Posted on September 20, 2013 | Comments Off on Gandhi’s Sandals
The following excerpt is from the book Patience, by Eknath Easwaran.
“Freeing yourself from instinctive, reflex reactions will enrich all your relationships – even with those who oppose you. When you are kind to a foe, he ceases to be a foe. In time, he may even turn out to be a friend.
“Gandhi’s life was filled with such relationships. Once, during Gandhi’s campaigns for the rights of Indians in South Africa, he came before the head of the Transvaal government, General Jan Smuts. Gandhi had already developed the essentials of his later style, and it is easy to picture him sitting before this able Boer soldier and informing him quietly: ‘I want you to know I intend to fight against your government.’
“Smuts must have thought he was hearing things. ‘You have come here to tell me that?’ he laughs. ‘Is there anything more you want to say?’
“‘Yes,’ says Gandhi. ‘I am going to win.’
“Smuts was astonished. ‘Well,’ he says at last, ‘and how are you going to do this?’
“Gandhi smiles, ‘With your help.’
“Years later Smuts admitted, not without humor, that this is exactly what Gandhi did. By his courage and by the inward toughness that allowed him to stick it out without yielding and without retaliation, Gandhi managed at last to win the general’s respect and friendship. Indeed, in 1939, on Gandhi’s seventieth birthday, Smuts returned a pair of sandals that Gandhi had made while imprisoned in South Africa and had given to him in 1914. ‘I have worn these sandals for many a summer since then,’ Smuts said, ‘even though I may feel that I am not worthy to stand in the shoes of so great a man.'”