition, many others listened, including me. I listened and thought. I discovered that many things that I thought that I understood are seen more clearly today.
I have danced with death, and I now understand that I am not immortal but finite. Additionally, I realize that the time that I have left here in this world is extremely limited. I recently came across this one-liner from Gandhi, which speaks to my situation. "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
When I was thirty, I would have not understood either sentence the way that I understand both today. Look at the first sentence. "Live as if you were to die tomorrow." Gandhi died when he was 78 due to an assassin. However, I would like to know his age when he wrote that statement. It had to have been when he was older. To those of you who are young, you knew that you were not immortal by the time you toddled off to elementary school. Grandparents die, pets die, and everything dies. However, wait until you dance with death. Then you truly know the reality of death at a far deeper level.
I am cognizant that I am writing to some people who cannot fully understand that deeper reality of their finiteness due to being young. However, wrestle with my insight having danced with death twice. Better yet, Gandhi said the same thing. Enjoy life. Have fun. Relax sometimes. However, do not waste the time that you have. Life will all too soon disappear like a vanishing vapor.
Gandhi's other sentence of his one-liner was "Learn as if you were to live forever." Many people will assume at some age that further education and learning are not necessary. Some believe that getting through high school or college is all that one needs to do to acquire an education. If one's entire life is not a learning experience, much of that life has been a waste of time.
While few of us can walk in the manner that Gandhi journeyed in life, we can at least follow in his shadow as he instructs us regarding truly living.
If we have not learned both of Gandhi's insights, we need to do so quickly. Our time on Earth is all too short and needs to be enjoyed to its fullest. Therefore, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow." One aspect of a full life derives from education. Consequently, "Learn as if you were to live forever."
This video is a very short thumbnail of Gandhi.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.