Thursday, January 28, 2010

My first A paper in my graduate school

Mahatma Gandhi’s Diet and Fasting

In colonial India, the British not only ruled over India politically, militarily, and economically, but claimed cultural and religious superiority over India as well. To preserve their dignity and to fundamentally challenge the unequal and unjust relationships between the British and the Indians, the Indians asserted their own culture and civilization was morally superior to that of the British. Gandhi proclaimed that modern civilization was materially-oriented but ancient Indian civilization was spiritually-oriented and forcefully attacked the former and passionately promoted the latter. In fact, Gandhi himself could be the best symbol of how a spiritually-oriented human being could live. As two of his important personal activities, diet and fasting were representative of the anti-material but strong spiritual life he chose. They not only demonstrated Gandhi’s thoughts about the relationship between the body and the spirit, but also reflected his political principles such as nonviolence and satyagraha and contributed to his political achievement. Gandhi basically stuck to a vegetarian diet his whole life, and he gradually simplified his diet even more in his later age. Through diet control, Gandhi perfected his self-restraint to improve soul-force. Likewise, fasting was a highly spiritual practice that radically denied the basic material demands of human beings. Gandhi considered fasting indispensable practice for him and his fasting influenced civilizations throughout the world. Fundamentally, Gandhi’s fasting related to the ideas of suffering and love that became one of his methods to achieve satyagraha. Another important reason that Gandhi emphasized on diet and fasting was because there was an intimate relationship between diet and fasting and brahmacharya, or to conquer one’s passions. Gandhi experimented with various foods and fasts to keep the brahmacharya vow. Moreover, Gandhi’s dietary choices and fasting provided practical help in his political career. For instance, his extremely simple diet and dedicated fasting enhanced his saintly image which was important to his leadership of the masses. Some of his fasts in his old age produced concrete outcomes at critical moments.
It was natural for Gandhi to eat a vegetarian diet because of his family religion and Indian traditions. Vegetarianism has a long history and is closely related to religions in India. Around the fifth century BCE, Buddhism and Jainism, two of the most influential religions in Indian history, were established. Both Buddhists and Jains believed that all living beings were equal, and it was not right to kill and eat animals to sustain human bodies. They promoted the principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, denounced any violent action and avoided hurting any living beings in any form. This religious doctrine became the primary source of the development of vegetarianism in India. Poverty was anther important reason that resulted in the popularity of vegetarianism in India. Many Indians were unable to afford meat and were forced to depend on vegetables to survive. In Gandhi’s family, his mother was a devoted religious person who believed in Vaishnavism, a school of Hinduism. She was not only a strict vegetarian, but also serious about self-restraint and self-discipline. Gandhi recalled, “[t]he outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers.” The fact that Gandhi developed his vegetarian diet in his young age not only led him to eat simple food, but also offered him the idea of nonviolence and helped him to build up the ability of spiritual self-restraint.
Since his early years, Gandhi had the ambition to better Indian conditions and did a dramatic experiment on his diet. In Gandhi’s high school years, he started to eat meat to get physically strong. Gandhi explained the reason, “I wished to be strong and daring and wanted my countrymen also to be such, so that we might defeat the English and make India free.” This experiment lasted more than a year, ending when Gandhi realized that vegetarianism was not the real reason for the weakness of the Indian people. “There are many other causes incessantly at work to account for the proverbial weakness.” Vegetarian diet was efficiently enough to sustain the body; there was no relationship between eating meat and the strength of a body. The strongest power of human beings was their soul force rather than physical force. Throughout Gandhi’s entire life, he constantly advocated soul force as the unrivaled weapon to win the heart of one’s enemy.
Western influences reinforced Gandhi’s faith in vegetarianism. When Gandhi studied in England, although encountering many objections and difficulties, he firmly refused to eat meat because he had made a vow to his mother. Finally, he found a vegetarian restaurant in London, made vegetarian friends, and organized a vegetarian club. He was attracted by Western writers’ books about vegetarianism and was noticeably affected by their ideas. Human beings were not a higher race than animals, nor had more value than them. Henry S. Salt claimed that “an animal has his proper work to do in the world, his own life to live, as surely as a man.” Gandhi stated that he become a vegetarian by choice after reading Salt’s Plea for Vegetarianism. Also, Howard William’s The Ethics of Diet and Dr. Anna Kingsford’s The Perfect Way in Diet were examples of those books that affected Gandhi’s belief in vegetarianism. When Gandhi was in England, economic and hygienic concerns were the primary reasons for Gandhi’s vegetarian diet, but the seed of the religious aspect of vegetarianism was growing. Russian writer and thinker Leo Tolstoy later inspired the belief of vegetarianism in Gandhi from the religious and moral point of view. While Gandhi’s diet became simpler and simpler as time went on, it was no longer merely an action about eating and drinking, but incorporated and demonstrated Gandhi’s unique thoughts about life.
One critical aspect of Gandhi’s diet was his belief in self-restraint. Many people eat food excessively to enjoy the physical pleasure of the palate, but do not think of the questions of health and self-control. Gandhi disagreed with this point and insisted that individuals should be self-restrained in their eating as well as in all other conducts. Gandhi had claimed that his life consisted by countless experiments seeking Truth, which included a great number of experiments on his diet. He tried many ways to find the simplest food to sustain the body; experimenting with uncooked food and fruit diet, examining whether it is necessary for human to drink milk. He finally found that fruits and nuts were the fittest food for him and persisted in eating this diet. Gandhi articulated that “man eats not for enjoyment but to live.” If a person was simply guided by his natural desires without self-control, he would degenerate to the animal level. In contrast, “a man who can control his passions […] is fit for swarajya.” Gandhi stated “if I had failed to develop restraint to the extent that I have, I should have descended lower than the beasts and met my doom long ago. However, […] I made great efforts to get rid of them, and thanks to this endeavour I have all these years pulled on with my body and put in with it my share of work.”
Long-term self-restraint on diet would increase one’s spiritual force. Eating tasty food and enjoying the accompanying physical pleasure are natural attributes of human beings. Voluntarily choosing to eat tasteless food and not satisfy one’s biological demands require a spiritual power of self-restraint. Moreover, eating is not a one-time task but constantly occurs day after day, month after month in one’s whole life. It is easy to control oneself occasionally, but persistent self-restraint is absolutely difficult. Gandhi used to be a “heavy eater” and enjoyed food. The fact that he could gradually reach an extremely simple diet indicated his constant training in self-restraint. Through the process of self training and self-restraint, his spiritual power was increasing. Here, Gandhi expressed an idea that he was a common person who was constantly trying to put his physical body and biological desires under spiritual control. Only by doing that, one could reach complete liberty and morality.
More importantly, Gandhi believed that the individual was the most important force in a country and spiritual force was one of the essential ways for them to participate in nonviolent resistance. In contrast to the common notion that a government was all-powerful but individuals were powerless, Gandhi argued that the government could not work without people’s cooperation. Thus, non-cooperation on the part of individual acting together could make people as powerful as the government. At the same time, Gandhi insisted that “India’s freedom lies only through non-violence, and no other method.” For this reason, he combined non-violence and civil disobedience together as an important political method to fight the injustices of the British government. However, non-violent resistance was not an easy task. It required real courage and individual spiritual force equal to or greater than that of a soldier in the battlefield. A coward could never endure the physical as well as spiritual suffering accompaning nonviolent resistance. Even a physical strong man might be able to withstand the strain. Thus, Gandhi’s self-restraint and self-training on diet became significantly connected to his political striving.
Gandhi’s dietetic self-restraint was connected to brahmacharya, one of the fundamental principles of his ideology. Brahmacharya basically means to conquer one’s passions. In other words, an individual makes himself or herself become the master of his or her body and mind, rather than being pushes around by physical as well as mental desires. A brahmachari is “capable of knowing himself who brings under complete subjection all his passions.” Brahmacharya had political importance because without it, one could neither understand satyagraha, nor serve society well. Joseph Alter noticed that “[t]he connection between satyagraha and brahmacharya is critical, and in his autobiography Gandhi pointed out that the latter provided the only means of realizing the former.”
The most important practice of brahmacharya was celibacy. According to Gandhi, sex for children was love, but sex for pleasure was sin. After Gandhi had four children, he did not want to have more children. However, he agreed with no methods of contraception except self-restraint. He recalled that “[he had] encountered many difficulties in trying to control passion as well as taste.” However, since he realized “the principle of pleasure in any form prevented a realization of Truth,” he was determinedly against lust and appetite.
Gandhi struggled towards brahmacharya several years and finally took a vow in 1906. The human body is constantly changing by consuming and excreting, and eating different foods directly results in different conditions of the body. For example, a plain diet provides less stimulation to the body physically. Since Gandhi was aware of “an intimate connection between diet and brahmacharya, ” he kept many records about how he tried various foods in order to achieve brahmacharya. He found that “milk was not necessary for supporting the body,” but “stimulated animal passion.” Also, “a brahmachari benefited by a saltless diet.” Finally, he claimed that “the brahmachari’s ideal food is fresh fruit and nuts.”
Furthermore, Gandhi asserted there was a relationship between individuals’ diet and morals from the ideological perspective. Gandhi learnt from Western writers that “man’s supremacy over the lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man.” From this point of view, it is immoral to kill animals for human’s sake. If people understood that they were supposed to protect lower beings, they would naturally contemplate the relationship between human beings. Thus, the unjust social and political relationships such as caste and the British rule in India are thrown into question. In his book, Hind Swaraj, Gandhi stated that it was urgent to make all Indian feel a certain “discontent and unrest.” He cautioned the evil aspects of modern material civilization and advocated to reestablish spiritual-oriented ancient Indian civilization. Keeping a vegetarian, simple, and self-restrained diet was just a right way to lead a moral and spiritual life. “Gandhi came to the realization that a science of diet provided that means by which to effect moral change on a large scale.” In addition, Gandhi urged every Indian to live in this way in order to invigorate India. “Gandhi was interested in the success of his own experiments primarily to the extent that others might learn form them and subscribe to a regimen of self-discipline. […] He wanted to persuade people to change their way of life in order to rebuild India.”
Not only did Gandhi’s concerns and experiments on diet connect to his many political principles, but practically benefited his political career as well. When Gandhi studied in England, because of his enthusiasm for vegetarianism, he made a lot of new friends and expanded his social circle. His vegetarian friends introduced a variety of Western books and Christianity to him which helped him to learn about Western civilization. Gandhi started a vegetarian club in Bayswater, England. By doing that, Gandhi gained the experience to organize institutions. As Gandhi recalled, “this brief and modest experience gave me some little training in organizing and conducting institutions.” He made a public speech to his vegetarian friends before his departure for home. Gandhi was famous for his shyness in his young age. Although it took a long time for him to get over it, his activities in the vegetarian club certainly gave him a good start for his public life. In addition, regardless whether Gandhi was in England, in South Africa, or in India, he was constantly surrounded by many vegetarian friends and colleagues. For instance, in Phoenix settlement and Tolstoy Farm, the members all kept a vegetarian diet. Because those people shared the same thoughts on vegetarianism with Gandhi, it is easier them to understand the principle of universal love and nonviolence; consequently, they could provide greater support to Gandhi in his political striving than others who had no faith in vegetarianism.
Gandhi’s simple diet was related to his economic concern for India as well. During the colonial period, besides being oppressed by the English political rule, India was impoverished by the English economic exploitation. In Hind Swaraj, Gandhi condemned modern civilization for it encouraged unlimited individual material desires. In contrast, he felt that based on the difficult situation in India, controlling one’s material desires and leading a simple life were just the right way that every Indian should follow. Gandhi himself discarded Western lifestyle and led an ascetic life with minimal diet and clothes in his middle age. As Western writers perceived, “a vegetarian diet was the least expensive.” If people lived on a vegetarian diet and take a portion of food only to sustain their bodies, they would maximize their contribution of food supplies to others. Moreover, Gandhi’s voluntarily giving up the physical pleasure and identifying himself as poor formed his saint-like image, which greatly appealed to the majority of Indians who struggled in poverty. Consequently, when Gandhi called for a mass movement, he received immeasurable responses from the Indian people.
Fasting, like diet, was also about the relationship between the body and food. In fact, although Gandhi’s fasting shared some similar characteristics with his diet, it possessed many different features. Gandhi’s initial practice and understanding of fasting basically followed the Indian traditions. In Indian society, people primarily fasted for religious purposes and followed religious rituals. “The Hindus believe that a fasting person will ascend to the heaven of that god in whose name he observes the fast.” From a more practical perspective, fasting could help individuals to build up a harmonious relationship between the body and the soul, or they fasted to cleanliness and health. There were various methods and regulations for fasts, some being stricter than others, which depended on particular conditions and individual beliefs. Gandhi described his general practice for fasting in his early age; “Hindus allow themselves milk and fruit on a fasting day, […] such fast I had been keeping daily.” His motivations for fasting included health, purification and self-restraint, but did not have a political importance yet.
Gandhi’s interest in fasting greatly increased during the period when he took the brahmacharya vow. As mentioned above, Gandhi believed that the practice of brahmacharya was one of the critical factors for accomplishing satyagraha. He discovered diet was an important factor to fulfill brahmacharya, because by choosing different food, one can efficiently control one’s body and mind. Besides his concern about diet, Gandhi started seriously thinking about fasting. “As an external aid to brahmacharya, fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet.” Gandhi recalled that in Tolstoy Farm around 1906, “[a]t that time I did not understand, nor did I believe in, the efficacy of fasting. But seeing that the friend I have mentioned was observing it with benefit, and with the hope of supporting the brahmacharya vow, I followed his example and began keeping the Ekadashi fast. […] I began complete fasting, allowing myself only water.” Gandhi was pleased by this experiment of fasting, he claimed, “I am convinced that I greatly benefited by it both physically and morally.” He added that “a fast undertaken for fuller self-expression, for attainment of the spirit’s supremacy over the flesh, is a most powerful factor in one’s evolution.” Essentially, Gandhi regarded fasting as the most important method to purify his spiritual world and the basis of all the rest of his activities. Gandhi said, “[fasting is] a part of my being. I can as well do without my eyes, for instance, as I can without fasts. What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.”
Gandhi especially emphasized the point that fasting must be united with the body and the mind. He claimed that “there is nothing so helpful and cleansing as a fast accompanied by the necessary mental cooperation.” On the surface, fasting is a physical action about the suspension of food supply to the body; however, on a deeper level, it is about the individual’s ability to control his or her biological desires. Since conquering oneself is always a difficult thing, Gandhi stressed that individuals were supposed to depend on soul force to achieve self-control. In comparison with controlling one’s diet to train one’s self-restraint and soul force, fasting might be an even more radical form. Without a well-managed mind, fasting would be a dangerous act. “Fasting can help to curb animal passion, only if it is undertaken with a view to self-restraint. […] if physical fasting is not accompanied by mental fasting, it is bound to end in hypocrisy and disaster.” Gandhi said, “My experience teaches me that, for those whose minds are working towards self-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful. In fact, without their help concupiscence cannot be completely rooted out of the mind.”
In Gandhi’s life, he fasted privately as well as publicly on different occasions. Those fasts either had moral significance, or made political impacts. For example, in 1913, Gandhi fasted at the Phoenix settlement to respond to the misdeeds of young members. In 1924, he fasted 21 days to bring attention to the conflicts between Hindus and Moslims. In 1932, he vowed to "fast unto death" to against untouchability. Gandhi also fasted for self-purification and against violence and against the British government. Compared to his diet, which chiefly affected his personal life, Gandhi’s public fasting made a strong impact on society, and helped to reach a compromise between conflicting parties. “Many of the fasts unto death he undertook were pivotal in the sequence of events that led up to independence and had the effect, if not the intent, of making him the focus of intense national and international attention. […] these fasts also forced issues of caste, communal, and colonial injustices to critical points of at least contingent conclusion, if not final resolution.”
Despite the various places, time, and causes of Gandhi’s fasts, the fundamental principles remained unchanged. Fasting demonstrated Gandhi’s fundamental beliefs of truth, love, morality and manifested his political principles of nonviolence and satyagraha. Since Truth is infinitive, nobody could claim that he or she completely understands Truth, but in fact everybody knows Truth partially. For this reason, a person should respect other’s understanding of the world and different opinions on any particular event. Fasting could inspire others but “should not and could not be coercive.” It should never be an act designed to embarrass or insult one’s opponents. Furthermore, Gandhi explicitly insisted that there was a distinction between evil and evil-doers. He renounced evil deeds forcefully, but had fully confidence to convert everyone to be good due to his optimistic belief in the positive potential of human beings. Gandhi affirmed rational discussions should be the best way to solve any conflict in the world. Only after all possible methods towards rational discussion with his opponents failed, Gandhi used fasting as the last tool. Fasting presented the love of others and the world through self-suffering. Gandhi claimed, “[w]e can only win over the opponent by love, never by hate. Hate is the subtlest form of violence. We cannot be really non-violent and yet have hate in us.” Also, “a satyagrahi relied on the power of suffering love.” Parekh analyzed the process of how self-suffering affected one’s opponent.
The satyagrahi’s love and moral nobility weakened his opponent’s feelings of anger and hatred, awakened his sense of decency and humanity and morally transformed him; his uncomplaining suffering generated a sense of shame in him, denied him the pleasure of victory, mobilised public opinion and created a mood conducive to calm introspection. The two together triggered off the complex process of critical self-examination on which a satyagraha relied for its success.
Gandhi undertook a seven day private fast in his satyagrahi community, in Phoenix settlement, South Africa in 1913. In the community, Gandhi was considered the teacher of the young people who lived there. Once, when Gandhi found some serious misdeeds committed by two young people, he decided to “impose upon [himself] a fast for seven days and a vow to have only one meal a day for a period of four months and a half.” Through this fast, on the one hand, Gandhi expressed his hurt and disappointment as well as his responsibility and atonement for the young people; on the other hand, members in the settlement perceived Gandhi’s sacrifices and suffering and were emotionally moved. Gandhi was not the person who committed the misdeeds, but because he believed that all human beings were essentially one and acknowledged other’s faults as his; he voluntarily suffered in order to atone for the wrong-doers. Gandhi described that his “penance pained everybody, but it cleared the atmosphere.” The basis of the fast was the love between the teacher and the students; without it, this fast became meaningless. Bhikhu Parekh commented that “[Gandhi] was not fasting against strangers, for that would be coercion, nor for personal gain and glory, for that would be moral and emotional blackmail. […] His fast was really a ‘voluntary crucifixion’ of his flesh for their moral uplift, which he had both a right and a duty to undertake.”
Gandhi’s first well-known public fasting took place in 1918 in Ahmedabad for bringing about a resolution to the textile worker’s strike. Gandhi led the strike to help these textile workers to strive for their rights. However, as the strike went on, the workers had to accept increasing loss and unbearable difficulties, but they noticed that Gandhi lost nothing for he was essentially an outsider. Gandhi realized the problem; he said, “[t]he strikers had begun to totter. I felt deeply troubled and set to thinking furiously as to what my duty was in the circumstances.” Thus, he decided to undertake a three day fast. Judith M. Brown commented that “[Gandhi] had now come to point when he felt that fasting, a traditional, religious method of self-purification and appeal, well known in the family context and not least in his own childhood, could properly be used in the public sphere.” Through this fasting, Gandhi proved that he was one of the suffering people; if they were suffering, he would not be a spectator. Brown believed that this fasting was “in a new way personalizing and moralizing politics, as well as using a well-known theme within Hindu tradition.”
Another significant aspect of this fast was the dilemma of coercion. Gandhi had a good relationship with some textile owners; they had provided precious financial help to him. But if Gandhi fasted for the workers, the owner would feel coerced. Gandhi recognized the dilemma but insisted on fasting because he believed that helping the workers would be more important form the moral perspective. Gandhi understood that “for the satyagrahi there were rarely clear-cut moral issues, and that the truth-seeker must weigh the greater good and the lesser evil in any particular situation.” In spite of the fact, he confessed his inner struggles, saying “[m]y fast was not free from a grave defect. […]. To fast against [the mill-owners] would amount to coercion. Yet in spite of my knowledge that my fast was bound to put pressure upon them, as in fact it did, I felt I could not help it.”
Gandhi had two important fasts against violence during satyagraha campaigns in 1919 and 1922 respectively. Realizing that non-cooperation could be a very useful weapon in colonial India, Gandhi determinedly led many satyagraha campaigns to challenge the unjust British rule. At the same time, Gandhi stressed a successful non-cooperation campaign must be accompanied by the practice of nonviolence. Gandhi absolutely denounced violence because it fundamentally contradicted to Truth and thus violent actions could never win a victory in the long run. For this reason, when violent actions took place in the satyagraha campaign in 1919, Gandhi was awfully disappointed. He suspended the campaign and decided to fast. Likewise, in 1922, Gandhi suspended the movement of mass disobedience because of violence at Chauri Chaura and undertook a five-day fast of penance at Bardoli. Failure of these satyagraha campaigns clarified the fact that nonviolence and satyagraha required high moral commitment; however, in reality, because of people’s various capacities and different understanding of those concepts, it was hard for common people to perform nonviolent satyagraha. Gandhi confessed that the Indian people were not disciplined enough. He admitted his miscalculation and took the responsibility. Consequently, the two fasts became penances Gandhi imposed on himself.
In fact, Gandhi had publicly fasted for or against many controversial issues in Indian society, and fasting gradually developed one of his most unique features. For example, it was extraordinary of his fasts against the conflicts between Hindus and Moslems and untouchability. Gandhi had a 21-day "great fast" at Mohammed Ali's home near Delhi as penance for communal rioting in 1924. Through fasting, “Gandhi has appealed to all of the Indian communities to assist in ending the quarrel between the Hindus and Moslems.” This fast produced noticeable effects. According to a New York Times report, “[t]he conference of representatives of all the religious communities in India, meeting here, unanimously adopted a resolution today recording the country’s deep grief over the suffering of the non-cooperationist leader Gandhi in his self-imposed fast, undertaken to bring peace between the Hindus and Moslems.” Likewise, Gandhi’s several great fasts against untouchability were influential. For example, in 1932, Gandhi “undertook a fast unto death to ‘protest against’ separate electorates for outcasts.” Because of Gandhi’s unparalleled prestige and fragile aged body, his fast produced an unusually strong impact in India as well in the world. When historians in later generation evaluate Gandhi’s political methods, fasting should not be an insignificant one nor to be ignored.
Although Gandhi’s public fasting was an important activity of his political career and sometimes assisted his political attempts to reach immediate outcomes, there were not without critiques of his fasting. Despite the fact that Gandhi claimed that coercion contradicted his belief of fasting, coercion was inevitable in many occasions in his fasting. Some people even regarded Gandhi’s fasting as blackmail. In addition, People might consider Gandhi’s fasting irrational. “Fasting required a kind of absolute, context free, totally impersonal, and perhaps even transhuman conception of the congruence between morals, motives, and act. […] it was virtually impossible to make sense of fasting.” Nevertheless, Joseph Alter’s judgment on Gandhi’s fasting might relatively neutral. “Gandhi is seen either as a great soul willing to sacrifice himself in order to uphold absolute, inflexible principles of truth and justice or as a shred, calculating, savvy politician who used charisma to force his will upon those who disagreed with him. A careful reading of his collected works makes it very clear that Gandhi was not, in any sense, calculating politician.” Indeed, Gandhi’s fasting shared same attributes with his political ideology. On the one hand, it represented Gandhi dedication of spiritual discipline and high morality; on the other hand, Gandhi certainly employed fasting as a practical method to achieve his political goals.
Throughout Gandhi’s life, diet and fasting were his two important personal practices. They demonstrated his political philosophy, representing the ideas of simplicity, self-purification, and self-suffering. Through the practice of diet and fasting, Gandhi not only improved his abilities of self-restraint, but also efficiently kept the brahmacharya vow, which were all significant on his principles of nonviolence and satyagraha. Moreover, Gandhi’s vegetarian diet enhanced his thoughts of nonviolence; his extremely simple diet confirmed his willing of living as a poor person in his later age. In comparison with diet, Gandhi’s fasting primarily demonstrated the ideas of love and self-suffering. Gandhi’s public fasting gradually gained unusual huge attention; they certainly changed the situations of many critical political events.

Primary sources
Gandhi, Mahatma. The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. New Delhi: The Publications
Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India: Navajivan
Press, 1958.
______. Gandhi in India, in His Own Words. Edited by Martin Green. Hanover: University Press
of New England, 1987.
Gandhi, Mohandas K. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Boston:
Beacon Press, 1993.
______. Hind Swaraj and Other Writings. Edited by Anthony J. Parel. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1997.
______. “Non-violence.” In Civil Disobedience and Violence. Edited by Jeffrie G. Murphy, 93-
102. Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co., 1971.
Duncan, Ronald. Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Boston: Beacon Press, 1951.

Secondary sources
Alter, Joseph S. Gandhi’s Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of nationalism. New York:
Palgrave, 1995.
Brown, Judith M. Gandhi. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.
Parekh, Bhikhu. Gandhi’s Political Philosophy: A Critical Examination. Notre Dame: University
of Notre Dame Press, 1989.
Salt, Henry S.“The Right of Animals.”International Journal of Ethics 10, no. 2 (January
Westermarck, Edward. “The Principles of Fasting.” Folklore vol. 18, no. 4 (December 1907).

2010 spring semester is coming

Actually, today is the first day of 2010 spring semester and my first class is in this afternoon. However, my mind is still wandering and in the stage of idleness. I browsed Chinese calligraphy websites more than two hours this morning and then I decide to write an English blog post now.

The topic of today’s class is about American intellectual history. We are going to read five masterpieces about American history or literature such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It should not be easy, but because the topic is interesting and the professor, Dr. Scott, is easy and nice, I assume that this course is worthy to be taken.

I quit the tutoring job in Jodi’s house. First reason is little girl who really didn’t like me. I got little pleasure when I dealt with this job. Also, investing approximate three hours on transportation made this job less attractive. I felt released when I went out their home after the last lesson.

I have met my missionary student twice. I appreciate their strong willing to learn Chinese language, and see that as a good sign of our long term tutoring. They prefer public libraries to a café. That is no problem for me at all. I’ll continue meeting them next week too. We are studying Pinyin as well as some simplest Chinese characters in our each tutoring session.

Needless to say, Barry is always the best. He studies by himself and shares his insights with me. He also asks questions, and then we work together to figure out the answers. I think my English speaking is improving invisibly while I meet and talk with Barry regularly. Also, because of his help on one of my Gandhi’s papers, I received an A on it.

A lot of interesting things happened in my work place too though I could not write down all the details. New semester is beginning; my supervisor in QCC, Gisela is coming back on next next Monday. There must be many changes again. I do not fear of the changes, and in fact is interested to see. I believe although there are many evil, unwise fellows in the world, there are also many wonderful people who are worthy us to know. In contrast to the sentiment in my early years, I have turned to be optimism now.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Terrific twice

Today I received the word, “terrific”, twice. Jodi said I am a terrific teacher, and Barry said my English is terrific. I know they are merely a kind of compliment, but I still feel so happy about that. Why not? Without the illusory feeling of compliments, the civilized human beings could not survive even a single day.

There is the main body of my email to Barry in which we discussed how his learning of Chinese assisted his teaching in ESL students (many of them are Chinese). Barry said in this email I expressed myself “beautifully”.

About your theory I have two points. First, you are absolutely right that by presenting your difficulties to learn a foreign language, you “evened the ‘playing field’”. As a teacher, you create a more comfortable studying environment for students. Especially, because many of your students in Flushing library are new immigrants, some of them living illegally, they have a constant fear when they deal with the society, consciously or unconsciously. For many of them, including my early years in America, the public library is the sole way to get contact with people other than their own people. I admire you attitude not only because it is an efficient method to help their English study, but provides them a valuable path to access the society that encourages them to do well on other aspects of their lives in the country. I understand it is the government, the library and all the people working together to create the ESL learning center, but your thoughtful and friendly attitude make the students feel easier and happier. I think this is you unique feature.

Second, since you are not young but you are learning a difficult foreign language, and you have already achieved an admirable success, people will think, for example Henry, they study English many years but they are unable to speak, but you only study Chinese in a short period, and you can talk about the stories in you life, you master a certain degree of vocabulary, and you can self-study. I think this point is important because the fact that you studying Chinese itself is the best example to inspire your students to study hard and give their confidence to do well in their language study.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A slow and enjoyable winter break

2010 is coming. I remain the regular pace to move forward, to get older and older. Brian is layoff in the winter season. Despite the decrease of income, we get more time stay together at our warm home and enjoy the slow lifestyle.

Working at QCC office is boring but I want to go. The reason is not only about money but also because in such a circumstance, I am pushed to stay in an English language environment. I speak English only with my colleagues. If I stay at home, a large portion of my productive time would be waste on browsing the Internet, reading Chinese novels. When I stay in the office, I feel embarrassed to read Chinese, so I read English only, either books or anything online. Nobody likes pressure, but for me, pressure is a very important factor to force me studying.

It is a big chance that I may have a new Chinese tutoring opportunity later. We have already discussed the details and arranged the time. If everything goes well, we would meet on next Monday evening. It is always a mystery that what kind of person you would meet, but is useless to take a guess. Just keep inner peace and accept whatever the fate bringing to you. I prefer tutoring adults to children. Many children students don’t want to learn; in contrast, adults are all willing to learn. If your students are passionately to learn, the teacher will be inspired and feel happy too. I still don’t have a pleasure feeling to meet Hayli, but seem as her mother wants me to continue. I’ll try. Meeting Barry once a week is my real joy. This Monday after our tutoring, we and Brian had coffee in a Dunkin Donuts shop. I asked Barry to show off his Chinese in front of Brian. So he described his recent trip to France in Chinese, including what food they ate, how they traveled. Brian admired Barry’s progress in Chinese.