In Gandhian economics we have seen the concept of trusteeship, which he borrowed from English civil law. It is a concept of which Gandhi was quite fond because it replaced ownership and possession, the cause of so much conflict, with duty and responsibility. If you have access to anything, if you are possibly its “owner” in the eyes of the law, it is your duty to use it for the good of society — and to get the full spiritual benefit, not to think of it as “yours” (aparigraha or ‘not grasping’ was one of the spiritual principles he adopted for satyagrahis). Otherwise you should not own or be in possession of that thing at all. Here, he is talking with “inmates” of his ashram (‘inmates’ is the term used to describe those who live in a spiritual community!), who have chosen to lead a simple life based on nonviolence to develop themselves, not just for personal gain, rather, to engage in the Free India struggle. Hence their training consisted in their day-to-day practice of becoming aware that they were working for the good of the whole, in which their own good was included; and as trustees of such a mission, Gandhi emphasized, they should not waste a thing. Not a grain of rice, not a scrap of paper, not a minute of their time. Behind every grain of rice is the work of a farmer, whose well-being is included in the struggle. Behind every piece of paper is a part of nature, whose well-being is a part of the struggle. Behind every minute, there is a choice–to live for oneself or to live for others. Gandhi was reminding them that they already made that choice, the commitment to live for others, and should keep it in mind to encourage themselves forward. Imagine what an impact such an attitude change would have on our economy, our environment, and our spiritual development today!
You are a trustee of your time. Pick some “spare” moments today and ask yourself, how will you spend them working for the well-being of others?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org