I was recently a guest speaker at the annual “1000 Lights For Peace” celebration in Houston sponsored by the Mahatma Gandhi Library. Here’s my speech on listening to your inner voice, a recurring theme Mahatma Gandhi wrote about.
Strong, steadfast, loyal, dedicated, irreproachable and humble. These are some of the words that come to mind when I think of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who left his mark on the world by encouraging people to stand for their rights peacefully. Through his unwavering focus and leadership Gandhi led India to independence and continues to inspire others. How is it that he never strayed from his path? If he were here today he would tell us his secret – let your inner voice guide you.
At the age of ten my father took me to see the movie Gandhi. I left the movie theatre in tears because this man who was full of God’s grace and love was no longer walking among us. Gandhi inspired in so many ways; He spoke up for the poor and against discrimination. He expanded women’s rights and unified his people to achieve independence from the British. What impacted me most was the strength he demonstrated in the most difficult of circumstances. Gandhi once stated “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind”. He never strayed from his path. His mission was clear and he was willing to endure whatever it took- whether that meant public humiliation or imprisonment-to do the right thing. He was true to himself. He was guided by his inner voice.
I was reintroduced to Gandhi ‘s teachings by members of the Mahatma Gandhi library who heard me speaking about an experience which altered my life forever – one where I repeatedly ignored my inner voice. By allowing outside influences to guide me I was taken off my path. The result was the loss of my integrity, my career and my freedom. If only I had listened to my inner voice.
Thinking back on my life, I realize my inner voice was always there for me when I needed guidance. While I listened most of the time, the one time I didn’t is a moment I will regret for the rest of my life. It took a life altering mistake to understand that my inner voice was really God speaking to me.
Gandhi’s life of service has touched millions and I am grateful to be here today honoring him. For me, Gandhi represents proof that we all have the strength to get through difficult times as long as we are guided by our inner voice.